With attention spans dwindling, we forego full game-by-game previews to give you the essentials you need to know about every contest this glorious NFL weekend. Click here to go back in time.
The top sports headlines of the day
Cincinnati (0-5) at NY Jets (2-2): I'm just going to quickly put this on the table -- when the highlight of your season thus far is your "star" wide receiver kissing the head coach on the head, things are not going well. The Bengals look to me a lot like the cast of "Entourage" looked last week trying to "act" on mushrooms. There is no way bad actors should be forced to act like they're on drugs, unless the point is to make them look very, very stupid. This goes for the Bengals. They have acted like a football team for years, but haven't really produced much, and now we get to see them on mushrooms. It isn't a pretty picture. Also, did you notice I went this entire paragraph without mentioningB
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_ _ _ _? This is me, taking a stand.
Miami (2-2) at Houston (0-4): The interesting thing about working for a website that doesn't force you to come in an office is that you develop relationships other ways, mostly online. Last week after Sage Rosenfels forgot he wasn't a Transformer and couldn't just jump and become a helicopter, the first person I thought of was our own Stephanie. That's how bad it is to be a Texans fan right now. People you don't even know actually feel bad for you. Every year, people force you to believe in this team and every year you get some brain-cell-challenged player thinking the John Elway flip in the 1998 Super Bowl was a super idea. The only good news is they are playing the Dolphins, who are coming off one of those "did we really just beat San Diego with Chad Pennington?" games that are sure to allow for a let-down. If Houston found a little character on Sunday and could pull out a victory, they realistically could be 3-4 heading into Minnesota in Week 9. See that, I'm giving all you Houstonians hope!!
Detroit (0-4) at Minnesota (2-3): So basically, any team that wants to contain Adrian Peterson should just watch that Monday Night Football game against the Saints. Their main goal of the evening was to not let Peterson beat them, holding him to just 1.5 yards per carry -- nearly three yards less per carry than his previous low for the season. The only snag here is the Lions have the 30th ranked rush defense in the league, which probably hasn't caused Peterson to lose massive amounts of sleep this week. Also, here is a short list of other things the Lions aren't very good at: passing, rushing, pass defense, special teams, and winning. Yep, that basically sums it up. I ask this question in complete honesty -- what happens first, the DOW reaches 6,000 or the Lions win a football game? (Also, a little side note. I wrote that last sentence two days ago, and it read "...the DOW reaches 7,000 or..." and I had to change it to 6. Good times.)
Oakland (1-3) at New Orleans (2-3): Just quit it right now. Honestly, don't even start. He is who we thought he was. Nobody can say that Reggie Bush is any more of a football player after Monday night than he was before it. We know he's great at returning punts, he always has been. That doesn't change the fact that he has yet to rush for 100 yards this season and has only eclipsed the century mark once receiving. Yes, this is his best season by far, but you can't argue with me that he is some elite backfield football player right now. Also, here is a sentence I bet you'd never think you'd see -- JaMarcus Russell has a higher passer rating through the fifth week of the season than Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. I'm also certain if the Saints don't pull this game out at home against the Raiders, our own T-Mantz will be on Ebay shopping for a ball and chain to go play with in the Hudson River.
Pick: New Orleans
Carolina (4-1) at Tampa Bay (3-2): Wow, it is the true battle of two NFC teams nobody really thought would be this good! It's like if Nickelback and Staind got in a battle of the bands, only the complete and utter opposite. Last week Larry Johnson was another victim of the nasty Panthers defense, a unit that has held Johnson, Peterson, Michael Turner, Matt Forte and LaDainian Tomlinson to less than 100 yards rushing. Basically, with that list, Carolina won't face a tougher rusher the rest of the year, so the weight will be on Tampa's passing game and Jeff Garcia, who will start this week after Brian Griese got knocked out against Denver. I think Carolina is nasty, but Garcia always plays good in these "what, you forgot I was good?" games. This is one of them.
Pick: Tampa Bay
St. Louis (0-4) at Washington (4-1): Hey Washington, enjoy the first of your three-week bye period, and by that I mean the Rams, the Lions, and then the Browns. Let us all know how winning seven straight feels. But Dan Snyder, no more of this please.
Pick: Not St. Louis
Chicago (3-2) at Atlanta (3-2): In five games this season, the Bears have scored 41 more points than they did in their first five games last season. I bet that nasty defense is very thankful. Kyle Orton hasn't been all bad, Forte has brought a dirty rushing attack to Chicago and two of the three wins have been against Indy and Philadelphia. That said, I'm going to admit it -- I'm a Matt Ryan fan! Did anyone give him a chance with this Falcons team (including me)? Absolutely not. It is actually weird how you can win games when you have a quarterback that doesn't kill dogs. It's a strange concept but it works.
