Old memories die hard. Think of the Titans, and what comes to
mind? Relentless defense. An offense that squeezes out first
downs on Eddie George's grinding runs or Steve McNair's scrambles
or dump passes that tight end Frank Wycheck turns into decent
Forget it. Everything has changed. McNair, coming off a 421-yard
passing day against the Texans, is putting up the best numbers of
his nine-year career. The wideouts are an exciting bunch, 5'10"
Derrick Mason and a trio of big guys who can fly--6'5" Drew
Bennett, 6'4" Tyrone Calico and 6'2" Justin McCareins. On Sunday,
Tennessee averaged 23.4 yards per catch.
George has seen better days. So has the defense, which gave up
458 yards to the Texans. What the Titans have now is a flashy
scoring machine that will put the Panthers to a severe test.
The Panthers pound the ball and play tough defense. Their
quarterback, Jake Delhomme, has yet to have a big day, but the
team has had five of them. I've been picking against Carolina all
year, and I can't break the habit. The Titans win on superior
firepower at quarterback.
The last time the Packers and the Rams met, in the playoffs two
years ago, Brett Favre was picked off six times in a 45-17 St.
Louis win. This can mean one of two things: Either the Pack will
exact a swift and terrible revenge, or the Rams' defense has
Favre's number. Because the game's in St. Louis, I like the Rams
on their artificial turf.
The Dolphins will beat the Patriots for the sixth straight time
in Miami. The Giants and the Eagles are flawed offensively and
haunted by turnovers. This week the Giants will commit fewer
mistakes and defeat their old NFC East foe. The Jets, euphoric
after their first win, will keep it going in Houston. The Bucs
will win in San Francisco, but it won't be easy. If Buffalo
wideout Eric Moulds is sidelined again with his groin injury, I
like the Redskins over the Bills. If Moulds plays, I'll take
Buffalo. That's how important he is. Denver against Minnesota is
another either/or: The Broncos win with quarterback Jake Plummer
(partially separated shoulder) running things, lose without him.
The Falcons are the pick over the Saints.
Finally, there's the Monday nighter. The Chiefs, who have pulled
out three straight by the seat of their pants, get a scare in
Oakland but keep their perfect record intact.
Last week: 7-3 Season record: 29-26
Dr. Z's Inside Football, every week during the season at