Week 5 record: 7-7
Overall record: 43-34
Denver Broncos (4-1) @ San Diego Chargers (1-4)
Game Pick: Broncos – Game already played, pick was as follows:
Game Pick: Bills – The 49ers had a chance to take out the Cardinals at home last Thursday night with second string QB Drew Stanton starting for Arizona. However they were unable to take advantage of that as the Cardinals eventually overwhelmed San Francisco 33-21. QB Blaine Gabbert continued to struggle mightily, making it difficult for the team to generate much offense. The revival of the Bills continued in Los Angeles last Sunday as the Bills won their third game in a row, taking out the Rams 30-19 thanks to a stout defense and the rushing exploits of RB LeSean McCoy, who rumbled for 150 yards on 18 carries. There will be a familiar face under center for the 49ers this week as QB Colin Kaepernick was named the starter in place of the struggling Gabbert, as coach Chip Kelly looks to generate a spark for a team that’s lost four straight games. On the other side of the ledger, the red-hot Bills have been doing it with defense and a devastating ground game. Kaepernick might give the 49ers a bit of a spark, but their porous run defense is going to have a difficult time keeping McCoy in check. The Bills win by at least a touchdown.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) @ Chicago Bears (1-4)
Game Pick: Bears – If it seemed like a while ago that the Jaguars won, it’s because it was two weeks ago that Jacksonville finally won their first game of the season, defeating the Colts 30-27 in London. The Jaguars were in control for most of the game until letting the Colts put up 21 points in the fourth quarter to make it a nail bitter. The Bears gave the Colts all they could handle last week, but unfortunately a late fourth quarter doomed Chicago as they dropped a 29-23 decision in Indianapolis. The Bears managed to rack up 522 yards of total offense, but somehow could only must two touchdowns. This is a tough game to get a read on. The Jaguars won their last game, but it’s hard to say how they will react after being off for two weeks. For the Bears, despite being 1-4, they seem to have found a rhythm with QB Brian Hoyer under center. He’s thrown for over 1,000 yards, six touchdowns and perhaps most surprisingly, zero interceptions since replacing injured QB Jay Cutler. Take the Bears to win a high scoring affair, but it will be close.
Los Angeles Rams (3-2) @ Detroit Lions (2-3)
Game Pick: Lions – The Rams dropped a 30-19 decision to Buffalo last weekend. Their shorthanded defensive line couldn’t contain Bills RB LeSean McCoy, and mix that in with a few interceptions and fumbles from the Rams offense and you don’t have a recipe that will win you many football games. Meanwhile in Detroit, the Lions jumped all over the Eagles early, before letting them back into the game in the second half. Philadelphia was poised to ice the game until CB Darius Slay forced a fumble that the Lions defense recovered. Slay later added a late interception late to close out the contest and help the Lions win 24-23. Detroit has had trouble stopping the run, and without DT Haloti Ngata, it will be even more difficult a chore for them to stop Rams RB Todd Gurley. However they may get DE Ziggy Ansah back which will help the Lions immensely. The Rams are banged up on the defensive line, and now will be without top CB Trumaine Johnson for a couple of weeks. It’s going to be tough for them to slow down QB Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense. Take the Lions to win by a field goal.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-4)
Game Pick: Steelers – That 37-3 drubbing at the hands of the Eagles a few weeks back seems like ages ago now for the Steelers, who have their offense humming along at an impressive clip since RB LeVeon Bell returned from suspension. QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns and WR Sammie Coates hauled in six catches for 139 yards and two scores. The Dolphins started their four game homestand with a resounding thud as they were embarrassed 30-17 by the Titans, and the score really was quite flattering to Miami. Save for a punt return touchdown and couple of 50+ yard pass plays, the Dolphins offense was horrendous. You have to figure the Dolphins will be a little more sharp this week, but with the way the Steelers are playing, it likely won’t matter much. Roethlisberger is red hot right now, and now gets to face a Miami defense that doesn’t match up well at all with the weapons Pittsburgh has on offense. It would be pretty surprising if the Steelers don’t win this one.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) @ New England Patriots (4-1)
Game Pick: Patriots – It was pretty much over at half time as the Bengals were thoroughly beaten 28-14 by the Cowboys in Dallas last Sunday. Both Cincinnati touchdowns were scored in garbage time in the fourth quarter in what was arguably one of the worst performances by the Bengals in quite sometime. It was the exact opposite for the Patriots as they dominated the Browns from start to finish, welcoming back QB Tom Brady in a 33-13 win for New England. Brady showed no rust from his four game layoff, throwing for 406 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to TE Martellus Bennett. It’s going to be difficult for the Bengals to play much worse than they did last week, but they are facing a tough team to bounce back against in New England. With TE Tyler Eifert expected to be out yet again for the Bengals, look for Patriots coach Bill Belichick to game plan to erase WR A.J. Green. The Bengals should be a lot more competitive this week, and maybe they were looking past Dallas to this game. That all being said, the Patriots win, but the Bengals keep it close.
Carolina Panthers (1-4) @ New Orleans Saints (1-3)
Game Pick: Panthers – It was an ugly Monday night game in Carolina and unfortunately for the Panthers, they were on the wrong end of it, losing 17-14 to the Buccaneers. Filling in for the injured Cam Newton, QB Derek Anderson struggled, throwing for only 278 yards and a couple of interceptions. The Saints managed to go into their bye on a high note a couple of weeks ago with a 35-34 win on the road at San Diego. Things looked bleak for New Orleans until the Saints converted a couple of Chargers turnovers into 14 points late in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to believe the Panthers are 1-4 and at the bottom of the NFC South, but that’s where they are. One more loss for them and it’s going to be increasingly difficult to make the playoffs. New Orleans is catching the Panthers defense at the right time, and QB Drew Brees should be able to pick apart the awful Carolina secondary. However the Saints have their own problems defensively, and will have to find a way to stop a Panthers attack that will be aided with the return of Newton at quarterback. There will be points a plenty in this one, and Carolina will be the team that comes out on top.
Baltimore Ravens (3-2) @ New York Giants (2-3)
Game Pick: Ravens – The Ravens were running all over the Redskins in the first half of the game, but puzzlingly, OC Marc Trestman decided to get away from that in the second half, and that, along with an interception that LB C.J. Mosley fumbled out of the endzone proved to be the difference in a 16-10 loss to Washington. Trestman ended up getting replaced by Marty Mornhinweg earlier in the week, as his questionable game calling cost him his job. It looked like a favorable matchup for the Giants going up against a porous Packers secondary. They failed to take advantage of that though, dropping a 23-16 decision to the Green Bay on Sunday night. QB Eli Manning managed a paltry 199 yards through the air. Expect the Ravens to put an emphasis on keeping the ground game going this week, and maybe even take a few more deep shots down the field. The Giants are trending in the wrong direction, but it almost seems like they are due for a big game. This game seems like it really could go either way, but take the team that made a change at coordinator. That always seems to give a team an added spark.
Cleveland Browns (0-5) @ Tennessee Titans (2-3)
Game Pick: Titans – The poor Browns literally can’t catch a break. Not only did they have to play the Patriots in the return game of QB Tom Brady, but they lost third string QB Cody Kessler to injury during the game, meaning Charlie Whitehurst (aka Clipboard Jesus) was forced into action. Not surprisingly, they lost to New England, 33-13. It was an all around team effort for the Titans in their 30-17 victory over the Dolphins last weekend. QB Marcus Mariota threw three touchdowns, the team (Mariota included) rushed for a combined 235 yards and the defense recorded six sacks and two interceptions. The Titans are riding high after their best performance of the year, but this is still a team with flaws, which means this may be one of the few games that the Browns might stand a chance of winning this year. Kessler is banged up, but should be ready to start. He’s not great, but he’s been serviceable enough to keep the team in games. That all being said, the Titans still seem like the right side in this one, but it will probably be a tight, low scoring game.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) @ Washington Redskins (3-2)
Game Pick: Eagles – Instead of looking fresh off the bye, the Eagles sleepwalked through the first half of their game against the Lions last week before making a charge and actually holding the lead briefly in the fourth quarter. However a fumble by RB Ryan Mathews proved costly as the Lions turned it into the game winning field goal in a 24-23 loss for Philadelphia. The Redskins meanwhile benefited from some questionable opposition play calling and a fortunate fumble for a touchback in a 16-10 win over in-state rival Baltimore. They haven’t been overly impressive the past two weeks, but after starting 0-2, Washington has won three straight. These NFC East games tend be very unpredictable, and this one is no different. Despite losing, the Eagles seemed to get back on track in the second half against the Lions, especially defensively as the shut down Detroit after half time. The Redskins passing game does match up well with the Eagles secondary, but QB Kirk Cousins can’t do it by himself, which he may be forced to do. And not having TE Jordan Reed for this game hurts. The Eagles take this one by a field goal.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-1)
Game Pick: Chiefs – It’s been nearly two weeks since the Chiefs were destroyed on Sunday night by the Steelers 43-14, a game that the Chiefs would surely like to forget. QB Alex Smith was forced to throw the ball 50 times, and that’s not something that is going to lead to many Kansas City victories. The Raiders continued to find ways to win games late, though this time they were the beneficiary of a Chargers dropped snap on a potential game tying field goal attempt in a 34-31 victory over San Diego. All the Raiders games this season have been decided by a touchdown or less, and this divisional tilt should be no different. With the Chiefs coming off a bye (coach Andy Reid is 15-2 off bye weeks in his career) and a horrific loss, Oakland might be set to be on the losing side of this one. Throw in the fact that the Raiders have been significantly outgained in terms of total yardage in every game they’ve played and they seem primed for a loss. This could also end up being a high scoring game with question marks in both teams secondaries. Take the road squad in this one, in what would be considered a mild upset.
