Whitaker's Week 5 NFL Picks
Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens are talent wise the best run defense in the NFL. Bengal RB Cedric Benson has been a surprise to start this season, but won't do a thing in Baltimore. To make things even worse for the Bengals, Ravens QB Joe Flacco loves to throw it down the field, something the Bengals can't defend against seeing that they don't have a safety to guard against the deep ball. So for those of you who have Flacco or Raven WR's Derrick Mason or Mark Clayton on your fantasy team, start em.
My Pick - Baltimore
Browns @ Buffalo Bills - How bout them Brownies for fighting like they did last week? Yeah they lost again, I was just trying to be nice aight. Anyways the Browns fly out northern New York this week, and will find both Bills starting safeties (FS Donte Whitner and SS Bryan Scott) are out for Sunday's game, leaving big armed Derek Anderson even more incentive to sling the deep ball up in Buffalo.
Though the Bills aren't the only one in this game to be without defensive starters the Browns will be without stud MLB D'Qwell Jackson, which will cause Bills RB Fred Jackson to run lose, because of his elusive pass catching ability. The kicker here may well be the Browns usual placekicker Phil Dawson's absence. Which may prove costly since this game will probably be close and the road team will need every point they can get.
My Pick - Buffalo
Washington @ Carolina Panthers - Ok look I know as well as anybody, if you have Jake Delhomme as your starting quarterback, your not assured to win any game, no matter who you play. Granted seeing that on the other sideline this Sunday, you have one of the most incompatable Head Coach quarterback relationships in NFL history (Washinton HC Jim Zorn and his QB Jason Campbell), that kinda evens things out a bit, especially since the games in Carolina. Panthers RB Deangalo Williams hasn't been let outta the in '09 seeing that he hasn't hit the 20 carry (not even the 20 touch mark [ie rushes and receptions]).
And even though Deangalo's O-line will be going against Albert Haynesworth, that honestly probably won't matter that much. I say that because Haynesworth new most dearest friends are not slated to play, those two friends being Washington DT's Cornelius Griffin and Anthony Montgomery. In other words Carolina's O-line can just double team Haynesworth like it's going outta style, and DeAngelo will most likely have his first 20 carry 100 yard rushing day, and the Panthers will dominate the line of scrimmage.
My Pick - Carolina
Steelers @ Detroit Lions - So let's see here, I know the theme of it's a new year everyone's supposed to have a clean slate and everything but... I'm gonna go with the defending champs rather than a team that has won only one game since '08, and the only reason I'm not calling this one a blow out is cause of Lions WR Calvin Johnson ability to break down the Troy Polamalu-less Steeler secondary.
My Pick - Steelers
Cowboys @ Kansas City Chiefs - The coaching in this game is key. Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's now infamous play calling to protect the offense against Tony Romo's miscues and Chiefs HC Todd Haley's opportunistic offense, which has been somewhat effect at least in terms of the lack of turnovers from the quarterback spot and the Chiefs surprise commitment to the run, which in turn sets up a nice drive here and there for gives the Chiefs passing game, and QB Matt Cassel time to stand upright and throw the football downfield.
With Cowboys home run threat RB Felix Jones and also No. 1 WR Roy E. Williams out for this game I don't see any explosiveness coming from the Cowboy offense. The Chiefs offense still has big play wide out Dwayne Bowe and mainstay at RB Larry Johnson who still has something left in the tank at least in terms of his durability, who is still running hard, even with his early season workload. This game in the end will come down to turnovers, and with Romo's 5 turnovers so far to Cassel's two, and with the game being in always loud Arrowhead, don't be shocked if you see an upset, in KC on Sunday.
My Pick - KC
Raiders @ New York Giants - You have the best defense in the NFL vs. the worst offense in the NFL (outside of the other former LA team [the Rams]), going against each other in Jersey. If the Oakland offense outscores New York's defense I'll be surprised.
