Jeesh, how time flies! It seems like just yesterday I was making my Week 1 picks, and now we are already to Week 5, where some teams are already in need of a good performance. Hard to say there is a "must-win" in only Week 5, but as
the old saying goes, "It's still early, but it's getting late". As for me? Another good week in the W/L column, but the line ate me up a little bit. Without further ado --
LAST WEEK - Straight 10-4
OVERALL - Straight 39-21(.650)
St. Louis @ Green Bay +2 1/2 - It get tough right off the bat. I have been leaning towrds the Packers. I don't like the Rams off that super-speedway they play on in the dome. They gave up alot of points to the Lions last week, though they were able to score points, really for the first time this season. Brett Favre still has some magic, and he does have some weapons on the outside. There is just something about Lambeau field, and the magic in the building that sometimes sneaks up and bites opposing teams and I think this is going to be one of those times. Forget the points, I like the Packers to beat the Rams straight up.
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans -6 1/2 - Both of these teams have to be considered surprises, though each for different reasons. After the disaster of 2005, the Saints started the season 3-0 before losing a tough road game in Carolina last Sunday. If last weekedn proved anything, it showed the Saints are going to be a force this season, and even in defeat garnered more of my respect. The Buccaneeers, on the other hand, are in deep, deep trouble. Their QB is done for the year, and they will be forced to start a rookie, making his first start on the road, in the Superdome, where emotions will still be running high. We are all still waiting for Reggie Bush to break out, and based on how Warrick Dunn, DeShawn Foster and others have done against the Bucs' defense I think this might be the game. It's a reletively big number, but I think the Saints dominate. Give the points, Saints win big.
Saints 27 - 13
Tennessee @ Indianapolis -18 1/2 - I used to think that no team in the NFL is 3 touchdowns better than another. After watching the Tennessee Titans the past few weeks, I thought wrong. Indy is at home, and after playing two tough games, surviving both, the Colts are looking forward to a good, ole' fashioned ass-whoopin. Vince Young makes his 2nd career start, and after getting roughed up by the Cowboys in what will forever be known as the Albert Haynesworth game, gets a faceful of Dwight Freeney. Welcome to the NFL, Vince. Whatever Colts you have on your fantasy team make sure they are in the starting lineup. If tehre was a mercy rule, this game would be over by halftime. Colts. Big. Huge. Give the points.
Colts 34 - 6
Detroit +6 1/2 @ Minnesota - If you look at my season preview, you'll see I was never high on the Vikings. After winning their first two games, I got e-mail after e-mail telling me how full of you-know-what I was. Well, two straight losses later, the Vikings are looking more like the team I was expecting and not the Super Bowl contender their fans think they are. The best thing for a losing streak? The Detroit Lions come to town, ready to assist the Vikings get back on the winning track. The Lions showed some heart, and some offense in St. Louis last Sunday before falling to the Rams. If anything in life could be considered a sure thing, Jon Kitna is going to throw the ball around, make some plays, and throw some picks. The number is too big, even in the baggy-dome, but I like the Vikings to make just enough plays, including a pick in the endzone to seal it. Take the points, but Vikings win.
Vikings 20 - 16
Buffalo @ Chicago -10 1/2 - I like the Bills. I think they are heading in the right direction, and I think they are going to surprise some teams this year(New England is still getting over the Week 1 near-miss), but there will also be a few games here and there that the Bills would have been better off just staying home. This week is one of those games. There are two ways you can look at it. The Bears are coming off an emotional bludgeoning of the Seahawks on Sunday Night and could be a little flat. Or, this defense is so good, and Rex Grossman so dynamic, the Bears are immune to playing flat and will come out firing on all cylinders to quiet the few, remaining critics in Chicago. I think I'll take what's behind door #2. Maybe I exaggerated the Rex Grossman part, but this defense is for real, and has a bit of a chip becuase of all the attention paid to the Ravens overrated D. Sure, 10 1/2 s a big number, but if the Bears can beat the defending NFC Champs by 28, I think they can handle the Bills. Give the points, the Bears roll on.
