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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stathead Matt's NFL Picks: Week 5

Last Week: 9-14
Overall: 35-59

(2-2) Jacksonville Jaguars at
(0-4) Buffalo Bills) +1.5

Buffalo's backfield gets a lot less cluttered with the trade of Marshawn Lynch, allowing Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, the two most talented of the group who have been rested while Lynch got the majority of the touches in the last three weeks, to prove their mettle. Expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to hook up with both Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish quite a bit against the Jaguar's 30th ranked passing defense. If the D-line can keep MJD in check, the Bills will lock up their first win at home.

The Pick: Buffalo Bills

(2-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at
(2-2) Cincinnati Bengals -6.5

This is one of the tougher calls of the week, because neither team has shown us exactly how good they are. The Bucs beat two scrubs before being blown out by a Steelers team led by the immortal Charlie Batch. The Bengals showed promise by beating the Ravens but are also coming off a loss to an underwhelming Cleveland team. If they both play to potential, the Bengals would be the pick, but coming off a bye week, the Bucs are rested and have more to prove.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(3-1) Atlanta Falcons at
(1-3) Cleveland Browns +3.5

Don't get cute. Atlanta is the pick. In fact, you may wat to tease them with...

(2-2) Philadelphia Eagles at
(0-4) San Francisco 49ers -3.5

Vegas is breaking its own rule rewarding the 49ers for losing by basically saying with this spread that they cannot possibly lose five in a row. They can. They will. Niners fans will see their first win soon though, they will just have to wait until next week when Oakland comes to town.

The Picks: Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles

While we are on the topic of Vegas rewarding a loser, they are doing it twice. I cannot remember the last time I saw this.

(2-2) St. Louis Rams at
(0-4) Detroit Lions -3.5

The thought seems to be here that this is the Lions only chance to win, maybe all season. Granted, the Rams have played an extremely soft schedule to get to their 2-2 mark, but at least they have shown they can win. Don't give Detroit any points until they prove they can do the same.

The Pick: St. Louis Rams

(3-0) Kansas City Chiefs at
(2-2) Indianapolis Colts -8.5

The Colts are giving more than a touchdown to the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL? That tells you that everyone still believes the Colts are the Colts, despite their record, the injuries and their 29th ranked rush defense. The Chiefs have Jamaal Charles, one of the most underrated backs in the league, to burst through that defensive hole, and have and a run D that will force Peyton Manning to beat them. Manning will need a shootout, and with his banged up receiving corps, I don't see them putting up enough points to cover.

The Pick: Kansas City Chiefs

(3-1) Green Bay Packers at
(2-2) Washington Redskins +3.5

The Packers haven't faced the stiffest of competition, but have looked like a playoff team nonetheless, whereas the Redskins have stepped up when the games mean something extra, beating Dallas and Philly. This game means nothing more than another Sunday at work, and I expect the Packers to continue their domination of inferior teams.

The Pick: Green Bay Packers

(3-1) Chicago Bears at
(0-4) Carolina Panthers +2.5

Jimmy Claussen was not terrible in the New Orleans game last week, and Jay Cutler is not playing for the Bears in this contest. That honor belongs to Todd Collins. So who would you back in this game, the kid who pushed the defending champs to the wall and may actually get Steve Smith the ball, or the guy you thought was out of the league and whose best target is Johnny Knox? As a kicker, it looked like Carolina's meat and potatoes ground game finally started working last week, and I expect that trend to continue.

The Pick: Carolina Panthers

(2-2) Denver Broncos at
(3-1) Baltimore Ravens -7.5

This would be an easy Ravens pick if Ray Rice had shown any life so far this year. Last season he'd be good for 75 yards rushing and 75 yards receiving a game (or so it seemed as his fantasy owner) but this season he just has not gotten it going. The Broncos have one of the best rush Ds in the league, so I cannot expect him to bounce back yet. The Ravens are the top ranked team against the pass though, and that seems to be all the Broncos do these days. Look for a low scoring affair, with the Broncos covering by default.

The Pick: Denver Broncos

(2-2) New York Giants at
(3-1) Houston Texans -3.5

I have to believe that the Texans are still cruising on that Colts upset vibe because I saw the Giants turn what had looked like a decent Bears team into a pile of ash last Sunday night. Since the Texans beat Indy, they have lost to Dallas, beaten a shabby Raiders team and squeaked by a mediocre Washington team who could only think of the Philly game the following week. Houston should not be giving points to the Giants who looked to have finally come together.

The Pick: New York Giants

(3-1) New Orleans Saints at
(2-2) Arizona Cardinals +7.5

Rookie Max Hall gets the start for the Cardinals and....I think I've said enough.

The Pick: New Orleans Saints

(2-2) San Diego Chargers at
(1-3) Oakland Raiders +6.5

I really thought Jason Campbell was going to do well here, and he seemed like the kind of guy you wanted to do well and succeed somewhere, even if it was for the Raiders. He is running out of windows on a career that could have been much better with a consistant offensive scheme. Gradkowski gets the start. Nnamdi Asomugha will waste his talent covering Malcolm Floyd, and the Rivers-to-Gates scoring tandem will be all too active.

The Pick: San Diego Chargers

(2-2) Tennessee Titans at
(1-2) Dallas Cowboys -6.5

When are the Cowboys not disappointing? It's the longest trend that nobody is following. The Titans are too good to be getting almost a touchdown from anyone. I site the fact that they have yet to lose by that much. The Cowboys are coming off a bye week and won the Texas Bowl the week before that, so maybe they are on the rise, but I cannot back them with 6.5 yet.

The pick: Tennessee Titans

(1-2) Minnesota Vikings at
(3-1) New York Jets -4.5

Remember at the beginning of the season when the Jets lost to Baltimore by a nose in an ugly game and everyone discredited them after their ballyhooed reality show? It turns out that Ravens team was pretty good, and the Jets have yet to lose since. Also, the Vikings may have been the most overrated team going into the season. Favre seems to regret coming back, and Revis gets another crack at Randy Moss after allowing a touchdown to the Vikings new receiver in the Patriots game. This one's already over.

The Pick: New York Jets


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