Wednesday, October 5, 2016

NFL Picks Week 5: Operation Ruin It

That's What I Do
This week, I'll be taking the Shooter Mom to our ninth Eagles game for her birthday, one of the better traditions that I've been able to work out in my life. Mom's a hard-core Eagles fan, routinely out-points me in fantasy, and is statistically better than your mom. (Sorry, but you can't argue with the numbers.)

We've been to Philly, Green Bay, Chicago, Tampa, St. Louis, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and this year, Detroit. The first three games were losses, and the last four have been wins, and this one is looking good, which means we're totally doomed and going to ruin it.

This is something that adults just do, really. Take a look at last week's picks, where I went 6-9? It also was a week where I led both of my fantasy leagues in points, giving a fresh load of false hope that the first few weeks of the year were just a fluke and that my waiver wire run of competency is all going to work out. Terrance West and Christine Michael forever! Or, in all likelihood, less than a quarter of their next game. That's more along my historical speed.

We're due for a good week in the picks, and a bad week in everything else. (Oh, and I think I'm coming down with something, because that's what you want to do before a plane trip.)

And with that... on to the ruined picks!

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ARIZONA (-4) at San Francisco

Two very damaged teams, one that's disappointing for real, and the other that's disappointing for fun. Arizona might be missing starting QB Carson Palmer, which makes their team dead men walking... but the Niners will definitely be missing MLB Navarro Bowman, and this defense wasn't setting the world on fire against the run anyway. Look for Red RB David Johnson to carry the mail and everything else, and the Cardinals to start their long and slow haul out of the massive hole they are in. Oh, and since it's Thursday Night Football, expect the game to hurt your eyes on every level.

Cardinals 24, Niners 19

NEW ENGLAND (-10.5) at Cleveland


There are reasons to take the Browns, who have been much better than their winless record, mostly because their are multiple players on offense who have greatly exceeded expectations. And if they were facing a 4-0 Patriots team with a rusty Tom Brady taking the snaps, they might have covered the number. But a week after getting the taste slapped out of their mouths by the Bills, Brady will come in hard, and the Patriots will run it up late.

Patriots 34, Browns 20

PHILADELPHIA (-3) at Detroit


The road team is coming off a bye and has been dominant. The home team is coming off terribly disappointing losses, and will probably be selling seats by the score. With Eagle Fan marking out for rookie QB wunderkind Carson Wentz, expect five figures of Road Fan, and another disciplined win for the NFC's most surprising team. Oh, and DC Jim Schultz has a long memory of not keeping the gig in Detroit, too.

Eagles 30, Lions 20

Chicago at INDIANAPOLIS (-4.5)


Lord, the Colts are a terrible organization. QB Andrew Luck is going to spend the prime of his career trying to prop up a collection of sludge around him, and never cratering enough to get idiot-free picks to re-stock the talent base around him. Last week in London, he spent the first half having his team betray him, and the second rallying them anyway, only to have the drops come back at the close to destroy the comeback. They've got the worst recovery trip ever thanks to denying the bye after the UK trip, but this Bears team isn't going to be able to get it done.

Colts 34, Bears 27

Tennessee at MIAMI (-3.5)


Dolphins coming off long rest and a thumping loss to the Bengals, while the Titans have been stumbling all around the league, with an offense that can't stop turning it over. In a game that won't matter or be remembered for anything, give me the home team with rest in a coin flip.

Dolphins 24, Titans 20

Washington at BALTIMORE (-4)


A good regional fight between two teams that have better records than organizations. DC is very fortunate to be at .500 despite a defense that's getting blown out at the line and an offense that's having real issues with ball security and red zone conversion. Baltimore's ceiling is very limited, but they are usually better at home, and they might have figured out their running game with RB Terrance West and returning rookie Kenneth Dixon.

Ravens 23, Slurs 16

HOUSTON (+6) at Minnesota


Short rest for the Vikings and a possible letdown game for a club that keeps leaving points on the field with missed field goals and game management offense. I don't think Houston wins this game, but I think they cover, and I don't think the crowd or team gets up as much for this random matchup.

Vikings 24, Texans 20

NY Jets at PITTSBURGH (-7)


The Steeler offense at home is just a machine, and the Jet defense isn't going to be up to the task. On the other side of the ball, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick just seems to be in end of career free fall all of a sudden, and smart DBs can bait him into poor decisions routinely. The Jets will move the ball and score, but they won't get stops, and eventually, they will give Yellow a short field and extra possessions. That doesn't end well for them.

Steelers 34, Jets 24

Atlanta at DENVER (-5.5)


Time to throw in the towel on regression for the Denver defense; this outfit is just relentless and can't be stopped, probably because the offense without Peyton Manning isn't putting them out there very often or very quickly. The Falcons are 4-0 and are coming off a game for the ages performance from WR Julio Jones (300 yards) and QB Matt Ryan (500); in this one, more like 100 and 250, and another Denver win. Too much pressure from the home team DL is a pretty common formula these days.

Broncos 26, Falcons 20

CINCINNATI (-1) at Dallas


Time for the Bengals to step up and get the kind of road win that give their fan base hope that this year in the playoffs will be different. Dallas doesn't have the defensive horses to keep up with the Bengals' varied offense, and while their running game took a step backward in last win's game against Miami, the defense looks worlds better with spiritual leader MLB Vontaze Burfict back in the fold. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott loses the INT-free streak in this one, especially with WR Dez Bryant on the sideline.

Bengals 24, Cowboys 20

Buffalo at LA RAMS (-2.5)


Classic letdown game opportunity for the Bills, who got a shutout smackdown win in New England, and now have to fly across the country to play a defense that's been lights out since a weak opener. QB Tyrod Taylor will have to be very good in this one, and there will be opportunities downfield, but the road game will be just too much to overcome.

Rams 23, Bills 20

San Diego at OAKLAND (-4)


Next level opportunity for the home team, who need to get a division win to solidify their bona fides as the clear #2 in the AFC West. San Diego has done an admirable job of getting production out of Next Man Up, but in this one, they are going to need RB Melvin Gordon to put up triple digits and clock control, and I just don't think that he's up to it.

Raiders 26, Chargers 20

NY Giants at GREEN BAY (-7.5)


The Pack at home off a bye is almost always good for a cover and big numbers for QB Aaron Rodgers, but the bigger issue is how WR Odell Beckham Jr. just seems to be turning into more distraction than weapon. The NFL refs are flagging him for sins that are mostly ignored by other players, and he's just taking himself and his offense out of games with freakouts. Equally disturbing is how QB Eli Manning is playing the game to avoid injury more than to move the team, with spikes and throwaways on light pressure. This week, I think he overcompensates and turns it over a lot, and the Giant secondary is also very banged up. The Packer offense is still very worrisome, but you won't notice it this week.

Packers 34, Giants 20

Tampa at CAROLINA (pick 'em)


Desperation game for both disappointing teams, with the home team likely on QB2 and the road team with a disappointing defense and turnover issues on offense. The Bucs are missing RB Doug Martin terribly, in that RB2 Charles Sims is exposed with more touches, and QB Jameis Winston is forcing throws. Carolina is in real trouble, with a secondary that's just been nuked, but I think they have a bounce-back game, and QB Derek Anderson will get enough muscled deep balls to WR Kelvin Benjamin to put points on the board. Note also that Bucs K Robert Aguayo, he of the terrible too early pick status, has also been as shaky as advertised.

Panthers 24, Bucs 20

Last week: 6-9

Year: 24-39

Career: 783-789-49

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