NFL Week 5 Picks
Another week in the NFL, another week for me to predict who will come out on top.
There are a bunch of matchups I’m really interested in this week, such as the Bengals-Ravens, Texans-Cardinals, Falcons-49er’s, Patriots-Broncos, and of course, Jets-Dolphins.
There is the return of Donovan McNabb to the Eagles lineup (and conversely, how much will Michael Vick be used now?), a possible return from injury for Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck, and six teams still trying to get their first win of the season (Tennessee, Cleveland, Carolina, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, and Kansas City).
Who do you think is going to win this week?
Teams with byes: Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Diego
Last week's record: 10-4
Season record (starting with week 3): 22-8
Cleveland (0-4) at Buffalo (1-3)
Cleveland pushed a tough Bengals team to the limit last week, eventually falling in overtime. Yet they just traded their number one receiver and are very unsettled at the quarterback position.
Buffalo has been very disappointing thus far this season, especially after expectations were raised when they signed Terrell Owens (who has done very little).
I think this could be a breakout week from Buffalo against a weaker opponent. Running back Fred Jackson has been a nice surprise for the Bills in the absence of Marshawn Lynch (who returned last week) and Cleveland has the worst rushing defense in the league.
I predict a win for Buffalo.
Dallas (2-2) at Kansas City (0-4)
Dallas is not playing well, even in their wins. Tony Romo looks like he has never played football before.
However, as bad as the Cowboys are right now, the Chiefs are even worse. Nothing is going right for them and no player is really doing well. The Cowboys, amidst all their frustration this year, catch a break going up against such a bad team this week.
Expect them to take out their frustrations on Kansas City and get the “W”.
Minnesota (4-0) at St. Louis (0-4)
Although the game was at home (I think it’s a different story if played at Lambeau), I still give Minnesota credit for beating what I think is a very good Green Bay Packer team. It was a tough test and the Vikings came to play that night, especially their defense.
The one positive I see here for St. Louis is the potential for Minnesota to have a huge letdown in energy after such an emotional game Monday night. Still, I think that letdown would have to be of epic proportions for the Rams to win this game.
Minnesota gets the win.
Oakland (1-3) at NY Giants (4-0)
Other than the Cowboys game, the Giants have not been challenged at all. It can’t be beneficial to them. They are just cruising right now while other playoff caliber teams are playing decent competition, preparing them for the tough competition they’ll face down the stretch and in the playoffs, if they make it. Not that it’s the Giants fault, they’re taking care of business as it was set out for them, just something to think of down the road.
Giants with another easy victory.
Tampa Bay (0-4) at Philadelphia (2-1)
After a bye, the Eagles get Donovan McNabb back. Not that Kevin Kolb did a bad job, he actually looked good at some points, but McNabb is the heart of this team and its leader and that can’t be replaced. Who knows though, the Eagles may start to run away with this one and Kolb will get more playing time to keep McNabb fresh and injury-free.
And how many plays can we expect to see Michael Vick in this week? What does McNabb’s return mean for Vick at the QB position?
Pittsburgh (2-2) at Detroit (1-3)
Pittsburgh struggled in the second half against San Diego last week, but they did enough to hold on for the win and even out their record. Looking to build off the momentum of a victory against another playoff team from last year, I see Pittsburgh coming out strong against a much weaker opponent.
They’ll be looking to get their first win on the road, and I believe they will do so against Detroit.
Washington (2-2) at Carolina (0-3)
Neither team has been impressive this year. However, Carolina is a much more talented team, especially on offense.
Delhomme has been a turnover machine, but hopefully Head Coach John Fox realizes that they key to Carolina’s success is, and will be, running the ball with DeAngelo Williams (maybe even getting Jonathan Stewart going again).
At home, I pick Carolina to finally get their first win of the season.
Cincinnati (3-1) at Baltimore (3-1)
Cincinnati has been a nice surprise this season. Still, they needed overtime last week to beat a winless Browns team.
Baltimore had its chances to beat the Patriots and remain undefeated but they ultimately fell short.
