NFL Picks: Week 5


By Rich Levine

No time to sit around and type in the glow of my first winning week of the 2010 season. And even so, can I really brag about 8-6? Whats the big deal? A payday like that barely supports my Mountain Dew habit.

So, lets just ride the hot hand and move on to Week 5, hopefully fast enough for you to forget that thing I said about Mountain Dew:

The Game: Jacksonville (-1) at Buffalo

There are a few reasons I planned to take Buffalo. First, theyre due for a victorywhich I know is an especially stupid reason, but in this world of NFL parity, its bound to happen. And against who better than a warm weather team, coming off a huge win and operating under the assumption that theyre a lot better than they really are?

Theres also the fact that this is Buffalos last home game until November 7, and given that they have one of the more rabid (if not mercilessly tortured) fan bases in the league, I figured the faithful Buffalonians would bring it, give the wary Bills some confidence, and help them get win No. 1 on the board.

The Bills arent a better football team than the Jaguars. They might not be much better than Jacksonville University (Do it, Dolphins!). But for one day, I thought they could be. I was ready to pull the imaginary trigger on this imaginary bet . . .

And then I read this (from ESPNs AFC East blog):

The Bills officially announced Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars will be blacked out on local television because they couldn't sell enough tickets. Ralph Wilson Stadium hasn't had a game blacked out since the season finale in 2006. The Bills have sold out every game from then on, a remarkable streak of 26 straight.

Oh well, looks like footballs dead in Buffalo; at least for this season. And when you throw in the fact that the Bills league-worst rush defense is matched-up against a reinvigorated Maurice Jones-Drew you have the pick.

The Pick: Jaguars (-1)

The Game: Tampa Bay at Cincinnati (-6.5)

I usually try to use legitimate reasoning andor logic in picking these games. Once in a while, that logic actually pays off, but with Bucsas you know if youve been following this columnI dont even bother. I look at the Bucs, and immediately see defeat.

Its going to take a lot for me believe in these guys. Not to even believe in them winning, but not getting blown out, especially on the road.

Yeah, I know, theyre 2-1, but those two victories came against the Panthers and Browns, and even though the Bengals (most notably Carson Palmer) have seen better days, theyre still better than the Bucs.

At least a touchdown better.

The Pick: Bengals (-6.5)

The Game: Atlanta (-3) at Cleveland

Congrats, Cleveland!

Win No. 1! Win No. 1!! Win No. 1!!!

Theyll have plenty of time to revel in it, too.

The Pick: Falcons (-3)

The Game: St. Louis at Detroit (-3)

A year ago, this would have been the most depressing game of the NFL season. But now?

Only mildly depressing!

Speaking of which, the Rams have a pretty decent chance of winning the NFC West this season. And doing so with a losing record.

The Pick: Lions (-3)

The Game: Green Bay (-2.5) at Washington

The NFL season is a non-stop carousel of concussions, broken bones, strained muscles and twisted limbs. We hear about injuries all the time, and eventually, we grow immune to their horrorregardless of the severity.

But then every once in a while, an injury report comes a long that really makes you thank God you dont play football:

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan revealed Wednesday that Clinton Portis will miss 4-6 weeks with a 'third-degree separation' of his groin. The separation involved the muscle being torn off the bone.

Sweet mercy.

Anyway, Ryan Torrain has some potential as Portis replacement, as do Brandon Jackson (er, maybe not) and John Kuhn as replacements for Ryan Grantbut thats not where this game will be decided.

Aaron RodgersGreg JenningsDonald DriverJerMichael Finley vs. the Redskins and their 31st ranked pass defense.

The Pick: Packers (-2.5)

The Game: Kansas City at Indianapolis (-8.5)

REALLY starting to like this Chiefs team. I mean, I really liked them from the beginning, but at this point, its getting a little weird; Im not supposed to feel this way about a non-Boston team.

Anyway, this isnt to say that the Chiefs are going to cruise into Indy and emerge still undefeated, but I have a hard time believing theyll get killedespecially since Colts started getting hurt like theyre the 2010 Sox.

The Pick: Chiefs (8.5)
The Game: Chicago (-3) at Carolina

A useless 38-year-old quarterback or a useless 23-year-old quarterback:

Who you got?

Im taking the youngster, but honestly, its got nothing to do with him.

Its just that the Panthers are desperate. They need a win like Clinton Portis needs an attached groin muscle. Much like the Browns land Jags last week, the Panthers arent really competing for the playoffs, but more for their jobs and careers. Theyre on the verge of total embarrassment. Were talking Um, Brandon, have you ever been on something called Chat Roulette? embarrassment. They need to win.

