Gibbs to stick with Brunell

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Washington (2-5) at Detroit (4-3)

The line: Lions by 3 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Redskins fans booed Mark Brunell and howled for backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey during last Sunday's loss to the Packers. But the voice that counts, Washington head coach Joe Gibbs, is sticking with Brunell despite the fact he's completed only two passes longer than 40 yards this season, his 52.4 completion percentage is dead last in the league and his 5.33 yards per attempt is next to last. If he's to prevent things from going from bad to worse, Brunell will have to keep his eyes peeled for Lions corner Dre Bly, who had two interceptions last week vs. Dallas. The Lions are plus-12 in turnover differential; the Redskins are minus-3. Detroit wideout Roy Williams, drafted seventh overall, leads NFL rookies with five TD catches. Washington's D is No. 1 overall, although they've achieved it against a string of weak attacks.

Cody's call: Lions 21-14

N.Y. Jets (6-1) at Buffalo (2-5)

The line: None offered

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. You know Curtis Martin will be be a handful even for Buffalo's defence, which is tied for second overall and alone in fourth vs. the run. The Bills will come the other way with a load of their own -- Willis McGahee, who ran for 102 yards and two TDs in Sunday's blasting of the Cardinals. In two starts ahead of Travis Green this season, McGahee has surpassed 100 yards both times and led the oft-buffaloed Bills to their only two wins. Jets defensive end John Abraham leads the NFL with 8 1/2 sacks this season, bad news for the Bills who have surrendered 23 sacks, among the highest total in the league. Martin is third in league rushing with 798 yards rushing and is tied for third with seven rushing TDs.

Cody's call: Jets 27-21

Philadelphia (7-0) at Pittsburgh (6-1)

The line: Eagles by 1 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Super Bowl preview? Just a thought. The Steelers, of course, are the tough guys who last week snapped New England's NFL record 21-game winning streak. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 5-0 as a starter and should the Steelers trip Philly, he will tie former Steeler Mike Kruczek for most consecutive wins by an NFL rookie QB since 1970. If the Eagles are to slow Roethlisberger, left defensive end Jevon Kearse will have to win the battle in the trenches vs. Pittsburgh's right tackle Oliver Ross. Kearse had two sacks last week against the Ravens and is tied for third in the league with six. The Eagles are No. 1 in the NFL with 25 in seven games. Meanwhile, the Steelers have allowed only 11 sacks (seven against Roethlisberger). Who's going to want to show whom? I say Pittsburgh running back Duce Staley, who had three 1,000-yard rushing campaigns in Philly before seeing a chunk of his playing time was taken away.

Cody's call: Steelers 23-21

Arizona (2-5) at Miami (1-6)

The line: Dolphins by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Cardinals have lost 17 straight on the road, putting themselves in a position to threaten the Lions' NFL record of 24 in a row. Their last victory away from the desert was Oct. 6, 2002 in Carolina. The Dolphins are the NFL's lowest-scoring team, averaging 12.5 points a game. Not a whole lot better, the Cards average 18. In his first game action since injuring his knee in August, Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin, the NFL's offensive rookie of the year in 2003, snagged 50 yards worth of passes last week vs. the Bills.

Cody's call: Dolphins 17-14

Dallas (3-4) at Cincinnati (2-5)

The line: Cowboys by 1 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Running back Eddie George has been somewhat of a disappointment in his first season in Dallas, rushing for just 349 yards through seven games. Cinci's run D, which is ranked right at the bottom (No. 32), just might be the remedy. The Bengals are porous to the tune of 155.4 yards a game on the run. It isn't helping that Cinci has lost starting middle linebacker Nate Webster for the season, leaving rookie Landon Johnson to fill in. Cowboys QB Vinny Testaverde has 260 career TD passes and needs just two more to pass Dave Kreig for eighth most in NFL history. He's tossed seven interceptions this season, too. Cinci corner Tory James is on an interception tear with three in his last three games.

Cody's call: Cowboys 24-22

Oakland (2-6) at Carolina (1-6)

The line: Panthers by 6 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. This game matches two of the NFL's best punters -- Shane Lechler of the Raiders and Todd Sauerbrun of the Panthers -- and two of its worst teams. Lechler was a first-team All-Pro last year and leads the loop with a 47.9-yard gross punting average. Sauerbrun, second team All-Pro in 2003, averages 43.1 yards per boot and tops the NFL with 17 punts inside the 20. The Raiders have lost five straight overall and 13 in a row on the road. As well, since reaching the Super Bowl in 2000, Oakland is 6-18.

Cody's call: Panthers 20-17

Kansas City (3-4) at Tampa Bay (2-5)

The line: Chiefs by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. This one just might be the noodle-knocker of the week, matching Chiefs on-fire running back Priest Holmes against Bucs outside linebacker Derrick Brooks. Holmes leads the NFL with 833 yards rushing and his 14 TDs are four more than anyone else has piled up. Brooks is a mainstay on a Bucs' D that excels against the pass but is vulnerable vs. the run, allowing 117.6 yards a game. K.C. scored 101 points in its first back-to-back wins (over Atlanta and Indianapolis) of the season. Last week, in a 45-35 KC win, the Chiefs outgained the Colts 590-505 in total yards, the third-highest single-game total in NFL history.

