Tag Archives: week 5

2017 Season: Week 5 Preview

There were good games and upsets all over the place in the NFL last week as the league proves to be just as unpredictable as ever.  That makes my job tough as I try to correctly guess each game every week.  Let’s give it a fifth crack of the year as we hit the quarter mark of the season already.  Oh my!

Last Week: 6-10

Season: 36-27

Locks: 1-3

Upsets: 1-3

Thursday, October 5th, 8:25 e.t.

New England Patriots (2-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

I want to go on record by saying I really like the Buccaneers team this year, and this pick does not necessarily show that since I’m going against them for the second straight week at home, but the Tampa defense can be had, and you better believe that Tom Brady will come into town knowing this.  The Pats have had a lot of defensive struggles of their own so this should be a shootout.  Who do I trust more in a shootout?  I’ll take the five time Super Bowl champ for this one.

New England 35, Tampa Bay 29

Sunday, October 8th, 1:00 e.t.

Tennessee Titans (2-2) @ Miami Dolphins (1-2)

The Titans just got crushed by the Texans last week and still can’t seem to get that big division road win.  Luckily they get a chance to bounce back against a Miami team that got shut out for, what should have been, the second week in a row.  That offense is not good right now and I don’t think they can trade points with the Titans, no matter who is in at QB.

Tennessee 27, Miami 14

New York Jets (2-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-4)

We are a quarter of the way through the season, and who woulda thought that the Jets would be 2-2?  They are beating the teams that they probably should beat and Cleveland is one of them.  Their quarterback play has been dreadful for the last couple of weeks while Josh McCown has done a serviceable job for Gang Green.  It’s the McCown revenge game!  Well, about a third of the Jets’ opponents this year fall into revenge game category with this well traveled vet.  Jets win.

New York 22, Cleveland 17

San Francisco 49ers (0-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-3)

For the third straight week, the Niners played a divisional opponent tough but still lost.  A lot of people may be tempted to go with San Fran here, but I don’t like them on the road against the Colts.  Jacoby Brissett is doing a decent job holding down the fort for Indy and there wasn’t much that they could do last week versus the second half avalanche from Seattle.  I like them to bounce back against a bad team.

Indianapolis 40, San Francisco 16

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)

The Jaguars had their we are who you thought we were game last week in New York, and that takes a lot of the edge off of this matchup.  Pittsburgh’s defense is balling right now and I don’t see that changing this week.  We are still waiting for Ben Roethlisberger to toss for 300 yards (he hasn’t done this in 10 straight games by the way).  I don’t think it will happen in this game, but it also won’t have to.  Turnovers sink the Jags on the road.

Pittsburgh 29, Jacksonville 13

Arizona Cardinals (2-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)

The Cards got the job done in OT versus the 49ers last Sunday, but that offense has me concerned heading into this contest with the Eagles.  Philly may be able to get after Carson Palmer with their D-line, sans Fletcher Cox.  Meanwhile the Eagles have found a running game and their O-line is blocking it up very well.  That alone accounts for a huge difference.  In other news, this is the Carson bowl.  Wentz versus Palmer.  What a time to be alive!

Philadelphia 27, Arizona 14

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) @ New York Giants (0-4)

Someone has to win here.  I was going to pick the Chargers because I like the talent they have on offense, but I don’t like the fact that they have to travel all the way across the country to take on the Giants.  New York has been playing good ball in the second halves of their last two games and I trust them a little more to get it together at home over a team that has just lost three straight games in their own stadium.

New York 19, San Diego 16

Buffalo Bills (3-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)

I think one of the biggest surprises this year has to be the Buffalo Bills.  They just went into Atlanta and shut the Falcons down and that one was shocking.  I like the Bills, but this one smells like a trap game to me.  The Bengals are finally hitting their stride on offense and even though Buffalo has yet to let up more than 17 points in a game this year, I think they crack just a bit in Cincy.  Throw this one into the weird games of 2017 category.

Cincinnati 22, Buffalo 20

Carolina Panthers (3-1) @ Detroit Lions (3-1)

This is one of the top games of the week, and it is happening in Detroit.  The Lions have been one of the best teams in football and outside of a drubbing at the hands of the Saints, the Panthers have looked good too.  At this point in the year, it is easy to say Detroit is a safer bet.  Playing at home, I like them to get the job done yet again.  They might have the best team in the NFC at the moment.

Detroit 34, Carolina 27 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, October 4th, 4:05 e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (2-2)

Boy has the Raiders’ season gone sideways ever since the beat down they received in Landover.  Derek Carr will be out the next couple of games with a broken back and things are not looking so hot for Oakland right now.  They have a Raven team that has been just awful on offense coming to town this week, so that is the good news for them  This is going to be a game for Marshawn Lynch to take over.  He will.  Let’s not forget also that the Raiders did almost beat Denver on the road last week, and the offense was able to move the ball, perhaps even a little better, with E.J. Manuel at the helm.

Oakland 17, Baltimore 13

Seattle Seahawks (2-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-1)

Is there a more fun team to watch than the L.A. Rams right now?  I love seeing them relevant again and it’s bringing a lot of fun to the west coast.  This is a fairly important game to determine this division right now because Seattle and Los Angeles are the two teams that will be competing to win it in the end.  So let’s not undersell this one.  I liked how the Seahawks got off the mat in the second half of last week’s game and this one, on paper, is one that the Rams should win but I’m going with the Hawks here.  Wade Philips’ “D” has some issues at the moment and I like Russell Wilson to exploit them.

Seattle 30, Los Angeles 27

Sunday, October 8th, 4:25 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (3-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

Green Bay took a big L a couple of weeks back against the Falcons, but besides that they have found a way to win games despite having an injured offensive line and Aaron Rodgers not playing the best football of his career.  Dallas simply got outslugged last week by the Rams and were actually pretty well contained in the second half.  Their secondary has not been great and if it were not for DeMarcus Lawrence being so dominant up front, that defense would be a total liability.  That said, I don’t think their “D” will be able to hold Rodgers and the Pack back in this game and the Cowboys drop to 2-3.

Green Bay 35, Dallas 28

Sunday, October 8th, 8:30 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) @ Houston Texans (2-2)

Wow.  57 points from the Texans last week (a franchise record) and all of the sudden we are singing a different tune about this team.  They have a real shot at beating the Chiefs this week if Deshaun Watson plays lights out like he has been over the last two weeks.  Coming off of a short week and having to hit the road against a team that really could be 3-1 right now is not something that if favorable.  I think Houston steals a W on Sunday night.

Houston 30, Kansas City 27 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Monday, October 8th, 8:30 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) @ Chicago Bears (1-3)

The Bears have had a long time to mull this game over having played last Thursday, so in effect they are coming off of a near BYE.  They will roll out Mitch Trubisky for this game and I don’t like his chances going against a fierce Minnesota defense.  Their “D” was not the problem a week ago, it was the offense that was a bit sluggish.  Things don’t get better for them with the absence of Dalvin Cook now with a completely torn ACL.  That said, I love the matchup that the Minnesota wide outs have against the Chicago secondary.  The Bears have not been bad defensively and are a bit frisky at home, but the Vikings are the better team and they will show it Monday night.

Minnesota 23, Chicago 6

Week 5 Recap: Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott has thrown 153 passes without an interception to begin his career.

Final: Dallas 28, Cincinnati 14

The big boys dominated the game up front for the Dallas Cowboys as they pulverized the Bengals in Jerry-World by the final count of 28-14.  Dak Prescott looked solid in a runaway effort from the ‘Boys, but the real success came from that offensive line up front paving the way for the home team.  Ezekiel Elliot has looked like the best running back in pro football to this point in the season and he enjoyed outstanding blocking, coupled with bad gap discipline from Cincinnati, as he ran for 134 yards and a couple of scores.  The Dallas defense had an impressive showing in this contest as well which was more than could be said for the Bengals.  Let’s take a closer look into the action from this early October game.

