Though winning on the road in the NFL is difficult most weeks (just ask the Bengals about their trip to Oakland last week), three teams have been perfect this season. With the Cardinals (5-0), Saints (5-0) and Colts (5-0) unscathed away from home, the 2009 season is tied for the most ever. Just three other seasons have opened with three teams starting 5-0 on the road (1983, 2001, 2007). We take a look at the three teams and offer their chances of finishing the season with an unblemished road record.
Saints | 3-1 odds
New Orleans faces one of its biggest tests yet Monday — in hosting New England — but its road slate doesn't seem too daunting. The Saints travel to face the Redskins (Dec. 6) and Falcons (Dec. 13) on back-to-back weeks, with a season finale at the Panthers (Jan. 3). Atlanta is the most likely to upset New Orleans, having come close in their matchup in the Superdome (losing 35-27 on Nov. 2).
Colts | 5-1 odds
Indianapolis has a few division rivals on its remaining road schedule, with games in Houston (today) and Jacksonville (Dec. 17), and both teams were difficult for the Colts to handle in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium (Jaguars lost by two, Texans by three). Though the Colts' final road opponent is the struggling Bills, coach Jim Caldwell may be resting his top players that week (if the division is, as expected, already clinched).
Cardinals | 7-1 odds
The Cardinals have been one of the league's hottest teams, winners of six of their past seven since a 31-10 loss to the undefeated Colts. But the Cardinals run into another confident team on the road today in the Titans, who have won four straight. In two weeks, the Cardinals travel to face the 49ers, who beat them in Arizona.
NFL WEEK 12
What they're saying
"The fawning over (Broncos coach Josh) McDaniels has stopped. He isn't the Boy Genius after all. And his Broncos are who we thought they'd be; a solid team that might squeeze into the playoffs — if everything goes right. They look more burnt than your overcooked Thanksgiving bird."
CBSsports.com's Pete Prisco on the Broncos, who had lost four straight after starting 6-0; they defeated the Giants on Thursday night
Joke of the week
Cowboys CB Terence Newman's sideline scuffle with secondary coach Dave Campo drew plenty of attention on SportsCenter, but he had an interesting way of spinning it. Newman joked he was hyping their potential undercard boxing match in a hoped-for fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"We're going to have Jerry (Jones) promoting it," Newman said. "We might have to move this whole thing to Cowboys Stadium. That's it! Pacquiao-Mayweather at Cowboys Stadium. Yeah. It'll be Pacquiao-Mayweather, and it'll be Campo-Newman. We're going to make it happen. I'm telling you."
A Titan-sized turnaround
It doesn't seem long ago that the Titans appeared at rock bottom, thanks to an embarrassing 59-0 loss to the Patriots that dropped them to 0-6. But Tennessee, sparked by QB Vince Young, has put together a historic turnaround with a four-game winning streak. No other NFL team has opened a season with six straight losses then bounced back with three straight victories, let alone four, according to STATS.
"I believe we are walking around with a chip on our shoulders, and we know that we can beat every team that we lost to in the beginning of the season," rookie WR Kenny Britt said. "So we just wanted to turn it around and just work hard. And the coaches believed in us. With the coaches believing in us, we believe in ourselves."
The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers could be scrambling for a playoff spot if their struggles continue. QB Ben Roethlisberger is coming off his fourth concussion since 2006. Their backup quarterback, Charlie Batch, is done. They're without their top defensive player, S Troy Polamalu, and have given up four kickoff returns for touchdowns in the past five games. And, oh yeah, they just lost to Kansas City, falling to 6-4. Coach Mike Tomlin has called today's game against the Ravens "Redemption Sunday."
Compliment of the week
Former NFL RB Jerome Bettis, writing in an SI.com column how Lions rookie QB Matt Stafford is the No. 1 reason he believes Detroit will come around: "I was in the league when Peyton Manning was struggling as a rookie, and I feel like I'm watching the same thing again. Sure, this kid throws a lot of picks. He makes some stupid mistakes. But you see some upside, and when you do, your jaw drops and you say, 'Wow.' "
Times wires, SI.com and the NFL contributed to this report.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]
Browns (1-9) at Bengals (7-3)
If the Raiders and QB Bruce Gradkowski can beat the Bengals, so can QB Brady Quinn, right, and the Browns.
Did you know?
WR Wes Welker has 302 catches in his first 40 games with the Patriots, making him the first player in NFL history to rack up 300 catches in the first 40 games with a new team. He broke a record set by the Broncos' Lionel Taylor (269 catches).
Number of the week
321 Career catches for Colts TE Dallas Clark, breaking the franchise record set by Hall of Fame TE John Mackey, who caught his passes for the Colts while playing in Baltimore.