Cracking the Coad

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Detroit (4-5) at Dallas (6-3)

The line: Cowboys by 8

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. If the Lions are considered one of our local teams (along with the Buffalo Bills), then Dallas kicker Shaun Suisham, who hails from Wallaceburg, is certainly an NFLer we should cheer on. Suisham is playing his third game as a Cowboy this week. Whether it's Jeff Garcia or Joey Harrington at quarterback for the Lions, he'll face a stingy Dallas defence. The Cowboys, ranked sixth in overall D (10th against the run, 12th vs. the pass), allow just 15.3 first downs a game. The Lions are 4-1 when they outrush opponents, 0-4 when they don't.

Cody's call: Cowboys 24-21

Carolina (7-2) at Chicago (6-3)

The line: Panthers by 3

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The major matchup in this one, suggests Associated Press football writer Paul Montella, pits Carolina's red zone offence against Chicago's red zone defence. In 30 trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line this season, the Panthers have 22 touchdowns and six field goals. Their 73.3 touchdown percentage is No. 1 in the NFL. The Bears are tops in turning back red-zone forays, holding opponents to an 18.2 per cent touchdown rate (four TDs and 11 field goals in 22 tries). Carolina has won six straight games, the Bears five in a row.

Cody's call: Panthers 20-14

Oakland (3-6) at Washington (5-4)

The line: Redskins by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Raiders head coach Norv Turner returns to his old stomping grounds. He was the head man in Washington from 1994-2000, taking the Redskins to the NFC East title in 1999. The Redskins have lost four of six after starting 3-0. They're home for their next two games, where they're 4-0. Oakland running back LaMont Jordan is the only player in the AFC's top 10 in yards rushing (640) and receptions (47). The Redskins have converted 43.2 per cent on third down and quarterback Mark Brunell is tied for third in the NFL with six TD passes on third down.

Cody's call: Redskins 21-17

Arizona (2-7) at St. Louis (4-5)

The line: Rams by 9 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Little-known fact: the Cardinals are passing for an average of 272 yards a game, third in the NFL. Good thing, because their offensive line, decimated by injuries, has had troubling run-blocking all season. The Cards managed only 36 yards on 18 rushes in Sunday's 29-21 loss to the Lions. Rams QB Marc Bulger has won 20 of 23 career starts in St. Louis and the Rams have won 42 of their last 52 games at home. St. Looie safety Adam Archuleta leads NFL defensive backs with 3 1/2 sacks. Despite being ranked 20th in rushing, the Rams are No. 3 in overall offence.

Cody's call: Rams 33-17

Tampa Bay (6-3) at Atlanta (6-3)

The line: Falcons by 6

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Lefty vs. lefty -- Mike Vick of the Falcons versus Chris Simms of the Bucs. Vick, of course, is one of the NFL's most versatile, and fun-to-watch, quarterbacks in the NFL. He's 29-14-1 (.670) as a starter over his five seasons. And he's 21-6 (.778) starting indoors. In leading the Bucs over Washington Sunday, Simms tossed for 279 yards and three TDs (no interceptions). Tampa Bay has won four of the last five meetings in Atlanta. If the Falcons aren't fired up after losing to Green Bay on Sunday, they ought to be.

Cody's call: Falcons 24-23

Miami (3-6) at Cleveland (3-6)

The line: Browns by 2 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Dolphins backup Sage Rosenfels is taking a lot of snaps in practice this week as Gus Frerotte has a sprained right index finger and is listed as questionable. Gutsy Gus injured the digit during the first half of Miami's 23-16 loss to the Patriots Sunday but it didn't keep him off the field. He received an injection at halftime, then pitched 30 passes in the second half, finishing with 360 yards, his highest total in five years. Still, the Dolphins, who have lost five of their last six, are 28th in passing.

Cody's call: Browns 17-14

Jacksonville (6-3) at Tennessee (2-7)

The line: Jaguars by 4

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. The Jags' pass defence is No. 1 in the NFL, allowing a measly 154.6 yards a game. A whack of the credit goes to the D-line, specifically Reggie Hayward and Paul Spicer, who have 5 1/2 sacks apiece. Toss in linebacker Mike Peterson, who has a sack in each of his last three games, and you can see why the Titans' 17th-ranked offence will have its hands full. Peterson has led the Jags in tackling in all nine of their games. The Titans have lost six of their last seven.

Cody's call: Jags 28-20

Philadelphia (4-5) at New York Giants (6-3)

The line: Off

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was advised yesterday to have surgery for a sports hernia, which in all likelihood would end his season. It could also seal Philly's fate in terms of snagging a playoff berth, something most football folks thought was a no-brainer at the start of the season. The Eagles quarterback is considering his options and is expected to seek other opinions before making a final decision. Mike McMahon, the disappointing Eagles third-string quarterback, will start against the Giants, one of the NFL's biggest surprises. Giants QB Eli Manning has thrown a TD pass in 10 straight games, the longest active streak in the league.

