Saturday, October 8, 2011
NFL Week 5 Picks
It's NFL Picks time! Lets go!
Last Week's Record: 10-6
Year to Date Record: 43-21
Tennessee Titans vs Pittsburgh Steelers
I would have never thought the Titans would be in better shape heading into this game compared to the Steelers. Anywhere you look, the Steelers are banged up. Ben Roethlisberger has a sprained foot, but it likely to play. Rashard Mendenhall is listed as questionable but all signs point to him not playing. The Steelers offensive line is a mess. James Harrison is out for the Steelers. That's not good at all. The Titans are playing surprisingly well. I thought for sure Matt Hasselbeck was done, and we would be seeing Jake Locker by the end of the year. But Hasselbeck has this team 3-1 and atop the AFC South. Can the Titans keep it up? This game will go a long way to proving that. The Titans defense should be able to keep the Steelers in check for the most part, especially with the injuries the Steelers have. The Steelers need to put pressure on Hasselbeck, who is one of the least mobile QBs in the league. I would expect a defensive battle here, and I'm going with the Titans. They're the healthier team, and they may be the better team to.
Tennessee 17 Pittsburgh 16
Seattle Seahawks vs New York Giants
Seattle put up a surprisingly good effort against Atlanta last week. Seattle was down 20 points in the 3rd quarter but made a spirited comeback, only to fall short. Tavaris Jackson threw for over 300 yards, but the running game let the Seahawks down, with only 53 yards on 15 carries. The secondary didn't help matters either. The Giants pulled off their comeback, coming from behind to beat Arizona. Eli Manning torched the Cardinals secondary and again looked like "Good Eli." The Giants will more than likely be without Brandon Jacobs, but they still have Ahmad Bradshaw so that shouldn't be a problem. Seattle also has to deal with traveling across country to the East coast and playing an early game. The Giants may actually be the team to beat in the NFC East now, so they can't slip up here. I don't think they will either.
NY Giants 31 Seattle 20
Cincinnati Bengals vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Battle of the Rookie QBs: Part 2. Andy Dalton lead a 14 point comeback against an undefeated Bills squad last week. The Bengals took it to the Bills in the second half, showing that they are not a team to be taken lightly. The defense has played exceptionally well, and it is a shame more people in Cincinnati aren't going to the games to see that. A.J. Green looked like a future stud last week, and while Andy Dalton did make some rookie QB errors, he also showed poise leading a comeback. The Jaguars played ok against New Orleans, but they need to step up their game offensively. They've scored a combined 39 points in their first four games. The defense is doing a good job stopping the run, but they are having trouble against the pass. That should mean big things for Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham. Expect an ugly, defensive minded game with two rookie QBs. But I'll take the Bengals in the end. Better defensive team with more weapons on offense.
Cincinnati 20 Jacksonville 14
New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers.
You have to give the Panthers credit. They are keeping games close and making them entertaining. Cam Newton is playing surprisingly well this season. He is making the Panthers, even at 1-3, a team you want to keep tabs on every week. If the Panthers could get their running game going, they could surprise a few more people later this year. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they are facing a very talented team in New Orleans this week. Drew Brees continues to be Drew Brees. He has a great connection with TE Jimmy Graham, who is emerging as a big time player in the Saints offense. The Saints should focus on pounding the ball up the middle in this game with rookie RB Mark Ingram. Also, expect the Saints to throw a lot of different looks at Cam Newton and try to confuse him with different packages. The Panthers kept their game close against the Packers, no reason they can't do it again here. But the Saints win it in the end.
New Orleans 34 Carolina 21
Oakland Raiders vs Houston Texans
The Texans got a big time win last week when they took care of Pittsburgh at home. But just when it looked like the Texans were finally healthy, star WR Andre Johnson went down with a very fluke hamstring injury. Now, Johnson is out for approximately 3 weeks. He may be a bigger loss to the Texans than Arian Foster was. The Texans have a handful of running backs they could replace Foster with. But no one can replace what Andre Johnson brings to the table. Johnson forces the safeties to look his way. Now they can focus more on stopping Arian Foster. You would have liked to see the Raiders put up more of a fight this past week against New England. Jason Campbell didn't have his best game against a bad Patriots secondary. The Raiders should rely heavily on Darren McFadden in this game. He's finally turning into the stud RB the Raiders hoped they would get when they drafted him in the 1st round. I'm really tempted to pick the Raiders here, but I think the Texans pound away with Arian Foster and squeak out a close win.
