What happens when you have no o-line
Indianapolis (-5.5, 42) at Jacksonville
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This was primed to be a marquee matchup, but now looks to be a street fight between two crippled guys packing box cutters. It ain't gonna be pretty. Jacksonville's plan to run over the Colts while David Garrard guided the team to victory was foiled by injuries to the o-line and the fact that Garrard has finally been exposed as a top-20 QB at best. Mo-Jo Drew will have to use his admittedly excellent moves to get the yards needed this week instead of you know, blocking.
As for the Colts, these guys look older every week. Not a 100% bad thing, as being older and wiser allowed them to come from behind last week. That being said, this team will look a lot younger and better once the o-line returns, center Jeff Saturday and tight end Dallas Clark may return this week. But the biggest injury affecting this game is Bob Sanders'. Without him, the Colts run D disappears(wasn't much of one to begin with this year, sure, but things can always get worse). That along with the fact that the Colts running game is non-existent puts all the weight on Peyton Manning's shoulders. He can handle it, but I see the Jags finally getting some yards on the ground this week, which coupled with the fact that they HAVE to win to stay relevant, means they are going to be hard for a bruised Colts team to beat. Its a shame, what we thought was going to be a great game at the beginning of the year will likely end up being a clunker. Jacksonville covers and wins 20-17.
Ferocious D, ferocious dog.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia(-3.5, 44.5)
Well, apparently, I'm the only person in the Western Hemisphere that didn’t watch the Cowboys/Eagles game. Yeah, I know, I'm a loser. So what, wanna fight about it? From what I gather, the Eagles put on an impressive effort in the loss, premature spikes not withstanding. I think this is gonna be a great game, the best of the week(sorry Boys/Pack). Two great teams, firing on all cylinders(even the Steeler o-line!), but there are some mismatches to point out:
1. Philly Can’t Run- They are averaging 93yds/game, compared to 150 for the Steelers. Now, what did we all learn in Football 101? Its hard to beat good teams without a running game. Philly needs to keep Big Ben, Fast Willie and Homerun Holmes(Like it? Hate it? Tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org) off the field for at least half the game by getting some yards from Brian Westbrook. That is going to be hard, as the Steelers are playing as well as last year against the run(64ypg).
2. No Hail Mary’s- All due respect to the Cowpokes D, but McNabb is only gonna get 1 big play from this Steeler defense and nobody is gonna break 30 in this one. Polamalu and company are playing the pass pretty well and have improved over the last few years into a secondary that only gives me nightmares 3 nights a week. Time of possession and turnovers will decide this game.
3. Ben The Wise- Roethlisberger and O-coordinator Bruce Arians must be smart about the game plan this week, as the Steelers must run to exist, just as a Terminator must kill, but Philly plays tough run D. Ben has many weapons at his disposal and is savvy enough to mix it up with play action and some long tosses to keep Philly on their heels. As a Steeler fan, I’d love to see some passes to the running backs in this game. Along with less screen passes. And less draws on 3rd and 9. I could go on for hours like this, but my point is that Arians doesn’t have the greatest play calling ability, so lets hope Ben will overrule him when needs be.
As I said before, this will be the best game of the week, theres no reason it shouldn’t be a hard fought game with 2-3 big plays and some great D. And it really could go either way, but seeing how Bill Simmons picked against the Steelers, I'm gonna say Pittsburgh pulls off the upset 24-23.