This was a game that looked a bit closer on paper than it actually was.  Starting, appropriately, with the Cowboys offense, Ezekiel Elliot continues to be the story.  They young back galloped past the Cincinnati front four and into their secondary all game long.  The blocks were phenomenal, especially so from Zach Martin and Travis Frederick right in the middle of the field.  It didn’t help that the line from the Bengals was out of position all game long, but more than that in a bit.  Terrence Williams was good beating man coverage in this game as well.  There were many routes he ran where his speed simply created massive separation.  Crossing routes were his strong point in this battle, as they have been all season, and he was winning at the point of the catch showcasing great hands and will to battle for the ball.  Jason Witten spent a lot of time uncovered in the middle of the field with short dig and hitch routes.  He made a couple of nice sealing blocks on the edge as well.  With all being said, the story of this game was big Zeke Elliot and the Dallas run game.  Alfred Morris found some hay on the ground himself with 33 yards on only six carries.  He actually looked a bit stronger than Elliot, which is saying a lot, because the rookie looked quite buff when taking on tacklers.  The Cowboys have, perhaps, the best one-two punch in football and these two helped them rumble for 180 yards on the ground.  60 of those came on one run by Elliot in the third quarter following a Mike Nugent missed field goal placing the game at an unreachable 21-0.

Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton suffered his third loss of the season Sunday versus Dallas.

Comparatively, the Cincinnati offense did not look as crisp.  Andy Dalton failed to receive the same type of protection that Dak Prescott did and the team was looking for far more big plays down the field than was Dallas.  Jeremy Hill did not tote the rock until midway through the second frame here, and only got four carries for the entire afternoon.  Giovanni Bernard was the bell-cow, if you can deem a back who earns 15 touches as such, as he ran well in limited opportunity and made six grabs out of the backfield.  Brandon LaFell was about the only receiver wearing black and orange today that could brag about his performance.  Besides the obvious two touchdowns that he grabbed, he was open more than any other Bengal in this game, with Dallas focusing its attention towards A.J. Green.  This was more due to game-plan than anything else, however, because the Cowboys used a lot of bracket coverage and double-teams on Green, leaving LaFell to win his one on one match-ups.  He did, for the most part.  Also, to be fair, the Cincinnati offensive line was none to shabby early on in this game mauling up front.  It was actually the Bengals’ receivers inability to separate from the Dallas corners that did the team in.  As the game wore on, the O-line began to spring a couple of leaks and men were getting free licks on Andy Dalton who, all things considered, did not have an awful game.  He did what he could and made safe passes to open men when allowed by the “D”, but did not take many shots down the field.

The Dallas defense deserves a ton of credit for what it did in this contest.  The D-line got off to a slow start, but really picked it up as soon as Cedric Thornton sacked Dalton for the first time in the second quarter.  The team quickly gained momentum and was able to find more and more pressure as the game grew older.  About three quarters off all the pressure that #14 experienced in this game was a byproduct of his receivers not getting open.  The coverage by the Cowboys was remarkable.  Byron Jones and Brandon Carr both had great games.  The bracket zone coverage on A.J. Green was something that teams have tried on Cincy in the past this season, but were unable to do successfully as the big man would run right through it.  Green had a hard time getting open and part of it was due to the conservative scheme employed by Rod Marinelli.  The Bengals had faced a lot of man-coverage in third down situations this season, with the exception of the Pittsburgh game, and were by and large able to beat it on a lot of separate occasions.  The Cowboys did not let any of Cincy’s receivers uncover deep down the field and kept all plays in front of them.  In the Bengals’ three losses this season, this has been the case.  It would appear as though being able to guard against the deep throw is the best way to beat this team, and Dallas knew this coming in, hence the heavy dosage of zone “D”.  Sean Lee, as per usual, was all over the place in the middle of the field as well making it tough for Cincinnati receivers to run away in the secondary.  Morris Claiborne was solid, although he was beaten on a couple of occasions later in the game.  Brandon Carr, out of all three big-name corners on Dallas, was the most impressive.  His long arms batted away passes and he ran with all receivers he covered in this game.

Tony and Dak
Tony Romo and Dak Prescott on the sidelines.

This was an atrocious effort from the Bengals on defense, and that is largely why they did not win this game.  We’ll start with the good, as there is not a whole lot to cover.  Carlos Dunlap got pressure twice in this game forcing a throwaway and a fumble, leading to Dallas’ lone turnover in the game and Dak Prescott’s first as a rookie.  He showed strength on another play splitting a double team only to watch Ezekiel Elliot run in the opposite direction.  Adam Jones didn’t have a bad game in coverage, although he did get flagged for DPI at one point in coverage of Terrance Williams.  Cincinnati opted to go with more man-to-man coverage throughout the game and it cost them because their corners were unable to run with the Cowboys’ receivers.  Prescott got the ball out very quickly and was hardly pressured at all.  Chalk that up to the offensive line for Dallas, but there were lots of occasions here where the Bengals simply schemed themselves out of plays.  They tried a number of stunts where the nose-tackles looped toward the outside.  The idea here is to have the ends crash in and break free in the middle, but the Cowboys’ tackles sustained their blocks and this left a huge gap for them to exploit, hence the multiple runs that immediately broke into the secondary.  The linebacking play for Cincy was an abomination.  Missed tackles and assignments were littered across the field.  Vontaze Burfict was put on skates by Ezekiel Elliot twice and he missed a couple of very make-able takedowns.  He did finish with nine solo tackles, but most of them came after hearty Dallas runs.  Ray Maualuga was a no-show here, recording just one tackle.  He was roasted in coverage, as were a lot of the Cincinnati linebackers.  They did not get deep enough on their drops and simply spread out too much.  The middle of the field was wide open for a majority of the game, and it was incredibly easy for Dak Precott to pick it apart while throwing and for the Dallas backs to roam freely when carrying the ball.

Overall, this was an embarrassing effort from the Bengals and a dominant performance from Dallas.  The return of DeMarcus Lawrence immediately made the Cowboy’s pass rush a lot better and their defensive line was actually competent in this game.  The ‘Boys’ corners plastered to their receivers and made life very difficult on Andy Dalton who was forced to scramble a lot when none of his outlets were open.  Ezekiel Elliot is going to get a lot of credit for what he did in this game, deservingly so, but the offensive line for Dallas combined with poor defensive line play from Cincy was a big reason for this.  The Cowboys secondary will be tested next week when the team hits the road and heads to Green Bay to take on the Packers.  The Bengals will travel to an equally tough place to play the Patriots in Foxboro.  Their defense has a lot of shaping up to do if they are to pull an upset and are the main reason why the team was dominated on this afternoon.

Ezekiel Elliot
Ezekiel Elliot would go on to run for 132 yards and two touchdowns, gashing the Cincinnati defense on 10/9/16.

The Skinny:

  • The Bengals offensive line wore down throughout the game and Cincinnati’s receivers really struggled to get open.  Brandon LaFell enjoyed his first two-touchdown game since Week 12 in 2014, but this was because of the double-teams employed to stop A.J. Green along with soft zone coverage.
  • The defensive line from Cincy was dominated and the linebackers were dreadful on Sunday.  The middle of the field was open virtually all game.
  • Andy Dalton actually played a decent game.  He threw for 269 yards and two late scores to make the outcome look a bit more respectable, but he did not see many open receivers and could not make any big plays down the field.  Cincinnati moved the ball well early buy had a tough time finishing drives for the second straight week.
  • Dak Prescott now has thrown 153 passes to start his NFL career without a pick, the new league record.  He did, however, fumble the ball away accounting for his first turnover of the year.  Otherwise he looked good with several easy passes after enjoying outstanding protection.
  • Ezekiel Elliot ran for 130+ yards in his third straight week and found the end zone twice behind magnificent blocking.  He is arguably the best back in football this season.
  • The Dallas defense was just as responsible for this win as their offensive line was.  The team found some semblance of a pass-rush and the secondary did its job in coverage completely taking A.J. Green out of it.  He finished with four catches for 50 yards.

