The bad news: Big Ben Roethlisberger will sit out the big game today against arch-rival Baltimore, thanks to shoulder and rib injuries in last week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The good news: Pittsburgh gets Rashard Mendenhall back after a month off due to an Achilles tendon injury. With Byron Leftwich starting as QB, the Steelers will need the running threat against the Ravens’ 26th-ranked rushing defense in tonight’s home game. Pittsburgh hasn’t lost a home game yet, and a win here would even up the division records and give Pittsburgh the tiebreaker. I’m going to pick the Steelers in an upset (yes, I know you’re shocked), 21-17.
Last week I went 6-0 for the second straight week to move my record to 44-16. Let’s see if I can get the hat trick:
- Packers at Lions – Even though Detroit has a sub-.500 record, it’s not easy picking against them. They’re 2-1 at home and the franchise is slowly lifting its game. Still, the Packers have been on a tear after a bad start, and they need to keep chasing Chicago to remain in the NFC North hunt. Aaron Rodgers leads Green Bay past the Lions, 27-20.
- Chargers at Broncos – San Diego just isn’t firing on all cylinders this season, but Peyton Manning certainly is. He already has 21 TDs; only Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have more. Manning led a stunning comeback against the Bolts a couple of weeks ago in Chicago; he won’t need one today. Denver 31-21 over San Diego.
- Bears at 49ers – Last week the 49ers earned a rare tie against the Rams, and Chicago lost Jay Cutler for at least this week to a concussion in the loss to the Houston Texans. San Francisco will face Jason Campbell, but they’ll be at home while doing so. Campbell should play well enough to keep the Bears in the game, but if Alex Smith gets back behind center for the 49ers, they should win in a close match, 28-24.
- Colts at Patriots – Andrew Luck has had a very good rookie season, and Indianapolis’ 6-3 record is probably better than most expected. The Patriots are also 6-3, but playing at home, and having less success this season than their fans expected. I’d expect New England to teach the rookie a lesson today, 35-24.
- Eagles at Redskins – Philly is 1-3 on the road, and the ‘Skins are 1-3 at home, and both have 3-6 records. One of these teams has to win in the division to stay in the hunt. Andy Reid’s job is likely gone if the Eagles can’t get to a winning record this season, and he’s lost his last five games. However, two of their three wins came against the Giants and the Ravens, so they can play good football … when they hang onto the ball. Michael Vick won’t be around to turn it over today, as his concussion a week ago turns out to be serious enough that Vick couldn’t even practice this week. Nick Foles will start in his place after having taken all the reps this week in practice. Maybe that will be enough to spark the Eagles; I’ll pick them to win in a lower-scoring game, 20-14.