Here are my NFL Week 5 Picks
(7-9 last week, 33-30 for the season)
Bye teams: Falcons, Broncos, Saints, Redskins
NE @ TB – Other than the Colts, the Patriots have allowed the most points in the league. That’s an incredibly strange statistic; that never happens with a Belichick defesne. At least the Pats are able to put up points as well, scoring the most in the league other than the Rams, but it’s still a glaring problem that they can’t hold teams down and that Brady has to be perfect at all times since he can’t rely on his defense. Most of us think that New England can bounce back, that they’ll still win the division, but the fact they they’re currently tied with the Jets at 2-2 is odd beyond measure. The Pats are actually better on the road than they are at home this season, so perhaps they can get back on track in Tampa on Thursday, but the Bucs will have something to say about that. TB is 2-1, undefeated at home, Jameis is slinging it, and I really like this team, it’s just hard to pick against Brady, especially when he’s coming off a loss and feeling angry.
NYJ @ Cle – Why, gods, why, what did we do to deserve this? First the Jags vs the Jets and the Bengals vs the Browns, now the Jets vs the Browns, and another game that really isn’t worth watching. Now, in New York’s defense, they are 2-2, they are performing much better than anyone thought they could, but if we’re realistic we’ll understand that they really aren’t a very good team. I actually think they’ll go into Cleveland and lose, but I thought that about the Bengals, so what do I know. The Brownies got demolished at home last week and are winless on the season. They’ll win a game at some point, they aren’t horrible, they just aren’t good. Kizer has potential, the Browns can also run the ball, and the odds are in their favor since the Jets have outreached themselves and the Browns have nothing at all to lose. The people of Cleveland deserve a team that has some hope, some vision of the future, that gives them some reason to watch.
Car @ Det – The Panthers pull off an improbable win in New England and now it looks like Cam has shaken off enough rust to be formidable once again. Carolina is 2-0 on the road, they’re just getting warmed up, and so watch out for this team going forward. They’ll look to go into Detroit and keep the momentum going, but oddly enough, Detroit’s defense is much better than New England’s, so this won’t be an easy game for Cam & Co. Actually, the Lions have allowed the same amount of points as the Panthers this season, but they’ve scored 21 more. And they’re playing at home, where they are only 1-1 but they probably should have won that game vs Atlanta and should probably be undefeated. The only red flag is that Stafford threw 4 TDs, then 2, then 1, and last week zero, so the Lions will need him to get back on track if they’re to have any hope of beating Carolina, something of which I think they are more than capable.
SF @ Ind – Sadly, the Niners are one of the NFL’s four remaining winless teams, and I’m not sure when that changes. They gave it a shot last week in Arizona, but couldn’t do more than kick a bunch of field goals; they only have 5 total TDs on the season, the second worst in the league. San Fran simply can’t put up points, and they don’t have the dominant defense to make that passable. We know they’re rebuilding, it’ll take some time, but it sure doesn’t look pretty in the meanwhile. The Colts are waiting for Andrew Luck to return, but while he’s sitting Brissett has come in and played adequately. They picked up a win, and were competitive with Seattle until Brissett started turning the ball over, so it’s been a roller coaster. I can’t pick them to win many until Luck returns, but at home vs the 49ers is a good spot to be in if you think you can get on track. We’ll see, but I’m going with Indy.
Ten @ Mia – With Mariota hurt, who knows what’s going to happen with the Titans, but they already aren’t doing as well this season as many of us expected they would. Mariota might not be out long, which is great, but they’re still 2-2, aren’t playing consistently, and just got annihilated by the Texans last week. Is this a running team, a passing team, a solid defense; we thought we knew but apparently we didn’t, as Tennessee has been all over the place so far this year. Luckily, the Dolphins aren’t any better, actually they’re a good bit worse, and they have their own problems to deal with as a frustrated but talented team comes rolling into Miami. So far, the Dolphins have scored two total touchdowns in three games, and they were just steamrolled by the Saints in London. So both teams need a win here to boost their confidence, but I have to give the edge to the Titans, even with Mariota’s health and playing on the road.
