by Ryan Meehan
Fall is here, the leaves are starting to change colors and Week Five in the NFL is here. My picks are a bit chalk again this week, but it’s almost harder to not pick an upset than it is to pick one. Nonetheless there is one down there, you just have to look hard for it.
New Orleans (3-1) at Carolina (1-3)
Time to get high…scoring that is. It shouldn’t be any problem for Cam Newton to rack up some point against the Saints defense, which can’t exactly stop a train at the moment. The NFC South is a mess… some weeks I think it’s a tough division but then other weeks I can’t tell if it just appears that way because they beat each other up so much. I would assume that the Saints will win the division…but at the moment it’s hard to make the argument that anybody really deserves it.
Saints 38, Panthers 35
Arizona (1-3) at Minnesota (0-4)
Lord knows home field advantage doesn’t seem to do jack shit for the Vikings. Arizona let a lead slip away against the Giants last week and the offense looked very poor at the end of the game, but I can’t see them losing to the Vikings. The Metrodome is about to get invaded by some angry birds.
Cardinals 31, Vikings 15
Philadelphia (1-3) at Buffalo (3-1)
There’s no way I can see the Eagles falling to 1-4. I mean I’d love to, but I’m sure it would be too good to be true. Plus, the Giants have to play Buffalo the week after and I don’t want them to gain any momentum. The Eagles are minus 6 on turnovers, the Bills are plus seven. The only difference is teams with seasoned veterans know when the street lights are about to go out, and it’s getting dark in Philly. Vick said Thursday that “all of the Dream Team talk has to be over now”, as they are just fighting to keep their head above water in what’s shaping up to be a very dangerous division race. And you know Vick never says stuff like that so this must be pretty serious. If for some reason they don’t win that team is going to implode quickly, but I don’t believe that will happen.
Eagles 26, Bills 21
Seattle (1-3) at New York Giants (3-1)
The Seahawks traditionally don’t play very well in New York, and I highly doubt this will be any exception. The Giants are a mystery but in last week’s game against Arizona, Eli looked eeriely similar to the same guy who took a 10-6 team all the way back in ’07. He worked fast and more importantly than anything, he played with a sense of urgency. It’s a cliche term for any sports fan to use, but I see a lot of quarterbacks down thirteen or fourteen points that play almost as if the scoreboard were covered with a tarp. (Jay Culter comes to mind) Look for the score to be close to my prediction, or a WHOLE lot worse. As a Giants fan, I hope the game does turn into a blowout early so that maybe we can get some of our starters out of there before our whole squad ends up on injured reserve.
Giants 32, Seahawks 14
Cincinnati (2-2) at Jacksonville (1-3)
Make me give a fuck. Do it. Put a gun to my head and convince me to watch. Not that this game will be on anywhere. The Bengals did beat the Bills last week at the last second, proving they can at least hang with a team that has to be undefeated before they attract any real attention.
Bengals 23, Jacksonville 10
Kansas City (1-3) at Indianapolis (0-4)
I can remember a playoff game between the Chiefs and the Colts a few years back that was a shootout. It was back when Dante Hall was “The X-Factor” and Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison in his prime. You look at these two teams nowadays and it’s hard to believe that was less than a decade ago. Curtis Painter gets his first NFL win with an asterisk due to lack of any real competition.
Colts 24, Chiefs 20
Tennessee (3-1) at Pittsburgh (2-2)
The Steelers lost last week but it was to a good team. I’m still not entirely convinced that the Titans are one of those. Pittsburgh is very banged up, and it’s highly unlikely James Harrison will play in this game. They called up Max Starks (who didn’t make the team this summer) to try and help block for Ben Roethlisberger since no one else seems to be interested in doing that. As for Big Ben, he will play, he’ll just be wearing a custom built protective shoe to try and help him maintain his balance. If the Steelers get behind early, it’ll be very easy for them to lose control of this game, and that’s exactly what I think is going to happen.
Titans 22, Steelers 17
Oakland (2-2) at Houston (3-1)
I’m on the Houston bandwagon this year. It’s a pretty sturdy bandwagon to board, as the starting quarterback for the team that’s won that division for the better part of a fucking decade is pretty much out for the year, and anyone who doesn’t have their head crammed up their asshole can tell you that the Titans are about to buckle at some point. But the Texans have had a rough couple of weeks…they played the Saints in New Orleans who handed them the only loss of the season, then they had to face the defending AFC Champion Steelers who they only beat by one score. Now they host Oakland, a very confusing team that got their ass handed to them by New England last week at home. The Raiders have the number one rushing game in all of pro football, but the 22nd ranked passing game. Houston has the fourth ranked rushing offense, but is only ranked 18th against the run. So look for Oakland to call about a 65/35 play selection favoring the run. Texans WR Andre Johnson is going to be out for this game, but don’t look for that to be a dealbreaker. I like Schaub to get the last laugh here.
