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Stephen F. Holder's NFL picks | Last week: 9-6 | Season: 17-14

Matchup The scoop Holder's pick
Bucs (1-1) at Bears (1-1)

Time: 1 p.m., Ch. 13

Line, O/U: Bears by 3, 35½

Some think the Bucs did the Bears a favor by making a starter out of QB Brian Griese, left, who spent the past two seasons in Chicago. Not a ringing endorsement for Jon Gruden's decisionmaking. Anyway, the best advice for the Bucs offense is this: stay out of third-down situations. That's when the Bears defense is stingiest. Chicago opponents are 7-of-24 on third down, including 0-for-6 on third and 10 or longer. Problem is, third and long is synonymous with the Bucs. Bears 20, Bucs 17
Texans (0-1) at Titans (2-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Titans by 4½, 39½

The Titans' franchise quarterback is injured and sorting out complicated emotional issues. Yet despite Vince Young's problems, the Titans are atop the unforgiving AFC South. This is a chance to further establish themselves as the team to beat. The Titans have won seven straight against Houston. Until the Texans prove they can stop the run, they'll struggle in this division. Rookie RB Chris Johnson, left, will be looking for a second straight 100-yard game today. Titans 21, Texans 16
Raiders (1-1) at Bills (2-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Bills by 9½, 36½

For the sake of Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, let's hope this one stays close. If not, owner Al Davis, left, is liable to fire him at halftime. Word is Kiffin only postponed his inevitable firing with a win against the Chiefs last week. Meanwhile, I'm starting to buy into these Bills. They have quality wins against Seattle and Jacksonville, and their defense is for real. Ranked fourth in the AFC in total defense, Buffalo is allowing 91.5 rushing yards per game and has yet to commit a turnover. Bills 23, Raiders 17
Panthers (2-0) at Vikings (0-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Vikings by 3, 37½

So, let me get this straight. Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson leads Minnesota to a 355-yard performance in the opener and spots the defense a 15-0 lead against the Colts last week, and the team's 0-2 record is his fault? Are we sure he's the one who should be benched in favor of Gus Frerotte? How about holding somebody accountable for a defense that gave up 18 unanswered points to the Colts. If RB Adrian Peterson (hamstring) plays and keeps running like a madman, this should be the week the Vikings break through. WR Steve Smith (suspension), left, returns for Carolina. Vikings 21, Panthers 18
Chiefs (0-2) at Falcons (1-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Falcons by 6, 36

Might be time to take back all the nice words about the Atlanta offense. The Falcons had their way against the Lions' dreadful defense in Week 1 but eked out just 3.6 yards per play vs. the Bucs last week. Atlanta actually has a legitimate ground game, and the Chiefs are woeful against the run (allowing 300 rushing yards vs. the Raiders last week). And what's the deal with K.C. coach Herman Edwards, left, starting Tyler Thigpen over Damon Huard at quarterback? Falcons 24, Chiefs 14
Cardinals (2-0) at Redskins (1-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Redskins by 3, 42½

Been a long time since the Cards were 3-0 (1974, in fact). Of course, getting there today will prove tougher than beating the 49ers and Dolphins. But Arizona has scored 20 or more points in 10 consecutive games (dating to last season), the longest such streak in the league. Santana Moss, left, and the Redskins got things back on track with a quality win over the Saints last week. This one could provide some offensive fireworks, but the better defense should prevail. Redskins 27, Cards 24
Dolphins (0-2) at Patriots (2-0)

Time: 1 p.m., Ch. 10

Line, O/U: Patriots by 12½, 36½

You know, Dolphins QB Chad Pennington, left, isn't half bad against the Patriots. The man even has a winning record at Foxborough, going 2-1 as a starter there. But Pennington was with the Jets for those victories, and his new team is a little short on talent, even though New England is missing its most talented player (Tom Brady). Backup QB Matt Cassel did pretty well in his first start. Helps to have RB Laurence Maroney, who rushed for a career-high 156 yards last time out against Miami. Patriots 24, Dolphins 14
Bengals (0-2) at Giants (2-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Giants by 13½, 41½

The Giants could be 3-0 by day's end for the first time since 2000, when the Giants advanced to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa. As for today's game, this is the biggest no-brainer: The Giants are going to pound the rock. The Bengals are the third-worst team in the league against the run. And Giants RB Brandon Jacobs is 6-4 and 264 pounds. Be on the lookout for Carson Palmer, left. Some guy masquerading as the Cincinnati quarterback is sporting an unsightly 37.1 quarterback rating. Giants 31, Bengals 10
Rams (0-2) at Seahawks (0-2)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line, O/U: Seahawks by 9½, 44

