- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 6, 2010

These are the NFL champion Saints?

These are the two-time NFC West champion Cardinals?

Well, yes. Both are tied atop their divisions, the Saints (3-1) in the NFC South and the Cardinals (2-2) in the West. And no, they sure don’t look anything like their recent past.

New Orleans has yet to find a dominating, high-scoring offense like the one that carried it to a 13-0 record a year ago, and then to its first Super Bowl title. The Saints' total margin of victory this season is 10 points, and overall they have outscored opponents just 79-72.

Still, things look much worse in the Valley of the Sun. The Cardinals, plagued by losing Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle in the offseason, have been eclipsed by 60 points, 58-118. They rank 31st in offense, 29th in defense _ and yet are in first place along with the Rams and Seahawks.

Arizona is a 7 1/2-point underdog as it sorts through its problems on both sides of the ball. Getting healthy against the Saints is not a prescription for success. More likely, New Orleans will find its rhythm out in the desert.

SAINTS, 27-13

N.Y. Giants (plus 3 1/2) at Houston

An angry set of Giants took it out on the Bears with 10 sacks. Houston has a better offensive line, better quarterback and suddenly balanced offense with the emergence of RB Arian Foster. One caveat: star receiver Andre Johnson is bothered by a sprained right ankle. We think he’ll be healthy enough …

BEST BET: TEXANS, 27-17

Jacksonville (plus 1) at Buffalo

Jaguars just might be better than most everyone thought, judging by their gutsy win over the Colts. Bills might be much worse than anyone thought.

Not much of an upset, but …

Story Continues →