Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NFL Week 5 Picks: There's Always Time To Panic

Yes, Yes It Is
The first month of the NFL season is in the books for most teams, and with the exception of the Cardinals and Bengals, every fan base has had a real good chance to lose their minds over how It's All Going Wrong. Here in the middle lands between New York and Philadelphia, you get to experience three fan bases worth of panic, all depending on what happened in the last game. Jet Fan is chanting for Mike Vick, Eagle Fan thinks it's the last days of the Reid Era all over again, when no OL could remain upright.. and Giant Fan is steadfastly denying that he was panicking after the first two weeks. It's what happens.

When you tout games, of course, your own sense of panic is never far away, but it's far more private... and when you start a week hot, like I did in Week 4, it feels like you need to get every last trick to make up for the bad weeks. Hopefully, I can keep things going, but if I don't, I promise to tear my hair out and curse the vagaries of fate that made me want to try to win a few bucks on this cursed hustle.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Minnesota at GREEN BAY (-9)

Packer QB Aaron Rodgers was as good as his word last week in Chicago, telling Packer Fan to relax and let him, well, just go take of business against a defense that wouldn't treat him like a rag doll. All is still not well in Packer Land, as the running game hasn't really paid dividends yet, and they aren't really a good defensive team... but on this short week, they get the Vikings, who might have a gimpy QB in rookie Teddy Bridgewater, and can't possibly stay better in the running game with a couple of rookies. Thursday night games have been blowouts this year and a mess historically, so I'm going to go with the Hall of Fame QB and the home field, and lay the points.

Packers 34, Vikings 20

CHICAGO (+2.5) at Carolina

Another rough road game for the Bears, who lost their mojo when QB Jay Cutler couldn't keep serve against Rodgers last week at home. They get an angry Panther club that got taken to the woodshed by Angry Steve Smith Sr. last week in Charm City. The Panther defense really isn't the same now that Greg Hardy is not around, and if the Bears don't turn it over, the Panthers won't be able to keep pace, especially with all of their name brand RBs ailing.

Bears 30, Panthers 24

CLEVELAND (+1.5) at Tennessee

Good time for the Browns to catch the Titans at home, what with the injury to QB1 Jake Locker, and the existence of QB2 Charlie Whitehurst. The men from Ohio are also coming off a bye, have a run game that travels, and can get after it on defense. It will be tight for a while, and then really not.

Browns 24, Titans 13

ST. LOUIS (+7) at Philadelphia

Way too many points to give away to a good defense that's coming off a bye, especially against a 3-1 Eagles squad that's been more lucky than good. Look for the Rams' defensive front seven to wreck havoc for several quarters, and the offense to maybe even take a lead against the very pliable linebackers and secondary, until things change with a turnover or special teams play... all of which is saying this will be a cover or worse for the road team. Oh, and don't kid yourselves, Eagle Fans: with the resurgence of the Giants and Cowboys, this is absolutely a must game. And one that will be far too difficult for comfort.

Eagles 27, Rams 24

Atlanta at NY GIANTS (-4)

Why the lack of love for Blue? They've got long rest from the TNF DC Beatdown, have played two very solid games on offense, and are deep on defense, especially in the secondary. Against a Falcon team that's only good when playing from ahead, they'll bend but not break, and score often enough to eventually make this one comfortable. The over is 50.5; take it.

Giants 34, Falcons 27

TAMPA (+10) at New Orleans

The Bucs usually play the Saints tough and physical, and after four games of malfeasance, I'm not sure the Saints are really a good team anymore. I'd probably regret this, especially if Bucs QB Mike Glennon can't avoid turnovers, and the Saint home crowd gets to wilding... but the Bucs didn't fold after blowing an early lead in Heinz Field last week, and that place gets pretty loud, too.

Saints 23, Bucs 20

Houston at DALLAS (-6)

OK, Cowboys, I give: your defense is mediocre rather than a train wreck, and that's all it needs to be when the opposition is turning it over and RB DeMarco Murray is the best in the league. Neither condition will hold through to the playoffs, or maybe even get Dallas there, because Murray will get hurt and Dallas is already working deep into the depth chart in the secondary, but it's not as if the banged-up Texans and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will be able to take advantage. So long as the Cowboys are patient and QB Tony Romo stays as far away from DL JJ Watt as humanly possibly, they'll win and cover.

