Week 5 NFL Picks: When The Pressure Is On, Who Steps Up?
With the first quarter of the 2010 NFL season in the books, many teams have stepped up, and many have shown us why they aren't built for prime-time as much as we thought they were.
Rex Ryan's Jets seem to be right on pace with the "guarantees" they have promised, the Green Bay Packers have showed us that it is possible to shoot one's self in the foot, and Peyton Manning's Colts aren't as unbeatable as they seem.
With Week 5 headlines capturing Ben Rothelisburger's return from suspension to the Steelers, along with Santonio Holmes and Calvin Pace's return to the Jets, this week seems to prosper into an ample week of football.
Let's pick the games, and see who has the edge.
Jacksonville @ Buffalo
Coming off an emotionally uplifting victory over Peyton's Colts, the Jags now find themselves in the three-way tie with Tennesee and Indianapolis for second place in the division.
With Maurice Jones-Drew back on track and facing the NFL's worst rushing defense in Buffalo, I would expect nothing less than 100 yards, along with 2 TD's. Along with an improving David Garrard, this team should have no problem handling the Buffalo defense.
While QB Ryan Fitzpatrick tries to get comfortable in the NFL's worst offense, I expect the Jacksonville defense to pounce all over Fitzpatrick.
Jacksonville 24, Buffalo 10
Tampa Bay @ Cincinnatti
Although Carson Palmer and Terrel Owens had huge games against the Browns last week, they were cut short -- with a disappointing loss.
This potentially all-star offense of the Bengals just isn't getting it done when they are supposed to. Without any consistent play from Carson Palmer and his recievers, I don't see them accomplishing very much.
Still, they are playing Tampa Bay. A team with surprising talent, but not much leadership.
Look for Carson Palmer to get "back on track" somewhat, and for the Bengals to win a quality game.
Cincinnati 23, Tampa Bay 12
Atlanta @ Cleveland
Its true, Cleveland may have gotten away with a win against the Bengals, but don't expect the same progressions to repeat against hot Atlanta.
Matt Ryan and company are showing why they are a power to be reckoned with so far this season, and with the NFL's 6th best overall defense against the NFL's 21st-ranked offense of the Browns, Atlanta looks to continue its win streak.
Atlanta 40, Cleveland 14
St. Louis @ Detroit
Sam Bradford has impressed many, and talk of Offensive Rookie of the Year award has spurred the last few weeks.
Believe it or not, this Rams team is averaging more yards per game than the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Hows that for improvement?
With the Lions losing seemingly every game by at most four points, their fortunes don't take a better turn this week.
Look for Sam Bradford's upstart Rams to steal a game from the Lions on the road.
St. Louis 20, Detroit 19
Marquee Matchup: Kansas City @ Indianapolis
The Kansas City Chiefs are they only undefeated left in the NFL -- believe it or not.
Coming off a bye week, the Chiefs travel to Indy where Peyton is none to happy about the loss last week to the Jaguars.
The Chiefs have the NFL's 5th best run defense, and are more than capable of containing Joseph Addai. (Although Peyton's arm might decide the game).
Honestly, I expect this rested Kansas City team to put up a legitamate fight against the Colts, but the better team should show its true colors in this one.
Kansas City 20, Indianapolis 31
Green Bay @ Washington
Green Bay has been underachieving so far this year, and yet they still remain tied with the Bears atop the NFC North at 3-1.
Not having much of a running back won't matter for the Pack in this one, for the Redskins contain the NFL's 2nd worst pass-defense. Look for Aaron Rodgers and a hungry defense to handle Donovan McNabb with relative ease.
The Pack own the league's 7th-best pass-defense, that alone is enough to convince me.
Green Bay 23, Washington 21
Chicago @ Carolina
I don't know what to expect out of Jay Cutler and the Bears. In fact, I don't know whether or not Cutler will even play come Sunday. Real downer for Chicago's 25th ranked offense.
Picking Carolina is a bit of a stretch, although the Bears seem to be a bit off key after witnessing Sunday night's falters against the Giants.
Jimmy Clausen and the Panthers will have to wait for their first win, without an injured Steve Smith, although I wouldn't be too surprised with an upset here.
