NFL Preview: Week 5

Maybe I should just start using a coin...

NFL picks, predictions against spread Week 5: Steelers stuff Eagles;  Cowboys, 49ers rebound at home | Sporting News

Week 4 record- 7-7-1

Overall: 32-29-1

I did it! I found a way to finish 500 again despite there only being 15 games. Incredible. I am officially Jeff Fisher. A coin would have done just as well the last few weeks. HOWEVER, if you look a little closer, it is not as bad as it looks. 2 games were definitely lost to unfortunate injury changes at the last minute. Cam Newton being out completely changed the Pats-Chiefs game, and unfortunately it came right after I posted. Obviously that would have changed my pick. For the Seahawks-Dolphins, Chris Carson was in while Byron Jones was out, flipping what I expected, and that would have flipped my pick as well. So those are two I definitely would have changed before kickoff. Alas, I am not the kind of person who goes in here and edits my pick or gives myself credit for a loss. That would have made me 9-5-1 though, so bear that in mind before you judge me too harshly. Beyond those, a few games went as I expected they would, and I still lost. I actually came out of last week feeling pretty good.

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Best call: Green Bay did exactly what I thought they would, dismantling a bad Falcons team. Aaron Rodgers continues to destroy all placed before him, politely of course. This was an easy pick and at no point was that pick in jeopardy.

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Worst Call: I wish I knew how to quit the Cardinals. They burned me back to back weeks, making me the guy who watched his tree limb get sawed off. They lost a no doubter to the Panthers. It also exposed an uptick in the new coaches, as for the first time they went 3-2 ATS (although another win was against another new coach LOL Cowboys).

Bad Beat: As noted earlier, I caught some tough breaks with pregame injuries last week. Speaking of new coaches however, we will have a new one joining the ranks next week as Bill O’Brien joined the ranks of the unemployed after the Texans lost at the buzzer when their WR bobbled the potential game-tying touchdown. Instead, they lost, I lost the spread, Bill O’Brien lost his job and every team in the NFL loses a free win on any trade.

This week we have officially entered the second quarter of the NFL season. Some teams are already out of it, others are on the precipice. This means it is time to start monitoring bad teams for signs they might be giving up on their coach (Adam Gase cough cough). We also need to identify teams that have made progress after a slow start because of a new QB or a new coach. We are now past what would have been the preseason point, so it is fair to wonder what is surprising and unsurprising. Let’s monitor that with an evaluation process called Duh or No Duh.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Chicago Bears +5.5

Duh: My pick was wrong

No Duh: The Bears are going to be VERY hard to pick all year. Their defense is very good, and their offense is not… HOWEVER, it seems to be juuuuust good enough to have an intermittent burst of points every so often. This team will be the russian roulette of picking each week. You can spin the offense barrel 6 times and it will shoot you 1 time. There are 4 quarters in a football game. Do you feel lucky? This week I was not. Here is a look at Khalil Mack tossing my pick out.

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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens -12

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DUH: The Ravens running game is super strong. Against bad teams, they just pound other teams into dust. They know it’s coming, but it is impossible to stop. Their defense can do the same, forcing teams to abandon the run quickly. The Bengals have a legitimate NFL offense. Joe Burrow is very good, and they have proven they can run the ball at times.

NO DUH: The Ravens have quietly not been passing as well as last year. While they are certainly an elite team, when faced with the need to move the ball through the air, the brakes start being applied. Meanwhile, the Bengals defense is not the disaster it was last year. I’m not saying they are good, I am saying they are a functional defensive team that might even finish in the top 20. Last week they pummeled the Jaguars, before letting in a few meaningless late scores.

The Ravens had -13.5 last week and barely made it, sneaking by the struggling WFT by 14. The Bengals are better than the WFT. It’s really that simple. I think they can at least step around the steamroller. Bengals +12

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons -1

DUH: The Panthers offense can move the ball. Week in and week out, they seem to put up points. So can the Falcons, who sputtered a bit this week against the Packers, but have otherwise been stellar. The Panthers defense has been very inconsistent, putting up some good showings and bad ones. The Falcons are the most consistent defense in the NFL. Consistently bad. They just lost their starting safety to an Achilles injury. Julio Jones is probably out. They are screwed.

