Here are my NFL Week 5 Picks

(10-5 last week, 39-24 for the season)

Bye teams: Panthers, Dolphins, Vikings, Jets


houtexansInd @ Hou – Andrew Luck figures to be sidelined once again this Thursday Night for Indy, failing to give them a much-needed boost.  Matt Hasselbeck filled in last week, and the Colts won in overtime, but there’s no doubt Luck is a game-changer and a team-leader.  So far in 2015, he & his Colts haven’t been the Super Bowl-bound club we imagined they would be.  But they’re 2-2, won their last two, are first in the division, and should be able to mend some issues over the next few weeks.  That said, I like the Texans chances.  They might be 1-3 and seem confused as to which bad quarterback they should start, but this is a team with a shot.  At home, Arian Foster back from injury, J.J. Watt harassing Hasselbeck; I don’t know if this would count as an upset, but it’s one in the making.  Houston actually scores more points per game than Indy, something that would have seemed preposterous before the season began.  So I wouldn’t bet the farm, but the Texans could pull this off.


atlfalconsWas @ Atl – It’s a testament to the problems inherent to the NFC East this season that Washington is tied for the division lead.  Under Kirk Cousins this season, the Redskins have been rather underwhelming.  They don’t score a ton, they allow some, they’re OK at home, and haven’t really stamped their mark on the league in a significant way.  It looked like they might run the ball into the record books, but even that isn’t likely to be sustainable, and the best outlook for Washington is to finish 8-8.  The Falcons, meanwhile, are undefeated.  It’s too bad that the Panthers are too, otherwise Atlanta might have already clinched the NFC South in spirit.  As it is, the Falcons are a hot team, one that rallies, one that scores at will.  They aren’t playing perfect football, they give up a few too many points, and they’ll probably stumble along the way.  But I think this week, at home, is a win.


balravensCle @ Bal – The Browns are sad.  And what’s sadder is that they’re always sad, it’s not a surprise that their die-hard fans are left without hope once again.  McCown, Manziel; does it really matter?  This is a team that is used to losing, has come to expect that result, and can’t seem to get out of their own way.  Where’s Kevin Costner when you need him?  He’d know what to do.  The Ravens aren’t much better off, but at least there seems to be a small amount of hope.  They were lucky to win last week vs Michael Vick and the Steelers, with Pittsburgh’s kicker missing his way out of a job.  They should be 0-4, which is incredibly to imagine, this solid a team with that bad a record. Can they rebound?  I think so.  Forsett could improve, Flacco could improve, and Harbaugh definitely has the knowledge to help them get there.  At home vs Cleveland I’ll pick them to get the win.  But they had better show some signs of life if they want anyone to have confidence in them going forward.


cinbengalsSea @ Cin – Another questionable call involving the Seahawks on Monday Night, and you wonder what in the world is going on.  They could easily have lost to the Lions, if a ref had made the correct call, and that would have made the defending NFC Champions 1-3.  They seemed to be getting things turned around a week ago, and give them credit for beating Detroit pretty soundly until that weird play at the end, so perhaps they understand what needs to be fixed.  Kam Chancellor coming back helped, and if they can just keep Jimmy Graham involved there’s hope yet.  No need for tweaks in Cincinnati, as they are 4-0 and one of the Top 5 teams in the league.  I was hard on them early in the season, didn’t expect much, and have been proven wrong.  So I’ll pick them again here in a tough game vs a strong opponent.  For the Bengals, the game is at home, allows them to prove themselves, and could be a sign of things to come.  Is this team for real?  That answer is trending towards “yes”, with this matchup the final test.


gbpackersSTL @ GB – I picked up Todd Gurley for my fantasy team, and I hope he’ll help me out for the remainder of the season, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in the Rams recent success.  Yes, they beat both Seattle and Arizona, two very good division opponents.  And yes, Foles, Gurley, & Austin seem like they could be a dynamic trio.  But I still don’t trust Jeff Fisher.  He’s a mediocre coach, his record proves that, and a nice few games doesn’t change things.  St. Louis still lost to Washington and Pittsburgh, the latter at home with Big Ben injured.  So I can’t put much faith in this squad, especially heading to Lambeau.  Aaron Rodgers is on pace to win the NFL MVP award, and a small dip last week should only make the Rams more afraid that he’ll go off here.  He loves throwing TDs in GB, doesn’t throw interceptions, and always seems in complete control.  Even the Packers defense is playing well, better than the Rams, which is not something most of us expected.  Pack win.


