Cracking the Coad

Steve Coad -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 6:42 AM ET

Houston (0-1) at Detroit (1-0) The line: Lions by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. It's over. Last week in Chicago, the Lions ended their NFL-record road losing string of 24 games with a long-in-doubt 20-16 win over da Bears. The Lions were a plus-3 in turnover differential, while the Texans, 27-20 losers against sadsack San Diego, were an NFL-worst minus-4. Texans QB David Carr and kicker Kris Brown, who hasn't had a boot blocked since 2002, will need to protect the ball against an opportunistic Detroit D. Carr was intercepted twice last week.

Cody's call: Lions 20-17

St. Louis (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1)

The line: Falcons by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Rams have beaten Atlanta seven straight times, scoring 30-plus points each time, including last year's 36-0 pasting. Marc Bulger is 19-4 as the Rams starting quarterback, but this week Marshall Faulk's contribution will likely be more critical. Faulk gained 128 yards in last week's 17-10 win over Arizona. The Falcons' front will get help with Faulk from corner Kevin Mathis and strong safety Byran Scott, who had seven and six tackles, respectively, in a 21-19 win over San Fran, but that will leave Atlanta more vulnerable to the Rams' stellar pass attack.

Cody's call: Rams 30-24

Chicago (0-1) at Green Bay (1-0)

The line: Packers by 9

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Bears and Packers are the NFL's longest-playing rivalry, 166 meetings dating back to 1921 when the Chicago Staleys packed in the Packers 20-0. While the Packers were about as good as it gets in Monday's 24-14 dissection of Carolina, their pass defence gave up nearly 300 yards. This is good news for Chicago wideout David Terrell, who led the NFL in Week 1 with 126 yards on just five catches. At six-foot-three, Terrell has the size and speed to stretch the Packers' D. The Pack is 23-2 when Ahman Green runs for 100 yards.

Cody's call: Packers 31-17

Washington (1-0) at N.Y. Giants (0-1)

The line: Redskins by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. With the Giants' defence leaking like mad (allowing 330 gross passing yards and 141 rushing) in Sunday's 31-17 loss to the Eagles, New York's best chance against the 'Skins is to keep Clinton Portis stewing on the sidelines. In his first game for Washington, Portis rushed 29 times for 148 yards in a hard-fought 16-10 win over the Bucs. Giants running back Tiki Barber is off to a great start as well, gaining 125 yards on just nine carries. The Redskins have 500 wins as a franchise and head coach Joe Gibbs has been on the sidelines for a quarter of them (125-60).

Cody's call: Redskins 28-21

Denver (1-0) at Jacksonville (1-0)

The line: Broncos by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The likely key matchup here is a head-knocker: Broncos centre Tom Nalen versus Jags defensive tackle Marcus Stroud. Nalen anchored the NFL's No. 2 running attack last season and was huge again in Week 1, clearing the track for shifty Quentin Griffin, who chalked up 156 yards in Denver's 34-24 win over KC. Stroud, a bruiser of a stopper on last year's No. 2-ranked run D, had three tackles in Sunday's 13-10 win over the Bills. The Broncos are 39-2 under Mike Shanahan when they hold opponents to 15 points or less.

Cody's call: Broncos 24-17

Indianapolis (0-1) at Tennessee (1-0)

The line: Titans by 1 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Talk about a battle of the titans, this is it. It matches last year's co-MVPs Peyton Manning of the Colts and Steve McNair, an actual Titan. Manning guided the NFL's No. 1 passing offence last season. Tennessee's was No. 5, but McNair led the loop with a 100.4 passer rating (Manning was second at 99.0). Manning was No. 1 in completion percentage (67), completions (379) and yards (4,267). McNair has owned the Colts in four career starts, completing 70 of 104 passes for 692 yards, five TDs and no picks. Indy's 29-27 win last Dec. 7 was the Titans' only home loss in 2003.

Cody's call: Colts 31-30

Pittsburgh (1-0) at Baltimore (0-1)

The line: Ravens by 4

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Completely critical to the outcome will be Jamal Lewis's success -- or lack of it -- against the Steelers' staunch run defence. Pittsburgh stymied the Raiders' running game in Sunday's opener, limiting them to 61 yards (2.8 yards a carry) in a 24-21 Steeler victory. Jerome Bettis made the best of his five carries, scoring three TDs, even though his net gain on the day was just one yard. Lewis, who ran for a spectacular 2,066 yards last season, never got going against the Browns Sunday. He ran for just 57 yards in a 20-3 loss.

Cody's call: Ravens 23-20

Carolina (0-1) at Kansas City (0-1)

The line: Chiefs by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Panthers' front seven will have their hands full trying to stop -- more like slow down -- Chiefs running back Priest Holmes. In Monday night's opener, the Packers ground Carolina to bits, rushing 47 times for 152 yards while ruling time of possession (38:04). Holmes, among the NFL's biggest offensive threats, ran for 151 yards and three TDs in the Chiefs' loss to Denver. The Chiefs have won a club-record 13 straight at home, outscoring the guests by nearly 20 points a game -- 33.12 to 14.2. More bad news for the Panthers, the defending NFC champs: Steve Smith's broken fibula robs them of their most dangerous receiver, their game-breaker and their defence spreader.