I would expect a sloppy, mismanaged game from both teams, come Sunday.
Chicago 18, Carolina 13
Marquee Matchup: Denver @ Baltimore
Why is this a marquee matchup?
Well for starters, with the Ravens' victory over the Steelers has asserted themselves as one of the elite teams in the AFC. If they can defeat surprise Denver, they will only further their tenure as one of the best.
For Denver, this game is essential. A victory over the Ravens will finally end the questions about whether or not they can contend for their division.
The Broncos will have to rely on Knowshaun Moreno and the run game to pull this one out, since the Ravens posses the NFL's best pass-defense.
Look for the Ravens to fly high.
Denver 19, Baltimore 31
New Orleans @ Arizona
Its embarrassing when a team has to go to its undrafted, 2nd-string Quarterback to finish out a game for your team. Thus is the season for the Arizona Cardinals, who, despite all the negativity, find themselves tied for first in the NFC West at 2-2.
Arizona's 29th-ranked defense will be pushed to the limit on Sunday with the aerial attack of Drew Brees and the Saints. Expect the Saints to find their stride Sunday, and to start a deadly run in the next few games.
Although this game should turn out to be pretty lop-sided, don't count the Cardinals out for a possible playoff berth, should they win the NFC West.
New Orleans 38, Arizona 21
NY Giants @ Houston
Tom Coughlin, you saved your job.
Unfortunately, you take on the 3-1 Houston Texans who will run all over your defense come Sunday. Should rookie RB Arian Foster get over 25 carries, the Texans should take care of New York's 22nd-ranked run defense.
If Eli Manning can stay consistent and manage the clock, I wouldn't be surprised with the upset win here. The Texans' defense has been their Achilles-heel all season, giving up the most passing yards per-game in the NFL.
This game could come down to special teams, when it is all said and done. But I do like Arian Foster and the Texans in this game.
NY Giants 21, Houston 24
San Diego @ Oakland
Its truly astonishing how a 2-2 team has the NFL's best overall offense and defense, but somehow the Chargers make it all come together.
Philip Rivers and company have gotten back on track as of recently, proving that they are capable of putting up huge numbers -- as shown in the Arizona game. If the Chargers want to contend any further down the road, the defense must hold up.
Not much is going for the Raiders, who were picked by many to make the playoffs this year. Bruce Gradkowski has shown spark with this offense, but none of it should come as concern to the Chargers.
San Diego 34, Oakland 18
Tennessee @ Dallas
This was the toughest game to break down this week -- and is certainly a game worth watching.
Coming of a bye, the Cowboys still find themselves with the league's #7 ranked overall offense, compared to Tennessee's 9th ranked overall defense.
A win for the Cowboys puts them back on track -- in a division that they are already more than capable of winning.
A loss for the Titans doesn't necessarily put them in the cellar, because of the unnormally weaker AFC South division they play in. A win for the Titans puts them up there as one of the contenders in the AFC.
I do think the Cowboys need this win more -- and for that reason, I give them the edge at home, in a close one.
Tennessee 25, Dallas 29
Philadelphia @ San Fransisco
Well San Fransisco, here's your first win of the season.
Its obvious that Kevin Kolb isn't quite ready for the starting QB position in Philly, although the opportunity is certainly there for Kolb to win over Eagles fans.
With the 49ers underachieving on a considerable level so far this season, the breakout has to happen sometime, right? Well this is the week where Singletary's group shows their true colors.
Although Vick is out of the lineup, the 49ers still have the 21st ranked defense in the NFL. A breakout could be immanent for the Eagles, but I just don't see it happening.
Philadelphia 21, San Fransisco 24
Marquee Matchup: Minnesota @ NY Jets
Ladanian Tomlinson is on a roll for the Jets, and with all-pros Santonio Holmes and Calvin Pace returning to their starting positions this week, the Jets have got to be primed and ready for Brett Favre and the Vikings.
The #2 ranked rushing attack of the Jets against the #7 ranked rushing defense of the Vikings will be the key to the game -- a must watch Monday night.
Coming off a bye won't matter much for the Vikings, and with the game in New York, I don't see a great deal of chance for the Vikings.
Minnesota 16, NY Jets 24