by Ryan Meehan
Week four left us with only two remaining unbeaten teams in the Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals, both who did not play. The 1972 Miami Dolphins don’t have a whole lot to be worried about this year when it comes to another team replicating their perfect season, but there are still some great NFL football squads playing in 2014. Aside from those two exceptions, every other team has had at least one bad outing. This week gives us the opportunity to see what some of these teams are really made of, and I have a feeling that a lot of these teams who don’t win in week five may go on a losing streak. What will transpire? Let’s see what we’ve got for picks in week five…
Thursday Night Football: Minnesota Vikings +10 at Green Bay Packers (47.5)
The Packers made up for their pathetic display of offense two weeks ago at Detroit by smashing the Chicago Bears in the Windy City early Sunday afternoon. Aaron Rodgers got on the radio after that performance and told his fans and critics to “relax”. Maybe he’s on to something, and maybe he’s learned the most important lesson in the NFL from Tom Brady. That lesson, of course, is that early season losses aren’t the end of the world. And even though the defense that holds his bones while he’s on the sidelines is ranked dead last at stopping the run, it doesn’t matter because while this game is taking place Adrian Peterson will be tightly packed away in some sensitivity training course and the Vikings won’t score 41 points every weekend. At least not with the next guy up on their roster after Ponder’s ribs crack in half being somebody who probably hasn’t even packed his suitcase for Green Bay yet in case the Raiders call. All that being said, the Vikings always seem to give Green Bay a run for their money and I like Green Bay to win this game by the same score they won the Super Bowl just four years back. I’ll probably shoot myself in the foot for not taking them to cover the spread, but keep in mind Minnesota does play outside now so maybe Lambeau won’t be as imposing as legend would like you to believe.
Packers 31, Vikings 25
Buffalo Bills +9 at Detroit Lions (44)
I never thought I would say this – even about a team as distraught as the Bills are right now – but if you’re a fan, it looks like all of your chips are going to rely Kyle Orton. It’s probably none of my business seeing as how I can’t stand to watch any lower level AFC East team, but since that’s the case your aforementioned chips might be so far down in the salsa by the time you get them out Hugh Hefner’s mini-me will be stiffer than they are. Look at it this way: If you’re looking for a more predictable team in the NFL, you won’t find one. The Bills have been just good enough to beat Chicago and Miami, but lost to Houston and San Diego. That doesn’t tell us anything else but that they will finish 6-10 given the rest of their schedule. The Lions are a team that could easily be one of those six wins, as they are about the same when it comes to reliability. I can’t take the Lions to cover the spread at home even though both of their wins there have come against squads that have won Super Bowls over the last five years, but I do like them to win a game I wouldn’t watch if the only other thing on television was skeet shooting. Stay away from Bovada, and stay away from this broadcast as well.
Lions 27, Bills 20
Baltimore Ravens +3.5 at Indianapolis Colts (48)
This is interesting to me. 3.5 seems like the kind of spread that a home team would get if they are an even match in a place like Lucas Oil Stadium. On paper three and a half points makes sense when you consider that the Ravens are 3-1 and the Colts are 2-2, but when you look a little bit closer you realize that both of Indy’s losses have come against teams that are pretty much a lock to win their respective divisions and the Ravens could only beat the Browns by two points. (I’ll get to that here in a second) The Ravens are coming off of a huge win against the Panthers last week, and most of it is not even worth mentioning for two reasons: First of all, Carolina sucks and I think we’ve all figured that out by now. Second, the only reason that Steve Smith had such an explosive game is because he was going out of his way to prove he wasn’t washed up against the team who decided he was. The Colts are nothing to sneeze at regardless of the fact that allergy season is making me feel like I am being choked to death with ragweed. If they are .500 now with the first ranked passing game in the league, can you imagine how great they are going to be once they get the rest of that machine running up to speed? Even better than the 326 yards a game in the air that they are currently averaging in the air, so even though Dubs will disagree with me for saying this I still really believe in the Colts. Not only am I expected Indy to cover, but I am looking for Luck to have a career game and make the Ravens’ defense mop up his mess with the same towel that they’ve used to clean up this PR disaster that they are currently working their way out of. Baltimore is playing like a team that is determined to make the rest of the NFL forget about what their star running back did, but that karma will eventually catch up in the end and trust me – this is a lock. And that’s a bold pick in a game like this one.
Colts 36, Ravens 17
Cleveland Browns +/-WHO CARES at Tennessee Titans (Doesn’t matter)
Cleveland had the week off last week, and they needed it desperately to get the taste of that close loss against Baltimore out of their mouths. Perhaps the best thing that could happen to them is knowing that they only allowed the Ravens to score 23, compared to when Baltimore played Carolina in a game where as far as I know they could still be in the red zone. Coach Ryan’s team is only 1-2, and that wouldn’t be the end of the world except for the fact that their bye week came early and the only team they’ve beaten is the Saints who are experiencing troublesome levels of mismanagement. Tired of me ragging on the “who beat who” angle? Tough shit…The Titans are 1-3 and their season opening win came against a Chiefs team that they basically smothered with a pillow while they were sleeping. Since then they’ve gotten totally butthoused by all three teams they’ve faced, and when you consider that they can’t stop the run with miles worth of industrial strength gauze I see no reason why they can beat Cleveland.
