Friday, October 03, 2008

NFL Predictions: Week Five

(Home team in caps.)

GREEN BAY (OFF) over Atlanta
Will he play, or will he sit? This isn't just a question that Green Bay fans are asking of Aaron Rodgers, it is something I've been asking of my fantasy team since he left with a gimpy shoulder last week. I've no clue about the severity of the injury, let alone the pain he's feeling, but it's hard to see him sitting. Seeing him do well, on the other hand, is different.

Tennessee (-3) over BALTIMORE
Damn you, Chris Johnson! I sat him last week, reasoning that he'd have a hard time getting much done against the Vikings' front line. One quarter in, and my decision had already cost me a win. I'm not making the same mistake this time around. Baltimore's defense is looking as good as it ever was, but I think a little caution is merited -- esp. when playing against what is quickly becoming a Tennessee juggernaut. Thus far, Baltimore has faced the likes of Jamal Lewis and Rashard Mendenhall. This week, I think ... I hope ... Johnson exposes them like he did Minnesota.

San Diego (-6.5) over MIAMI
This San Diego team is like most of Leonardo DiCaprio's latest movies. Flashy lead actor that everybody thinks actually has legitimate chops, but nothing I'd ever spend money to see. Have you seen the preview of his new one with Kate Winslet? It looks like Mad Men, doesn't it -- except for the minor detail that the movie looks like a bayonet to the balls. The problems are legion -- a slow-starting LT, and a woeful defense. LT owners, take out, he rewards you this week. The stats behind Miami's defense lie. As for the defense, I do not see Ronnie Brown replicating the performance he had against New England. Without that, I'm not sure Miami can keep up. This game, I think, will tell us a lot about what we can expect out of both teams the rest of the way. I could be saying that, though, because it's one of the games I'm stuck with out here and desperately need a reason to care.

HOUSTON (+3) over Indianapolis
I really can't be picking against the Colts, off a humiliating loss two weeks ago and a bye last week, can I? Oh, wait, I guess I did. Houston has some things working in their favor. Slaton appears to have the goods to do the kind of things the Colts cannot stop; Schaub actually plays pretty well at Houston; and Houston's WRs are more competent than they're given credit for being. Indy could very well gut out a win here, and nobody would be surprised. From what I can tell, unlike the rest of the league, nobody in the AFC South is actually afraid of the Colts. They may not know too well what it's like to beat the Colts in the grand scheme of things, but they do know they're beatable in the regular season. This is why Indy's divisional games are often so entertaining.

Seattle (+7) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Have you heard The Roots' "Birthday Girl"? There are hundreds of reasons this song shouldn't work on me. It comes at the end of one of the hardest-hitting CDs in recent memory, filled with brilliant social commentary and incendiary lyrics ... and absolutely doesn't fit the tone of the album at all. More importantly, it features the lead singer of Fall Out Boy. A damnable offense normally. And yet, somehow, it works. It all works. It's not a great song, but it makes me laugh every time I hear it. The moral: sometimes in life the recipe doesn't tell you whether the dish will be good. I've said some harsh things about Seattle this season, and I think it's been with good cause. But this week, against the Giants at home (always a scary prospect for Eli), I think Seattle surprises a few people here.

Washington (+6) over PHILADELPHIA
I don't get how Philly is favored by this much. Did Vegas not watch the Dallas game? Or maybe they assume they only won because Dallas decided to play with one hand tied behind their back -- a like McCain, I think, in choosing Palin. Either way, Washington seems really disrespected here. They deserve our respect, if but for a week.

CAROLINA (-9.5) over Kansas City
Kansas City comes back down to earth this week. Carolina isn't a great team, but they don't do anything badly either. Denver had a stupid loss coming. It was no indication of life in the Chiefs. Big week for owners of Panther players, I say.

Chicago (-3) over DETROIT
I think I've said it here. And if not, I should've. Chicago is going to be a tough out all year. Even in comes where they should win, like this one, I think they'll make it tough on themselves. Orton has shown, though, that he punishes you if can't bring any pressure. And as luck has it, 'can't bring any pressure' is what Detroit's defense yells every time they break huddle.

DENVER (-3) over Tampa Bay
So begins the quick jumping from the Bronco bandwagon. Not so quickly, people. THe AFC West is still wide open. This is going to be one of those games that slips through the cracks for casual football fans. But I think it is also one that a lot of people will be switching to via DirectTv. Tampa Bay is a curious team. So far, they seem to have an ability to play up or down with whoever they're playing. I expect much the same on Sunday. They have just enough juice to stick with Denver's defense if it turns into a shoot-out, and just enough defense also to turn it into a ugly slug-fest. Denver puts them in a bind, though, because they can thrown AND score points. It could be a replay of Tampa's first week loss to New Orleans.

Buffalo (+1) over ARIZONA
Buffalo just wins. It's rarely pretty, but have they given us any reason to pick against them yet?

Cincinnati (+17) over DALLAS
Just on general principle, I can't pick somebody -- esp. not this weird Dallas team -- to cover a spread this big.

New England (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO
I realize I'm picking against a lot of home teams. That doesn't bode well for my record. Oh well, that's already going to hell anyway. There is one good thing about having SF games on my tv each week. It's always fun to see QBs get crushed on nearly every play. With luck, J. T. Sullivan may soon replace David Klingler as the QB I've seen sacked most.

JACKSONVILLE (-3) over Pittsburgh
Both of these teams have an uncanny ability to disappoint opposing fans. Your team is on the verge of pulling off a nice win, and yet they always find a way to rip your heart out. Interestingly, they also have an uncanny ability to have their own hearts ripped out. Neither team goes into that good night quietly. This one will not be pretty. In fact, it could be three-and-a-half boring quarters, followed by a late flurry. I'm taking Jacksonville only because they're healthier.

NEW ORLEANS (-3) over Minnesota
The curse of Daunte Culpepper endureth!

Last Week: 5-8
Season: 28-31-1