2016 Season: Week 5 Preview

This 2016 season has already been through tons of ups and downs and keeps getting harder and harder to predict as the weeks go by.  The league is filled with parody, and that is why these games are so much fun to watch.  Below are the top ten surprising results of the season, followed by my picks for the week.

10. Week 1- 49ers 28, Rams 0: This game is very shocking, considering where these two teams are now.  The Rams were able to beat the other two divisional opponents, but somehow got stomped by the very inconsistent Niners to start the year.

9. Week 1- Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24: Here’s another game that leaves us all scratching out heads because of where these teams are now.  The Bucs could not look much worse, but they were somehow able to scrape together a Week 1 win and look impressive while doing it.  If these two teams were to face off now, I think the Falcons would be the clear winner.

8. Week 3- Vikings 22, Panthers 10: Of course we all know for sure that the Minnesota defense is as legitimate as it comes, but going into this game I honestly thought that Carolina’s offense was going to be too much for the Vikings to handle.  They did almost nothing on offense but were able to control this game and dominate due to defense.  This was surprising to me.

7. Week 1- Patriots 23, Cardinals 21: Going into this game without Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski, there were a ton of people thought the Arizona offense was going to run the Patriots out of the gym.  Instead, New England’s defense controlled the game and a late missed field goal gave an improbable win to the Pats sans their best players against a good team on the road in a tough place to win.

6.  Week 3- Chiefs 24, Jets 3: Anytime a quarterback throws six interceptions in one game has to be considered a shock to me.

5. Week 4- Bills 16, Patriots 0: Here is an outcome that isn’t super shocking, but a final score that is.  The Patriots had never been shut out in the Bill Belichick era or at Gillette Stadium and it was their first time being shut out at home in almost a quarter of a century.  That should go down as a shock no matter who was starting at quarterback.

4. Week 4- Rams 17, Cardinals 13: The Cardinals came into this game at 1-2 and the Rams were a (what we thought) a weak 2-1.  At home, Arizona was expected to dominate.  Instead, Los Angeles did what they always do: confuse us all with the result of this game.  A major upset in the desert is always good for a list like this.

3. Week 4- Falcons 48, Panthers 33: First of all, not a ton of people picked the Panthers to win this game anyways, let alone let Matt Ryan throw for 503 yards and let Julio Jones receive 300 of them.  Mind-boggling stats to go with an unforeseen upset makes this game an easy selection.

2. Week 3- Bills 33, Cardinals 18: Here is another Arizona game for this list.  Who would have guessed that the Cardinals would have been so thoroughly dominated in all three phases of the game the way they were, especially after coming off of a 40-7 win while the Bills looked to be in a state of turmoil heading in.

1. Week 3- Eagles 34, Steelers 3: I was going to put the Bills/Cardinals game here, but I think the score, more than anything, is what gave this one the top spot.  The Eagles completely crushed Pittsburgh holding them to just three points.  The utter domination alone is what was surprising in this game, not necessarily the win.

What surprises will Week 5 have for us?  It will be exciting to find out!

Last Week: 5-10

Season: 28-35

Thursday, October 6th, 8:25 e.t.

Arizona Cardinals (1-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-3)

The wounded Cardinals look to get off the mat on the road versus a Niners team that plays much better at home than on the road.  Seeing Arizona struggle a bit to open the season is not a complete surprise to me, but sitting at 1-3 it goes without saying that a loss here would really put them in some trouble for the rest of the year.  San Fran is going to be hurting without star linebacker Navorro Bowman to patrol the middle of the field.  Ezekiel Elliot sliced through the 49er “D” last week in his absence.  This is important because this will be the game of David Johnson.  David Johnson

Carson Palmer will be inactive due to a concussion, but this injury should have no bearing on the outcome of this game.  Bruce Arians is going to feed his back more than the Lamar Miller is getting at his Thanksgiving feast down in Houston.  Of course this team is better off with Carson Palmer than they are with Drew Stanton, and even though Stanton has had a rough go of things lately, some practice with the 1’s will help here.  The Niners’ best shot at winning this game is to give the ball to Carlos Hyde a bunch and wear down the Arizona defense.  Too bad that isn’t Chip Kelly’s M.O.  The Cards should take care of business on the road here with their backs against the wall, but if they thought it was going to be a cakewalk they’ve got another thing coming.

Arizona 24, San Francisco 19

Sunday, October 9th, 1:00 e.t.

New York Jets (1-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)

The following gif perfectly sums up what has happened to the Steelers over the past couple of weeks:

Eagles vs. Steelers vs. Chiefs

The 43-14 drubbing of the Chiefs has to have Pittsburgh fans back on the bandwagon in 2016 season.  Le’Veon Bell looked great in his return, Ben Roethlisberger was back in the pocket slinging it, and the defense swarmed the field looking just as fast as it always has.  The fact that they played at home certainly helped their case but even still this is one of the best teams in the league.  The Jets on the other hand have not had a pleasant past couple of weeks, and it all starts at the quarterback position.  Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown nine interceptions over the past two weeks against only one touchdown pass.  There have been some rumblings among the Jets fanbase that call for Geno Smith to get some playing time, but Fitzpatrick will be the man under center this week.  It would be pretty hard for him to play much worse this week than he has over the past two but even if he has the game of his life I’m not sure he will be able to trade punches with the Steelers offense if they are getting healthy right now.  Also, the defense has not looked very good at times this season which starts in their secondary.  Darrelle Revis is allowing 84% of passes thrown his way to be completed and Buster Skrine, opposite him, has had trouble over his career against bigger receivers.  If the Jets think sticking Revis on Antonio Brown and leaving Skrine to defend Sammy Coates, or Markus Wheaton, or Eli Rodgers is a good idea then they have a horrible news flash coming their way.  Philly had success when they pressured Ben Roethlisberger.  The Jets have the talent to do this, but have not been harassing opposing QBs that much lately.  I want to pick Gang Green for an upset but they just don’t have the players to hang with the Steelers if they are on in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh 32, New York 20

Chicago Bears (1-3) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-3)

Fun fact: there are 13 teams that are 1-3 in the NFL.  This is the second of four games pitting such teams here in Week 5.  The Colts are a team that has been on the short end of the losing stick a trio of times, but are a team that could be 3-1 with a play here and there going their way.  Andrew Luck seems to be back to him old self, but he hasn’t received much help along the way.  Indy has still struggled to find a running game and haven’t seen one since Vic Ballard rumbled for 105 against Houston on December 16th, 2012.  Yikes.  Chicago seems like a team that the Colts could find some headway against, however they did play well defensively last week against Detroit.  Although that could have been an anomaly, there is some evidence that may suggest that it wasn’t.  For starters, the Bears’ offense was finally watchable against the Lions.  They ran the ball well with Jordan Howard, a rookie, and Brian Hoyer threw for over 300 yards and a couple of scores.  This kept the Chicago defense fresh and ready to handle the Lions’ attack.  With all this being said, I think that last week’s game in Chi-town said more about Detroit than it did Da Bears.  What this means is that perhaps they are not all that good after all, but that is something that a lot of people know already.  Hitting the road to take on a Colts team that is hungry for a win could be a recipe for disaster.  Besides Matthew Stafford’s struggles, opposing quarterbacks have had their way with the Bears secondary.  Andrew Luck is the best gunslinger that the team will have faced so far this year. Andrew Luck

As long as the Indianapolis offensive line doesn’t let Luck get buried they should have no trouble swatting the Bears on Sunday.

