NFL Week 5 Picks

Back in the double-digit wins column thanks to a 10-5 record last week—better than eight of ESPN’s 14 “experts.” That’ll bump the overall total to 39-24. Let’s keep the train rolling and hope to improve even a little more in Week 5.

Your byes this week: Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Pittsburgh (and they all could use it…).

Buffalo Bills (+4) @ Cleveland Browns, Thursday, 8:25pm

Both of these teams are coming off of upset wins on Sunday. Cleveland clearly doesn’t know how to tank (if that’s what they were looking to do), and the Bills remain an inconsistent bunch that have shown flashes of brilliance mixed with flashes of the Bills we’ve all come to know in the last decade or so. Brian Hoyer might be the Jeremy Lin of the NFL with how he just burst on the scene, and this week he gets to go up against a defense that has given up the most passing plays of more than 40 yards. Despite that stat, Buffalo has been in each of their four games so far—they’ve all been decided by one score or less. This one will be no different, but I’m going to go with the hot arm. Browns win 21-17

Philadelphia Eagles (+2) @ New York Giants, 1pm

Know what’s crazy? With the Cowgirls pretty much guaranteed to lose this week as they square off against Denver, an Eagles win here puts them in a tie for first in the division. And I think they can do it. The Giants are in all sorts of disarray. Their defense is just about as bad as Philly’s, but the offense is averaging just over 15 points a game (30th in the league), and Eli Manning’s 10 interceptions lead the NFL through four weeks. Disregard how much these teams have struggled in the early going—this should be nothing short of a classic NFC East slug fest. Eagles win 27-24

New Orleans Saints (EVEN) @ Chicago Bears, 1pm

This isn’t your father’s (or even your own from, like, a year ago) Chicago Bear’s defense. These Bears got absolutely lit up by the Lions last week to the tune of 40 points on 387 yards—159 of which came on the ground. Three picks thrown by Jay Cutler didn’t help the cause either. The Saints, on the other hand, put on quite the show in a battle of unbeatens on Monday night football. They’ll be coming off of a short week and be on the road, but when you have Drew Brees and Sean Payton at the helm of this undefeated ship, none of that should matter. Saints win 34-24

New England Patriots (+1.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals, 1pm

Who the hell are the Bengals? They can’t seem to answer that question themselves. A week after putting up 34 points against the Packers in a back-and-forth upset win, they completely stunk up their home field and only managed to put up 6 against the Browns. This week Andy Dalton will have to try to figure out a Patriots defense that is holding QBs to a 54.8 percent completion percentage and is averaging a little more than a pick per game. And on the other side of the ball, Tom Brady has found a rhythm with his young receiving core and should get Danny Amendola (and possibly Gronk?) back this week, which makes them that much more dangerous—plus, they apparently learned how to run the ball this year; they’re averaging 125 yards per game. Pats win 38-22

Detroit Lions (+7) @ Green Bay Packers, 1pm

The Saints (and Dolphins) must be wondering where the hell this Reggie Bush was when he was playing for them. WIth the exception of the game he missed, Bush has looked like the kid who wore number 2 for USC with his spin moves and hopping over defenders. He’ll be going up against a Packers defense, though, that held him to just five yards on six attempts in his only meeting against them (back in his rookie season in 2006). The Packers had an extra week to prepare for Bush, and a defense that is holding opposing QBs to just a 69.4 QB rating (5th best). They haven’t faced anyone like Aaron Rodgers, though. Packers win 20-13

Kansas City Chiefs (-3) @ Tennessee Titans, 1pm

Whouda thunk this be a high profile game heading into Week 5? Certainly not this expert analyst. Andy Reid and Alex Smith and the stalwart Chiefs defense have Kansas City off to its best start in quite a while, and have made them only the second team to start a season 4-0 after losing 14 games the previous season. If they hope to set a new standard for the best turnaround in the history of the league, they’ll have to take down a Titans team that is off to an excellent start as well—one defensive stand in OT away from being 4-0. Tennessee will have to turn to their backup QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, after Jake Locker went down with a sprained right hip. Of all the backup QBs in the league, Fitzpatrick is up there in experience as a starter, but it won’t be fun having to go against the game’s second-ranked passing defense. Chiefs win 23-16

Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) @ Indianapolis Colts, 1pm

This one ought to be good. Seattle showed incredible resiliency last week, overcoming a 20-3 halftime deficit to pull out a 23-20 win in OT on the road in Houston. The Colts continued to roll behind a strong performance by Andrew Luck. These defenses have allowed the 2nd and 3rd lowest scoring totals (for teams that have played 4 games), which obviously is incredibly important and makes it that much easier on your offense to go out there and win games. Seattle has struggled on the defensive side of the ball on the road, but the way they simply shut down the Texans over the final 3 quarters is hard to overlook. Seahawks win 21-16

Jacksonville Jaguars (+11.5 [to the Rams…]) @ St. Louis Rams, 1pm

I give you this video of the Jags mascot taking 40 paintball pellets to the chest:

Rams win 28-6

Baltimore Ravens (+3) @ Miami Dolphins, 1pm

The Dolphins pretty much got embarrassed on Monday night in the Big Easy—their first loss of the season. They’ll have to get over it quick and turn their attention to the defending Super Bowl champs who will be looking to get their first road win of the young season, and who are coming off of an incredibly sloppy and ridiculous loss to the Buffalo Bills. Life hasn’t been easy for Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco who’s been sacked 12 times (7th most) and has tossed up 7 INTs (only Eli Manning and Geno Smith have more). Can’t blame him for all of that, though. It’s tough when you don’t have much of a running game to depend on that can keep teams off balance. Granted, Ray Rice is dinged up and missed some time, B’more hasn’t been effective—their 28th with 64 yards per game on the ground, but they’re only handing it off 24 times a game (20th fewest). They need to be getting the ball out of Flacco’s hands more (he’s 5th in attempts wtih 169 through 4 games). Dolphins win 27-21

Carolina Panthers (+2) @ Arizona Cardinals, 4:05pm

On their bye, the Panthers were able to watch Arizona struggle through three quarters and then put up 13 in the 4th to seal a 13-10 come-from-behind victory over Tampa Bay. What a mess that game was: The teams combined for 6 turnovers, 18 penalties (for 163 yards), and 15 punts (the combined yards punted [642] outgained the combined offensive totals in this one [549]). Ugly. Neither of these teams, this week, are anything special, but I think I’ll give the edge to the Panthers, simply because they’ve had an extra week to prepare. Panthers win 19-10

Denver Broncos (-7) @ Dallas Cowboys, 4:25pm

Sorry. No chance. Not even worth my time. Broncos win 49-23

Houston Texans (+7) @ San Francisco 49ers, 8:30pm

Good news: Matt Schaub doesn’t have to play at Reliant Stadium this week, where he may have been burned at the stake with another poor performance. Bad news: He’s playing in San Francisco for the first time, where fans can be just as waayyyy more vicious. With the Aldon Smith saga behind them, the Niners went ahead and dominated the Rams last Thursday, holding them to just 11 points and 188 yards of offense (which included just 18 yards rushing on 19 attempts…). Houston is searching for answers following a complete collapse against the Seahawks at home, and I have a feeling they aren’t going to find any solace on the road in a hostile environment. 49ers win 32-24

San Diego Chargers (-4.5) @ Oakland Raiders, 11:35pm (wtf?)

The only analysis I have here is that this is a completely ridiculous thing to do on a Sunday night—have a game on NFL Network after the normal Sunday night game on NBC, which starts at its normal time. The only explanation that I can think of for this is that the league is trying to save the Raiders some face as they are forced to step on the same field with a  QB that is simply carving up defenses right now. Yeah, that must be it. Chargers win 31-13

New York Jets (+9.5) @ Atlanta Falcons, Monday, 8:30pm

This one’s too simple. The Jets, no matter the record, are still a mess. Geno will be great (I think) someday, but right now is not that time. The defense has been alright, keeping them in games for the most-ish part, last week being the exception. Looking at their schedule though—the Jets’—I don’t know if there’s a road game that they have a chance of winning. Maybe at Carolina? Either way, I’m sure they’ll be looking to get out of Atlanta as soon as possible. Falcons win 37-7

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