Cracking the Coad

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Buffalo (1-2) at New Orleans (1-2)

The line: You pick

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Since beating Carolina to kick off the season, the Saints have committed 27 penalties (they lead the NFL with 36) and 10 turnovers in losses to the Giants and Vikings. Buffalo has just three first downs in its last two games and in three games so far this season just two touchdowns and nine field goals. More bad news for Bills: Star linebacker Takeo Spikes is lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

Cody's call: Saints 23-20

Detroit (1-2) at Tampa Bay (3-0)

The line: Bucs by 6 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Lions, the NFL's 30th-ranked offence (No. 29 on the run, No. 30 in passing), begins a string of three games against one of the league's top defences -- the No. 1 Bucs Sunday, followed by Baltimore and Carolina. Tampa Bay's D has allowed just two touchdowns in three games. Their six interceptions are second in the loop. Joey Harrington tossed five interceptions in the Lions' ugly 38-6 loss to the Bears two weeks ago, a performance that had his teammates growling in disapproval.

Cody's call: Bucs 20-17

St. Louis (2-1) at New York Giants (2-1)

The line: Giants by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Giants lead the NFL with 92 points scored. St. Louis has already forced seven turnovers, three last week in a 31-27 win over Tennessee, after getting just 15 all of last season. Rams head coach Mike Martz is the NFL's Mr. October, his teams going 14-4 during the month. After finishing 29th against the run last season, the Rams have held this campaign's first three opponents to under 100 yards rushing each. Eli Manning played like his brother Peyton Sunday, passing for 352 yards.

Cody's call: Giants 28-24

San Diego (1-2) at New England (2-1)

The line: Patriots by 5 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Patriots took away Pittsburgh's running game in Sunday's 23-20 victory, holding speedster Willie Parker to 55 yards after back-to-back 100-yard efforts. LaDainian Tomlinson is likely to be a tougher assignment. In flattening the Giants 45-23 Sunday, Tomlinson roamed for 192 yards and three touchdowns and tossed for another TD. Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer is 6-1 vs. the Patriots. Since 2001, Pats placekicker Adam Vinatieri has made 21 of 23 field-goal tries in the fourth quarter.

Cody's call: Patriots 27-24

Seattle (2-1) at Washington (2-0)

The line: Redskins by 2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Redskins are chasing their first 3-0 start since 1991. It likely doesn't mean much but Washington coach Joe Gibbs is 4-0 vs. the Seahawks. The Redskins must find a way to stop, or at least slow, Seattle running back Shaun Alexander, the second-leading rusher in the NFC with 357 yards (5.7 average) and five TDs. Washington hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in seven games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Cody's call: Seahawks 17-14

Denver (2-1) at Jacksonville (2-1)

The line: Jaguars by 4

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Running back Fred Taylor was critical to the Jags' fortunes in Sunday's 26-20 OT win over the Jets and he may well be this week, too. Though he averaged just 2.6 yards a pop (37 carries for 98 yards yards and a TD), his forays produced a number of first downs and allowed the Jags to control the ball for more than 40 minutes. Taylor also kept the Jets' attention on him and not QB Byron Leftwich, who's playing through a groin injury.

Cody's call: Jaguars 30-21

Indianapolis (3-0) at Tennessee (1-2)

The line: Colts by 7

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Colts are winning, but Peyton Manning isn't putting up big numbers. In fact, only seven teams have scored fewer points than Indy's 47. On the other hand, the Colts' D has surrendered a league-low 16. Manning has yet to be sacked this season but . . . The Titans' 23rd-ranked defence leads the AFC with 26 negative-yard plays and Kyle Vanden Bosch is the NFL sack leader with five. Tennessee QB Steve McNair has completed 66.4 per cent of his passes (95 of 143 attempts) for 965 yards, five TDs and an interception.

Cody's call: Colts 33-13

Houston (0-2) at Cincinnati (3-0)

The line: Bengals by 10

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Bengals last started a season 3-0 in 1990, also the last year they made the playoffs. Heck, they're not playing like the Bungles we've come to know and write off early. Carson Palmer is leading the charge. The second-highest rated quarterback in the league with a 114.0 rating, Palmer has completed 71.1 per cent of his passes, eight for TDs. Cinci has won by 14, 29 and 17 points.

Cody's call: Bengals 33-10

New York Jets (1-2) at Baltimore (0-2)

The line: Ravens by 7 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. With Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler both shelved by severe throwing-shoulder injuries, untested Brooks Bollinger will start at quarterback for the Jets. In his third season out of Wisconsin, Bollinger has appeared in just one game, last season against Arizona. His numbers included completing five-of-nine passes for 60 yards in the Jets' 13-3 win. The Ravens' No. 18 overall defence (No. 5 vs. the run, No. 22 against the pass) needs this game.

Cody's call: Ravens 24-14

Minnesota (1-2) at Atlanta (2-1)

The line: Falcons by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. The Falcons have the NFL's No. 1 ranked running attack, averaging 183.7 yards a game and 5.3 yards a carry. Just so ya know, Atlanta's passing attack is ranked 30th. But Mike Vick, easily the most dangerous running quarterback in the league, is coming off a 167-yard passing performance, his most in his last seven games. The Vikes have lost safety Willie Offord for the season with a knee injury, meaning they've also lost their special teams captain.

Cody's call: Falcons 28-24

Philadelphia (2-1) at Kansas City (2-1)

The line: Chiefs by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Injuries may be the Chiefs' best defence, says Associated Press football writer Paul Montella. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb is badly banged and bruised (chest, groin and now a severe abdominal strain), but he triumphed over the pain in Sunday's 23-20 win over the Raiders, throwing for 358 yards and two TDs. Not so lucky, Philly's crack kicker David Akers will likely miss the game with of a torn hamstring. The Chiefs are 16-4 in their last 20 games at home. K.C. coach Dick Vermeil is 0-3 vs. the Eagles, his former team.

Cody's call: Chiefs 23-20

Dallas (2-1) at Oakland (0-3)

The line: Raiders by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. It's time for the Raiders to win. The Cowboys have been vulnerable to big plays -- recall Washington's Santana Moss on Monday a couple of weeks back and an 89-yarder between San Fran's Tim Rattay and Brandon Lloyd on Sunday. This week, the test will be Randy Moss and like him or not, he's good. Moss tops the AFC and is second in the NFL with 343 receiving yards, averaging 22.9 yards a snag.

Cody's call: Raiders 27-21

San Francisco (1-2) at Arizona (0-3)

The line: Cardinals by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. (TSN). It's not true that this dog of a game was banished to Mexico City. It was actually scheduled for there and is the first regular season game on foreign soil. With Kurt Warner down with a groin pull, QB Josh McCown starts for the Cardinals. McCown passed for a career-best 307 yards in the last meeting against the 49ers. San Fran's new 3-4 defence has surrendered 101 points in three games.

Cody's call: Cardinals 23-17

Green Bay (0-3) at Carolina (1-2)

The line: Panthers by 7 1/2

The skinny: Monday, 9 p.m. Since 1990, only three of 75 teams who started 0-3 have made the playoffs. The Packers, perennial postseason participants, would like to make that four of 76 but their chances are slim. While the Panthers are 1-4 lifetime at home versus Green Bay, this is clearly a different Packer animal -- clearly a weaker team than they've been in years. Packers QB Brett Favre has completed 65 per cent of his passes this season, five of them for TDs.

Cody's call: Panthers 23-21

Season record

Straight up

Last week: 10-4; overall: 25-21

Spread

Last week: 4-8; overall: 19-24


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