Indianapolis 33, Chicago 20

Tennessee Titans (1-3) @ Miami Dolphins (1-3)

In a game that is going to be considered by many as the worst matchup of the week, the Titans take their one win team down to Miami to take on the equally poor Dolphins squad.  The ‘Phins received a beatdown in Cincinnati last Thursday night and their offense looked three degrees north of atrocious outside of a long touchdown on their first possession.  Ryan Tannehill held the ball far too long and was swamped by the Bengals’ pass rush.  Jurrell Casey had himself a nice game in Houston a week ago and has to be licking his lips seeing the shaky offensive line starting opposite him.  If Miami fails to get a running game going then they could be in some trouble leaning of the O-line to protect Tannehill.  Of course we should see a lot of quick passes from #17, perhaps more empty backfield 4-receiver sets with a tight end split wide.  This was the personnel on the field when Miami scored their lone touchdown in Cincinnati and it is the formation that the former Aggie feels most comfortable in.  They should also mix in the no-huddle a bit more.  CheetosFor the Titans, their offense looked decent against Houston a week ago after the first quarter, and had it not been for a special teams gaff against Will Fuller V in the third quarter Tennessee may have stolen one.  Will Mike Mularkey’s smashmouth offense work in Miami this week.  Let’s see this team take a lead once again that isn’t against an elite defense (like Minnesota’s in Week 1) and see what happens.  The Titans are a more physical team and are finally the team with the most talent on the field.  As long as the secondary can contain Jarvis Landry, Tennessee should leave town with a win.  Perrish Cox did a marvelous job covering DeAndre Hopkins a week ago, holding him to one catch in the game.

Tennessee 19, Miami 15

Washington Redskins (2-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

In a game that looks like it will be heavily impacted by the brunt of Hurricane Matthew, we get the battle of Maryland.

Hurricane

The Redskins come into town fresh off of an eleven point win over Cleveland while the Ravens are licking their wounds following a late loss to the Raiders at home.  This Baltimore team is not one that often loses home games with Joe Flacco and Kirk Cousins really struggles versus teams with winning records.  It is looking like a Ravens win is in the forecast for Sunday, but with the way the NFL has gone this season we know that nothing comes that easy.  For the Redskins to leave town with a win, the following needs to happen:

  • Matt Jones needs to run the ball well against the leagues #5 run defense (and #1 overall team “D”).
  • The Washington defense needs to tighten up against the run.  This game looks like it will be won in the trenches with the impending weather.  Winning at the line of scrimmage is pertinent.
  • Kirk Cousins needs to take what the defense gives him and not force the ball down the field to DeSean Jackson.  This is a contest that sets up well for 12 underneath balls to Pierre Garcon and a couple of middle routes to Jordan Reed.

Oh and by the way, who else is excited to see the trash-talking Steve Smith take on his former teammate in Carolina when he faces Josh Norman?  Fun stuff.  Anyways, the Ravens seem like they were a bit of a flawed 3-0 team before losing to the Raiders last week.  While I don’t think they will fall hard in 2016, I do see them dropping their second straight game at home.  Chalk this one up to one of the many weird results of the year.  I just think that Washington can really make some noise with short passes more than the Ravens can.

Washington 22, Baltimore 19

New England Patriots (3-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-4)

So perhaps you have heard, but the Patriots will be getting Rob Nincovich back for this game.  They have waited four long weeks to see this man hit the field again and he draws a nice matchup against the Cleveland offense on Sunday.  Okay, we all know that the real story here is the return of Tom Brady.  He missed the first four games of the season due to suspension and the Pats emerged from the wreck at 3-1 which was about as good as they could have hoped for.  Sure they lost ugly to Buffalo last week, but the overall mood in New England is pretty good as it looks like the team is prime to go on a bit of a run.  You would probably think about taking a 300 yard, three touchdown game out of #12 to the bank this week, but I think that the Patriots will run the ball more than most anticipate this week.  It would be just like Bill Belichick to do exactly what nobody is thinking, and this is a Cleveland team that can certainly be run on.  Tight ends have also killed the Browns and even if Rob Gronkowski isn’t playing as great as he is capable due to his hamstring injury, New England still suits up Martellus Bennett.  Good luck to Cleveland.  If the Brownies are to have any success in this game, they have to shorten it by pounding Isaiah Crowell over and over again at a Patriot defense that has not been too bad against the run this year.  Cody Kessler has to be accurate and quick with his decision making here as well.  Cleveland absolutely cannot turn the ball over like they did a week ago versus Washington either.  This is a Patriots team that will likely walk into the Dawg Pound and leave with a crushing win, however.  There is just a huge gap between these two and there is no way I can pick against Belichick and the Pats.Tom Brady

New England 27, Cleveland 6

Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) @ Detroit Lions (1-3)

The Eagles just took an early BYE and are flying high after destroying the Steelers at home in Week 3.  However, this off-week could have come at a bad time for the team because they were rolling.  Philly has completely rolled over all three teams it has played so far this year and had a ton of momentum.  We will have to see if that BYE kills it.  Anyways, Jim Schwartz will be returning to Detroit for the first time since 2014 when he was hoisted on the shoulders of his Buffalo Bills after the team pulled an upset over the Lions. Jim Schwartz Philly’s defense looks like it is for real and their opponent looked pretty bad a week ago versus the Bears on the road.  By the way, I think it is time to send out an APB on Golden Tate.  He made just one catch for one yard all of last week against the Bears.  Yes, he did make good on a two-point conversion but he also cost the Lions points when Matthew Stafford threw an interception at the end of the first half because Tate ran the wrong route.  This does not seem like a game for him to reemerge either as the Eagles play the pass pretty well, being the only team in the league yet to surrender a touchdown through the air.  If there is one thing that Philly has struggled to do, it is defend the deep ball/jump ball.  Their corners are a bit shorter and have not had tons of success in that department so far.  If Marvin Jones gets loose then those Iggles may have issues.  It will be tough for the Lions to win, but I think they will put up a bit more of a fight than any of the other three Philadelphia opponents have.  In the end, I just don’t think their defense will be able to slow Doug Pederson’s offense enough to win the game.  Wendell Smallwood looks like an emerging rookie and could be leaned on a bit more in this game against a Detroit run “D” that has been pretty poor this year (ranked 23rd in the league).  There, I did an Eagles article without mentioning their rookie quarterback.

Philadelphia 16, Detroit 14

Houston Texans (3-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (4-0)

The Vikings look like one of the best teams in the NFL this year and seem to be a very tough out at their sparkling new stadium.  They do have a short week to cope with after dismantling the Giants on Monday night, but they should be fine given the way their defense has played.  Houston is 3-1 but has not been utterly dominant in any of their three home wins.  DeAndre Hopkins has been a bit of a no-show over the last two weeks totaling just five catches for 60 yards combined.  He draws a really tough assignment against Xavier Rhodes who has shut down Kelvin Benjamin and Odell Beckham Jr. in back to back weeks.  Don’t expect him to go off in this game either.  Xavier RhodesBrock Osweiler has thrown at least one interception in every game this season and will really need to avoid turning the ball over in this one.  The Vikings lead the NFL with a +10 turnover differential.  This is, in large part, due to how Sam Bradford is playing on offense.  He has yet to turn the ball over and is making quick and accurate throws to his receivers.  Norv Turner isn’t asking Sammy Sleeves to take too many shots down the field, and that plays right into his wheelhouse.  As long as the Vikings don’t begin to play loose with the football they should not see anything less than a dominant home victory.  I think they are, by far, the better team.  As a side note, it will be cool to see how US Bank Stadium looks during a day game.

Minnesota 29, Houston 10

Sunday, October 9th, 4:05 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (3-1) @ Denver Broncos (4-0)

Falcons vs. Broncos

Who woulda thunk it?  The Atlanta Falcons are involved in the game of the week here in October.  Not only that, but Matt Ryan is playing his best football in a while and making noise for league MVP.  Obviously it is too early to start anointing anybody such prestigious awards, but if he can continue to put up big numbers against a defense like Denver’s on the road then it can go a long way towards that goal.  That raises the big question: Atlanta’s #1 ranked offense or the Broncos’ elite defense?  As is normally the case in the NFL, a good defense beats a good offense.  Not to mention, Gary Kubiak has his team playing some damn good offense in their own right.  Trevor Seimien did leave last week with an injured shoulder, but Paxton Lynch stepped right in and performed.  The 20 point romping of the Buccaneers on the road was complete with a totally dominant effort from the leagues 4th ranked defensive unit.  The team has the second ranked passing “D”, so it will fall on Matty Ice’s shoulders to carry his team to a win.  Unfortunately for the Falcons, their pass defense has been pretty bad this year and that is something that will not bode well for them in this game.  The Broncos are one of three undefeated teams remaining in the league and it will remain that way after this season.  Julio Jones did go off for 300 yards receiving a week ago, but there is no way that happens again.  Chris Harris should shadow him for a majority of the game.  On the opposite side, how will the Atlanta secondary fare against Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.  Desmond Trufant has played pretty well so far this season, but he will have his hands full in this game with two of the league’s better looking pass-catchers.  In the end, it is going to be tough for the Falcons to win this game with their offense, which is how it looks like they are going to win most of their games this season.  Give me the Broncos at home.

