Week Five NFL Predictions

Posted: October 1, 2014 in Uncategorized
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For the Philadelphia Eagles offense, week four was one to forget. Santa Clara, California was the host of a 26-21, knock down, drag out affair between Chip Kelly’s club and the San Francisco 49ers. Despite terrific performances by the team’s defense and special teams, Philadelphia was unable to come back home with a victory; and that failure lies solely with the offense and their inability to put together anything resembling a cohesive drive until late in the fourth quarter.

lane johnsonUp until the waning minutes, Philadelphia’s offensive unit had yet to even cross into San Francisco territory. Yet, this game probably should have been a victory. 3rd and goal from the 49ers’ 2-yard line with 2-minutes remaining, and the Eagles were unable to punch the football into the endzone. That’s some Andy Reid circa 2009 type futility; and it rests solely on the shoulders of Kelly, who chose back-to-back passing plays despite having two of the best running backs in football.

Yes, Philadelphia was limited all afternoon on the ground. But, there’s no reason not to at least attempt a run on third down. After all, it’s not as though their vaunted passing attack was picking up where the running game failed. Neither LeSean McCoy or Nick Foles were able to perform to their abilities thanks to yet another putrid performance behind the team’s makeshift offensive line.

Thankfully, second-year RT Lane Johnson (pictured) returns from suspension this week. This is big news for two reasons. First, Johnson is clearly head-and-shoulders above the reserves that Kelly had out there the last few weeks. The former Oklahoma Sooner emerged late last year as one of the most improved players from the 2013 draft 49ersfolesclass. Reports state that Johnson is in the best shape of his life and Philadelphia is going to need him to hit the ground running against a capable St. Louis Rams pass rush. Second, the return of Johnson allows veteran lineman Todd Herremans to move back inside to right guard. Ergo, Philadelphia gains back two of the starting positions that helped lead them to the best rushing performance in team history a year ago.

That cohesiveness on the offensive front will be critical this Sunday, when the Eagles play host to the Rams. St. Louis’
offense leaves much to be desired, especially with Sam Bradford out for the season with a knee injury. Young QB Austin Davis has looked impressive in limited action. But, there’s absolutely no way the Rams’ offense can keep up with Philadelphia’s if the latter is clicking on its usual cylinders. On defense, the Rams are led by Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree, two former high draft picks who continue to blossom into playmakers in St. Louis’ front-seven. If McCoy is going to finally average more than 1.5 yards per carry, Johnson and Co. are going to need to prove an ability to stop these aggressive competitors.

Line: Philadelphia -7
Pick: Philadelphia, 27-17

And now on to the rest of this week’s picks:

Last Week: 5-8
This Season: 21-23

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) AT Green Bay Packers (2-2) – Green Bay -8.5

Prediction: Green Bay, 34-16. History tells us that Thursday Night Football is almost always a one-sided affair. With Teddy Bridgewater banged up and questionable, and the Packers hitting their stride last Thursday, Green Bay fans will be able to R-E-L-A-X after another big divisional victory.

Chicago Bears (2-2) AT Carolina Panthers (2-2) – Carolina -2.5

Prediction: Carolina, 26-23. The Panthers’ defense was embarrassed last week by Steve Smith and the Ravens. While the Bears do present some challenges with their tall receivers, this is a statement game for a Panthers team who should be able to win the NFC South once again with just a little consistency from QB Cam Newton.

Cleveland Browns (2-2) AT Tennessee Titans (1-3) – Titans -2

Prediction: Cleveland, 26-14. My how long ago week one must seem for the Titans, who have been blown away in three straight games since an opening day road win over Kansas City. Tennessee’s offense is brutal, and can’t get out of their own way. Meanwhile, Cleveland continues to look better with each passing game, and the aid of the bye week should present them with enough of an advantage to get by Tennessee with relative ease.

Atlanta Falcons (2-2) AT New York Giants (2-2) – Giants -2

Prediction: Giants, 27-24. There may not be a more flaky duo than these two. Atlanta can’t seem to win on the road, as their two wins this season have come at the Georgia Dome with their two defeats coming outdoors. Meanwhile, the Giants, who looked like the Bad News Bears during the season’s first couple of games, are suddenly seeing their offense develop some much needed chemistry. If this game were in Atlanta, it would be a different story. But, the Giants should be able to move the ball with ease against a Falcons’ defense that allowed over 40-points to a rookie QB last week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) AT New Orleans Saints (1-3) – Saints -10.5

Prediction: Saints, 24-17. First of all, what a performance by Tampa Bay to come back and beat Pittsburgh on the road last Sunday. That was the type of signature win that can turn a season around. The only problem is that Tampa lost rookie WR Mike Evans for a couple of games in that one. So, they’ll be undermanned in a hostile environment this week. On the other hand, the Saints have proven time-and-time again this season that they’re far from the well-oiled offensive machine we’ve seen in years past. It will be a cold day in hell before I pick the Saints to cover double digits again, especially after they were so viciously pounded by Dallas on Sunday night.

