Cracking the Coad

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:12 AM ET

Detroit (1-0) at Chicago (0-1)

The line: Lions by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. I'm utterly embarrassed by my 7-9 opening-week record, but I have company -- the Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams and New York Jets should be redfaced about the way they kicked off the season. And how about those Carolina Panthers? Sports Illustrated's pick to win the Super Bowl at Detroit's Ford Field on Feb. 3, the toothless Panthers trailed all the way in a three-point loss to the Saints. The Lions, on the other hand, began their campaign with a growl, beating Green Bay 17-3. The Pack's three points are the fewest they've scored in any of Brett Favre's 226 consecutive starts. Detroit's D will spell trouble for Chicago's Kyle Orton, the first rookie quarterback to start an opener since Zeke Bratkowski in 1954. Orton completed 15 of 28 passes for 141 yards but was intercepted in the end zone when he tried to force a pass into Mushin Muhammad. It won't help the Lions that placekicker Jason Hanson is listed as questionable due to a sore hamstring.

Cody's call: Lions 20-10

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

The line: Bucs by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Bucs rookie running back Carnell (Cadillac) Williams lived up to his nickname last week against Vikings, purring along for 148 yards on 27 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown run that sealed Tampa Bay's 27-13 upset. The question, and it's a biggie, is how the Caddie will fair against Buffalo's No. 1-ranked defence (albeit tied for 14th vs. the run). The Bills generated five turnovers and five sacks in last week's 22-7 win over the over-matched Houston Texans. Buffalo's J.P. Losman is raw but he showed plenty of poise and dash. His quarterback rating of 89.9 was higher than Drew Bledsoe's in 11 of 16 games last season. Tampa QB Brian Griese has completed 60-plus per cent of his passes in 12 of his last 13 games.

Cody's call: Bills 17-14

Baltimore (0-1) at Tennessee (0-1)

The line: Ravens by 4

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. A critical matchup in this one involves Ravens running back Jamal Lewis hurling his bowling ball body at the Titans' bottom-ranked defensive line. Associated Press football writer Paul Montella has dug up a bit of interesting history. In five career games (including playoffs) against Tennessee, Lewis has failed to crack the 100-yard plateau. When the five-foot-11, 245-pound Lewis does gain at least 100 yards, the Ravens are 22-6. Baltimore's renowned defence has allowed just 15 rushing TDs in its last 33 games. The Ravens will be without QB Kyle Boller (hyperextended toe), meaning Anthony Wright will make his first start since facing the Titans in the 2003 playoffs.

Cody's call: Ravens 17-10

Pittsburgh (1-0) at Houston (0-1)

The line: Steelers by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. With their opening-week 34-7 dismantling of Tennessee, the Steelers have won 15 straight regular-season games. In six career road starts, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, listed as questionable with a bruised knee, has completed 90 of his 129 passing attempts (69.8 per cent). Willie Parker has become another Steeler force. After rambling for 161 yards in his first NFL start vs. the Titans, Parker will carry the mail for the Steelers even if Jerome Bettis (calf) and Duce Staley (knee) are healthy. The Texans need to crank up their attack. Buffalo held David Carr and Co. to 120 yards of total offence last week, which simply doesn't cut it.

Cody's call: Steelers 31-14

Jacksonville (1-0) at Indianapolis (1-0)

The line: Colts by 9

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Jaguars have allowed Colts quarterback Peyton Manning just two 300-yard passing performances in six division meetings between the teams. However, in seven career games against Jacksonville, Manning has tossed 17 touchdown passes against just four interceptions. The Colts, who surrendered the most points in the preseason (143), blanked Baltimore for 59 minutes last week before giving up a meaningless major. In seven career games vs. the Colts, Jags running back Fred Taylor is averaging 4.9 yards a carry on 137 carries.

Cody's call: Colts 31-20

Minnesota (0-1) at Cincinnati (1-0)

The line: Bengals by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Vikings' offensive line, particularly at the centre and guard positions, simply has to be better. In Week 1's 24-13 loss to Tampa Bay, the Vikes' O-line struggled to open holes for the running backs and couldn't keep the Bucs off quarterback Daunte Culpepper. As a result, Culpepper committed five turnovers and Moe Williams and Michael Bennett managed just 12 yards on 14 carries. The Bengals, who haven't had a winning season since 1990, are 8-4 in their last 12 games.

Cody's call: Vikings 23-21

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

The line: Patriots by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Kris Jenkins's season-ending knee injury last week leaves a gaping hole in Carolina's vaunted defensive line. With Jenkins down, teams, beginning with the Pats this week, will increase their coverage of all-pro defensive end Julius Peppers. The Pats led the NFL in red-zone rushing last season with 207 yards. Pats running back Corey Dillon has a rushing touchdown in each of his last eight games. Carolina's Stephen Davis (81 rushing yards and a TD) and Jimmy Smith (eight catches for 138 yards and a TD) both had big games last week after long injury layoffs dating back to last season.