Bears 28 - 7
Washington +4 1/2 @ NY Giants - After looking miserable for the entire preseason, then early on, most people were writing Washington off. Joe Gibbs was too old, his coaching staff couldn't relate to today's NFL. Mark Brunell was finished. What people seemed to forget was the Redskins were missing their best player, Clinton Portis. Any team in this league that was missing their best playmaker would struggle offensively, and now that Portis is back the Redskins are scoring almost at will, and after a 36 point explosion against a pretty good defense in Jacksonville, head into a key divisional matchup with the Giants feeling pretty good about themselves. The Giants, on the other hand, are a mess. I wasn't high on them in the pre-season, and after 3 games my opinion hasn't changed. Everytime they lose the team seems on the brink of anarchy, and if they get off to a slow start Sunday, the Meadowlands natives could start to get restless. I like Washington in this spot, and the 5 points make it even more appetizing. Take the points, take the 'Skins to win.
Redskins 24 - 21
Cleveland +8 1/2 @ Carolina - You don;t know how close I came to picking the Browns to win this game. No, you really don't, and if they do pull the upset, I'll never forgive my self for chickening out. I really like what the Browns are doing, especially offensively. If they could ever find a way to get Kellen Winslow on the field all the time, watch out. Hey, I know he can't block anything, but you throw him the ball and he catches it. Every time. No one can tell me with a straight face that Steve Heiden is the better option at TE. Winslow is a dynamic force, and will give any defense trouble. Sure, Charlie Frye makes some throws that would be better off plpaced neatly in the 10th row, but he is young, and has an innate ability to make plays. On defense, rookie Kamerion Wimbley is becoming a force, and has the inside track on defensive rookie of the year. The Panthers are another team that had everyone questioning them after an 0-2 start. Like the Redskins, the Panthers got their big-play guy back and all is well again. As much as I look at this game as an upset possibilty, in the end I think the Panthers defense will be the difference, with Julius Peppers forcing Frye into one too many mistakes. I'll take the points, but the Panthers get the win.
Panthers 24 - 17
Miami @ New England -9 1/2 - Is it me, or are there alot of points hanging out there this week? Another double-digit spread, and like the others I am feeling pretty confident about giving them up. This game falls under the same category as the Eagles/Packers game last week. I liked the Eagles to win big becuase the last time they plpayed a home game they were embarrassed by the Giants and would want to make a good showing for the home fans. The last time the Patriots played in Foxboro they were getting dominated by the Denver Broncos. A smattering of boos could be heard, and that almost never happens in New England. In come the struggling Dolphins, who are quickly finding out what they have in Daunte Culpepper. Unless they can make a trade for Randy Moss, Cullpepper is going to continue to throw picks, get sacked, and lose games. After losing to the Texans last week, a meeting with the Patriots is not what the doctor ordered. Give the points, the Patriots have their swagger back and will take alot of pleasure in whipping the team that was supposed to supplant them in the AFC East.
Patriots 27 - 14
Oakland +3 1/2 @ San Francisco - If a NFL Football game is played, and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound? Does it even count? I really feel sorry for Bay Area sports fans. Sure, the Oakland A's are about to advance to the ALCS, but the rest of professional teams in the area are awful. Two of them get to play each other, and I may just watch a bit of it on Sunday Ticket just to see how the announcers try to make it interesting. Somebodey, like Tim Ryan, waxing poetic about how this game will feature 2 young up-and-coming quarterbacks, and blah, blah, blah. I'd pay even more for that type of entertainment! Both of these teams are going to try to give the other the game, but in the end the 49'ers fall into a victory, but I'll take the points.
