Saturday, October 4, 2014

2014 NFL Week 5 Picks

Week 5

If I were a betting man, hedging against the Patriots on MNF would have worked last week, and I'll recommend the same strategy this week. I'd parlay Cleveland +1.5, New York Giants -4, and Seattle -7.

Green Bay -9.5 versus Minnesota

This was an easy call as soon as Teddy Bridgewater was announced as inactive. I immediately added the Packers D/ST in one of my fantasy leagues and fired them up, along with Eddie Lacy, in a DraftKings league. Unfortunately, I happened to pick a league that didn't get filled and was thus cancelled without me realizing it, negating my value picks for that team. (Not that anybody really cares besides me.)

Something that bothered me in what was an otherwise uneventful second half was Phil Simms continuing the narrative that Bridgewater dropped in the draft due to a lackluster pro day. That bothered me at draft time, as well, and it's idiotic if true. I wholeheartedly agree with Jim Nantz: why does one showing negate a whole season's worth of scouting? Or in this case, Bridgewater was the best quarterback in his class for two years; you can't ignore his whole body of work.

Chicago +2.5 at Carolina

Reaves had some fans in the draft community.
I picked against both these teams last week, but I didn't expect them to struggle like that. The Bears at least looked good in the first half before HaHa Clinton-Dix made a great play to force Martellus Bennet into a bobble outside of the end zone and the clock to run out. On the other hand, the Panthers are missing a lot of bodies, and while undrafted rookie running back Darrin Reaves could provide a spark, I don't think the matchups are in their favor, especially in pass the passing game

Cleveland +1.5 at Tennessee

Coming off a bye, I like the Browns' chances at consistently pounding the ball on the ground with a healthy Ben Tate and their pair of rookies. Their defense hasn't quite been what I expected, but Jake Locker is still coming off of his wrist issue and can be shaky to begin with.

Philadelphia -6.5 versus St. Louis

Getting right tackle Lane Johnson back will improve two positions since Todd Herremans moves back to right guard, and that should help Shady McCoy get back to business against a run defense that can be taken advantage of. The line is a touch high against a team coming off of a bye and should be able to effectively move the ball, but I'm not trusting Austin Davis on the road just yet.

New York Giants -4 versus Atlanta

The fact that this moved from -1.5 bothers me, but the Falcons lost three offensive lineman in last week's lost and had to put tight end Levine Toilolo at right tackle. They also lost one of the few good defensive players they have, William Moore, which will leave them even more vulnerable up the middle. Prudent fantasy owner Larry Donnell isn't likely to repeat his hat trick, but he should be in line for another nice day.

Tampa Bay +10 at New Orleans

Rob Ryan's defense was wildly overrated and now loses Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd for a matchup with the quietly effective Mike Glennon. The Buccaneers' first rounder, Mike Evans, is going to miss some time right when their second rounder, Austin Sepherian-Jenkins, is coming on healthy. The massive tight end should help mitigate the loss as Tampa stays competitive with their defense starting to show signs of life.

Luck has been locked-in in the early-going.

Indianapolis -3.5 versus Baltimore

I'm a little hesitant to lay this many points against a good Ravens team since the Colts' big wins have been against bad teams, but the Ravens aren't the same team on the road. If the Indy line can protect Andrew Luck, I like their chances.

Houston +6.5 at Dallas

I'm surprised the line moved a full 3 points from opening in what should be a close affair. J.J. Watt against the Cowboys' impressive offensive line will be a fun battle all game. If the Texans can contain DeMarco Murray and get off the field, I like their chances in this game since Dallas' defense is exploitable in a close game.

Buffalo +6.5 at Detroit

The Bills threw in the towel on E.J. Manuel, and it will be interesting to see if he can bring a spark to the Bills in what should be a close game thanks to their defense. Calvin Johnson was used as a decoy last week due to his gimpy ankle, and his limited availability is why I'm taking the points even though I like the Lions to win at home.

Pittsburgh -6 at Jacksonville

No. Nope. Not gonna happen. I'm not taking the Jaguars and the points again after they let me down again last week. I expect a strong performance by the Steelers after a complete meltdown at home last week.

Arizona +7.5 at Denver

Both teams are coming off a bye, which is always tricky. Both teams are well-coached, however, and this line is a couple of points too high against an undefeated team. Although I fully expect the Broncos to win at Mile High, they've struggled to run the ball and are facing arguably the best run defense in the league.

Kansas City +5 at San Francisco

I was shocked that the line started at -7.5 after the Chiefs' impressive blowout on Monday, and while it has rightfully moved, it's still a touch high. I agree with Vegas that the Niners should win since they won't be playing in front of the raucous Arrowhead crowd, as Alex Smith will be returning to the Bay Area to face the team that drafted him first overall in 2005, but I'm taking the points in what should be a close one. The biggest concern for San Francisco is the likely absence of Anthony Davis against a fearsome pass rush.

New York Jets +6.5 at San Diego

Similar to their AFC West rival Broncos, I expect the Chargers to win at home, but they'll likely struggle to put the game away on the ground against one of the best rush defenses in the league. Working in their favor, however, is the fact that Geno Smith has to travel cross-country and is loose with the football. If Eric Decker is unavailable due to his nagging hamstring, I may regret taking the points.

New England +1 versus Cincinnati
Brady will need some protection to right the ship.

This line has actually moved enough for the Patriots to be underdogs at home, a rarity for Tom Brady. As great as the Bengals looked before their bye, I have to bet on the Pats turning things around after an embarrassing loss in prime time. The only bright spot for them was the fact that Rob Gronkowski is looking closer and closer to 100%, and he may be the difference maker against a depleted linebacker group.

Seattle -7 at Washington

The reigning champs are coming off of a bye against a team that just had their lunch handed to them at home on TNF. You could make the argument that this line is too high for a team eager to turn things around with the extra rest, but Washington's defense is that bad. Their best hope is to take the Seahawks out of their element by stopping them on the ground, but Russell Wilson should have no problem picking them apart, regardless.

Last week: 6-6-1
Season total: 27-33-1

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