After the Patriots beat the Browns by 17, Bill Belichick told the press, "I think we can play better." This immediately became a highlight on the wrap-up shows. What, he wants to win every game by 50? But he's right. It wasn't one of Tom Brady's better games. He missed Randy Moss three times, and I counted five other balls that were off target. But the Pats kept gunning. I think I know why: They were tuning up for their biggest game of the season so far, at Dallas.
The Pats are effective when they gash teams on the ground behind a quick-striking line. They're effective when they go no-huddle, fiddling with short passes before unleashing the quick strike to either Moss or Donte' Stallworth (right). They like to alternate methods, but I think they spent so much time working on their patterns against Cleveland because that's how they'll attack the Cowboys—through the air.
Stopping the Dallas attack will be the biggest problem. New England hasn't faced as innovative and active a quarterback as Tony Romo this year. Guys like that can wear out a defense. I see a high-scoring affair as both teams come out gunning. New England wins a close one.
Upset special: Carolina over Arizona, as John Fox unleashes his blitz on Kurt Warner. I like Cincinnati, coming off a bye, over K.C. and ailing QB Damon Huard. Tennessee is at a weird point, playing three NFC South teams in a row; I'll make the Titans upset No. 2, over Tampa Bay. Green Bay rebounds against the Redskins, and Chicago makes it two in a row with a win over the Vikings. And I'll drop the dime on both New York teams, Jets over Philly and Giants over Atlanta in the Monday-nighter.
Last week 8--1
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