Looking to bounce back in Week 5

Yikes. 5-11 a week
ago, it’s time I get this thing turned around. But until I do, feel
free to look at my picks and for betting purposes, pick the opposite.
That would have made you wealthy in Week 4. Week 5 rolls around with
just two unbeatens, the Packers – okay, we’re not shocked – and
the Lions – seriously, were they playing Division I-AA schools? But
give Detroit credit, including the preseason, they have won 12
straight games dating to last year. There are still four winless
teams, and Week 5 represents hope for two of them, the Rams and
Dolphins – they have byes. Still, I’ll take the points for the bye
week. Now without further “comedy”, enjoy Week 5’s picks:

Last week: 5-11

Season: 26-35-3

Arizona at
Minnesota (-1.5)

Analysis: What’s
the appeal to watch this one? Actually, these two teams put on a heck
of a show last year when the Vikings rallied from 14 points down to
force overtime, where the won 27-24. Now, the Vikings simply need to
win a game against an Arizona team that continues to lose
heartbreakers. With a quarterback change looming, Donovan McNabb
should muster up just enough with the help of Adrian Peterson to get
into the win column.
The pick: Vikings.

Cincinnati at
Jacksonville (-1.5)

Analysis: The
Jaguars just can’t get it right. Blaine Gabbert will have his growing
pains, but Andy Dalton seems to be growing just fine. A rally last
week to bring the Bengals to 2-2 showed that some of the bad karma
might be gone from the Bengals’ locker room. Unless Maurice
Jones-Drew takes over, the Bengals should amazingly find themselves
above .500.
The pick: Bengals.

Kansas City at
Indianapolis (-1.5)

Analysis: A
year ago when these teams met in early October, the Colts beat the
Chiefs to end the run of the league’s last undefeated team. This
year, the Chiefs can return the favor by keeping the Colts among the

league’s winless teams. But Indianapolis has played well the last two
weeks in defeat, and the Chiefs have just one win of their own (over
also-winless Minnesota a week ago). Curtis Painter showed he might be
able to keep the Colts in games, as the offense showed signs of life
Monday night in Tampa. That should correlate to getting the Colts off
the mat. The pick: Colts.

New Orleans (-6.5)
at Carolina

Analysis: The
Saints are quietly rolling at 3-1 and go into Carolina to face a team
that plays hard every week but has little to show for it. The
Panthers, however, could make this interesting because they have
shown the ability to go score-for-score with some of the better
offenses in the league. New Orleans should be wary in this spot as
they look to make it four straight.
The pick: Panthers.

Oakland at Houston

Analysis: The
Texans have dominated this series, winning five of the six meetings,
and are making believers each week at 3-1 for the second straight
year. The Raiders rolled over for the Patriots last week after a big
win against the Jets, as Jason Campbell showed perhaps his true
colors with one of the worst interceptions of the year. Though Andre
Johnson could be out, this game will showcase two of the game’s
premier young running backs in Darren McFadden and Arian Foster.
Foster showed he is back in a big way with last week’s 155 yards
against the Steelers. These two teams need to avoid penalties to be
successful this year, and the Texans have an opportunity to build up
a head of steam going into a tough portion of their schedule.
pick: Texans.

Philadelphia (-2.5) at

Analysis: Maybe
Buffalo will be a cure-all for the slumping Eagles. In 2003, off a
horrid 0-2 start, the Eagles won in Orchard Park to start a hot
streak in which they won 11 of 12 games. Michael Vick had his first
career 400-yard game, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a collapse
against the 49ers. But the Bills returned to earth last week by
blowing a lead of their own in Cincinnati, and that may be a sign of
things to come. Andy Reid should rally the troops with their backs
against the wall.
The pick: Eagles.

Seattle at New
York Giants (-10)

Analysis: What
a big win – and break – for the Giants last week. Victor Cruz’s
mental lapse was saved by an obscure rule, allowing Big Blue to rally
from 10 down for a 31-27 win in Arizona. New York is 3-1 and could be
the team to beat in the NFC East, and the Seahawks are a team in
major rebuilding mode. Still, this could be a classic trap game for
the G-Men as they begin a soft three-game homestand. The Giants could
still sleepwalk to a victory, but Seattle played hard a week ago and
could be looking for some redemption after the 41-7 thrashing they
took at home to the Giants last year.
The pick: Seahawks.