Cody's call: Chiefs 30-21

Chicago (2-5) at N.Y. Giants (5-2)

The line: Giants by 9 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. Bears quarterback Craig Krenzel was a winner in his first NFL start. In beating the 49ers 23-13 last Sunday, Krenzel completed 13 of 25 passes for 168 yards, a TD and an interception. Needless to say, the Giants' 12th-ranked defence in general and defensive end Michael Strahan in particular, will present more of a challenge than San Fran. Strahan leads the Giants with three sacks. Da Bears' 11th-ranked D deserves a hand for holding the 49ers to 162 yards total, just 62 rushing yards. Giants running back Tiki Barber is No. 1 in the NFL with 1,100 yards from scrimmage.

Cody's call: Giants 23-13

Seattle (4-3) at San Francisco (1-6)

The line: Seahawks by 6 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. With Seahawk wide receivers Jerry Rice, Bobby Engram and Darrell Jackson all listed as questionable with ankle sprains, running back Shaun Alexander had better get busy behind QB Matt Hasselback. Even the 49ers will be sorry if the Seahawks can't throw the football because in what has become a dreadful campaign, San Fran's pass defence is a bit of a bright spot (ranked 10th in the league and allowing an average of 200.6 yards). With untested receivers likely to play, Seattle's offensive focus will be on Alexander. He ran for 195 yards last week vs. the Panthers.

Cody's call: Seahawks 23-17

New Orleans (3-4) at San Diego (5-3)

The line: Chargers by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. This game marks the first NFL meeting of the top two running backs in the 2001 draft, LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers and Deuce McAllister of the Saints. Tomlinson went fifth overall to San Diego. McAllister was farther back at 23rd. Tomlinson shares third in the NFL with seven rushing TDs and gets to face the Saints' leaky defence, ranked 31st overall and allowing 141.3 yards a game (also 31st worst). McAllister has topped 100 yards in 18 of 36 games since becoming a full-time starter, but is struggling through an injury-plagued season. Egad, the once-sadsack Chargers have won four of their last five and have the NFL's highest-scoring offence (219 points).

Cody's call: Chargers 33-20

New England (6-1) at St. Louis (4-2)

The line: Pats by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. A lot depends on Corey Dillon's health. The Pats running back, who is averaging more than 100 yards rushing per contest this season, is questionable with a thigh injury. He was scratched prior to last Sunday's streak-snapping loss against the Steelers, meaning the Patriots had to rely totally on their passing game (they ran it only five times). If Dillon can't go again this week, the Pats will give up a chance to pulverize a Rams' run D that surrenders 129.7 yards a game. Overall, the Rams are ranked 28th on defence (No. 27 against the run, No. 23 vs. the pass). The Pats can win with a one-dimensional offence and their sixth-ranked defence, but it will be a lot more difficult.

Cody's call: Pats 24-21

Houston (4-3) at Denver (5-3)

The line: Broncos by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Broncos QB Jake Plummer is coming off a big game (personally), completing 31 of 55 passes for 499 yards, which is a career high, a Denver franchise record and the best mark in the NFL this season. He threw for four touchdowns, but also for three interceptions, which doomed Denver's changes of rallying in a 41-28 loss to the Falcons. As they say, he'd trade all of that personal success for the W. Texans corner Demarcus Faggins gained a little glory Sunday in a 20-6 win over Jacksonville. Faggins sealed the deal for Houston, returning an interception 43 yards for a TD with 42 seconds left.

Cody's call: Broncos 27-23

Cleveland (4-3) at Baltimore (4-3)

The line: Ravens by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. Running back Jamal Lewis returns to the Ravens lineup after serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Baltimore split the two games. Lewis will want to lay the lumber on the Brownies, who allowed him 500 yards rushing in two games last season, then held him to just 57 yards in a game earlier this season. Lewis's replacements, a team effort between Chester Taylor and Musa Smith, totalled 100 rushing against the Bills and another 103 last game vs. Philly. Browns QB Jeff Garcia is heating up, completing 37 of 54 passes for 546 yards over his last two games.

Cody's call: Ravens 21-20

Minnesota (5-2) at Indianapolis (4-3)

The line: None offered

The skinny: Monday, 9 p.m. Expect both QBs, Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper and Peyton Manning of the Colts, to air it out against a couple of wobbly defences. The Vikings' offence is ranked No. 1, its D No. 25. Indy's attack is No. 2, its defence dead last at No. 32. The 45 points the Colts allowed last Sunday vs. the Chiefs is the most by the franchise since 1984. And the 590 yards they surrendered is the most 1969. Culpepper leads the NFL with 2,180 yards passing, following by Manning at 2,161. Manning's 22 TD passes are No. 1, just ahead of Culpepper's 20. A winner? Maybe, it'll be whoever gets the ball last.

Cody's call: Colts 38-31

Season record Straight up Last week: 11-3; overall: 75-41

Spread Last week: 11-2; overall: 54-54


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