It looks like we are starting to be able to tell between the contenders and the pretenders are already. The games actually seem much easier to pick than the past couple years. Even though last week was a little disappointing for my standards (2-3), but I wasn’t overly confident in very many games going into the week, which is why I probably only picked 5 games. Green Bay killed me when they went for the FG while down two scores. Why didn’t they go for a TD to cover that spread! I guess that should be no excuse, I expect better from myself! I’m still 16-7 on the season, so I have a little leeway at the moment in terms of a winning record on the season. I can honestly say I felt different last week watching the games, and suddenly realized that JaMarcus has single-handedly overthrown any hopes I had left that the Raiders could be competitive from week to week. Sure they might show up every third week and give someone a close game possibly even winning a couple, but in my eyes, the “caring” about the outcomes part of this season, is over. It’s scary that I was more excited about a pre-season Warriors game than my Raiders game in week 5! This should be good news from a betting perspective though! I’ll have minimal emotion attached to my picks. Here are my non-emotional LOCKS for week 5, and same as always, the home teams are in bold.
Minnesota (-10) Over St. Louis
These teams are polar opposites of each other. I’m no fan of the Favre 24 hour network, but this team is very good, and can’t afford to take anyone lightly. It doesn’t seem like a team that would either. The Vikes and Rams records are mirror images of each other, literally (5-0, 0-5) I can’t write a backwards five but you get the idea. The Vikings are already the media’s darlings that are Super Bowl bound, and I have a hard time being convinced that they will let up this week. I actually can’t believe this spread isn’t over 14! Adrian Peterson should have a much better game compared to last weeks very un-AP like performance. The 49ers skunked the Rams last week 35-0, and I see this one ending close to that same score. This might be the easiest pick of the week. I’m more curious if Jared Allen is going to bring back that mullet! His hair looks long enough to do it again, bring it back Jared!
Buffalo (-6) Over Cleveland
Buffalo has been a little disappointing this season as I didn’t expect that heartbreaking opener to linger this long, but they’re not nearly as disappointing as the Browns. The Bills only have one way to go, and that’s up. They’re much too talented of a team to play this poorly as they showed last season that they were at least a team that could string together a few wins. I see them getting their swagger back against a scarily bad Browns team.
I’m not sure if Cleveland got worse because they made a terrible TV show on Fox with their town’s name, but they’re already looking to the future, and seem to have conceded this season. They already traded away Braylon this week, and seemed to get what they needed in some draft picks in the future. There is only one way I could possibly see the Browns being competitive in this one, which would have to include one spectacular game from Cribbs running some kicks back. That’s not all that likely since their defense doesn’t seem to like making the other team punt.
San Francisco (-2.5) Over Atlanta
Apparently the 49ers are more and more like Mike Singletary with each passing week. He seems to have the whole team believing in themselves, which can never be underestimated. They’re probably the least publicized 3-1 team that can only get better in four or five weeks when Crabtree gets all situated. If it wasn’t for that lucky/heroic Favre throw, they could be undefeated! They’ve covered or beat the spread for me every week this season, so this is no time to give up on them now with less than a field goal! Atlanta might be better than they’ve played so far, but their offense hasn’t been in sync all season. They are coming off a bye week, but I don’t see it being easy against a solid San Francisco defense. We might have to off on Michael Turner’s breakout week. Starter Shaun Hill is a surprising 7-0 at home for the 49ers which makes me more confident in this pick, and Vernon Davis is finally relevant in San Francisco. They have something amidst the foggy bay in an otherwise dead NFC West.
Carolina (-3.5) Over Washington
I’m not big on Carolina this year, and it’s pretty hard for me to pick this one since Delhomme gets booed as much as JaMarcus at home games. He’ll just have to hope their running game can help him cure his turnover habit he’s developed lately. They have a good O-Line, so I don’t see why they aren’t running more, oh yeah, they’re usually behind. I’m kind of picking them because I just have a hard time convincing myself that they aren’t a good team. They just had their bye week, so I’m sure they had plenty of time to prep for a crappy Redskins team. Also, there wasn’t any reports of Steve Smith punching a teamate, so that has to be a plus! The Skins have won two games, but they close games against the Rams and Bucs. One of their losses came to the Lions, so really the Redskins should have a winning record with the opponents they’ve faced so far. They just changed offensive coordinators, which is always a good sign for a team during the season. I see Carolina taking their frustrations out this week on a awful Washington team.
New England (-3) Over Denver
Much has been made over the Broncos sparkling record of 3-0, but I’m still not a believer. They’re much hyped defense hasn’t really faced anyone with a reputable offense. I wouldn’t even really count Dallas as a great offense at this point. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t take the Broncos too serious yet. I think the Patriots are going to be their first real test. I thought Brady has looked like he’s coming back to his old form, and with Wes Welker being inserted back into the lineup we may see the offensive fireworks once again. Moss will be able to stop running the short routes and head upfield again! I see them getting rolling on offense again. I think Orton will have to prove himself this week as the Pats run defense is pretty solid. He’s got some playmakers in the wide receiver corp, but will he have enough time to find them against the new Patriots blitzing style defense?
Jacksonville (+1.5) Over Seattle
Don’t ask me why I’m breaking my golden rule of not betting on two crappy teams, because I don’t think I really have that answer at the moment. I guess I just have to pick the Jags, because they really took it to the Titans last week, and showed that that can be a good team at times. The Seahawks may or may not have Hasselbeck in at QB, but at this point does it really matter? Their whole offensive line is hurt, so even if he is in there with hurt ribs, I don’t see him being in there for too long. They honestly need to show me some sign of life against a team not named the Rams for me to pick them at any point this season. If Garrard had anyone besides MJD to pass to, I’d probably parlay this pick with the Minnesota game.
New York Jets (-1.5) Over Miami
The big question in this game is: can the wild cat beat the 4th ranked defense in the league? The Rexecutioners have allowed the fewest yards in the league, and held the Madden style Saints to 10 points if it weren’t for Sanchez’s two mistakes this would have been a very close game. Sanchez will have to shoulder the offensive load with his new buddy Braylon, and critics are eager to see if he can bounce back from a bad start in Hispanic Heritage Month. The Jets have won their last three games in Miami, so I don’t see history changing now that Miami is in the Chad Henne phase of the franchise.