Here are my picks for the NFL’s Week Five:
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7TH, 2007
Miami (0-4) at Houston (2-2) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Houston by 5½)
The Dolphins were embarrassed at home by Oakland last week, 35-17. Their defense allowed 299 rushing yards, and their top receiver was Ronnie Brown, a running back. Miami has allowed 119 points through four games, third most in the NFL. The Texans got surprised by Atlanta last week, losing 26-16. QB Matt Schaub is having a fine year, with a 101.2 passer rating and 74% completion percentage. Injured RB Ahman Green may be able to start against the Dolphins. If he can’t, RB Ron Dayne will start in his place for the second week in a row. Either way, expect the Texans to gain a lot of yards on the ground against a porous Miami run defense.
RJ’s Pick – TEXANS BY 3
Atlanta (1-3) at Tennessee (2-1) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Tennessee by 8)
The Falcons beat Houston last week, earning their first win of the season. QB Joey Harrington has looked great the last two games, and hasn’t thrown a pick since Week One. Unfortunately, Atlanta’s running game is anemic this year, after leading the NFL in rushing the past three seasons. Tennessee had a Bye in Week Four. Expect a close game.
RJ’s Pick – TITANS BY 4
Jacksonville (2-1) at Kansas City (2-2) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Jacksonville by 2½)
Jacksonville had a Bye last week. They have given up the fewest points of any team in the league, although they’ve played one less game than most other teams. Jaguars starting offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, who was already on probation for a DUI earlier in the year, has been cited for careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident after an incident Saturday morning. Apparently he “fell asleep” while driving, drove through someone’s yard, crashed into a tree, and then fled before officers arrived. I haven’t seen judgment that bad since the Chargers decided to replace Marty Schottenheimer with Norv Turner. [Rim Shot!] Speaking of the Chargers, Kansas City beat them 30-16 last week, in San Diego. RB Larry Johnson finally rushed for 100 yards in a game. The Chiefs defense has given up just 26 points in the last two games. Hmmm. A two-game winning streak, a resurgent Larry Johnson, a tie for first place in the AFC West, and seven of their remaining twelve games to be played at Arrowhead. Could the Chiefs make the playoffs again this year? Anything’s possible. Anything, that is, except either of these teams scoring more than two offensive touchdowns in this matchup of superior defenses.
RJ’s Pick – CHIEFS BY 1
New York Jets (1-3) at New York Giants (2-2) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: New York Giants by 3)
The Jets lost to the hapless Bills in Week Four. So far this season, their defense has managed a total of three sacks. They’ll need a better pass rush than that against Eli Manning and the Giants. Speaking of sacks, the Giants recorded twelve of them against the Eagles last week, in a 16-3 victory on SNF. Expect another big game from WR Plaxico Burress. Anyway, no matter what, you simply can’t go against the home team in this one. (Get it?)
RJ’s Pick – GIANTS BY 6
Carolina (2-2) at New Orleans (0-3) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: New Orleans by 3)
Carolina lost at home to Tampa Bay last week, 20-7. The status of QB Jake Delhomme’s injury is up in the air right now. On the one hand, there is a slim chance he could start this week against New Orleans. But there’s also a possibility that he will require season-ending surgery. Most likely he will be out for a least a few more weeks. And that’s bad news, because this team is just not as good with David Carr starting under center. The Saints had a Bye last week. RB Deuce McAllister is out for the rest of the season, which means more carries for (and more pressure on) Reggie Bush. Despite having played one less game than most other NFL teams through four weeks, the Saints are tied for fifth in most points allowed. I don’t really understand why New Orleans is the favorite here. Even David Carr should look like an All-Pro against the Saints defense.
RJ’s Pick – PANTHERS BY 5
Arizona (2-2) at St. Louis (0-4) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Arizona by 3)
Arizona shocked Pittsburgh last week, winning 21-14 against the previously unbeaten Steelers. Arizona’s two wins have been by a total of ten points, and their two losses have been by a total of six points. Point is, win or lose, they play close games. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt is looking like a genius by having Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner share QB duties. WR Anquan Boldin may not be able to play this Sunday against the Rams. St. Louis is having a horribly disappointing year. Their points scored/points allowed differential is -64, second worst in the league. They’ve scored a total of 10 points the last two weeks, and their one touchdown was on a punt return. If Marc Bulger continues to struggle, he will likely lose his starting quarterback job to Gus Frerotte. [UPDATE: Looks like he already did…] But the Rams could bring in the reanimated corpse of Norm Van Brocklin at QB, and it still wouldn’t matter at this point. The real problem lies with an offensive line that’s in roughly the same condition as Joe Theismann’s leg, right after the sack.
RJ’s Pick – CARDINALS BY 6
Cleveland (2-2) at New England (4-0) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: New England by 16½)
Cleveland beat Baltimore last week, 27-13. QB Derek Anderson continues to surprise and impress. But for an example of something truly impressive, check out the Patriots. In their four games, they have scored 38, 38, 38, and 34 points, while giving up just 14, 14, 7, and 13. They’ve scored the second-most points in the NFL, and given up the third-fewest (excluding teams that have only played three games so far). You’d be a fool to pick against this team at home, against the Browns or anybody else.
RJ’s Pick – PATRIOTS BY 24
Seattle (3-1) at Pittsburgh (3-1) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Pittsburgh by 6)
This could be the matchup of the week. Seattle buried San Francisco last week, 23-3. RB Shaun Alexander is averaging about 88 yards per game this season. He’ll have to step up his performance a bit as the season progresses if the Seahawks want to make a serious run at the Super Bowl. The Steelers lost last week at Arizona, suffering their first defeat of the year. Among teams that have played four games, Pittsburgh has given up the second-fewest points in the league. WR Hines Ward is unlikely to play this week due to injury. I expect a close game. How well Steelers RB Willie Parker plays will likely determine the outcome of this contest.
