11-3 last week and 50-27 overall. For week five, Seth Wickersham had the best record of 12-2 and I tied for second with Chris Carter at 11-3. I’m real close to showing the experts who is boss and overall I’m now in sole posession of third place behind first place Chris Mortensen (55-22) and second place Seth Wickersham (53-24). Indy over Green Bay was the big surprise. I, like most people, was certain Green Bay would win. There were just four games that seemed to be difficult picks and this week there are many games that will be a challenge to pick. Let’s get take a look at week 5.
I must take the Steelers. The Steelers offense is average and the Tennessee offense is just below average so the Steelers don’t have much of an edge there except that the Titans have allowed a league high 36.2 points per game while the Steelers defense has allowed 22.3 points per game.
Raiders @ Falcons The Raiders are 1-3 and coming off a bye week. The extra rest and preparation won’t make a difference when facing the 5-0 Atlanta Falcons. The Raiders defense has given up 31.3 points per game, third worst in the league, and will be facing the ultra-strong Falcons offense that is scoring 29.6 points per game. You should also know the Falcons are giving up just 18.6 points per game.
Bengals @ Browns The Bengals are 3-2 and the Browns are 0-5. When reviewing the statistics for these teams you’ll find the Bengals are average and the Browns are just below average. The difference in these teams is the Bengals are playing to win and Browns cannot put a win together. An interesting stat: Bengals QB Andy Dalton is 7-4 on the road and 5-5 at home. I like the Bengals.
Dolphins @ Seahawks I’m taking the Dolphins. Miami and Seattle have the first and third ranked defenses against the run in the league, respectively. Statistically, both run offenses are pretty evenly matched as well. The Dolphins have the edge in passing offenses with 237.2 points per game versus the Seahawks’ 140.0 points per game. Miami QB Tannehill looks better every game while the Seahawks’ passing game seems stuck in preseason mode.
Colts @ Jets I like the Colts. The Colts are coming off a big win against the Packers and their other win is against the Vikings who are currently 4-1. The Colts have alot of heart and it will be interesting to see if they can become consistent. The Jets are a mess. They’ve scored just one touchdown in the last two home games and without WR Santonio Holmes, who is out for the season, I don’t see the offense improving enough to make a big difference. The Jets defense relied heavily on CB Derrell Revis who is now also out for season. I don’t see an upside for the Jets anywhere in the near future.
Lions @ Eagles This is a tough pick and I’m taking the Lions. They’ve had an extra week of rest and Calvin Johnson should have a mega-game. The Eagles have given up 189 yards per game to recievers over the past three games and the Lions will take advantage of this weakness. I wrote last week about the Eagles’ inconsistency and it showed up again in their game against Pittsburgh. I don’t the think the Eagles can defeat a team that has spent an extra week fine-tuning their game and resting.
Cheifs @ Buccaneers On paper the Buccaneers are not much better than the Chiefs. The Chiefs just lost their starting QB Matt Cassell and have suffered two losses in a row. The Buccaneers have had an extra week to prepare and are playing at home. The Buccaneers have the talent to be winning team in the NFL and I think a week of fine-tuning their skills will make the difference for them. I like the Buccaneers.
Ravens @ Cowboys I’ll take the Ravens. The Ravens are scoring 26.0 points per game versus the Cowboys’ 16.3 points per game. On defense, the Ravens are giving up 17.8 points per game versus the Cowboys 22.00 points per game. The Cowboys have had an extra week to rest and prepare but the Ravens have won three in a row so they are carrying a lot of momentum into this game. I must say that I am a little concerned that the Ravens scored just nine points against the Chiefs last week.
Bills @ Cardinals I like the Cardinals. Not much to talk about here. The Cardinals are 4-1 and don’t give up. The Bills have been outscored in the fourth quarter 52-7 in the last two games.
Patriots @ Seahawks I conditionally pick the Patriots. Patriots QB Tom Brady is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. If he doesn’t play I have to re-think this. For now, I like the Patriots. TE Aaron Hernandez is expected to return giving Brady more options and shorter passes to a tight end may be just what Brady will throw best with a shoulder injury. The Patriots have discovered their running game which we haven’t see in a long time so they are more dynamic now and can work through Brady’s shoulder problems. The Patriots offense is the number one offense in the league. The Seahawks have the best defense in the leauge but their passing offense needs help. The Seahawks surprised some teams early this season but I think there is enough film available now that the Patriots will decipher how to defeat the Seahawks.
