|Hopefully what Michael Vick looks like all day Sunday. Or Not Playing.|
So, yeah, sorry for lowering the stakes this week. It's a long season. Last week, in my picks, I went 12-4 overall and 10-6 ATS. I'm getting better! Let's see if this newfound confidence completely crumbles in my face. After writing this out, I realized I picked a lot of road underdogs. There's always one week in the NFL where the 'dogs go wild, and I guess I'm choosing this week as the one.
Kansas City at Indianapolis (-2)
Yikes. Unless you're a fervent fan of either team (which has been a rough experience so far), there is no reason to watch this game. There isn't even a compelling fantasy player to watch, because starting Colts or Chiefs at this point means your team is probably pretty awful. The Chiefs managed to grab their first win against the Vikings this week, even with their coach and QB getting into a nasty spat on the sidelines. Maybe dissension is the key to victory? The Colts, meanwhile, showed some life against the Bucs, keeping the game close at Curtis Painter looked to be halfway decent at QB. I can't choose one team as clearly better, but I'll take "competitive against good teams" over "wins against the dysfunctional Vikings, blown out otherwise."
Picks: Colts win, cover
Arizona at Minnesota (-3)
Interesting game here, in that either team cannot be trusted at all. In picking this game, you have to choose between the crappiness of the NFC West or the crappiness of Donovan McNabb and the Vikings. Kevin Kolb has decidedly not been the savior he was anointed before the season, and the Cardinals have no defense. The Vikings have the corpse of Donovan McNabb at QB, a shell of the defense they once had, and Adrian Peterson is seeing about 12 defenders in the box every time he lines up. Both the QBs in this game were passed over by the Eagles, and its not hard to see why. Once again, with no clear indication of a better team, I guess I'll take the Vikings, at home, with the better offensive weapon in Adrian Peterson, over the decent-for-the-NFC-West (awful everywhere else) Cardinals.
Pick: Vikings win, cover
Philadelphia (-3) at Buffalo
When you're a media created "Dream Team" that's built up to run roughshod over the league, when things go wrong, well, a lot of people are going to be gleefully clapping, watching it all fall apart. Whenever the Eagles lose, it seems as if 20% of SportsCenter (or, SportsCentre, in Canada- but they focus on hockey over everything) must be committed to analyzing every facet of the Eagles game and why they came up short. In their typical hyperbolic manner, this Week 5 game against the Bills has become the crux of the Eagles season. Losing this game means that the Eagles are DONE. To be sure, they need a win after a disastrous 3 weeks- but as Chan Gailey said, "Every team needs a win." The Eagles are going to come out hard in this game, to be sure, and Mike Vick and LeSean McCoy might just have a field day against the Bills defense. But the Bills aren't lacking for motivation either- they've seen how quickly the media gives up on them after a loss to the Bengals, and they're now the underdogs again, fighting for respect. They're more comfortable in that role. Add in an Eagles defense that can't stop the run and hasn't been stellar against the pass, and, well...I see the Bills taking this one at home. It's irrational confidence, sure, but the Bills have the talent to bounce back from their loss and they have a great matchup with the shaky Eagles D/weak offensive line that might allow the Bills to actually get a pass rush.
Pick: Bills win, cover
Oakland at Houston (-5)
Even after last week's win over the Steelers, I'm not sold on the Texans. They let a battered Steelers team back into the game, lacking the killer instinct to just put them away. It worked against the Steelers, but against better teams, it will haunt them. In addition, they lost Andre Johnson, which will undoubtedly affect the offense until he comes back. The Raiders are perfectly suited to take this game- they play a physical style that should overwhelm the more finesse Texans team. They can stop the run, and the Texans will be relying on the run as a focal point without Andre Johnson. The Raiders will also be fired up, playing in memory of their deceased owner, Al Davis. You can't beat that kind of motivation.
Pick: Raiders win, cover
New Orleans (-6.5) at Carolina
Carolina and QB Cam Newton have been highly effective at scoring points in garbage time to give the illusion of a close game- Bill Simmons dubbed Newton "the King of Backdoor Covers," which is the best we can say for him. He has gaudy stats so far, but also throws some backbreaking interceptions and has one win to his name over four games. While some of that can be attributed to the weak Panthers defense, he hasn't shown the ability to win in spite of his defense- yet. The Saints have an offense that will victimize pretty much any defense, and they should have a field day against the Panthers. The defense has been decent, and loves to blitz- which might throw off Newton. Either way, I can't see the Panthers getting much closer than a TD in this game, which makes the line pretty convenient. Even with Cam "the Garbage Man" Newton's late heroics, I still don't think he can keep up with the Saints for 60 minutes.