RJ’s Pick – SEAHAWKS BY 2
Detroit (3-1) at Washington (2-1) – 1:00 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Washington by 3½)
The Lions beat the Bears last week, 37-27. They broke an NFL record by scoring 34 points in the 4th quarter. Jon Kitna leads the NFL in passing yards and has a 105.6 quarterback rating. Rookie WR Calvin Johnson is expected to play this Sunday after sitting out last week with a severely bruised lower back. This week they travel to Washington, where they have never won. That’s right, never. Not once in franchise history have the Lions beaten the Redskins on the road. (And they’ve had 20 tries.) The Redskins had a Bye last week. WR Santana Moss is unlikely to play due to a strained groin, but Washington just signed veteran WR Keenan McCardell on Monday as a possible replacement. RB Clinton Portis is still hobbled by a knee injury, but is expected to play. QB Jason Campbell has a miserable 69.6 passer rating and 52.9% completion percentage. As long as Detroit’s defense doesn’t forget to show up, as they did against the Eagles in Week Three, the Lions should finally earn their first road victory against the Redskins.
RJ’s Pick – LIONS BY 2
Tampa Bay (3-1) at Indianapolis (4-0) – 4:05 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Indianapolis by 10)
Tampa Bay beat Carolina last week, 20-7. They’ve given up a total of just 10 points the past two weeks, and have allowed the fewest points in the NFC. RB Cadillac Williams is out for the season, as is offensive lineman Luke Petitgout. The Colts beat Denver last week, 38-20. They have now won nine games in a row, going back to last year. Indianapolis is third in the league in points scored, but their defense is giving up 18.5 points per game. Both RB Joseph Addai and WR Marvin Harrison are likely to miss this Sunday’s game due to injury. I expect a much closer game than the oddsmakers do.
RJ’s Pick – COLTS BY 4
San Diego (1-3) at Denver (2-2) – 4:15 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Denver by 1½)
San Diego lost at home to the Chiefs last week, their third straight defeat. But at least RB LaDainian Tomlinson finally broke the 100-yards rushing barrier. The Broncos lost to the Colts in Week Four, 38-20. They’ve allowed an average of over 180 yards rushing per game so far this season. WR Javon Walker is likely to sit out this Sunday’s game due to a knee injury. Also, RB Travis Henry and RB Mike Bell are both banged up. I predict a big game from Tomlinson and a much-needed win for the Chargers.
RJ’s Pick – CHARGERS BY 3
Baltimore (2-2) at San Francisco (2-2) – 4:15 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Baltimore by 3½)
The Ravens got whipped by the Browns last week, 27-13. Their once-fearsome defense has allowed 22.5 points per game so far this year. Hobbled and under-performing QB Steve McNair is expected to start, but Kyle Boller could always make an appearance. The 49ers were embarrassed in front of their home crowd last week, losing to the Seahawks 23-3. That’s their second loss in a row, after winning a pair of close contests to start the season. QB Alex Smith has a shoulder injury, so Trent Dilfer will be starting under center this week. He’ll have his work cut out for him, as the 49ers rank last in the NFL in passing yards and in total yards. Don’t expect much scoring in this one.
RJ’s Pick – SAN FRANCISCO BY 1
Chicago (1-3) at Green Bay (4-0) – 8:15 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Green Bay by 3½)
Chicago blew a 4th quarter lead and lost to the Lions last week, 37-27. QB Brian Griese had no more success than benched QB Rex Grossman, throwing 3 INTs in the loss. So far this year, the Bears have allowed 95 points, or 23.75 per game. They’ve scored just four offensive touchdowns. Weak. The Packers won again last week, 23-16 in Minnesota. Despite an almost nonexistent running game, Green Bay is third in the NFC in points scored. And Packers fans can thank Brett Favre’s ageless arm for that. With 8 TDs, only 2 INTs, over 1200 yards passing, and a 97.3 QB rating, Brett Favre is making everyone who encouraged him to retire over the last couple of years (myself included) look like buffoons. Brett Favre has found the fabled fountain of youth, and while we don’t yet have all the details, apparently it involves a giant block of cheese worn as a chapeau.
RJ’s Pick – PACKERS BY 5
MONDAY, OCTOBER 8TH, 2007
Dallas (4-0) at Buffalo (1-3) – 8:30 PM (Sheridan’s Line: Dallas by 10)
Dallas beat up on poor St. Louis last week, 35-7. The Cowboys have scored more points than any other team in the NFL. (Yes, including New England and Indianapolis.) The Bills got their first win of the season last week against the Jets. That’s good enough for second place in the AFC East, where only the Patriots are better than abysmal. The Bills defense is all banged up, and their offense has scored the fewest points in the AFC. Trent Edwards will be filling in at QB for the injured J. P. Losman once again. I expect a brutal beating here.
RJ’s Pick – COWBOYS BY 18
[Bye Week Teams: Cincinnati (1-3), Oakland (2-2), Minnesota (1-3), Philadelphia (1-3)]
RJ’s Week Three Picks: Texans, Titans, Chiefs, Giants, Panthers, Cardinals, Patriots, Seahawks, Lions, Colts, Chargers, 49ers, Packers, Cowboys
– I picked eight Home teams and six Away teams
– I picked eight Favorites and six UnderdogsPowered by Sidelines