Baltimore Ravens (+3) @ New England Patriots
The Patriots surprised many football fans when they traded Randy Moss. We all know Moss had reverted into his natural state of being a pain in the ass but his absence leaves the Pats without a deep threat to take pressure from their possession receivers. Special teams ace Ben Tate must have truly impressed Belichick enough to provide the confidence to let Moss go. The Pats look like they are planning for bigger things in the years to come. They have acquired 7 picks in the first 4 rounds (actually 8 but they traded a 4th rounder for the corpse of Deon Branch). Deep down, Belichick knows 2010 will not be a championship season for New England and letting Moss go was an admission of that. The Patriots cannot run the ball. Period. Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris will not strike fear into the hearts of any defensive unit, let alone the vaunted Baltimore Raven front seven. The Patriots will attempt to spread the Ravens out and throw against their secondary all day. This Ravens unit is too good to have a great deal of success being one-dimensional.
Belichick will have some trick up his hoodie for Flacco. Joe Flacco looked great the past two weeks, including a very impressive drive to defeat the Steelers. However, Flacco still makes mistakes and I think he’ll make a couple in this game. However, I think the combination of Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin will overwhelm the Pats’ D. The Ravens pull out another impressive victory on the road.
PICK: RAVENS +3
New Orleans Saints (-4.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans inexplicably lost to the Cardinals last weekend. The Super Bowl hangover is in full swing and the Saints may lose the division to the Falcons. The loss of running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush means the loss of their rushing attack. Thomas may come back this week but his status is far from certain. Bush did not put up great stats but he added a dimension opposing defenses had to plan and account for. The Bucs have been a little frisky this year, Josh Johnson has put together a few surprising victories without a viable running game. Did you know Cadillac Williams was still alive? The Bus have a solid young foundation but their not on the same level as the Saints. I think the Saints bounce back and win this one by at least a touchdown. Johnson has a lot of promise, but I’ll take Brees and his corps of receivers to put up a nice score down in Tampa.
PICK: SAINTS -4.5