Sunday, October 18, 2009

NFL Week 6 Picks

Photo Credit. AP Photo/ Bill Kostroun

Last week saw a bit of a drop in form with my picks, putting together a record of 9-5. Still, I will forge ahead and give my picks for week 6.

I am expecting the Giants- Saints game to be the best of the weekend. Denver against San Diego on Monday Night Football should also be really good (ESPN has done a good job scheduling MNF games so far this season, some really great matchups between rivals). However, there are too many matchups between really bad teams this week (Carolina-Tampa Bay, Kansas City-Washington, even St. Louis- Jacksonville) for my liking. At least they will be competitive?

Here is who I like this weekend, who do you have?

Houston (2-3) at Cincinnati (4-1)

Cedric Benson leads the league in rushing yards, Antwan Odom is tied for the league lead in sacks, and Jonathan Joseph is second in the league in interceptions. I wonder what the odds were before the season on this happening. I know you’d be lying if you told me you saw it coming. They’ve beaten three good teams (Green Bay and then division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore, who they really need to beat to compete for a playoff spot), played lousy but won against an awful team (Cleveland) and lost on a miracle to an undefeated team. But those wins against good teams, were they just luck?

The Texans have been a mixed bad. They’re offense has looked pretty good at times, but their wins have come over Tennessee (winless) and Oakland (would be winless if it wasn’t for Kansas City). Their losses are against two decent teams (New York Jets and Arizona) and one team that is more Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than they are (Jacksonville). It’s been tough to get a good read on where these two teams stand. I think this game will be another exciting one. Cincy has been playing out of their minds this season and the old saying going, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. I’ll take the Bengals to win this week.

Detroit (1-4) at Green Bay (2-2)

Green Bay at home against the team at the bottom of their division. Coming off a loss and a bye this is a statement week for them. They need to come out and dominate, especially if the Lions are without Calvin Johnson. Green Bay will get the job done and win this game.

Baltimore (3-2) at Minnesota (5-0)

After tearing the league apart in its first three games, the Ravens have unraveled a bit losing two in a row. Meanwhile, the Vikings have stepped it up lately, beating the Packers in one of the most anticipated games in the first half of the season and destroying St. Louis last week to remain undefeated. As I have before, I point out the Ravens fast and aggressive defense. Brett Favre has played very well this season, but he’s not a young kid anymore. Will he be able to evade Ray Lewis and company? Will he stay within himself and play smart or will he revert to the ignorant gunslinger and throw some costly turnovers into the hands of Ed Reed? However, will the Ravens defense be able to keep up with Adrian Peterson, second in the league in rushing? Last week the Ravens went up against the number one rusher in the NFL, Cedric Benson, and he snapped their streak of games not allowing a 100-yard rusher. Are they vulnerable for another attack?

Meanwhile, the Vikings D looks sharp. They have the most sacks in the league—beware Joe Flacco—and are 12th in rushing defense, which could be enough to stop Ray Rice. I may be drinking from the Viking Kool-Aid, but this team doesn’t have the questions the Ravens have developed right now and are really playing some good football. I’ll take Minnesota to win.

NY Giants (5-0) at New Orleans (4-0)

This is the marquee matchup of the weekend. Two undefeated teams. The best defense against one of the most exciting offenses. One can argue that the G-Men haven’t really been tested yet, and their top ranked “d” is a sign of the weak offenses they’ve gone up against. But this is a Super Bowl-caliber team. They have plenty of veteran leadership and guys that have been there before and know what it takes to win big games.

The Saints haven’t won those big games yet and Drew Brees has looked pretty pedestrian in his last two games, not throwing a single touchdown or breaking 200 yards passing. Even with the bye last week for an extra week to prepare for them, I don’t think Brees fares much better against arguably the strongest and deepest defense in the league. Giants will win this showdown and give New Orleans their first loss.

Cleveland (1-4) at Pittsburgh (3-2)

Cleveland is finally on the board for the ’09 season. Still, they only scored six points. Now they go to Pittsburgh, where the Steelers haven’t lost yet in this young season. If Pittsburgh is smart, they keep handing the ball off to Rashard Mendenhall, who has looked very good in Willie Parker’s absence. This should be no contest. Steelers take this one.

Carolina (1-3) at Tampa Bay (0-5)

Two anemic offenses. Two struggling defenses. It’s really a toss-up. I’ve kind of lost faith in anything the Panthers have done. Last week, against the Redskins defense, currently ranked 23rd in the league, DeAngelo Williams only rushed the ball 18 times. It was his highest total of the season (any coincidence that his highest rushing attempts total came in their only win of the season?), but I still think he needs to carry the ball more. Take the ball out of Jake Delhomme’s hands. Tampa Bay’s rush defense sits at number 29, however they have only allowed three rushing touchdowns.

