Thursday, October 6, 2011

NFL 2011: Week 5 Picks

With a quarter of the 2011 NFL season done, we have a clearer picture of who are the contenders and pretenders this year. Still, we might need a couple more weeks to get a better read. Some things that I would like to keep an eye on: Are the Titans for real with Matt Hasselbeck under Center? Will the Eagles and the Cowboys recover from their botched starts? Are the fast starts by the 49ers, Bills and Lions sustainable? Can the Packers and the Patriots continue dominating opponents with this weird combination of an explosive offense and a porous defense? (Both these teams are on pace to shatter the NFL record for most yards allowed by a team in a year). Will the NFC West have a above 0.500 division winner this year? Are the Jets and Steelers just going to fade away or will they make a late push to contend?

With a decent week of picking games against the spread last week, I'm going to try keep that going here:

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)

People who tune into this game: Snoozer Alert! Just because the Colts played the Steelers and the Bucs tough in two National TV games, does not warrant all the Curtis Painter pandering. The Chiefs have definitely shown some spirit to play hard the last couple weeks. It might end up being a closely fought game. But it WILL be a snoozer.

Outright Win: Chiefs
v/s the Spread: Chiefs (+2.5)

Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-3)

Every week I watch Kevin Kolb play, I get more convinced that the Cardinals got the raw end of that trade giving up so much for an average QB. Lucky for him, he has Larry Fitzgerald, who catches anything thrown within his vicinity. While the Cardinals running game does not look so good on the surface, the numbers indicate that it is pretty effective. The Vikings need more out of their QB to keep their running game effective. Adrian Peterson is great. But there is only so much he can do against 8 men in the box. Maybe this is the week McNaab gets things moving a bit, against the weak Cardinals secondary.

Outright Win: Vikings 
v/s the Spread: Vikings (-3)

Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills (+3)

The "Dream Team" just had a gut check. They are 1-3 and only about 14% of teams that have started 1-3 in the NFL have gone on to make the playoffs. That makes this pretty much a must-win game for the Eagles. Too bad they are going against the Bills, who just fell victim to a typical trap game. They will be able to score a bunch and keep up with the offensive pace of Mike Vick and the Eagles. What worries me about the Bills is their lack of pass rush. But that might also be a good thing for the Bills, because it makes Vick a typical pocket passer and will take out all those electrifying plays out of the game. I also like the matchup of the Bills running game against the weak Eagles run defense.

Outright Win: Bills 
v/s the Spread: Bills (+3)

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (-6)

The Texans showed they are for real against the Steelers. But they are yet to prove if they can be consistently that good. They face a stiff test against the Raiders, who just might be for real. The absence of Andre Johnson will hurt them in the passing game. Arian Foster was his 2010 self last week. But it might be a little harder to run amok against that Raiders defensive front. The best chance for the Raiders is if they can keep the ball in the hands of McFadden and out of the hands of Jason Campbell.

Outright Win: Texans 
v/s the Spread: Raiders (+6)

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (+6.5)

Cam Newton's middle name should be "Backdoor". He seems to find a way to do just enough to cover the spread. This week, people should like his chances of doing just that at home. But I am confident that Brees led Saints will find a way to win this on the road.

Outright Win: Saints 
v/s the Spread: Panthers (+6.5)

Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5)

The Bengals, as I expected, are a tough out. Andy Dalton just does enough to not lose the game for them, while their defense keeps them in every game. The Jaguars are tough to figure out. They have been in games the last two weeks, but no one seemed to take note of that.

Outright Win: Bengals 
v/s the Spread: Bengals (+2.5)

Seattle Sehawks at New York Giants (-9.5)

You might say the Giants pile up wins by being lucky. I say better be lucky than good.Talk about being lucky, they have the Seahawks coming in to play them this week.Yes, the Seahawks are on the road again. Which means, they are going to suck again.

Outright Win: Giants 
v/s the Spread: Giants (-9.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers (-3)

The 49ers are 3-1 and have a 2 game lead in their division through 4 games? Who would have thought? They now face, a Tampa Bay team, that many people think under achieved against the Colts on Monday Night. Adding to the equation that the 49ers are stout against the run and the Bucs have a short week flying across the coast.

Outright Win: 49ers 
v/s the Spread: 49ers (-3)

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-9)

The Jets are just not so good. Normally, I would not hesitate to pick against them this week. But, Rex Ryan always conjures up his best schemes against Tom Brady. So that just made me pause for a few seconds before I pick .....

Outright Win: Patriots 
v/s the Spread: Patriots (-9)

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (+4)

The Chargers are slowly getting better. But they have been having problems of late with their AFC West opponents. Especially on the road. I don't expect Denver to give them much resistance though. As the public clamor for Tebow increases, the pressure on Orton also increases. Which is not good for the Broncos.

Outright Win: Chargers 
v/s the Spread: Chargers (-4)

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-5.5)

The Lions made an improbable comeback to beat the Cowboys. And now, are favored by 5.5 points against the Bears? This has trap game written all over it. I still expect Megatron to pull down a TD or two to get the win, but the Bears should cover.

Outright Win: Lions 
v/s the Spread: Bears (+5.5)

Upset Special of the Week

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)

The Steelers say Big Ben will play this week. But Mendenhall is pretty much out. Their defense, uncharacteristically, seems to be not so strong against the run. Could this be the day Chris Johnson breaks out? Talking about the Titans, if Hasselbeck is not the revelation of the year so far (Sorry, Cam), not sure who is.

Outright Win: Titans 
v/s the Spread: Titans (+3)

Homer Pick of the Week

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (+6)

This is a monster game for especially for fans of  both the Packers and the Falcons. There is some kind of a rivalry brewing here. The Packers lost in over time to the Falcons last year during the regular season. But then, got their revenge in the divisional round of the playoffs, whipping the Falcons in their house, 48-21; and the game was not even as close as that lop sided score indicates. To add to the rivalry, Roddy White mouthed off during the off season about how the Falcons were the better team in spite of that loss. This has got to motivate the Packers to do them one more time; again, in their own house. No wonder NBC decided to feature this as their Sunday Night game of the week.

Leaving all the story lines aside, the Packers will have to work hard in holding back the Falcons pass rush. If they can manage to do that, Aaron Rodgers should have a field day against the Falcons secondary. And yeah, Rodgers loves playing in domes. Mike Turner may not be a big factor with the Packer's strong run defense. The problem for the Packers, as has been every week thus far, will be on pass defense. The Falcons might be able to hang in the game making this a shoot out. Although a shootout probably favors a pass-happy Packer team, letting teams hanging around in the game will someday come back to bite you. Ask the Patriots (vs the Bills in Week 3).

Outright Win: Packers 
v/s the Spread: Packers (-6)

My 5 STAR Picks   (* Home team in CAPS)

Packers (-6) over FALCONS
BILLS (+3) over Eagles
PATRIOTS (-9) over Jets
Chargers (-4) over BRONCOS
Titans (+3) over STEELERS

Last Week:
Outright Win Record: 11-5
v/s the Spread Record: 10-5

Year to Date:
Outright Win Record: 43-21 
v/s the Spread Record: 33-26-2 

5 STAR Picks:
Overall Record: 11-9

* Odds as per "" on 10/05/2011

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