Cody's call: Giants 31-27

Pittsburgh (7-2) at Baltimore (2-7)

The line: Off

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still hopes to play but he's listed as questionable. Big Ben has already missed two games following arthroscopic knee surgery on Nov. 3 and he may sit this one out as well. The Steelers might be reluctant to bring Roethlisberger back this week because left offensive tackle Marvel Smith, who protects the quarterback's blind side, is questionable with a sore ankle. If Roethlisberger doesn't go, Tommy Maddox will probably get the call.

Cody's call: Steelers 24-12

New Orleans (2-7) at New England (5-4)

The line: Patriots by 10

The skinny: Sunday, 1 p.m. Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks will aim to get the passing game back on track after being held to less than 200 yards for two straight weeks. Brooks has passed for 200 yards just three times this season after doing it a dozen times in 2004. Hard to believe but the Patriots are ranked 31st against the pass, giving up an average of 378.1 yards a game. The only pass D they're ahead of is the 49ers, who are surrendering 397.1 yards a game.

Cody's call: Patriots 24-17

Seattle (7-2) at San Francisco (2-7)

The line: Seahawks by 12 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. These two words should strike fear in the hearts of 49er defenders: Shaun Alexander. The Seahawks running back leads the league with 17 touchdowns, the most by a player in a season's first nine games in NFL. Alexander also leads the loop in rushing with 1,114 yards (5.4 yards a pop). Not to belabour the point, the 49ers are last in the league in both overall offence and defence. Seattle is No. 1 in overall offence, third on the run and ninth in passing. The Seahawks have won five straight games, the Niners have lost seven of their last eight.

Cody's call: Seahawks 38-14

Indianapolis (9-0) at Cincinnati (7-2)

The line: Colts by 5 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. The Colts could become the 16th team in NFL history to start the season 10-0. And the Bengals could do what they did to the Chiefs two years ago, which was hand Indy its first loss after a run of nine wins. Which dynamic duo will prevail? Will it be Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison for the Colts or Cinci's Carson Palmer to chatty Chad Johnson. The outcome could easily swing on which pair performs the passing game better. Indy's Edgerrin James has five straight 100-yard rushing games. The Colts are 22-7 on the road under Tony Dungy.

Cody's call: Colts 30-23

Buffalo (4-5) at San Diego (5-4)

The line: Chargers by 10

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. The Chargers are No. 1 against the run, not good news for the Bills, who will need a big effort from running back Willis McGahee. McGahee is fourth in the AFC with 973 yards from scrimmage, including 856 on the run. He has four 100-yard rushing games this season. But he hasn't run for a touchdown in his last three games and was limited to just 66 yards in the Bills' 14-3 upset of Kansas City Sunday. J.P. Losman did a nice job at quarterback, throwing for two TDs after Bills starter Kelly Holcomb went down with a severe concussion in the second quarter.

Cody's call: Chargers 24-10

New York Jets (2-7) at Denver (7-2)

The line: Broncos by 13

The skinny: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. Jets running back Curtis Martin has 58 career 100-yard rushing games and will tie the great Jim Brown for sixth all-time with his next one. The Broncos won't hand it to him. Fourth in the league against the run, Denver allows 85.1 yards a game. Martin, slowing down just a bit, has only one 100-yard game this season and is averaging 65.4 yards. He's never had a 100-yard game against the Broncos. The Jets are winless in their last eight road games, including 0-5 this season. Broncos running back Tatum Bell leads the NFL with 6.3 yards a carry.

Cody's call: Broncos 31-17

Kansas City (5-4) at Houston (1-8)

The line: Chiefs by 6 1/2

The skinny: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. (TSN). The knocks on Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, filling in for Priest Holmes whose through for the season, are he doesn't block well and he doesn't catch the ball well. Nobody has said he can't run the ball. Look out Texans. Johnson is coming off a 132-yard game against the Bills, the NFL's second worst run defence -- after Houston. Johnson has 638 yards rushing, 5.1 a carry, and six TDs. The Texans have allowed six 100-yard rushers in nine weeks. Houston, you've got a problem: the Texans have been outscored 64-7 in the first quarter.

Cody's call: Chiefs 31-23

Minnesota (4-5) at Green Bay (2-7)

The line: Packers by 4

The skinny: Monday, 9 p.m. (ABC, City). Vikings safety Darren Sharper makes his return to Green Bay, where he played his first eight NFL seasons before signing with Minnesota as a free agent last offseason. Sharper leads the NFL in reception return yards with 241 and is tied for second with five interceptions. Packers quarterback Brett Favre shares the NFL lead with 16 touchdown passes. He also leads the loop with 15 interceptions. Favre is 9-3 with 2,724 yards and 25 TD tosses in 12 regular-season games vs. the Vikes at Lambeau Field.

Cody's call: Packers 28-21

Season record

Straight up

Last week: 9-5; overall: 94-50

Spread

Last week: 8-4; overall: 67-60


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