Browns 16, Titans 10
Chicago Bears +2.5 at Carolina Panthers (45.5)
Want a fun stat? The Bears gained almost 500 total yards last week and only scored 17 points. While I don’t think Jay Cutler should be set on fire to please the masses of drunk Chicago fans that will die of heart failure from a diet that consists of chicken bones and cheap beer, his stock must be falling pretty quickly if he’s stuck as a two and a half point underdog at Carolina – even if it is on the road. This is kind of an early season version of a “fight for your life” where both teams can’t be trusted, but it likely won’t matter because you won’t need to trust them unless you have a serious gambling problem. Speaking of a serious gambling problem, don’t get anywhere near this game. I like the Bears to win on the road, but not by much and I think it’s only a matter of time before you can put legit money on whether or not he throws +/- 1.5 interceptions every sixty minutes of playing time. I can name at least three other games that will be on while this one is that I would rather be watching. This next game is one of them.
Bears 26, Panthers 20
Houston Texans +4 at Dallas Cowboys (46)
As well as the Texans’ defense has been playing, I hate myself so much for doing what I’m about to do. For some reason I can’t trust Houston’s lack of an offensive identity, and anybody who has a beard as shaggy as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s who isn’t in Clutch. I’d love to sit here and tell you all about the Texans and their offensive weapons, as well as how they are going to head into AT&T Field and take out the team that I hate more than anything in the world. But I can’t do it…Dez Bryant is a quality receiver who is aiming at a more than quality season…he is out for blood. And when Tony Romo is on, he’s on and if he can get over on Watt once that’s all he’ll need to do to set the same series of events in motion that cost the Saints their momentum Sunday Night. I like Dallas to cover, but sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore.
Cowboys 31, Texans 23
Pittsburgh Steelers -7 at Jacksonville Jaguars (46.5)
The Steelers are coming off of a very difficult and confusing home loss to a team in Tampa that had given up 56 points ten days before in Atlanta. Therefore this is perfect timing for them, as they head to Jacksonville where I am going to be shocked as hell if the entire officiating crew shows up. Not that anybody would notice, as there is almost no attention given to Jaguars games at all – and with good reason. Actually, that’s not entirely true…The Jaguars are almost a lock to be ten plus point underdogs every week, and when they aren’t it should be a huge red flag. And even though the Steelers are banged up as all hell, I can’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be able to torch the Jacksonville Jaguars for all they’re worth. Which for the record isn’t much, and is slowly becoming the exception to being able to say you own a professional football team. Steelers cover in a game where you are being given free money.
Steelers 40, Jaguars 15
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +12 at New Orleans Saints (48)
Although you never give up on a Pro Bowl caliber player like Brees, I will say this: If he loses at home against Tampa, we need to talk. We need to talk about his ability to use his fantasy football stats (which by the way, aren’t there this year), his recently disturbingly errant throws (far too many to list), but most importantly his inability to make shit happen in the red zone. The latter is the biggest worry of mine, as if he can’t clean his act up in the Superdome he’ll have to explain to the masses why getting outdueled by Mike Glennon is something that is acceptable in the building that he fought so hard to keep open. He has to make it happen, because New Orleans gets a bye week after this game, and will get the pleasure of travelling to Detroit to prove themselves up North. If they can’t do that, they will have to beat the Packers at home next before hitting the road to play the Panthers. My point is this: If there was any team in the league that needs to believe in the whole one game at a time” mantra, it’s New Orleans. Likewise, if there’s one team in the league that can’t buy into that school of thinking and can’t help but look into the future, it’s the Saints. So I have to take them to sneak a victory out over a team that none of us really know anything about in a sloppy ass game.
Saints 22, Buccaneers 20
Atlanta Falcons +4.5 at New York Giants (50)
Before I get accused of hammering home a standard homer pick, hear me out. The Falcons let the Minnesota Vikings run up 41 points last week, and you never really know what you’re going to get with them until you step onto the field. The Falcons are a complete enigma that no one seems to be able to figure out. They’re a bottom five defense that got lucky as hell week one against the Saints. Wait, did I read that right? The Giants are four and a half point favorites in this one? Something has to be said for that, as Vegas usually has about as much confidence in the Giants as I do in Floyd Mayweather being able to finish “Hop on Pop”. I like New York to win this game, but no way they cover. This will be won on a last second field goal.
