My NFL predictions for week 5 include rivalry games and upsets. The week began Thursday night with the St. Louis Rams for knocking the Arizona Cardinals out of the ranks of the undefeated. Now is the time when we will begin to really see which teams are contenders…and which are pretenders. The tone has been set…these teams are who we thought they were…to quote former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green…Now onto week five predictions.
Is this Rivalry Week in the League? Well, not quite. But we have a battle of Southwest Conference quarterbacks (Andy Dalton vs. Ryan Tannehill), an interstate match-up (Philadelphia at Pittsburgh) and a rivalry going into its 13th game (Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning), although with one new team (Denver) playing New England this time.
Here’s how I see these games, using the average point spread:
PITTSBURGH -3 over Philadelphia: I think Pitt comes out and crushes the Iggles, even though Big Ben takes a few shots. His O-line needs to help him, but Philadelphia has Jason Babin and Trent Cole, both of whom will get to Ben. Philly has not beaten the Stillers in 8 years. It continues Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS +7 over Green Bay: Packers WR Greg Jennings is not playing…that can’t be good for the Pack. And, this is your one chance to see Andrew Luck vs. Aaron Rodgers for years, barring a Super Bowl appearance. And the Colts will be playing very hard for Chuck Pagano, missing due to treatment for leukemia…Advantage COLTS.
ATLANTA -2-1/2 over Washington: Hate to pick against RG3, but he has not seen a defense like Atlanta’s this year…or ever. I have been watching him for years, and knew he’d be good…but he has been brilliant (one interception, 69.4 completion rate, 103.2 rating), and this would be a great spot to add to his record. Matt Ryan is playing his best football ever…plays well under pressure…and will make more plays Sunday for the Falcons to cover.
CINCINNATI -3 over Miami: Ryan Tannehill has been quietly improving each week. No doubt, this kid can play. He makes good, smart throws…his receivers, on the other hand, fail to help him in many situations. Andy Dalton for the Bengals will show Tannehill how it’s done in the NFL.
BALTIMORE -6 over KC: Orioles Magic switches over to their stadium neighbors, the Ravens. This team has championship written all over it…or at least a deep run in the playoffs.
CLEVELAND +10 over the NY Football Giants: Shocking, I know, but have you seen Brandon Weeden? If he gets time, and the line keeps opening holes for Trent Richardson, the team in Orange helmets will keep it closer than the Giants fans want it to be…Not saying they will win, but I’ll take the 10 points this time out.
SEATTLE +3 over Carolina (Not really sure on this one…the Panthers had a nice game in Atlanta last weekend, but just came up short (Matty Ice destroyed their defenders on that last 90-yard drive)…Will be watching the players list to see who will NOT play for Carolina…And, this is Russell Wilson’s homecoming game…
CHICAGO -4-1/2 over Jacksonville: Trap game for the Bears? A let-down is inevitable coming off their emotional destruction of the Cowgirls in Dallas. Jay Cutler will have plenty of time to throw…Jax has only had a league-low 2 sacks.
DENVER +7-1/2 over New England: Upset special…Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Brady is 8-4 against Manning…just don’t think Peyton is not thinking about that. I think it can be a close game…maybe 3-6 points, which is why I like Denver…but I wouldn’t bet the house on it (unless you are upside-down…).
SAN FRANCISCO -9-1/2 over Buffalo: The Bills have a great defensive line – on paper – but they are allowing 4.8 yards per carry…and they give up 286 yards passing. The Niners are good…really good. Buffalo, as you saw against New England, can be bad…really bad. That being said, I really don’t like giving 10 points…but in this case I feel it’s a good bet.
MINNESOTA -5-1/2 over Tennessee: Yes, I am a believer in Minnesota now. The Titans give up too much on defense…and I don’t think AP will be stopped. If he is, the Vikes’ passing game will not be.
NEW ORLEANS -3-1/2 over San Diego: I just think the presence of all the banned coaches FINALLY being in the same building as Drew Brees will have some kind of karma-like effect on the Saints. They can’t go 0-5, can they? At home? NO!
EARLY MONDAY PICK:
HOUSTON -8 over the New York Jets: Yep, Houston is the cream of the crop, along with the Ravens, and the Jets, well, they’re the Jets. Unless Tebow plays more, this team has no offense…no line…they’re a mess. It’s like Rex Ryan hates offense so much, he just won’t play any. HEADLINE: Rex – it’s 2012…the forward pass is in play and no one uses fullbacks anymore. Use the rules the NFL has put in place to your advantage. Personally, this is my Lock of the Week.
And, as Willie Nelson and Dandy Don Meredith said, “Turn out the lights…the party’s over!” Yes, that song just came up on my iTunes playlist…Karma – gotta love it!