Cracking the Coad

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:16 AM ET

Arizona (2-6) at Detroit (3-5)

The line: Lions by 4

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Lions quarterback Joey Harrington never looked comfortable in the pocket during Sunday's dismal 27-14 loss to the Vikings. Harrington, under pressure all game, completed 28 of 48 passes for 263 yards. Not bad in terms of yards gained, but he tossed two interceptions, coughed up a costly fumble and tweaked a knee as the Lions bowed to an NFC North rival. Detroit's other QB, Jeff Garcia, sat out last week with a sore leg and is listed as questionable (50-50) this week. The injury-riddled Cardinals won't get as much heat on the Lions as Minnesota's revived defence. Detroit's D ranks 10th overall, 16th against the rush and 10th versus the pass.

Cody's call: Lions 24-17

Kansas City (5-3) at Buffalo (3-5)

The line: Bills by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Quarterback Kelly Holcomb led the Bills' offence to season highs in a 21-16 loss to the Patriots in Week 8: 394 total yards, 263 passing yards, going 50 per cent on third-down conversions and registering 39 minutes, 20 seconds of possession time. The passing portion of Buffalo's attack is ranked 30th in the NFL, nearly as far down the futility scale as the Chiefs' 31st-ranked pass defence. Meanwhile, the Bills' D, ranked 13th overall and No. 1 versus the pass, can be run through, over and around. Ranked 31st, Buffalo has already allowed 1,392 yards rushing, just 208 yards short of what they surrendered all last season.

Cody's call: Chiefs 21-17

Houston (1-7) at Indianapolis (8-0)

The line: Off

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. FYI: AP opening betting line on this one is Colts by 19. That's a lot, especially with Houston's defence looking ferocious at times during Sunday's 21-14 loss to the Jaguars. The Texans forced the Jags to punt on their first six possessions and their 31st-ranked run defence held Jacksonville to 98 rushing yards. Colts running back Edgerrin James chewed up 139 yards on the ground in Indy's 38-20 win over Houston Oct. 5. Texans QB David Carr threw for 200 yards for the first time all season against the Jags and had his best QB rating, 104.7, of the campaign.

Cody's call: Colts 38-10

San Francisco (2-6) at Chicago (5-3)

The line: Bears by 13

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Bears wideout Mushin Muhammad has burned the 49ers consistently over his career. In eight games against San Francisco, Muhammad has nine touchdowns and four 100-yard receiving games. The beleaguered Niners are surrendering a league-high 30.7 points a game and are dead last in passing yards allowed per game (306.8). San Fran cornerback Bruce Thornton, pulled off the waiver wire this season, has looked good against some of the NFL's top receivers, including Indy's Marvin Harrison and Plaxico Burress of the Giants.

Cody's call: Bears 27-20

New England (4-4) at Miami (3-5)

The line: Patriots by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Patriots running back Corey Dillon is lacking his usual zip this year, gaining 441 yards for a 3.5-yard average. Dillon has bashed the Dolphins' run D over his career, averaging 108.3 yards in three games. Miami running backs Ricky Williams and rookie Ronnie Brown have combined for 5.3 yards a carry and an average of 133 yards a game over the last three weeks. Brown leads NFL rookies with 611 yards rushing. New England is 21-6 (.778) against the AFC since the start of 2001. Pats head coach Bill Belichick is 5-7 versus the Dolphins over his career.

Cody's call: Patriots 28-24

Minnesota (3-5) at New York Giants (6-2)

The line: Giants by 10

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Vikings have been outscored 133-34 in road losses to the Bears, Bengals, Falcons and Panthers this season. Another dreadful road stat reveals the Vikes are 9-32 over the last 41 away games. This week's game marks Minnesota's first game back at the Meadowlands since they were whipped there 41-0 in the 2001 NFC championship game. Since then, the surprising Giants have won three of four on the Vikings' turf, the Metrodome. Minnesota QB Brad Johnson improved to 59-41 (.590) as a starter with Sunday's win over the toothless Lions.

Cody's call: Giants 31-14

Baltimore (2-6) at Jacksonville (5-3)

The line: Jags by 7

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Kyle Boller is back as the Ravens starting QB after missing seven games with a toe injury, hoping to perk up Baltimore's struggling offence (26th overall, 22nd both running and passing). The Ravens have scored only seven TDs in eight games -- none last week in 21-9 loss to the Bengals. The Jags' D, which has piled up 22 sacks, is ranked third in the AFC (sixth overall, 24th against the run, third versus the pass), allowing just 288.9 yards a game. Baltimore has beaten Jacksonville six straight times. The Ravens' defence will still be without linebacker Ray Lewis (thigh) and safety Ed Reed (knee).

