Eagles shouldn't have rested stars

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

Cincinnati (7-8) at Philadelphia (13-2) The line: None offered

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Eagles kicked off tank season with Monday night's 20-7 loss to the Rams on the lightning turf in St. Louis. To tank or not to tank? Well, I agree with NFL analyst John Riggins that Eagles coach Andy Reid was in a no-win situation. While Philly, a team that has won everything it can win in the regular season, gains needed rest and recuperation time, it takes a loss, risks momentum heading into the postseason, robs fans of getting their money's worth and generally chips away at the integrity of the game. My feeling is the Eagles should not have rested their stars (nor should any team, although that's naive). I think the Eagles need to know they can win without injured star Terrell Owens. If, as expected, the Eagles hold back their aces again Sunday vs. the Bengals, it means they won't play a meaningful game till the NFC semifinals in mid-January. Hopefully, when Reid hits the switch that day, it won't crumble in his hands. The question Sunday is whether or not Philly's subs can beat Cinci, which has nothing at stake either.

Cody's call: Bengals 23-17

Pittsburgh (14-1) at Buffalo (9-6)

The line: Bills by 8

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Good luck, Bills. They deserve to snag an AFC wild-card spot. Since their horrendous 0-4 start, Buffalo has won nine of its last 11 games and six in a row. USA Today is reporting that Steelers head coach Bill Cowher says he'll play his healthy starters, although it's not clear for how long. In any case, star QB Ben Roethlisberger is questionable with a rib injury, a boost for the Bills' fortunes. Along with winning themselves, Buffalo needs either the Jets (in St. Louis) or the Broncos (home vs. Indy) to lose. My fingers and toes will be crossed for the Bills.

Cody's call: Bills 21-17

San Francisco (2-13) at New England (13-2)

The line: Patriots by 14

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. As usual, Pats head coach Bill Belichick has been tight-lipped about his plan on who will play and who will rest. The question is: will it matter? The answer: No. The Pats have clinched the AFC East and a first-round bye. The 49ers will start Ken Dorsey at quarterback. Unfortunately, the Niners offensive line isn't likely to be able protect him. And regardless of who the Pats put out there on offence, chances are the 49ers won't be able to stop them. Unless the Pats give this one away, it's theirs.

Cody's call: Patriots 20-10

Miami (4-11) at Baltimore (8-7)

The line: Ravens by 10

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Ravens' playoff chances may be on life support but they're not dead, meaning they'll be giving this game their all. If Jamal Lewis is able to run against the Dolphins (he was held to just 26 yards on 14 rushes last week vs. Pittsburgh), it will loosen things up for improving QB Kyle Boler. Strangely, Miami is ranked 30th against the run and No. 1 vs. the pass. The Dolphins will start Sage Rosenfels at QB and he'll be under fire from the start as the Ravens will test Miami's shaky O-line with a batch of blitzes from all angles.

Cody's call: Ravens 17-9

Green Bay (9-6) at Chicago (5-10)

The line: None offered

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Packers have clinched the NFC North title and are headed to the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Since holding Brett Favre to 252 yards passing and two interceptions in a 21-10 win Sept. 19 at Lambeau Field, da Bears have been declawed by injuries to their secondary. Despite the loss that day, Favre broke Dan Marino's NFL record of 24 career TD passes against a single opponent. The Packers have dominated this series (which dates back to 1921), winning 18 of the last 21 meetings.

Cody's call: Packers 23-20

N.Y. Jets (10-5) at St. Louis (7-8)

The line: Jets by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Jets, 5-5 since their 5-0 start, can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a tie. If they bow, they can still get in with a Buffalo or Denver tie or a loss. The Rams can win the NFC West with a win and a Seattle loss. To win, the Jets will have to get after Rams wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, one of the NFL's most dynamic duos. Coverage falls to corners Donnie Abraham and David Barrett. Holt and Bruce have combined for 2,462 receiving yards -- more than the Bears and Ravens in total. The Rams, who have QB Marc Bulger healthy again, average 254.7 passing yards a game. The Jets surrender only 192.

Cody's call: Jets 21-17

Detroit (6-9) at Tennessee (4-10)

The line: Lions by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Titans' road win over Detroit in late October was one of their last hurrahs in a seasons that's turned completely miserable. Tennessee has lost five straight and has given up at least 31 in each game during the franchise's longest skid since an 11-game losing streak in 1953. In a 37-16 loss to the Broncos last week, the Titans managed a season-low 153 yards of offence. Running back Kevin Jones surpassed 1,000 yards in last week's 19-13 win over the Bears, something only Barry Sanders and Billy Sims did as rookie Lions.

