We all know how much Todd Haley wants this one for the Steelers, and if anyone knows the vulnerabilities of the Chiefs’ defense, it would be the former head coach. But the Steelers don’t really need the Haley Factor as motivation to pound the Chiefs – they’re at home, they’re coming off a monster win on the road against the Giants, and they’re infinitely superior. This is a crazy spread by NFL standards, but the over/under on Chiefs’ turnovers should be about four – that turns this into a blowout early. Romeo Crennel is going to focus more on the offense and thus gave his defensive duties up, which probably weakens the only thing the Chiefs have going for them. What a mess. Matt Cassel will fumble at least twice and throw two picks, and the Steelers romp in prime time. Oh, and the Chiefs continue their streak of not having led in a game this season, forcing the Elias people to dig even deeper than 1929 to find out the last time that happened nine games into a season.
Steelers 30, Chiefs 9
COLTS (-3.5) AT JAGS
This has all the makings of another blowout. Sure, the Colts are young and have a rookie quarterback, and yes, the Jags beat the Colts earlier. But, the Colts are perhaps the most motivated team in the NFL – players are even shaving their head in support of head coach Chuck Pagano, who is fighting cancer. And let’s not forget the Jags are awful. They couldn’t even put up a fight against the shaky Lions.
Colts 34, Jags 14
TITANS (+5.5) AT DOLPHINS
The Dolphins felt they really let one slip away at Indy last week and should come back strong against a Titans’ team that simply got humiliated at home last week against the Bears. The Titans’ debacle is the kind that can shake a team up for weeks.
Dolphins 20, Titans 14
FALCONS (-2.5) AT SAINTS
Quite possibly the game of the week. These division rivals always play entertaining games and this should be no different. The Falcons remain unbeaten, but it’s not like they’re overpowering anyone. They might be ripe for a Saints’ team that has won three of four and suddenly is starting to believe they can salvage this season. Having Vilma back on defense should be inspirational, and the Saints’ shoddy defense will need it. Drew Brees may just will his team to a win, but I just don’t think the Saints’ defense can stand up.
Falcons 38, Saints 35
BRONCOS (-3.5) AT PANTHERS
Real nice win on the road last week by Carolina to stop the bleeding. But now they go up against a red-hot Broncos team that has totally bought into the Peyton Manning Plan. Peyton should have a field day against that Panthers secondary.
Broncos 27, Panthers 13
RAIDERS (+7.5) AT RAVENS
A tempting spread considering how mediocre the Ravens’ offense is. And this isn’t a bad matchup for Oakland, which can stop the run – the only thing the Ravens do well. But this is a long cross-country trip and the Raiders’ offense is too mistake prone.
Ravens 23, Raiders 13
CHARGERS (+3.5) AT BUCS
These Bucs are sneaky good at times. And the Chargers’ season is heading down the drain in a hurry. Bucs get a late score to pull this out.
Bucs 24, Chargers 20
LIONS (-1.5) AT VIKINGS
The Lions are probably feeling a bit better about themselves but a tough divisional game on the road against the Vikings will bring them back to earth. Vikings 27, Lions 24 GIANTS (-4.5) AT BENGALS
The Giants certainly seem a little off their game the last couple of weeks. The offense has been sputtering, and while the Bengals seem the perfect tonic, it may be harder work for the Giants than you think. The Bengals hang around but in the end, the Giants’ pass rush and Eli Manning’s fourth-quarter heroics rise again.
Giants 20, Bengals 16
BILLS (+10.5) AT PATRIOTS
Again, a spread that gives you concern. But the Pats are rested and the Bills are capable right now of getting their doors blown off. One or two mistakes early by the Bills’ offense and this one is a rout. Patriots 34, Bills 10 JETS (+6.5) AT SEAHAWKS
If the Jets didn’t have enough problems, now they have to travel across several time zones and play in a very difficult environment. In the past, the Jets were tough-minded enough to overcome the obstacles. Not any more.
Seahawks 27, Jets 16
RAMS (+11.5) AT 49ERS
Yet another monster spread. But as improved as the Rams have become this season under Jeff Fisher, they are no match on the road for a 49ers team with Super Bowl ambitions. It’s November and the 49ers are going to start their march. They employ the ground-and-pound offense and the Rams have no answer.
49ers 27, Rams 13
COWBOYS (+1.5) AT EAGLES
Wrong team favored here. The Eagles are basically a train wreck. Michael Vick and the offense have no confidence, and the defense can’t tackle. This will be a fun game if you’re an NFC East fan, but really, no one else will have much interest.
Cowboys 26, Eagles 24
TEXANS (+1.5) AT BEARS
Game of the week, part 2. Both teams have superb records, but who have they beaten? Each team also has this is common – their only losses came to the Packers. The Texans have a little more firepower on offense, while both defenses are similar and get after the quarterback. Probably a toss-up, but the Texans come up with a late turnover to win it.