My Pick - New York Football Giants in a blowout
Bucs @ Philadelphia Eagles - If there was a safe time to change a NFL team's playbook for just one week, it would be this week. Honestly the Eagles don't even need their starting QB Donovan McNabb and RB Brian Westbrook back this week. Because all they need to do is go to a Steve Spurrier type Fun-N-Gun offense, go only in 3 and 4 wide receiver sets, and air it out deep, especially to WR's DeSean 'Fraction' Jackson and 1st round rookie Jeremy Maclin. The Bucs don't have a soul to cover deep and they can't double everybody, and if the Bucs start blitzing Philly could just dump it off to TE Brent Celek who is playing as well as any Eagle TE I can remember since Keith Jackson.
My Pick - Philly in a blowout
Jagz @ Seattle - Yes Matt Hasselbeck is back as Seattle's starting QB, but who's going to protect him? Both No. 1 and No. 2 on the Seattle depth chart at LT are out(future HOF Walter Jones and journey man Sean Locklear), along with starting RG Rob Sims (and they all may be out till as late as Novemeber). The Jagz have figured out how to throw the ball again with a pretty decent balanced receiving core, that includes veteran Pro Bowler Torry Holt, young and talented Mike Sims-Walker, and the former first round TE everybody was going to give up on in Mercedes Lewis.
And guess what the Jagz O-line which is pretty deep, even with dealing with some injuries at tackle them selves, the Jagz can just plug another vet also a former Pro Bowler ie Tra Thomas, but with top 10 pick rookie OT Eugene Monroe back this week, the Jagz just have even more depth, also with second round rook OT Eben Britton back this week as well, so if any unforseen problems arise the Jagz can just swing away with whoever HC Jack Del Rio choses to bench for the game of the a for mentioned 3 talented tackles. Granted Seattle has the better pash rush (Seattle has nine sacks the Jagz only have three on the year), Hasselbeck's lack of protection will again be Coffee town's downfall.
My Pick - Jagz
Vikings @ St. Louis Rams - Viking DE Jared Allen has forced a fumble in each of his last 3 games and gotten to the QB at least once in his last three games as well (6.5 sacks for the year so far). And the Rams just gave up five sacks in their last game, including three touchdowns to the other team. Oh yeah and the Vikings have RB Adrian Peterson, LG Steve Hutchinson, and a host of other Pro Bowlers, just in case something weird and fluky happens to restore the natural order of the NFL.
My Pick - Vikes in a blowout
Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers - Crabtree! The Niners finally signed Crabtree! Oh wait, he's not playing this week, ok well the Niners have two other decent wide outs in the form of young stallion Josh Morgan (6'0, but a stout 220) and the future HOF who can still play a lil' football Isaac Bruce and not to mention TE Vernon Davis who is finally playing like the 2006 sixth overall pick. The Falcons defense can not handle any of those players since they have one of the worst secondaries in the league (27th in pass defense in the NFL) and have allowed a TD to a tight end in each of their last two games (those two TD's going to the world famous Dante Rosario and Chris Baker, respectively, cough cough), especially since the Niner run game is so stubborn even with Pro Bowl RB Frank Gore out rookie RB Glen Coffee has gotten 24 carries a game since Gore has been out with an ankle injury, which should soften the Falcons safeties and secondary even more so allowing the Niners to stretch the field vertically.
The killers though for the Falcons in this game are their shockingly 26th ranked run game (actually getting less than 100 yards per) against the Niners 4th ranked run defense (giving up less than 75 per) and the Niners pass defense (10th) vs. the Falcons pass offense (20th). And not to be lost in the shuffle the all important player matchup in this game ie, Falcon star WR Roddy White vs. Niners lockdown corner Nate Clements, Clements should win this matchup (Clements has already shut down Larry Fitzgerald this season and White hasn't gone for 60 yards yet this season let alone 100), leaving the Falcons with only HOF TE Tony Gonzalez who will be keyed on for sure with 3 of the better cover LBs in the game MLBs Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes, and OLB Manny Lawson. Though Falcon QB Matt Ryan will keep his team in the game, the Niner D will force the 2nd year signal caller to do a lot of checking down of the football and leaving the Falcons offense without viable options all together.
