Week Six Picks
Lot of good games on the slate this week. It's not going to be easy - the past two weeks were full of predicatable blowouts; I'll be happy with 9-5 this week. Onto the games ...
(Bye weeks: Indianapolis, Dallas, Miami, San Francisco.)
Tennessee @ New England
Ah, the winless Titans against the underachieving Patriots. Here's an interesting fact: this is the first game the Patriots will play against a team that isn’t undefeated. (They faced the 0-0 Bills, 1-0 Falcons, 2-0 Jets, 3-0 Ravens, and 4-0 Broncos). Now they face the winless Titans who just so happen to have the worst pass defense in the league (granted, they’ve played against some solid QBs.) If Brady is every going to have a Brady-like game, this will be it. Welker is 100%, and the Titans two best cornerbacks are out with injuries, which leaves a rookie cornerback to guard Randy Moss on the outside. It should be an utter feast for Tom Brady. Emphasis on should be. Brady just hasn't been very good this year, plain and simple, and on top of that the offensive line just isn't dominant like it used to be. I think this one will be closer that people expect, and although it baffles me to see the Titans going 0-6, I can’t see New England at 3-3 either. Pats win, 27-23.
Buffalo @ NY Jets
If Buffalo can’t win a home game against the Browns, they certainly can’t beat the Jets on the road. Besides, New York is in need of a good pounding to keep them in good spirits, and the Bills couldn’t come at a better time. Whatever the spread is in this one, I’ll take the Jets and the over. Mark Sanchez has a career day, and the Jets roll 35-13.
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Of course I’m picking the Steelers. These kinds of games make me feel like I need to pick against the spread to be legit. (Note: the spread in this game is 14 and I would still take them Stellers to cover.) Pittsburgh dominates against crappy teams at Heinz Field, and will win this one convincingly, despite Polamalu missing another week. 31-9.
Baltimore @ Minnesota
Game of the week? Not quite, but one of the four major candidates. Ravens are coming off back-to-back close losses and Vikings are coming off destroying the Rams. It appears the Ravens have momentum, or at least rage on their side. Running on the Ravens is near impossible, but for some reason that doesn’t convince me that AP won’t be up to the task. What teams have been doing all season against the Vikings is trying to shut down Peterson and force Favre to beat them. Yeah, that’s a great strategy. It’s not like Brett Favre ever won any games in his career. Hmm … And you know what, I’ve made fun of Favre’s age just like everybody else, but just because he’s 39 doesn’t mean he can’t still throw the ball. He can. And he still knows all the little quirks of the game better than anybody. Minnesota’s offense is good. Or rather, they’re no longer one-dimensional. Maybe Brad Childress isn’t such a moron after all.
But you know who else has a pretty good offense? Yeah, Baltimore. Ray Rice is an absolute stud guys. Did you see that catch-and-run-and-break-three-tackles-and-make-guys-look-stupid-like-Barry-Sanders-used-to play? That was unreal. I owe apologies to Joe Flacco as well. That guy is too legit to quit. This looks on the surface likes a defensive-dominated game, but I won’t be surprised if it’s quite high-scoring. These are two of the best offenses in the NFL. I’m going to take the Ravens on the road in this one, because I don’t like the idea of the Vikings being 6-0, and the Ravens have Ray Lewis. Baltimore 35-24.
St. Louis @ Jacksonville
After getting blown out 41-0 nothing last week, Jacksonville is favored to win this game by ten! What in the heck .. are the Rams really that bad? Can they really not put it together and compete at least once this season? I mean, a lot of teams are 0-5, but they’ve all been competitive in at least one game. The Rams have not. They are so unworthy to be in the NFL. That said, I still think ten points is too high. Jags by a touchdown, 27-20.
Texans @ Cincinnati
Two teams of about equal talent which have completely different records. The Bengals have played five games this season and all five of them, if I’m not mistaken, have come down to the finals two minutes. The Texans are more of a ‘Blow Out and Be Blown Out’ kind of team. This one should be close though. Will the real Texans offense please stand up? I’m going with Houston in a bit of an upset, 24-14.
