St. Louis is going to San Francisco. There's officially a quarterback controversy by the Bay, as Mike Singletary must decide between Troy or Alex Smith. That's still an upgrade from prior to their win in London over Denver, when the only choice was to suffer with Alex. The Rams are getting efficient play from Sam Bradford and in Stephen Jackson still have a rare running back who can thrive even without a ton of support from the passing game. The 49ers should be ready to play at home and with their season on the line, but I just like the way this St. Louis team has come together under Steve Spagnuolo and look for them to get the win that puts Frisco out of their misery.
Seattle goes to Arizona, licking their wounds off the brutal beating the Giants inflicted upon them with Matt Hasselbeck on the bench. The Cardinals are only a game out at 3-5 and could be tied for first, if not for that fourth-quarter defensive meltdown in Minnesota. I lean the Seahawks to get this done, with their ability to make plays on defense. But with this caveat--if they go in the tank again, I'm done picking them in any really competitive situation.
The AFC South doesn't have the neat storyline of all four teams playing each other, but it still promises to be a big week in this tightly packed division where everyone's within a game of each other. Houston visits Jacksonville, a battle of 4-4 teams where the loser is realistically done. The discontent is strong in Houston, where the bloom is off that 3-1 start and they aren't getting any pressure on the quarterback. This has to be the week that changes, as Jacksonville's having some protection issues and Maurice Jones-Drew is down a notch in his production at running back. If Houston's head is on straight after consecutive tough losses to Indy and San Diego, they keep their season alive with a win here.
Tennessee visits Miami in one of the day's better games. The Titans are tied for first with the Colts, and the Dolphins are in flux. At 4-4, the Fish opted to bench Chad Henne and go with another Chad--Pennington at quarterback and they signed veteran corner Al Harris off waivers after Green Bay cut him loose. The quicker Harris gets into shape, he can help a team that's been let down by Sean Smith and Jason Allen at the corner spot opposite Vontae Davis. But he won't help them this week, and if they don't win this week, the playoffs are out the window. Look for the Titans to establish the run with Chris Johnson and churn out a workmanlike 19-17 win. It's a win they'll need with Indianapolis having an easy game with Cincinnati ahead.
Image from utvblog.com
Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.