For the Win - Week 5
Updated 10/8 by Jeff Pasquino, Exclusive for Footballguys.com
I kind of knew that a week like that was eventually coming. You can't go 10-6 or better every week - so a 7-5 dose of reality (plus a below .500 star week and bad Pick of the Week) took its toll. For the season I'm still looking pretty good, but let's start fresh once again for Week 5.
Much like last week, I will say yet again that this week doesn't look to inviting, but we don't get to pick the schedules or matchups. Several games are "Must Miss TV", but what can you do? So here we go with the picks.
Note that the lines and Over/Unders are taken from VegasInsider.com.
MINNESOTA (-9.5) at ST. LOUIS
This just in - the Rams are terrible. Minnesota isn't, so the only way that the Rams can possibly hang with the Vikings would be for Minnesota to experience a post-Monday Night Football letdown after their huge game with the Packers. Two big games loom after this (Baltimore, Pittsburgh) so this could be a "trap game", but somehow I doubt that the Minnesota defense will give up more than 10 points. That means Adrian Peterson will roll and Brett Favre goes to 1-0 at age 40. Pick: Vikings.
DALLAS (-7.5) at KANSAS CITY
Yikes, another bad matchup? What is with this schedule? Sigh. Okay, Dallas - this is your chance to get back on the winning track again before their bye. Marion Barber and Tashard Choice hide the holes in the passing game yet again, and everyone gets lulled into thinking that the Cowboys are any good. They're not - they're just not nearly as bad as the Chiefs. Pick: Cowboys.
WASHINGTON (+3.5) at CAROLINA
The Panthers are winless and are coming off of their bye week, so they should be all ready and raring to go at home to pick up their first win. One problem with that scenario - they didn't magically add any defensive linemen to stop the run. Washington will send both Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts into that defensive front, picking up 5-6 yards per carry and come away with the road win. Pick: Redskins.
PHILADELPHIA (-14.5) vs. TAMPA BAY
Wow, that is a big number - but there's no denying Andy Reid's track record coming off of a bye week (10-0) is second to none, and that will go to 11-0 after the woeful Bucs head to the Linc. The Eagles get back Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb and will look to get started on a roll as they are just two weeks away from a three game stretch against the NFC East. Expect the Eagles to get to 30 or more points quickly while Tampa Bay struggles to get to double-digits. Pick: Eagles.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-15.5) vs. OAKLAND
Brother can you spare a good game? This reminds me of NCAA teams that "warm up" their pre-conference season with the East Directional State schools before the opposition gets a few cuts better. The Giants will continue to put up 20 or more points against weaker teams, although the defense for Oakland is better than many think. Steve Smith and Eli Manning may not be the winning recipe this week, but Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw can certainly carry the workload. Plus, there's JaMarcus Russell to make sure that Oakland blows any chance of winning this game. Give the Giants a defensive touchdown in this one and expect a 27-7 type blowout for the Giants. Pick: Giants.
BUFFALO (-5.5) vs. CLEVELAND
Could the Browns be turning a corner here? They took the Bengals to overtime last week, but Buffalo is not a divisional nor an intrastate rival. Derek Anderson lost Braylon Edwards, but considering he and I had the same number of catches last week I think that they will be fine. Look for the Bills to cover rookie Mohamed Massaquoi and force the newly acquired Chansi Stuckey to try and beat them. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson will provide plenty of offense along with Lee Evans and Terrell Owens as the Bills should win this one easily. Pick: Bills.
BALTIMORE (-8) vs. CINCINNATI
Come on, man! Give us some decent matchups. The Ravens are going to put up at least 24 points and it will depend entirely on how well Carson Palmer plays to see if the Bengals can come anywhere close to keeping pace with Baltimore. The Ravens should win this one by double digits as they assert themselves in both the division and the AFC as a contender. Pick: Ravens.
PITTSBURGH (-8.5) at DETROIT
Okay, I'm going to have to stop repeating myself, but I will say that if this game was scheduled last year, the line might be three times what it is today. The Lions have come a long way as they have a good number of weapons but their young star QB (Matthew Stafford) is out this week. Daunte Culpepper will see lots of Black and Gold linebackers in his face and that will be enough for the Steelers to keep the Lions in check for Week 5. Detroit may break a few plays and score 16-20 points, but as Pittsburgh demonstrated last week against San Diego, they can put up a ton of points. Pick: Steelers.
SAN FRANCISCO (-2) vs. ATLANTA
Put me down as a believer in the San Francisco 49ers. They are young, talented and hungry for a winning season and are looking to make some noise this year. Only a heroic effort by Brett Favre separates them from a perfect record, so remember that after you see the scores Sunday evening. Atlanta's Michael Turner will be colliding with Patrick Willis this week and my money is on Willis in that battle. The 49ers will blanket Roddy White and keep Tony Gonzalez working the underneath routes just enough for the victory. Glen Coffee also has his second shot at stepping up and solidifying his role as the heir apparent to Frank Gore. Look for Shaun Hill to put up better numbers than Matt Ryan as the 49ers go to 4-1 before their bye. Pick: 49ers.