Houston 27 Oakland 23
Philadelphia Eagles vs Buffalo Bills
So, about that whole "Dream Team" label for the Eagles. At 1-3 and with the way they've been playing, the Eagles will be lucky to finish at .500. Mike Vick continues to make excuses for the team's poor play. The defense got thrown around last week against a weak 49ers team. That's bad news for the Eagles coming to Buffalo facing a rather good Bills offense. While the Eagles secondary was said to be the strength of the team, they've let them down in recent weeks. The Bills have an array of weapons to use that should spread out the Eagles defense. Expect a decent game from Bills TE Scott Chandler. The Bills are coming off a game where they were physically dominated against Cincinnati. The game probably took them off of Cloud 9 after beating the Patriots the week before. The home crowd should help the Bills out here. The Bills need to contain Mike Vick in this one. They were gashed by the run on defense last week, and Vick could run circles around the Bills LBs. I like the Bills to pull one out here. The Eagles distractions might be their downfall sooner rather than later.
Buffalo 28 Philadelphia 24
Kansas City Chiefs vs Indianapolis Colts
The Chiefs won their first game of the year last week against Minnesota, putting them behind the 8 ball in the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes. But their win wasn't without some drama, as coach Todd Haley and QB Matt Cassel were seen arguing at one point on the sidelines. Cassel has yet to live up to his potential and Haley is taking criticism for the Chiefs bad start. The good news here is that they have the opportunity to go on a bit of a win streak taking on the Colts this week. The Colts will stick with Curtis Painter this week at QB, and it is probably not a bad move. Painter didn't look terrible Monday night against Tampa Bay. He made a couple nice throws to Pierre Garcon and didn't cost the Colts the game, the defense did. The defense gets shredded up the middle in their Cover 2 look. I didn't think the loss of Peyton Manning would effect this team that much, but it has. The Colts should lean on Joseph Addai and Delone Carter here. The Colts also have more talent offensively, and find a way to win their first game here.
Indianapolis 24 Kansas City 21
Arizona Cardinals vs Minnesota Vikings
This game could also be called "Donovan's Last Stand." Donovan McNabb hasn't done anything to justify him to remain the Vikings starter. The team is 0-4, and a loss here would pretty much guarantee that the Vikings will start Christian Ponder very, very soon. The Vikings need to be relying more on Adrian Peterson as the focal point of their offense than they are. McNabb isn't going to win this team any games. The Cardinals blew a second half lead against the Giants last week and fell to 1-3. This team has more talent than their record shows. But the secondary has been a major liability for the Cardinals. The offense woke up last week after vanishing in Seattle, but they can't win the game on both sides of the ball for the Cardinals. For a team that had high hopes coming into the season, their flame is fading fast. Ken Wisenhunt may be on the hot seat if the team doesn't turn it around quickly. With Vikings CB Antoine Winfield out, Larry Fitzgerald should have a huge day. I think that is enough to give the Cardinals to win in a high scoring affair.
Arizona 35 Minnesota 30
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs San Francisco 49ers
It may have been ugly, but the Bucs pulled off a win last week against Indianapolis. Josh Freeman was a bit shaky but got his act together in the 2nd half. LaGarrette Blount has disappeared a bit for the Bucs, and they need to get him more involved with the offense. The defense got heavy pressure on Curtis Painter, and their young defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers are playing exceptionally well. And lets not forget DT Gerald McCoy up the middle as well. The 49ers at 3-1 now have a 2 game lead in the NFC West. They're winning with Alex Smith at QB, something I never would have thought they could do. Frank Gore played very well last week with an injury, and the defense made some big time turnovers to seal the win late. The 49ers are an overtime loss away from being 4-0. They seem to have a rejuvenated spirit under new coach Jim Harbaugh, and I like them to win here against Tampa. The Bucs may be 3-1, but they still haven't impressed me that much like they did last year.
