For the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles, it’s been an NFL season originally filled with promise, that’s instead taken a nosedive into panic mode. With each team having that “backs against the wall” feeling this early in the season, this week, these two “Super Bowl favorites” each face off against quality opponents.
And while the Jets take on the Patriots and the Eagles deal with the upstart Bills, the Detroit Lions remain on cruise control, completing yet another dramatic second half comeback last week, this time against the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 5, Matthew Stafford and the Lions hit the Monday night scene, taking on division rival Chicago.
Meanwhile, in the “Pick Your Knows” department, I hit the .500 mark last week, all after four of the early games switched on me in the final minutes. Let’s see what this week brings.
Last Week: 8-8
This Season: 31-33
Last Season: 144-112
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 5’s scheduled games (with spreads as they appear through CBSSports Fantasy).
Pick Your Knows: 2011 NFL Week 5 Picks Against the Spread
Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills (+2.5)
The 1-3 Eagles have their backs against the wall, even this early in the season – and Michael Vick has been treating it this way throughout the week. The Bills go back home, after blowing a lead to the Bengals last week. Philly’s run defense has struggled this year, and Fred Jackson has been very effective for the Bills. That matchup will be the biggest key. But in a must-win situation, Vick and the Eagles knock off the Bills in a shootout.
KP’s Pick: Philadelphia
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (+5.5)
Cam Newton has put up some gaudy numbers in his first four games as a pro, but the Saints’ offense has put up some points, too. Carolina’s run defense is ranked 31st in football, and guys like Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram could run wild. Gregg Williams will also likely provide a lot of headaches for the Carolina offense, leaving it a good possibility that the Saints win by a TD.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (-6.5)
Andre Johnson – one of the best receivers in the NFL – is out for the Texans. That could mean less open receivers for Matt Schaub, meaning more time for the Raiders’ front line to get pressure on the Houston QB. Oakland will likely eat up plenty of clock with its effective run game, led by Darren McFadden. The result should be a close game.
KP’s Pick: Oakland
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (-1.5)
Curtis Painter held his own last week against the Bucs. This week, Painter gets his second straight start, and gets the Chiefs at home. Kansas City has managed just five sacks in four games, which means a depleted Indy O-line may be able to still protect Painter. With all the weapons that the Colts have, a first win of the season is a good possibility.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5)
Let’s put it this way…the Jaguars are currently 31st in total offense, while the Bengals are first in overall defense (yards per game). The matchup features two rookie QB’s, Blaine Gabbert and Andy Dalton. Dalton has been by far the more effective quarterback to this point, and with the above team stats in mind, it’s hard to pick against Cincinnati, even on the road.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)
The Vikings have the third ranked rush offense behind Adrian Peterson and the fifth-ranked rush defense. Donovan McNabb has struggled and the team has been unable to hold leads. But Minnesota notoriously plays better at home, and if the Vikings can keep Beanie Wells in check, it would force Kevin Kolb to have to torch a mediocre pass defense. But will he? Here’s betting that the Vikings finally break through and into the win column, all thanks to Peterson.
KP’s Pick: Minnesota
Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants (-9.5)
Even with the injuries, the Giants defense has allowed just three passing touchdowns, while adding 12 sacks on opposing quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Seattle has just five sacks on the year, which means that Eli Manning and the offense should have plenty of time to get into a good rhythm. With a steady dose of Ahmad Bradshaw, plus the talent in the pass game, it’s a good bet that the Giants will find a way to get a double-digit victory at home over the ‘Hawks.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5)
Rashard Mendenhall is dealing with a hamstring injury and the Pittsburgh O-line also has injuries of its own. Chris Johnson is showing signs of waking up in Tennessee. Matt Hasselbeck showed that he could move the ball last week, even without Kenny Britt. The Titans defense has been solid, too. Bank on Tennessee keeping this game close, even on the road.
KP’s Pick: Tennessee
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers (-.5)
The 49ers are getting healthier, specifically Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree, who could each provide a boost to an offense that heads into the week riding the momentum of a comeback win against Philadelphia. Tampa Bay plays in close games often, which is why this spread is a tossup. The Niners defense has three times more picks than the Bucs to this point, and my gut feel is that the home team makes one less mistake on this day – resulting in a win.
KP’s Pick: San Francisco
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (+4.5)
The Denver defense has allowed five plays of 40 or more yards this season. Only Miami has allowed more on the year. Philip Rivers is capable of making big plays in bunches and Ryan Mathews is coming into his own, too. San Diego also has the fifth best pass defense, and could put the clamps down on the Denver passing offense. Chargers cover.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-9.5)
The New England offense has been spectacular, while the Jets’ defense has been mostly a disappointment. New England’s defense has been very beatable, and the loss of Jerod Mayo will hurt them even more. Rex Ryan has been vocally frustrated with the defense, and should have them ready, especially against his division rivals. Even as New York has struggled, it’s hard to predict a 10-point loss on this night. Take the Jets and the points.
KP’s Pick: New York Jets
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (+5.5)
Everyone remembers the 2010 playoffs, when the Packers torched the Falcons in Atlanta. This season, the Falcons are not playing at the same level, allowing 28 points last week to a Seattle team that has struggled on offense. With the high-flying Packers in town, coupled with the way Atlanta has been playing, it’s hard to pick against Green Bay in a shootout. Packers cover.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Chicag Bears at Detroit Lions (-6.5)
The Lions have been a middle of the road team when it comes to sacks, with nine on the year. Chicago has allowed the second most sacks, and the Bears O-line could have trouble with Suh and company. But Detroit has fallen behind each of the last two weeks, and with weapons like Forte, Cutler and Hester, the Bears could easily get a lead, too. If Detroit needs another second half comeback, don’t expect a TD-plus victory. Take the Bears and the points.
KP’s Pick: Chicago