Cracking the Coad

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

Detroit (3-4) at Minnesota (2-5)

The line: Lions by 1 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. With Daunte Culpepper gone for at least a year with three torn ligaments in his right knee, veteran Brad Johnson returns to play quarterback for the Vikings, the team with which he launched his NFL career in 1992. Stepping in for the injured Culpepper partway through Sunday's 38-13 loss to the Panthers, Johnson completed 13 of 28 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. The Lions' 14th-ranked pass defence knows how to get its claws on the football. Detroit has 13 interceptions, second most in the NFL, and a plus-five turnover differential.

Cody's call: Lions 17-14

Atlanta (5-2) at Miami (3-4)

The line: Falcons by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Miami's middle-of-the-pack run defence (17th ranked) will have its hands full against the NFL's No. 1 running attack, predicts Associated Press football writer Paul Montella. The Falcons are averaging 188.1 yards a game on the ground. The Dolphins are surrendering, on average, 111.9 rushing yards. Atlanta's Mike Vick leads NFL quarterbacks with 302 yards rushing and Warrick Dunn is one of four running backs averaging more than 100 yards a game (104.6). Dunn is also leading the loop with 5.4 yards a pop. The Dolphins have been penalized just 18 times in their last three games after drawing 52 flags in their first four games.

Cody's call: Falcons 27-23

San Diego (4-4) at New York Jets (2-5)

The line: Chargers by 6 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. A lot of the Jets' problems this season have come with their 30th-ranked offence, where four quarterbacks have tossed only as many TD passes as Chargers brilliant running back LaDainian Tomlinson -- three. Vinny Testaverde is the man of the moment at the Jets' helm, volunteering to un-retire when Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler went down and Brooks Bollinger didn't pan out. The New Yorkers' offensive line has been unimpressive, surrendering 25 sacks and generally failing to protect the QB. Testaverde has yet to throw a touchdown pass in three games, although he's run for a pair.

Cody's call: Chargers 27-10

Tennessee (2-6) at Cleveland (2-5)

The line: Browns by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The key matchup here pits Titans perpetually banged quarterback Steve McNair against the Browns 19th-ranked pass defence. McNair's receiving corps will likely be manned mainly by rookies as wideout Drew Bennett will miss his third straight game due to a dislocated left thumb. The Browns, despite their overall 24th-place ranking on defence, has allowed just one TD in each of its last five games, which ties a franchise record streak of one or fewer majors yielded. The Titans are last in the AFC in turnovers with 17 and takeaway-giveaway differential with minus-eight.

Cody's call: Browns 21-14

Oakland (3-4) at Kansas City (4-3)

The line: Chiefs by 4 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Chiefs quarterback Trent Green performed magnificently under difficult circumstances in Sunday's 28-20 victory over the Chargers. Green, who had just lost his dad at age 58, rebounded from a shaky first half to enjoy his most prolific game of the season, completing 31 of 43 passes for 347 yards and two TDs. K.C. beat the Raiders 23-17 during Week 2, a loss that still rankles the Raiders after an offensive pass interference call against Randy Moss negated an Oakland touchdown.

Cody's call: Chiefs 37-24

Houston (1-6) at Jacksonville (4-3)

The line: Jaguars by 13

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Just what's up with Jacksonville's defence? Ranked seventh overall, the Jags are fifth against the pass (allowing just 158.1 yards a game) and -- yikes! -- 26th vs. the run. Jacksonville's run defence was riddled for a franchise-worst 200 yards in last week's unimpressive 28-24 loss to the Rams. It's Jacksonville's running game, ranked eighth and led by Fred Taylor, that's supposed to inflict damage. Taylor has a history of running over the Texans, especially at home where he's gained 247 in two outings vs. Houston.

Cody's call: Jaguars 24-13

Cincinnati (6-2) at Baltimore (2-4)

The line: Bengals by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Usually when the Bengals pop up, you think offence. When the Ravens are mentioned, you think defence. Well, this game's outcome may well hinge on how Baltimore's 25th-ranked attack fares against Cinci's D, which is ranked 19th. The Bengals, who lead the NFL with a plus-20 turnover differential, are on pace to surpass the club record of 34 interceptions in a season. They have 20 so far. Cinci QB Carson Palmer tops the league with 2,037 passing yards and 16 TDs. Ravens quarterback Anthony Wright has won his last six home games.

Cody's call: Bengals 23-17

Carolina (5-2) at Tampa Bay (5-2)

The line: Panthers by 1 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Now this could be a game. Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith will keep the Bucs busy, especially cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly. Smith, who's coming off a Panthers-record, 201-yard receiving game, tops the NFL with 797 receiving yards and eight majors. Dangerous? How dangerous is Smith? Well, he shares the league lead with 12 receptions of 20 yards or longer. The Bucs have allowed a league-low 86 first downs and limited the 49ers to just 208 totals yards of offence Sunday (although, it must not be overlooked the Niners won 15-10). The Bucs' D is No. 1 overall, first against the run and third against the pass.