Will the Panthers do the smart thing? Josh Johnson isn’t a bad quarterback and did some nice things last week. Still, three interceptions isn’t going to win you any games. Panthers Head Coach John Fox isn’t dumb; he’s had success in this league and even led the Panthers to a Super Bowl. You don’t do that with just pure lack, or by riding your players alone. He can do the job. I think he and the team take advantage of Tampa’s lack of success against the run, give Williams even more carries, and win this football game.

Kansas City (0-5) at Washington (2-3)

The Redskins are now the first team in history to start the season playing six straight winless opponents. Their record? 2-3, good enough for last place in the NFC East. They have just been a bad team. Their effort on the field has been very uninspired and it only means impending doom for Head Coach Jim Zorn. Not that the Chiefs have looked good either, but it’s very hard to go an entire season without a win, and this is as good a matchup as any for them. I’ll take the Chiefs to “upset” Washington.

St. Louis (0-5) at Jacksonville (2-3)

Jacksonville was embarrassed last week. And that led to Maurice Jones-Drew calling out the coaching staff for its selection in offensive plays and personnel. Had this been a one-time thing, I look past it. But the Jaguars haven’t been the model of consistency, and last week’s performance and Jones-Drew’s tirade are red flags for me, even against the lowly Rams. For the Rams, at least Steven Jackson looks very good this year. The team is messed up at quarterback, but I think Jackson puts the team on his shoulders and goes off against the 20th ranked run defense. I’ll take St. Louis for the win.

Arizona (2-2) at Seattle (2-3)

Matt Hasselbeck returned and the Seahawks dominated. So why is T.J. Houshmandzadeh complaining now? I would’ve understood if it was the past couple weeks, but your QB is back. Maybe he didn’t get you the ball as much as you would’ve liked last week, but it was his first game back from injury. It’s week six, still a lot of season left. Why complain now? Arizona took care of business last week. They are certainly better than Jacksonville and won’t play dead against the Seahawks. I’ll take the Cardinals to win this game.

Philadelphia (3-1) at Oakland (1-4)

Another week, another tough NFC East opponent for Oakland, who was only able to muster up seven points against the Giants last week. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has played fairly well this season. Expect more of the same from both teams, and an easy Eagles win.

Tennessee (0-5) at New England (3-2)

Another loss for Tennessee last weekend. It gets no easier in week six. While the Patriots haven’t been the juggernaut of old, they still have shown flashes. One thing New England is very good at is their passing game. They are currently fourth in the league in passing offense and have all the tools to execute. Tom Brady is still a very good quarterback, their wide receivers, led by Randy Moss and Wes Welker, are very good, and the offensive line, although it hasn’t been at its best this year, is still serviceable. Tennessee will also be without both starting cornerbacks. Nick Harper broke his arm against the Colts last week and Pro Bowler Cortland Finnegan was just recently ruled out with a right hamstring injury. Safety Vincent Fuller also has a broken arm and has not been cleared for contact. This spells disaster for the Titans and another home win for the Patriots.

Buffalo (1-4) at NY Jets (3-2)

Buffalo scored grand total of three points last week. Against Cleveland. And they lost. They have hit rock bottom. The Jets are much better than Cleveland. No way is Buffalo even close in this one at Giants Stadium. Jets win big.

Chicago (3-1) at Atlanta (3-1)

With all the media fawning over Minnesota and Green Bay, Chicago is quietly enjoying a nice 3-1 season so far. This will be a big game for them, but after a very slow start it was encouraging to see Matt Forte go off for 121 rushing yards against Detroit before the team’s bye week. Atlanta’s offense has had a very good year so far. Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White have all enjoyed good seasons so far, culminating in last week’s drubbing of a good 49’ers team. The Bears defense is ranked fifth in the league right now, even without Brian Urlacher, but Atlanta isn’t too far behind, ranked eighth. I feel the Falcons’ offense is more well-rounded, and will pick them to win at home.

Denver (5-0) at San Diego (2-2)

Although it never means as much this time around, you have to think Denver is thinking about getting a little bit of redemption here against the team that basically stole their playoff spot last year. Denver must also be feeling really good about themselves after their big win against New England last week. Knowshon Moreno is starting to come into his own, especially with the injury bug nagging Correll Buckhalter. Moreno still only has one rushing touchdown, earned in week three against Oakland, but the Charger’s defense has been one of the worst against the run this season, ranked 24th. I like the Broncos to continue riding their momentum and beat San Diego, remaining undefeated.

Byes: Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, San Francisco

Last week: 9-5

Season: 31-13

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