NO DUH: As the season has progressed, Carolina coach Matt Rhule has this team playing better. It would seem like his schemes are starting to take effect. Meanwhile, the Falcons are not playing to keep their coach. Dan Quinn is now boxing stuff up in his offense and calling HR with questions about how to roll over your 401K. It’s not a great sign when a brand new coach with no preseason has his team more prepared than a coach that has been there for years. Did you know black panthers are just jaguars or leopards with more melanin?

This line moved 2.5 points from the start of the week, which is a ton. Just because of that, I am going to take the Falcons to surprise. They are going to win at some point. Might as well be this week. Falcons -1.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs -11.5

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DUH: You know who we don’t talk about enough? Patrick Mahomes. He is freaking incredible. The Chiefs don’t need much of an opening to score points. Even when the opposing team has them slowed down, it doesn’t matter, they still find a way at the end. Just look at the Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes is like Russell Wilson except also fun off the field. The Raiders defense has big holes, and cannot rush the passer at all. They have 4 sacks this year. As a reminder, Khalil Mack has had 4 in a game before by himself. If only they had him. Remember when the Raiders were known for their defense?

NO DUH: The much maligned Chiefs defense has not allowed a single opponent to score more than 20 points. And they have been going up against stiff competition most of the year. They are quietly doing more than their share this year. The Raiders offense is actually ok, but they are missing a number of key pieces. While everyone celebrates Derek Carr’s lack of interceptions, no seems to be noticing he leads the NFL in fumbles with 5. This is not a surprise either as he has 61 in his career.

I don’t see the Chiefs’ roll slowing here. As noted previously, the Raiders are only going to take advantage of teams who aren’t paying attention. This is a rivalry game for the Chiefs. I expect them to look to get their offense up to max speed here. Chiefs -11.5

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers -7

DUH: The Eagles caught a 49ers team napping last week, and also used their one strength, rush defense, to hold them in check. Meanwhile, their offense scratched and clawed their way to 25 points. The Steelers got a surprise bye this week when their opponent caught COVID, and they disseminated it to themselves repeatedly. Prior to that, the Steelers they looked like a balanced team that couldn’t seem to blow people out.

NO DUH: The Eagles are still bad. The injury marred 49ers are not a true test of skill, and while they are certainly still challenging, all last week proved is that the Eagles aren’t the Jets or Giants. Carson Wentz didn’t suddenly improve, and the coaching isn’t great either, just ask his mom. Carson Wentz’s mom getting into things is bound to improve his standing in the locker room.

Pittsburgh is at least seven points better than the Eagles. It’s a rivalry game too so there will be no look ahead. They had a bye week to prepare. They are angry about said bye week. Their blitz crazed defense vs. the Eagles ghost line is going to lead to major problems for Wentz’s mother. Pittsburgh -7

Los Angeles Rams vs. Washington FT +7.5

DUH: As noted last week, the Rams are 100 percent untrustworthy. They beat the hopeless Giants in the worst possible way, looking mediocre throughout. Their offense and defense look bland, yet both are capable of big plays. Hard to know what to say. The WFT had a better week, but still had really no chance of winning. I had originally put a line in here about expecting a QB change, and low and behold we got one. Sadly that QB is Kyle Allen. He is also not good. If only there had been a talented MVP QB available this offseason. Their defense has grown weaker with each passing week.

NO DUH: Do you have any idea what the Rams will do this week? I don’t. Washington hasn’t scored 21 points yet in a game. Their ground game is improving, but their passing game is getting worse. Their defense hasn’t allowed fewer than 30 points since week 1.

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30-21=9. Since the offense can’t score more than 21 and the defense can't allow less than 30, we have to give the points here. Rams -7.5. I hate the Rams so much.

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Arizona Cardinals vs. NY Jets +7

DUH: GODDAMMIT ARIZONA. Why must you punish me like this. It sure seems like teams have figured out this Arizona offense. Not counting the game against the measly WFT, they have been averaging around 21 points per game. That’s not going to cut it when your defense seems to get worse each week at the same time. There is no WAY I am picking them to win a… oh no… thats… thats… thats the Jets entrance music…

The production values on this video are off the chain. glitter storm trooper helmet? Check. The set to Who’s the Boss? Check. Horrific dialogue? Check. Amazing. Adam Gase is credited as key grip I bet.

