by Robert Ferringo - 11/10/2005
It's Week 10 and desperation is starting to set in. Middle-of-the-road teams are starting to realize that if they're going to make something of their season, time is running out. Here's a look at some key match ups this weekend that involve squads facing the proverbial backs-against-the-wall scenario.
Kansas City at Buffalo (-2), 1 p.m. on Sunday
When I first saw this number late Monday night - Buffalo -3 - I did a double take. This is a match up of one of the league's top rushing offenses against a team that can't stop the run. Kansas City has manhandled Miami and New York (the Bills' AFC East comrades), and is clearly the better team. Should be K.C. in a walk, right?
The Chiefs are the better team. No doubt. But the better team doesn't always win. Kansas City is beat up after a draining divisional win over their hated rival. Also, they're going up against a team with a serious identity crisis, coming off a bye, and at home in a season-defining game. Who knows what Buffalo is capable of?
Buffalo's defense always plays better in Orchard Park, and the news that K.C. lost Priest Holmes for the year means that the Bills can zero in on Larry Johnson. At 3-5, they're playing for their season here, and have had two weeks to regroup. They should be able to move the ball against a soft Chiefs defense. Buffalo is just 4-4 ATS this year, but are 8-2 ATS in their last ten home games, 10-0 ATS after facing the Patriots, and 5-2 ATS in their last seven against Kansas City.
St. Louis at Seattle (-7), 4 p.m. on Sunday
For all intents and purposes, this game is for the NFC West title and a playoff slot (two teams are not coming out of this division). If Seattle wins they will hold a three-game lead over St. Louis, and will have the tiebreaker by virtue of a series sweep.
These two clubs met in St. Louis back in Week 5, with the Seahawks pulling out a 37-31 victory. The teams average a combined 53 points per game, and I see no reason why they won't approach 70 again. In fact, Seattle is 9-3 on the Over in their last 12 games at home. They're 17-3 SU over their last 20 at home, and feature the league's No. 1 offense in terms of yards per game (387) and yards per play (6.1).
St. Louis is clinging to the fact that they've won three of the last four meetings between these teams, and won two in a row at Qwest Field. One of those victories was an improbable 17-point comeback and 33-27 overtime win last regular season. The other occurred during the playoffs. Also, Marc Bulger is likely to return under center, Steven Jackson is well rested, and Torry Holt is listed as probable. Be wary, the Rams are 1-46 ATS when they lose SU, so if you think they're going to win go with the money line.
Dallas at Philadelphia (-3), 9 p.m. on Monday
You know that part in horror or action movies when the protagonists are trapped, facing impending doom with the demons/aliens/monsters closing in on them? This usually leads to the obligatory "Screw it, if we're going to go out we're going to go out in a blaze of glory" kamikaze-killing spree scene. Well, that's pretty much where Philadelphia is.
The Eagles are in last place, coming off a tough loss, facing a team that pummeled them by three touchdowns a month ago, and drowning in distraction and controversy. Other than that everything's great. Philly is playing at home, in primetime, in a game that will be a turning point in their season for good or ill. I expect them, for pride's sake, to play their best game of the season. Also, the Eagles have beaten the Cowboys in Philadelphia seven straight times, and are 8-3 on Monday night under Andy Reid.
However, this is where the Parcells Factor comes into play. Big Bill has had two weeks to prep for this game. Also, judging by their last meeting, he controls the superior athletes. The atmosphere in the City of Brotherly Love will be chaotic and desperate. But Parcells is one of the best, and his squad is laden with veterans. They know what they're up against on MNF. Either way, it's not going to be pretty.
And without further ado, here is your Doc's Sports Week 10 NFL Power Rankings:
1) Indianapolis (8-0) - They haven't won by less than 17 points since Week 3, and the Texans has been outscored by an average of 14 points per game. Hence, the ridiculous 17.5-point line.
2) Atlanta (6-2) - Offensively, they're fourth in third down conversions (44 percent), sixth in first downs per game (21), and on pace for 3,000 rushing yards. Defensively, that secondary is still a major concern.
3) Denver (6-2) - They're 30th defensively on third down, 31st in defensive time of possession, and 32nd in defensive penalties. I'm just saying, for a team prone to late season meltdowns, these are troubling signs.
4) Pittsburgh (6-2) - Chaz Batch is once again under center, and Duce will be let loose against Cleve Land.
5) Carolina (6-2) - The Panthers are the league's best defense against the run, yielding just 74 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry. They're winning on the road, and the offense is scoring an outstanding 28 points per contest.
