Four weeks into the NFL season and there have been plenty of storylines, from the hated replacement refs to the play of rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. The Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans have also been playing at a high level.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals headed into the week undefeated, while the New Orleans Saints sit winless. But as we will soon see, KP is predicting for that to change in this week’s “Pick Your Knows” segment.
Week 4 brought plenty of good fortune, with a strong performance that ended with just four losses against the spread. Here’s hoping that this week will be more of the same.
Last Week: 11-4
This Season: 32-31
Last Two Seasons: 144-112 (2010) and 131-125 (2011)
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: 2012 NFL Week 5 Picks Against the Spread
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams (+1.5) – Rans win 17-3
Both the Rams and Cardinals have allowed 14 sacks on the season, tied for the second most in the NFL, and each quarterback could see significant pocket pressure. Arizona’s rush offense is ranked 29th in the NFL, and produced very little. That leaves the Arizona pass offense, which will face a Rams defense that has allowed just 2 TD’s, while forcing 8 INT’s. Playing at home in what could be a close game between two far-from-potent offenses, it’s the Rams and Jeff Fisher who may just find a way, especially if kicker Greg Zuerlein continues to nail long field goals. I’m taking St. Louis to send the Cardinals to its first loss.
KP’s Pick: St. Louis
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (+4.5)
The Ravens have the league’s second best offense (424 ypg) with a +4 turnover margin, while the Chiefs have the fourth best offense (418.5 ypg), coupled with the NFL’s worst turnover margin (-13). Kansas City’s defense, when not having to handle Ray Rice and the run game, will have to deal with Baltimore’s solid pass offense. The Chiefs have allowed 10 passing TD’s on the year, the second most in the league. As I mentioned last week, Kansas City’s homefield advantage is not what it once was, and therefore, with a spread this low, it’s hard to not pick the Ravens.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
As much as the Eagles have turned the ball over, Philadelphia currently sits with a -5 turnover ratio. The Eagles clearly have the weapons, and this inner-state battle always creates energy similar to a divisional rivalry. The Steelers have had a week off to prepare for the Eagles, which could factor into the game. That, plus Troy Polamalu and James Harrison are expected to play, which only will boost Pittsburgh’s defensive attack. With a week of rest, returning players, homefield advantage and a week to stew over a tough loss in Oakland, I’m taking the Steelers to cover at home.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh
Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts (+7.5)
Aaron Rodgers posted his best game of the season last week, lighting up the New Orleans defense. This week, Rodgers faces off against the Colts, a defense that has managed just 1 INT on the year. Andrew Luck is poised for a rookie, but if Clay Matthews can get pressure on the Colts QB, it could be a long day for Indy’s offense. The Packers’ defense is vulnerable, and can give up yards and points, but it’s hard to imagine the Colts slowing down Green Bay. Despite having a bye week, Indy will still struggle. Packers cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5)
Miami’s run defense is ranked at the top of the NFL, but Cincinnati’s strength has been more with its top ten passing game. Miami’s defense has played well, managing 12 sacks over the first four weeks. Cincinnati has allowed 12 sacks, meaning the Dolphins could find ways to get to Andy Dalton and force mistakes. Cincinnati has a number of defensive players emerging on the injury list. Ryan Tannehill has had moments, and clearly enjoys throwing the ball to Brian Hartline. Reggie Bush isn’t currently on the injury list, which is an added healthy weapon. The Dolphins have stayed in games, and this week could be more of the same.
KP’s Pick: Miami
Cleveland Browns at New York Giants (-10.5)
The Browns have stayed within a touchdown of both the Eagles and Ravens this year. Joe Haden is still suspended, which hurts the Cleveland pass defense. The Giants will be without Hakeem Nicks, but still have plenty of weapons on offense. Both teams have fared very well against the spread in recent memory. The spread is high, and while it’s tempting to take the Browns for that reason, something is swaying me towards the Giants – and that mostly lies to New York’s talented and aggressive pass rush, which should force rookie Brandon Weeden into making numerous mistakes. Eli Manning will do the rest at home. Giants cover…but barely.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins (+3.5)
Washington’s rushing attack – led by Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris – is ranked 2nd in the NFL, averaging 171.0 yards per game. Clearly, the Redskins will attempt to control the clock and keep Atlanta’s potent weapons off the field. Washington also has the homefield advantage, coupled with the offensive weapons to turn this into a shootout. But, the Redskins’ defense has allowed 11 passing touchdowns, the most in the NFL. Matt Ryan has been rock solid, and has arguably the best passing weapons in football, including the trio of White, Jones and Gonzalez. I don’t think the ‘Skins have the horses to stay in this race. Atlanta covers on the road.
