Friday, October 4, 2013

The Hail Mary - Week 5

Sunday, October 6

Baltimore (2-2) at Miami (3-1), Miami favored by 3

The Dolphins received a rude awakening as to where they stand with the upper echelon of the league last Monday night. They were beat down by the Saints in the Superdome last Monday night, especially Ryan Tannehill. Hopefully, Joe Philbin can right the ship after that butt whooping and improve the team. One thing they need to do is find some way to get Mike Wallace the ball. Wallace and Tannehill have no chemistry right now, and through four games are showing no signs of improvement hooking up. The Dolphins also need to get Lamar Miller going a bit more and take some of the pressure off Tannehill. Joe Flacco continues to struggle under the weight of not having any true number one receivers, throwing 5 interceptions against Buffalo last week. The Ravens might still be a contender when playing at home, but so far this year they look like an afterthought when playing on the road. Because of that, I think Tannehill and the Dolphins get back on the winning track Sunday.

Prediction: Miami 24, Baltimore 17

Philadelphia (1-3) at New York Giants (0-4), New York Giants favored by 2

This game usually features two teams battling for the NFC East but this year it is two teams desperate for a victory. Ever since taking the league by storm with his offense in the opener, Chip Kelly has felt more like the teams his Oregon Ducks used to slap around. It is amazing just how terrible the Giants are. They haven't even been competitive the last three weeks. The offense can't move the ball and the defense can barely stop anyone. That being said, I think they have to win sometime and why not at home against an opponent struggling like Philadelphia.

Prediction: New York Giants 27, Philadelphia 24

New Orleans (4-0) at Chicago (3-1), Line is a pick em'

The Bears got way too far behind the Lions and fell short in their comeback attempt. The offense was sloppy with the ball, which made it too difficult for the defense to slow down the Lions. Lack of pass rush has been an early issue for Chicago, and if they are to beat New Orleans they have to find it this week. Drew Brees isn't quite as potent on the road but if given enough time to throw he has too many weapons to not make plays. This is a game the Saints wouldn't have won last season, because their defense wouldn't have been able to make the necessary plays. But this season, the worst defense in the history of football has quickly turned into one of the better ones in football.

Prediction: New Orleans 26, Chicago 18

New England (4-0) at Cincinnati (2-2), Cincinnati favored by 1 1/2

Tom Brady is once again proving what a great player he is. This current receiving group makes David Givens and Deion Branch from the early 2000s look like a fearsome group. He has developed a chemistry with Kenbrell Thompkins, and Julian Edelman is doing his best Wes Welker impersonation. The offense might get Danny Amendola back for a few plays this weekend before he injures himself. The Patriots are now starting to get beat up on the defensive side of the ball, losing Vince Wilfork for the season. The Bengals are a terrible road team, but seem to take on a different identity at home. A fun battle to watch in this game will be A.J. Green against Aqib Talib. This is a tough game to pick, but I think at some point, these litany of injuries have to catch up to the Patriots.

Prediction: Cincinnati 22, New England 20

Detroit (3-1) at Green Bay (1-2), Green Bay favored by 7

The Lions finally ended their winning in Washington hex. Next they take on the not winning at Lambeau Field for 21 years hex. The Lions last won at Lambeau in 1991. That was so long ago it was before Brett Favre was even a Packer. The Packers are coming off their bye week and have had plenty of time to stew over letting that game get away from them in Cincinnati. With two high octane offenses on the field I would be surprised if this doesn't turn into a shootout. The Packers are hoping to have Eddie Lacy back at running back, as well as Jermichael Finley at tight end. I think this is one hex the Lions won't put an end to just yet.

Prediction: Green Bay 38, Detroit 30

Kansas City (4-0) at Tennessee (3-1), Kansas City favored by 3

Two of the biggest surprises of the NFL season face off in Tennessee. Jake Locker was having a superb season, as he had thrown no interceptions and the Titans hadn't committed a turnover on offense through four games. But now, Locker is hurt and the job becomes Ryan Fitzpatrick's. Fitzpatrick at least has plenty of experience as a starting quarterback, but it is hard not to think that the Titans will struggle due to Fitzpatrick's inconsistencies that led to him being dumped by Buffalo. The Chiefs have benefited from beating up on the NFC East and now catch the Titans at the right time. Things are just falling into place this year for Andy Reid and Alex Smith.

