The past two weeks, my regular job has got in the way of my normal routine of putting NFL picks in this space. Not this week, I'm back and ready to write. Here we go with Week 5 picks:
CINCINNATI (-3.5) over Miami
Has it ever occurred to anyone that the Bengals just might be good for two straight years? If you look at the Bengals history, only once did they make the playoffs in back-to-back years (and that was helped by the 1982 players strike) and haven't put together two full seasons in a row with winning records since 1975-76. I know Miami isn't awful (and had a lot a bad luck in Arizona when all six fumbles get recovered by the other team), but I'm liking what I've seen from the Bengals this year
Green Bay (-6.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
Because of the debacle in Seattle, the Packers really can't afford to waste away games. Yet, they haven't played their best; either their offense or defense fails them, win or lose. A bye week helps the Colts, but there's any pass rush by Green Bay, I don't envision any chance for Andrew Luck to keep pace with the Packers offense.
Baltimore (-6) over KANSAS CITY
Why are the Ravens only giving six against the Chiefs? I know it's at Arrowhead, but we just saw the Chargers ravage this team in KC. The Chiefs turn the ball more than anyone in the league, which must have Ed Reed, LaDarius Webb and Haloti Ngata salivating.
Cleveland (+8) over GIANTS
So when I pick against the Giants, they win; when I pick them, they lose. Clearly I have that much of an impact on them. Having said that, I'd have more confidence in the Browns if Lawrence Tynes' FG had the distance last Sunday, since I know the Giants would have no showed this game. Instead, I expect a close one which they pull it out late, because that's what the Giants do at home.
PITTSBURGH (-3) over Philadelphia
The bye week came at a perfect time for the Steelers. Now they get Rashad Mendenhall, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu back. Expect more pounding for Michael Vick (though that's something you can mention prior to any Eagles game). Remember, the offense hasn't been a problem for the Steelers and they'll be better with Mendenhall's return. A more stout Steelers defense makes this too much for the Eagles on the road.
Atlanta (-3) over WASHINGTON
So are the Falcons very good, or are they very lucky. Weeks 1 and 3 showed how good they can play. Weeks 2 and 4 showed them play well, but not well enough for a team that should contend for a Super Bowl. Atlanta can basically wrap up the NFC South today with a win over the Redskins. I know Mike Shanahan can probably see what Carolina did last week and try to have RGIII play more like that, but the Falcons have been particularly impressive on the road. I don't see Atlanta fooling around today.
CAROLINA (-2) over Seattle
I never really like Seattle on the road and even though picking a team coached by Ron Rivera is an exercise in torture, I just don't have the confidence that the Seahawks will play well enough on offense to take advantage of the Panthers porous defense. Cam Newton and the Carolina offense will need to play better than their last home game, something I think will happen.
Chicago (-6) over JACKSONVILLE
Normally, I'd be worried about a team who played very well on Monday night, then plays a lower-profile game on Sunday. However, the Jaguars still have Blaine Gabbert, so I'm less worried and expect more Bears defensive success. Plus, the narrative of Jay Cutler not being consistent, or something, wouldn't tend to show up in a game like this, since it's not on the front-burner.
MINNESOTA (-5.5) over Tennessee
Vegas isn't convinced on the Vikings yet, but I am. At least I'm convince that the Titans are the worst team in football and shouldn't get less than seven on the road against a good team. Next week at Washington would be a bigger test for Minnesota, but I do see 4-1 for Christian Ponder, the anti- Blaine Gabbert.
NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) over Denver
Brady vs. Manning!!!! I love how no matter how an NFL schedule is drawn up, a matchup between these two QB's must always happen. The thing with the Patriots is that they only lost twice by 3 points combined. Peyton isn't good enough yet to go toe-to-toe with Brady, especially when he still can't make accurate deep throws.
SAN FRANCISCO (-9.5) over Buffalo
Midway through last week's game, the Bills were on their way to a 3-1 mark and first place. Then they were outscored 45-7 and now have to play a Niners team who can probably put up the 45 and give up 0. In fact, they would have done it last week if not for missed FG's and showing mercy to run out the clock inside the red zone.
San Diego (+3.5) over NEW ORLEANS
Drew Brees will break Johnny Unitas' record for more consecutive games with a TD pass, but that's not going to keep the Saints from falling to 0-5. Once again, the Chargers are reeling you in that they are going to be dominant and actually make them smart for keeping Norv Turner all these years. We know that they're not and he will screw up something at some point, but not against this Saints team.
Houston (-8.5) over JETS
The start of the deluge for the Jets was last week against the 49ers. Now another Super Bowl contender who does everything well will continue this. I guess the good news for the Jets is that everyone in New York will care about Yankees-Orioles, so they got that going for them. Which is nice.
I just realized that I have the favorite in all but two games. This means I'm in for a bloodbath today. Either way, enjoy the games everyone.
Last week: 9-6