Texans 26, Raiders 21
Tampa Bay (3-1) at San Francisco (3-1)
I really don’t know what think about the Bucs. Everybody’s always mentioning how awesome Josh Freeman is but when you look at the stats he’s right in the middle of the pack, and he certainly doesn’t seem very exciting to me. I visualize Tampa as being pretty much exactly the same thing that they were last year: A slightly above average team that finishes with a good record but doesn’t make the playoffs. Then again, I don’t really know what to think about the 49ers either. Suffice to say we don’t see a whole lot of them out here, seeing as how FOX broadcasts the NFC games and the program director would rather run infomercials for juicers than air a pro football game. Alex Smith is 29th in passing yards, and San Francisco’s only real strength is in stopping the run. They’ll need that to combat the 255 pound frame of LeGarrette Blount on Sunday. Nonetheless, I’ll take San Francisco here because they do play well at home, and Tampa only beat the Colts by a touchdown in their building in a game where they were facing a guy who was making his first NFL start.
49ers 27, Buccaneers 22
New York Jets (2-2) at New England (3-1)
If I were the Patriots I’d much rather play the Jets in New York now instead of late in the season when they get really hot. Either way New England should be able to take this one. I find it interesting that almost every week Rex Ryan comes out with something funny to talk to the media about like everything is OK, but I would guess that the second he jumps back out onto the practice field he’s very unhappy his team isn’t over .500 yet. And it can’t help that they are playing the Patriots, who know them better than any team in football. In other words, don’t let Rex’s media-savvy attitude fool you, he’s scared to death of this game.
Bonus comment: Sometimes on the televised sports shows, they’ll do one of those “Show Me” segments where they point out what a certain player or team has to prove. I’d like to do the same thing here to Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ offense: Show me something in the game that would lead me to believe that everyone on that field is taking home the same playbook every night, because right now I don’t see it. The Jets-Ravens game last week was full of offensive mistakes: Fumbled snaps, receivers running the wrong routes, even LaDanian Tomlinson not being able to pick up blocks. The whole thing was very puzzling.
Patriots 32, Jets 17
San Diego (3-1) at Denver (1-3)
Son of a bitch…Doesn’t it seem like every time you go to check out San Diego and what they’re up to, they’re playing some cupcake team? Sure the have to play the Jets, Bills, and Pats this year…but the rest of the schedule is relatively winnable…save the Green Bay game on November 6th. (The Chargers match up quite well against the Lions, I’ll go ahead and call that one right now) This is exactgly the type of game I expect the Chargers to win by at least 20 points. When they don’t win these games (division or otherwise) by a wide margin, once again I am reminded why they never make it to the Super Bowl.
Chargers 37, Broncos 13
Green Bay (4-0) at Atlanta (2-2)
In a rematch of last year’s NFC divisional playoff game, the Packers will face off against a team that has drastically underachieved this year even though they sit at .500. Green Bay is getting all sorts of praise for coming out of the box at 135% and for the most part, it’s well-deserved. Here’s what worries me: Their defense is giving up a lot of points, which is scary when they are facing any quarterback that could explode at any given moment. There are two guys who immediately come to mind as falling into that category: One would be Michael Vick, and the other would be Matt Ryan. In the end I can’t trust that Packers’ defense enough to prevent the Falcons from running up a lot of points at home. Upset of the year.
Falcons 34, Packers 31
P.S. If for some reason this doesn’t happen, you have every right to talk shit to me in the comments section this week or next week.
Chicago (2-2) at Detroit (4-0)
The Lions get to host the Bears on Monday Night Football, and who knew they would still be undefeated? I didn’t. None of my friends did either. I’m sure every Bears fan in the area is going to be posting Twitter updates saying things like “The Buck Stops Here, Detroit” and such, but those feeds can’t change the fact that there are only three other teams in the league who are giving up more yards in the air than Chicago is. The sad thing is, if they continue to run Forte the way they have so far this year, he will end up getting hurt at some point. If that were to happen, then Marion Barber would be their No. 1 guy providing he doesn’t land on his head after doing a backflip next time he scores.
Lions 21, Bears 19
Bye weeks: Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens
What those teams need to do in their bye week: Dallas obviously needs to ignore all of the media backlash associated with Tony Romo choking away a 24 point lead in the third quarter to a team that didn’t win a single game a few years back. And they need to actually do so instead of just telling the media they don’t care when they really do, which is generally standard operating practice for most professional athletes. It’s too late for the Dolphins to do anything but look towards the future: It’s impossible for them to make a push this year so I’d just let them enjoy their week off. They’re going to get a Jets team that is either super pissed or chock full of momentum, and the game is in Jersey. St. Louis knows who their quarterback is, they just need to figure out how to stop the run as they are 32nd in a league of 32 teams. Same thing with Cleveland who also has to make some serious progress running the ball on offense, averaging only 85.8 yards a game. Baltimore and Washington really don’t have a whole lot of work to do. I’m sure they’d tell you otherwise, but the buzz surrounding both of those teams right now is massive. The Ravens are fifth in ESPN’s weekly power rankings, and Washington now leads the NFC East after every analyst on the North American continent to finish last in a very difficult division.
Notice how I didn’t mention Brett Favre’s comments about Aaron Rodgers. That’s because he doesn’t play football anymore and no one should give a shit about his opinion.
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