If you would've told me before Labor Day that this NFL season was going to have as many ups and downs as it has, I would've called you crazy. Or at least I would've taken you to Vegas to help make me rich.
This season has had an unbelievable amount of twists and turns, surprises and shocks, questions and quandaries.
Alliteration aside, this has been one of the most interesting seasons in recent memory since nearly every team can consider themselves in the playoff race. There are only a few teams (Lions, Rams, Bengals, and Browns) that are truly done for. All the other teams have eyes on the postseason, and given the way that this year has shaken out, teams that are underachieving now may soon step it up.
A Few Observations from Week Five
Where did Jason Campbell come from?
At the beginning of the year, it was a foregone conclusion that the Redskins would finish dead last in the ultra-competitive NFC East. However, coming off of big wins at Dallas and at Philadelphia, Campbell and the Redskins are sitting pretty, having won their last four games. Campbell is playing beyond expectations and those people who were ready for Colt Brennan are going to have to wait a little bit longer.
Where did Chad Johnson and Braylon Edwards go?
These top 10 receivers have been absolutely abysmal thus far this season, frustrating millions of fantasy owners around the world (including myself). These two have been riding the pine for weeks now, as other receivers are starting to pass them by. Until they show us something, put them on your bench if you have them on your roster.
The injury bug just wont stop biting teams again and again.
Brian Westbrook returned from an ankle injury just in time to suffer two fractured ribs. Looks like it will be a game time decision for the gritty halfback. Of course, he is on my fantasy team.
Steve Smith aggravated his shoulder, Ben Roethlisberger is also nursing a sore shoulder, and Willie Parker has just started practicing again. Referees want to put all sorts of rules in place to eliminate injuries, but this year it seems that there are more injuries than ever. Hmmm.
The New England Patriots executed the perfect game plan against the 49ers on Sunday.
When it was made clear that Matt Cassel was going to be the Patriots' starting quarterback for the rest of the year, people knew that he wasn't going to win games by bombing the ball deep. Instead, he had to minimize mistakes, make solid throws, and rely on the depth at the running back position.
The Patriots absolutely murdered the clock on Sunday, controlling the ball nearly all game. Cassel was solid as he went 22-32 on his pasa attempts. I'll take that any day from a backup. The Patriots face a familiar foe this weekend in San Diego, and have to come out with a win to keep their season rolling.
Which brings me to the Chargers.
Where has LT gone this year?
The visor wearing, sideline sulking, Visio watching halfback has been a shell of his former self this year, averaging just 3.7 yards a carry. He has yet to develop any sort of rhythm, perhaps due to the effects of his injury. Either way, he could be at 100 percent and it wouldn't matter.
The Patriots will win Sunday, frustrating LT and Leatherneck Norv Turner.
Lets get to the picks shall we...
LAST WEEK: 10-4
Week Six Picks (Home Team in Caps)
Chicago Bears (3-2) -2.5 over ATLANTA FALCONS (3-2)
Both of these teams are surprising NFL analysts, as Kyle Orton and Matt Ryan are exceeding expectations every week.
The Bears defense will play hard and contain Michael Turner, forcing the Rookie Ryan to beat them in the air, which could be tough. I like the Bears winning this one on the road by a touchdown.
Carolina Panthers (4-1) +2.5 over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-2)
Everyone is forgetting about the Carolina Panthers who have been boosted by the play of Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams. Their defense is no slouch either.
The Buccaneers are playing well, but may be without QB Brian Griese on Sunday, and if so, Jeff Garcia has to get ready to play. I like the Panthers to win outright, take them and the 2.5.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (4-1) -13.5 over St. Louis Rams (0-5)
The Redskins are cruising, and the Rams are terrible. In the words of Emmitt Smith, "The Rams are 'bout to get blowed out, or debacled, at the hands of Jeremy Campbell and the Washtin' Redskins"
Miami Dolphins (2-2) +3.5 over the HOUSTON TEXANS (0-4)
Is this really the line? The Texans are favored over the Dolphins coming off of back to back wins versus the Patriots and the Chargers? Okay.
Maybe its because they almost beat the Colts last week, or maybe its because of Steve Slaton's impressive numbers as of late, I'm not sure. Would I be surprised if the Texans won? No, but the Dolphins have swagger as of late and are getting 3.5 points! Take this one to the bank.
Baltimore Ravens (2-2) +4.5 over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-2)
This is a big game for both teams. The Ravens are on the road here, and the Colts could very easily be 0-4. LeRon McClain will be able to pound the ball all day and will score on the goal line. If the Ravens' defense can execute and force Peyton Manning into some bad throws they should at least be able to cover the spread.
Detroit Lions (0-4) +13.5 over MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-3)
13.5 is the biggest spread of the week, and I just don't see two teams covering it. I just don't.
No real science or analysis here. I just think that the Detroit Lions will have more of a chance to cover this spread than the Rams do. The Vikings will win, but not by more than 14.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2-3) -7.5 over Oakland Raiders (1-3)
The Saints need to stop the run to win this game. Darren McFadden probably won't play, so New Orleans needs to turn it up and run blitz the hell out of Justin Fargas, who will get the start. If JaMarcus Russel has to pass the ball to win, it should bode well for the Saints. They should win by at least ten here at home.
NEW YORK JETS (2-2) -5.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (0-5)
The Bengals will forever be referred to me as the Bungals from here on out. Jets should coast at home, but should watch out for a possible trap scenario.
DENVER BRONCOS (4-1) -3.5 over Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)
I really like the way the Broncos are playing this year, especially Jay Cutler who is becoming one of my favorite quarterbacks in the league.
Jacksonville has shown some promise, but they are not the 12-4 team everyone thought they would be this year. Broncos should win by at least a touchdown.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (3-2) + 5.5 over Dallas Cowboys (4-1)
The Cardinals have shown a tremendous amount of grit the last two weeks, knocking off the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills and mounting a semi-comeback against the Jets two weeks ago.
Kurt Warner is partying like its 1999 and even without Anquan Boldin for the foreseeable future, he will play well.
Cowboys CB Terrance Newman is also out for the game, so look for Warner to take advantage of mismatches. I like the Cards at home getting the points here.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) -5.5 over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-3)
The Eagles simply have to win this game to stay relevant in the NFC East. They will constantly blitz J.T. O'Sullivan, who could never stay in the pocket last week against the Patriots. With or without Brian Westbrook, the Eagles should get it done this week.
Green Bay Packers (2-3) +2.5 over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-3)
In a must win game for the Packers, look for Aaron Rodgers to get back to his early season ways. He is up against a terrible defense that got absolutely mangled by the Giants last week. Take the Packers and the points.
New England Patriots (3-1) +6.5 over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (2-3)
Wow. This is one of those "I can't believe this line" games.
I understand the Chargers are at home. I understand Tom Brady is out for the year. But 6.5 points! It's like Vegas wants to make me rich this week.
If the Patriots can execute like they did against San Francisco, they will have no problem making the trip to southern California and beating the Chargers to tears (again). Yes, I'm biased. Don't hassle Matt Cassel.
New York Giants (4-0) -7.5 over CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-3)
I don't like this line, and really wish it was 6.5, but Eli and the Giants should beat the Browns, especially with Plaxico Burress coming back. Take the G-Men!
Good luck everyone and check back next week for Week Seven picks and notes,