NFL season full of questions

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Just as predicted, battles exist in each conference but it's those teams battling for top spot that may come as a surprise going into Week 8.

Who would have thought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be tops in the NFC South at 5-1 with the very real possibility of moving to 6-1 as they visit San Francisco Sunday?

And are the Washington Redskins (4-2) and Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) that good? Or will these two clubs collapse during the second half? How long will the Indianapolis Colts stay undefeated?

* ARIZONA +8 1/2 AT DALLAS: Both teams are having their difficulties on offence but the Cowboys appear to have the advantage with the league's sixth best defence. If Cowboys coach Bill Parcells can find a way to get his team to play four full quarters this matchup should be no contest. Cowboys 26 Cardinals 10

* CHICAGO +3 1/2 AT DETROIT: A battered receiving corps will have an effect on new starter Jeff Garcia. His penchant to scramble out of the pocket as a result will get him into trouble against a very solid defence -- third overall. Bears 23 Lions 15

* CLEVELAND +1/2 AT HOUSTON: The Browns have lost a key member (Gary Baxter) in their secondary and the Texans have gained a key component (Andre Johnson) in their receiving corps. But they're both still going to struggle. Difference is who will be worse come kickoff. Texans 23 Browns 19

* GREEN BAY +8 1/2 AT CINCINNATI: It's too bad one of the game's greatest passers has to suffer this badly in what is likely his last season. But Brett Favre, now without RB Ahman Green and WR Robert Ferguson, doesn't have the weapons to get the Packers back on track. Bengals 35 Packers 20

* JACKSONVILLE -3 1/2 AT ST. LOUIS: The distractions surrounding coach Mike Martz's illness and now whether the Rams' front office want him back at all will prove costly for St. Louis for the remainder of this season. Even if QB Marc Bulger is ready to go, the rested Jaguars are going to feast on the Rams. Jaguars 32 Rams 27

* MINNESOTA +8 1/2 AT CAROLINA: Coach Mike Tice is a taskmaster and he knows this is a playoff game for them. Look for the Vikes to keep the momentum going. Vikings 27 Panthers 22 UPSET OF THE WEEK

* OAKLAND +1/2 AT TENNESSEE: The Titans need a healthy Steve McNair to return to form and rip apart a porous, injured Raiders pass defence. If McNair can hit his targets, expect a Titans victory. It will be up to RB LaMont Jordan to put numbers on the board for the Black and Silver. Titans 25 Raiders 21

* WASHINGTON +2 1/2 AT NEW YORK GIANTS: Few would have expected the Redskins to be battling for first in the NFC East but veteran Mark Brunell and receiver Santana Moss have made it reality. Will this pass-catch duo be able to put up enough points to outdo a potent Giants offence? Giants 35 Redskins 29

* MIAMI +2 1/2 AT NEW ORLEANS: The Saints have been narrowly beaten in their last two contests. The Dolphins have been handily defeated in their last three contests. This one's a tossup but the slight edge goes to the Saints, who finally return to Louisiana even if it's Baton Rouge. Saints 32 Dolphins 26

* KANSAS CITY +5 1/2 AT SAN DIEGO: Aside from the Philly-Denver matchup, this is likely the best game of the week. The Chargers will try to rid the demons from last weekend's horrific performance against the Eagles, while the Chiefs want to keep the momentum they established against the Fins. The Chiefs offence should finally establish itself among the league's best. Chiefs 35 Chargers 29

* TAMPA BAY -11 1/2 AT SAN FRANCISCO: Poor 49ers. They're the only team in the league that doesn't have the ability to forge an upset. Even with a hurting defence and an untested quarterback in Chris Simms, the Bucs should have no problem with the Bay Area bad, really bad boys. Buccaneers 32 49ers 23 BEST BET

* BUFFALO +8 1/2 AT NEW ENGLAND: Will Tedy Bruschi be back in the lineup against the Bills in the Sunday nighter? If so, expect a reenergized Patriots team to walk all over the Bills. If he's only standing on the sidelines, still expect the Pats to walk all over Buffalo. Patriots 25 Bills 10

* PHILADELPHIA +2 1/2 AT DENVER: The Eagles haven't played four complete quarters of football in some time. Coach Andy Reid's failure to hand the ball to RB Brian Westbrook more often has put pressure on QB Donovan McNabb to carry the team's offence, which he hasn't done effectively since early in the season. Broncos 29 Eagles 27

* BALTIMORE +8 1/2 AT PITTSBURGH: As long as the coach Bill Cowher and the Steelers don't underestimate the Ravens, this one is in the bag. Steelers 19 Ravens 10

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LAST WEEK: A couple more points and I could've made some big money. I still managed to do well -- 8-6 against the spread, which takes me to 33-37 overall. Straight up, I was 11-3 last week, bringing my total to 47-23.


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