Buf @ Cin – A quarter of the way through the season and the Bills are the best scoring defense in the league, are 3-1, and lead the AFC East, a division that has been the Patriot’s sole possession for as long as I can remember. What is this, the 90s? Who do these Bills think they are? They don’t let you score, they shut down your weapons, they play fast, they took down the Broncos and the Falcons; it’s hard to tell this early on, but Buffalo might be the real deal. They head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals, who just got their first win of the season in Cleveland last week. Really, Cinci almost beat GB in GB, which would have been something, so maybe this team is a little better than their record. Good Andy has showed up in spurts, but you have to imagine that Bad Andy will make a return, and isn’t it likely that he would shown up vs the best defense in the league? This game will go a long way toward answering some questions.
LAC @ NYG – Woe to the Chargers, woe to their fans. At their last home game, there were more people rooting for Philly than for Los Angeles, and stupid Stink Schlereth kept calling them San Diego; they aren’t even worth remembering correctly. LA doesn’t want them, SD let them go, Rivers is about on his way out, their head coach won’t last but a season or two, and I can’t think of a single reason to root for this team. I’m a Broncos fan, I don’t like them anyway, but I especially don’t like them this year; it feels like they ought not to be here. The Giants need to wipe the table with them so we can all feel better, but, sadly, NYG probably isn’t good enough to muster that up. They did lose twice to last second field goals in the last two weeks, so perhaps they’re improving, but the standings don’t lie, and New York is 0-4. I think they’ll change that and make LAC 0-5 this week; I have just enough faith left in Eli, though it’s fading.
Jax @ Pit – If the Jags can lose on the road to the Jets, they can lose on the road to the Steelers, and I think they definitely will. Jacksonville has been clamoring to be taken seriously, claiming that they have the best defense in the league, but great defense travels well, and their trip to the Big Apple ended in disaster. Their trip to England went so much better, it’s hard to understand how this team can be so up & down. But they are, they’re hard to trust, and I can’t pick them to win this game, not against one of the better teams in the AFC. The Steelers beat the Ravens on the road to take the division lead, and and it doesn’t really matter how they’re winning, it’s enough that they are. That’s the kind of team Pittsburgh is, a team that just wins no matter the way. I like a team like that in the playoffs, because the postseason never goes as scripted, you need to adapt, and that’s what this Pitt team is good at.
Ari @ Phi – The Cardinals are quickly proving to be a mediocre team. They barely beat the Colts and the Niners, pushovers that elite teams ought to cream. Arizona, at least since David Johnson got hurt, is not elite, they’re scraping by hoping that he’ll come back before the season is over. The good news is that the Cards are 2-2, and only one game out of the division lead. There’s still plenty of time, I’m just not sure they have the talent to do the most with it. Palmer is in the autumn of his career, I think you can sense it, so they had better win; it might be now or never. But they have to play the Eagles, one of the hotter teams in the league. No Darren Sproles, no problem, as Smallwood and Blount both stepped up to run ragged over the Chargers. Wentz looks strong, the defense is OK, this team is exciting to watch right now, and things are going right. I think it will continue to do so at home this week.
Sea @ LAR – This has the potential to be a shockingly awesome game, as the Seahawks travel to meet the division-leading Rams. Seattle has looked very strange this season, so inconsistent that it’s painful to watch. Their offensive line gives Wilson no time, the running backs no room, and so the Seahawks aren’t scoring like this usually do. The defense actually scored two TDs last week, so you can’t dismiss that part of this team’s game, but will it be enough week in and week out, and will Seattle solve its problems before it’s too late? The Rams hope to remain in the driver’s seat for as long as possible before the Seahawks regain their footing. LA scores the most points in the league, Gurley is a madman, the defense just needs to improve if this team is going to be legit. At home, I think they can control Seattle, which doesn’t play well away from the 12th Man. It might be weird to have a new top dog, but it might be happening.