Cody's call: Lions 24-20

Minnesota (8-7) at Washington (5-10)

The line: Vikings by 4 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Vikings will sail into the playoffs with a win or a tie. If they lose, they can still get in if Carolina or St. Louis loses or ties. The Vikes average 6.5 yards per offensive play, second best in the NFL. Minnesota QB Daunte Culpepper, ill earlier this week with flu-like symptoms, needs to play well if the Vikings are reach the postseason. He's second to Peyton Manning in the NFL with 4,418 yards passing, 37 TDs and a 112.2 passer rating.

Cody's call: Vikings 24-17

Cleveland (3-12) at Houston (7-8)

The line: Texans by 11

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Playing the Brownies gives Texans running back Domanick Davis a shot at putting an exclamation point on his stellar season. Davis has run for TDs in seven of his last eight games and is tied for second in the AFC with 12 rushing TDs. Last week, he blew through the 1,000-yard barrier for the second straight year. The Saints are only NFL run D weaker than the Browns, who allow 145.2 yards a game.

Cody's call: Texans 23-7

New Orleans (7-8) at Carolina (7-8)

The line: Panthers by 7 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. On Nov. 7, the defending NFC champion Panthers were 1-7 and the Saints were nearly as badly off at 3-5. Now, both teams can catch the NFC's final playoff spot with a win. Carolina can get in with a win and either a Minnesota loss or Seattle win or St. Louis loss. The Saints can make it with a win and either a St. Louis loss or Seattle win or Minnesota win. To go on, the Panthers will have to stop Saints star wideout Joe Horn, who leads the NFL with 1,324 receiving yards. He's tied for second with 90 catches.

Cody's call: Panthers 20-14

Atlanta (11-4) at Seattle (8-7)

The line: Seahawks by 5 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. The Falcons have clinched the NFC South and a first-round playoff bye. The Seahawks can lock up the NFC West with a win or tie or a Rams' loss to the Jets. The key to the outcome here is Shaun Alexander or, more precisely, how he'll fare against the Falcons' front seven, which is ranked ninth vs. the run. Alexander leads the NFL with 1,616 yards and is second with 15 TDs rushing (but leads with 19 TDs overall).

Cody's call: Seahawks 20-16

Tampa Bay (5-10) at Arizona (5-10)

The line: Cardinals by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. Looking back, the Bucs nipped the Cardinals 19-18 at home on Sept. 29. These guys are playing for pride. A critical matchup pits Cardinals defensive end Bertrand Berry against Tampa QBs Brian Griese and Chris Simms. If Griese can't go (questionable, sprained right foot), Simms will get his second career start. Berry has 12 1/2 sacks this season, second in the NFL. The Bucs allow 288.7 yards a game, second fewest in the league. Arizona running back Emmitt Smith has 868 yards and needs 132 for his 12th straight 1,000-yard campaign.

Cody's call: Cardinals 23-21

Kansas City (7-8) at San Diego (11-4)

The line: Chiefs by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. The Chargers have clinched the AFC West and will host a first-round playoff game. The Chiefs are eliminated. The big show just might be Dante Hall running free on special teams for the Chiefs. Hall has been the AFC's special teams player of the week the past two weeks. In last week's 31-30 win over the Raiders, Hall returned six kickoffs for 175 yards (29.2 yards a return). His final runback went 49 yards, setting up the Chiefs' winning field goal.

Cody's call: Chiefs 27-21

Indianapolis (12-3) at Denver (9-6)

The line: Broncos by 8 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. The Colts have clinched the AFC South and the Broncos need to win to clinch a wild-card berth. The Colts have many pluses but little to play for. Indy leads the NFL with a plus-20 turnover differential. Defensive end Dwight Freeney tops the loop with 16 sacks. Peyton Manning's magical numbers include 49 TD tosses, 4,551 passing yards and a 121.4 passer rating.

Cody's call: Broncos 28-21

Jacksonville (8-7) at Oakland (4-10)

The line: None offered

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. If the Jags are to catch a playoff berth, they need to beat the Raiders and have both Buffalo and Denver lose as well. It hurts the Jags that running back Fred Taylor is questionable due to a knee injury. QB Byron Leftwich is still getting over a concussion and his worst performance as a pro. Jacksonville's big weapon is Jimmy Smith, third in the AFC with 1,150 receiving yards and an average of 16.2 yards a catch.

Cody's call: Jaguars 24-14

Dallas (6-9) at N.Y. Giants (5-10)

The line: Giants by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. Even though there's nothing at stake in terms of the playoffs, a Giants-Cowboys matchup is always of interest because of Bill Parcells' involvement. Now the head coach in Dallas, Parcells guided the Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1986 and 1990. Giants running back Tiki Barber is second (to Edgerrin James of the Colts) in yards from scrimmage with 1,980 (1,423 running; 557 receiving). Rookie QB Eli Manning has had a rough go so here's hoping he has a big season finale.

Cody's call: Giants 23-20

Season record Straight up Last week: 11-5; overall: 158-82

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Last week: 10-3; overall: 106-102


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