The Pittsburgh Steelers come back after a Week 4 bye at 1-2, but good news comes back with them. Three key starters — Troy Polamalu and James Harrison on defense, and RB Rashard Mendenhall on offense — will play in today’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Keystone State Bowl. The Eagles are 3-1, but the Steelers have won their only home game this season. With Polamalu and Harrison both back and Mendenhall able to boost the running game, expect the Steelers D to shut down Philly and the offense to wear down the Eagles. Steelers 27-17 over the Eagles.
Last week I went 4-2 and moved myself back above .500 for the season at 13-11. I still need some improvement, so let’s try for an undefeated week by starting out with the last two undefeated teams:
- Texans at Jets – I wouldn’t bother to pick this Monday night game except for Houston’s undefeated record. They shouldn’t have any trouble handling the Jets, but it probably won’t be a very high-scoring game. 24-14, Houston.
- Falcons at Redskins – Washington has been up and down this season with RGIII under center, and better days are definitely ahead of them. However, the Falcons have looked every bit as impressive on the road as at home this season, at least so far. I’d lean toward the Redskins, except that they already lost one at home this season. I’m going to stick with success and give the edge to Atlanta, 27-23.
- Chargers at Saints – I’ll flip to the other side and look at the most puzzling no-win team in the league. Drew Brees already has 1350 yards and 10 TDs in four games … and the Aints are 0-4. Sean Payton will attend the game, but is still on a year-long suspension. Will that be enough to get New Orleans over the hump? I’ll predict that they break the losing streak at home against the Chargers, 31-28.
- Broncos at Patriots – Peyton Manning had a breakout game last week in the rout against Oakland, while Tom Brady and the Pats are struggling in New England. Both are 2-2, and the Broncos lost their only road game while the Pats lost their only home game this season. In a way, this is a precursor to barroom debates for the next 20 years over which QB was the best in this generation. If Manning can start early, I give the Broncos the edge against the Pats in a close, high-scoring fight, 38-33.
- Packers at Colts – I think Andrew Luck will have a fine career in the NFL, but he’s going to get a lot of seasoning this year. Expect the Education of Young Andrew to continue this week, this time at the feet of one master, Aaron Rodgers. The Packers barely got by the Saints last week, but I think they’ll do better against the Colts on the road. Green Bay 35, Colts 21.