Houston Texans (3-1) AT Dallas Cowboys (3-1) – Dallas -6

Prediction: Dallas, 30-26. The Cowboys have been one of the most surprising teams in the early going. After years of disappointment following overhyped preseasons, the Cowboys were finally flying under-the-radar heading into 2014. That change in the typical aura around the team has brought upon a brilliant start, as Dallas’ offense continues to click on all cylinders. Tony Romo will have to keep an eye out for JJ Watt, who had a pick-six last week. But, the Cowboys are at home, and they easily have the better offense. I do expect a narrow game, however.

Buffalo Bills (2-2) AT Detroit Lions (3-1) – Detroit, -7

Prediction: Detroit, 28-21. One of the more curious coaching decisions this season came this week, when Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone benched 2013 first round pick QB EJ Manuel for veteran journeyman Kyle Orton. Buffalo, believing that they can contend in a weak AFC East, just destroyed the confidence of their young signal caller. That type of rash move is exactly the type of decision that a team like Buffalo makes. It’s also the type of decision that will get a coach fired if it doesn’t pan out. Good luck, coach. You’re going to need it in Detroit, where Megatron and Matt Stafford promise to reign this weekend.

Baltimore Ravens (3-1) AT Indianapolis Colts (2-2) – Colts -3.5

Prediction: Baltimore, 24-21. It seems like everyone in Vegas is wildly underrating Baltimore, whose only loss this season was to the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. Since then, the Ravens’ defense has looked stellar in victories over Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and last week’s blowout vs. Carolina. Meanwhile, Indianapolis has rebounded against their pathetic divisional rivals after an 0-2 start. Sorry, Andrew Luck, the Ravens aren’t the Jaguars or Titans. Expect at least a couple of “Luck Specials,” aka back-breaking interceptions that the media ignores for some reason, as the Ravens win on the road.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) AT Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) – Pittsburgh -6.5

Prediction: Pittsburgh, 31-17. The Jaguars are 0-4 and have very little to look forward to this season besides the fact that they’re not the worst team in the NFL (thanks, Raiders). Blake Bortles has looked relatively decent so far in two games. So, at least there’s that. Meanwhile, the Steelers are coming off a back-breaking last second loss to the previously winless Tampa Bay Bucs. If Pittsburgh loses back-to-back games vs. winless Florida franchises, they might as well replace the “Steel Curtain” with satin.

pat peterson

Arizona Cardinals (3-0) AT Denver Broncos (2-1) – Denver -7

Prediction: Denver, 27-13. In what promises to be a sneaky good game, the undefeated Arizona Cardinals meet the defending AFC champions with both teams coming off their bye week. While I do think that Arizona’s defense is good enough to at least limit Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense. I don’t think that their makeshift passing game has enough juice to keep up.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) AT San Francisco 49ers (2-2) РSan Francisco -6

Prediction: San Francisco, 23-19. This is another stellar late-afternoon game as two teams coming off season saving victories collie. The 49ers’ offense didn’t exactly look like world beaters a week ago. But, the defense, most notably the run defense, was unparalleled. Meanwhile, Kansas City bring one of the best rushing attacks in football with a healthy Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis. Expect a lot of ground-and-pound as Alex Smith makes his return to Bay Area.

New York Jets (1-3) AT San Diego Chargers (3-1) – San Diego -6.5

Prediction: San Diego, 20-17. The Jets know that their season rests on this game. While the AFC East is a garbage can of mediocrity, a 1-4 start would be crippling. On the other hand, San Diego is enjoying their finest start in years, and head coach Mike McCoy is proving why the Chargers gave him that role. After three consecutive impressive performances, San Diego’s offense could have some trouble against the Jets’ vaunted front-seven. Still, Geno Smith will find a way to throw a gut punching interception at the worst possible moment.

New England Patriots v Kanas City Chiefs

Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) AT New England Patriots (2-2) – Cincinnati -1

Prediction: Cincinnati, 27-26. The Patriots aren’t as bad as they looked last week. Likewise, the Bengals probably aren’t as good as they’ve looked over the first month of the season. New England’s collective psyche is riding on Tom Brady’s ability to keep the Patriots in this Sunday’s game. But, the real story is the poor play by Darrelle Revis, whom everyone believed to be the missing piece to Belichick’s Super Bowl puzzle. So far, Revis has been mediocre. If that continues against AJ Green and the Bengals, it could be a long night and an even longer season for Bostonians.

Seattle Seahawks (2-1) AT Washington Redskins (1-3) – Seattle -7

Prediction: Seattle, 27-11. By the time this game gets underway, Seattle will have had 15-days between contests. That type of R’n’R should be enough to get their defense back on track after a couple of average performances against San Diego and Denver. On the other side, the Redskins will also have some extra rest, having last been trounced by the Giants a week ago. If Washington is going to stand a chance, they’ll need to see a side of Kirk Cousins they haven’t seen before.

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