Thursday, October 9, 2014

NFL Week 6 Picks: The Best Month Of The Year

Once you get to this point in the NFL season, there's a lot going on. Hockey has just started, fro people who care about such things. The NBA is in preseason, and MLB is in post. If you've got kids, you're figuring out Halloween costumes and new schools, and if you don't, you are working out plans for the best adult party of the year. The weather is fantastic in the parts of the country where it won't be good soon, and even the perpetually nice parts are nicer. Commerce picks up for Q4, the economy even seems to have picked up along with hiring, and the only real bummer is the scourge of political advertising. There's no getting around it; October might be the best month of the year.

It also might be the best month of actual NFL play. Unlike past years, when there was a lot of actual hitting in training camp and pre-season, the play hasn't been great in September, especially with the league's insistence on loads of pointless flags. Inconsequential defensive holding that prolongs drives with no actual competence from the offense is my own personal pet peeve. Maybe yours is the magical 15 yard flags for taunting or any kind of helmet contact; those are maddening as well. But it's October, and everyone has had at least four games of getting used to the new normal.

So, what do we have? The best weather, the best amount of training, and the least amount of injury plague before things get brutal. Every team is still playing for this year (yes, even Oakland and Jacksonville). And I'm coming off a mighty fine week of picking; one more like that, and I'll be back to profit.

And with that, on to the picks!

* * * * *

Indianapolis at HOUSTON (+2.5)

Houston lost a de facto home game to the surprisingly competent Cowboys, while the Colts continued to run tomato can row to get back to the AFC South division lead. While Colts QB Andrew Luck is continuing to put up big numbers, it will be a harder thing to do when Texans RB Arian Foster is grinding out first downs and keeping him off the field. I'll take the home team, and the more physical club, to stop the Luck Train for at least a little while. (Oh, and expect the game to somehow turn into an unwatchable rout, because it's on Thursday night, the night where football Should Not, And Rarely Does, Happen.)

Texans 24, Colts 22

Jacksonville at TENNESSEE (-6)

While the Jags have been getting closer to winning, and were within a pick-6 of putting a real scare into the hard to figure Steelers, road work is another matter entirely, and should prove too much for them until the second half of the season. Since I don't like them to win, and the line isn't out of hand, I can't really take them to cover, either. Besides, the Titans can play a little on defense, and have some difference makers at WR.

Titans 24, Jaguars 16

Baltimore at TAMPA (+3)

One of those defining games that cost teams a ton later. The Bucs have looked like an actual NFL team ever since changing by force to QB Mike Glennon, and have been winning battles in the air with their collection of physical WRs. With DT Gerald McCoy on hand to disrupt the Raven ground attack, I think they get it done in the Tampa heat.

Bucs 24, Ravens 20

DENVER (-9) at NY Jets

It's hard to remember a more lopsided game than last week's Jet "effort" in San Diego, where the previously respected run defense got clowned by UDFA Brandon Oliver, the secondary was toyed with by QB Philip Rivers, and the offense had fewer yards then given up by penalty into the fourth quarter. They'll try harder this week and get  dead cat bounce at home, but Jet Fan gets mean when things aren't going his way, and even under the best of circumstances, they don't have the pass rush required to make things truly tough on the road team. Then, the turnovers come.

Broncos 31, Jets 13

DETROIT (-1.5) at Minnesota

Is it me, or have the Lions completely perfected the art of the inexplicable loss? A week after watching K Alex Henery 0-for-3 his way to the unemployment line (gosh, couldn't have seen that coming, after watching his act in Philly) in a loss to Buffalo, the most talented twerps in the NFL take a roadie to Minnesota, who are coming off a long week of hurt following the TNF beatdown by the Pack. Minny should get back QB Teddy Bridgewater, and Detroit is likely to be missing WR Calvin Johnson, too... but I can't shake the idea that this is one of those games that the Lion DL wins. Why they don't win more is an open question, but they'll get this one.

Lions 24, Vikings 20

NEW ENGLAND (-3) at Buffalo

We were so close, Patriot Haters. We had a franchise in seeming disarray, sniping in the clubhouse, unsubstantiated media reports that QB Tom Brady was shopping for his next team and yada yada yada. Then the Bengals came to town and treated the game like it was a playoff, which is to say, they stunk up the joint something fierce... and the Pats played their best game on both sides of the ball, while also dusting off a pass-catching TE2 (i.e., what they've missed since Aaron Hernandez went Full Carruth) and a fully operational Gronkowski. Now they get to take the annual AFC East cakewalk, starting with their traditional crushing of the uprising in upstate New York. Honestly, you're going with Kyle Orton here?

