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Week 5 Predictions

Posted Oct 7, 2017

Who are you picking to win the week 5 games?

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: New England (2-2) at Tampa (2-1): The Pats have scored 129 points and given up 128: that's 33 a game every game, even given they got to play one whole half of defense against Tom Savage. Last week a big mobile quarterback killed them with big receivers downfield: sound like Jameis Winston and Mike Evans anyone? BUT, Tampa's D is a step down from Carolina's: can Tom Brady continue his run on the road even with a short of practice? My head tells me the matchup favours the Bucs, and the now-flat Pats have serious problems on D that two days of practice aren't going to work out. My tail tells me Brady is going to keep them in the game, Stephon Gilmore is going to stop watching receivers run open, and someone is going to sack Winston. Flip the coin: tails, pick (made Thursday): Pats 

FRIDAY MORNING MOP-UP: It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. With Gilmore manning up on Mike Evans, Tampa's offense stalled, even with Doug Martin's return to the run game. Nick 'Nowt Like' Folk missed all three field goals; two (56, 49) were long ones, but the 31 yarder in the 4th quarter really hurt (Gostkowski was 4/4). Punter Bryan 'Look Back In' Anger was good for the Bucs. With Gronk out, Brady completed passes to only three wideouts and two running backs, but despite two turnovers moved equal to Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in most career 'QB wins'. Note too, it was another flag-filled fun fest: 21 penalties and 178 yards.

SUNDAY

Buffalo (3-1) at Cincinnati (1-3): I read in one football magazine that Sean McDermott has 'buttoned down the hatches' in Buffalo. Those must be some big buttons. But he had revamped the defense in a way which makes you recall the Panthers were confident in letting Josh Norman walk. Rick Dennison isn't fancy with the Bills' offense, but with Shady McCoy running and Tyrod Taylor making plays (he's actually more effective in the pocket than out, according to the stats) they don't need bushels of points to win. The Bengals bang better with Burfict back, and Bill Lazor has Andy Dalton back on track, with Joe Mixon now the number one back and the tight ends getting to see the ball. The O line is still a work in progress: they signed Andre Smith to play right guard, but TJ Johnson is the guard and Smith was filling in for both tackles who've looked bad. Defensively, Nick Vigil has stepped up. This is a game to watch. Pick: Bengals

New York Jets (2-2) at Cleveland (0-4): This is one of three match ups that make this week's schedule look like some kind of NFL repechage. Tanks for the memories! The Jets 2-2 record is a good reply for idiots who think players can actually try to lose. Teams in rebuild mode may be skimping on talent and looking to the future, but for the Browns, the future seems never to be now. This might be a better game if it were Kizer v Hackenberg in a Big 10 rematch, well, more funny at least. First win of the season for Pick: Browns

Carolina (3-1) at Detroit (3-1): The Panthers stifle you with D and wear you down until Cam can either score on a QB draw or hit one of his tight end sized wideouts in a mis-match. It's a plan. Matt Stafford against the Panthers' D is a good matchup; but they allowed New England 30 points. More to the point, can the Lions' defense do what the Pats couldn't and contain the Panthers? Their linebackers are all hit by injury, though rookie Jarrad Davis should be back from the concussion protocol, which sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel's title. Pick: Lions

San Francisco (0-4) at Indianapolis (1-3): Frank Gore Bowl! I await the moment in the third quarter when music starts playing in the dome and the announcers scream “that's Andrew Luck's music, King!”. Meanwhile two former Brady Backups go up against each other. The Niners are supposed to be able to play D: after allowing 41 to the Rams at home they held Arizona to 18 in OT but still managed to lose. There's no D in Colt, as they allowed 28 to Cleveland (but won) and helped Seattle's offense regain its mojo last week. They also lost to the Cardinals in OT, allowing only 16 points. So what gives? Brissett is making a lot of rookie mistakes, especially if you take TY out of the game. I really picking games like this. Pick: Nobody. OK, pick: Indy

Tennessee (2-2) at Miami (1-2): Miami looked as flat as the Ravens at Wembley, and bar the opening drive, after which he seemed to realise he was back in the NFL, Jay Cutler looked like he'd rather be anywhere else. That sounds bad, but Matt Cassel is at QB for the Titans, because Colin Kaepernick isn't good enough to be a backup in the NFL. Cutler vs Cassell is the kind of dream matchup you'd want for Monday Night. You can just see both teams' defensive coordinators salivating. Pick: Dolphins

