Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans
We tipped up the Bears to gain 10 or more regular season wins in our season preview & they have made the most of the weak opponents they've faced to post a 6&1 record so far, they come up against the Tennessee Titans here who are 3&5 & just horrible on the defensive side of the football.
(Matt Forte looks tailor-made for this game against the Titans)
This is basically a great match-up for the Bears as the Titans are severely limited when their running back Chris Johnson doesn't manage to break off big runs it seems unlikely he'll thrive in this one as the Bears rank 1st in rushing yards given up. The Titans had given their starting quarterback job to youngster Jake Locker but have had to revert to Plan B stick 37 year old veteran Matt Hasselbeck back in after Locker was injured, Hasselbaeck has been good in the past but he's merely serviceable now & he'll ave a tough time escaping Julius Peppers & Harry Melton who've combined for 10.5 sacks for the Bears so far this year.
The Titans rank 29th overall in both passing & rushing yards given up & the Bears' star offensive player Matt Forte looks like having a huge game as he's so proficient at running & also receiving out of the backfield. Chicago struggled for a long time against Carolina last week but rallied impressively with a last minute field goal after trailing 19-7 going into the 4th quarter, they will be determined to show their true colours here - the Panthers are an unpredictable side anyway so we're not too concerned with the narrow victory. We think the Bears weakness at quarterback (Jay Cutler is way off being elite) limit their chances for a Super Bowl win this year but they should have more than enough to cover the -3.5 point handicap here, all but one of their wins have been by more than that & all 5 of Tennessee's losses have also been by more than 3 points.
Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans
The Texans bounced back after unimpressive displays against the Jets & Packers to absolutely thrash the Baltimore Ravens 43-13 before heading off for their bye week & they get a present delivered to their doorstep here as the Buffalo Bills come to town for a game they look highly unsuited for. The Texans have only tasted defeat once this year & they showed they didn't like it in their next game so the Bills face an uphill struggle to get anything out of this one.
(Arian Foster could be saying thank you a lot against the Bills' defense)
The Texans have probably the best running back around in Arian Foster & they rank 6th overall in the league so far in terms of rushing yards per game but that ranking looks likely to improve after this one as the Bills cannot stop teams from running all over them. The Bills are giving up a huge 176.9 yards rushing per game & the moves they made in the Summer (including for the Texans' star defensive end Mario Williams) have not borne the rewards they hoped for. The Bills' main offensive weapons themselves are their running back duo of Fred Jackson & C.J.Spiller, with Spiller exploding into action when given the chance this year, the problem here is that they run into the Texans' defense which ranks 3rd against the run limiting their chances of impressing here.
The Bills hopes in this one surely come down to whether passer Ryan Fitzpatrick can have a stormer & to give him credit he's thrown for a lot of TDs this year (15) although they don't tend to go to the air very often which is understandable with their mediocre receivers. As well as the Bill's offensive line have looked after Fitzpatrick so far it will be a huge test to stop JJ Watt getting to him as the young Houston defender has been in unbelievable form this year with 9.5 sacks & plenty of pass blocks too. The Texans are rightly noted for their running game but they have weapons when passing too with tight end Owen Daniels coming to the fore recently & two time NFL receiving yards leader Andre Johnson has looked better in his past two games with decent yardage & receptions after not getting targeted too often (or dropping passes when he was) in weeks 2-5. Matt Schaub is an excellent decision maker at the quarterback position & he's only thrown 4 interceptions in 2012 so it looks hard for the Bills to make up for the yards they'll give up defensively by creating turnovers. Houston have already won 4 games this year by 20 or more points so the -10 points they give up in this one doesn't look an insurmountable task, back them to do it as they come off a bye week nice & fresh against a Bills team there for the taking.
Chicago Bears to beat Tennessee Titans with -3.5 point handicap at Evens (Skybet)
Houston Texans to beat Buffalo Bills with -10 point handicap at 10/11 (General)