6) Cincinnati (7-2) - The Bengals have scored 18 passing touchdowns, and just five rushing. Also, the defense is just 23rd against the rush. This is indicative of them being a soft team. Soft, but skilled.
7) Seattle (6-2) - Seattle, along with Chicago and Indianapolis, is one of three teams that are 3-0 in its division.
8) Dallas (5-3) - Do you realize that this team should be 7-1? Julius Jones is back and healthy, but it will be interesting to see how many touches Parcells gives Marion Barber.
9) New York Giants (6-2) - They're averaging 5.5 yards per play. They're also doing what playoff teams do - win at home (4-0), and go .500 on the road (2-2).
10) Jacksonville (5-3) - Fred Taylor is doubtful, and the Jags are still favored by a touchdown. Interesting. I still profess that this team is a bunch of posers.
11) Chicago (5-3) - I was a little surprised they didn't try to pick up ex-Bear Anthony Thomas this week. The A-Train was picked up by New Orleans. The lack of attention to their former Rookie of the Year shows how much acrimony still exists.
12) Washington (5-3) - That was a very big win for them Sunday night, but it got completely overshadowed by the T.O. saga. For the Skins to bounce back and pick up a divisional win (over a team that's owned them recently) showed a lot of character.
13) San Diego (5-4) - I expect them to explode coming out of that bye next week.
14) Kansas City (5-3) - Let me be the first to question whether Larry Johnson can hold up physically and mentally for the final eight games.
15) New England (4-4) - As bad as they've been, they're still in first place in their division. And people have been vilifying the NFC North? They are 31st in the league in yards allowed, surrendering an eye-popping 370 per outing.
16) Tampa Bay (5-3) - The Tampa offense is the third most penalized crew in the league. They're 11-2-1 as home dogs recently, and are getting two points this week while hosting Washington.
17) Philadelphia (4-4) - If they're going to do anything, Brian Westbrook needs to man-up and earn that fat new contract that he just signed by grinding out some tough yards.
18) St. Louis (4-4) - I would still bet that 80 percent of football fans don't know who's coaching this team. And 90 percent of them couldn't pick Joe Vitt out of a lineup.
19) Buffalo (3-5) - They're giving up an ungodly 5.0 yards per carry, and have surrendered 12 runs of over 20 yards. Both are worst in the NFL.
20) Miami (3-5) - After he scored his first touchdown of the season last week, I was half expecting Ricky Williams to pretend the football was a bong and fake as if he were smoking it as a celebration. But they I remembered he couldn't afford the fine.
21) Oakland (3-5) - Lamont Jordon looks like he's been worth every penny. He's leading the team in rushing yards and receptions.
22) Minnesota (3-5) - They're still terrible, but there's enough talent on this club to make a late run in the division. They've won two of three, but have lost three consecutive games to the Giants.
23) Baltimore (2-6) - Is anyone else stoked over the return of Kyle Boller? No? Me neither. He can't be any worse than Anthony Wright. The Ravens are last in the league in touchdowns (7) and scoring (12 ppg). They have won six in a row against the Jaguars.
24) Cleveland (3-5) - Well, you can't blame the defense. The Browns are first in the AFC in red zone defense, allowing a touchdown on just 39 percent of opponents' drives.
25) Detroit (2-6) - Well, you can't blame the defense. The Lions are tied for third in the league with 20 takeaways.
26) New York Jets (2-6) - The Brooks Bollinger Experiment was not some stroke of genius by Herm Edwards. He's simply trying to rectify the mistake of bringing Vinny back.
27) New Orleans (2-7) -They're turning the ball over three times a game (27 total) and have a -13 differential. They're also the most penalized team in the league. They needed this bye week about a month ago.
28) Arizona (2-6) - The loss of Bertrand Berry for the rest of the season is a kick in the groin to an already porous defense. The Cards are surrendering 26 points a game.
29) Tennessee (2-7) - Steve McNair - Hall of Famer or not? Questions like that are the only thing interesting about a team that's lost six of their last seven.
30) Green Bay (1-7) - Rumor has it that the team is already starting to second-guess the decision to draft Aaron Rodgers with their No. 1 pick.
31) San Francisco (2-6) - The 49ers average 25 minutes of offense per week. The O/U on first downs that they gain against Chicago is seven. I'm taking the under.
32) Houston (1-7) - OK, since they're going to get blasted by about 34 on Sunday, let me take this opportunity to say that I watched Keira Knightley on the Daily Show last night. All I can say is - WOW. It's not that I didn't know she was hot - she's always been one of my favorites - but she is out-of-control smoking. And she's only 20.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail email@example.com
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's football picks service.