NFL Week 5: 5 Upsets That Will Happen
With a quarter of the season finished, fans should know their teams' peak ability on both ends of the spectrum, good and bad.
Four of the five teams listed can win their games even with the worst performances they've shown thus far, with the exception being the third team listed. It's not always about how high a team can get, but how low and if they can fight through the negatives.
The theme of the week is picking traveling teams and while many of the winners picked aren't exactly road warriors, they're good enough for the competition.The lines seem to be in heavy favor of the home teams this week and, like a Curtis Painter fumble, it's a good time to pounce on the opportunity presented.
5. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts (-3)
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Many will be tempted to pick Indianapolis after their close Monday Night loss in Tampa (it's not Tampa Bay because the teams would be swimming in the water), but don't be one of them. In a contest that's sure to be heavy on field goals, it's fitting that the Colts are favored by three.
It'd be easy for the Colts to quit, but it doesn't appear that the veterans are willing to wait for Peyton Manning (or Andrew Luck) next season. With that said, Kansas City does have momentum with a win against a terrible Minnesota team that also has bad quarterback play.
Todd Haley is easy to make fun of, but he gets his football team to do the basics well. In a game that involves two terrible teams, make an exception to take the fundamentals rather than the home squad in this particular case.
Tamba Hali has been getting great pressure on quarterbacks to the tune of four fumbles. While the combination of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis is more devastating, Haley will get Dexter McCluster to run the ball in between the tackles for just one game in his life because Indianapolis' middle is soft.
Hali is rooting for Kerry Collins to start because of his slow wind-up delivery while Brandon Flowers would have fun with Curtis Painter's off the mark throws.
Expect less screaming between Haley and Matt Cassel, even if it's only for one game. The Chiefs win a stinker with a late-game field goal in a contest that's heavy on the kicking game.
Reggie Wayne may want to be standing on the sideline with Manning during the game rather than play with Kerry Collins or Curtis Painter.
4. Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings (-3)
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The Cardinals have lost close in two of their three losses while the Vikings have blown lead after lead. Arizona has shown glimpses of hope while the Vikings have already cemented their last place spot in the NFC North.
Whomever is expected to cover Larry Fitzgerald for the Vikings will not be good enough.
Kevin Kolb's retreating in the pocket will be useful this week as he faces Jared Allen, who's about the only Viking not underachieving. Minnesota has given up the fifth worst passer rating to opposing offenses while also allowing the seventh worst amount of passing yards.
Arizona has allowed only 3.6 yards per carry but Adrian Peterson will have a good game regardless. A good performance won't be able to overcome Donovan McNabb's 58.6 percent completion percentage. If McNabb throws bad passes, which he will, rookie Patrick Peterson is talented enough to not only make great interceptions but great returns.
The loyal Vikings fans keep packing the Metrodome, but they won't be rewarded with McNabb as quarterback.
3. Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-6)
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Detroit is coming off a 24-point comeback against the Cowboys in Dallas. This won't be a letdown game seeing how it's on Monday Night and the young players for Detroit want to keep proving their worth, but Chicago isn't as bad as advertised by ESPN.
What was masked last week for the Lions was that their secondary is still poor—never mind the terrible interceptions thrown by Romo's bad alter ego.
The strength for Detroit is in the middle of the defensive line, but Mike Martz isn't going anywhere near the monster that is Ndamukong Suh. Martz will get Cutler to use his mobility and he'll also get Matt Forte on the outside someway, somehow with his offensive "genius."
Detroit may be great at getting to the passer, but they allow 4.8 yards per carry. The Bears scored 24 points with only one pass against the Panthers Week 4.
If you bet this game on the Bears, they only have to lose by less than five. That's not asking much and the Jay Cutler led team (is that fair to say?) will make a late game drive ending in a touchdown to put Chicago's record at 3-2.
2. Cincinnati Bengals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)
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Two rookie quarterbacks battle it out in Jacksonville as Andy Dalton takes on Blaine Gabbert in his second career start.
Apparently the 2-2 Bengals cannot be bought into yet, as the spread favors the Jaguars by three. Jacksonville's pass rush is terrible with only six sacks on the year and the defense plays a bland style, as Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins points out.
Cincinnati's young defensive line never gets enough attention but they'll be on Gabbert's radar after the first quarter. Jacksonville's receiving crew isn't deep and Leon Hall is better than just-extended Mike Thomas, the guy Gabbert will be staring down at.
Cincinnati is ahead of Jacksonville in scoring defense and that fact may be crucial in a game where the rookie quarterbacks could be a wash.
Rasheen Mathis is better in name now while rookie A.J. Green really is as good as his fourth overall selection indicates. Also, Cedric Benson will be playing despite an inevitable suspension coming to him courtesy of Mr. Goodell. None of Jacksonville's linebackers or safeties should be expected to contain Jermaine Gresham, who's coming off a 70-yard, one touchdown performance.
I rode with Cincinnati last week to beat Buffalo and there's no reason to leave the bandwagon this week. The Bengals will win by more than a touchdown.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers (-2)
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This will not be a letdown game for the Jim Harbaugh coached 49ers—even though the team is home—after a great fourth quarter comeback in Philadelphia. However, San Francisco won't be ready for the physical offensive line and ground game that Tampa Bay boasts. The game is essentially a toss up as the spread is two points in favor of the 3-1 49ers.
LeGarrette Blount's carries have been increasing week-to-week. The 49ers rank fourth in rushing yards allowed and are the only team yet to allow a rushing score. Something has to give and LeGarrette Blount is a better bet with the line he has.
Mike Williams will finally play like he did during his rookie season last year against a secondary that isn't very good, to say the least. Josh Freeman will have to make quick throws because Harbaugh's defense isn't going to allow the quarterback the time to carve up his unit.
San Francisco's offensive line has been bad up to this point, allowing the fourth most sacks and the seventh worst yards per carry. Tampa Bay's defense is a respectable eleventh in yards per carry and yards per game allowed.
Alex Smith has been receiving too much credit for being a game manager and he'll show his flaws when the 49ers have to play from behind. Old man Ronde Barber will get an interception off a dumb pass from Smith and the turnover will be crucial in a ball-controlled game.