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Week 5 NFL Picks

Allen Robinson is off to a rough start. He’s making $18 million so he doesn’t need a hug, but he could use a quarterback. (Photo by Getty Images)

Last Week:      9 – 7 – 0
Season:           30 – 34 – 0

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Rams 26 at Seahawks 17
Seattle let too many opportunities slip past them in the first half Thursday night and somehow still managed to go into the half with a 7-3 lead. Unfortunately, when you’re the lesser team, missed chances almost always come back to bite you. The Seahawks had three of them in the 1st half. On their first possession Seattle punted on 4th and 3 from the Los Angeles 43. Okay, so that isn’t a huge miss, but why are you punting? You’re at home. Live a little. On their next possession, the Seahawks failed to convert on 3rd and 2 and failed again on 4th and 2 at the Rams 29. While I didn’t mind Pete Carroll going for it here, you are surrendering 3 points. I’d much rather try to convert a 4th and short when field position is on the line as opposed to 3 points, but who do I know. Finally, on the final drive of the half, Seattle had a touchdown called back and ultimately missed a chip shot field goal. It felt like one of those nights where Carroll made the wrong decision each time. He probably should’ve gone for it at the 43, probably should’ve kicked it from the 29, and probably should look at a new kicker who won’t miss 35 yarders.

Early, EARLY Game (9:30AM ET)

Jets at Falcons
Atlanta has struggled across the board under new Head Coach Arthur Smith. However, they’ve been elite at not covering the spread. Even when it appears impossible, the Falcons find a way. There were the back-to-back Matt Ryan pick-sixes in Week 2 against the Buccaneers. Then last week the Falcons blew an eight point 4th quarter lead AND surrendered the go ahead 30 yard touchdown on 3rd and long when the Washington offense was perfectly content with kicking the go ahead field goal. Since the IRS already wants to poke around all our bank accounts, can I get a report on any suspicion activity in Arthur Smith’s? Thanks in advance. FALCONS -2.5

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Packers at Bengals
I warned you a month ago the Packers were too good to lose a ton of games even while the Aaron Rodgers drama/distraction hung over the team like a cloud. However, the Lions, 49ers and Steelers are not as explosive as this young Cincinnati offense. Green Bay added Dallas castoff Jaylon Smith and Rasul Douglas from Arizona’s practice squad this week to help a defense that has been crushed by injuries. I expect the Bengals to have their way most of the afternoon against a defense that hasn’t been good at generating pressure. PACKERS -2.5

Patriots at Texans
My goal here is to entertain. More often than I intend, entertainment is provided via me being loud, LOUD wrong. Prior to Week 1, I said the Eagles would make the playoffs and the Chiefs would beat the Colts or Patriots in the AFC Championship. Through four weeks, the Eagles, Colts and Patriots are a combined 3-9. Only two teams in the league have a worse record. I’m not sorry. A minor setback to a major comeback!!!… or whatever the NBA guys say when someone suffers a devastating injury. PATRIOTS -8

Broncos at Steelers
So we’re just going to keep pretending that Ben Roethlisberger’s positive post game speeches are going to turn this thing around, huh? Pretty sure we went through this with Peyton Manning in 2015. It’s gone. It’s not coming back. The time to save the season is now, Mike Tomlin. STEELERS +1.5

Dolphins at Buccaneers
Tampa Bay just isn’t getting to opposing quarterbacks like they did a season ago. The Buccaneers are 29th in sacks and 30th in both sack and hurry percentage. A year ago they were among the top 8 in all three categories. Since Tampa miraculously returned all their starters from a Super Bowl champion season, what’s changed? My best guess is injuries to the back end of that defense have gutted the effectiveness of the pass rush and there’s no relief in sight. Antoine Winfield may not play this week and corners Carlton Davis and Sean-Murphy Bunting aren’t expected back anytime soon. Miami desperately needs a win and the Buccaneers may sleep walk through most of this game after the emotionally charged Tom Brady reunion last week. Bucs win. Dolphins cover. DOLPHINS +10

Saints at Football Team
Taylor Heinicki is Brett Favre 0.20. Not nearly as good but takes all the reckless chances Favre did. Every week I watch Washington survive his jump balls. It’s an amazing gift to avoid turnovers like he has. I have no idea how it happens. Anyway, Washington wins for most overrated unit of 2021 (defense) and New Orleans wins for most overrated win (Week 1 against Green Bay). Congrats to all involved. SAINTS -2.5

Eagles at Panthers
The Panthers are good but they’re not that good. I’m very tempted to pick the Eagles but it’s been 2.5 games since I last saw the Philadelphia defense stop anyone. Miles Sanders needs more than ten touches. I don’t care if no one is listening to me. I’m going to keep saying it. Let 26 touch the football. PANTHERS -3

Titans at Jaguars
Urban Meyer had a tough week. Sure the embarrassing video and losing the respect of his team were less than ideal, but the poor guy didn’t even get fired. I’m on team conspiracy theory on this one. No coach… at any level… in any sport… would think it’s acceptable to not fly home with the team, especially after a loss. Meyer has been coaching for decades. He knows this. He clearly wants to get fired so he can go to USC and live the cush college life again. Sadly, Meyer took all the hits and lost whatever respect his team had left for him AND still no USC job. I’m guessing he cranks up the firing push this week by attending anti-vax rallies and calling 27 QB options for prized rookie Trevor Lawrence. Also, was anyone more grateful for Grind Gate than the Titans? They lost to the Jets and there’s been hardly a peep all week. TITANS -4.5