Denver 26, Atlanta 16

Sunday, October 9th, 4:25 e.t.

San Diego Chargers (1-3) @ Oakland Raiders (3-1)

The Chargers let one slip away from them last Sunday against the previously unbeaten Saints.  They were run on and could not stop New Orleans when they were in the red zone.  The Raiders have had a ton of success in red zone offense since Derek Carr has been their quarterback.  This will probably be the key to this game.  I can absolutely see the Chargers pulling an upset here, and looking back I realized that I picked against the Raiders three out of four times.  Carr has thrown nine touchdowns to just one pick on the year and is taking good care of the ball.  The Chargers pass defense has not been bad by any means but they really don’t have any answer for the combination of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.  Oakland swept the season series last year as well, so there’s that.  Philip Rivers is still performing despite all of his favorite toys being taken from him, but will his offensive line be able to protect him versus the Raiders pass rush?  Philip Rivers

Khalil Mack recorded his first sack a week ago, but he is creating numerous pressures and can really have a deep impact on this game.  Also worth mentioning is the fact that Oakland’s defense has really rebounded since the first two weeks, although they did almost give the game away to Baltimore last week if it weren’t for a late rally.  This looks like another tight game in the making as well since the Chargers and Raiders have played quite a number of those already this season.  I will take the home team though because I like them to protect Carr better in the game and because I think their O-line is going to open up more holes in the running game.  Melvin Gordon for San Diego has come back down to earth these past two weeks ever since his quick start to the season and really contributed heavily to their loss against New Orleans with a late fumble.  Not to mention, the Raiders have not had many problems closing out games this season.  The Chargers are a different story entirely.

Oakland 35, San Diego 31

Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

AT&T Stadium

The Cowboys play host to the now .500 Bengals who have won two games against 1-3 teams this season.  Their losses came to quality opponents in the Steelers and Broncos.  Is Dallas a quality opponent though?  If they continue to play mistake-free football and slam Ezekiel Elliot at opposing defenses with success they are.  That’s on the offensive side of the ball.  Defensively the Cowboys are not putrid.  They are an average unit that skates by due to the fact that their offense is so fundamentally sound.  The secondary should be tested in this game, however.  A.J. Green torched Miami a week ago and didn’t feel sorry in the slightest.  It would appear as though Andy Dalton feels secure with only his big wide receiver to this point.  It is fairly obvious that he has confidence in his arm and he is moving around in the pocket better than in years past, but still Green is the only receiver he can fully trust to this point.  Dallas’ answer to A.J. is Dez Bryant but he will not be participating in this game due to his injury.  This means that the ‘Boys will be coming at the stripes with the likes of Cole Beasely, Terrence Williams, and Jason Witten.  Dak Prescott has thrown 131 passes and has yet to be picked off.  He did come close last week, but still sports the ole goose-egg in that category.  Zeke Elliot has grown stronger with each game but so far this season the Bengals have not been the easiest team to run on.  Their defense is in the top half of the league, something that the Cowboys have not had to cope with so far this year.  Chances are they will be in for an awakening and although this game could certainly go either way, I see the road team coming out with a win.  We know what A.J. Green and the rest of Cincy’s offense can do against good defenses, let alone a middling one such as the Cowboys’.  Dallas is unproven in this respect so far, so we are going with the safe, logical choice here.

Cincinnati 30, Dallas 27

Buffalo Bills (2-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-1)

LA Rams

If you would have told me that this was going to be a match up of two teams with .500 records or better about two weeks ago, I would have thought that there was something wrong with you.  As it is, the Rams, winners of three straight, host a Bills team that seems to be revived on defense after winning its last two games.  The Buffalo running game has seen an increase in yardage ever since Anthony Lynn has taken over as offensive coordinator.  He has had Tyrod Taylor moving around a bit more in this offense.  Also, he isn’t taking the same amount of shots down the field as he did when Greg Roman was dialing up plays.  The wildcat has been an oft used weapon in this offense and the team is able to piece drives together which really helps the defense out.  Now that this very thin unit is getting time to rest, their players are in good shape to stop the other team’s offense.  Zach and Preston Brown along with Lorenzo Alexander have quietly been one of the best line-backing corps in football.  They should present problems for the Rams in Los Angeles.  As for the surprising winners of three straight games, quarterback Case Keenum has looked competent lately and has had the strength of a fighting defense to back him.  The running game has still yet to take off because teams are still stacking the box to stop Todd Gurley.  It is working.  At the end of the day, I really don’t want to pick Los Angeles because I don’t think they are a 4-1 team.  A win over a bad Buccaneer team as well as close wins over divisional opponents aren’t enough to make me think that these guys can win games like this.  Buffalo is not an NFC West rival.  The Rams get up for those teams, I think they will fall flat at home here.

Buffalo 23, Los Angeles 12

Sunday, October 9th, 8:30 e.t.

New York Giants (2-2) @ Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Coming off of a BYE, the Packers play host to the Giants on Sunday Night Football.  Green Bay looked like it was returning to form in the first half of Week 3’s game against the Lions, but the team took their foot off the gas in the second half and let Detroit make it look closer.  This has to be a bit of a concern for Mike McCarthy seeing as how the Packers’ offense has been the subject of great scrutiny lately.  They scored just three points in the second half and were far too conservative.  The Giants come to town after having been beaten up physically by a very good Minnesota club.  Things will not get better if Eli Manning cannot shake the images of ghosts from his head.  He looked spooked against the Vikes, and although Green Bay’s defense is nowhere near the caliber, they are a fast squad who can cover a lot of ground.  Odell Beckham Jr

Odell Beckham Jr. was thoroughly contained by Xavier Rhodes.  Asking Demaryius Randall to do the same thing would be absurd, but I can see the Pack having some success slowing the Giants down if they play physical.  It wouldn’t be recommended to blitz Eli Manning either.  He’s going to get rid of the ball quickly whether there is pressure or not.  Since Dom Caper’s unit is nowhere near as good as Minnesota’s, they are going to have to rely on pressure from their front four.  If they can get it, the Packers should have absolutely no trouble winning this game.  The real key lies in if Aaron Rodgers can pick apart this $200 million defense.  Teams have not had a ton of success running it on Big Blue, so it will fall squarely on the shoulders of #12 if the Pack is to pick up the win.  At home on a Sunday night, I’ve gotta say I like their chances.  The Giants have struggled mightily to create turnovers and Aaron Rodgers and company tend to be quite stingy with the ball at home.  I’ll take them for the win.

Green Bay 38, New York 21

Monday, October 10th, 8:30 e.t.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) @ Carolina Panthers (1-3)

The Buccaneers have, to be frank, looked awful since their Week 1 win over Atlanta.  I do not envy the position they are in this week either since they will be taking on a very pissed off Carolina team that was absolutely embarrassed by the likes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones on the road last week.  Mike Evans is one of the biggest and best young receivers out there, but Jameis Winston has to make sure he gives his receiver the ball and not the opposing DB.  Ever since losing Doug Martin in Week 2, this offense has been very inconsistent to put it lightly.  Turnovers and sloppy play have plagued the Bucs and they have not looked good at all.  I’m still not sure that the Panthers are a bad team.  I think they ran into a couple of buzz-saws early in the year and will pick it back up later on.  As of right now, there is no reason these guys should lose this game on Monday night.  Cam Newton did leave last Sunday with a concussion, but he looks like he will be alright for this game.  Even if he isn’t I doubt Derek Anderson will be such a flop that the team ends up falling off.  Look for the Panthers to get back to pounding the rock and hitting quick slants behind the rush.  That’s what Carolina needs to get back to doing; playing better small ball is important to them.  Lately they have been chasing the big play and it has hurt them quite a bit.  The defense should play inspired football after being gashed in Atlanta in Week 4.  I fully expect the Panthers to rebound in a big way and get back in the W column at home.

