Talk pro football with SI.com's Andrew Perloff in Huddle Up, a forum to discuss the hottest topics around the NFL.
10/06/2006 01:29:00 PM
T.O. will win this round over Eagles
Look for the Cowboys' Jay Ratliff (66) and Greg Ellis (98) to get to Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb once again this year.
Sunday is a big game for Dallas, but not because of Terrell Owens' return to Philly. This week the Cowboys begin to separate themselves from the rest of the NFC East.
Owens will likely have a good game -- let's say six catches for 95 yards -- against an Eagles secondary he knows very well from practice. But the Cowboys' real heroes will be their numerous pass-rushers, who will quickly end the Donovan McNabb for MVP talk.
McNabb's luck has been unbelievable this season. He's amassed a league-leading 1,248 passing yards against the No. 32, No. 31, No. 29 and No. 24 pass defenses in the NFL. The formula for beating the Eagles is simple: hit McNabb hard early and the offense will never recover. The Cowboys have had eight defenders get sacks this year, and it's always hard to predict where they'll bring the pressure from. And Philly doesn't have any chance of running the ball Sunday with its hobbled backfield, which means Dallas will be in good position to come after McNabb.
Look for Philly fans to leave the Linc on Sunday wondering if maybe the team shouldn't have sided with T.O. after all. Prediction: Dallas 27, Philadelphia 17
Other Games of Note
Tampa Bay at New Orleans: Despite starting rookie Bruce Gradkowski, the Bucs are only about a touchdown underdog. Vegas obviously doesn't believe in the Saints' defense yet, but I do. New Orleans 27, Tampa Bay 14
New York Jets at Jacksonville: The Jags are built to stop power-running teams like the Steelers. The Jets are a guerilla football team, using unconventional weapons to keep games close. New York will get running back Leon Washington out on the edge and keep the game very close. Still, I like Jacksonville 19, Jets 18
Pittsburgh at San Diego: This might be the toughest game to call … ever. Well, that's an exaggeration, but this will be a defining game for both teams. The Steelers' defense comes out on a mission and makes life a lot easier for Big Ben. Pittsburgh 23, San Diego 20
Baltimore at Denver: The Broncos appear to be repeating last season when they had an awful opening-week and then just started beating everyone with their running game and defense. Denver is built perfectly to handle a team like Baltimore. Denver 24, Baltimore 13
Let me know what you think is going to go down this weekend in Philly and elsewhere.
Few quarterbacks stir up as much debate as Brett Favre and
Donovan McNabb. Everyone agrees that Favre is a Hall of Famer (except for maybe SI.com's Dr. Z), but fans are split on whether he should retire. McNabb is a five-time Pro Bowler whom people from all walks of life go out of their way to rip -- T.O., Rush Limbaugh, the head of the Philadelphia NAACP, etc.
No matter the opinion, entering Week 4, Favre and McNabb both were among the top five in yards and touchdowns. If I had to rate the NFL's best quarterbacks right now, here's how I would do it:
1. Peyton Manning
2. Tom Brady
3. Carson Palmer
4. Donovan McNabb
5. Matt Hasselbeck
6. Ben Roethlisberger (assuming he gets healthy)
7. Drew Brees
8. Brett Favre
9. Jake Delhomme
10. Michael Vick
As for all the guys some might argue are better than Favre, just picture how bad they'd be in Green Bay with that offensive line. And if Favre hadn't opened this season with a 170-yard, two-interception performance against Chicago, his numbers would be outstanding. C'mon, no one is going to throw on the Bears. Judge him against mortal defenses.
As for McNabb's lofty status, I will acknowledge that his '06 numbers are inflated since he's faced three of the worst pass defenses in the NFL this season (the Texans rank 32nd against the pass, the Giants 30th, the 49ers 24th). But I've been impressed by the way McNabb is moving his feet to get into better position to throw and his ability to spread the ball around the field. And there really isn't much competition for the top five in the QB list.
McNabb's luck will continue tonight. The Packers' pass defense ranks 31st and the Eagles have won five straight games over Green Bay since the start of '03. McNabb will continue his early-season success with a couple of touchdowns and 300 yards passing. Meanwhile, Favre might throw for 350 yards and two touchdowns, but he won't be able to continue his two-game trend of avoiding interceptions. Philly's defensive line and creative blitz package will overwhelm the Packers' offensive line and Favre will be throwing with guys in his face all night.