It has been the quietest week so far in the NFL. The only real excitement came late on Sunday night, when New Orleans' Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass for the 48th consecutive game and so broke a 52-year-old record previously held by the legendary John Unitas. Other than that, the Texans kept winning, the Jets still look like a team who have never played together and the less said about the Chiefs the better.
Tonight's game features Pittsburgh at Tennessee. The Steelers looked like a much better side at the weekend, the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall from knee surgery finally making their running game as threatening as their passing game. Their defense, though somewhat beaten up (veteran safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Lamar Woodley are out through injury) should be untroubled against a Titans side who will be missing starting quarterback Jake Locker and for whom running back Chris Johnson has been hopeless all season. At [1.42] Pittsburgh are worthy favourites.
Even this early in the season, Pittsburgh cannot afford to lose this one. They are already a game behind two of their divisional rivals and with perennial basket-cases Cleveland in that division as well it is a tough three-way fight which last year saw the division produce both AFC wild card contenders.
With other divisions being much closer this year nothing less that first place will do and the Steelers' cause would be greatly aided if the Browns could get off the mark by beating state and divisional rivals Cincinnati on Sunday. The Bengals are currently second, but could be vulnerable in this game, especially as the Browns have star cornerback Joe Haden back from suspension to neutralise the Bengals' young wideout AJ Green. It should be a close game and on home turf you have to fancy the Browns at [2.04]
The other team without a win is Kansas City, whose play has been so bad their own fans cheered when starting quarterback Matt Cassel was carried off with concussion. Career backup Brady Quinn takes over at Tampa Bay this weekend but don't expect any change in fortunes, with the Bucs solid favourites at [1.56]
The standout game of this round is the unbeaten Houston Texans hosting Green Bay. Houston's winning run has been based upon their defense, which currently looks to be the best in the NFL. Collectively they made the Jets look pretty silly on Monday night. Second year defensive end JJ Watt has been the standout defensive player this season and just how well the Packers marshal him will be key to the outcome of this match - Aaron Rogers has already been sacked 21 times this season and this will be the sternest test that offensive line has yet faced. Meanwhile, on offense, Green Bay will be without their number one running back Cedric Benson and wide receiver Greg Jennings, both injured (Benson will miss the next nine weeks at least). If anything, the Texans are generously priced at [1.55]
Green Bay blew a 21-3 half time lead against the Colts last weekend. This week Indianapolis go to New York to take on the benighted Jets, whose season just keeps getting worse and worse. Their attack to have lost all rhythm and confidence has slumped as that of the Colts, under rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, is growing every game. The cauldron of the Meadowlands will be a whole new experience for Luck, but at [2.6] the Colts are probably the best value bet of the weekend.
Back Indianapolis Colts at 2.68/5 to beat New York Jets