Panther

Carolina 42, Tampa Bay 14

Week 5 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (3-0): Carolina over Tampa Bay

Upset of the Week: Washington over Baltimore

Offensive Player of the Week: Derek Carr, QB, Raiders

Defensive Player of the Week: Jurrell Casey, DL, Titans

Rookie of the Week: James Bradbury, DB, Panthers

Best Quarterback: Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals

Best Running Back: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals

 

Week 6: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings Recap

Teddy Bridgewater celebrates with Kyle Rudolph after a touchdown from Sunday, 10/19/15.
Teddy Bridgewater celebrates with Kyle Rudolph after a touchdown from Sunday, 10/19/15.

Final: Minnesota 16, Kansas City 10

It was a beautiful Sunday in the Twin Cities as the Vikings ride some solid defense and timely offense to a six-point victory.  The Minnesota “D” held the Chiefs to only 51 total yards in the first half and shut them out for the first three quarters.  Of course, the stingy Viking defense was helped out by the ineptitude of the Kansas City offense which was really missing Jamaal Charles.  KC compiled only 19 yards rushing in the first half and 57 for the game.  The team was an overall 3/12 (25%) on third down and 0/2 on fourth down, mainly because they were in a number of long down and distance situations.  If it weren’t for Alex Smith passing for 237 yards in the second half, this game would have been a laugher.

The Kansas City defense was very good, however.  They withstood Teddy Bridgewater’s 143 passing yards in the first quarter and allowed just 106 for the rest of the game.  Allen Bailey was a force in the middle of the line, and Marcus

Action from Sunday's game between Kansas City and Minnesota
Action from Sunday’s game between Kansas City and Minnesota

Peters had himself a solid game on the outside.  Those were the two biggest standouts from this game for the Chiefs.

On the opposite side, the Vikings didn’t look overly crisp for a majority of the game on offense.  Bridgewater was able to step up in the pocket and make some nice throws, but he had to deal with a lot of pressure which lead to a couple of interceptions.  Stefan Diggs had his second straight impressive performance.  He caught seven balls for 129 yards and looked great running routes and creating separation.  He appears to be the best receiver for Minnesota.  They needed that on a day like this where Adrian Peterson was completely bottled up.  26 carries for 60 yards was all he could manage on the day.  15 of those carries were for two yards or less.

The Chiefs did have their opportunities to close the gap in this game.  Late in the third quarter, Charcandrick West was stuffed on a fourth and inches deep in the red zone.  After reviewing the play, it wasn’t so obvious that he was down and if he hadn’t been, he was able to make it into the end zone.  However, the ruling on the field was that he was down by contact.  Also, Kansas City had two chances to drive for the lead in the fourth quarter.  One time, West fumbled the ball away (with 4:32 left) and the other time they failed on fourth down right at the two minute warning.  Minnesota was then able to sit on the ball.

Some more bad news for the Chiefs: Jeremy Maclin left this game in the third quarter with a concussion.  He may struggle getting back on the field next week when his team takes on the Steelers.  The Vikings will hit the road and visit the Lions, a team that finally picked up their first win of the year on this same day.  Minnesota has something in Stefan Diggs, and if Bridgewater can continue to improve we might be talking about this team come time for the post season.

The Skinny

  • Stefan Diggs went off again for the Vikings, with seven catches for 129 yards

    Jeremy Maclin suffered from a concussion in the third quarter of Sunday's game.
    Jeremy Maclin suffered from a concussion in the third quarter of Sunday’s game.
  • The Kansas City offense was pathetic in the first half and looked like it really missed Jamaal Charles
  • Jeremy Maclin left the game midway through the third quarter with a concussion
  • The Chiefs were able to bottle Adrian Peterson up, holding him to 2.1 yards/carry and stuffing him for two yards or less on 15 of his 26 carries
  • The Minnesota offensive line did not have a strong game, and they allowed the Chiefs to bully Bridgewater quite a bit
  • Alex Smith threw for 237 yards in the second half and didn’t look too bad.  He is not the problem with the Kansas City offense

Week 5: Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions Recap

Carson Palmer scanning the field from 10/11/15.
Carson Palmer scanning the field from 10/11/15.

Final: Arizona 42, Detroit 17

It was a forgettable afternoon for Matthew Stafford, the Lions, and their fan base on Sunday as they suffered a blowout loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field.  The only good news for Detroit was on the shoulders of Calvin Johnson.  In the first quarter be made his 671st career reception, to set a new franchise record, overtaking Herman Moore.

Theo Riddick celebrates from Sunday's game.
Theo Riddick celebrates from Sunday’s game.

Speaking of Johnsons, the Cardinals had a trio of them who had big games.  Chris Johnson carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards in this game.  His runningback counterpart David Johnson was able to find the end zone twice on four carries.  Defensively, Reshad Johnson had a terrific game.  He recorded two interceptions as well as a fumble recovery.  Arizona forced six Detroit turnovers in the game and forced Jim Caldwell to pull Matthew Stafford midway through the third quarter.

The major turning point in this game was when Cory Redding intercepted a screen pass from Stafford.  After that play, the Cardinals built way too much momentum and scored at will on the Detroit defense, that was missing their star linebacker DeAndre Levy again with another hip injury.  He exited the game in the second quarter and was not heard from again.  Arizona really proved its dominance when they completed a 99-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter.  This series included a 49 yard pass play to John Brown and a 40 yard dash by Chris Johnson.  All and all, the Cards put up 28 points in the quarter, their most since 1987.

Dan Orlovsky came in in relief of the ineffective Stafford and did not fare much better.  He was intercepted once, but did throw a touchdown in the waning moments of the game.  For now, Jim Caldwell is saying that Matt Stafford’s job is safe, but you have to wonder how much more this Detroit fan base can take if the former #1 overall pick continues to struggle like he has this season.

Arizona improves to 4-1 on the year and will go battle the Michael Vick led Steelers in Pittsburgh next week.  Early indications are that the Cards will be heavily favored to win this match-up.  Meanwhile, the 0-5 Lions will hunt for their first win of the year at home against the division rival Bears.  Detroit is the only team in the league without a win so far on the season.  This is a talented team that has had an impossible time running the ball on the season.  Those struggles continued in this contest and if the Lions do not find some semblance of a ground game, they could be looking at a really pathetic season.

The Skinny

  • Calvin Johnson became the franchise leader in receptions for Detroit with 671, passing Herman Moore

    Calvin Johnson became the leading receiver in Detroit Lions history surpassing Herman Moore with his 671st catch on Sunday.
    Calvin Johnson became the leading receiver in Detroit Lions history surpassing Herman Moore with his 671st catch on Sunday.
  • Matthew Stafford was benched due to ineffective play in the third quarter
  • The Cardinals forced six turnovers in this game, the most the Lions have given it away since Week 10 of the 2011 season against the Bears.  The six takeaways was the most for the Cards since Week 11 in 2012 against the Falcons
  • The Cardinals scored 28 points in the second quarter, their most since 1987, and the most any team has scored in any quarter in a game since the Packers dropped 28 points in the second quarter on the Bears in Week 10 last season
  • The Lions, as a team, attempted 70 passes in this game, tying an NFL record
  • Carson Palmer has had a quarterback rating of over 100 in four of his five games this year and has thrown 13 touchdown passes, tying him for the league lead with Aaron Rodgers

2015 Season: Week 5 Predictions

We are at the quarter pole of the 2015 NFL season already, and there are a few surprises.  First of all, who woulda thunk it?  The Panthers and Falcons are both 4-0!  Meanwhile, teams we thought would be in the playoff run by the season’s end are struggling at 1-3 (Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Kansas City to name a few).  Before we get started on my Week 5 predictions, I’d like to offer my quarter-season awards:

MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

Defensive Player of the Year: Josh Norman, CB, Panthers

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs

Comeback Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings

Coach of the Year: Dan Quinn, Falcons

So with the rewards being handed out, now let’s get to my Week 5 predictions.