KP’s Pick: Atlanta
Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars (+4.5)
Jacksonville’s best chance at establishing a consistent offense starts with Maurice Jones-Drew. But with Chicago sporting the league’s third best rush defense, this will be a challenge. The Bears have 15 sacks on the season, the 3rd most in the NFL, while Jacksonville has only managed two on the year. With this in mind, all signs point to Jay Cutler having time to pick apart the Jags, while Blaine Gabbert may get forced into an error-prone performance. Bears cover.
KP’s Pick: Chicago
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)
Seattle has been suffocating on defense, but anemic on offense – especially in the passing game, which is ranked last in the NFL (130.8 ypg). Carolina has been a Jekyl and Hyde team, getting blown out by the Giants one week and pushing the Falcons to the brink in another. There has been a lot of chatter regarding west coast teams struggling when they play on the east coast. I don’t buy into the time zone thing as much as the next guy, and with the way Seattle’s defense can slow a game, I’m more banking on a low-scoring affair, which could lead to a field goal victory. That’s why I’m sticking with the Seahawks and the points.
KP’s Pick: Seattle
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)
The Bills travel to the west coast after getting dismantled by the Patriots last week. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are not listed on the injury report, and will attempt to spark Buffalo’s 4th ranked rushing offense. San Francisco will send Frank Gore at Buffalo’s 28th ranked run defense, while throwing its vicious defense at Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has thrown seven picks on the year. San Francisco is ranked in the top five against both the run and the pass, and playing at home will likely be too much for the Bills to handle. Niners cover.
KP’s Pick: San Francisco
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)
Matt Hasselbeck will start in place of the injured Jake Locker. Tennessee has been blown out in each of its three losses, but saw improvement last week, at least from Chris Johnson and the running game. This may be the spark Johnson needed, but he will be facing a Minnesota defense that is ranked in the top ten against the run. The stats and Minnesota’s homefield advantage point to the Vikings, but there’s just something about a veteran backup quarterback coming in and sparking a team. We’ve seen it before. Hasselbeck keeps this one close.
KP’s Pick: Tennessee
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (-7.5)
It doesn’t matter what team Peyton Manning plays for, when his team takes on Bill Belichick, it’s bound to be a shootout. Manning and Brady have combined to throw for approximately 2,400 yards, with 15 TD’s and just 4 INT’s. Each team exploded on offense last week and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see these two teams exchange touchdowns all night long. With Manning under center, I have a hard time taking the Pats to run away with this game.
KP’s Pick: Denver
San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5)
The winless Saints faced desperation last week, and return home to face yet another tough opponent. San Diego’s only loss was a 24-point defeat at the hands of the Falcons. New Orleans will present a similar challenge for San Diego’s defense, especially in front of its home fans. The Chargers are finally healthy, and will score points. But after nearly knocking off Green Bay at Lambeau last week, it’s hard to imagine a desperate Saints team letting another game slip away. I expect a one-score game, and think the Saints will win by a TD.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans
Houston Texans at New York Jets (+7.5)
The Texans are arguably playing better than any other team in the AFC, while the Jets – following its blowout loss to the Niners – now are without its top defensive player (Revis) and one of its top offensive weapons (Santonio Holmes, out for the year). New York is ranked second to last in run defense (172.8 ypg), while allowing the most touchdowns on the ground (7). Houston’s top-ten ranked rushing offense, led by Arian Foster, should have lots of success. On top of that, Houston’s second ranked pass defense may finally push Rex Ryan towards bringing Tim Tebow into the game. Either way, all signs point to a big win for the Texans. Houston covers.
KP’s Pick: Houston
Bye Week: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers