I can’t believe it’s already Week 6 of the NFL season and that’s it’s freezing in New York and that the Giants might be able to go on a run we haven’t seen since their pre-2012 collapse and that the Mets are in the NLCS and making me hate baseball more than I thought was possible after I left Yankee Stadium following the wild-card game loss. But it’s mid-October and the season is starting to take shape and that means the perception of each team has enough of a sample size to get a real feel when it comes to the picks.
I was due for a clunker eventually and it came last week with a 5-8-1 disappointment. Luckily, my Week 4 performance gave me enough of a cushion to take some hits like that. But the cushion isn’t big enough for it to continue, so it’s time to get back on track in Week 6.
(Home team in caps)
Atlanta -3 over NEW ORLEANS
This has trap game written all over, but I’m going to have to get trapped to lose. The Superdome Saints are no more and while these teams always play tight games, which should lead me to take the points, I’m very close to putting the Saints in the
NEW YORK JETS -7 over Washington
I really thought we were going to get the undefeated Jets against the undefeated Patriots in Week 7 this season to go with the memorable Monday Night Football matchup of the two teams from the 2010 season. But the Jets ruined that when they lost to the Eagles, which also didn’t help the Giants. The Patriots have kept up their end of the bargain and they are going to do it this week as well in Indianapolis, so it’s up to the Jets this week to make it the 4-1 Jets against the 5-0 Patriots in Week 7. I have faith in the Todd Bowles Jets coming off a bye week against a Redskins that I need out of the NFC East race.
Arizona -5 over PITTSBURGH
I’m rooting for the Cardinals after they missed the playoffs two years ago with a 10-6 record while the 8-7-1 Packers got in as the NFC North champion and then had an 11-5 season last year only to have a third-string quarterback start their ROAD playoff game against the 7-8-1 Panthers. The Cardinals have a long way to go this season relying on 35-year-old Carson Palmer to stay healthy coming off a torn ACL and for 35-year-old Larry Fitzgerald to keep playing like it’s 10 years ago. The Cardinals already watched Andre Ellington miss a month and had Chris Johnson turn back the clock in his absence and they’re going to need to catch some breaks with health and performance to have a better ending in 2015 than they did in 2013 and 2014.
MINNESOTA -3 over Kansas City
I really like this Vikings team and it’s not because my girlfriend is a Vikings fan and forces me to root for them in exchange for being allowed to sleep in the bed. They are a very underrated team giving only three points at home coming off a bye and playing the 1-4 Chiefs team that has lost four straight and is one win from watching their season end with 10 games left to play. The only thing holding the Vikings back is either the decision of Mike Zimmer or Norv Turner to not let Teddy Bridgewater throw the ball more. It’s time to realize that Adrian Peterson isn’t going to carry the team the way he did in 2012 and if the Vikings want to win one of the two wild-card sports in the NFC, they’re going to need to let Bridgewater evolve this season as more than a game manager.
Cincinnati -3 over BUFFALO
OK, I’m breaking my rule about staying away from the B’s (the Bengals, Bears and Browns) this week. But in the fine print of that rule it says: “Void if EJ Manuel is the starting quarterback of the opposing team.” Well, EJ Manuel is starting for the Bills this week and that means it’s time to jump on the Bengals bandwagon. I plan on only staying for a week.
Chicago +4 over DETROIT
Two teams that should be better than they are, but aren’t. That’s been the story for these NFC North rivals for a long time now and with John Fox and Jim Caldwell as the head coaches of the two teams, I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. It will probably be a sloppy game with a lot of turnovers and a lot of undisciplined penalties and it’s for that reason that I’m taking the points.
Denver -4 over CLEVELAND
I’m scared of this one. I’m scared of what has happened to Peyton Manning. I actually went on YouTube this week to look back at Peyton highlights from his days on the Colts just to remember how he used to throw the ball and how good he used to be. Sure, his best statistical season came with the Broncos, but it was with the Colts when Peyton could still throw the ball with some zip and still throw the deep ball and still get the ball to have a tight spiral. (This led me to watching the highlights from the Colts’ 2006 AFC Championship Game comeback over the Patriots, which was magical.) I don’t have a lot of confidence in Peyton being able to cover barely-a-field-goal spread anymore, and that is scary, but I can’t willingly pick Josh McCown against the Broncos’ defense, which has become the face of the the team.
Houston +3 over JACKSONVILLE
Somewhere someone who isn’t a Texans fan or a Jaguars fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Thank about that.
Miami +3 over TENNESSEE
The Dolphins are bad, but they’re not “Getting 3 at Tennessee” bad. There are maybe one or two, possibly three teams in the NFL that are that bad and the Titans aren’t one of them.
SEATTLE -7 over Carolina
I think the Panthers are frauds. There I said it. They might be 4-0 and coming off a bye, but their four wins were against Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. Now they are heading to Seattle and to the toughest place to play in not only the NFL, but in all of the major sports, and they have to play a 2-3 Seahawks team coming off a devastating overtime loss in Cincinnati where they blew a 17-point lead. The Panthers being part of the undefeated conversation ends this weekend.
GREEN BAY -10 over San Diego
The Packers are going to be a double-digit favorite at home for the rest of the season the way they probably should have been all season, and while it’s never easy covering two-possession spreads, the Packers at Lambeau are as good as it gets when it comes to doing so. I actually feel like this line is a little low and time is running out on taking advantage of getting the Packers at 10 points or less.
SAN FRANCISCO +3 over Baltimore
Two-plus years ago this was the Super Bowl. Now it’s a joke. The 49ers are in a rebuilding phase and the Ravens are stuck in some weird phase that I don’t even know what to call it. I guess you can call it “they suck” because that’s the way to classify teams that are supposed to be good and aren’t and aren’t rebuilding and don’t really seem to have a plan in place. The Ravens aren’t supposed to be 1-4 right now (they’re actually supposed to be 0-5 if not for Josh Scobee) and I saw them being picked as potential Super Bowl champions this year. But here they are playing for their season in Week 6. Let’s hope it ends.
New England -10 over INDIANAPOLIS
I was extremely upset with myself for not investing more financially in the Patriots against the Cowboys. This time, I won’t make that mistake. The Colts are a “bad good” team and with Andrew Luck hurting and incapable of beating the Patriots, I’m expecting a double-digit win in this one.
New York Giants +3.5 over PHILADELPHIA
Everyone is talking about the Giants’ schedule for their next four games and how they have a chance to be 7-2 heading into their Week 9 game against the Patriots and have a commanding lead in the NFC East. The problem is this is the Giants we are talking about. The New York Football Giants. The team that is known for not making it easy and not being able to live up to expectations and regular-season collapses. This game isn’t going be easy even with Sam Bradford playing quarterback and DeMarco Murray still an unknown and it’s likely to be the same close game nearly every NFC East Game. And with that, I have to take the Giants.
Last week: 5-8-1