New Orleans hears your talk about how they have been affected by the Bountygate stuff. In truth, they were affected by the loss of Will Smith, and a Redskins team that came out with a great game plan and exploited a vulnerable defense, while pressuring Brees on the other side of the ball. Of course, it’s nice if your “bad” day results in scoring 32 points while having a potential touchdown fumbled out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. The Saints will be fine.
They still face a tough road test in Carolina. The Panthers offense struggled last week, particular blocking on the interior line, and the Buccaneers beat them 16-10. We don’t know if that was the sign of a sophomore offensive slump under Ron Rivera, or if the Bucs announced that they would be a difficult out at home. Cam Newton vowed that the Panthers will average more than 10 points a game. Bold prediction, to think you will be better than the 1976 Buccaneers.
This matchup will come down to whether the Saints do a better job of protecting Brees, and whether Carolina can solve their issues up front that led to an invisible amount of rushing yards and pressure on Newton.
The other games today, in order of time and my watchability rating (until it becomes close late):
Baltimore at Philadelphia: everyone likes Baltimore, so I’m picking the Eagles in a interconference battle.
Tampa Bay at NY Giants: Schiano returns to New Jersey, will the Bucs continue to bring the fire on defense? Giants vulnerable at cornerback but should bounce back offensively (drops by Cruz, early fumble by Wilson affecting the output last game)
Minnesota at Indianapolis: Yeah, it’s not a prolific matchup of playoff teams, but we get to see how Luck improves to game two. Colts dealing with lots of injuries, but hope for some home magic.
Cleveland at Cincinnati: Rubbernecking on this one. Brandon Weeden has to be better. The Bengals have plenty of injuries. The Browns are now without Joe Haden.
Kansas City at Buffalo: Fitzpatrick was brutal, as was the Chiefs defense last week.
Oakland at Miami: Carson Palmer will teach Ryan Tannehill how to throw interceptions the right way.
Houston at Jacksonville: Jaguars have injury question marks along both lines, not a good combo going against the Texans. Jacksonville did look better last week, but will it continue with some key guys out?
Arizona at New England: Kevin Kolb in New England. The Pats are heavy favorites, will probably only watch if Cardinals manage to make it a game late.
4 PM Games:
The late games are full of compelling matchups. The Cowboys going on the road again to Seattle, against Russell Wilson. Jets and Steelers. RGIII’s second start, coming against the team that traded the pick that made it possible in Washington. Oh, and Tennessee at San Diego.
[photo via US Presswire]