Bal @ Oak – After starting off so well, albeit against the Bengals and the Browns, the Ravens have dropped their last two games. The competition got stiffer (Jacksonville and Pittsburgh), and apparently they weren’t up to the challenge. They stopped scoring, which is a major problem, and their defense can’t be expected to be on the field that long. I’m worried that they were pretenders instead of contenders, but I guess we’ll soon see. It might be apparent this week against the Raiders, but then again it might not be, since their starting QB will be on the bench. Carr has an injured back, will be out a few weeks, courtesy of the Denver D, and I don’t know if this team can function as well without their star player. Well, that’s silly, of course they can’t, but their defense has been OK, and can hold its own. This game might be close, but I think Baltimore has the edge because they have Flacco.
GB @ Dal – How this isn’t a primetime game is beyond me; the Monday Night matchup is Vikings vs Bears. This is the game of the week, will be extremely entertaining, I just hope it’s on TV. The Packers are in mid-season form now, and Aaron Rodgers just keeps passing Jordy Nelson touchdowns, which is a beautiful thing to watch. He’s on point, doesn’t seem like he’s aging, and can take this team to the Super Bowl on his back. Now, this game won’t be easy, I think it could go either way, but I can’t pick against Green Bay right now, now the way they’re looking. The Cowboys are easy to pick against because they’re a little erratic. They’re very middle of the road, just got wholloped, and I’m about to say I Told You So if they lose this game. A sophomore slump was inevitable, and I’ll eat my words if they take it to the Packers, but I really don’t think they will, though I’m hoping for an instant classic.
KC @ Tex – The Chiefs are now the only unbeaten team in the league, and they have deserved every win. There’s no fluke here, KC is legit, and they are a threat to win the Super Bowl. I’m not jumping on their bandwagon, I still think the Patriots have the best chance, and I think my Broncos won’t stop fighting for the AFC West. I just think you have to give credit to the team with the best record, especially when they are playing like they deserve it. At home, on the road, it doesn’t matter, they score, they stop you; this team is all-around good, and at least in the regular season, should be continually feared. The Texans aren’t doing too bad themselves, coming off a huge win at home vs the Titans. They’ll look to defend their home turf on Sunday Night Football, and Watson is playing well enough that they might be able to score some points, but this Chiefs D is nasty, I wouldn’t want to face them right now.
Min @ Chi – Wow, this Monday Night matchup went from bad to worse. The Vikings lose Dalvin Cook for the season, when the rookie was looking so very good. They also don’t know about Sam Bradford, or when he’ll be back, so that position is up in the air too. Their defense is solid every week, that’s for sure, and I think it can win this game all on its own. That much pressure is tough though, the defense needs a break sometime, and if the offense can’t stay on the field at all, it’s going to be a problem eventually. Luckily, the Bears offense is even worse. Chicago will be starting rookie Mitch Trubisky, after benching Mike Glennon. Not a shocker, but the kid probably isn’t ready, and probably shouldn’t be asked to take on one of the best defense in the league. Now, it’s a Monday game, so that’s an extra day to prepare, and the Bears played last Thursday, so that’s even more time, I just don’t think it will be enough.
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QBs – Jameis Winston vs the Patriots. Jacoby Brissett vs the 49ers. Eli Manning vs the Chargers. Joe Flacco vs the Raiders. Aaron Rodgers vs the Cowboys.
RBs – Frank Gore vs the 49ers. LeSean McCoy vs the Bengals. Wendell Smallwood vs the Cardinals. Ezekiel Elliott vs the Packers. Latavius Murray vs the Bears.
WRs – Mike Evans vs the Patriots. TY Hilton vs the 49ers. Jordy Nelson vs the Cowboys.
TEs – Rob Gronkowski vs the Buccaneers. Eric Ebron vs the Panthers. Delanie Walker vs the Dolphins. Tyler Kroft vs the Bills. Jesse James vs the Jaguars. Jason Witten vs the Packers. Kyle Rudolph vs the Bears.
Ks – Matt Prater vs the Panthers. Adam Viniatiari vs the 49ers. Justin Tucker vs the Raiders. Mason Crosby vs the Cowboys.
DEFs – Pittsburgh vs the Jaguars. Philadelphia vs the Cardinals. Baltimore vs the Raiders. Minnesota vs the Bears.