Streaking teams to battle again

STEVE MacFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

When one streak dies, another begins -- or at least gains notoriety.

Last week's pasting of the world champion New England Patriots by the Pittsburgh Steelers was led by rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose streak of five straight wins as a starter has planted him in the NFL spotlight.

The Pats were on a record 21-game winning streak. This week, Roethlisberger and his Steelers host the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (7-0).

The Eagles are the last of the unbeatens and no club in league history has ever defeated two 6-0 or better teams in successive weeks.

The Steelers can become the first but it won't be easy.

Like the Patriots before them, the Eagles will be without their starting running back. But when facing the Pats, the Steelers didn't have to contend with a dominant receiver like Terrell Owens or a beastly scrambling quarterback like Donovan McNabb.

Here are this week's picks.

* PHILADELPHIA -2 1/2 AT PITTSBURGH: Whichever streak ends after this matchup -- Big Ben's or Philadelphia's -- will give even more credibility to the one left standing: Eagles 31, Steelers 28

* N.Y. JETS -3 AT BUFFALO: This is one of those potential letdown situations for the Jets coming off a blowout win Monday night at home against the Dolphins. New York might find winning in Buffalo a tough task after their short week: Jets 21, Bills 20

* WASHINGTON +3 AT DETROIT: Another chance for the Lions to prove they're the best of the middle-of-the-road teams: Lions 24, Redskins 20

* DALLAS -1 1/2 AT CINCINNATI: The Bengals are a different team at home than on the road -- at least they were against the Broncos on Monday Night Football. Dallas' soft secondary may have trouble keeping tabs on Bengals WR Chad Johnson: Bengals 27, Cowboys 26

* OAKLAND +7 AT CAROLINA: Oakland's defence is bad, maybe its worst ever ... but how can the Raiders be seven-point 'dogs against a 1-6 team?: Panth-ers 30, Raiders 26

* KANSAS CITY -2 1/2 AT TAMPA BAY: Kansas City's mean red offensive machine is back on track and the defence has quietly improved. The Bucs defence traditionally has trouble with strong running backs like Priest Holmes: Chiefs 28, Buccaneers 20

* CHICAGO +9 AT N.Y. GIANTS: A nine-point spread seems a little high --even against the Bears --but New York is 5-2 ATS this season: Giants 24, Bears 14

* SEATTLE -6 1/2 AT SAN FRANCISCO: Even with three of their top four receivers banged up, the Seahawks should pound the hapless 49ers for the second time this season: Seahawks 33, 49ers 17

* NEW ORLEANS +6 1/2 AT SAN DIEGO: Another letdown possibility. San Diego is coming off a dominant performance against the Raiders and New Orleans has had a week off to lick its wounds: Chargers 28, Saints 26

* NEW ENGLAND -2 1/2 AT ST. LOUIS: New England will be without its top two cover corners -- not a good thing when playing on the road against St. Louis: Rams 27, Patriots 26

* HOUSTON +6 1/2 AT DENVER: The Broncos will be looking to right the ship but the Texans can no longer be considered expansion walkovers: Broncos 23, Texans 21

* MINNESOTA +6 AT INDIANAPOLIS: A bit of a tossup but Indianapolis has a slight edge in team character and may make that key last stop on defence: Colts 42, Vikings 35

WEEK'S BEST BET

* CLEVELAND +6 AT BALTIMORE: Jamal Lewis is back from suspension just in time to avenge Baltimore's season-opening 20-3 loss to the Browns: Ravens 17, Browns 10

UPSET OF THE WEEK

* ARIZONA +3 AT MIAMI: The Dolphins are 8-0 against a Cardinals franchise that has lost 17 consecutive road games. Another lengthy streak may come to an end this week: Cardinals 17, Dolphins 16

CHECK THE RECORD

LAST WEEK: 7-7 straight up; 4-10 ATS. Season: 70-46 straight up; 53-59-4 ATS. Best Bet is 4-4 after the Seahawks beat the Panthers. Upset of the Week is 5-3 after the 49ers proved they are the worst in the NFL by losing to the Bears. Best Bet and Upset picks are straight up.


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