NO DUH: The Jets quietly put up some points last week, as I predicted (threatened?) last week. Sam Darnold is capable of leading an NFL offense, and their skill guys are sneaking back to health. But did you know he hurt his shoulder? Did you know that teams also have to play defense? Did you know they might or might not have caught COVID (if it was a wide receiver or tight end, we can assume they did not catch it)? The Cardinals are Heath Ledger, and I cannot quit them.

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I’m not taking the Jets, are you insane? Cardinals -7

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans -5.5

DUH: Bill O’Brien was a bad GM. His moves almost always made the team worse, and even his good moves didn’t get the return they should have. Do you know how many rookies played last week for them? None. Next year isn’t going to be better. He’s gone though. As per the rules of any coaching change, the new coach gets to start off with the softest game possible to ensure that the decision looks like a good one. The Jaguars offense isn’t catching anyone by surprise anymore, and the last two weeks have been total duds. Their defense looks like a unit that would challenge the 2019 Dolphins for most likely to not succeed.

NO DUH: Did you know the Texans made the playoffs last year? Crazy right. I don’t really know what to say about the Jags. The first game was clearly a mirage. It’s been all downhill since. Might be time to quietly back away from picking them for a while.

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At my job there was recently an employee who was very bad at their job. I did not like them, because they kept making my job harder than it needed to be. In fact, this person made a lot of people’s job worse and cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. This person no longer works at my job. Thursday when I found out was the most productive day I have had in a while. Texans -5.5.

Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers -8.5

Duh: The 49ers defense is still good without most of its key players, but it isn’t overwhelming. They allowed 25 points to the beat up Eagles, which came as a bit of a surprise. Who they get back this week will likely determine if they are good again. The Dolphins meanwhile, are the first team to even hint at slowing down Russell Wilson. They were in the game till a late interception, and I still think the return of Byron Jones is going to lead to this team being good defensively. Also, as we talked about last week, the offense is good. While they settled for a ton of field goals, they still moved the ball easily.

NO DUH: The 49ers shopping cart DOES have brakes, and the Eagles applied them. The 49ers have a significant hole in their offense, in that they don’t have a downfield passing game. Jimmy Garoppolo is back, but that doesn’t really effect the previous sentence in a meaningful way. Byron Jones’ return was delayed last week, but don’t think it won’t be a big deal. He left the Cowboys in the offseason, and look what happened to their defense. Yikes. The Dolphins defense will be very threatening if he returns.

I am suspicious of the Dolphins ability to stop the run, but with the ability to commit all resources to it in lieu of covering receivers, I expect them to deny a cover. Miami -8.5

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys -8.5

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DUH: Everything we said would happen to the Cowboys did this week, as their defense was horrendous, and their offense was great against that prevent. Meanwhile, the Giants couldn’t move the ball at all, but at least the defense was ok against a team that gives mystery bag a bad name.

NO DUH: The Cowboys offense is quietly not so great against the regular defense. Sure they are putting up big totals, but only after games are essentially decided. Their all-world tackle is out for the season. In the one game that was close throughout (Rams) they didn’t do a whole lot. Meanwhile, the Giants can’t open up a lead on anyone. So there is no way that happens here. It has also been 4 weeks, so perhaps Joe Judge has started to figure out how to coach. Anything could happen, it’s 2020.

The Cowboys are spread poison. Their total inability to stop teams makes them a threat to choke away any spread. I will assume they blow the spread here too. Giants +8.5

Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots -8

Guess what, we have no idea what quarterback is starting for either team. Good luck on this one. This one has very few lines available for review right now. Only one I found is above.

DUH: The Patriots’ QB backups are terrible. Did you know there are people who thought JARRETT STIDHAM was going to start over a healthy Cam Newton??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. THE Cam Newton. You know who is good at coaching? Bill Belichick. He somehow got to the half on Monday down 6-3, and it should have been tied. The Broncos are still pretty much missing their best players, but they are showing a couple things. They can run the ball sometimes. OK, one thing, not a couple.

NO DUH: The Jets just scored and scored on the MASH unit Broncos defense which is not a good sign. The Broncos also have their own QB problems, as Mark… uh… Matt?… Mike? Rypien wasn’t good. Neither is Jeff Driskell. Maybe Drew Lock will play. If only there had been a former MVP quarterback available this off season.