Tennessee at
Pittsburgh (-3.5)

Analysis: Will
he play or won’t he? Big Ben is hurting again, but the Steelers did
just fine without him last year in starting 3-1. The Titans, also
3-1, are one of the early-season surprises as they were a year ago,
but the Kenny Britt loss remains a big one. Pittsburgh needs to run
the ball more effectively, as they face a team that has given them
problems in the past. If Chris Johnson gets going, Tennessee could
continue to impress. Unfortunately, that may not happen against
Pittsburgh’s stout defense.
The pick: Steelers.

Tampa Bay at San
Francisco (-2.5)

Analysis: The
3-1 49ers continue to thrive playing with house money and could keep
rolling against a team with a bad history playing on the west coast.
The Bucs are also 3-1 but needed to survive a hungry Colts team
Monday night. They rolled the 49ers a year ago 21-0 but San Francisco
should be uplifted by its major comeback in Philadelphia last week.
The pick: 49ers.

New York Jets at
New England (-9)

Analysis: Tom
Brady seeks his “Rex-tribution” against the team that stole his
birthright a year ago to win in the playoffs. New England continues
to put up video game numbers on offense thanks to Brady and Wes
Welker, while the Jets put up Pee-Wee Football numbers on offense
against Baltimore last week. But this is a heated rivalry and with
the Jets staring at 2-3 and a two-game deficit in the division, Rex
Ryan should inspire his team to a spirited effort against the hated
Patriots. New York’s strong defense and the Patriots’ vulnerable one
should make this a tight one.
The pick: Jets.

San Diego (-4) at

Analysis: Seriously,
is it Tebow Time in Denver yet? Apparently not, and the Broncos look
lost at 1-3. San Diego is an underwhelming 3-1, having beaten three
poor teams with one ugly loss to the Patriots. The Bolts have
dominated Denver lately, winning eight of 10, but the Broncos are
facing another putrid season if they don’t come up with a decent
effort here. The Chargers may be taking for granted their patsy of a
schedule as well.
The pick: Broncos.

Green Bay (-6) at

Analysis: The
Packers haven’t skipped a beat since the Super Bowl, as they have now
won 10 straight dating to last season. Atlanta came up with a big win
in their last Sunday night appearance against Philadelphia, and
should still be smarting from their blowout loss to the Packers in
last year’s divisional round. It’s a big spot for Matt Ryan as the
Falcons are 2-2 and need to make a move, and while the Packers are a
better team, this should be a close one throughout.
pick: Falcons.

Chicago at Detroit

Analysis: What
an atmosphere it should be Monday night as the Lions take center
stage for the first time in 10 years. It wasn’t pretty then, as
Detroit was blasted 35-0 by the Rams in 2001. But this time they come
in 4-0 rather than 0-2, and have done so in historic fashion by
rallying from deficits of 20 and 24 points the past two weeks.
Chicago is a bit of an enigma at 2-2, with home wins against Atlanta
and Carolina but bad losses to New Orleans and Green Bay, but they
have won six straight against the Lions. This is a huge spot for both
teams really, perhaps more so for the Bears who seem to be answering
questions about their legitimacy every week. The emotion will carry
the Lions early but once things settle down, this should be a good
old fashioned Black and Blue Division clash.
The pick:

Upset of the
Week: JETS over PATRIOTS. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but this is a
heated rivalry that seems to get better every time the teams meet. No
doubt Tom Brady is still ticked about losing in the playoffs to the
Jets last year, but the 2-2 Jets are in danger of falling two back to
the Pats in the AFC East. With some question marks on defense for New
England, the Jets should be able to have some offensive success to
match their defensive prowess, which no doubt will be tested by
Brady, Welker, and perhaps the return of a healthy Aaron Hernandez.

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