Blowing Smoke: Week 5 NFL Picks

How great is the above picture? Two of the iconic uniforms in NFL history going at it in 1988. This was also the last season the Patriots were a competitive team until the mid 90's.  They would win a grand total of 19 games over the next five years.

With the turning of the calendar to October, a handful of teams have records that appear better than their ability.  A wary eyebrow is raised in the direction of teams like the Rams and Bills. Both teams are talented, but may be riding the high of having a new head coach.  Four games are in the books and on film. There are tendencies, there are weaknesses, and the NFL always finds them.  By the end of October we shall see which teams in the NFL are legit, and which are just blowing smoke. 

Pick in CAPS

PATRIOTS (-5.5) at Bucs

The Patriots are currently sporting the leagues worst defense. They have given up over 33 points in three of four games.  It seems every couple years the Patriots stumble in September.  Sometimes the offensive line is faulty, sometimes the secondary is leaky, regardless, every year it gets worked out. The Bucs, although talented, lack the coaching staff to exploit New England's defense, and Tom Brady after a home loss is damn near unbeatable. 

JETS at Browns (-1.5)

I consider the Jets record to be a little fraudulent.  Apparently Vegas agrees with me as they are 1.5 underdogs to an 0-4 Browns team. That said, its hard to imagine the Browns ever winning a game. I picked them to win and cover against the Colts, and I don't like to repeat my mistakes. 

Panthers at LIONS (-3)

The Panthers followed up an uncharacteristically dreadful home performance against the Saints with an exciting road win against New England. The Lions ground out a tough road win against the Vikings.  The Panthers make a living beating unsound defense, the Lions defense, although quite simplistic in nature, execute what they do very well.  I think the Lions stifle the Panthers offense this week. 

49ERS at Colts (-1.5)

Jacoby Brissett has proven himself a decent quarterback. The Colts are still a team in transition and lacking in depth.  The 49ers may be one of the more competitive 0-4 teams in recent memory. They have lost each of the last three games by less than three points.  I think the 49ers are bound to break through and the Colts will continue to look longingly toward next year. 

Titans at DOLPHINS (No Line)

The Dolphins offense has been awful lately, and the Titans defense just gave up 57 points to a rookie quarterback and the historically meek Texans offense.  Few things are a better remedy for an inept offense than facing an equally inept defense.  The line is off in this one because Mariota's status is uncertain. Even if he does play, I do not think he will be able to escape the MIami pass rush. 

SEAHAWKS at Rams (-2.5)

After sleepwalking through the first three and a half games of the season, the Seahawks were their old selves in the second half against the Colts. This is the first time the Rams have been favored against the Seahawks since 2011. Under Jeff Fisher, the Rams were the foil for many great Seahawks teams with their dominating pass rush.  With the new coaching staff, and a new defensive scheme, the Rams defense lacks the mindless aggression that disrupted the Seahawks year after year.  Jared Goff has shown looked like a real, legitimate NFL quarterback so far this year. I think he regresses a bit this week against the best defense he has faced yet. 

PACKERS at Cowboys (-2)

To the surprise of no one, the Cowboys have fallen back a bit this year.  The NFL has had an entire offseason to find flaws in Dak Prescott's game, and while he hasn't been awful, he isn't as solid as he was last year.  The Cowboys defense hasn't been a force in years, and are always susceptible to being cut up by good quarterbacks.  Naturally, this week, they face one of the best ever to play the game.  The Packers will load the box and try to slow the Cowboys running game by sheer force of numbers.  This will leave a lot of man coverage on the outside, if Prescott can get the ball to Dez Bryant and friends, this will be a close game, otherwise, Rodgers will run away with it. 

JAGUARS at Steelers (-8.5)

I like this Jacksonville team.  The defense has always been talented and have been legitimately stingy this season.  I do not think the Steelers are as good as their record, especially as 8 1/2 point favorites. The team gives off a vibe of chemistry issues. I wouldn't be surprised to see Pittsburgh falter down the stretch and end up 8-8. 

The Rest: 

CHIEFS at Texans (No Line)

Ravens at RAIDERS ( No Line)

Cardinals at EAGLES (-6.5)

Chargers at GIANTS (-3.5)

VIKINGS at Bears (No Line)

BILLS at Bengals (-3)