By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 10, 2002
Colts (4-4) at Eagles (6-2)
OF NOTE: The Colts have soundly beaten the Eagles the past two times they have met, but this is a different Colts squad. They are skidding a bit, losers of two straight, and have yet to beat a winning team. The Eagles offense has sputtered lately, but its No. 2 defense will control this game by itself. With injuries crippling their running game (starting RB Edgerrin James is still out), the Colts will be forced to throw more, which will play into the Eagles' hands. The Eagles' ferocious pass rush will force turnovers that will cost the Colts dearly.
FRY'S PROMISE: Eagles 30, Colts 17.
OF NOTE: The Bengals are finally smiling after getting their first win last Sunday. But chances are, the good feeling will be short-lived. The Ravens are certainly beatable, but the Bengals have had trouble against the Ravens' defense, which shut them out last season 16-0. RB Corey Dillon had 127 yards in the game and will need a similar performance, if not a better one, for the Bengals to have a chance. More likely, Ravens QB Jeff Blake will have a big game, spoiling the day for his former team.
FRY'S PROMISE: Ravens 21, Bengals 17.
OF NOTE: The Pack is rolling and QB Brett Favre's injured leg seems fine. That's bad news for the Lions, who continue to get better each week. They better hope RB James Stewart has a big game. The Packers' defensive weakness is stopping the run and the Lions are 8-2 when he gets 20 or more carries, which he should today. Then, there's Favre, who almost never lets the Packers lose at home (he's 70-12 at home). The Lions are dangerous and could cause Green Bay problems, but not enough to keep the Pack from beating them for the fifth straight time.
FRY'S PROMISE: Packers 20, Lions 13.
OF NOTE: Neither team seems headed in the right direction in the NFC. The Giants are coming off a win, but it was against the fading Jaguars. The Vikings' problem is obvious: too many turnovers. They have a league-high 24. The Giants, though, aren't particularly good at taking advantage of opponents' mistakes, which could help the Vikes stay in this game. The Giants need to start fast and force the Vikes into passing situations. New York is 37-4 under coach Jim Fassel when leading going into the fourth quarter.
FRY'S PROMISE: Vikings 29, Giants 28.
OF NOTE: The Steelers are 11-1 all-time against the Falcons and have won the past nine. But this is a more potent Falcons squad with QB Michael Vick. Playing on natural grass might make him slightly less elusive, but he'll still give the Steelers fits. The Steelers are back to looking like playoff contenders, winning four straight. The Falcons' defense is solid, but can be hurt by the run, so expect the Steelers to pound the ball. The Falcons will keep things close, but playing at home should give the Steelers a slight nod.
FRY'S PROMISE: Steelers 23, Falcons 21.
OF NOTE: Forget the records. This is a huge game. The Chargers were one of the best first-half teams and the Rams, winners of three straight, are hot. Running back Marshall Faulk has had three straight big games (178 yards, 183, 158), but will probably be limited against a run defense that's fourth in the league (89.5 yards allowed per game). The key will be how inexperienced quarterback Marc Bulger handles the Chargers' pressure. And how the Chargers rebound from last week's ugly 44-13 blowout at home against the Jets.
FRY'S PROMISE: Rams 22, Chargers 16.
OF NOTE: The Titans are quietly turning back into contenders. They have won three straight and played with noticeably more aggression and passion. Thing is, QB Steve McNair is still bothered by a foot injury that could limit his mobility. If he can move well, this could be a blowout. The Texans are clearly vulnerable after getting wiped out by the Bengals 38-3 last week. The Titans' league-best kick coverage team (18.1 yards per return) and stingy red zone defense should keep the Texans backed up and on their heels all day.
FRY'S PROMISE: Titans 34, Texans 13.
OF NOTE: The Saints have won the past four meetings, but with Panthers quarterback Rodney Peete back in the lineup, this should be a tight game. The outcome hinges on the Panthers' ability to contain quarterback Aaron Brooks. The Panthers lead the league in sacks (31) and must disrupt Brooks' flow to keep the score close. The Saints will probably counter with running back Deuce McAllister, who is third in the league in rushing (836 yards) and 100-yard games (six). The Panthers, meanwhile, have not allowed a rusher to go over 100 yards.
FRY'S PROMISE: Saints 19, Panthers 17.
OF NOTE: The Redskins beat a struggling team on the road last week (14-3 at Seattle) and figure to do the same today. The Jags' hot start is all but forgotten after four straight losses. They have dropped their two meetings with Washington, but the 'Skins won't have an easy time. They are minus-5 in turnover ratio, meaning the Jags could steal this one with a few timely turnovers. RB Kenny Watson, who starts for injured Stephen Davis, needs another 100-yard game (110 last week vs. Seattle) for Steve Spurrier's bunch to climb above .500.
FRY'S PROMISE: Redskins 27, Jaguars 17.
OF NOTE: The Seahawks are headed toward one of their worst seasons under coach Mike Holmgren and need this one badly. Then again, so do the Cardinals, who are trying to keep up with the NFC West-leading Niners. With backup quarterback Matt Hasselback at the helm, the Seahawks will pound running back Shaun Alexander, but the Cardinals have a tough run defense (112.2 rushing yards allowed per game). And the Cards usually have little trouble against the Seahawks, winning five of their past six meetings.
FRY'S PROMISE: Cards 26, Seahawks 10.
OF NOTE: The Bears are crippled by injuries and have lost six straight. QB Jim Miller still is banged up and Chris Chandler will start, which could limit the Bears' already struggling offense, which has averaged 10 points over the past two games. The Patriots seem renewed after blasting the Bills 38-7 on the road to snap a four-game slide. The Pats have won three of the past four meetings. After today, it'll be four of the past five if the Pats running game doesn't suddenly disappear again, leaving QB Tom Brady to carry the whole load.
FRY'S PROMISE: Patriots 21, Bears 16.
OF NOTE: Both teams are coming off wins over the Raiders. The Niners are perhaps playing their best this season. That's good because the Chiefs are liable to give the Niners all they can handle. The Niners must keep pace with a Chiefs offense that ranks as the league's third best (382 yards per game). Check the fourth-quarter scoring, which is where the Chiefs usually play their best. If the Niners can hold the Chiefs to fewer than 10 fourth-quarter points, they should take this one. If not, hold on to your seats for a wild finish.
FRY'S PROMISE: Niners 33, Chiefs 24.
OF NOTE: The Jets still are trying to get their season turned around, but they could easily bag the 'Fins if QB Ray Lucas has another bad game in place of injured starter Jay Fiedler. Lucas has been awful in two starts (six interceptions), grounding the 'Fins' once formidable offense. Running back Ricky Williams is perhaps the only one who can rescue the sinking Dolphins, who have lost two straight. He should have close to 150 yards against a Jets run defense that's second to last in the league (147.9 yards allowed per game).
FRY'S PROMISE: Jets 14, Dolphins 13.