San Francisco 23 Tampa Bay 20
New York Jets vs New England Patriots
There are problems in Jetsland, and they are not good. Mark Sanchez looked abysmal last week against Baltimore. He's yet to live up to his franchise QB label, and has yet to put together a solid season. The Jets are also abandoning the run game for some reason, which should be the focal point of their offense. Their offense should get back on track this week against the worst ranked defense in the NFL, but you never know what Bill Belicheck has up his sleeve. And I'm sure the Patriots haven't forgotten about the whipping they took in the playoffs last year in Foxboro against the Jets. Belicheck doesn't forget these things, and neither does Tom Brady. And with the way Brady has been playing, it can't be a good thing for the Jets. Oh yeah, and Antonio Cromartie has been running his mouth all week too. That doesn't help matters. Rex Ryan likes to talk a big game, and I think that is going to come back to bite him this week. The Pats defense will give up yards and big plays, but the Patriots offense will make more and will give them the win here.
New England 31 NY Jets 21
San Diego Chargers vs Denver Broncos
The Chargers did a good job this year avoiding their usual September slow start. Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews have emerged as duel threats in the running game, something the Chargers missed last year. That's a good thing because Philip Rivers isn't off to the best of starts. The running game is doing a good job of keeping the offense going. The defense isn't doing anything ground breaking, but it is keeping teams in check. Sometimes that is all you need out of a defense. The Broncos, meanwhile, continue to struggle to find an identity. You couldn't expect them to beat the Packers, but their struggling mightily on defense and offense. The Tim Tebow outcries from fans have to be getting to coach John Fox and QB Kyle Orton. The Broncos also can't get any type of running game going, even with Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee in the backfield. Orton is putting up respectable numbers, but he is not doing enough to help his team win now. I don't know if Tebow will play this year, but the distractions have to be adding up. And it causes the Chargers to win here on the road.
San Diego 27 Denver 21
Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons
Can anyone stop the Packers? I don't know. Aaron Rodgers is playing at All-World levels right now. If they keep playing this well, you have to wonder if they could go 16-0. If they make it past the Falcons, the only real challenges they have left are two games against Detroit, and road games at San Diego and NY Giants. But I don't even know if an All Pro defense could stop the Packers offense right now. The defense has some concerns attached to it, especially stopping the passing game, but this offense is so good that I will take them in any shootout. The Packers face a Falcons defense this week that gave up 300+ yards passing to Tavaris Jackson, who is about a quarter of the QB Aaron Rodgers is. At 2-2, the Falcons have some work to do. They are currently third in the pecking order in the NFC South after being the top seed in the NFC last year. Matt Ryan is struggling as well. He finally had a decent game last week. Because it is prime time I think the Falcons can keep it close, but the Packers pull away late to seal the win.
Green Bay 35 Atlanta 27
Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions
If you are reading my picks for the first time you should know that I am a huge believer in the Detroit Lions this year. I picked them to finish second in the NFC North this year and to earn a Wild Card berth. But they've exceeded all of my expectations this year. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are playing on Steve Young-Jerry Rice levels. Stafford throws the ball up, Johnson goes up and gets it. Three guys around him? Too bad. Johnson wins. The secondary got picked upon a bit last week against Dallas, which might cause some concern. But the Lions roared back in the second half to remain undefeated. And with DT Nic Fairley making his debut for the Lions this week, it just adds more nastiness to the Lions defensive line. The Bears at 2-2 can't afford to lose this game and fall three games behind in the NFC North. The defense had trouble stopping Cam Newton last week and you have to wonder if they can stop Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson this week. Jay Cutler will have to win this game on offense for the Bears, as the Lions will probably bottle up Matt Forte. With this being the Lions first Monday night game in a while, expect the crowd to be pumped up and help the Lions pull out a victory here.
Detroit 31 Chicago 23
My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week's Record: 4-0
Year to Date Record: 9-6-1
Kids I don't encourage gambling, but here are my Vegas picks this week:
Green Bay -5.5 at Atlanta: The Packers offense is a TD better than any offense in the league right now.
Cincinnati +2 at Jacksonville: The Bengals defense will cause fits for Blaine Gabbert
Arizona at Minnesota OVER 45.5: Two bad defenses means points galore.
Buffalo +3 vs Philadelphia: Too many distractions for this Eagles team for my liking.
There's my NFL stuff for the day. Wrestling piece up this afternoon.
Until next time,
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka