NFL Picks for Week 5
by John Canton(NFL)
Posted on October 6, 2006, 9:47 PM
John: Welcome to week five of our weekly NFL picks column. Last week Brett couldn't make it due to being busy, so it was just the two of us, but he's back this week and we've got the three man team ready to preview everything in this week's games for you.
Last week was one of those average weeks pick wise for me. I went 8-6 straight up, which is discouraging considering the other weeks I've had this year. I regret picking Miami because I knew Houston was due for a win and also going against the Bears was a mistake. They're for real and I doubt I'll pick against them very much the rest of the year. On the positive side, my Rams are 3-1 with a good chance to go 4-1 this week, so I'm excited about that. On a negative note, I can't watch NFL programming this week because I'm already sick of the "Owens returns to Philly" storyline. It's comedy more than it is news to me.
drq:: Well, none of my longshots came through last week, (especially that brilliant decision to pick San Francisco over a rested Kansas City) but I still managed to claw my way to an 8-6 record. Hey, I'm usually happy to be above .500 on these things so early in the season, and John didn't fare any better so it's all frosting as far as I'm concerned. After week four featured some meetings between early division leaders, the important week five matchups have returned to the divisional flavor that dominated the third week of action. Should be a few good ones in this bunch, and then there's that Philly / Dallas game at 4:15 that seems to have gained some notereity for some reason.
Brett: I apologize profusely for missing last week. Just a bad, bad week for me.
My Pick (Record)
San Diego (5-2)
Kansas City (6-2)
St. Louis (7-2)
Not great, but not really shabby, either.
John: Here's how the current standings are looking:
Last Week: John Canton: 8-6
Brett Berliner: 10-4
Season: Brett Berliner: 43-17
John Canton: 39-21
Brett extends his lead a bit as we head into the week five picks.
Note: The following teams have byes this week: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston and Seattle
Buffalo at Chicago 1:00 p.m. drq: Wake-up time for the Bills. Chicago is playing crazy ball right now, both on offense and on defense, and made a huge statement by crushing a wounded Seahawks team in prime time last Sunday. Normally, I'd say that's precursor to a big let-down, and this game does have all the ingredients to be a huge trap for the Bears, but I don't think Buffalo is the right team in the right place. The behemoth in the windy city powers forward this week with another impressive showing. Chicago: 20 - Buffalo: 3
Brett: Last week, I liked Buffalo, and I think they're a strong, young team. They have a great secondary (I told you so!) and they look to be playing very hard for Dick Jauron. They don't have the horses to keep up with the Bears, though. The Bills are a couple of offensive players away from being able to do anything against this D - even ignoring the potential hole at QB, they need another receiver, two lineman and a pass catching TE from being a real good offense. Their D is decent, but it will be on the field entirely too long, with the Bears' solid running game and their tough D. Chicago 29, Buffalo 14
John: I picked against the Bears last week hesitantly and I regretted after watching them destroy Seattle. They are terrific. The defense is as good as advertised, the offense is probably good enough to carry them further than they went last year and unless they get a barrage of injuries they're probably going to be the top seed in the NFC heading into the playoffs. The Bills are a plucky team. Better than I thought. Doesn't mean they're going to win this game or be much of a threat. Bears 24-7
Cleveland at Carolina 1:00 p.m. drq: Both teams are interesting conundrums... Cleveland's kept pace with some of the top teams in the league, then nearly embarrassed themselves opposite Oakland last week. Carolina's given away at least one game already this season, and is incredibly inconsistent on defense at this point. At QB, Charlie Frye has been surpassing my expectations on a weekly basis, while Jake Delhomme has rotated from confidence to incompetence and back again. I think the Browns are due for one or two surprises this year, and up against a Panthers team that's still recovering from its various injuries, they've got a good chance to make some noise. Cleveland: 20 - Carolina: 17
Brett: Man, my poor Brownies. If they don't lose to Baltimore, how much better does 2-2 coming into Carolina look than 1-3? They've got a ways to go, but there's reason for hope. They look to have finally hit on a QB - despite Charlie Frye's shortcomings, he's utilizing his weapons better than any QB has since The Return, and they actually have weapons, with a tough running Reuben Droughns and three solid receivers in Edwards, Winslow and Jurevicius. Their defense, though, especially without it's top THREE corners, in Leigh Bodden, Gary Baxter and Daylon McCutcheon, is going to get shredded. With Bodden - who may play - and this game at home, they have a shot, but they can't beat a tough Panthers team in Carolina, yet. Carolina 23, Cleveland 16
John: The Browns won me money last week by getting a push against the Raiders. I was so mad when they were down 21-3, but then I remembered it was the Raiders and I was glad to see them come back. I don't know about this week. Carolina's a tough place to play, they have a good team, they're getting healthy and I think Jake Delhomme is due for a big passing game one of these weeks. I'd love a Browns win since I think Carolina is overrated. I just don't see it. Panthers 27-17
Detroit at Minnesota 1:00 p.m. drq: Not a very interesting matchup, since neither team has what I'd call a very colorful outfit this year. Detroit's been getting some good play out of Roy Williams on occasion this year, but the Vikings have been winning as a team. I like their philosophy of running constantly to set up the big pass, and I don't know what the Lions can do to stop them from seeing that plan through to its conclusion this week. Minnesota: 27 - Detroit: 20
Brett: Peeeeeeeeeeyeeewww! What's that smell? Oh, it's the 2006 Detroit Lions. Hang tight, Lions fans. I think they have a shot at eventually turning it around, but it won't be this year, although they could put it together for a few wins. One week, their defense plays great, the next week, their offense, but they've yet to put together a strong game. I think this week, they're due to play well on both sides of the ball, but Minnesota, coming off of a loss and playing at home, will be too much for them, if only slightly. Minnesota 30, Detroit 27
John: I feel like an upset. I went through all my picks this week, I picked pretty much all the favorites and I hate doing that. So I went through them all again, tried to find one that might be a bit of a surprise and I ended up with Detroit. Why? Because the offense is coming alive. They are a bad team. No doubt about that. But they played Seattle tough and they hung in there against both the Packers and the Rams. So I think an upset is in order this week. Lions 24-23
Miami at New England 1:00 p.m. drq: Miami has yet to impress, while the Patriots are fresh off an impressive dismantling of the mighty Cincinnati Bengals on the road. The Fins have traditionally given New England a tough game, regardless of location, (remember when they handed the Pats one of their two losses in 2004?) but a recent loss to the Texans has rightly cast more than a few doubts about the team's chances. Ever the optimist, I think Miami keeps it close but never really threatens until it's too late. Is that a theme for Miami this season, or what? New England: 13 - Miami: 7
Brett: The trendy pick here, of course, is going to be to go with Pats, who just pasted the Bengals, over the Phins, who just lost to the Texans. I hate to be trendy, but I've been picking Miami all season and I'm tired of it. Although I never really believed they were going to the Super Bowl, I also didn't think they'd be this bad. But they are. Their defense has been okay, but the offense has been pretty nasty, and this is a lethal combination: a good running team against a bad offense. This usually works out great for the running team - they just keep pounding the ball, and the bad offense has fewer and fewer chances, so the defense wears down. I see it happening this weekend. New England 21, Miami 10
John: It's hard to like Miami these days. I thought they were a playoff team before the year began, but now I'd be surprised if they even won 6 games. They looked horrible offensively against a bad Texans defense. Meanwhile, New England surprised the hell out of me by dismantling a good Bengals team last week while on the road. I like New England at home most of the time. This week is no different. Pats 27-13
St. Louis at Green Bay 1:00 p.m. drq: I think this is closer than you'd imagine, based on the team's records. Green Bay can keep up with just about anybody when they're on, and the Rams have been playing awful football on the road in two games this year. The problem with the Packers is the stamina of their defense. They hung tight with the Eagles for an entire half Monday night (granted, Philly handed over two scoring drives, but how much credit for that goes to the D?) before tiring out and surrendering the game after the break. I think the Pack can surprise St. Louis with some early fireworks, but in the end it's going to come down to that same D to close out the game, and I don't think they've got what it takes to do so. St. Louis: 17 - Green Bay: 14
Brett: I guess I was kind of surprised by the Pack against the Eagles. They had a shot, and there's something to be said for that. However, the Rams are an up and coming team, I truly believe. I like their new coach, and I think their defense is quite a bit better than it was last year. I know, it's hard to win in Lambeau, but with how bad the Pack is, it's going to be just as hard for them. St. Louis 33, Green Bay 20
John: The Rams are easily the least respected 3-1 team in the NFL. I'm not surprised. The schedule hasn't been that hard, but their record is not some fluke. They are where they are because they force turnovers, they don't turn the ball over (no picks in four games for Bulger) and the offense is coming alive again. The way to beat the Rams is to run the ball 35-40 times, keep the ball and pass when the opportunity presents itself. Since the D is good at getting a pass rush as well as forcing a turnover they're going to have the advantage against a pass happy squad like the Pack. I'm always nervous when my Rams are on the road, but I feel comfy in the Pack's ability to suck, so I think the Rams win thanks to the explosive offense showing some life. Rams 34-21
Tampa Bay at New Orleans 1:00 p.m. drq: The Saints are looking like a playoff team right now, even after a tough road loss to the Panthers, while the vibe in Tampa Bay seems to have quickly changed gears from defending their division championship to just getting back into the playoff hunt. Rookie Bruce Gradkowski is the real X-factor here, since so much of the Bucs' misfortune has been attributable to Chris Simms' poor decision-making and inability to get the ball over the line. It's a real make-or-break situation for the rook, similar to the spot Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady found themselves in during their first seasons in the league. I don't think he can do much worse than his predecessor, however, and he has a nice corps of WRs to help him out, so the stage seems to be set for a success story. Tampa Bay: 27 - New Orleans: 17
Brett: I had some of my column written, and last week, I cautioned Saints fans not to panic, because they were going to lose. It was a classic trap game. This one has all the makings of one, too. An 0-3 team who's looked terrible, coming off a bye with a rookie quarterback. That's an easy combination to take lightly, I think we all can agree. Still, I think that Bruce Gradowski is way beyond green, he was never THAT good in college, and he is starting a game he shouldn't be starting. This is why you get a backup that's better than Bruce Gradowski. Reggie's getting his first (and second) TDs this week, kids. New Orleans 35, Tampa Bay 14
John: I think the Bucs are horrible. There's just not a lot to like about that team this year. Can't seem to run or pass that well. The defense is either old, confused or some combination of both. I like the Saints at home. Brees is playing well, the no name defense is doing the job and the crowd is really helping them a lot. I think the Saints win comfortably. Saints 30-13
Tennessee at Indianapolis 1:00 p.m. drq: Everybody's seen that DirecTV commercial with Manning, where he talks into the camera from the field before taking the snap and passing for an easy TD. The team he's playing in that commercial is Tennessee, and the score is 28-3 before the pass. I'm willing to give the Titans' offense a little more credit than that. A little. If I hadn't already taken Indy in the Survivor league, they'd be my pick this week without hesitation. Indianapolis: 34 - Tennessee: 10
Brett: God, what's the spread here? If it's less than eighty, take it. Indianapolis 46, Tennessee 16
John: I'm glad I saved Indy in the Survivor Pool because I'm using them this week. If they lose then I'll eat a Tennessee Titans hat. Colts 60-6 (Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit.)
Washington at N.Y. Giants 1:00 p.m. drq: My faith in the Giants has begun to waver after a laughable three quarters against Seattle, followed by a crazy fourth that nearly got them back into the game. If they can use the mid-game break to initiate their changes and adjust their strategies, rather than the commercial interruption between the third and fourth, they could be as dangerous as their potential seems to imply. This should be a good chance for the Redskins to prove they're for real, after an extremely slow start and a scorching follow-up in weeks three and four, but I'm unconvinced. The loser of this one goes into the "what happened" pile, while the winner is right in the thick of things in a tough NFC East. I like the G-Men at home. New York Giants: 35 - Washington: 10
Brett: If I keep picking against the 'Skins, are they going to keep winning? If so, in my money fantasy league, Brunell at QB may not look that bad. But, I'm a man of integrity, and I have to reason out what I really believe. My feeling is the Redskins are going to have their moments. Brunell is old, but he can still play, and if a team is dumb enough to cover their other WRs, instead of leaving them open and triple teaming Santana Moss, they could win. The G-Men are an enigma. I think their bye week will ease tensions, and a nice, solid dose of Tiki Barber on Washington's suspect run defense is a great way to get them untracked. N.Y. Giants 23, Washington 14
John: There's usually one constant that I like when I make my picks every week. I like picking home teams when they're coming off a bye because the players are rested and the coaches have two weeks to prepare for a game plan. When the team is a good team like the Giants that has started 1-2 it makes me want to pick them even more. I don't believe in the Skins. I think they got lucky last week due to some rare Jags mistakes, so I think they're in for a letdown. Barber's going to have the big game he's been itching to have this year while Manning should have a good day against a below average defense too. Giants 27-10
Kansas City at Arizona 4:05 p.m. drq: The Chiefs surprised me by arising from their slumber last week and finally getting some points on the board. Not only did they completely kill my expectations going into the game (I expected the Niners to continue having success on offense, and the Chiefs to be lost without Trent Green taking the snaps) but they firmly announced their intentions to compete in the AFC West this year by just slaughtering their opponents in every way imaginable. I didn't really need all that much convincing as it was, with Matt Leinart and the Cardinals entering the other side of the field this week, but I'm a firm believer now. Kansas City: 24 - Arizona: 14
Brett: So, is everyone off of the Cards bandwagon? I admit to being a member myself at times. Sometimes, in the NFL, it's too easy to get caught up in the skill positions and forget that the Cards basically have one talented offensive lineman, Leonard Davis, and one ok one in Oliver Ross. Teams are going to be in there all day, and if Kansas City attacks like they did against the 49ers, this could be a long day for Murt Warnart. Kansas City 31, Arizona 21
John: I almost picked the Cards here except that I realized the Chiefs are coming off the bye. I like the rested team again. Larry Johnson should be able to run all day on them while Huard won't be asked to do much, just avoid losing the game. The Cards, meanwhile, may struggle a bit on offense because the Chiefs pass defense is actually pretty good. It's the run D that sucks. Too bad the Cards OL sucks or else they'd take advantage of that. I like the Chiefs to pull it out with a late field goal to win. Chiefs 26-24
N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville 4:05 p.m. drq: Two of this season's biggest surprises square off, with the loser suddenly finding themselves in a bit of a slide. Jacksonville's lost a couple tough ones back-to-back, with Josh Scobee's kicks costing them six against Indianapolis and an overtime disappointment on the road against a mediocre Washington Redskins crew. The Jets have likewise seen their share of late disappointments this season, after dropping nail biters to the Colts and the Patriots. Puzzlingly, the Jets have played their best ball at home, but have collected both of their wins on the road. I think their passing attack will be too much for a Jags defense that's suddenly proven to be overly aggressive, to the point of weakness in the air. Plus, if that defense can confuse Peyton Manning for three quarters, Byron Leftwich is in for a rough weekend. New York Jets: 21 - Jacksonville: 17
Brett: The two hottest bandwagon teams that lost last week COLLIDE! Not huge on either team - the Jags have a good D, but it's not perfect, as seen by last week's Santana Mossgasm, but their passing game is not so hot. The Jets are playing out of their minds right now, but they aren't quite yet a good football team. I like the Jags, at home. Jacksonville 19, N.Y. Jets 13
John: The story here is a simple one. The Jags can run the ball well while the Jets can't stop the run very well. Throw in the fact that the Jags have to be pissed about two straight tough losses and I like them to dominate the hell out of a Jets team that has played over their head so far this year. The duo of Taylor and Jones-Drew should be enough for the Jags to win here. Jaguars 20-10
Oakland at San Francisco 4:05 p.m. drq: The game everybody's chomping at the bit to watch... who's willing to bet this is my local affiliate's selection for our late game of the week? I think the guys in charge of scheduling for the networks have something against the Tampa Bay area. I see this one ending up like the Niners / Cardinals game that opened the season. Break out the stopwatches, it's a track meet. San Francisco: 35 - Oakland: 24
Brett: Ahh, the Calvin Johnson bowl. Nice. Both teams are terrible, both teams are miserable, and both teams are bad. The deciding factors: Alex Smith is much better than Andrew Walter, and the game is in San Francisco. Oakland's talent just isn't into it, and Art Shell is in over his head. Mike Nolan is, too, but he's at least in over his head at home. San Francisco 16, Oakland 9
John: This game sucks and the more I write the more I acknowledge that it sucks, so here's my analysis: I won't pick the Raiders. 49ers 24-14
Dallas at Philadelphia 4:15 p.m. drq: Should be a great game, lots of emotions, an incredible atmosphere and two honestly good teams fighting it out underneath all of the drama and media overinflations. The Cowboys proved that the injuries to their top receivers weren't even worth discussing on the way to obliterating the Titans last week, while the Eagles are a bit dinged up and lacking in depth at their skill positions. Who knows how healthy Brian Westbrook is right now, after missing last week's game and the majority of the 2005 season, and for a team who relies on him as heavily as the Eagles, that's a scary proposition. I like Dallas in the upset, but I can't speak for Terrell Owens' healthy departure from the arena afterwards. Dallas: 17 - Philadelphia: 10
Brett: The T.O. Bowl! Eh, this one should be pretty fun. Simply because neither team is elite, but I believe they're both relatively on the cusp. It should be hard fought, the Eagles should get some revenge - thus proving to their fans that they didn't NEED TO, and TO may try to bite off Andy Reid's ear on live TV. Would that shock anyone at this point? Philadelphia 24, Dallas 19
John: I hate making my pick without knowing if Brian Westbrook is going to play because he's such a valuable tool for the Eagles. Just look at Correll Buckhalter's two fumbles inside the ten last week. What we know at this point is Westy didn't practice all week and that worries me. Still, I'm going to lean towards the Eagles not only because of the Owens factor, but also because this is a huge divisional game at home that they need to win in order to stay on top. I like them more than Philly because I think McNabb's the league MVP this year while Bledsoe plays poorly against a pressurized defense like the Eagles will throw at him. You blitz him and you will mess with him. Philly will do that, Bledsoe will screw up and McNabb will make them pay. Eagles 23-20
Pittsburgh at San Diego 8:15 p.m. drq: The Steelers are struggling, and need a win here to reclaim some lost confidence following two disastrous matchups with Jacksonville and Cincinnati. The Chargers, likewise, could use to morale boost to prove to both the critics and themselves that their early successes weren't due to a pitiful lineup of opponents, after faltering late against Baltimore last week. I think San Diego's a better team than last week's loss indicates, while the Steelers are in legitimate trouble. The Chargers dominated their game with the Ravens, right down to the closing moments, while the Steelers have never looked completely in control of their own destiny this season. San Diego marches on, while Pittsburgh is left to wonder how they've found themselves in such a dark corner after just four games. San Diego: 17 - Pittsburgh: 7
Brett: This is really an interesting matchup - the Steelers are doing a poor job of being defending champions, and the Chargers are solid, but just like last year, they're going to tease everyone. They'll dominate some bad teams, play some great ones tough, and lose games they should win - like last week's loss vs. Baltimore. They should have enough to hold off Big Ben at home, though, especially if he comes in as underwhelming as his last three games have been. If he sputters - do the fans start calling for Charlie? I hope not. San Diego 30, Pittsburgh 24
John: Another bye team that has struggled to start the year. I like Pittsburgh for that reason. They've had two weeks to prepare for a Phil Rivers led offense that is going to be tested by one of the best defenses in the league. It's very tough to run on Pittsburgh, so it'll be up to Rivers to throw and at this point in his career would you have much faith in him doing a lot against the Steelers? On the other side of the ball the Steelers has struggled mightily this year. No TD's and five picks for Roethlisberger is not a good sign. I think this is their turnaround game. I see them pulling it out somehow. Steelers 17-16
Baltimore at Denver 8:30 p.m. (Monday) drq: This should be the NFL equivalent of a slobberknocker. Baltimore loves to play a tough, physical defense, while the Broncs enjoy shoving the ball down their opponents' throats with the run. On the other side of the ball, neither team has really established an identity: the Ravens have been spotty on offense, but the Broncos haven't been doing themselves any favors on the defensive side of things, either. It's a really interesting match-up, no matter how you look at it. Typically, in such a close call I'd allow home field to be the deciding factor, but the Ravens have the momentum of four straight wins and a knack for driving the ball late in the game, with everything on the line. I see McNair continuing the trend and leading Baltimore to a last second, skin-of-their-teeth victory here. Baltimore: 14 - Denver: 13
Brett: Battle of the overrateds, I guess. Denver is okay, but I'm not feeling them as legit, just like last year. They have some talent, and their passing game is much improved with the addition of Javon Walker, but I don't really like their backs, and their defense is a little softer than normal. The Ravens look tough on D (mostly because Bart Scott is real good), but their offense is sputtering and I think Steve McNair's body is about to give out. It almost has to, right? I like the Broncos, because they are at home, and I can't see the Ravens as a 5-0 team. Denver 20, Baltimore 10
John: I don't believe in Baltimore too much. Can't run, McNair has been just okay and again Denver's a good team coming off a bye. Not to mention the home team on Monday nights always plays well. I think this is a game that will be tight for the first half, but then the Broncos will win in the second half due to a defense that forces the offense to make mistakes. Broncos 23-13
JC vs. The Spread I'll use the line that Yahoo provides and I'll pick four games that I think you should bet on for the week.
Last week: 2-1-1. That's okay. Cleveland got me the tie there. Can't complain when you're above .500 for the week.
St. Louis (-3) over Green Bay Rams offense is rolling against a Packers defense that has lots of problems in all areas.
NY Giants (-3.5) over Washington Coming off a bye against a team that I think they're better than, I think the Giants will get the job done.
New England (-9) over Miami Last week I bet against the Pats and got burned. Not this time. Miami blows.
San Francisco (-3.5) over Oakland I will pick against the Raiders every week until they cover two in a row.
Four favorites this time. Just like last team. I just don't feel comfortable with any of the dogs this time.
Until next week, for Drqshadow and Brett Berliner this is John Canton saying enjoy the games. You know we will.