NFL: Week 6 Picks
By Guest Blogger Willypops:
I get a kick every week listening to the so called experts make their picks in the various NFL games for the upcoming weekend. Sometimes they just consider the match-ups and pick a winner, often they make their picks against the point spreads. They of course love to offer their comments as to what they are basing their picks on. Truth is, the logic they apply isn’t necessarily any more profound than the logic we regular folks use when we participate in our football pools at work or with family and friends. I participate in a small family pool run by my nephew (as of now I’m holding my own in the middle of the pack!). Like most people, I enjoy the challenge of matching my “knowledge” against the others. Bottom line is that, unless you are involved in some kind of high stakes pool, we pretty much do it for the fun of it. So I thought what the heck, why not put myself out there here on Fanspeak and play “expert” for Week #6. Here goes:
Browns (+13) @ Steelers – The Steelers are at home in Roethlisberger’s return from his suspension. Plus rookie Colt McCoy is getting his first start at quarterback for the Browns. I’m sure he’s thinking, “what did I do to deserve this?” Even if Ben does show some rustiness, the Steelers defense should have McCoy’s head spinning, and not just figuratively. I like the Steelers to easily cover the spread and win in a romp.
Chargers @ Rams (+8.5) – The Chargers are reeling after their loss at Oakland last week. Likewise, the Rams, who have shown some flashes of legitimacy this year, have to be questioning themselves after the pummeling they took from Detroit last week. With all of the player distractions, I think the Chargers’ problems run deeper than many want to believe. The Rams are going to experience some ups and downs with the rookie Bradford at quarterback but I’ll take the Rams at home with the points.
Chiefs (+4) @ Texans – The Texans, who many thought could win the AFC South this year, have been terribly inconsistent through their first 5 games. Their loss last week at home to the Giants was not pretty. The Chiefs got off to that surprising 3-0 start, but coming off their bye week, they lost their first game against the Colts last week. They did play the Colts tough but I think they are starting to come back down to earth. The Texans at 3-2 are tied with the other 3 teams in the Division and I think they renew their push to be considered serious contenders by covering the spread against the Chiefs.
Ravens (+2.5) @ Patriots – This is going to be an interesting one. The Patriots are 3-1 and are coming off a bye week. The Ravens are 4-1 and are riding a 3-game winning streak. The Patriots are still smarting from the thumping they took from the Ravens in last year’s wild-card playoff game, in which Brady was particularly awful. There are questions about the Patriots passing game with the departure of Randy Moss and the addition of former Patriot, Deion Branch since the Patriots last took the field. In the playoff game last year, the Patriots defense had trouble stopping the Ravens running game and there’s no reason to think that will change this week. But call it a hunch or whatever, I like the Patriots at home and I’ll give the points.
Saints @ Buccaneers (+4) – I know the Saints have been struggling and they have some injury issues and this game is in Tampa, but I’m surprised by the small point spread here. The Bucs are 3-1 but their wins have come against two weak teams in Carolina and Cleveland and a Bengals team that is looking more like a pretender than a contender. If Tampa Bay is for real, then this is the game where they really need to make that statement. I don’t think that is going to happen. I look for the Saints to start to put the Bucs in their place and cover the spread in doing so.
Falcons (+3) @ Eagles – Atlanta is 4-1, with their only loss coming in the opener at Pittsburgh. Since then, they have been pretty impressive with their playmakers Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White off to strong starts. The Eagles at 3-2 looked pretty good in their win at San Francisco last week. Although injured quarterback Michael Vick may dress for the game, Kevin Kolb will get the start, effectively eliminating the intrigue of Vick playing against his old team. Kolb has an opportunity here against a strong opponent to show that Andy Reid was right to trade Donovan McNabb and name him the starter at the beginning of the season. I think that will happen and I look for the Eagles to win by more than a field goal.
Lions (+10) @ Giants – After two demoralizing losses at Indianapolis and at home against the Titans, the Giants (3-2) rebounded impressively in winning the last two weeks. Their defense played lights out in those two wins and it appears that Tom Coughlin has gotten their attention. The Lions were impressive in taking apart the Rams last week and quarterback Shaun Hill has been outstanding. It will be interesting to see how he stands up against the relentless pressure that the Giants’ defense brings. My guess is, not very well and I don’t think the Giants will have a problem covering the spread at home.
Seahawks (+6.5) @ Bears – The Bears are a bit of a surprise at 4-1. Some may say they have been impressive since they beat both Dallas and Green Bay. Others may say that they’ve won somewhat through smoke and mirrors, especially considering that they’ve been winning with a weak, cobbled together offensive line. I tend to lean towards the latter. The Seahawks are 2-2 and are coming off a bye. But they are a team that you struggle to get a handle on. Reportedly, they will use recently acquired running back Marshawn Lynch which could bolster their running game. Although I am not a fan of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, I think his return this week from a concussion injury that kept him out of last week’s game will make a difference in this game. The point spread here makes this a difficult call but I think the Bears will win at home by at least a touchdown.