Cody's call: Patriots 24-23

San Francisco (1-0) at Philadelphia (0-1)

The line: None

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is listed as questionable, which explains why the betting line is off. McNabb took a crushing hit early in Monday night's 14-10 loss to Atlanta, injuring his chest. San Francisco QB Tim Rattay registered a career-topping 141.9 pass rating in last week's 28-25 win over the Rams. Rattay, and the likelihood a number of Niners still hate the sideshow that was former teammate Terrell Owens, give San Fran hope, however small.

Cody's call: Eagles 27-10

Atlanta (1-0) at Seattle (0-1)

The line: Falcons by 1

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. Seattle's offensive line has its work cut out for it. Just ask the Eagles, who were powerless to stop the Falcons from bending, folding and mutilating Donovan McNabb. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck is coming off one of his worst games as a pro: four turnovers -- three in the fourth quarter -- and a lowly 61.3 quarterback rating. Falcons running back Warrick Dunn owns the NFC West, rushing for 100-plus yards in his last three games vs. the division.

Cody's call: Falcons 24-17

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

The line: You pick

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. In last week's 28-25 loss to San Francisco, the Rams settled for field goals their first four trips inside the 20 after being held to minus-five yards on 15 plays. It didn't help, either, that quarterback Marc Bulger was sacked seven times by the 49ers. Arizona struggled mightily in a lopsided loss to the Giants. The Cards' running back managed just 32 yards on 21 carries with barely mobile Kurt Warner leading the way with 11 yards on three carries.

Cody's call: Rams 30-21

Miami (1-0) at New York Jets (0-1)

The line: Jets by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Miami's defensive front vs. the Jets' offensive is likely the key matchup here. The Dolphins shut down Denver's ferocious ground game in last Sunday's 34-10 win, allowing the Broncos to convert just one of a dozen third-down forays and not allowing a TD drive longer than 32 yards. The Jets' O-line appeared dazed and confused, failing all afternoon to pick up Kansas City's blitzes. The Jets are 6-1 in their last seven at home against Miami.

Cody's call: Jets 24-17

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

The line: Packers by 7

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Do the Packers miss departed guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle? You bet. Brett Favre was sacked four times by the Lions and hurried and harried all afternoon in Detroit's 17-3 Week 1 win. Adding to Green Bay's woes, all-pro wideout Javon Walker went down for the season with a knee injury. Robert Ferguson isn't Walker but he'll do as a replacement. Happily, the Packers are back home at Lambeau Field this week and they're playing the Brownies, whose new 3-4 defensive was porous to say the least in a 27-13 loss to Cinci.

Cody's call: Packers 27-17

San Diego (0-1) at Denver (0-1)

The line: Broncos by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. The Chargers will have star tight end Antonio Gates back on the field after a team-imposed suspension involving his holdout. His 81 catches for 964 yards -- plus his NFL-record 13 TDs by a tight end -- last season were sorely missed in Week 1's 28-24 loss to Dallas. The Chargers picked off Broncos QB Jake Plummer in a 20-17 win last December. Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan is 17-6 vs. the Chargers, his most wins against any opponent.

Cody's call: Broncos 27-23

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

The line: Chiefs by 1 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. (TSN). Kansas City has won four straight against the Raiders, all by seven points or less. The Chiefs' defence, ranked 31st in 2004, played brilliantly against the Jets last week, piling up seven forced fumbles, two sacks and an interception. Raiders receiver Randy Moss will need to be involved -- and effective -- if Oakland is to have any chance. He had five catches for 130 yards and a TD in the Raiders' 30-20 loss to the Patriots.

Cody's call: Chiefs 28-24

New York Giants (1-0) at New Orleans (0-1)

The line: Giants by 3

The skinny: Monday, 7:30 p.m. (ABC). While this game is being played in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., it's actually a Saints' home game. It was originally scheduled for Sunday at the Superdome, only to become a hurricane Katrina casualty -- a little one, mind you. The Saints expect it will feel like a road game, which is great for them. New Orleans head coach Jim Haslett is 25-16 on the road, second only to Andy Reid among active NFL coaches. The Giants, who flattened the Cardinals last week, got a big boost from Willie Ponder and Chad Morton, both of whom returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

Cody's call: Giants 21-17

Washington (1-0) at Dallas (1-0)

The line: Cowboys by 6

The skinny: Monday, 9 p.m. (ABC). In a battle of coaching legends, Dallas's Bill Parcells leads Washington's Joe Gibbs 12-6. The Cowboys are 7-6 vs. the Redskins on Monday Night Football. Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe made a great first impression in his Dallas debut last Sunday, a 28-24 win over the Chargers. Bledsoe's QB rating was an NFL-best 143.4. The Redskins beat the Bears without scoring a TD, leading Gibbs to replace Pat Ramsey with Mark Brunell as his starting quarterback.

Cody's call: Cowboys 24-20

Season record

Straight up

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

Spread

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


Videos

Photos