Patriots 26, Bills 20

Carolina at CINCINNATI (-7)

Oh, hell hath no fury like the Not Ready For Prime Time Bengals. Coming off a national depantsing in Foxboro, Marvin Lewis and his crew of first-round losers will take out their frustrations on a battered Panther club that's gone from too many RBs with a mobile QB to street talent and a statue. That ain't good, especially when the Bengals bring heat... and even the possible loss of WR AJ Green isn't enough to make me think different.

Bengals 31, Panthers 20

Pittsburgh at CLEVELAND (-2)

Well, these aren't the same old Browns. Every game has been a nail biter, and last week's monumental comeback against the had no idea how they got ahead Titans was all kinds of nuts. This week, they get the annual border war with the oddly unsatisfying Steelers coming to town, who have alternated solid defensive efforts with meltdowns, and an offense that seems like it should be a lot better than it is. I'll take the home team on a walkoff figgie.

Browns 23, Steelers 20

GREEN BAY (-3) at Miami

If you're wondering why the line is so light, it's a combination of factors. Home field in Miami in October is worth more points than the usual. The Fish are coming off a bye after their UK trip to beat the snot out of Oakland. Green Bay has run stop issues, and the Dolphins can run the ball with tempo. But what they can't do is stop the Packer offense, or be error-free on offense.

Packers 30, Dolphins 24

SAN DIEGO (-7) at Oakland

Could Oakland go winless? It's very possible, given that they should be a lock to go 0-6 in the division, don't really do anything well, and have already ran off one coach. This week, they'll be fresh from the UK bye, but get a strong Charger club that has weapons a plenty despite injuries in the RB corps. Like any Raider game, this could get ugly.

Chargers 30, Raiders 13

Chicago at ATLANTA (-3)

Late loud road dome game for the Bears, who spit the bit last week against the Panthers with a late turnover. Against a Falcons club that's been deadly at home and against opponents who haven't been able to dominate their patchwork OL, I'm seeing a shootout that the road team isn't going to win.

Falcons 37, Bears 27

Dallas at SEATTLE (-7.5)

As good of a spot to go to Seattle as the Cowboys could hope for, really... the Seahawks have a short week after MNF travel, and showed some uncharacteristic weakness in the secondary, having let WR DeSean Jackson do some damage in the win in DC. I'm still laying the points, because Seattle at home is a different animal, and RB Marshawn Lynch should do real damage.

Seahawks 27, Cowboys 17

Washington at ARIZONA (-3.5)

Am I missing something? DC isn't a good road team, was lucky to get easily handled at home by Seattle on MNF, has the short week and the travel and QB2 and the very ordinary at bet secondary. Arizona stayed with Denver for a good long while with QB3 after QB2 went down, has one of the better defenses in the league, and can do real damage in 3 WR sets. I get that an unsettled QB situation is not ideal, but I'd expect this line to be 6.5 or 7, not 3. Give me the home team quickly, before the line moves.

Cardinals 27, Slurs 16

NY GIANTS (+2.5) at Philadelphia

Is my 4-1 laundry soft? Well, of course: they are missing 40% of the starting OL and a good number of depth plays, and they haven't played a good 60 minutes yet. They've also been unable to run the ball, dependent on a dominant ST unit, have all kinds of ugly numbers against competent passing games and so on, and so on. Meanwhile, Blue has looked like the class of the division since an ugly start, with QB Eli Manning looking like he's completely at peace in a new system, and the defensive secondary is clearly the best in the division. They will miss RB Rashard Jenings, but TE Larry Donnell could be a real problem, and WR Victor Cruz has routinely roasted the Eagles.

At the start of the year, you'd say that the team who got the better game out of their QB would win this game, and that would make you feel good about Philly's chances. Now? Not so much. It'll be close, because these games (and SNF) always are, but Blue's just better right now. Maybe not later, but definitely now.

Giants 24, Eagles 23

SAN FRANCISCO (-3) at St Louis

Jim Harbaugh's got his bags packed! Car's running, he's not filing his TPS reports, he's scouting real estate in Ann Arbor and Oakland and... um, dude still has a real team that's on a winning streak, right? The Niner defense isn't what it used to be, but neither is the Rams club that was supposed to be able to rush the QB, and hasn't worth a damn. On MNF, in a venue where they haven't had real home field advantage since the Kurt Warner / Marshall Faulk days, I like the team with the better talent to get well.

Niners 30, Rams 20

Last week: 10-5

Year to date: 35-39-1

Career: 523-539-40

1 comment:

snd_dsgnr said...

The next six games are going to be very telling for the Giants.

@ Eagles
@ Cowboys
@ Seahawks

I'm still not really sure what to make of the team, but if they can somehow squeeze three wins out of those games I'd be very happy.

Ads In This Size Rule