Jesse: Week 4 in the NFL saw the return of the real refs, as well as Jeff Triplette. Games were shorter, there were fewer attempted murders on the field, and fans could finally focus on the game itself. As the first quarter of the season comes to a close, we’re getting an idea of what teams are capable of making a Super Bowl push, and two teams stand out: Houston and Atlanta. Both teams look strong, with potent offenses and tough defenses. The Texans are in the league’s weakest division, so look for them to snag a playoff spot by Week 11. The Falcons will only get better, and I’ll bet a shiny nickel that they win at least one playoff game this year. For more pigskin prognosticating, enjoy Tom and Clint below.
(NOTE: I didn’t forget about the 4-0 Cardinals. Their defense is fantastic, but I’ll believe in Santa Claus before I believe in Kevin Kolb.)
- Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano diagnosed with leukemia. Sad. (CBS Sports)
- Tom Brady: “F$&% You, Bitches!” (Deadspin)
- Gruden loses mind, a nation chuckles. (Yahoo!)
- Bill Barnwell on the regression of Mark Sanchez. (Grantland)
- Brandon Lloyd smiles for the camera. In mid-air. During a touchdown catch. (The Sun Chronicle)
Clint: I’m not going to make it a habit of going off on a rant at the beginning of the article, as that is Jesse’s job. I wanted to take the time to actually say something (and maybe the only) nice thing about Roger Goodell and the NFL. I want to thank them for their dedication to the cancer awareness month. It’s October and for some that means to think of the survivors. It seems as if the last few years has brought this horrible disease around way to many in my family and many other families. This week it took another person from my dwindling family, and I just want to say fuck the disease, and thanks for one of the good things that Goodell has done. I also apologize in advance for any errors that may be in the article, as it is timed and very lengthy, so I sandwiched it in between driving 15 hours for a life celebration service.
Week 5 Picks
CARDINALS (4-0) AT RAMS (2-2)
Tom: Arizona at 4-0? WHAAAAAAA??? I’ve been riding the Cards bandwagon the past few weeks, but they’ve been cutting it a bit too close lately, especially having to come back from 13-0 vs. a not so good Miami team (sorry Fleed) with a rookie QB. Arizona’s defense is stumbling a bit–giving up huge chunks of yardage to said rookie QB–but they’re getting the turnovers when they need them. And St. Louis’s running attack has disappeared, even with Steven Jackson in the lineup. I won’t say Kolb is “managing” games…he’s doing that weird Tebow-like thing where he does nothing and then suddenly makes plays when he has to. The Rams handled Seattle (unexpectedly) last week, but then again, the Seahawks offense isn’t that great at scoring points (27th in the league and only Philly and Dallas score less in the NFC). The NFC West has turned into all defense, all the time, with just enough offense to win games (unless you play the Jets). Think I’m gonna go all Harvey Dent on this one and flip a coin:
Clint: I’m going to see your Harvey Dent and say that the Rams are getting it done. I should have picked them last week, but didn’t have the balls. This week I do. Sorry Cardinals, no perfect record after this week.
EAGLES (3-1) AT STEELERS (1-2)
Clint: How can I go against my Steelers? We have our defense back at full force with the return of both Polumalu and Harrison as well as Rashard Mendenhall. This is not the story of can Philly play good enough to win, it’s can the Steelers not give up the game.
Tom: Agreed. Steelers off a bye with the full complement of defense plus Mendenhall should equal a win in the battle of Pennsylvania. Steelers are 3-1 after a bye with Mike Tomlin…I expect 4-1.
PACKERS (2-2) AT COLTS (1-2)
Tom: Is it weird to say the Colts are a team on their way up and the Pack may be sliding a bit? Yeah, Aaron Rodgers looked like his old self last week, but that was vs. the awful Saints defense. Greg Jennings had to leave the game again due to a lingering groin issue–are groin issues ever not lingering? The defense is in the Top 10 in the NFL and they will be on the fast track indoors at Indy…so I’m leaning towards the Pack. I think this one will be close though, as the Colts might be riding an emotional wave due to their head coach’s bout with leukemia (get well soon, Coach Pagano–heard a story that while he has been in the hospital, he sent one request to the league: Get NFL Network on the television in his room so he can still watch film. Keep after ‘em, coach).
Clint: I really hope that the Colts play their asses off for their coach. See my opening statements. Even though I am going to hope I am wrong, I have to choose Green Bay. I just think they are too tough, and even though Rodgers looked normal against a poor defense, they went up against a damn good offense. The Colts aren’t there offensively yet, though they are steadily improving.
BROWNS (0-4) AT GIANTS (2-2)
Clint: Once again, I really want to choose the Browns in this matchup. I think their defense is playing well enough to challenge the Giants. I don’t think their offense can keep up though.
Tom: I’m THIS close to picking the Browns in a game. But not this week.
FALCONS (4-0) AT REDSKINS (2-2)
Tom: Another 4-0 team…is the clock striking midnight yet? The Falcons had a tough game vs. a division rival and survived thanks to absolutely horrible DB play by the Panthers when everyone in the Dome knew they were going to throw deep except them apparently. They showed weaknesses vs. a QB that can run and by golly, RGIII can sure run it, having already tied the record for most rushing TDs by a rookie QB in Redskins history only 4 games in. They’re also away from home. And I hate to say it…but I think that may be enough to end the Falcons’ streak. Sorry, my hometown Hotlanta–I sure hope I’m wrong.
Clint: I am going with the hot hand. Shanahan is a hell of a coach and he is turning his team around, but the Falcons only struggled last week because it’s a team they face twice a year and that is always an advantage. Look for a strong performance by the Falcons.
DOLPHINS (1-3) AT BENGALS (3-1)
Clint: Cats eat fish. End of story.
