North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Getting back on the NFL wagon – Week five picks

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Again, I kind of fell off the wagon. I didn’t watch much football last week, only the Denver/Dallas game and a little tiny bit of the Sunday nighter.

I’m kind of a busy guy, one who has to work on Sundays, usually in the afternoon. It sucks, but I’m not going to bitch about it. Especially when I made out pretty good on my picks last week.

Of my marquee picks, the ones I separated and put up top, I nailed one of three. And I was wildly off one, when I said Oakland would upset Houston. I stand by that and feel that if Oakland had any other quarterback in the NFL (including practice roster players) they might have won… but I’ll own up to being off there.

I did correctly call Denver beating Dallas and was right in that to even have a chance, Romo would have to air the ball out (he did, throwing for over 200 yards).  And while I was off on Baltimore, they did test the Patriots: it was a close match where Brady worked some magic.

But as Jerry Brown once said, that was then and this is now. Let’s get to it.

Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens

Who am I naming the projected winner for surprising team of the year? How about the Cincinnati Bengals. They’re 3-1, tied for first in the AFC Central and have allowed 76 points, less the Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Chicago, defensive stalwarts all.  Thus far this year, they’ve stopped both Pittsburgh and Green Bay and almost won over Denver, be it not for a flaky late touchdown.

They’re not as bad as they should be, really. Chad Ochocinco’s best game was one with 91 yards and a major and Carson Palmer is only looking kind of okay. Add a tepid running game to that mix and you’ve got an offense that’s ranked in the mid teens in almost all the key stats: yards, points scored, etc.

I’d like to call their 3-1 record a result of a weak schedule, but they’ve only played one bad team. I’d like to say that they’re got something new that teams haven’t adapted to yet… but there isn’t anything I can think of that they’re doing different. It’s just simple math that’s winning their games: they’re scoring more then they allow.

On the other hand, they are tied with Baltimore. Hot off the heels of a close loss to the New England Patriots, the Ravens surely are looking to bounce back. But maybe the biggest part of that loss was an injury to tackle Jared Gaither, who may or may not play on Sunday. He’s a big part of a very good o-line. It’s having guys like him on the line that gives Joe Flacco the time to throw the ball as often as he does. If Baltimore’s line is banged up, it will really cost them.

That’s why I’m recklessly taking the Bengals in this game. They’re winning games I don’t think they should. I think they can take this in a squeaker.

Atlanta Falcons over San Francisco 49ers

The Falcons aren’t looking quite as sharp, as dynamic as they did last season. Maybe it’s because I was spoiled and expect it now. Or maybe it’s got something to do with their rushing game.

Last season, they were second in the NFL in rushing yards. This year they’re ranked 30th. It’s not all the fault of Michael Turner, but of a team that’s become more pass oriented and problems with their o-line.

However, something is working for them. They’re 2-1 and coming off a bye week. And in all three of their games, Matt Ryan has thrown for 200 yards or more (okay, 199 against N.E.). That’s a streak of good passing games against some of the best passing defences in the league.

I think it’s possible they could have success against the Niners Sunday. If they have before, why not then?

Add that to San Francisco’s offensive woes: they’ve lost Frank Gore for this game and replacement Glen Coffee has been tepid at best (I’ll spare you the coffee puns). In his past two games, Coffee has rushed for 54 and 74 yards, the latter against St. Louis, the worst team in the NFL. Yes, Atlanta has had some problems defending the run, but I don’t think they’ll have too many problems against him.

Am I overlooking the Niners, though? They are 3-1 and their only loss was by three points, at the hands of a long Brett Farve pass. And their defence is allowing just over 13 points a game – second lowest in the league. But I can’t get past Shaun Hill, who’s an average QB at best. He’s going to have to really pick up if they want to get past a good team sans their running game.

Other picks:

Buffalo Bills over Cleveland Browns – I think now’s the time when the Bills start to click and losing in OT last week is a momentum killer for the Browns.

Carolina Panthers over Washington Redskins – I still think the Skins are finished. Their defence still looks awful.

Dallas Cowboys over Kansas City Chiefs – look for the Chiefs to surprise and put up some good numbers, but to also give up a whole bunch.

New York Giants over Oakland Raiders – Do I really need to explain this?

Pittsburgh Steelers over Detroit Lions – The Steelers really need to bounce back with this. For a team that’s 2-2 (and really could be 4-0) they haven’t looked good. They’re a team that’s either going to go on a tear or fizzle, I think.

Philadelphia Eagles over Tampa Bay Bucs – this could be a trap game… if Philly was playing any team other then Tampa.

Minnesota Vikings over St. Louis Rams – Should be a blowout, too

Arizona Cardinals over Houston Texans – I like the Cards in a game featuring a lot of offense. A fun watch.

New England Patriots over Denver Broncos – Another week, another test. I was burned last week, so I’m going the other way.

Seattle Seahawks over Jacksonville Jaguars – Seattle is a quietly okay team. Jacksonville isn’t.

Indianapolis Colts over Tennessee Titans – I bet NBC wishes the flex schedule started early.

Miami Dolphins over New York Jets – The Fins running game has been great so far and I think it’ll really help them past the Jets.

Last week: 8-7

Written by M.

October 9, 2009 at 8:38 pm

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