First place is on the line in this NFC South matchup between division rivals. Most people expected the Falcons to be in this position, but the Bucs are one of the biggest surprises in the league. They have the youngest team in the NFL, but you wouldn’t know it by watching them. Josh Freeman has played extremely well this season and has proved he doesn’t crack under pressure, having won five consecutive road starts, and six of his eight career victories have been fourth-quarter comebacks. The only knock on the Bucs is that they haven’t really been at their best when playing teams with winning records. Their two losses include a 38-13 drubbing at the hands of the Steelers and a 31-6 loss to division foe Saints. The biggest knock against the Falcons this season has been their inability to beat good teams on the road. But they have been a very tough team to beat at home and are 3-0 at the Georgia Dome so far this season. Matt Ryan is putting together a stellar season and has already passed for 1,714 yards with 12 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His main target Roddy White has established himself as one of the best receivers in the NFL and leads the league in receptions (54) and is second in the league in yards (747). I think the Bucs road luck runs out this week in Atlanta as the Falcons should be able to easily take care of business at home.
Colts (5-2) at Eagles (4-3), Lincoln Financial Field
Sunday, November 7, 4:15pm
Michael Vick makes his return this Sunday after missing the past three games with a rib injury. Kevin Kolb did relatively well in his absence going 2-1, but it wasn’t enough to kick Vick out of his starting spot. The Eagles also hope to get DeSean Jackson back after suffering a severe concussion against Atlanta a few weeks ago. Jackson only missed one full game, and had some extra recovery time with the Eagles’ bye occurring last week. His return isn’t set in stone yet, but Jackson says he will be ready to play on Sunday. The Colts are looking for their fourth straight win after a 30-17 home win against division rival Texans. They have had to deal with numerous injuries on both sides of the ball including Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Joseph Addai and Bob Sanders (no surprise). But despite not having some of his main weapons, Peyton Manning has continued to play at a high level and do what he does best, which is win. The Colts have struggled on the road a bit this season and should face another tough test this Sunday. It will be interesting to see if Vick can pick up where he left off and lead his team past one of the best in the league. This one could go either way, but I have to give the edge to the Eagles at home because I’m not sure if they will be able to contain Vick, both through the air and on the ground.
Chiefs (5-2) at Raiders (4-4), Oakland Coliseum
Sunday, November 7, 4:15pm
This game will go a long way in telling us just how good both of these teams actually are. It’s tough to buy into either team right now, but you can’t discount how well both of them have played at times this season. I really like what Kansas City has done so far and I still think they are the favorites right now to win the AFC West. The game that did it for me, even though it was a loss, was their matchup against the Colts in Indianapolis. They kept Peyton Manning under 300 yards passing and without a touchdown for the only time this season and gave the Colts everything they could handle. The Raiders have been up and down this season, to say the least. They have played well the past two weeks, though, blowing out the Broncos 59-14 in Denver and totally dominating the Seahawks in a 33-3 home win. But the Raiders will surely have their work cut out for them this week, as the Chiefs have won seven consecutive games in Oakland. Both teams have had success running the ball this season as well. The Chiefs are ranked first in the league (190.4) and the Raiders second (168.5). This will definitely be a hard fought game as the Raiders will try and keep the Chiefs from running away with the division.
Submitted by Steve Giles