I am going to go with the Dark Sith Lord Bill Belichick here because he is the Dark Sith Lord Bill Belichick and the Broncos are those guys in the airlock at the end of Rogue 1. Patriots -8.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns +1

DUH: The Browns can run the hell out of the ball. Nick Chubb’s injury was a setback, but Kareem Hunt is a number 1 back too. Their defense still needs some work though. The least points they have allowed is the most points WFT has scored… 20. Everyone else is in the 30s. The Colts, meanwhile, have been smothering everyone and everything that moves. They have the number 1 defense in the NFL right now. Their run offense is still very good, and Philip Rivers has been asked to do a lot less.

NO DUH. Last week was incredible. Baker Mayfield tore the Cowboys apart! He marched the team up and down the field with precision passing…. wait, he only had 175 yards? He’s only had more than 200 once? Against WFT??? So he is just a game manager? Yep. He is Trent Dilfer with a ton of commercials. Meanwhile, the Colts have yet to give up 100 yards to single group of running backs. So less than 200 yards passing and less than 100 yards rushing… that’s not a great combo.

The Browns sudden offensive spike is a mirage, generated against a series of terrible defenses. Their defense being just mediocre is not a mirage. Colts -1

Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks -7

DUH: The oddsmakers have no idea how to put together a legitimate line for the Seahawks. We are talking about one of the greatest offenses in NFL history right now, against a secondary that could most generously be referred to as “improving”. This is not going to be good. Thanks to the incredible work of NFL Films, we actually have footage of Russell this weekend already.

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Wait, wrong gif…

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NO DUH: The Vikings offense has come to life, but it does its best work on the ground, where Seattle is stingy. Without the play action to work with, Kirk Cousins is a dud. And let’s not forget how bad Kirk Cousins is against winning teams. It’s 6-30 bad. That Seattle defense is better than you think, toughening up in important game situations, causing field goals, and giving up points more often in the prevent. While they aren’t world beaters, they have enough here.

I am truly terrified what Russell Wilson is going to do to this secondary. I would describe this as a code orange situation at a minimum. The National Guard should already be activated and on-site. Seattle -7

Los Angeles Chargers vs. New Orleans Saints -9

DUH: Last week, the Chargers defense fell apart, as predicted, due to the massive injuries they have withstood. The game plan of clogging up the short areas of the field for the meek armed Brady did not prove effective, as they lack the talent in the back end to protect against big plays. The Saints unloaded on the hapless Lions, and, just as predicted, showed they desperately needed last weeks game.

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NO DUH: Justin Herbert is talented. He can run, and he can throw. His deep ball looks great, accurate and effective. His shorter stuff is pretty good too. He was not the reason they lost. In what might be the worst Wally Pipp situation of all time, he has taken and kept the starting job thanks to the team doctor (seen above) deflating the original starter’s lung. Even with Austin Ekeler out, he had no trouble moving the offense. Drew Brees, on the other hand, continues to be reliant on his supporting pieces. This team relies on his coordination, not talent, which he himself disclosed. This team needs to use Michael Thomas and the ground game to keep teams uneven. Hopefully Thomas returns this week, and their secondary. If so, this will be a rout.

Saints are recovering from injuries, the Chargers keep getting more. I just don’t think this works out for the Chargers, despite them being feisty. Saints -9

Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans +3.5

DUH: The Titans had Covid for two weeks, which spread due to their own ineptitude and ignorance. The Titans are the king of winning without covering, but this is their first big chance as an underdog, except they are going to be missing a bunch of players. The Bills have been very consistent and solid, although they still haven’t really beaten a team I would call “very good”. The closest so far is the Rams, who could be good or terrible at any time in what could best be described as a Bullshit Lottery.

NO DUH: The Titans are ok at everything. They are 12th in offensive PPG and 15 in defensive PPG. They can stop the run and the pass a little bit. They can run and pass a little bit. They are the Jeff Fisher of football teams. Wait, is he back with them (checks internet, no). The singularity of Josh Allen continues along it’s path on the brightest timeline. In what could best be described as a miracle on par with the feeding of the five thousand, Josh Allen went from one of the least accurate QBs in the NFL, to better than average in one offseason. If it were possible, I would accuse him of using brain steroids. My guess is it’s just hard work, but do we know the exact whereabouts of Bradley Cooper from Limitless?

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Well, I’m sticking with the Bills, who have been great covering so far, because of the haters. Bills-3.5