Thursday, October 6, 2011

Week 5 Picks

Gonna just zip through these and then finish up with the Lions MNF pick.

Chiefs (1-3) @ Colts (0-4)
Predicted Line: KC by 3
Actual Line: IND by 2

The Battle for Andrew Luck takes a serious turn in Indy's favor as they fall to 0-5. KC wins 24-16.

Yup. Indy blows a 24-7 lead at home; Luck appears destined for either Indy or Miami.

Jackie Battle has 19 carries for KC, while McCluster has 4. Obvious fantasy pick-up.

Cardinals (1-3) @ Vikings (0-4)
Predicted Line: MIN by 5.5
Actual Line: MIN by 2.5

Vikings are long overdue for their first win. Don't pick the NFC West on the road. And the line is too low. Three good reasons to take Minny. 31-17.

34-10, 31-17. Same thing. McNabb was heinous once again, and will probably start his final NFL game by the end of the month.

Eagles (1-3) @ Bills (3-1)
Predicted Line: Pick Em
Actual Line: PHI by 2.5

This might actually be the most intriguing game of the week. Philly has about 40 times more talent than the Bills, but Buffalo plays as a team and is smart. Philly wins by a field goal, 23-20.

4 interceptions for Vick, terrible tackling by Philly ... Buffalo keeps playing mistake-free. At 1-4, it's going to be very hard for Philly to make the playoffs. At 4-1, it's going to be tough for Buffalo to MISS the playoffs. But I still think both unlikely scenarios will happen.

Raiders (2-2) @ Texans (3-1)
Predicted Line: HOU by 6
Actual Line: HOU by 5.5

The Andre Johnson injury probably hurts Houston's offense more than we realize. Oakland will cram the line and see if Jacoby Jones can beat them deep. Meanwhile, McFadden is looking like one of the best RBs in the league. I like Oakland to cover, but Houston wins 24-23.

So, I picked up Jacoby Jones and played him in the A League, thinking someone would rack up yardage for Houston against a bad secondary. I was right. With Andre Johnson out, Matt Schaub still went for over 400 yards in the losing effort. Guess how many yards Jacoby Jones, the #1 receiver, had? How about NINE. Nine freaking yards. Stupid jackass.

If I knew Al Davis was going to die on Friday, and if I knew that Mario Williams was going to miss half the game with an injury that might keep him out for the next several weeks, I would have taken Oakland straight-up.

Quick note on the AFC South. They went 0-4 this week, with 3 of the teams blowing a 7-point lead at home, and the other team being blown out. The three best players in the division (Peyton, Andre, Mario) are injured. We could be looking at another 7-9 team making the playoffs.

Saints (3-1) @ Panthers (1-3)
Predicted Line: NO by 4.5
Actual Line: NO by 6.5

I'm jumping on the Cam Newton Garbage Points bandwagon and picking the Panthers ATS until futher notice. Saints win 37-31.

Easy call.

Don't look now, but the NFC South is clearly the best division in football. Carolina is competing with everybody; they're 1-4 but all 5 games have been close. No other division is a close second.

By the way, what are Cam Newton's odds for Offensive ROY right now? At the beginning of the season he was an 11:1 favorite, meaning if you put down $100 bucks you would collect $1,100 if he won. Now ... heck, I would put down $100 bucks if the payout was fifty cents.

Bengals (2-2) @ Jags (1-3)
Predicted Line: JAC by 1
Actual Line: JAC by 2.5

The classic Rookie Quarterbacks on Wretched Teams Game. Can't wait for that. Guess I'll take the points. Jags win 17-16.

So apparently Dalton is a little bit better than Gabbert. Glad we got that cleared up.

Titans (3-1) @ Steelers (2-2)
Predicted Line: PIT by 3
Actual Line: PIT by 3.5

I like the Titans, Upset of the week. Lots of reasons, most of which you've probably already heard. (Injuries to Roethlisberger, Mendenhall, Hampton and Harrison are only part of the reason). Titans make a "We're For Real' statement, 27-7.

Well, not only did Big Ben decide to play, but he decided to throw 5 TDs and expose the Titans for what they are ... a team missing its 2 best defenders from last year when they were already the 26th best defense. That's funny, I seem to remember saying that during the summer, and also saying not to bail on the Steelers. Glad I took my own advice.

Speaking of why I hate the Steelers ... In the A League (where I'm clearly desperate ... 5 byes plus a sucky team), I picked up WR Antonio Brown and RB Isaac Redman, both starters for this game. I guess I had a decent feeling about the Steelers offense. And after 431 yards of team offense and 5 offensive TDs, my two guys combined for a whopping ... 7 fantasy points. Their backups went for 28 fantasy points. Thanks Pittsburgh. Go eat a hoagie you freaking morons.

Seahawks (1-3) @ Giants (3-1)
Predicted Line: NYG by 10
Actual Line: NYG by 9.5

The worst team in the NFL is Seattle-On-The-Road. This line can't be high enough. I like the Giants 34-13. It's my Survivor pick (used SD, NE, GB and PIT so far) but I don't trust Eli enough to make this the Lock of the Week.

