Saturday, October 8, 2016

2016 NFL Week 5 Picks

Looking back on it, picking against Pittsburgh at home was about as bad as my Week 3 pick against New England. Big Ben and that offense often looks unstoppable in the friendly confines of Heinz Field, and that helps their defense tee off and play at a higher level. I was tempted to go with them at home again this week against a slumping Jets team, but the public was too swayed by last week and pumped the line up from -6 to -9.5. I thought about taking the Texans +7 what figures to be a low scoring slugfest with Minnesota's main outside threat Stefon Diggs ruled out, but I still expect the Vikings to win at home if they keep feeding Jerrick McKinnon.  Lastly, the other pick that I almost went with is Green Bay -7 at home, but although I like the Packers to win, I expect Odell Beckham Jr. to bounce back in a shootout that could get close.

Patriots -10.5 at Browns

This line has gotten a bit inflated after opening at 7.5, but they really can't this one high enough, even if it's on the road against an opponent that never seems to go away. Coming off an embarrassing home loss where they struggled in all phases of the game, you can bet that Bill Belichick will have them ready for this one and all the trickery involving Terrelle Pryor. Although I don't completely buy into the narrative of "angry Tom Brady" (he's a first ballot Hall of Famer; it's not like he's ever needed extra motivation thus far), the value of his return is immeasurable. Combine that with Rob Gronkowski continuing to get healthier and Cleveland's slot corner Tramon Williams dealing with a shoulder injury against Julian Edelman, and sometimes you just don't want to overthink things.
Tom Terrific is always in line for a big season, "scandal" or not.

Eagles -3.5 at Lions

That surprise blowout against the Eagles probably swayed my opinion of the Steelers too much, but is about time I give proper credit to how well Carson Wentz has played. I still want to see him challenge downfield more against a good defense, but rookie head coach Doug Pederson has put his rookie quarterback in such a good situation to succeed, which should continue coming off the bye against a Detroit defense missing it's two best players in Ziggy Ansah and DeAndre Levy. I'm a little bit worried with this somewhat low line that this could turn into somewhat of a shootout in Ford Field against Matthew Stafford and Marvin Jones, who has looked even better than expected as a #1 receiver, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has his unite playing at high level and is facing a lackluster running game with exciting rookie running back Dwayne Washington joining Ameer Abdullah with a foot injury.

Ravens -4 versus Redskins

At home against a decimated defense that already was being gashed by the run, the Ravens are in good position to bounce back after having their hearts ripped out by some incredible throws and catches by Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree last week. Terrance West ran well once he was able to get into a rhythm as the starter, and rookie Kenneth Dixon is set to make his debut after being slowed down by a preseason MCL injury. With Donte Whitner having to be signed off the street after both starting safeties David Bruton and DeAngelo Hall were placed on IR, hybrid safety/linebacker Su'a Cravens dealing with a concussion, and corners Bashaud Breeland and Dashaun Phillips both out, Washington will likely need to try and keep up in this one. Kirk Cousins and this passing game is certainly capable, but he can also be prone to turnovers when pressing the issue.
 I was high on Dixon in the draft, and this rushing attack is poised for a big day.
Broncos -4 versus Falcons

This line has shifted a bit from the -7 opener as the public overreacted to the fireworks Atlanta has put up, making it much more bearable. I've seen Julio Jones imitated a sprinter celebration as he runs into the end zone, and he looked like Usain Bolt during the turn of the 200 as he pulled away from defenders once he broke his 75 yard score up field to cap his monstrous 300 yard game, just the 6th such occurrence in NFL history. However, this impressive Kyle Shanahan offense has yet to face a defense as ferocious as Denver's, who can get more pressure on the red-hot Matt Ryan than he's been facing. Rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch having to make his first start is somewhat of a concern, but the defense not having any film on a new starter often works to the offense's advantage. Atlanta's lack of a pass rush will make things easier for him, and you can expect a heavy dose of C.J. Anderson in a good matchup, as well.
Can't rule out seeing Julio in his sprinter celebration, but I wouldn't bet on it against this defense.
Bengals -2 at Cowboys

Cincinnati looked great in their Thursday night game and got the benefit of the extra rest while Dallas barely squeaked by the Niners last week, and overall, the Bengals are the more talented team anyway. There's some concern with the Cowboys being at home and being great at playing keep away with time of possession to give better teams fewer chances to beat them, but the Bengals have been playing stout run defense. This is a good opportunity to get their own running game on track, and A.J. Green shouldn't struggle against these corners in the midst of his strong start that has him on pace for 128 catches and 1,872 yards.

Last week: 3-2
Season total: 18-13

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