Giants @ 49ers This is a real big game. Both teams are looking to make a statement and I have some news for you. The San Francisco 49ers are the most overrated team in the NFL, this week. I say “this week” because the Cowboys are always the most overrated team of the season. The 49ers are currently 4-1 and that means nothing. Let’s look at their opponents. The 49ers have defeated the Packers (2-3), Lions (1-3), Jets (2-3), and Bills (2-3). None of those teams currently have a winning record, the Jets and Bills have pathetic defenses and the once mighty Packers just lost to a rookie quarterback. The 49ers have only faced one winning team, the Vikings (4-1), currently with a winning record and they lost that game 24-13. I’m not impressed. Now, you could argue the same point against the 3-2 Giants. They’ve won three games against teams that currently have losing records and lost two games, one to a team currently with a wining record, Eagles (3-2), and one to a 2-2 team, Cowboys. One of the teams they defeated was the Browns so there is nothing to brag about threre. The difference is that San Francisco is ranked third in the ESPN Power Rankings and currently 13 of 14 ESPN experts have picked the 49ers to win. The Giants are ranked seventh. I don’t have a problem with the Giants’ ranking because I think they still have to prove themselves. The 49ers have much to prove as well and should not be ranked third.
Let’s look at why the Giants will beat the 49ers. The Giants have 2148 total offensive yards and the 49ers have 2008 total offensive yards. There doesn’t look to be a big difference here until you consider that 1002 yards of the 2008 total offensive yards gained by the 49ers came in blowout wins against the Jets and the Bills. This means that just about half of their yards were gained from two very lopsided games and they are not nearly as good on offense as the numbers tell us. Almost the same argument can made against the San Francisco defense. They’ve given up just 68 points but the Bills and Jets only scored 3 points combined against the 49ers. I give the 49ers credit for having an above average defense but the Bills and Jets offenses are playing far below average in there last three games, especially against the 49ers. I love looking at the numbers and a phrase that is generally attributed to Mark Twain comes to mind, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
On the other side of the field, the Giants are finding strength in both the passing game and the running game. Eli Manning looks very confident again and he has WR Nicks (questionable but hints that he will play), WR Cruz, WR Hixon, and WR Randle to throw to. TE Bennett and WR Barden are listed as questionable. In the running game, RB Ahmad Bradshaw is running like he has something to prove, RB David Wilson has more experience now and I expect a mini breakout from him soon. RB Andre Brown has made the Giants running game more dynamic but he is listed as questionable this week. The defense is ready for a breakout game. They’ve been playing well but we haven’t seen a dominating pass rush yet. The possible absence of both LB Michael Boley (questionable) and LB Chase Blackburn (questionable) could mean that the Giants will have to wait for a defensive breakout, but, with the exception of Safety Kenny Phillips (questionable), they now have a healthy squad of defensive backs. I like the Giants to win a very close and exciting game.
Vikings @ Redskins I really want to pick the Redskins because I’ve witnessed the pain and suffering that Redskins fans have been enduring for many years and I like the Robert Griffin III story. However, I have to pick the Vikings. The Viking are 4-1 and QB Christian Ponder, RB Adrian Peterson, and WR Percy Harvin all participated in a complete practice on Friday. The Redksins are 2-3 and not as healthy as the Vikings. QB Robert Griffin III practiced full on Friday but is still listed as questionable due to a mild concussion last week and WR Pierre Garcon has suffered a set back to his foot injury is also listed as questionable. To beat the Vikings the Redskins would need both Griffin and Garcon at 100%.
Texans @ Packers The team at Lambaeu Field has gone cold. As my good friend says, “There is something very wrong with that team.” The Packers have the talent and leadership to do great things but they can put it all together. Are they still recovering from a tough loss in the playoffs to the Giants last season and a tough loss due to a horrible call by the refs in Seattle? Whatever the problem is I promise you it won’t help them beat the Texans this week. I like to rank teams by points per game and Houston is ranked third in offense and fourth in defense. I see the Texans winning their sixth game in a row.
Broncos @ Chargers This is the hardest game to pick this week. I’m taking the Chargers. The two defenses are evenly matched but the Broncos offense is statistically better. The Broncos are scoring 27 points per game and 383.4 yards compared to the Chargers’ 24.8 points per game and 334.8 yards. What I like about the Chargers is how they played in their loss to the Saints last week . They looked like a team that is much more focused than what I’ve seen from the Broncos. The Chargers will also be looking to take a two-game lead in the AFC West with this win at home. I also see the Chargers winning the turnover game as well. Chargers are +2 and the Broncos -6 in Give/Take. The Broncos may be missing starting WR Demaryius Thomas (questionable) and they will need him to win this AFC West divisional game.