Last week I went 10-4 to take me to 42-16 overall. Here are my picks for this week:
Green Bay (3-2) @ Cleveland (1-5)
My pick: Green Bay
-The Browns 23rd ranked pass defense was victimized by the Pittsburgh Steelers last week in a 27-14 loss, and while Aaron Rodgers isn't exactly Ben Roethlisberger, he should be able to do a similar amount of damage. His offensive line has allowed him to be sacked a league-high 25 times this season in just five games, yet he's still been pretty effective. Even if the Browns get him on his back a few times they're having a lot of trouble putting points on the board (11 completed passes and 20 points in their last two games, while registering five sacks), so that may not be that big of a factor.
San Francisco (3-2) @ Houston (3-3)
My pick: Houston
-If the Niners are going to win this game, it'll have to be on the ground because Shaun Hill's isn't really killing it in the air so far this season. The Houston Texans have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league this season, losing the week after each of their three wins this season, but quarterback Matt Schaub has been playing lights out football since a disappointing start in week one. Rookie Michael Crabtree is expected to make his debut for San Fran this weekend, but I don't think it'll matter. The Texans will shake their win-then-lose streak on Sunday.
San Diego (2-3) @ Kansas City (1-5)
My pick: San Diego
-The Chargers are coming off a tough loss last week to Denver, but they’ll bounce back this week against the Chiefs. KC won last week, but it was against Washington, though they have shown signs of life in the weeks leading up to that win. The pressure is on for San Diego though, and I expect Philip Rivers and company will rise to the challenge.
Indianapolis (5-0) @ St. Louis (0-6)
My pick: Indianapolis
-I promise you, I won’t ALWAYS pick the undefeated team to beat the winless team – but Peyton Manning is playing the best football of his career and the Rams…well, they aren’t. The only thing the Rams do better than the Colts is on the ground, but they also put an average of just nine points per game, compared to over 27 by Indianapolis. I have to give this one to a rested Colts team.
New England (4-2) @ Tampa Bay (0-6)
My pick: New England
-The snow won’t be a factor this weekend, but it wasn’t a factor for the Pats last weekend when Tom Brady threw six touchdown passes in a 59-0 rout of the Titans. The only variable in this game is that it’s in London, England. It shouldn’t really matter though, the Patriots may have just found their rhythm and that is a bad sign for a team like Tampa Bay.
Minnesota (6-0) @ Pittsburgh (4-2)
My pick: Pittsburgh
-The Vikings luck on the undefeated front almost ran out last week when it came down to a last second missed field goal by Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Steelers got off to a slow start, but have won three in a row. It’s only a matter of time before the Vikings lose a game, and I think it’ll happen against a Pittsburgh team that seems to have got their act together in the last few weeks.
Buffalo (2-4) @ Carolina (2-3)
My pick: Carolina
-The Panthers have won two straight and are coming up against a Buffalo team that has performed well below expectations this season so far. Statistically, these two teams are quite close but I think Carolina’s 12-ranked defense will outperform Buffalo’s. Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was rattled after making just one catch in last week’s win over Tampa Bay, so look for him to really try to make an impact.
NY Jets (3-3) @ Oakland (2-4)
My pick: New York
-Mark Sanchez looked horrible last week in the Jets’ overtime loss to Buffalo and the Raiders will be riding high after a huge upset over the Philadelphia Eagles…but I don’t think Oakland’s got what it takes to make it two straight. Sanchez really has to prove himself after throwing five interceptions last week and playing the Raiders should give him a good chance to get back into the zone.
Chicago (3-2) @ Cincinnati (4-2)
My pick: Cincinnati
-In the first five weeks of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals waited until the last minute to either win or lose a game. Last week, they lost to Houston and I think this week they’ll be looking to avenge that loss with a big home win over the Bears. Look for Chad Ochocinco and Cedric Benson to lead the Bengals offense, and even though their defense is hurting without Antwan Odom, I think that’ll be enough.
Atlanta (4-1) @ Dallas (3-2)
My pick: Dallas
-Despite the rise of the Atlanta Falcons in the past few weeks, the rested Dallas Cowboys will come out on top in this one. Dallas’ offense has a good balance of passing and rushing, while the defense seems to be fairly consistent. If Tony Romo is on his game, the Cowboys will prevail. The Dallas defense will be in tough though against a very comfortable looking Matt Ryan and a very dangerous Michael Turner.
New Orleans (5-0) @ Miami (2-3)
My pick: New Orleans
-I’ve been very impressed with the Miami Dolphins this season, but the Saints have stomped all over their competition right from the get go this year, including a dominating performance over the then-undefeated NY Giants last week. Drew Brees is a beast through five weeks, leading an offense that averages almost 40 points per game. The two defenses are pretty close in the rankings, but I expect the Saints offense to be the difference.
Arizona (3-2) @ NY Giants (5-1)
My pick: New York
-I didn’t pick the Cardinals last week and they pumped the Seattle Seahawks, but I’m not picking them again this week. Why? Because the Giants are a good team that was embarrassed last week on the road, and now they’re back at home. Eli Manning needs a good bounce-back performance this week. Honestly though, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald lead the Cards to the win.
Philadelphia (3-2) @ Washington (2-4)
My pick: Philadelphia
-You’d have to think that after last week, the Eagles will come out looking to prove something against the Redskins. Donovan McNabb completed just 22 of 46 passes last week with no touchdowns in a loss to the damn Oakland Raiders (who saw that coming?!) in one of those games I’ve heard he’s known for where he just loses it for a week. In the air, the Eagles have the advantage (and not just because they’re birds), but then again – that depends on McNabb coming out with a strong performance. The Redskins are averaging just 13 points a game this season but their defense is playing a lot better than the offense. The Eagles will take this one.