Denver @ San Diego
Game of the week part II. The undefeated Broncos in a week six game that will basically determine whether or not the AFC West is still up for grabs. If Denver wins, pencil them into the playoffs and San Diego is dead. If San Diego wins, the whole division resets. I’ve picked against the Broncos in four of their fives wins this year and I’m going to keep doing it til I get it right. I just don't like that McDaniels guy. San Diego 20-14.
Philadelphia @ Oakland
Oakland is so implausibly pathetic that I don’t even want to waste my breath on them. Eagles by 30.
Kansas City @ Washington
Intriguing game here between a frisky 0-5 team and one of the worst 2-3 teams in NFL history. Washington is now ending a stretch in which they played the Rams, Lions, Buccaneers, and now the Chiefs; in other words, four worthless teams. The Chiefs don’t seem quite bad enough to be winless. If the Skins lose this one, Zorn is finished. The question is, how much different are the Chiefs than the Lions, Rams, and Bucs? I’d say they’re worse than the Lions, better than the Rams, and a little better than the Bucs. The Redskins were bareeely able to squeak past Tampa last week. Against the spread I’d take the Chiefs. Straight up, I’ll go with the Skins, 14-13.
NY Giants @ New Orleans
Here's the game of the week! I think this is actually the most exciting matchup I could dream up for week six. Here’s why: the Giants are the best team in the NFL right now, and the Saints are, according to my figures, the third best team. But nobody wants to see the two best teams play each other, because all the Manning-Mania might cause football fans everywhere to vomit uncontrollably. (Unless of course it’s the Super Bowl, which would be pretty cool.) But this game features the best non-Peyton Manning player in the NFL (Drew Brees) against an elite Giants pass rush. To make it more interesting, the Saints defense has suddenly developed into a solid and even scary unit. At New York, everybody including me, would pick the Giants. But at the Superdome - one of the loudest and most difficult places to play … and factor in Eli’s plantar fasciitis … plus the fact that the Saints have had two weeks to prepay for this game ... and you’ve got yourself one heck of a Game of the Week. As for my prediction, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not betting against Drew Brees until he loses a game. He’s a man on a mission. Saints win 27-23.
Detroit @ Green Bay
Lions haven’t won at Lameau since, what, 1991? Geez oh man. Rodgers, like Brees, has had two weeks to prepare for this one. Not that he needed it. Packers torch the hapless, Stafford-less, Calvin-less Lions 42-13.
Chicago @ Atlanta
This is the fourth of the four games of the week, although this is the least exciting one in my opinion. The Bears and Falcons are both 3-1 and the winner of this game will be sitting pretty in the standings. The difference in this game is the same as the difference between Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan: one is the real deal, the other is a poser. I don’t need to tell you which is which. Falcons win 31-21.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay
As bad as Jake Delhomme is, I think the Panthers should be able to outmuscle and outplay the Bucs on both sides of the ball and win their second straight. John Fox has got to just keep it simple and stick with the running game and Carolina might be okay. Tampa is just godawful. Panthers 21-12.
Arizona @ Seattle.
These NFC West games are really pointless to anyone outside the NFC West. I thought things might be different this year but I was wrong; once again that whole division is just so inconsistent and stupid and unpredictable. But if Seattle can win this one it would be a statement game. Matt Hasslebeck is back and playing better than he ever has before, maybe ever; and Seattle is back as one of the hardest cities to play in. Just ask Jacksonville, who was steamrolled last week. I like the Seahawks again in this one, but Arizona keeps it close. SEA 23-16.
And there you have it. Stay tuned for the results and also an NBA/Pistons Preview I'm working on.
(PS - Sorry for the lack of quality written posts lately, I'm becomming busier and busier at work, and it's harder to get anything done.)