49'ers 20 - 17
Kansas City @ Arizona +3 1/2 - This game is shaping up to be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. Damon Huard played lights out last weekend, helping K.C. get their first win of the season. Larry Johnson is still Larry Johnson, and when Dante Hall scores a special teams T.D. the Chiefs are nearly unbeatable. The Cardinals are heading for another disappointing season, and Dennis Green has hit the panic button, calling for Matt Leinart to make his first regular season start. I actually like the Cardinals chances more with Leinart in the ballgame, and think the Cardinals offense will play better with him. The Chiefs need to be careful here, on the road, with the future of the franchise making his first start. I know the K.C. defense has been solid, but I think Leinart brings a spark to the desert. Unfortunitely, Leinart cannot play defense, and Larry Johnson is going to have a huge game. Take the points, but the Chiefs hold on for the win.
Chiefs 31 - 28
New York Jets +7 1/5 @ Jacksonville - Will the real Jacksonville Jaguars please stand up? It seems like a broken record, every year. The Jags race out of the block, playing efficient offense and dominating defense. Then they go to Indianapolis to face the Colts in the "statement" game, outplay the Colts, but find a way to lose, and follow that up with a defensive meltdown on the road against a team they should beat. It's happened again, and we are all reminded of why the Jags are not considered legitimate contenders, no matter how many games they win. This week they welcome a feisty Jets team that had the Colts on the ropes before giving up not one, but two game-winning drives in the final 3 minutes. Eric Mangini has his Jets believing in what they are doing, and I don;t think they are going to lose by more than a TD to anyone this season. The Jag's are too enigmatic to be trusted with a spread that large, and though I think they win, I'll take the points.
Jags 24 - 20
Dallas +2 1/2 @ Philadelphia - I could write a book about this game. The return of T.O. to Philly. A huge divisional game, with the lead in the NFC East hanging in the balance. All sorts of sub-plots. There will be a lot of emotion in the stadium, but as much as we try to make it so, what is happening in the stands has no effect on what happens on the field. All the other B.S. aside, the better team is in Dallas. Sure, the Cowboys have Owens, but Terry Glenn might be the better player right now and is definitely Drew Bledsoe's favorite target. The key for the Eagles will be Brian Westbrook, who needs surgery on his knee but is trying to wait until the BYE week. That doesn't bode well for the Eagles, and if the Cowboys can get a lead ealry and force the Eagles to be one dimensional it could be a reletively easy win for Dallas. What I have seen from the Eagles in games against the Giants and Packers at home hasn't shown me enough to feel confident about their long-term prospects. The points are just gravy in this one, Cowboys win straight up.
Cowboys 27 - 17
Pittsburgh @ San Diego -3 1/2 - A rematch of a classic from last season, the Steelers head to San Diego for the Sunday Night game, and dare I say, in what I think is as close to a must win game you can have in Week 5. Sure, the Steelers were 7-5 last season before winning out to win the Super Bowl. At no time last season were the Steelers 1-3, however, and another AFC loss wouldn't do much for the tiebreaker scenarios. And the Steelers can't count on a Bears, Vikings, Lions, Browns finish this season. The Steelers cannot be 1-3, 5 of their six divisional games remaining. As for the Chargers, it is a guaruntee that they will loss 2 or 3 games a year becuase of Marty Shottenheimer. Last weekend the Chargers decided to sit on a 6 point lead for 3 quarters. It back-fired, as it usually does, and the Chargers defense wore down and allowed Steve McNair jsut enough time to win the game in the last minute. Two botched field-goal attempts didn't help matters, and the heat is on again in San Diego. The Charger fans are going to be looking for revenge for the home loss last season. If home teams are given 3 points, the experts have this game as a pick-'em. Ben Roethlisberger hasn't thrown a TD in 3 games going back to the Super Bowl, and his completion percentage is below 50%. I'll give the points in this situation, and I'll take the Chargers to put the Steelers in a hole they may not be able to dig out of.
Chargers 27 - 20
With the Broncos hosting the Ravens Monday Night I will save my prediction for Monday. Need a hint? Think Mr. Ed.