Throw in the added motivation of Julius Peppers coming back to town, and thats what theyll do.
The Pick: Carolina

The Game: Denver at Baltimore (-7)

(Ravens huddle)

Ray Lewis: Aight now, fellas. We playing these m fs to pass! I want you blitzin this fool like its the last blitz of yo life!!

Terrell Suggs: Damn, Ray. We in the fourth quarter already and you said that erry single play!

Lewis: They run the ball yet? They run it even one damn time?

Suggs: Uhh, no


The Pick: Ravens (-7)

The Game: N.Y. Giants at Houston (-3)

Tom Coughlins a hard ass, and as we learned back in 2007 -- as well as during any one of Coughlins six double-digit win seasons as an NFL coach -- sometimes that hard-assery breeds results. But sometimes, when you get the right (or in this case, wrong) mix of players, it turns disastrous.

This Giants team just isnt mentally tough enough to deal with Coughlins craziness. Last week, they had their rookie punter scared senseless and mishandling punts and holds; you had Brandon Jacobscompletely screwed in the head and nearly fumbling two straight routine hand offs. You had offseason acquisition Antrel Rolle calling a radio show and complaining that Coughlin micromanages too much. Its a mess, and on the road game, against a good team and in a hostile stadium, it only gets worse.

Did I mention Ahmad Bradshaws hurting?

This could be a cakewalk for the Texans, especially if Arian Foster can finally snap out of it and prove he was worthy of all the offseason hype. Man, its Week 5 already. Whens he going to break out?

The Pick: Texans (-3)

The Game: New Orleans (-7) at Arizona

The Saints have look awful recently. The Cardinals have looked awful always. Decisions, decisions.

OK, Ive had the Cardinals written in this spot for the last two hours. The Saints have just looked so wrong since Reggie Bush and then Pierre Thomas went down. Youd think Brees could still spread the wealth with that deep stash of receivers, but 14 points against the Panthers says differently. Maybe the offense is human after all?

Maybe, but not for sure. And for now, Im keeping faith.

The Pick: Saints (-7)

The Game: San Diego (-6.5) at Oakland

The Chargers are 0-2 on the road this year, where theyve lost to a pair of supposedly inferior teams (SeahawksChiefs). At home, theyve beaten the Cardinals and Jaguars by a combined 79-23.

The Raiders . . . whatever, theyre the Raiders. They have issues. Theyre always going to have issues, especially with Darren McFadden out this week with a bum hamstring. But as depressed Raiders Nation may be, they still can get up for the AFC West. The Chargers are one of the few teams they hate more than their own, and that will show on Sunday, making it difficult for an already awful road team to run away with a win.

The Pick: Raiders (6.5)

The Game: Tennessee at Dallas (-6.5)

Every Dallas season is defined by its many ups and downs. Its dramatic victories and crushing losses; the few weeks where everyone's picking them to win the Super Bowl and the many more when those same people are obsessing over the teams demise.

That poorly written passage is from my Week 2 Picks column, but its worth repeating. Dallas does this EVERY yearlong stretches of success, long stretches of incompetence, 10 or 11 wins and then a first-round exit.

Right now, theyre hot. And it will stay like that for a while.

The Pick:Cowboys (-6.5)
The Game: Philadelphia at San Francisco (-3.5)

How many different ways can the Niners find to lose games?

This week, Ill say theyre up 20-14 and have the ball at the two-minute warning. No time outs for Philly, so Singletary sends out the victory formation. Only when the Niners run first down, he doesnt like the way Alex Smith takes a knee. He REALLY doesnt like it. I think he maybe prefers his QBs to go down right knee first, and Smith uses his left. You just cant pull that stuff with Singletary. Anyway, the coach loses it, benches Smith, is so mad he mistakenly tells the punter to get under center, the punter fumbles on second down, the Eagles recover and take it to the house.

Philly wins, 21-20.

The Pick: Eagles (3.5)

The Game: Minnesota at N.Y. Jets (-4)

The presence of Randy Moss played mind games with Tom Brady, one of the calmest, most methodical and precise QBs in the league. It forced him into some bad throws, led to some bad interceptions, and sometimes took him out of rhythm.

Considering all that: Can you imagine how stupid Brett Favre is going to be with Randy in his life? Can you even fathom how many huge, crucial, back-breaking interceptions hes going to throw trying to force the ball down field?

Certainly, enough to doom Minny on Monday.

The Pick: Jets (-4)

The Record:Last Week: 8-6&8232;Season: 28-31-2

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

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