Dallas Cowboys (4-1) @ Green Bay Packers (3-1)
Game Pick: Packers – If the Cowboys weren’t being taken seriously, they absolutely are now after completely steamrolling the Bengals at home 28-14 last Sunday. Rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott rumbled for 134 yards and two touchdowns, running behind a dominant offensive line. It wasn’t the sharpest performance by QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coming off a bye, but his 259 yards passing and two touchdowns was enough in a 23-16 win over the Giants on Sunday night. This is going to be another litmus test type of game for the Cowboys, who are rolling thanks to a pair of rookies in Elliott and QB Dak Prescott. The return of DE Demarcus Lawrence even seemed to spark the Cowboys defense somewhat, giving the pass rush some juice. However, the Packers are always tough to beat at home and with one of the toughest run defenses in the league, Elliott might not run wild in this one. If WR Dez Bryant suits up for Dallas (he’s probably 50/50 to play), that would help them significantly. Take the Packers at home, but it would not be surprising at all if the Cowboys pulled off the upset on the road.
Atlanta Falcons (4-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
Game Pick: Seahawks – Arguably the biggest surprise in the league, the Falcons continued their winning ways in Denver last week with a stunning 23-16 victory over the Broncos. WR Julio Jones was kept in check, but the dynamic backfield tandem of RB Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman was too much for the elite Broncos defense to handle. They combined for almost 300 total yards of offense. The Seahawks had a well timed bye week in place last week, giving wounded QB Russell Wilson a chance to heal. Despite him being banged up, they managed to go to New York two weeks ago and take down the Jets 27-17. This is going to be another stiff test for the Falcons on the road and as well as they’ve played, this match up definitely favors the Seahawks. Their linebackers should be able to contain Freeman and Coleman, while CB Richard Sherman should be able to keep Jones in check. When you also factor in that Wilson should be close to 100% healthy and the Seahawks are at home, they appear to be the right side in this one. The Falcons suspect defense may get slightly exposed by the time this game is over.
Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Houston Texans (3-2)
Game Pick: Colts – Despite surrendering over 500 yards of offense to the Bears and QB Andrew Luck being sacked five times, the Colts were able to edge Chicago 29-23 at home last weekend. The ageless Adam Vinatieri was key for Indianapolis yet again, nailing five field goals, including two from 50+ yards. The Texans ran into the buzzsaw that is the Minnesota Vikings defense and were unable to put up much of a fight in a 31-13 defeat. The Vikings jumped out to an early lead and in reality, this game was pretty much over after the first quarter. The AFC South is wide open right now, and whomever wins on Sunday night between these two teams might look back at this game as the game that springboarded them to a division title. Both the Colts and Texans are constructed similarly, in that each of these teams have explosive weapons on offense. The Texans defense is a little more stout, even without DE J.J. Watt, but the Colts have the edge at quarterback with Luck. In a game that is likely to be decided by whomever has the ball last, take Indianapolis to beat the Texans by less than a touchdown.
New York Jets (1-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (3-2)
Game Pick: Cardinals – The Jets schedule was thought to be among the toughest in the league and thus far it has lived up to its billing as New York dropped to 1-4 after a 31-13 beatdown at the hands of the Steelers. They did put up a good fight, actually leading 13-6 at one point before Pittsburgh pulled away in the second half. The 49ers were just what the doctor ordered for the Cardinals, as they defeated San Francisco 33-21, despite not having QB Carson Palmer in the line up. RB David Johnson pilled up 157 rushing yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for Arizona. Things don’t get any easier for the Jets this week, having to travel from east to west to play against the Cardinals on Monday night. Palmer is expected to return this week, and he has to be licking his chops going up against a Jets pass defense that has been absolutely atrocious this season. The Jets might be able to slow down Johnson with their stout front seven, but Palmer is probably going to light up the New York secondary. This game may follow a similar type of script for the Jets this week. Expect them to hang around early, before the Cardinals pull away late.