Dolphins (+4) @ Packers – This could be an interesting one. The Packers (3-2) are going to be looking to rebound from what I’m sure they thought was a surprising loss last week at Washington. But they have been devastated by injuries this year, several of which came in last week’s game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who received a concussion at the end of last week’s game, has been cleared to play against Miami. He will be without the services of leading receiver Jermichael Finley who may be lost for the season after suffering a knee injury on the Packers first possession last week. Meanwhile the Dolphins (2-2) are a hard team to figure out. They are coming off a bye but were very unimpressive the previous two weeks in losses to the Jets and Patriots. Considering how well those division rivals are playing, Miami can ill-afford a loss this week. However, that’s exactly what I see happening. In spite of their injury problems, I like the Packers at Lambeau and will give the points.
Jets @ Broncos (+3) – After a tough loss in the opener to the Ravens, the Jets have run off 4 straight victories, and have done so in impressive fashion. Mark Sanchez has performed much better than most people expected and the defense is flat out intimidating. The Broncos at 2-3 make you scratch your head. With their win on the road against the Titans you wanted to believe they were for real. But they were no match for two other strong teams in the Ravens and Colts. Nonetheless, quarterback Kyle Orton, who I think is way too underrated, is off to a stellar start, and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd apparently has come out from hiding and is leading the team in catches. This game is in Denver and could be a close one, but I’ll give the nod to the Jets by more than a field goal.
Raiders (+6.5) @ 49ers – This bay area match-up is an intriguing one. The 2-3 Raiders are substantial underdogs to the winless 49ers. The 49ers clearly have way underachieved so far this year. But playing in an extremely weak division, they still have to be viewed as having a legitimate shot at winning the division if they can get hot. The Raiders, with their impressive win over the Chargers last week cannot be taken lightly. Jason Campbell, who came in last week in relief of the injured Bruce Gradkowski and led the Raiders on two long scoring drives, will get the start at quarterback this week since Gradkowski is still on the mend from the injury to his throwing shoulder. Despite all the talk about the 49ers still having a shot at the playoffs, I think the problems with this team run very deep. The very visible tongue lashings delivered to quarterback Alex Smith by coach Mike Singletary on the sideline during last week’s loss could very well serve to erode Smith’s already shaky confidence. I’m taking the 6.5 points and going with the Raiders in this one.
Cowboys (+1.5) @ Vikings – This is a match-up of 1-3 teams with the loser ending up with their back against the wall. The Vikings come into this game with an ailing, aging quarterback who, as evidenced by his 4th quarter performance last week, can still be dangerous. The Cowboys come into the game with a young, gunslinger quarterback who seems to always put up big numbers but can’t seem to find a way to lead his team to victory. Since this game is in Minnesota, many may be inclined to go with the Vikings. I just have this feeling that the Cowboys Offensive Coordinator, Jason Garrett will finally get it and stop trying to make Tony Romo the hero and instead use his talented running backs more to get a better balanced attack. On that shaky assumption, I’ll go with the Cowboys here to win the game outright.
Colts @ Redskins (+3) – Three points! Really?? We’ve been Redskins season ticket holders for 9 years and it pains me to say it, but this is the biggest no-brainer this week. The Redskins (3-2) have one of the weakest pass defenses in the league and Peyton Manning must be salivating as he awaits his opportunity to really shred the Redskins secondary in prime time on Sunday night. In winning the last two weeks, the Redskins defense has given up a lot of yardage but they played tough when they had to, holding the opponents (Eagles & Packers) to a total of 25 points. But come on – it’s Peyton Manning! And while the Colts (3-2) have had some key injuries on the defensive side of the ball, their smaller but quicker defensive front line will be going against a banged up and not very deep Redskins offensive line. Expect Donovan McNabb to be harassed throughout the game resulting in many one-hoppers. Some have said that this might be a real shootout. I think it may be more of a blowout. The Colts are the easy choice here to cover.
Titans @ Jaguars (+3) – Both teams come into this Monday Night game at 3-2, with the Titans getting impressive wins against the Giants and the Cowboys and the Jaguars checking in with a big win over the Colts. The game will feature two of the best running backs in the league in Chris Johnson for the Titans and Maurice Jones-Drew for the Jaguars. I think that the aggressive style of defense that the Titans play under coach Jeff Fisher will neutralize Jones-Drew and the other Jaguar playmakers. On the other hand, I look for Johnson to have a big night and despite the fact that it is the Monday Night stage and the Jaguars are at home, I’ll take the Titans and give the points.