Week 5 Matchup Predictions
Cardinals @ Rams: The Cardinals sort of surprised everyone by struggling to pull out a win against the Dolphins last week, needing overtime to get the job done. However, what they proved is that both their offense and defense can make plays with the pressure on. Kerry Rhodes came up with a huge overtime interception, and Kevin Kolb completed a clutch 3rd and 8 to Early Doucet to set up the game winning field goal. Though the Rams have proven me wrong twice already in this young season, I think Ryan Williams has his breakout game against the Rams' 26th ranked run defense and the Cardinals defense holds strong.
Cardinals win 27-13.
Dolphins @ Bengals: Where the Cardinals surprised people by barely beating the Dolphins, the Dolphins surprised people by almost beating the Cardinals. Ryan Tannehill seems to be getting better by the week, and his two bad games have come against two of the top pass defenses in the league - the Texans and the Jets. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tannehill have another strong performance against a Bengals defense that only has one interception on the season. I also expect Reggie Bush to have a good showing against the Bengals' 24th ranked run defense. However, the Dolphins' 30th ranked pass defense will be shredded by Andy Dalton and AJ Green, and Tannehill won't be quite ready enough to pull off the shootout victory.
Bengals win 31-24.
Packers @ Colts: Despite the referees trying to screw over the Packers for a second straight week, they were able to pull off a win over the Saints at home. Aaron Rodgers finally looked like himself as he tore apart the Saints' terrible defense, and this week he'll face off against another defense that he can pick to pieces. Andrew Luck has shown strong signs of being the answer for Indianapolis, but he's not yet ready to outgun Rodgers against the Packers' 6th ranked pass defense.
Packers win 30-17.
Ravens @ Chiefs: The Ravens have been taking care of business so far, beating some quality competition in the Patriots, and smashing an above average opponent in the Bengals. Their lone defeat came on the road against the Eagles in a one point game, one of the more impressive ways to lose. However, you can't discredit the Chiefs' advantage of having Arrowhead Stadium's wild crowd behind them. Or can you? The Chiefs have been outscored 77-44 in Arrowhead so far this season, and this week won't help those numbers.
Ravens win 34-20.
Browns @ Giants: The Browns are 0-4, and the Giants are the reigning Super Bowl champions, so this is a no brainer, right? Not so fast - the Giants always play down to their competition. Even in their 2011 Super Bowl year, they lost to the Seahawks and barely squeezed out three-point victories over the Dolphins and Bills. The Browns' defense looked great at times against the Ravens last week, and they've had a couple extra days to get ready thanks to the questionable creation of Thursday Night Football. Trent Richardson could have his way with the league's 21st ranked run defense. However, the Giants still have Eli Manning, and the Browns are still 0-4 with a 28th ranked pass defense.
Giants win an ugly game 21-17.
Eagles @ Steelers: The Eagles are coming off of a momentous Sunday night victory over the Giants in Philly, but now they're heading to the Steel City. The Eagles have been atrocious on the road so far, pulling out a one point win in a deplorable game in Cleveland, and getting smoked in Arizona by 21 points. Though the Steelers are 1-2, they should have Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, and Rashard Mendenhall back in action this week, which is huge for their struggling defense and run game.
Steelers win 27-17.
Falcons @ Redskins: I wrote a story just yesterday on why the Falcons are the most likely team to go 16-0, so I'd be hard pressed to pick the Redskins in this matchup. Through the first quarter of the season, Matt Ryan has been the best quarterback in the league, hands down. This week, he faces off against the Redskins' 31st ranked pass defense. The Falcons' defense is second in the league in takeaways, and they've done it with the use of deceptive coverage that will confuse rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Falcons win 38-21.
Seahawks @ Panthers: As I said before, one thing I learned last week was to stop picking the Seahawks on the road. They head to Carolina this week to play a Panthers team that came so very close to beating the Falcons in the Georgia Dome last Sunday. If it wasn't for the best quarterback in the league (so far) heaving the ball from deep in his own endzone down to the Panthers' 40-yard line to set up the game winning field goal, we'd be talking about a whole different Carolina Panthers football team. They're ready to start getting the job done.
Panthers win 27-20.
Bears @ Jaguars: The Bears just got Tony Romo to throw five interceptions. FIVE! I understand that they were all terrible looking throws, but five interceptions doesn't just happen - the defense has to make it happen. If they can do that to Tony Romo, what are they going to do to Blaine Gabbert? To top it all off, Jay Cutler looks like he's hitting a hot streak, and he's up against the 20th ranked pass defense this week.
Bears win 31-16.
Titans @ Vikings: The Titans lone victory came as a result of out of control special teams play and a wildly disappointing Lions team. They've been crushed in every other game, being outscored 110-37 by teams not from Detroit. The Vikings are sitting pretty at 3-1, and while they won't destroy the Titans the way those other three teams have, they won't be too stressed come fourth quarter either.
Vikings win 27-13.
Broncos @ Patriots: I think that the Patriots' second half on Sunday is a sign of things to come - not a good offense, not even a great offense, but an incredible offense. They've added factors this year that they didn't have last season - a deep threat in Brandon Lloyd and an electric between the tackles runner in Stevan Ridley. Once they figure out exactly how to use those guys, the offense will be damn near unstoppable. They also have the third most takeaways in the league and give up only 3.4 yards per rushing attempt. Peyton and his Broncos won't be able to run the no-huddle as efficiently on the road in a loud Gillette Stadium.
Patriots win 35-24.
Bills @ 49ers: The Patriots just ran on the Bills for 247 yards - that's right, the Patriots. Jim Harbaugh and his smashmouth offense, with monster running back Brandon Jacobs likely to return, will have a field day gutting Buffalo's 28th ranked run defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick - always turnover prone - will struggle mightily against what I still believe is the best defense in the NFL.
49ers win 27-9.
Chargers @ Saints: The Saints almost did it last Sunday - they almost got a number in the win column. They looked much better against the Packers in Green Bay than they have all season, and I think they're ready to go home and finally get a win. The Chargers could quite possibly gash the Saints on the ground, should Norv Turner allow Ryan Mathews to play. I'm not sure that Jackie Battle, the first-team tailback according to the Chargers' website, has enough talent to take advantage of the Saints' porous run defense. Drew Brees is ready to go off in the Super Dome in front of Sean Payton, Joe Vitt, and Mickey Loomis, who were all granted permission to attend the game, and get the first victory for his Saints.
Saints win 31-27. Is that an upset pick? "Saints upset Chargers." Sounds weird.
Texans @ Jets: Do I really even need to explain myself on this one? The Jets have running backs playing cornerback. They've got a receiving core full of people no one has ever heard of. They have Mark Sanchez making the best case for Tebow Time since Kyle Orton, and an owner who backs that notion. On the other side of the ball, you have the league's 2nd ranked scoring offense and the top ranked scoring defense.
Texans win 31-10.