Prediction: Kansas City 30, Tennessee 17

Seattle (4-0) at Indianapolis (3-1), Seattle favored by 2 1/2

I was feeling so good about my Texans over Seahawks pick. The Texans raced out to a 20-3 lead and then Matt Schaub happened. Schaub made some terrible decisions, and pretty much cost the Texans the game. This game is a battle between second year quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck, or two quarterbacks that are overrated. It hasn't been talked about too much because Seattle is winning but Wilson hasn't been all that great this season. To Luck's credit he has improved his accuracy so far this year but has only thrown 5 TD passes in four games. This is a really hard game to call. I know I am becoming the last person in the world that doubts the Seahawks, but I still can't see them winning road games back to back that are this difficult.

Prediction: Indianapolis 28, Seattle 25

Jacksonville (0-4) at St. Louis (1-3), St. Louis favored by 11 1/2

This is a game that no one should be forced to watch. That is all.

Prediction: St. Louis 27, Jacksonville 16

Carolina (1-2) at Arizona (2-2), Carolina favored by 2

Cam Newton returns to Arizona, where two years ago he announced his arrival on the NFL scene by passing for over 400 yards in his debut. He hasn't really lived up to those lofty standards since, but the Panthers are looking to put together a winning streak after beating the Giants two weeks ago. Arizona is looking to get over .500 for the first time this season. Arizona can't run the ball to save their lives, but Carson Palmer has at least reinvigorated Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals are always a tough team to beat in Arizona.

Prediction: Arizona 31, Carolina 28

Denver (4-0) at Dallas (2-2), Denver favored by 7

Can anyone slow down the Denver Broncos offense? That question remains to be answered but I am definitely saying the Dallas Cowboys won't be slowing them down on Sunday. The Cowboys will be able to score points with Denver for a while, but eventually, as the Broncos have done to their other opponents, they will pull away. The Broncos keep getting injuries but it doesn't seem to matter. Peyton Manning is playing the best football of his career, and the abundance of weapons he has almost isn't fair. Tony Romo is having a very good season, but the continued inability of the Cowboys to run the ball on a consistent basis continues to be their downfall on offense.

Prediction: Denver 35, Dallas 24

Houston (2-2) at San Francisco (2-2), San Francisco favored by 7

The 49ers got a much needed win at St. Louis. The offense got back to doing what it does best, pounding the ball with Frank Gore, allowing the passing game to open up. Hopefully, Greg Roman continues that trend and feeds Gore heavily in this game. That means even if Gore is struggling initially not abandoning the run right away and forcing Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis to try to do everything. The Texans defense isn't as good as it should be, but they still have a lot of dominating players, so it is important the Niners offense get in a rhythm relatively quickly. The 49ers still don't know if they will have Patrick Willis for this game. NoVorro Bowman was an absolute beast in his absence against St. Louis, and the Niners defense didn't miss a beat. However, the Texans offense will present much more of a challenge than the Rams offense. Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins and Owen Daniels will be a major challenge for a 49ers secondary that has struggled this season. I don't expect this to be a comfortable win, but I do think the 49ers will play much better at home this time, than they did a few weeks ago.

Prediction: San Francisco 24, Houston 21

San Diego (2-2) at Oakland (1-3), San Diego favored by 4 1/2

This game will start at the very odd time of 11:35 PM eastern on Sunday. The Raiders share their field with the Oakland Athletics and since the A's will be hosting a playoff game that day, the Raiders had to move the start time of their game. Philip Rivers is starting to get noticed after another fantastic performance last weekend. It looks like my prediction of him being renewed under new coach Mike McCoy is coming true. Unlike Manning, Rivers doesn't have a ton of weapons, but he is playing like 2007 Rivers right now. The Raiders should have Terrelle Pryor back at quarterback for this game. That at least gives them a glimmer of hope to win, but I expect Rivers to continue to play well and lead San Diego to a win.

Prediction: San Diego 28, Oakland 21

Monday, October 7

New York Jets (2-2) at Atlanta (1-3), Atlanta favored by 9 1/2

The Jets offense, already not very good, is in even worse shape now with both receivers Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill expected to miss this game. This is just the type of opponent Atlanta needs to try to get right and stop a 2 game losing streak. If the Falcons can't beat, and also dominate an undermanned, overmatched Jets team at home, they have some serious problems. Geno Smith has been awful on the road, and I expect that to continue as he will be good for a few turnovers.

Prediction: Atlanta 30, New York Jets 16

Last Week Against the Spread: 10-4-1
Overall Against the Spread: 30-29-4

Last Week Straight Up: 11-4
Overall Straight Up: 40-23

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