My Pick - San Francisco
Texans @ Arizona Cardinals -
This is one of the closer matchups you will find all weekend in the NFL. So what made me pick the 1-2 Cards you ask? What pushed me over the edge, well the Texans apparently still haven't given defensive beast DE Mario Williams adequate help on the other side of the line to discourage opposing teams from doubling or chip blocking Williams (as a result the Texans only have five sacks in four games so far) vs. the Cards who have guys like stud DE/DT Darnell Docket who leads the Arizona attack up front, but the Cards get there sacks from exotic blitzes in their hybrid 3-4 defense, even blitzing their safeties at times who have a combined two of the teams 8 sacks this year. Not only that, but there is the Beanie Wells factor, if there is a game this season for the late first round rookie RB to break out it's this one.
Discounting the Raiders game last week, the Texans gave up at least 100 yards and two TDs AT LEAST to the opposing team's starting RB in each of their first three games. Wells is the most talented RB the Cardinals have and is ready and raring to go getting even more of the Cardinal offense down after their week four bye. And with the Texans and Cardinals passing games being a wash in this one, because of the fact that Arizona's WR's however are more talented than the Houston's, Arizona's secondary is weaker, especially up top with FS Antrel Rolle (who in all honesty should be playing SS). So the ice-breaker in this one is Arizona's stifling front seven who shut down 49er RB Frank Gore in week 1 keeping him under 30 rushing yards, and as good as Texans RB Steve Slaton is he has been struggling this year and Texans mainstay LG Chester Pitts (who's been with the team since their expansion year) is out for the season with a knee injury. In other words Arizona soon to be knew found ability to run the ball with their talented rookie runner and their ability to shut down the Texans ground game and keep them 1-dimensional.
My Pick - Arizona
Patriots @ Denver Broncos - If Patriots starting MLB Jerod Mayo plays and starts this game, I guarantee you the Pats win this game. I say that because it solidifies the Patriots defense most importantly up front. Which in this game is very important since Denver will be without RB Correll Buckhalter (ankle injury), so all the running done by the Broncos will be pretty predictable (excuse the alliteration), with rookie Knowshon Moreno dancing and swirving, and fullback Peyton Hilis hitting and diving through the Patriot defense. In which Mayo's presence will be that much more important so his rich athleticism can help shut down the Bronco's running game and make game manager Kyle Orton 'try' to beat them. Thinking about this game made me remember a pre-season game in which the Broncos were playing in San Francisco against the 49ers and Orton threw three INTS, even though most of the time Orton's O-line gave him plenty of time in the pocket. That made in turn think about New England's defensive scheme, which can be traced back to Super Bowl 25, when then Giants Defensive Coordinator Bill Belichick did not blitz or pressure HOF Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly, rather he had his defensive backs put extra pressure on the Bills talented WR's even going to just two down lineman at times. Now granted Orton is a decent QB, but he is not Jim Kelly, let alone a HOF. So seeing how good the Denver O-line is, led by the likes of LT Ryan Clady (who still hasn't given up a full sack in his NFL career) and one of the best pass-blocking RT 's in the NFL in Ryan Harris, the Pats may struggle to get to Orton, but as I just explained that may fit right into the future HOF Head Coach's gameplan.
My Pick - Patriots
Colts @ Tennessee Titans - As much as I know about the still awful Colts run defense and the huge threat that Titan RB Chris Johnson and Tennessee's run game poses, I just can't get passed the fact that the Titan's corners are in complete disarray. 35-year old Nick Harper suffered a rib injury in week 4, but should play, and Pro Bowl corner Cortland Finnegan has noticeably been a step slow (that is if he plays on Sunday) and now could be even slower missing multiple practices this week with a possible lingering hamstring injury. Mix those problems in with the best passing attack in the AFC, and you got a recipe for Peyton Manning's 5th straight 300 yard game.
My Pick - Colts
Jets @ Miami Dolphins - This one is pretty simple. Miami's wildcat vs. Jets HC Rex Ryan's defense. Wait a minute we've seen this movie before, in fact twice last year, when Ryan was with the Baltimore Ravens as their defensive coordinator as he directed a complete shut down in both meetings (one being in the regular season and one in the Wild-Card Playoffs [both in sunny Miami, by the way]). Oh not to mention the '08 NFL Comeback Player of the Year is out for '09 (Chad Pennington), and that other Chad (Chad) Henne gets only his second NFL start and on the bright lights of MNF, no less.
My Pick - Jets
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