Cody's call: Jaguars 23-10

Denver (6-2) at Oakland (3-5)

The line: Broncos by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. The Broncos, 12-4 following a bye week, are on an incredible stretch of not committing a turnover on offence in six games. That juicy and informative stat comes from Associated Press football writer Paul Montella. Denver's six giveaways tie them with the Raiders for fewest freebies in the league, though Oakland has played one less game. Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, who coached the Raiders for 20 games in 1988-89, is 15-5 overall against his former team, 7-3 on the road.

Cody's call: Broncos 28-23

New York Jets (2-6) at Carolina (6-2)

The line: Panthers by 9

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. Jets QB Vinny Testaverde, who turns 42 Sunday, may not play again this season after injuring his Achilles tendon in last Sunday's 31-26 loss to the Chargers. Backup Brooks Bollinger stepped in -- and up -- and delivered an inspired performance, rallying the Jets from a 28-13 deficit. With time slipping away, Bollinger's attempted pass for the win was batted down. The Panthers won their first three by a total of eight points, but their last two by a total of 45. Carolina's D, No. 1 versus the run, deserves a lot of the credit.

Cody's call: Panthers 30-17

Washington (5-3) at Tampa Bay (5-3)

The line: Redskins by 1

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Critical to the outcome will be how well Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell fares against the Bucs' defence, which is ranked first overall and second against both the run and pass. The lefty launcher has tossed just three interceptions on 255 passes for a 1.2 percentage, third in the NFL. He has a 93.5 passer rating on third downs and a 94-plus passer rating in three of his last four games. The Bucs are slipping, losing three of their last four after a 4-0 start. Their 34-14 setback against Carolina last week marked the first time this season they allowed more than 20 points. Despite his perceived problems, Bucs QB Chris Simms -- another lefty -- has surpassed 250 passing yards in his last two games.

Cody's call: Redskins 17-13

St. Louis (4-4) at Seattle (6-2)

The line: Seahawks by 6 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. After two games on the shelf with a sprained shoulder, Rams get starting quarterback Marc Bulger back. Bulger has been true on 65 per cent of his passes, completing 145 of 223 attempts. Seahawks defensive co-ordinator Ray Rhodes had his second stroke-like episode in two months last week. Linebackers coach John Marshall will take an even larger role in Seattle's much-improved defence, which sits 14th in the overall rankings this season after finishing 26th a year ago. Bulger will likely have Tory Holt (knee) back in his receiving arsenal, but Isaac Bruce is probably a no-go with a sore toe.

Cody's call: Seahawks 33-23

Green Bay (1-7) at Atlanta (6-2)

The line: Falcons by 9 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Four of the Packers' seven losses have been by three points or less and all seven have been by a total of 40 points. That's harsh. Green Bay's quarterback legend, Brett Favre, has started 213 consecutive career games, the fourth-longest string in NFL history. Despite taking heat earlier in the season, the Packers' revamped offensive line -- which lost guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle to free agency in the offseason -- has protected Favre. The Pack has surrendered just 10 sacks, second fewest in the loop this season. Green Bay has simply been decimated by injuries. Atlanta's defence shut down Miami in key situations in last week's 17-10 win. The Dolphins were zero-for-nine on third-down conversions and zero-for-two inside the Falcons' 20.

Cody's call: Falcons 23-20

Cleveland (3-5) at Pittsburgh (6-2)

The line: Off

The skinny: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. (TSN) With Ben Roethlisberger set to miss his second straight game following arthroscopic knee surgery, backup Charlie Batch gets the call as the Steelers' QB. The Browns' defence is allowing just 17 points a game but, strangely, is ranked 24th overall (28th against the run and 19th versus the pass). Before surrendering two TD tosses to the Titans in Cleveland's 20-14 win last week, the Brownies tied a team record for not giving up more than one touchdown pass in five straight games. Steelers head coach Bill Cowher is 17-5, including playoffs, against Cleveland.

Cody's call: Steelers 21-12

Dallas (5-3) at Philadelphia (4-4)

The line: Eagles by 3

The skinny: Monday, 9 p.m. (ABC, Citytv). Who knows whether the Eagles will take flight with the firing this week of gifted, but disruptive, wide receiver Terrell Owens. The bottom line on that call will take time to unfold. But one thing's for sure: The circus has left Philadelphia. The Eagles were 17-5 over two tumultuous seasons with Owens, who this season had 47 snags for 763 yards and six TDs. Donovan McNabb, the target of the majority of T.O.'s barbs since last year's Super Bowl loss, completed 22 of 35 passes for 304 yards and a TD in Philly's loss to the Redskins Sunday. Owens' departure just might force the Eagles to run Brian Westbrook a lot more, which can't be a bad thing.

Cody's call: Eagles 27-23

Season record

Straight up

Last week: 12-2; overall: 85-45

Spread

Last week: 8-5; overall: 59-57


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