Baltimore (2-2) at Indianapolis (2-2): If this was 2005, boy what a game this would be! The best offense, the best defense, facing off in a mid-season clash for complete domination of the AFC!!! The crazy part of this is only one of the two are still playing like '05 and it isn't Manning and the Colts offense. Also, can we set the record straight please. Peyton is not worse than Eli. That is blatantly incorrect. Like Fire Joe Morgan points out all the time in baseball, these games are actually team games, with more than one guy throwing the ball, running the route and catching his own ball. I guarantee if it was humanly possible for Peyton to do such a feat, he'd be running the best possible slant route you've seen this side of Larry Fitzgerald. I'm not even a big Peyton fan or anything, I just respect and appreciate what he does week in and week out. The dude is better than his brother but it is close, and that is just about the highest praise Eli can land as a professional quarterback.
Jacksonville (2-3) at Denver (4-1): I'm fairly certain nothing is more irritating than living in Denver and not being a Broncos fan when they are good. I'm not dogging Donkey fans, I'd be happy if my team was 4-1, but you hear about it all the time like Jay Cutler just legalized marijuana or came up with indestructible Birkenstocks. People, lets settle down for just a minute and realize it is fairly difficult to win a lot of games when your defense is hanging out with Tom Hanks and Wilson on that deserted island. Seriously, the Broncos defense is giving up as many points per game, 26, as the Chiefs, and Kansas City has two guys named Turk and Tamba on their defensive line. Someone tell me this, because I wasn't the unfortunate soul to do such a thing, but how is Maurice Jones-Drew doing on your fantasy team? When did you drop him, the fourth snap of Week 1?
Green Bay (2-3) at Seattle (1-3): Ohhh nooo!!!! What did we get ourselves into?!!?!?! Aaron Rodgers?!?!??! He ain't no stinking Brett Favre!!!! Three losses in a row, including one to the Atlanta &%@ Falcons?!? Where is number 4?!?!!?! We miss our Brett?!?!!? He had six touchdowns!!!!! He's a modern day Christopher Columbus!!! He could outsmart Albert Einstein!!! He writes better than William Shakespeare!!!
Don't you hate that? I mean, Rodgers has really only had one bad game this season, the stinker against Tampa Bay, but other than that has been fairly solid, throwing for 290 yards or more three times and only having one interception if you don't count the game against the Bucs (which you should, so four). The good news for Aaron and the gang is they are playing the Seahawks, whose lone win came against the Rams. Hey, even Aaron Rodgers could beat the Rams!!
Pick: Green Bay
Dallas (4-1) at Arizona (3-2): Ding ding ding, yep, that noise you hear is the UPSET OF THE WEEK PICK!!! I'm going against the Cowboys here because for some reason my company allows me to drink whiskey on Friday mornings. Dallas got through all the "need more balls" talk from Terrell Owens, but they barely beat the Bengals, which you can't even joke about anymore because they're so dysfunctional. Kurt Warner and company will be in for a shootout and at home at that stadium in western Arizona, I think they do just enough to win. Final score, 75-72.
Philadelphia (2-3) at San Francisco (2-3): Raise your hand if you were one of the people that thought Donovan McNabb would have a good couple of games and then fall on his face like he tends to do. Okay, so everyone reading this has your hand raised? Awesome, now put it down because I bet your coworkers think you're weird. McNabb hasn't been horrible, but he hasn't been that great in the last four weeks, throwing just three touchdowns in that span to his two interceptions. With Brian Westbrook most likely out for another game, it will be a lot of air time for a team facing a 49ers secondary with the third most interceptions, seven, in the NFL. After those first two weeks, would you have ever thought the Eagles would be the worst team in the NFC East?
Pick: San Francisco
New England (3-1) at San Diego (2-3): When can we all admit the Chargers aren't that good? I hear week in and week out from people that "This San Diego Chargers team is talented, and should win," key word there on should (I italicized it for even more clarification). Their defense gives up more points than the Raiders, Bengals and Browns and the Patriots can, if you can believe it, go deep to Randy Moss if they want to (See Five, Week). Also, am I crazy to think Tomlinson is quickly deteriorating as a full-time back? He's banged up almost every week, and it just don't seem he is the same guy we used to love. This season he's rushed less than 40 yards in more games (2) than he has over 100 yards (1). Everyone keeps saying this Chargers team is good, but don't you have to prove it in one of Those Games? Hey Philip Rivers (points to Week 6), it's one of those Those Games!
Pick: New England
NY Giants (4-0) at Cleveland (1-3): Basically, we have one team playing about 416 times greater than their potential and another team that's greatest accomplishment in 2008 was having their backup quarterback yucking it up with the guy who isn't even going to win the White House. What should we call the Brady Quinn-John McCain encounter when the Republican loses in November? Near-Gate? Second Place Ain't So Bad - Gate? I'm leaning toward Foreplay-Gate and leaving it at that. Oh, and the chance Quinn comes in this game after Derek Anderson is the first player to actually have a limb detached from his body has to be greater than 65 percent, doesn't it? I'm taking the over if anyone is interesting in some action. Also, trash talking helps.