Last Week: 9-6

Season: 33-30

Thursday, October 8th, 8:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (2-2) @ Houston Texans (1-3)

After missing the first game in his career, Andrew Luck returns this week to his home state to face a familiar foe in the Texans.  Luck has dominated Houston in the past and with the defense that they have, don’t expect anything less from #12 this week.  Indy should win rather easily.

Indianapolis 30, Houston 17

Sunday, October 11th, 1:30 e.t.

Cleveland Browns (1-3) vs. Baltimore Ravens (1-3)

The Ravens were barely able to gut out a win over the Steelers last week, and it came at the expense of a few key players.  For this week, Joe Flacco will be good enough against a middling Cleveland defense, but going forward I’m not too sure how much confidence I have in the Ravens.

Baltimore 17, Cleveland 10

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

The Jaguars almost went to 2-2 last week on the road and try again for their second win.  Jameis Winston hasn’t been great this year, but he’s got the chance to do better against the in-state rivals.  This is a hard one to pick, but I’m gonna go with the Bucs.  I like their bigger receivers against the smaller Jacksonville corners.

Tampa Bay 23, Jacksonville 22

 Washington Redskins (2-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-0)

After pulling off an upset at home against the Eagles, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins make to look it two in a row against the unbeaten Falcons.  It won’t happen.  Washington got burned with the deep ball last week, and Atlanta has Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Leonard Hankerson at their disposal.  Oh yeah, and that guy Devonte Freeman who’s already scored 7 rushing touchdowns this season.

Atlanta 34, Washington 19

Chicago Bears (1-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)

While the Chiefs are 1-3, they have not faced a team this season that had a loss when the teams hooked up.  Their only win came Week 1 against the 0-0 Texans.  Their three losses have come against three teams with a combined record of 12-0.  On Sunday we should see the real Chiefs emerge against a Chicago team that is really banged up right now and in the midst of rebuilding.

Kansas City 35, Chicago 16

Seattle Seahawks (2-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-0)

In what is probably the best matchup of the week, the Seahawks will travel across the country on a short week to battle the unbeaten Bengals.  I think Cincy is for real and they hardly ever lose at home during the 1:00 window.  Look for them to take it to a Seattle team that is void of a ton of offensive weapons and has a struggling line.  Nevertheless, this should be a great game.

Cincinnati 20, Seattle 17

St. Louis Rams (2-2) @ Green Bay Packers (4-0)

Todd Gurley went off last week in the desert and will have to do it again if the Rams want any chance to win on the road in Green Bay.  Will this be the week Aaron Rodgers finally throws a pick at home?  No.  He’s gonna throw 3 touchdowns, two to Ty Montgomery and one to Richard Rodgers.  And the Pack wins it.  It is simply too tough to win at Lambeau.

Green Bay 37, St. Louis 24

Buffalo Bills (2-2) @ Tennessee Titans (1-2)

The Bills really struggled in the red zone last week and it cost them the game.  The defense did play well for the most part, aside from surrendering a 51-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Jennings in the fourth quarter.  Look for the Buffalo defense to give Marcus Mariota a lot of problems.  If you’re looking for a game with a lot of entertaining quarterback play then this one is for you.

Buffalo 28,Tennessee 20

New Orleans Saints (1-3) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)

Philadelphia and New Orleans may very well be battling for their season on Sunday.  I’m not sold on the Eagles being a bad team, however.  They are certainly off to a slow start but they should be able to handle business at home against a Saint team that offers very little outside of Drew Brees (who is hurt).  If Mark Ingram can have a big game like he did in the 2013 wild card match-up then this one will be exciting.  If not, it will be the birds in front of a restless crowd.

Philadelphia 23, New Orleans 17

Sunday, October 11th, 4:05 e.t.

Arizona Cardinals (3-1) @ Detroit Lions (0-4)

The Lions came close to stealing a win in Seattle on Monday night, but did end up falling to 0-4.  Being the only team without a win this year must be a lonely feeling.  I’m sure Detroit fans from 2008 are used to that.  While it may feel like I’m taking a shot at the Lions, I do actually like them to win this week.  Their defense isn’t too bad for the most part and the offense does have the potential to be great.  If not now, when?  Detroit saves its season this Sunday.

Detroit 26, Arizona 20

Sunday, October 11th, 4:25 e.t.

Denver Broncos (4-0) @ Oakland Raiders (2-2)

Of course the Raiders would lose a very winnable game.  Did you actually think they were gonna be a playoff contender this season?  Now they take on the best defense in the NFL.  Denver’s “D” will do their best to take Amari Cooper away from Derek Carr and leave him with not much else.  It should be a good game for Broncos fans.

Denver 27, Oakland 10

New England Patriots (3-0) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

After bringing the Cowboys back to tie it at the end of regulation, Brandon Weeden was let down by the defense when they gave up an 80 yard touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller in overtime.  Now, without Sean Lee, the Cowboys will be forced to defend one of the best offenses in football.  Good luck with that.  The Patriots look good.  Not to mention, they are coming off of a BYE.  They’ve had two weeks to scheme.

New England 43, Dallas 21

Sunday, October 11th, 8:30 e.t.

San Francisco 49ers (1-3) @ New York Giants (2-2)

The 49ers have looked awful since their surprising Week 1 domination of the Vikings.  The defense has been atrocious away from home and even though I’m one of the only ones who is not ready to stick a fork in Colin Kaepernick, I am not about to go overboard and anoint him offensive player of the week.  With no running game, the Niners are in trouble.  They face the #1 run defense in the league in the G-Men.  Good luck with that one.

New York 27, San Francisco 13

Monday, October 12th, 8:30 e.t.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) @ San Diego Chargers (2-2)

Pittsburgh will have had almost a full two weeks to stew in the bile of a crushing defeat at the hands of the Ravens by the time this game kicks off.  Mike Vick will need to make more explosive plays for the Steelers to have a chance.  Get the ball to Antonio Brown more often as well.  Philip Rivers has been quite good at home this year, and there could be some holes in the middle of the field against the Pittsburgh “D”.  San Diego will try to turn this into a shootout and if that’s the case, the Roethlisberger-less Steelers won’t win.

San Diego 34, Pittsburgh 17

Week 5 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week (0-4): Detroit over Arizona

Sure Bet of the Week (3-1): Denver over Oakland

Rookie of the Week: T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars

Offensive Player of the Week: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots

Defensive Player of the Week: Chris Harris Jr., CB, Broncos

Best Overall Offense: New England Patrtiots

Best Overall Defense: Denver Broncos

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 5 Predictions

We have passed the quarter mark in the NFL this season and the only thing we can know for sure is that there is no way to predict what goes on in this wacky league.  Who had Tampa Bay showing up the Steelers in Pittsburgh last week?  Better yet, who saw the Chiefs and Cowboys crushing the Patriots and Saints at home?  Maybe it’s time for me to start stepping out on some limbs here with my picks.  6-7 is not going to cut it!  Coming back from London, the Raiders and Dolphins will be on BYE but the other 30 teams are playing.  We’ve got some predicting to do.

Thursday, October 2nd, 8:25 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) @ Green Bay Packers (2-2)

Each of these teams are coming off of impressive wins over quality foes and are looking to elevate their records to 3-2 on the season.  Up until last week, the Vikings looked like an easy out sans Adrian Peterson.  However, they shredded the Falcons’ defense and threw up a whopping 41 points and the Packers defense has been less than impressive (to put it nicely) this year.  Will they be able to run roughshod on Green Bay in Lambeau this week?  Maybe, but it won’t be enough.  Aaron Rodgers was locked in and he should be again this week against a team that he has owned over his career.  Look for a big Packer win on what is turning out to be blowout night in the NFL (seeing as how the past three Thursday night games have been routs).