Cody's call: Chiefs 30-21

San Francisco (0-1) at New Orleans (1-0)

The line: Saints by 7

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. In making his first NFL start, 49ers QB Ken Dorsey will do well to be wary of a couple of veteran cover guys in the Saints' secondary. Jay Bellamy, in his 11th season, has 24 career interceptions, while Ashley Ambrose, a fixture with 13 seasons under his belt, has 40 picks. Actually, No. 40 came last week against 2003 Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck of the Seahawks. The Niners lost starting QB Tim Rattay to a separated shoulder during Sunday's 21-19 lost to the Falcons. After Rattay went down (only to return later), Dorsey engineered a pair of scoring drives, so he can get it done.

Cody's call: Saints 24-14

Seattle (1-0) at Tampa Bay (0-1)

The line: No line offered

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. Shaun Alexander is listed as questionable (knee), meaning the onus will be on Seattle's stellar offensive line to work even harder to clear the way for less- experienced running backs Maurice Morris and Kerry Carter. Tampa defensive end Simeon Rice could have a field day -- but probably not. The Bucs were the only team in Week 1 not to record either a sack or an interception, although they did hold the Redskins to 125 yards passing. Tampa Bay had the NFL's oldest roster on opening day, averaging 27.81 years. Pass the Geritol, please.

Cody's call: Seahawks 21-13

Cleveland (1-0) at Dallas (0-1)

The line: Cowboys by 4

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. These guys are hooking up for the first time since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999. A crucial matchup pits Cleveland defensive end Kenard Lang versus ex-Brownie QB Vinny Testaverde. Lang started the season with a bang, bagging three sacks against Baltimore. Testaverde, who took the Browns to the post-season in 1994, threw 50 passes Sunday in the Cowboys' 35-17 loss to the Vikings, completing 29 of them for 355 yards and a TD. There's every reason to think the Cowboys will throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Browns, who stomped the Ravens' run (Jamal Lewis) in Week 1.

Cody's call: Cowboys 20-14

N.Y. Jets (1-0) at San Diego (1-0)

The line: Jets by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. This matchup may not sound like much, but it showcases two of the NFL's best running backs: Curtis Martin of the Jets and the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson. It's all the more interesting because last year the Jets were ranked No. 28 against the run, while the Chargers were tied for 25th. Martin is coming of a 196-yard rushing performance, the third-best in Jets' history, in Sunday's 31-24 win over the Cinci Bungles. Tomlinson was good, too, charging for 121 yards in San Diego's 28-21 win over Houston (4.7 yards a carry compared to Martin's 6.8 average). With both guys running up a storm, will we even notice Chad Pennington carving up the Chargers' secondary?

Cody's call: Jets 33-24

Buffalo (0-1) at Oakland (0-1)

The line: Raiders by 3 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Bills head coach Mike Mularkey lost his debut Sunday against Jacksonville, dropping Buffalo coaches to 1-13 in their first game in good ol' red, white and blue. The only one to win first time out was ex-Montreal Alouette boss Marv Levy, who took over 10 games into the 1986 season. Trivia aside, the Bills will have to attack Rich Gannon's passing game without starting strong safety Lawyer Malloy, who is out with a broken arm. The Bills' pass D was superb in Week 1 till the final two minutes, when Jacksonville marched 80 yards for the winning TD with no time left. Bills QB Drew Bledsoe is making his first foray into the Raider Nation. Good luck.

Cody's call: Raiders 21-20

New England (1-0) at Arizona (0-1)

The line: Patriots by 8

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. This one sounds like a mismatch because it is. Patriots QB Tom Brady is likely to have his way with a Cardinals' secondary that struggled (valiantly, I might add) to stop Marc Bulger and the Rams during Week 1. Bulger threw for 272 yards in the Rams' 17-10 win, connecting with Issac Bruce nine times for 112 yards and a TD. The Brady Bunch was brilliant (on offence) in its opener versus Indy, prevailing 27-24. Brady, hitting a plethora of talented targets, finished with 335 yards and three TDs. Look out, Cards.

Cody's call: Patriots 33-10

Miami (0-1) at Cincinnati (0-1)

The line: Bengals by 4 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. (TSN). As expected, the Dolphins are missing Ricky Williams like crazy. Here they are, going up against the Bengals, who surrendered more that 200 rushing yards during Week 1 against the Jets, and they're bringing lightweights Lamar Gordon and Travis Minor to the battle. Gordon led the Dolphins with 32 yards rushing in Sunday's 17-7 loss to the Titans. Minor was a non-factor, with 25 yards. Miami will start Jay Feeley at quarterback, displacing longtime starter Jay Fiedler, who tossed two interceptions in the first half against Tennessee.

Cody's call: Bengals 22-17

Minnesota (1-0) at Philadelphia (1-0)

The line: Eagles by 3 1/2

The skinny: Monday, 9 p.m. (ABC). Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper threw a career-best five TD passes in Sunday's 35-17 win over Dallas. Great, for sure, but more important to the outcome this week is whether or not Mini's struggling (32nd-ranked) pass D is able to handle Philly wideout Terrell Owens. Owens was nothing short of brilliant in his first game as an Eagle, snagging eight Donovan McNabb tosses for 68 yards and three TDs. The job of corralling Owens falls to Viking corners Antoine Winfield and Brian Williams. It's a tough assignment, particularly in light of the fact the Vikings surrendered a league-high 352 net passing yards against Cowboys.

Cody's call: Eagles 24-17

Season record

Straight up Last week: 9-7; overall: 9-7

Spread Last week: 5-11; overall: 5-11


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