Lions at Vikings
A week ago, I brilliantly called the Vikings the most balanced offense in the NFL (or something like that… I’m too lazy to check). After the Vikings only scored 7 points at home in Week 3 you may think I’m embarrassed at how wrong I was with my assessment. Well, friend, you’d be wrong because I was actually right. Minnesota was extremely well balanced against the Browns. They couldn’t throw. They couldn’t run. They couldn’t block. They couldn’t pass protect. They couldn’t convert 3rd downs. Everything the Vikings did Sunday they did poorly. That’s balance. I called it. As for Detroit, Dan Campbell said something about D’Andre Swift getting even more involved in the offense before the Lions Week 4 loss to the Bears. Swift finished with his fewest touches of the season. Not sure what Campbell was going for with those comments but it didn’t work. Vikings will win but 10 points is too much after what I saw against Cleveland. LIONS +10

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Bears at Raiders
Allen Robinson is a prime example of why I don’t love the franchise tag. Sure, the players get paid big money. That’s great, but look at it from the player’s long-term outlook. Robinson probably would’ve gotten a contract worth more than Kenny Golladay’s on the open market (4/$72mil). Robinson can certainly still meet or exceed that contract when he’s a free agent in four months. However, Chicago’s disastrous quarterback situation has severely limited Robinson’s productivity on the field. He’s on pace to finish with the lowest output of his career in targets, receptions and yards. Sure, teams will look at the body of work when assessing his value, but his 2021 season will also surely be considered in the negotiations. So forget Matt Nagy’s future and how he’s tied his survival to the hope of Justin Fields. Put Andy Dalton back in so Robinson can produce. RAIDERS -5.5

Browns at Chargers
The Bills and Chiefs will light up a scoreboard and the Browns will just bludgeon you to death with physical play and boredom. Ok, the boredom part is a bit harsh. I actually enjoy great defense and a punishing ground game, but why can’t the offense be a little more explosive? Is the shoulder injury really limiting Baker Mayfield? He looked way off last week against the Vikings. Football fans are pretty high on the Chargers right now, and rightfully so, but this is a bad matchup for them. The Browns are going to run all over Los Angeles and Justin Herbert will have someone whispering sweet nothings in his ear hole all afternoon. BROWNS +2.5

Giants at Cowboys
It’s fun to laugh at the Giants but is it possible they’re turning a corner? Hear me out… First of all, Daniel Jones has played good football through four weeks. He hasn’t been great (still not worthy of his pick), but he hasn’t made the devastating turnovers that plagued his first two seasons in the NFL. 2. Saquon Barkley looks better and better each week. I know we like to rag on high pick running backs, but Barkley is a difference maker. 3. The Giants finally got Kenny Golladay involved last week and to resounding success. Of course, both Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard had to be absent for the Giants to go to Golladay, but at least we have proof Jason Garrett knows he’s on the team. Are these incremental improvements enough for the Giants to knock off the Cowboys? No, no they are not. COWBOYS -7

49ers at Cardinals
I know why you visit this here site, so here it is… DeAndre Hopkins remains without a 4th quarter target after four weeks of football. As insane as that may be, I guess I can’t argue with the overall results as the Cardinals are the only remaining undefeated team in football. But seriously, come on. How does this keep happening? Moving on… Arizona only had to play three quarters last week and I’m not sure this week will require four quarters either. On the other hand, every time I back Kliff Kingsbury I do so with almost no confidence. The 49ers are just too injured and I don’t believe Trey Lance is ready. CARDINALS -5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Bills at Chiefs
The Bills have used their four highest picks over the last three drafts on defensive lineman. These are the games when the blueprint is put to the test. While there’s no stopping Patrick Mahomes, pressure certainly doesn’t hurt your chances of taking down the Chiefs. Since the start of the 2020 season (playoffs included), the Chiefs are only 2-3 when Mahomes is pressured on more than 31% of his drop backs. If that pressure percentage drops below 27%, Mahomes and the Chiefs are 18-1. A lot of folks are riding high on the Bills right now. A lot more folks are focusing on Kansas City’s horrific defense. To those high on the Bills I ask, what proof do we have Buffalo is really good? Their schedule is a joke this season. To those focusing on the Chiefs struggling defense I ask, does it matter all that much with that offense? The answer is no. CHIEFS -3

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Colts at Ravens
Carson Wentz played his best game as Colt in Week 4 against the Dolphins in a must win game. Wentz was efficient and composed, taking what the defense gave him and not trying to make something out of nothing. It’s probably no coincidence that Wentz’s best game came when the Colts offense was as balanced as it’s been all season. Indianapolis will need much more of that if they hope to survive in Baltimore. Everyone knows the Ravens will bring pressure because… A. It’s what Baltimore does. B. Wentz’s mobility is limited on two bum ankles. C. Wentz doesn’t surrender easily and the Ravens think they can get a few 8+ yard sacks and some turnovers as Wentz tries to extend plays. Frank Reich must rely on the run game to slow the blitzing and keep Wentz upright. As you may know, I’m a bit of a Wentz apologists, but is it possible that these bad ankles are what finally teach Wentz to let a play go and live another down? Yeh, you’re right. Not a chance. COLTS +7

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