NEW ENGLAND (-3) at DENVER
Which one of these teams is not like the other? Cincinnati, Cleveland, Oakland, Dallas, New England. Yes, the real part of the schedule is about to start for the Broncos, and I for one am not buying into Denver's 4-0 start. 4-1 is still a good record, but let's see where they are after October with the Patriots, Chargers, Ravens and Steelers in the next four contests. Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker will enjoy the mountain air and air it out as well against a good but untested Denver defense. I'll go with Brady and Moss and take my chances. Pick: Patriots.
ARIZONA (-5.5) vs. HOUSTON
When Larry Fitzgerald says during his bye week that he is not playing well and needs to step it up, you have to take notice. Kurt Warner can certainly use the rest, and the Texans give him a great matchup to hit Fitzgerald and Boldin several times this coming Sunday The young linebackers for the Texans will have their hands full with Tim Hightower and Chris "Beanie" Wells pounding the ball inside and running short screens and release routes underneath. Andre Johnson will make his bid to show why many think he is the best wide receiver in the NFL, but Schaub, Owen Daniels and Johnson are no match for all the weapons for Arizona and a much better Cardinal defense. Pick: Cardinals.
JACKSONVILLE (+1) at SEATTLE
The Jaguars are on a major roll after destroying the Titans at home last week. Seattle is not an easy place to go and play, but with David Garrard and Mike Sims-Walker clicking well and the Seahawks struggling on both sides of the ball it is the Jaguars that are the easy call here. Seattle posted 17 points vs. the Colts last week but their offense is nothing like what it should be with a better running game and Matt Hasselbeck under center. Things may change if Hasselbeck returns to the lineup but for now I expect Seneca Wallace again for one more week. Pick: Jaguars.
INDIANAPOLIS (-3.5) at TENNESSEE
The Colts are rolling along and the Titans are winless on the year. Sure, this game is at Tennessee and it is the big game of the night on Sunday Night Football, but after seeing what Jacksonville did to the Titans I do not see how the Colts can lose this one. Tennessee is one-dimensional with only Chris Johnson doing much of anything on offense, and the Indianapolis defense is playing at a very high level even without Bob Sanders. The Colts are moving the ball well on the ground and through the air, and I do not see any reason that it will change in Week 5. If Courtland Finnegan is out again this week then I expect an even bigger blowout for the Colts, but even at full strength the Titans are no match for Peyton Manning in prime time. Pick: Colts.
NEW YORK JETS (-1.5) at MIAMI
These two teams have a ton of history between the two franchises, but the big stories this week will be about Braylon Edwards' moving to Manhattan and Chad Henne running as the new starting quarterback for the Dolphins. Well, most of the time he gets the ball, as Ronnie Brown is good for 10-15 direct snaps in the Wildcat which will be on display again this week. Rex Ryan's defense will have it under wraps just like he did when he was in Baltimore and Braylon Edwards will find the end zone in his first game as a Jet. Sorry Dolphins fans, but this season is going to be labeled as a rebuilding one very soon. Pick: Jets.
This section will be different this year, as I will give not only the "Best
Bets" but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 "Star" scale. The more stars, the
more I like that side of the game.
* ONE STAR GAMES *
- MINNESOTA at ST. LOUIS (UNDER 40)
- MINNESOTA (-3.5/UNDER 46) - 6 Point Teaser
- PHILADELPHIA (-14.5) vs. TAMPA BAY
- PITTSBURGH (-8.5) at DETROIT
- PITTSBURGH at DETROIT (UNDER 44)
- PITTSBURGH (-2.5/UNDER 50) - 6 Point Teaser
- DALLAS (-7.5) at KANSAS CITY
- BUFFALO (-5.5) vs. CLEVELAND
- SAN FRANCISCO (-2) vs. ATLANTA
- NEW ENGLAND (-3) at DENVER
- INDIANAPOLIS at TENNESSEE (UNDER 46)
- INDIANAPOLIS (+2.5/UNDER 52) at TENNESSEE - 6 Point Teaser
- NEW YORK JETS (-1.5) at MIAMI
** TWO STAR GAMES **
- MINNESOTA (-9.5) at ST. LOUIS
*** THREE STAR GAMES ***
- INDIANAPOLIS (-3.5) at TENNESSEE
PICK OF THE WEEK: Indianapolis Colts
- OVERALL: 7-7 (50%)
- BEST BETS (STARS): 4-7 (36.3%)
- PICK OF WEEK: 0-1 (0%)
- OVERALL: 39-23 (62.3%)
- BEST BETS (STARS): 31-29 (51.7%)
- PICK OF WEEK: 2-2 (50%)