A Week of Rest Won...t Be Enough For the Bengals to Beat the ColtsCORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: A back-page headline for a sports column about the NFL on Nov. 18 switched two words. It should have indicated that the Colts were likely to beat the Bengals, not the other way around.
By Yong-yi Zhu
Here’s what to expect next week in the NFL:
Game of the Week: Colts at Bengals
The Colts are on an absolute tear. I don’t think the Bengals can hang with Indy, since they couldn’t keep up with the Steelers several weeks ago. Despite having a week off to prepare for the best team in the NFL, they will still be one step behind the Colts. The Colts will win by a touchdown or more.
Upset Special: Buccaneers at Falcons
Jon Gruden made the call of the century when he went for it on the two-point conversion. The Bucs are still high from that victory over a tough Redskins team. The Falcons, on the other hand, lost badly to the Packers. I don’t think Falcons QB Michael Vick can overcome the Buc defense. This will be a major upset, showing that the Bucs will not go away just yet.
Cardinals at Rams: The Cardinals get RB Anquan Boldin back, and that should make a huge difference in their offense. St. Louis may be a good offensive team right now, especially with RB Stephen Jackson and the return of QB Marc Bulger, but they will not win this game by 10 points. I’d say a touchdown is more likely.
Lions at Cowboys: The Cowboys got a miracle Monday night. The Lions are going to need one this week to win. Lions QB Joey Harrington’s stock fluctuates much more than the NASDAQ these days. Will it be boy-genius or city-goat that shows up? Either way, it’s going to be a Cowboy win.
Jaguars at Titans: This rivalry always produces shocking results. Remember in 1999 when the only team the Jaguars lost to all season was the Titans, thrice? Don’t be surprised if the Titans stick close to the Jags. Jacksonville still has major redzone issues and will not win by more than a field goal, if they win at all.
Saints at Patriots: The Pats need more effort than you might imagine to beat the Saints. This game is going to be decided by a field goal, especially since the Patriots needed a last second stand against the Dolphins to keep them from tying the game up.
Eagles at Giants: The Eagles’ season may have effectively ended with one interception Monday night. Their spirits must be about as low as the Giants’ are this week, after New York’s three-point loss to the Vikings. The difference is that the Giants are not going to fold. Take the Giants and give the points, since the Eagles will not have QB Donovan McNabb.
Steelers at Ravens: Ravens QB Kyle Boller was awful last week. Playing the Steelers means that Ravens RB Jamal Lewis will be completely shut down. Boller will be forced into lots of mistakes. This shouldn’t be a close game.
Seahawks at 49ers: Having the worst passing defense means that the 49er secondary will be torched by QB Matt Hasselback. Did I mention the Hawks have RB Shaun Alexander in case the air game doesn’t work? The Seahawks will win by at least two touchdowns.
Bills at Chargers: The Bills have the worst run defense in the NFL. Chargers RB LaDanian Tomlinson is going to have a field day with them especially if the Chargers don’t make the same types of mistakes that the Chiefs made last week. Let LT do his work and the game will be over in a heartbeat.
Vikings and Packers: Both teams are coming off wins that demonstrate how well they can both potentially play. Green Bay’s win was a little more convincing, and as a result, I think they are going to win this game, despite having a worse record.
Panthers at Bears: The Bears will not have RB Cedric Benson, which is a major problem. The Panthers are about as hot as any team can be right now. Carolina will win by at least a touchdown behind QB Jake Delhomme and WR Steve Smith.
Chiefs at Texans: Even without RB Priest Holmes, the Chiefs will run all over the Texans. Tag another loss to Dom Capers, who I promise you, will be gone by season’s end.
Jets at Broncos: The Broncos are hot right now. They beat up on a third-rate Raiders team last week, and they will do it again against the Jets this week. They will easily win by two touchdowns.
Raiders at Redskins: Coach Joe Gibbs will take on the man who replaced him when he left the Redskins. This one shouldn’t be close. QB Brunell will torch the Raider defense much the same way Plummer did last week.
Dolphins at Browns: This will not be a tight game. The Dolphins are going to run well on the Browns, considering how poor the Cleveland run defense is. Miami will win by a touchdown or more.