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The Pro Football Notebook


November 4, 2010 7:42 AM

The AFC East's Road Show

TomBradyTakesNewEnglandOnTheRoad.jpgThe red-hot AFC East race takes its show on the road this week, with New England, New York and Miami all traveling. The Patriots are riding high at 6-1 right now, and looking like geniuses for having dumped Randy Moss on Minnesota for a third-round pick. The offense isn't explosive, but it's got the same disciplined, rhythmic feel that their championship teams of 2003-04 had. And a contract dispute with offensive lineman Logan Mankins was resolved this week. Everything's looking good in Foxboro and they should win a road test at Cleveland. The Browns' only wins are against Cincinnati, who we now see is collapsing, and New Orleans, when Drew Brees imploded. As long as Brady doesn't do the same, the Pats are coming home from the Dawg Pound at 7-1.

Rex Ryan takes his team to Detroit to try and rebound from that bizarre 9-0 loss to Green Bay. The Lions are coming off an equally strange win over Washington, a game marked by special teams breakdowns on both sides and finally culminated when the 'Skins pulled Donovan McNabb. What it can't obscure is that Jim Schwartz has Detroit playing competitive football every week--for those inclined to follow such things, the Lions are the league's best against the Vegas spread, a measurement of how much public opinion and the betting markets underrate them. But against an angry Jets team, I think they lose this one a little more decisively.

Miami's sitting on 4-3 and still fighting to keep themselves alive. A trip to Baltimore is not what the doctor ordered, but it's what the Fins must do on Sunday. Baltimore's coming off a bye week and Miami's strange home/road split--no wins at home, no losses on the road--is going to come to an end. Baltimore gradually pulls away in winning this one.

Buffalo is the one AFC East team at home, as they try and get their first win against a Chicago team in turmoil. The Bears are on their fifth offensive line combination of the year, none of which has worked in trying to protect Jay Cutler. For a team 4-3 and tied for first in the loss column of the NFC North, Chicago is looking and acting like a team coming apart at the seams. For an 0-7 team, the Bills are showing some spunk. Look for the home team to get its first win on Sunday.

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In the NFC, the soap opera that is the Minnesota Vikings will host an Arizona Cardinal operation that's running a decent soap story themselves, as Ken Wisenhunt is drawing fire for his handling of the Derek Anderson/Max Hall combo at quarterback. Minnesota's playing for their season here, and I think they'll finally manage a win. And New Orleans faces a trip to Carolina, where they need to keep pace with the Tampa Bay-Atlanta winner on Sunday. The Saints should be on high-alert after barely surviving the Panthers at home earlier in the year and defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis will lead a defense that bottles up the run in an easy win.

Image from gamedayusa.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 a wrap-up of baseball season. 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.

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