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Week 5 NFL Picks

The war on football is back, I say something stupid about the Steelers, and scoring in the NFL is definitely down. Like, way down.

Last Week:   10 – 4 – 2
Season:        36 – 25 – 3

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Colts 12 at Broncos 9
There will be playoff baseball games with more scoring this weekend. I’m not against a great defensive battle. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy them. This, however, was not that. It was a battle of good defenses and inept offenses. Both of these franchises had legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. The Colts can’t be happy with what they’ve gotten from Matt Ryan. They’d be better off with Marcus Mariota. Given his new contract, the Broncos must feel even worse about Russell Wilson. The Denver fans are clearly fed up, and outside of an impressive defense, there isn’t a whole lot to like about the Broncos right now. And that’s the worst part. It’s been a month and the offense hasn’t improved, Wilson looks washed, and Nathaniel Hackett looks like the worst coaching hire since Rich Kotite.

Early, Early Game (9:30AM ET)

Giants at Packers
It’s so great to see Saquon Barkley again. When he turned a screen pass that was destined for a 7 yard loss into a 20 yard gain it was clear Barkley was all the way back. He’s such a threat in the red zone that Daniel Jones waltzed untouched into the end zone TWICE. Unfortunately, the Giants don’t have very many threats on that offense now that Sterling Shepard is out. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but once Daniel Jones’ ankle is full strength, I think the Giants should seriously consider an option heavy offense. Jones isn’t an NFL quarterback from a throwing standpoint, but he’s deceptively fast and big enough to take some hits. I know it’s an asinine idea, but the Giants have the feel of that scrappy team that somehow finds their way into the postseason and no one has any idea how they got there. PACKERS -9

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Steelers at Bills
Pittsburgh finally pulled the trigger and sat Mitch Trubisky. While many don’t believe the switch changes the destiny of their season, it certainly increases the entertainment value. Kenny Pickett is a gunslinger and as witnessed in the 2nd half last week, he is not afraid. At all. Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons are on the outside and Pickett will get them the ball at a greater rate than Trubisky. There were many who argued the Steelers should wait until the end of this brutal stretch of their schedule (@BUF, TB, @MIA, @PHI) to insert Pickett. Damien Woody of ESPN made the great point that if you think it’s too much for the young kid then you drafted the wrong guy. I love that, and I don’t think Pickett is the wrong guy or afraid. Pittsburgh will get a Wildcard spot. STEELERS +14

Chargers at Browns
Last week I ranked the NFL’s quarterbacks because it felt like the level of play at the position had fallen off a cliff. Scoring numbers, in a small way, back up that assessment. Take a look at points per game between 2021 and 2022. At the very same point last season, only one quarter of the league was averaging less than 20 points per game. This season, that number has doubled to 16. Half the league can’t muster 20 points. In a league that heavily favors offense and appeared to have a plethora of capable quarterbacks that is a shocking number. CHARGERS -2

35+ 30+ 27+ 25+ 23+ 20+
2021 1 4 1 6 7 4
2022 1 1 3 3 4 4

 

Bears at Vikings
Thank you very much to whoever plugged Justin Jefferson back in last week. I didn’t mind his down week against the Eagles in Week 2, but the league is more fun when he’s a beast. 9 receptions for 62 yards was Jefferson’s worst two game output since the first two games of his career (5/70). Minnesota hasn’t played like a 3-1 team. However, I think once the offense finally clicks in Kevin O’Connell’s system, the Vikings will be a handful. VIKINGS -7.5

Lions at Patriots
Detroit badly needs their bye week. New England may be so shorthanded that the Lions can win despite injuries to D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark. On the other hand, I’m not convinced the Lions are good enough to win without Swift, Brown and Chark. I have no idea what to do here until the injury availability to the Detroit offense and New England’s quarterback are determined. TBD

Seahawks at Saints
It’s been a few years but the Tua Tagovailoa fiasco has reinvigorated the war on football. I’m so happy it’s back. I LOVE it when the media tells us how awful we are for watching and celebrating football while also not understanding their broadcast relies heavily on the existence of football. Because guess what… Baseball, hockey, soccer and even the media’s beloved basketball do not drive viewership numbers like football does. Football, disasters, catastrophes and elections are the media’s cash cow. So here’s a monumental task for football-is-pure-evil-warriors… stop watching football without telling anyone you’re no longer watching football. Based on years of evidence, I think it’s impossible, but you should definitely go for it. Best of luck. SEAHAWKS +5.5

Dolphins at Jets
Speaking of the Tua Tagovailoa concussion saga, it carried on for yet another week. The entire situation is a bad look for everyone; the Dolphins, the doctors involved, the league and Tua. Yes Tua. I’m not necessarily blaming Tua for anything, but the media loves to just ignore the fact that Tua returned to the Bills game and willingly started last Thursday in Cincinnati. Players have more power now than at any other time in history. It’s not like someone held a gun to his head and told him to play. With that said, it is pretty evident something wasn’t done correctly in assessing Tua’s situation and I hope the league and the NFLPA do what it takes to avoid putting players at risk in the future. JETS +3.5

Falcons at Buccaneers
It’s early, but the Falcons are in danger of becoming too much fun with Marcus Mariota that they don’t have a chance to assess what they have in Desmond Ridder. Heading into the season I’m guessing the goal of the organization was to assess what they have in order to plan for the future. Obviously, plans can change, and it’s possible they have. The NFC is pretty bad and the Falcons could hang around in the Wildcard race. I know the Cordarrelle Patterson injury is a big one, but don’t sleep on rookie Tyler Allgeier. He’s a punishing downfield runner that should prevent Atlanta’s 4th ranked rushing offense from dropping off too much. BUCCANEERS -10

Titans at Commanders
Carson Wentz could find himself benched by Sunday evening or he could torch a lackluster pass defense for 300 yards and multiple scores. Ok, that second part was maybe a joke, but don’t sleep on Washington’s big play ability this week. In fairness to Wentz, he just doesn’t have time back there. Poor pass blocking will mess with even a great quarterback’s field vision. Wentz’s field vision is already poor. When his clock gets sped up like it has been the last two weeks then it’s a recipe for complete disaster. TITANS -1.5

Texans at Jaguars
My apologies to Jaguars fans. I jinxed Trevor Lawrence last week, and even though he was set to play my Eagles, it was totally unintentional. This is a sneaky big game for the Jaguars. They were playing well, garnering a lot of national attention and then they self-combusted in the rain last week in Philadelphia. Good teams don’t carry losses around. If Jacksonville comes out and takes care of business against a feisty Texans squad then we’ll know they’re for real. JAGUARS -7

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

49ers at Panthers
Matt Rhule needs to go back to college; for his himself, for Panthers fans and for DJ Moore. The Panthers know they have DJ Moore, right? Moore has yet to surpass 50 yards in a game and his 13 receptions puts him tied for 74th in the league. Moore is a top 12-15 receiver. Get him the ball. Also, I was wrong about Baker Mayfield. I don’t know what happened but it’s not popping in Carolina like I thought. He was still worth the low risk it required to take the swing, but man is he rough. PANTHERS +7

Cowboys at Rams
If only someone said the Cowboys would hang around and be all right until Dak Prescott returned. Oh, wait, I did that.
From 9/17: “The NFC isn’t deep with playoff contenders, so I’m not writing off the Cowboys just yet. After the Bengals, Dallas has @NYG, WASH, @LAR, @PHI, DET, CHI, BYE. Four of those games are very winnable, and they’ve had the Eagles number for a while too, so it’s not completely insane to think the Cowboys get to their bye week at 3-5 or even 4-4.”
FYI: This is when the shine comes off Cooper Rush. RAMS -5.5

Eagles at Cardinals
Arizona has to be the weirdest team of the last decade. Every week they play as if they’ve forgotten what worked the week prior. Kyler Murray and the offense were fantastic in the 2nd half against Carolina last week. In fact, the offense has been pretty great all season in the 2nd half. I didn’t include Week 1 because that was a blowout and the Chiefs fell asleep at the wheel, but since that loss, the Cardinals have had 12 2nd half possessions. They’ve scored 5 touchdowns, kicked 3 field goals, turned it over on downs three times (all inside the opponent’s 38) and punted only once. No turnovers. If Kliff Kingsbury could get even half of that 2nd half production out of his 1st half offense the Cardinals will again be a playoff contender in the NFC. CARDINALS +5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Bengals at Ravens
I both hated and loved John Harbaugh passing on the go-ahead field goal on 4th and goal from the two late in the 4th quarter last week. I thought his explanation for going for it made a lot of sense. It’s hard enough to stop Josh Allen, stopping him and the Buffalo offense when they have 4 downs would be nearly impossible. On the other hand, if you really have that much faith in your defense like he said, I think you would have kicked the field goal. Either way, I think Lamar Jackson has to know the one thing he can’t do is throw an interception there. The whole point of going for it in that scenario is the fall back of pinning their offense deep inside the five if you fail. For my money, Baltimore is still the team to beat in the AFC North. I’m as excited for this game as I’ve been for any game this season. BENGALS +3.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Raiders at Chiefs
Andy Reid deserves an Emmy, Golden Globe and an Oscar for his State Farm performance. I still laugh every time. It’s hard to believe Reid is the same guy Philadelphia ran out of town 10 years ago. He’s currently the best coach in the league (yes it’s true) and the most beloved by his players. That’s an unbelievable accomplishment. Bill Belichick undoubtedly has the respect of his players, but I doubt too many would say they love him. As for the Raiders, it’s getting close to panic time in Las Vegas. They spent all summer hyping up the Derek Carr – Davante Adams connection and then they’ve essentially ghosted him in half their games thus far. Regardless of their early season struggles, I still like the Raiders more than Denver. I don’t think they’re good enough to beat Kansas City but I think they give a herculean effort. CHIEFS -7

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