Cowboys 26, Texans 17

Buffalo at DETROIT (-7)

Consider, for a moment, the recent history of Buffalo QB. EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb... and, well, that's the last ten freaking years. It's been ten years since Drew Bledsoe gave them anything close to a credible starter, and next up on the chuckle parade is Kyle Orton, who cared so much about continuing in the NFL that he pretty much quit a clipboard job for Dallas in the summer, before the Bills paid through the nose to give them a Manuel option. His first assignment is a road game in Detroit, in a loud dome, against a defensive line that's talented enough to bully up bad teams at home. Good luck with that.

Lions 27, Bills 16

Baltimore at INDIANAPOLIS (-3.5)

Colts QB Andrew Luck has been historically productive since that MNF meltdown against my Eagles, though it has been against Tomato Can Row, aka the AFC South. This week, he gets the presumably frisky Ravens, fresh off their clowning of the Panthers. I don't like either of these teams against a decent opponent on the road, which means I'm laying the points with Indy. Besides, there's no way that Smith Sr. didn't use up four games of hate in the last game.

Colts 27, Ravens 20

PITTSBURGH (-7) at Jaguars

How do you figure the Steelers? Beat a presumably good Panther team on the road, lost to a presumably terrible Buc team at home, and extra rest be damned. Jacksonville approached competence last week for long stretches of the game in San Diego, but being at home won't help much when Yinzer Fan is such a road guy, and HC Mike Tomlin is too good at bounce back games to let this one get away. But man alive, are they going to regret that Buc loss later.

Steelers 34, Jaguars 20

Arizona at DENVER (-7)

The marquee game of the weekend, for my money, with the undefeated Cardinals going to Denver in a game where both teams, glory be, are coming off the bye. I like the Broncos to cover the number for one very big reason: TE Julius Thomas, who is one of the best in the league at his position, and gifted with a Cards' defense that struggles to cover ordinary TEs. QB Peyton Manning is going to use him early and often, and then take advantage when they overshift to take him away. And the Cards don't run it well enough to drain the clock and limit Manning's touches.

Broncos 31, Cardinals 20

KANSAS CITY (+6) at San Francisco

Here's a secret that's becoming less secret by the day -- the Niners aren't very good on offense. QB Colin Kaepernick isn't very exact, the OL struggles to keep the pocket clean, and the play-calling gets away from the running game way too easily. On defense, they can dominate a running game, but a mobile QB should give them issues, and the special teams have been below par. Add that up with a home field that isn't helping them very much, and I'm seeing all kinds of opportunity for the suddenly hot Chiefs, fresh off a MN smackdown of the Patriots. Also, wouldn't you expect Alex Smith's Vengeance to at least be worth a cover?

Niners 27, Chiefs 24

NY Jets at SAN DIEGO (-6)

This is one of those perfect spots for QB Geno Smith to bounce back and ruin me, but the Jets' secondary is just too weak right now to deal with QB Philip Rivers and his ridiculous accuracy. In the long run, the Chargers' lack of health at RB will be a major problem, but against a Jets' team that eats the running game and can't get enough push against passing, it's actually a benefit. Points in garbage time to boot.

Chargers 31, Jets 20

CINCINNATI (-1) at New England

The temptation here is to stay with the brand name and home team... but man alive, have the Patriots been bad. They also face an undefeated Bengals team, coming off a bye, while they face a short week after a brutal beatdown. You can judge these teams by the names on their jerseys, or the laundry involved... or you can look at the talent and the way they've been playing. It's time for the Bengals to put on their big boy pants and actually play to their talent level. (Besides, I own Brady in fantasy. He's not rebounding, people. I'm going to own him into the fires of Hell. You're welcome.)

Bengals 24, Patriots 13

SEATTLE (-7.5) at Washington

I know, I know, a lot of points on a road favorite with a huge travel schedule. But the Seahawks are coming off the bye, might be better at 18 of 22 starting positions, and have a defense that might make Slurs QB Kirk Cousins curl up into the fetal position. And when QB Russell Wilson gets a short field, he doesn't usually waste it.

Seahawks 27, Slurs 16

Last week: 7-5

Year to date: 25-34-1

Career: 513-534-40

1 comment:

Snd_dsgnr said...

I wasn't exactly panicking after two weeks, but that was mostly because I went into the season expecting the Giants to suck.

Now though, I'm trying not to put too much stock in one or two games, but there's quite a bit that I like. I like how fast the ball is coming out on pass plays, I like Donnell, I like Jennings and Williams in the backfield, and I wouldn't call the defense "good" but I think there's a lot of guys who can make momentum shifting plays.

If I had to bet on it I think I'd still say they'll Moss the playoffs (the NFC is just really tough), but I think they can contend for a wild card spot.

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