kcchiefsChi @ KC – Hey, the Bears didn’t lose!  It was at home vs the Raiders, but a win’s a win, and the Bears will at the very least not go 0-16 this season.  They might go 1-15, but hey, look on the bright side right?  Chicago is terrible on offense behind a tool of a guy in Jay Cutler, their defense is even worse, and although John Fox has built himself a reputation for turning teams around, I think it’ll take more than one year to do that for Da Bears.  He might need to start fresh, and that will take a while, leaving this season to fend for itself.  It’s not like Kansas City is an amazing team when compared to Chicago; same records, exact same points allowed.  But the Chiefs can score a few more points and have shown that they can get Jeremy Maclin involved in the passing game when they need to.  Alex Smith & Andy Reid are still about as exciting as a pair of dish cloths, and I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were a Chiefs fan.  But they could win this game, improve to 2-3, and stave off the inevitable.


phieaglesNO @ Phi – This is one of those game where everybody loses, the fans most of all.  This must have looked like such a tasty matchup on paper in the off-season too, Sean Payton vs Chip Kelly, Drew Brees vs the high-flying Eagles, a ton of points, a shootout to the end.  Not so much.  The Saints have been dreadful, going 1-3, winless on the road, not scoring like they historically have, and Brees has been battling an injury, which makes everything worse and more complicated.  Philly fans probably wish that Sam Bradford would get injured too, so he could stop being their quarterback.  Actually, to be fair, he’s on pace to score the most TDs, of his career at 24.  Buuut he’s also on pace to throw the most INTs of his career as well at 16.  Not what the Eagles were hoping for when they traded everything away to get him, which I am on record as calling utter lunacy.  I think the Kelly experiment may be over, and yet they could still win this game.  That pretty much sums up this matchup.


tbbuccaneersJax @ TB – Whereas the NOvsPhi matchup is surprisingly bad, we saw this one coming a mile away.  Don’t let Jacksonville fool you; they’re still a terrible team.  They’ve scored the least amount of points in the AFC, allow among the most, and have yet to win on the road.  The Jaguars were supposed to be in the rebuilding phase years ago; looks like someone forgot to stop.  The Bucs are also rebuilding, though they think they’ve got their guy in Famous Jameis Winston.  I can’t stand him, as I’ve said many times, and I legitimately think he will fail.  We’ll see though, it hasn’t been all bad for the young guy so far, and he is still learning.  Getting the team’s first home win of the season would go a long way toward building some confidence, and if it’s ever going to happen now would be the time.  Tampa has been pretty terrible so far, but could win this game by default, a battle of two teams who should be selecting early in the NFL Draft yet again.


tentitansBuf @ Ten – It shouldn’t be surprising that Buffalo has become an up-and-down team this year.  After all, a team mirrors its coach, and Rex Ryan ain’t no smooth ride.  The Bills won big, lost big, won big, lost big, and show no sign of creating a consistent identity.  Sure, Tyrod Taylor has played really well, surprising a lot of people.  But can he sustain that, or is there a reason he’s not seen as an elite starting talent?  I just assume that the Bills will collapse at some point.  Could that be now?  The Titans would sure like to do the honors, and coming off a bye week to play a home game would sure be the time to do it.  Mariota has played well for a rookie, and seems to have all the tools.  That doesn’t make his team spectacular overnight, but Tennessee has some pieces in place to be playoff contenders sooner rather than later.  If they’d like to have any chance at that, a win this week would be nice, so look for a strong performance from a rested team in front of their home fans.


aricardinalsAri @ Det – The Cardinals lose one tough game and all of a sudden they’ve been exposed, they’re frauds, the writing is on the wall?  I don’t think so.  This is still one solid Arizona team, a group that lost a close game, a club that made mistakes, but didn’t lose their talent.  Palmer is playing inspired, Fitzgerald is a man reborn, and this offense scores the most points in the league, complimented by a stout defense as well.  The Cards aren’t done, don’t believe the un-hype.  They’d have to be creamed in Detroit for me to worry, and I don’t see that happening.  The Lions are awful, winless, anemic, and sad.  Their once frightening defense has left town, Stafford & Megatron keep trying to bring back that old magic, but that ship might have sailed.  They’ll still win a couple of games, maybe break out of their offensive slump, but there’s no reason to think that it will happen in Week 5 against perhaps the best team in the league, despite what one blip of a game might suggest.


nepatriotsNE @ Dal – Don’t look now, but the Patriots got a little rest and are back for more.  Hey, dominating on every front must be tiring, they deserved a breather.  Tom Terrific is back from a bye, after basically annihilating every team he’s seen, and I hardly think he needed a week off to work on any problems.  I don’t think the Pats have any problems.  Even their defense is humming, allowing some late points perhaps, but that’s only human when your offense puts up huge numbers.  I can’t see New England slowing down this week, which should mean trouble for Dallas.  They have to start Brandon Weeden again, too bad for them, and they’ll surely lose because of it.  Weeden sucks, that’s just how it is, and the ‘Boys won’t be doing much winning without Tony Romo at the helm.  They’re technically winning the NFC East, but this is the Giants division to lose, and I don’t see Weeden holding off Eli when the games start getting interesting.  Patriots win big in Big D.


denbroncosDen @ Oak – As Peyton has faltered out of the gate, the Broncos Orange Crush defense has picked up the pace.  The best defensive unit in football, they’ve won multiple games on their own, while this offense attempts to find its footing.  Peyton has been improving, and so has the running game, so there’s hope that Denver will start putting up the point totals that we’ve become accustomed to.  But even if they can’t, as long as this amazing defense keeps running, everything will be all right.  The Raiders, who used to be our most hated enemies, have been too poor a team to keep that rivalry interesting.  Carr does have them looking up, and they are in no way the pushover team of the last few years, so this could actually be a fairly interesting game.  Playing in the Black Hole is never easy, and look for the Oakland defense to come after Peyton with everything they’ve got, hoping to knock him off his feet and get him rattled.  If they can force INTs, this game could be too close for comfort.


nygiantsSF @ NYG – Sunday Night Football and a matchup of two classic NFC powerhouses.  Too bad San Fran forgot how to play.  Here’s a sad set of stats: the Niners are scoring 12 points a game while allowing 28.  That would be why they’re 1-3.  They’ve looked horrendous since their opening Monday Night drubbing of an unprepared Vikings team, failing predictably after the complete abandonment of handfuls of coaches & players.  Kaep looks pitiful, the defense can’t stop anyone, and changes are on the wind in San Francisco.  The Giants are changing too, but from an 0-2 team to division leaders.  There was never anything to panic about in New York, Eli just had to settle down and use his head, winning the games he was supposed to win.  The Giants should easily win the NFC East now that the Cowboys are hurting, they just needed a little time to get their act together.  Losing this game would be an inexplicable disaster, but I do not see that happening.


sdchargersPit @ SD – With Big Ben out, Michael Vick stepped in, and almost led his team to victory last Thursday Night.  If their now ex-kicker could have made a field goal, the Steelers would have taken that game and moved to 3-1.  But, he couldn’t, they didn’t, and now here we are.  Vick is good enough to hand the ball to LeVeon Bel and to toss it over to Antonio Brown, which is all that should really be called upon him to do.  But what happens what the game is on the line?  Can you make magic happen?  I think Pittsburgh will need a touch of magic to win this Monday Night game in San Diego.  The Chargers are falling behind in the race for the AFC West and need a win here to boost their self-confidence.  Rivers can do it, especially with Antonio Gates coming back from a suspension.  The question is, will it matter, since this team has been consistently mediocre for a long time.  I like San Diego to win this game, but were Big Ben playing, I’d go the other way.