- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Redskins are off but that doesn’t mean I’m taking a week off from showing my immense NFL expertise.

Several teams hit the halfway point this weekend. By my estimation, 10 of the 32 teams have little or no hope to enter the playoff contention derby:

NFC: Redskins, San Francisco, Green Bay, Detroit, Arizona, Tampa Bay

AFC: Cleveland, Oakland, Miami, Buffalo

On to the picks …

The Five-Game Contest

I finally won a week against Jim Ducibella of the Virginian-Pilot of the Virginian-Pilot — I went 3-2, he went 2-3. And he can’t blame the cocktails he had over dinner last Saturday night in Indianapolis. But this being the bye week, Duce is the like the Ultimate Warrior — he’s hanging out in Parts Unknown. I thought I was flying solo until the Big Fella finally checked his email.

Dallas at Carolina: Gutsy move by Bill Parcells, going with Tony Romo over Drew Bledsoe. It gives next week’s Cowboys-Redskins game an entirely different complexion. Panthers 27-23.

Duce: Carolina 37-21

Tampa Bay at NY Giants: The Barber Bowl takes centerstage at the Meadowlands. The Giants have emerged as the favorites in the NFC East because they’re 2-0 in division road games. Giants 16-14.

Duce: Giants 23-17

Jacksonville at Philadelphia: Both teams lost wretched games last week — the Jags didn’t show up at Houston (making the Redskins’ win over the Jags a little less impressive) and the Eagles piled up more than 500 yards offense but lost on Matt Bryant’s 62-yard field goal. Eagles 32-14.

Duce: Eagles 16-13

Indianapolis at Denver: As ugly as the Redskins-Colts third quarter was for burgundy-and-gold fans, it was still spectacular to watch from an offensive precision standpoint. When Peyton Manning and Co. get going, they won’t be stopped, which the Broncos will do well enough Sunday. Denver 24-20.

Duce: Indy 24-23

Toilet Bowl: Arizona at Green Bay. Denny Green is proving that Minnesota made a wise decision by getting rid of him (even for Mike Tice) a few years back. The Cardinals will have to start over (again) after the season. Packers 50-3.

Duce: Packers 28-27

The rest of this week’s games

San Francisco at Chicago: The Bears have had 13 days to get over the shock of staying undefeated by downing Arizona. SF might be improving but it will be no match for the Bears, who will lose later this season at the Giants and at New England. Bears 33-12.

Atlanta at Cincinnati: OK, Michael Vick had a solid passing game against the Steelers. But memo to ESPN — it was ONE game. Let’s see if No. 7 can string together 6, 7, 8 games where he throws well. The Bengals harass him this week. Cincinnati 28-24.

Seattle at Kansas City: Seneca Wallace vs. Damon Huard. Doesn’t exactly have the same appeal as Matt Hasselbeck vs. Trent Green, does it? Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander are out for this game and the loss to Minnesota and a loss to the Chiefs could send the Seahawks on the road for two playoff games. Kansas City 30-21.

Baltimore at New Orleans: The Ravens are a rarity — a 4-2 team in disarray. Brian Billick panicked and fired Jim Fassel so Billick is now calling the plays. The Ravens’ problem is, they don’t have much offensive talent. The Saints keep their impressive season rolling. New Orleans 13-9.

Houston at Tennessee: Gotta give it up to the Texans, who have bounced off the mat to defeat Miami and Jacksonville at home recently. My impression of the Titans against the Redskins: Vince Young should be allowed to run more and Jeff Fisher wouldn’t be a bad choice for the Redskins if Joe Gibbs retires. Tennessee 31-28.

St. Louis at San Diego: Not a great week for the Chargers with Shawne Merriman’s suspension (which he’s appealed). This could be an upset, but I stick with the Chargers. Look for the Rams to stick around this season, though. San Diego 28-27.

NY Jets at Cleveland: Eric Mangini has done an excellent job in New York, taking a team whose sum is far greater than the individual parts. Romeo Crennel bounced offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon this week. Not that it will make a difference. Jets 24-12.

Pittsburgh at Oakland: The Raiders got the 0-16 monkey off their back by taking advantage of a team coached by Denny Green. The Steelers won’t have any problems this week because they need to win (they’re 2-4) and even if Big Ben can’t play, Charlie Batch is competent enough. Pittsburgh 37-14.

New England at Minnesota: The Vikings recorded another solid NFC road win last week, downing Seattle. But the Patriots present their usual tough challenge because Tom Brady wins on the road and wins on Monday nights. As much as it pains me, New England 20-16.

Record

Last week: 7-7

Season: 66-41

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