Green Bay 37, Minnesota 14

Sunday, October 5th, 1:00 e.t.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) @ New Orleans Saints (1-3)

Who among us had the New Orleans Saints sitting at 1-3?  Not too many I’d be willing to bet.  How many of us have them falling to 1-4?  Probably nobody.  Playing at home, the Saints get’r done against a Tampa Bay team that has struggled in the Big Easy over the last few years.

New Orleans 36, Tampa Bay 16

St. Louis Rams (1-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)

Philly was bullied up front last week, but a bit of help is on the way with Lane Johnson coming back at right tackle for the birds.  This should help seal the edge for LeSean McCoy and help create space outside.  I see Shady bouncing back for his first 100 yard game of the season as the Eagles notch their fourth win.  I’m still thinking that the Rams are one of the weaker teams out there given their instability at quarterback.

Philadelphia 37, St. Louis 17

Houston Texans (3-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

So far this year, the Cowboys have looked like the better team in Texas and I think they are better than Houston.  With that being said, this just seems like a game Dallas will lose since they figure to win it.  A letdown seems likely here as I see DeMarco Murray failing to eclipse 100 yards on the ground for the first time this season.  It’ll be up to Ryan Fitzpatrick to play well if his Texans look to win.  I think this will happen and Houston leaves AT&T Stadium with a big win.

Houston 27, Dallas 24

Baltimore Ravens (3-1) @ Indianapolis Colts (2-2)

In one of the better games of the week we see two of the AFC’s best teams hooking horns in Indianapolis.  I’m feeling a shootout here as the Colts can hang points on the scoreboard in a hurry.  They are coming off of back-to-back 40 point outbursts and lead the league in scoring.  At home I like Andrew Luck (who also leads the league in passing yardage and touchdowns) to lead his team down the field for a late three-point try.  Adam Vinatieri is always money in those situations.  Steve Smith goes bonkers again; collecting 140 yards on 7 catches with a touchdown.  It won’t be enough though.  Colts win.

Indianapolis 31, Baltimore 28

Atlanta Falcons (2-2) @ New York Giants (2-2)

If you like puzzles, help me try and figure this game out.  The Falcons and Giants are two teams that can look like world-beaters in some games but then can look completely vulnerable in others.  Which teams will we see take the field on Sunday?  Who knows.  It seems smart to select the Giants since the Falcons don’t normally fare so well away from home, but I don’t think Big Blue has anybody who is going to cover Julio Jones.  #11 eats them alive in this game, and Matt Ryan throws four touchdown passes in a win.

Atlanta 34, New York 24

Chicago Bears (2-2) @ Carolina Panthers (2-2)

The Panthers have been blasted on back-to-back weeks by AFC teams, but now they return to the NFC where they have looked dominant this season.  Meanwhile, the Bears offense had loads of problems finishing drives last week after scoring 17 points on their first three drives.  That trend may continue against a Carolina defense that should be playing with a chip on its shoulder this week after giving up 75 points over the past two weeks.  I like the home team here.

Carolina 18, Chicago 10

Buffalo Bills (2-2) @ Detroit Lions (3-1)

Can Kyle Orton take the Billikens to the next level?  Sure he can!  He’s gonna prove it this week when the Bills and former Lions’ head coach (now turned Buffalo’s defensive coordinator) Jim Schwartz visit Ford Field.  This is a trap game for Detroit and it’s gonna suck for them when Stafford turns the ball over three times and is sacked four times.  Long live the Buffalo “D”!  Upset special as the road team racks up an all-important “W”.  It’s gonna help when the score twice on return touchdowns here.

Buffalo 40, Detroit 27

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

Blake Bortles is doing all he can with limited weapons around him this year, but unfortunately there is nothing he can do to help that shoddy defense.  None of those eleven who suit up will be able to stop Le’Veon Bell from rumbling for 165 yards and two scores on the afternoon.  I like the Steelers to bounce back from an embarrassing home loss to Tampa Bay last week.

Pittsburgh 39, Jacksonville 13

Cleveland Browns (1-2) @ Tennessee Titans (1-3)

Coming off of a BYE, Brian Hoyer’s Browns will hit the road and take on the Titans who have lost their last three games by a combined score of 100-34.  I can see them turning things around this time out though as they get their ground game going.  Bishop Sankey will score once on the ground and then again through the air while Shonn Green hits 85 yards on the ground and adds another 30 through the air.  Just a random prediction, but I’m feeling a big Titan win here.

Tennessee 34, Cleveland 17

Sunday, October 5th, 4:05 e.t.

Arizona Cardinals (3-0) @ Denver Broncos (2-1)

This is probably the weekend’s best game.  It pits an undefeated team with a great defense and a balanced offense against a team that has not lost a game in regulation this year and one that hosts a prolific offense.  Each should be well rested coming off of a BYE and should be throwing their best punches.  Seeing as how the Broncos are at home, I expect them to play well.  I see them eclipsing the 400 yard mark on offense for the first time this year.  Peyton Manning hits up Emmanuel Sanders for two touchdowns and Denver wins a good game at home.  The Cardinals might jump out to an early lead, but will be unable to hang on in the end as the Bronco offense will wear their solid defense down.

Denver 29, Arizona 20

Sunday, October 5th, 4:25 e.t.

New York Jets (1-3) @ San Diego Chargers (3-1)

The Chargers have looked like one of the best teams out there this season with impressive wins over Seattle, Buffalo, and Jacksonville.  This week, they face an angry Jet team that is a few plays away from having a flipped record of 3-1.  Marty Mornhinweg should commit to the run and give San Diego a dose of their own medicine by trying to hold the ball for 35+ minutes.  I really should pick San Diego to win this game as they are the better team, but the Jets are gonna upset someone at some point this year and I wanna be the genius who calls it.  So here goes nothing…

New York 24, San Diego 22

Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-2)

Alex Smith returns to the bay to take on his former team when the Chiefs head to Santa Clara to face the 49ers.  San Fran rediscovered their identity last week with their win over Philadelphia and I like for them to continue down that path this week.  This is a Kansas City defense that can be run on and Frank Gore is the guy to do it.  Despite him being older than 30, he’s still the guy in that 49er offense.  Kaepernick will chip in with a rushing touchdown as well.  Oh, and by the way, Alex Smith struggles in his return.  He will throw two picks and for less than 200 yards.  Niners win their second straight here.

San Francisco 24, Kansas City 14

Sunday, October 5th, 8:30 e.t.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) @ New England Patriots (2-2)

The Bengals have looked like the best team in the AFC this season, and coming off of a BYE they look to clip the wings of a deflated New England Patriot team in Foxboro this week.  Remember, this is the same team that held Tom Brady out of the end zone one year ago in Cincy.  Can they do it again?  Logic says they have the upper hand in this fight, but doesn’t this just seem like a game that the Pats will win?  It’s what they do; they play to the level of their opponents and I see them giving Cincy their best shot.  Darrelle Revis intercepts Dalton and the Pats defense comes up with a sack-fumble on the red rifle.  I’m picking the Patriots to throw all of the league for a loop this week with an impressive win.

New England 30, Cincinnati 15

Monday, October 6th, 8:30 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (2-1) @ Washington Redskins (1-3)

Kirk Cousins could not have looked much worse against the Giants defense last week, and now he will have his hands full with Seattle’s secondary.  Of course, the Seahawks are never as good on the road as they are at home, so if there is a time to get them this would be it.  I fully expect this game to be a lot closer than a lot of other experts, but in the end it will be the defending champs who stand tall on Monday night.  The ‘Hawks will ride their stellar defense in this one.

Seattle 20, Washington 16

Week 5 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Buffalo over Detroit

Sure Bet of the Week: Green Bay over Minnesota

Rookie of the Week: Jordan Matthews

Offensive Player of the Week: Le’Veon Bell

Defensive Player of the Week: Mario Williams

Best Overall Offense: New Orleans Saints (at home)

Best Overall Defense: San Francisco 49ers

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!