This might be the most shocking statistic you'll see today: The Rams have yielded 79 points in two games. That's enough to get a coach fired in the first month of the season. Meanwhile, in Seattle, the Mike Holmgren farewell tour is off to a very unmemorable start. The Seahawks need to break out of this funk and have a chance with some of their wounded nearing returns. And they acquired WRs Keary Colbert and Koren Robinson, left, last week. Seahawks 28, Rams 14
Lions (0-2) at 49ers (1-1)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line, O/U: 49ers by 4, 46½

Detroit's defense is bad. And you better believe Niners offensive coordinator Mike Martz, left, is determined to remind everyone just how much trouble his former team is having stopping anyone. He still is none too happy about his unceremonious exit from Motown last year. Not sure if the extra motivation is all that important, though. The 49ers aren't exactly a contender, but they do have some offensive ability. QB J.T. O'Sullivan threw for a career-best 321 yards and posted a 106.4 rating against Seattle last week. 49ers 26, Lions 20
Saints (1-1) at Broncos (2-0)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line, O/U: Broncos by 5½, 51

Picked the Chargers to win at Denver last week, so, by extension, I feel like referee Ed Hochuli robbed me, too. That said, the Broncos have played well even if they did get a gift from the officials. Jay Cutler, left, leads the NFL in touchdown passes (six) and yards (650). And the Broncos are 7-0 when Cutler's quarterback rating exceeds 100 (his rating for the season is 118.6). One thing that can't be overlooked is the Saints have to play a second straight road game in a tough environment. Broncos 27, Saints 24
Browns (0-2) at Ravens (1-0)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line, O/U: Ravens by 2½, 38

The schedulemaker didn't do Cleveland any favors, forcing it to open with back-to-back toughies against the Cowboys (28-10 loss) and Steelers (10-6 loss). Now the Browns catch a little bit of a break against the Ravens but have to face the Giants, Redskins and Jaguars in the next several weeks. QB Derek Anderson has to be better. He is barely completing 50 percent of his passes and isn't getting much help from his receivers, outside of TE Kellen Winslow, left (12 catches, 102 yards). Browns 17, Ravens 14
Jaguars (0-2) at Colts (1-1)

Time: 4:15 p.m., Ch. 10

Line, O/U: Colts by 5, 41½

Jacksonville is going to have a long road ahead if it can't get a victory in this one. The timing isn't great for the Jags, however. Against the Vikings last week, Indianapolis showed it hasn't forgotten how to emerge from difficult situations. Down 15-0, Peyton Manning, left, led the Colts as they rallied for 18 points in the second half — including a two-point conversion — in the sort of performance it takes to beat scrappy Jacksonville. The Jaguars are still beat up, though. Colts 21, Jaguars 17
Steelers (2-0) at Eagles (1-1)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line, O/U: Eagles by 3½, 44½

I predict the Eagles' DeSean Jackson, left, will absolutely not let go of the ball today until he sees six points placed on the scoreboard. And I predict he'll get there, based on previous opponents' inability to slow him down. But the rookie wide receiver from Cal isn't doing this by himself. Is anyone in the NFL hotter than QB Donovan McNabb right now? Even in a losing effort against the Cowboys on Monday, he was superb. Pittsburgh's running game will keep this one close. Eagles 27, Steelers 23
Cowboys (2-0) at Packers (2-0)

Time: 8:15 p.m., Ch. 8

Line, O/U: Cowboys by 3, 51

Aaron Rodgers, left, keeps passing new tests each week, making us wonder why we ever doubted the Packers' decisions to move past Brett Favre. But this is a tall order even for the Boy Wonder. Unless he gets an incredible amount of help from his defense, Rodgers might be hard-pressed to pull this one out. The Cowboys are working on a short week after a Monday night game, but big plays will decide this matchup. And when it comes to striking quickly, bet on the Cowboys. Cowboys 28, Packers 24
Monday Night Football
Jets (1-1) at Chargers (0-2)

Time: 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Line, O/U: Chargers by 9, 44

The Jets are no offensive juggernaut, even though their acquisition of QB Brett Favre would have suggested their offense would rank higher than 25th in the league. Granted, New York is improved. But it probably isn't built to keep pace with a San Diego team that can score. QB Philip Rivers is again going to have to shoulder a lot of the load considering RB LaDainian Tomlinson, left, still isn't over his toe injury. That's okay — because the Jets are more vulnerable to the pass than the run. Chargers 27, Jets 17

Stephen F. Holder's NFL picks | Last week: 9-6 | Season: 17-14 09/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 5:41pm]

    

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