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Doug Farrar

Deep Posts: The Early Games

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals: The Bills' defense has been a disaster all season, but Carson Palmer's(notes) GPS is equally off, as evidenced by the goatballs he was throwing to the Colts last week. Bills safety Jairus Byrd(notes) had Rookie of the Year talk around his name last season with nine interceptions, but it would seem that when Perry Fewell left for the G-Men, he took the defensive opportunism with him. If Palmer can't rip this defense to shreds, it's time to accelerate the conversation about a new quarterback in Cincy.

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett "coaching ‘em up" aside, the Lions present a series of difficulties for Da Boys. Dallas' offensive line will be seriously challenged by that front four (Kyle Kosier(notes) and Leonard Davis(notes), meet Ndamukong Suh(notes)), and that Cowboys secondary can be exploited by the deep passing game, even with Shaun Hill(notes) at quarterback. The key for Dallas will be to ramp up that pass rush, because nobody on their roster can cover Calvin Johnson(notes).

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans: Less than a week after being torched to death by the Michael Vick(notes) experience, the NFL's worst defense based on yards allowed per game now had to deal with a Vince Young(notes)-led offense that had a great deep attack even before Randy Moss(notes) on board. With LaRon Landry(notes) and Carlos Rogers(notes) out of the game, the Redskins will have to try and match the Titans point-for-point against an opportunistic Tennessee defense. The only reason to give the 4-5 ‘Skins a chance in this game is the fact that they have to know their season is just about over with a loss.

Arizona Cardinals at Kansas City Chiefs: The Cards would be competitive in a horrible NFC West if they could find a decent quarterback, and they will have defensive tackle Darnell Dockett(notes) back in the lineup. But the Chiefs bring the league's most productive rushing attack, and Jamaal Charles(notes) is the best first-down, first-quarter back in the NFL. If the Chiefs get out to an early lead, expect ground-and-pound against an Arizona offense unable to keep up.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings: You don't often see every pregame show leading with a 16-pick quarterback on a 3-6 team, but nothing is normal about Brett Favre(notes) these days. Favre will get Sidney Rice(notes) back, but the Packers have already beaten his new team once this year, and the advantages present last week are nonexistent this time around. Chad Clifton(notes) should continue his tradition of owning Jared Allen(notes) (a trend that does back to Allen's Kansas City days), and the Packers' defense is playing at a different level. Clay Matthews(notes) vs. Phil Loadholt(notes)? How do you think that will go?

Houston Texans at New York Jets: Rex Ryan may like his ground game, but he'll want Mark Sanchez(notes) to air it out against a Texans pass defense that is universally regarded as the league's worst. The Texans will run Arian Foster(notes) into the teeth of a Jets defense that's done a great job against opposing running backs. If the Texans were at home, they might have a shot, but this could be a blowout.

Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers: The NFL is monitoring the sod at Heinz Field, but somebody forgot to tell the Rooneys that this isn't the 1975 AFC Championship game - these aren't the Raiders of the Ken Stabler-to-Cliff Branch era. The new-look Raiders like to pound the ball like the more aerial Steelers used to, and Pittsburgh's defense is springing some holes of late. If the Steelers want to avoid an upset, they'll have to find a way to keep Oakland's rejuvenated pass rush off their patchwork offensive line.

Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers: Brian St. Pierre, meet Ray Lewis. Baltimore's defense isn't what it used to be (especially against the pass), but the Panthers present few offensive threats. Carolina's defense is pretty strong, but Joe Flacco(notes) and Ray Rice(notes) should be able to make tracks in this one.

Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars: Does your won-loss record always reflect how good you are? If you take a hard look at these two teams, you might think that the Browns are 5-4 and the Jags are 3-6. But it's the other way around. Last week. The Jags hit the jackpot on a last-second Hail Mary, while the Browns were jacked up by a late touchdown by the Jets. At some point in the near future, it will all come together for a rapidly-improving Browns team; the Jags had better hope that isn't today.

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