Capsule comments, predictions for weekend NFL games

Published: Saturday, Oct. 10 2015 6:13 a.m. MDT

Talk about taking your time to make a decision.

Just over 12 years ago the Tennessee Titans had the 16th pick of the 1998 draft. Staring at the risk-reward equation that was a young Marshall University wide receiver named Randy Moss, the Titans took a pass.

Instead, the Titans opted for better character, they said, and almost the same straight-away speed in Kevin Dyson. Dyson, who never went to a Pro Bowl, was involved in the most notable play in Titans' history when he was stopped a yard short of sending a Super Bowl into overtime.

Moss has built a potential Hall of Fame career.

So, the Titans stared at the risk-reward equation once again and were the only team to put in a waiver claim on the controversial Moss this week.

With half a season to go, the Titans decided it was now-or-never in an AFC race where seven teams have at least five wins and 10 have records better than .500.

— Must see game of the week

Buccaneers (5-2) at Falcons (5-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The skinny: This is a big outing in a tight, three-way NFC South race, the first of two meetings this season for these division rivals. The Falcons swept last season's series and have won the last three meetings between them.

If the Falcons are at home and QB Matt Ryan makes the start, they have been money. Ryan is 16-1 in his career starts at the Georgia Dome. He's almost always looking to Roddy White first and White has had at least 100 yards receiving in three of his last four games.

The difference will be: If the Buccaneers can play with the lead. To let the Falcons ease into a run-first game where they protect a lead of their own, is to ask for trouble.

Tampa QB Josh Freeman is the comeback artist with six of his eight career wins having been fourth-quarter comebacks, but that's no way to do business against the Falcons. Atlanta is third in the league at 32.7 rushing attempts per game and that's the tempo the Falcons want.

The call: Falcons 27-21.

— Catch them if you can

Dolphins (4-3) at Ravens (5-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

All four of the Miami wins have come on the road this season and Dolphins QB Chad Henne is 7-3 in road starts in his career. The key will be the Dolphins running game.

The Ravens don't give up 100-yard rushing games to backs, but Ricky Williams has two 100-yard games in three career starts against Baltimore.

Ravens 20-17.

Chargers (3-5) at Texans (4-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

These are the kinds of games that make defensive coordinators weep. The Chargers lead the league in total offense at 426.9 yards per game and lead the league in passing at 315.3 yards per game.

The Texans are eighth in the league in rushing and lead the league in rushing touchdowns. The defense that can force the opposing offense to at least pause once in a while could be the winner.

Chargers 35-31.

Giants (5-2) at Seahawks (4-3)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

Charlie Whitehurst has waited quite some time to be a starter, but this may not be what he had in mind. Whitehurst will start for the injured Matt Hasselbeck and gets a Giants defense that batters quarterbacks weekly.

New York is tied for third in the league in sacks. New York DE Osi Umenyiora has seven sacks and six forced fumbles in his last four games.

Giants 27-13.

Chiefs (5-2) at Raiders (4-4)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

It's been quite some time since a Raiders-Chiefs matchup meant something in the AFC West race, but this one certainly does. The Chiefs have won eight consecutive games against the Raiders.

Kansas City has also made the most of close games, going 3-1 already this season in games decided by seven points or less. The Raiders are 3-1 at home this season.

Raiders 24-17.

— Quick hits

Bears (4-3) at Bills (0-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

This game is a Bills "home" game in Toronto and the first meeting between the two teams since 2006. Turnovers have crushed the Bears this season — they've had four games with at least three turnovers already this season.

Bears 24-21.

Patriots (6-1) at Browns (2-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

There may be more drama between the two head coaches — former associates who have parted ways — than on the field. The Patriots continue to be one of the league's most charitable defenses (28th at 384 yards allowed per game) yet they are the only one-loss team left in the NFL.

Patriots 31-16.

Saints (5-3) at Panthers (1-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The Saints escaped with a two-point win over the Panthers early last month, but seem to have righted themselves with a big-time effort against the Steelers this past Sunday night. The Panthers league-worst offense doesn't have enough firepower to stay in this one.

Saints 30-10.

Jets (5-2) at Lions (2-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

QB Matt Stafford's return to the lineup last week helped settle things down some in the Lions offense, but he gets a tall order here. The Jets make life difficult on even experienced QBs with their unorthodox looks and blitzes. Jets have won their last six road games.

Jets 27-19.

Cardinals (3-4) at Vikings (2-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The Vikings have the look of a torn and frayed team after opening the season with Super Bowl aspirations. Head coach Brad Childress, in the wake of his criticism of Brett Favre and the release of Randy Moss, would feel the heat with a loss here.

Vikings 28-21.

Colts (5-2) at Eagles (4-3)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The pass-first mentality of Eagles head coach Andy Reid flies in the face of the strategy that works best against Colts QB Peyton Manning when most teams believe you have to limit Manning's possessions.

Colts 31-28.

Cowboys (1-6) at Packers (5-3)

Kickoff: 8:20 p.m.

The Cowboys' shortcomings will be played out in prime time plenty this year since the networks believed they would be in the Super Bowl hunt and scheduled them that way. Dallas has won eight out of the last 11 between these two.

Packers 35-20.

Steelers (5-2) at Bengals (2-5)

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. Monday

The skinny: The Bengals swept the season series in '09 between these two teams. The Steelers are feeling a little put upon these days with the league's crackdown on hits deemed out of line.

Steelers' linebacker James Harrison has been fined the most this season — a total of $100,000 — and his teammates came to his defense this week. They'll play with an edge in this one and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is 5-0 on Monday Night Football.

For their part, in a limited MNF resume, the Bengals have won four of their last five home games on MNF.

The difference will be: If the Bengals can get anything going on the ground against the league's top run defense. The Steelers are surrendering just 58.9 yards rushing per game. That's an eye-popping 24.2 yards per game better than the No. 2 team.

The Bengals flourish when they get RB Cedric Benson going and have a 9-1 record in Benson's 100-yard rushing games with the team. Cincinnati hasn't given Benson more than 23 carries in a game since September and he doesn't have a rushing TD in a game since Sept. 26.

No team has rushed for more than 75 yards against the Steelers this season and five teams haven't topped 70.

The call: Steelers 20-10.

The Broncos (2-6), Titans (5-3), Rams (4-4), 49ers (2-6), Redskins (4-4), Jaguars (4-4) have byes.

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