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) at New Jersey Giants (0-4): Eli Manning First Overall Draft Pick Bowl! It is unfair to refer to the Chargers as homeless, but at the soccer stadium in Dominguez Hills, they do sell The Big Issue instead of programs. If you're thinking about the Chargers tanking, think about what happened when they drafted Eli. Or Ryan Leaf. Sam Darnold could decide he'd rather stay in college and play in a stadium three times the size that's actually in Los Angeles. Back in the Meadowlands, Melvin Gordon's been disappointing this season; imagine what he could do behind the Giants' O line! This may be a chance to prove to the Giants they made the wrong choice, those two Super Bowls aside. Otherwise, at home, pick: Giants

Arizona (2-2) at Philadelphia (3-1): Watching LaGarrette Blount killing clock and breaking away for one long run reminded me of what situational and old school football are all about. The Cards are trying to patch together a new game plan without David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald is seeing a lot of targets and producing again, but if the run-first Eagles can continue to use Smallwood and Clement effectively it makes Carson Wentz's life easier and pick: Eagles

Jacksonville (2-2) at Pittsburgh (3-1): Man that sure looked a lot like LeVeon Bell running for 144 yards and catching 4/42 besides. This is what the Jags would like to get from Leonard Fournette: but the Bucs have Antonio Brown downfield, and the Jags have no one in that role. Brown was complaining about under use by Big Ben, but that may not change if the Steelers can run the ball early. The matchup of their receivers against that Jags secondary is one to watch, though. Pick: Steelers

Seattle (2-2) at LA Rams (3-1): Imagine this game being a contender for game of the week, with the Rams having the better record! The Rams moved Michael Brockers to end; they are still adjusting their personnel to Wade Phillips, but that one was inevitable, with is has always looked likely. Neither Tyrunn Walker or rookie Tanzel Smart is a natural 3-4 nose tackle, but their task will be simplified and Brockers gets more chances to make plays. The Seahawks got their offense on track last week at home, and their defense will make problems for Jared Goff: Seattle's very good at taking away the short stuff the Rams are depending on. The Fisher Rams always played Seattle tough. Can the Wade McVay Rams do the same? I think it's tougher to contain Wilson from a three man front. Pick: Rams

Baltimore (2-2) at Oakland (2-2): Kelechi Osemele Bowl! Two teams in disarray, especially with Derek Carr out and EJ Manuel at QB for the Raiders. The Raiders would be an almost automatic pick here, but with Manuel running an offense that was already misfiring, it's more questionable. The Ravens still have a hole at RG, absent Marshall Yanda, and though their D linemen Willie Henry and Carl Davis have played well with Brandon Williams and Brent Urban out, the lack of depth puts more pressure on them. Joe Flacco has looked more like Manuel than Carr this season, and if the Raiders' D could look more like last year's it would be an easy call. It's a tougher one but pick: Raiders

Green Bay (3-1) at Dallas (2-2): Sean Lee is out for the Cowboys, while Green Bay's O line may include a guy they spotted while their bus was headed to the airport. That's a key here, because the Pack are a different team at home; their only loss this season was their only road game, in Atlanta. But last year they won in Dallas in the playoffs, that famous 33-27 shootout, and they didn't have Jordy Nelson. Lee and Tyron Smith haven't practiced for Dallas, but it's impossible to judge this morning whom among David Bakhtiari, Bryan 'Curly' Bulaga, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Mike Daniels and Ahmad Brooks will or won't play. The Cowboys ought to be able to run the ball, the Pack might be able to rush Dak. But as with so many other Green Bay games, your pick finally comes down to how much magic you think Aaron Rodgers can generate to carry the Packers. Or how much Demarcus Lawrence can get to him. Pick: Pack

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Kansas City (4-0) at Houston (2-2): This is a fascinating match-up, because rookie DeShaun Watson gives Houston's offense a chance to make plays, and their D can keep them in games. The battle up front when the Chiefs have the ball will be the key, but watch the one in the secondary when the Texans have it. I think it is going to be troublesome for the Chiefs, and a couple of turnovers –because Alex Smith is still throwing mostly short stuff and still makes mistakes if he's trapped in the pocket—could change things. They squeaked past the Skins at home, and they may squeak past the Texans on the road. Pick: Chiefs

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Minnesota (2-2) at Chicago (1-3): Mitch Trubisky gets the start for the Bears, against Air Keenum for Minnesota. Usually you'd favour the veteran but Keenum, like Ancient Mariner, is usually good for stopping one of three and he's already done that one. Trubisky looked like he offered the Bears more chances to win in pre-season but a. that was preseason and b. that was more than Mike Glennon. Both teams are tough defensively, but with Dalvin Cook out, I like the Bears to run the ball a little better and make life easier for the rookie. Pick: Bears

BYE WEEKS: Atlanta (3-1), Denver (3-1), New Orleans (2-2), Washington (2-2)

LAST WEEK: 9-7 SEASON: 37-26

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