I don't know what to say about this game. Eli had 4 turnovers, took 3 sacks, and the Giants defense was even worse. They couldn't stop Tavaris Jackson. When he got hurt, they couldn't stop Charlie Whitehurst. Pathetic.

In fairness, I wouldn't have made this my Survivor pick if I knew Justin Tuck was out. I almost changed it to Sunday morning but I was too lazy. Without Tuck, the Giants D is one of the worst units in the league. Fortunately he's not out long.

From a 'Lions Fan Hoping for a Wildcard' perspective, this game was awesome. From a 'Guy Making Picks and Looking Really Stupid,' it was terrible.

Bucs (3-1) @ 49ers (3-1)
Predicted Line: TB by 3
Actual Line: SF by 2.5

The Bucs are one of 4 teams to start 0-1 and then win 3 straight. The others are New Orleans, Tennessee, and the Giants. Of these, New Orleans is the most impressive by far. They're essentially undefeated; their only loss is to the best team in football, and that game was decided in the final seconds.

The converse teams are Philly, Jacksonville and Arizona, who started 1-0 and have fallen in 3 straight games. The Jags and Cards make sense, but not Philly. Their season is an utter mystery.

This is a goofy line. People tend to think San Fran is much better than they really are. I like Tampa and I like them comfortably. Lock of the Week since their getting 2 points.

So, I missed the Upset, Survivor, and Lock of the week. Awesome. Thanks San Fran for not only winning but matching the same incredible score by which Detroit beat KC earlier this year. 48-3. How did this happen?

Well, for one thing, Tampa had 9 penalties, including 2 unsportsmanlikes and 1 big pass interference. They also had 3 turnovers and a failed 4th and 2. In terms of total yards, this game could have been close. Tampa probably has more talent. They just didn't play competitively. Mike Williams was targeted 9 times but ended up with only 4 catches for an ugly 28 yards and a fumble.

Patrick Willis might have won this game singlehandedly for the Niners, with 12 tackles, a fumble recovery, and holding the Bucs to 86 rushing yards on 23 carries, a direct reason why they punted 6 times. Once San Fran held a decent lead, they gave the ball to Frank Gore continually and he ran over the Bucs, who lost Gerald McCoy in the 1st quarter. He might be out a while.

With the Rams at 0-4 and San Fran now 4-1, the NFC West is almost a done-deal. San Francisco travels to Detroit next week.

Jets (2-2) @ Patriots (3-1)
Predicted Line: NE by 7.5
Actual Line: NE by 9

Rex Ryan recently guaranteed that the Jets will win this game. I didn't read that anywhere, I'm just assuming. Hasn't he guaranteed a win in every Pats game since he was hired? This is basically his Super Bowl twice a year.

The thing is, New York knocked the Pats out of the playoffs and made Brady look bad. There's nothing more certain than the Tom Brady Revenge Factor. Plus, the Jets are banged up, they can't generate a pass rush, and Sanchez is playing the worst football of his career. I bet Revis shuts down Welker (3 catches, 35 yards) and Brady manages to accumulate 380 yards to other guys. Big game for Ochocinco? Pats by 14.

Even though the Pats outplayed the crap out of the Jets (446 yards to 255 yards), they won by exactly 9 points, making this a push. Boo. Also Tom Brady threw only 1 TD, when he could have easily had 4. Stinking BenJarvusMcEllisGreenTreeFishBarn. But the good news is ... Rex Ryan has lost 3 straight and is in serious danger of missing the playoffs.

Chargers (3-1) @ Broncos (1-3)
Predicted Line: SD by 5.5
Actual Line: SD by 4

Denver is the darkhorse in the Luck Sweepstakes. They'll fall to 1-4 here. Homefield isn't an advantage when the fans are cheering for the 3rd string quarterback. Chargers win 27-20.

San Diego barely eeked out the cover, 29-24, as Tim Tebow's hailmary attempt fell incomplete. Wait, what? Tim Tebow is playing? Oh Lord help us ...

Packers (4-0) @ Falcons (2-2)
Predicted Line: GB by 7
Actual Line: GB by 5.5

Green Bay is a good bet to go 16-0 if Rodgers stays healthy, but that doesn't mean they'll blow out good teams on the road. This should be close and the Pack will win by 3ish. I'll take the Falcons and the points.

You've got to play a perfect game to compete with Green Bay. Atlanta played a perfect 1st quarter and a good 2nd quarter. But a bad 2nd half on both sides of the ball and Green Bay steamrolled them. I don't know if Atlanta stunk or if Aaron Rodgers is unstoppable. Probably both. Packers get St. Louis and Minny in the next two games, so they'll be 7-0 heading into their bye.

Bears (2-2) @ Lions (4-0!!!!!)
Predicted Line: DET by 5
Actual Line: DET by 5

A few thoughts on last week's amazing comeback:

-Matt Stafford was a complete bum in the first half, and a freaking machine in the second half. That's two games in a row. I don't like this trend, but if he's going to only be good in just one half I'm glad it's the 2nd.

-Same goes for Calvin. Imagine if those guys are clicking all 4 quarters.

-The running game was completely non-existent yet again. Jahvid Best appears to have lost his speed, which is a nice way of saying he'll be looking for a job in 3 years. He is dynamite on screen passes but worthless on carries. In other words, Kevin Smith...?

-Somehow Jeff Backus kept DeMarcus Ware from sacking or even pressuring Stafford all game. It was extremely surprising. Lot of help from Pettigrew and the RBs. But still amazing. I'm thinking Ware had an off-day moreso than Backus dominated. Now Jeff gets Julius Peppers, which will not be any easier. He's had a brutal month (Hali, Allen, Ware, Peppers).

-The O-line as a whole is exactly the same as they were last year: totally average. Decent pass-protection, decent run-blocking. Some plays are great, some are lousy. The weakest position is right tackle. Backus gets too many penalties and is too slow. It's the exact same story as 2010. I wish it were better, but I'm mildly and pleasantly surprised that it's not worse.

-The best thing about Burleson and Pettigrew is that they know their roles on the offense. Make a few plays, don't drop passes, block like crazy, don't suck, and force the defense to guard you. If they do their jobs well, Calvin thrives. So far, those two guys deserve a ton of credit for Calvin's MVPish start.

-For the record, the MVP of the first 4 games is Rodgers, then Brady, then Megatron. But having the "First Quarter MVP" debate is stupid.

-There is a very decent chance that Jim Schwartz will be Coach of the Year.

-The defense against Dallas showed a ton of poise. The corners were burned in the 1st half and so were the linebackers. Even the D-line was getting pushed around. Romo bailed us out a lot, but the defense deserves a ton of credit for not quitting.

-Bobby Carpenter deserves consideration as a starting OLB. Justin Durant hasn't really done much in the first 3 games and we don't want him playing less than 100% healthy. Carpenter is the team's best linebacker in coverage.

-Tulloch, Levy, Spievey ... three outstanding tacklers against the run, all struggle in pass coverage. Delmas is the guy everyone thinks of as a great tackler, but he's more of a hard-hitter, not a sure-tackler. And he also stinks in coverage.

-Chris Houston may not be Darelle Revis, but he is going to have a shot at the Pro Bowl. That one-handed interception was awesome and the runback was even better. If that play were Ed Reed or Asante Samuel it would have been all over Sportscenter.

-The depth on the defensive line is incredible. Willie Young, Sammie Hill, and Lawrence Jackson could all start on most teams. And Fairley finally plays this week, just in time for Chicago's weak O-line.

-Tony Romo deserves a lot of blame for the loss, but Stafford probably deserves more credit for the win. It was a combined effort. Calvin Johnson made one of the most impressive catches I've seen in years. If you didn't see the article on Mlive, Chris Carter basically apologized for leaving Calvin out of his "Top 5 Receivers" list and called him the King of Receivers. Way to own up CC. A few weeks too late, but good job.

-Speaking of national attention ... haven't the last two weeks been amazing? We are all over Mike and Mike, on the cover of Sports Illustrated, people are coming out of the woodwork and wearing Lions shirts to Meijer. My first inclination was to kick people off the bandwagon with a steel boot ... but then I warmed up to all this attention. It's nice not being on a wagon by myself.

-So that leads to the question ... what are the chances that Detroit begins the year 5-0 and the bandwagon goes from pretty-darn-crowded to street-market-in-Delhi-crowded?

The momentum is certainly all in Detroit's favor. We've won 4 straight, 3 of which were on the road, and we've won the last two in dramatic fashion. Now we head home, for the first Monday game in 10 years, and the fans haven't been this excited since ... what, 1992?

Chicago has lost 2 of 3, and barely beat Carolina at home last week. (However, let's take note of those two losses: Green Bay and New Orleans, the two best quarterbacks in the NFC.) Jay Cutler has already been sacked a league-high 15 times, and is coming off one of the worst games of his career (107 passing yards).

The Bears are searching for an identity (a great running back and a crappy quarterback on a pass-first offense with no offensive line... hmm?) while the Lions know exactly who they are, they believe in themselves and each other, they are totally clicking, etc, etc. Except for the Backus-Peppers mismatch, every inclination is to take the Lions big. After all, who the heck can defend Calvin Johnson?

I'm slightly nervous about Matt Forte, but I also know how stupid Mike Martz is, and I know that Forte is only going to see 10 or 12 carries, because obvious common sense doesn't apply to Martz. I also trust Stephen Tulloch when it comes to stopping running backs. Remember, Forte's 200 yard game came against a terrible Panthers defense missing their two best linebackers. If we shut down Forte, if we force Cutler to pass, we are going to have a field day. Because although he might go 27-45 for 315 yards and 3 TDs, he'll also take 4 sacks and have 3 turnovers, and those plays will be game-changers.

I'm taking Detroit in a raucous semi-blowout. 38-24.

Update: Fairley will almost definitely play, Durant will be back, and Levy and Delmas are probable, meaning the Lions are at full-strength. The Bears are missing role players at WR, DE and safety, but none of them are great players.

And the Tigers play game 2 in about 3 hours.

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