Pick: Saints win, cover
Cincinnati at Jacksonville (-2)
The main lesson I got from last week was that the Bengals have a pretty good defense and Andy Dalton has the ability to be a pretty good QB in the NFL (especially with AJ Green as his #1 target). The Jaguars just look like a mess. Blaine Gabbert hasn't shown much at all, the team abandons the run for no reason, the defense is at best decent, and the team can't even paint the arrows on the field the right way. Also, the team can't sell out the stadium- they're back to using big tarps to cover up whole sections. Bengals should be able to slog their way to a win here.
Pick: Bengals win, cover
Tennessee at Pittsburgh (-3)
The Titans have looked the more impressive team over the first four weeks of the season, and might give Houston a run for the AFC South crown. The Steelers, meanwhile, have been able to beat cruddy teams (the Colts, Seahawks) and lose to quality teams. So far, Tennessee has been a quality team, even without Kenny Britt. There's always the feeling that the Steelers will go back to being the same old Steelers and start winning ugly, but I don't see it happening quite yet, especially with Ben Roethlisberger hobbling on a sprained foot against the Titan's solid defense.
Pick: Titans win, cover
Seattle at NY Giants (-9.5)
Pretty simple here. Seahawks, on the road,when all they have going for them is their home field advantage. The Giants might just be a decent team (they looked as if they were trying to lose Sunday), but against the Seahawks, it should be more than enough.
Pick:Giants win, cover
Tampa Bay at San Francisco (-3)
Tough one here. The Niners had an impressive comeback last week and looked invigorated by coach Jim Harbaugh, but I don't trust them yet- something about Alex Smith at QB still makes me queasy. The Bucs haven't seemed to hit their stride yet, but keep winning games by performing well in clutch situations. At the very least, I trust Josh Freeman over Alex Smith, so I'll go with Tampa here, but I could definitely see the Niners hanging around with their solid defense.
Pick: Bucs win, cover
NY Jets at New England (-7.5)
The Patriots are a machine on offense- they move with ruthless efficiency, showing no mercy to defenses, picking away with throws to Wes Welker and their Tight Ends. The only thing derailing them is their shoddy defense. Fortunately for them, they're going up against the Jets, who look offensively inept right now. They can't get a running game going, and Mark Sanchez is crumbling under the pressure of putting the game on his shoulders. The Jets defense has remained solid, but is showing cracks- they're not the imposing unit they were two years ago. The Jets luck is seemingly on short supply this year, thank God, and the Patriots don't deal with luck. They just produce. It will be too much for the Jets to handle- they won't be able to keep up even if their offense starts working. Also, Tom Brady and the Patriots are furious after last season's playoff loss to the Jets. Throw in a poorly timed Mark Sanchez pick here or there, and it all spells a humbling defeat for the Jets.
Pick: Patriots win, cover
San Diego (-3.5) at Denver
San Diego has waltzed to a 3-1 record behind an easy schedule, as opposed to their usual slow, 1-3/0-4 starts. This is a team that usually gels as the season goes on, getting stronger with each game. The Broncos, to me, are the definition of a 6-10 team- they'll stick around in some games, win against bad teams, but they'll be crushed by the elite. They just have an overwhelmingly boring roster, full of pretty good players but no one special. San Diego's going to start playing at an elite level sometime, and this week seems as good a time as any to start.
Pick: Chargers win, cover
Green Bay (-5.5) at Atlanta
Atlanta has bounced between extremes this season, never gaining any semblance of consistency. Something's just not clicking on offense, yet, and the defense is still not an imposing unit. Still, they always play well at the Georgia Dome. The Packers have run wild over the league, and Aaron Rodgers truly hit his stride last week with a monster performance against the Broncos. While I'm not sold on the Falcons as Super Bowl contenders, they play well enough at the dome to stay in this game, while the true Super Bowl contender wins it. The Packers are every bit as good on offense as the Patriots and have a better defense. Good luck, rest of the NFL.
Pick: Packers win, Falcons cover
Chicago at Detroit (-5)
The Bears finally figured out how to be successful on offense- don't even try to have Jay Cutler throw behind his porous offensive line, just give it to Matt Forte. The Lions, meanwhile, completed an epic 20 point comeback against the Cowboys, perhaps cementing their status as NFC playoff contenders. The Lions are hosting their first Monday Night Football game since 2001, and the atmosphere will be electric. Nick Fairley might play, making Detroit's front seven even stronger. Last week, the Panthers were able to stay close to the Bears despite the Bears getting a Special Teams TD and a Defensive TD- not something you can count on every game. The offense will struggle if Matt Forte can't run the ball effectively, and the Detroit front seven can stop the run. The Lions have the offense (throw it to Calvin Johnson) to beat the Bears, and the defense should be able to clamp down on the Bears running game. Viva le Detroit!
Pick: Lions win, cover
Season: 43-21 overall, 30-32-2 ATS