Giants 23, Falcons 21
St. Louis Rams +7.5 at Philadelphia Eagles (47.5)
Last week in Santa Clara, the Eagles and LeSean McCoy racked up a less than astonishing 22 yards on the ground against a San Francisco team that had no other choice but to light their world up in the last 20 minutes of the game. I saw on the St. Louis Rams’ Facebook page that Jeff Fisher has named Austin Davis the starting quarterback for this game. I have a sneaking suspicion that’s not going to go over well on the road in Philly, unless the fans start a riot and the Eagles have to forfeit which is always a possibility. The Eagles have to protect their backfield better, and this game should be a pretty good opportunity to get it together. They’re an NFC West quality team, and I can’t see them losing to two teams from that division in eight days. Philadelphia covers easily but avoid the point total.
Eagles 33, Rams 13
Arizona Cardinals +8 at Denver Broncos (49)
This is your interconference barnburner of the week. The Cardinals have surprised everybody this year by starting 3-0, either because nobody trusted their ten win season in a brutal division just because they didn’t make the postseason or they just think Carson Palmer is a dick and they don’t want to hear about this Drew Stanton kid either. I’m sure that’s cool with them, because when you consider how inconsistent San Francisco has been in the first month it’s easy to see that Arizona could make the playoffs while the 49ers may not. The Broncos also had a week off to think about how they would prepare for this matchup, and will be hosting this game. They should be in good shape to take on a tough defense, and still have a bad taste in their mouth from the Seattle game where they didn’t even see the ball in overtime. (By the way, the one possession sudden death setup is an awful rule, and this won’t be the last that you’ll hear from me on this subject…) I want to think that this game is going to have me on the edge of my seat by 6PM, and it very well may but I have a feeling that Denver will win. They won’t cover that insane eight point spread though.
Broncos 20, Cardinals 17
Kansas City Chiefs +7 at San Francisco 49ers (44.5)
The Chiefs defied all logic in week three by shattering the 20 point ceiling that they couldn’t seem to get over, and then came out on Monday night and shit all over the Patriots scoring 41. It’s highly doubtful they’ll be able to score anywhere near that much against the Niners’ defense, who are coming off of a very impressive goal line stand that ended up securing the win against the Eagles. Both of these teams are struggling for the same reason: Inconsistency. San Francisco has looked awful in their two losses, and do you trust the Chiefs to play like they did last week for the remainder of the season? Of course not. I do think that the 49ers will at least be energized enough to take this game at home, but I don’t think they will cover.
49ers 23, Chiefs 17
New York Jets +7 at San Diego Chargers (43.5)
There’s a quarterback controversy brewing in Rextown, and if you know me you know that’s fantastic news for a Giants fan because the dirtier their laundry is the better. We may see more of Michael Vick than we’d like to, but the rest of that team is playing so poorly I’m not sure a simple QB change is going to fix all of the issues. How in the hell is the number one team against the rush at 1-3 with their only victory coming at the hands of the Raiders by five points? On the other hand, the Chargers seem to be doing everything right. In a division where Peyton Manning is going to absorb as much of the news cycle as possible, San Diego can fly under the radar and keep winning like this and before we know it they’ll be 10-4. And it’s too bad that’s the case, because they are really fun to watch. They can’t run the football at all, so their play selection is almost all pass. Who wouldn’t want to see that every week? According to the morons in CBS’s production department, a lot of people and that’s further proof those individuals should be watering fake plants for a living. SD to cover with no hesitation.
Chargers 33, Jets 10
Sunday Night Football: Cincinnati Bengals EVEN at New England Patriots (46)
To say that this is far and away the game of the week is as sure of a bet as suggesting OJ Simpson makes questionable decisions. A lot of people are panicking about the Patriots offense after they got clocked on Monday Night Football. Nothing about New England makes any sense…If I told you at the beginning of the year that they would be 30th in the league in passing yards and first against the pass, would you have believed me? Of course not. New England won’t play that bad two weeks in a row, but on the other end Andy Dalton has proved that people who look like Carrot Top with a crew cut can actually be productive members of society. If this game were in Southern Ohio, I’d say that the Bengals take it because that building is getting harder and harder to pick up a road win. But I have to take New England here even if it is just by a few. They have to get back on track – they’re a team that’s well coached, not a team that you look to for numbers.
Patriots 26, Bengals 22
Monday Night Football: Seattle Seahawks -8.5 at Washington Redskins (45.5)
Although the Redskins have scored over 40 points in a game this year, it did come against Jacksonville and there’s no solace in that. It was also their only win, and for the record they looked like a total hot mess against the Giants last Thursday. All of this goes back to not having an offensive identity, which was caused by a situation where over half of their fans were saying Kirk Cousins should start after scoring 34 points in a loss only to request that the same guy be executed in public considering how they blew a home game to New York. Seattle has been here before: Remember it was them who came to town to face the Redskins in the playoff game a few years back where I believe that Griffin’s career theoretically ended. They may not have the twelfth man, but they are in more than great shape here and I like them to cover with no issue whatsoever. However I will say that eventually the Seahawks are going to need to address their very lackluster passing game, as it’s becoming a problem and could hinder their chances to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Seahawks 27, Redskins 11
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