Tom: Bengals face another 2012 first round pick in Ryan Tannehill. The important thing here is, will the camera pan to his wife at any point during this game? Cincy wins, but I think it’s closer than you might believe.
RAVENS (3-1) AT CHIEFS (1-3)
Tom: Arrowhead has been a tough place to play for the visiting team for some time…even through the rough years of the Chiefs. This is a re-match of an AFC playoff game from a couple of years ago where the Chiefs looked absolutely horrible and started Todd Haley’s downward slide as head coach. The Ravens tend to play down to the level of their opponents, and can beat the best team in the NFL one week, and then lose to a winless team the very next week. I don’t think Kansas City is that team, though, especially since Matt Cassel may be getting the hook. Jamaal Charles was back this past week, but to no avail because their defense can’t stop anyone. Which makes the fact that they went to OT with New Orleans not too surprising now in hindsight. Baltimore (unfortunately for this Steelers fan) continues on their path to convince people their offense is as good as their defense.
Clint: Chiefs? Of what? The Chiefs of the locker room maybe, but on the field they aren’t even Braves.
SEAHAWKS (2-2) AT PANTHERS (1-3)
Clint: Cam Newton and gang almost ended the undefeated Falcons last week. Newton appeared to have struggled against their defense, and figuring the Seahawks are proving very adept at D, they are going to have a challenge. Only thing, Wilson is hearing words of doubt from his team, who are seriously considering benching him despite not have a significantly better option. If you wear green and have a quarterback controversy, you are probably going to be grounded this week, and you know the other team I talk about.
Tom: Last time I picked the Panthers, they laid an egg at home vs. the Giants. The Seahawks are not the Giants and Russell Wilson is not Eli Manning. Good defense, though. Hopefully Cam gets over his pouting and they can score some points vs. a Seahawks team that can’t score points.
BEARS (3-1) AT JAGUARS (1-3)
Tom: Jay Cutler is relevant again this week, and not for the wrong reasons this time. He still did some Cutler-y stuff vs. Dallas, but this time it was Romo throwing all the INTs every which way. The Jags are getting better, but their schedule is killing them. The 4 teams they’ve faced so far are a combined 11-4, including the 4-0 Texans. The Bears do not make things any easier. Hang in there Jacksonville, the Raiders and Titans are comin’.
Clint: I did it once, and I’m going to do it again. Call me a dumb believer, but I think Jacksonville can do another upset hear. I don’t think they are a better all round team, but I think their defense is going to play better than the Bears offense. Cutler will do his other Cutler-y stuff and yell at his O-line again.
BRONCOS (2-2) AT PATRIOTS (2-2)
Clint: The Broncos have been as consistent as the altitude they have played in so far this year. If the altitude is high, they are playing at the top of their game. If not, they look like the Denver Donkeys. Manning also gets stage fright in New England.
Tom: As Clint mentioned, if this one was in Denver, I’d probably lean towards the Broncos, but Tom Brady doesn’t lose at home (unless it’s the playoffs). However, this should be a tight game, as Denver’s defense is pretty good, and the Pats have issues with good defenses. Peyton has flashbacks to past games and throws a pick to seal the game with less than a minute left.
BILLS (2-2) AT 49ERS (3-1)
Tom: The Bills actually gave the Pats a challenge last week until the Pats remembered they were the Pats and the Bills remembered they were the Bills and New England ripped off about 200 unanswered points. Now with the mighty 49ers defense in their way…Buffalo needs to start circling the wagons. Again.
Clint: I don’t have anything to say here. I don’t need to justify this call, unless you are living in the late 80s.
TITANS (1-3) AT VIKINGS (3-1)
Clint: The Titans are horrible. Chris Johnson put up the best numbers he is bound to do for the rest of his career last week. He’s done. They are done.
Tom: CJ2K may have more rushing yards than Jake Locker now, but it still doesn’t change my opinion that they’re terrible. Vikings are on a roll, and in the dome. However, they’ve got to start scoring TDs on offense if they want to stay on a roll.
CHARGERS (3-1) AT SAINTS (0-4)
Tom: The man who would be Brees left San Diego and led the Saints to a Super Bowl. But bounty-gate has left them wanting on defense in 2012. Philip Rivers continues to put up stats, and the Chargers are 12th in total defense in the NFL, with their only loss coming to the 4-0 Falcons. I really want to pick the Chargers here because as mentioned earlier, the Saints defense is atrocious (feel free to leave another adjective in the comments and I’ll use it next week) and Ryan Matthews being back just makes them that much better. But being in New Orleans, and Norv Turner still on the sidelines for San Diego makes me want to turn to New Orleans. I have a feeling this game could bust the “over” in Vegas. I may hate myself for doing this, but:
Clint: The (s)aints keep making me look bad. I keep picking them and the keep losing (except last week when I picked against them and they almost won). I watched the complete annihilation of the Chargers by Atlanta. Brees is still an elite QB, and Ryan is just getting there. The points are going to fly in this game, but Brees always has a chip on his shoulder playing this team, and is going to run up the score.
TEXANS (4-0) AT JETS (2-2)
Clint: It’s the other QB controversy this week. If the J-E-T-S are dumb enough to give in the poison that is Tim Tebow, they deserve the ass whooping the Texans are going to give them. I don’t know who is worse to have on a team: Terrell Owens or Tim Tebow. Whichever one it is, they destroy every bit of credibility the team has. Texans don’t need the help, but Foster might need a breather after his 250 yards against this washed up team.
Tom: This game may start a little close I think not due to the Jets, but due to the Texans being undefeated and on MNF. They will eventually pull away as the Jets continue to implode. I think Tebow plays more than he has all season, but to no avail.