Still, quarterback Joe Flacco is playing very well, Ray Rice (former Ruytgers product)is having a breakout year, Wilils McGahee leads the NFL in touchdowns, and Derrick Mason—after announcing he wished to retire—is having a standout season. Add these new offensive dimensions to an already talented defense and this team is intimidating to go up against.
Back at home, I expect the Ravens to not let last week’s slipup get to them, and beat the Bengals.
Atlanta (2-1) at San Francisco (3-1)
This is one of my favorite matchups of the weekend.
Both these teams are young, upstart teams with playoff aspirations.
49ers’ Head Coach Mike Singletary has done a great job with this team so far. He has really instilled a great, winning attitude in the players. However, their three victories of the season have come against all the teams in the NFC West, the worst division in the NFL. They did play the Vikings to a good game, but could not finish them off.
Then again, Atlanta’s wins (Miami and Carolina) aren’t much to talk about either, and even though Tom Brady struggled, they were outclassed by the Patriots in New England.
This game will be a close one. I feel Atlanta has the more explosive offense and will be able to make the big plays that will decide the outcome of the game.
Victory for Atlanta.
Jacksonville (2-2) at Seattle (1-3)
Seattle really needs Matt Hasselbeck as their quarterback to be competitive. They just aren’t the same team without him.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars are on a nice two-game winning streak after stumbling out of the gates to begin the season. Maurice Jones-Drew has been electrifying lately, and it looks like David Garrard is starting to round back into form.
I’ll take Jacksonville to get the win in this game.
Houston (2-2) at Arizona (1-2)
Another interesting matchup this weekend.
I like what Houston is doing this season. They have a very exciting offense. It’s becoming more well-rounded as Steve Slaton begins to play a bigger role. After struggling the first two weeks, in his past two games he’s rushed for 141 yards and he scored his first touchdown of the season.
Arizona had a bye last week, after getting abused by the Colts. They have the best wide receiver depth chart in the league. The running game however, is the worst in the league.
I’m picking Houston to win this game.
New England (3-1) at Denver (4-0)
I’ve gone against the Patriots the past two weeks and what have they done? They won both games and have played increasingly better every week.
It is no coincidence that Tom Brady looked more comfortable last Sunday—surprising because he was facing an intimidating Ravens defense—with Wes Welker, his favorite target, back in the lineup. Welker was the leading receiver for New England last week.
I like what Denver is doing right now and they are an intriguing team, but I feel the Patriots are stronger and will win this matchup.
Indianapolis (4-0) at Tennessee (0-4)
Tennessee always plays the Colts tough, especially at home. However, I haven’t seen any signs of life out of them (except for Chris Brown) to merit picking them against such a strong opponent.
Three things that have turned the Titans upside down this year: 1. Their defense isn’t as good as last year (do they really miss Albert Haynesworth that much?) 2. Kerry Collins is coming back down to Earth (is it time to go back to Vince Young yet?) and 3. LenDale White has done absolutely nothing this year (ironic, after everyone was raving about how he lost all that weight after giving up drinking tequila).
As I said before, Tennessee always plays the Colts tough, which is making a lot of people consider that this will be the week they finally get their first win (can you believe the Detroit Lions won a game before the Titans have), but I don’t see it. Tennessee, as a team, has to play well for an entire game before I can even consider them to beat a team like the Colts.
Indianapolis gets the victory.
NY Jets (3-1) at Miami (1-3)
Mark Sanchez, Jets fan’s latest hero, got his first taste of defeat last week. The Jets responded by going and getting him a new toy, receiver Braylon Edwards.
A one-time Pro Bowler with a nice mix of athleticism, size, and speed, people have sometimes questioned his work ethic, his attitude, and his ability to actually catch a pass. Maybe, a fresh start with New York (coming from an abysmal situation in Cleveland), will prove that the grass is greener on the other side. Who knows how he will perform though, adjusting to a new system.
Miami looked good in Chad Henne’s first start last week, and they ran the ball extremely well.
It’s not the best matchup, but when two teams with so much history between them matchup, you can, most of the time, throw the records out, they don’t matter.
For some reason, deep inside me, I truly believe being at home this week gives Miami their best chance at beating the Jets.
It may not be a case of the better team winning, but I have a good feeling the Dolphins will steal one from their division rivals here.