Cody's call: Panthers 21-17

Chicago (4-3) at New Orleans (2-6)

The line: Bears by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. in Baton Rouge, La. the Bears are allowing just 11.6 points a game, second to Tampa Bay, and sit third overall in total defence (262.7 yards a game). The Saints have surpassed 20 points only twice this season, and they managed just six in Sunday's loss to the Dolphins. Missing running-back Deuce McAllister, the Saints needed 32 carries to gain 119 yards. The Bears are allowing a loop-low 4.1 yards per play, and they've surrendered just one rushing TD. Chicago's rookie QB Kyle Orton had a career-high 230-yards passing in last week's 19-13 overtime win over the Lions.

Cody's call: Bears 27-21

Seattle (5-2) at Arizona (2-5)

The line: Seahawks by 4

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. Arizona's O-line needs to get its act together. Regardless of who's at quarterback -- it's barely mobile veteran Kurt Warner this week -- the Cardinals' pass protection has been virtually non-existent. In Sunday's 34-13 loss to the Cowboys, Josh McCown was sacked three times, roughed up on scrambles and knocked harshly on the noggin by Dallas defensive-end DeMarcus Ware while tossing one of his two interceptions. Seattle's defence bags a sack every 9.6 passing attempts, third-best in the league. Its offence is ranked first overall -- third on the run and eighth in passing.

Cody's call: Seahawks 37-21

New York Giants (5-2) at San Francisco (2-5)

The line: Off

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. The Giants are beginning to look like the cream of the crop in the NFC. Note: The Giants started 5-2 last season, then lost eight straight and finished 6-10. That's not likely to happen this time around as quarterback Eli Manning is a year more experienced and a ton more effective. Still, Manning has yet to win in four career road starts. Both of the 49ers' victories this season have come at home -- Monster Park. History, in this case, is probably not destined to repeat. The Giants have lost six in a row to the Niners and 11 of the last 13 in San Francisco.

Cody's call: Giants 33-23

Pittsburgh (5-2) at Green Bay (1-6)

The line: Steelers by 6 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (knee) is out and running-back Jerome Bettis (quadriceps) is listed as questionable (chances are 75 per cent he's out). Roethlisberger's career record is 18-1, 9-0 on the road. Charlie Batch will start in his place. Packers pivot Brett Favre has started 212 straight games, a league record for QBs. Even with his supporting cast decimated by injuries, Favre has thrown for 1,850 yards and 15 TDs. But he's also heaved 13 interceptions, five of them during last week's 21-14 loss to the Bengals. If the Steelers have a weakness on D, it's their 20th-ranked pass defence, where they're surrendering 211.9 yards a game.

Cody's call: Steelers 28-24

Philadelphia (4-3) at Washington (4-3)

The line: Redskins by 2

The skinny: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. (TSN). This one pits the Eagles' passing attack vs. the Redskins' pass defence, both No. 1. Philly is pitching for a league-best average of 295.7 yards a game, while Washington gives up a league-low 152.7 a game. It should be noted the Eagles' major receiving threat, wideout Terrell Owens, is listed as doubtful due to a sprained ankle and, just in case you've been far away lately, quarterback Donovan McNabb is struggling with injuries, too. McNabb, however, is listed as probable, meaning he'll deal with the pain. Running back Brian Westbrook and tight-end L.J. Smith aren't weapons of Owens' magnitude but they're good. The Eagles need to take flight a lot earlier. In four road games, including three losses, they've been outscored 45-0 in the first quarter. These teams lost by a combined 64 points on Sunday.

Cody's call: Eagles 20-17

Indianapolis (7-0) at New England (4-3)

The line: Colts by 3

The skinny: Monday, 9 p.m. (ABC, Citytv). With the game on the grass in Foxboro, Mass., it's hard to discount the Patriots' possibilities. But -- and it's a great big one -- the Colts have won all four road games, outscoring their opponents 121-40. Indy, still outstanding on offence, is where it is today because of its defence, which is actually ranked fourth overall (14th against the run, No. 7 vs. the run). In 20 opposition trips into the Colts' red zone, Indy has allowed an AFC-leading three TDs and six field goals. As well, they lead the NFL with 26 sacks and the AFC with 12 interceptions. The Pats have the league's No. 5 offence but sit 28th on the run. Peyton Manning is 0-7 lifetime in New England.

Cody's call: Colts 27-17

Season record

Straight up

Last week: 8-6; overall: 73-43

Spread

Last week: 4-7; overall: 51-52


Videos

Photos