3-1 Green Bay (-3.0, 1.95) at 2-2 Washington (+3.0, 1.87)
This game will feature two dynamic quarterbacks in Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Washington’s Donovan McNabb — even if their performances last week were anything but dynamic. The Packers slogged out an ugly 28-26 home win over winless Detroit last Sunday as Rodgers completed 12 of 17 passes for 181 yards and three first-half touchdowns. But the Packers’ offense did not score in the second half and Rogers was largely responsible, throwing two picks and missing his receivers on a number of occasions.
McNabb, meanwhile, was something of a letdown in his return to Philadelphia. While his Redskins emerged with a win, McNabb only completed eight of his 19 passes for 125 yards. The Redskins relied heavily on their rushing attack and it came through with a huge performance — RBs Ryan Torain and Clinton Portis combined for 125 yards and a score — but Washington won’t have the luxury of depending on the pair against Green Bay. NFL.com is reporting that Portis will miss the next four to six weeks with a groin separation, meaning Torain will carry the load this Sunday.
That’s music to the Packers’ ears. Green Bay’s run defense hasn’t been great this season (24th ranked, allowing 134.5 yards per game) and the prospect of not facing Portis is a relief. The Pack will relish the times that McNabb is forced to drop back and pass, as they boast the NFL’s sack leader in LB Clay Matthews. If Green Bay can disrupt McNabb and limit Torain on the ground, Washington could be in for a very long afternoon.
3-1 Chicago Bears (-2.5, 1.91) at 0-4 Carolina Panthers (+2.5, 1.91)
Despite their 3-1 record, the Bears have had some tough times as of late. They gave up an embarrassing 10 sacks against New York last Sunday and saw two QBs — starter Jay Cutler and backup Todd Collins — knocked out of the game. Cutler appears as though he’ll be okay to start against the Panthers, and that’s good news for the one Bear that’s had this game circled on his calendar for a while: Julius Peppers. Peppers, the former Panthers star that signed with Chicago this offseason, is looking to exact some revenge on his old team. Earlier this week, Peppers told reporters that Carolina never told him directly they were going to let him walk in free agency and admitted his departure was “sour”.
That can’t be welcome news for rookie Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen. He’s done a nice job beating out former starter Matt Moore for the No. 1 gig, but many league observers feel his ascension to the starting role has come far too soon. The last thing Clausen needs right now is an afternoon filled with Peppers in his grill, but that’s what he might be in store for — he’s been sacked four times in two games and the Panthers’ offensive line isn’t doing a great job of protecting him.
It should also be noted that Carolina is fighting the injury bug right now. No. 1 WR Steve Smith is out with an ankle injury and RB DeAngelo Williams missed practice this week with an illness.