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Monday, April 23 2018

NFL predictions 2013: Week 6

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Is it possible for a week to have felt better than it actually was? Good grief. I was only 9-5 straight up (48-29 overall) and 9-5 against the spread (40-35-1 overall) while going 7-7 on the over/under (43-34 overall). Maybe I should be happy that I remain ahead of Vegas, or that I won a $40 bet on the Browns, breaking my streak of losing the only 2 other bets I made on football.

 

 

NY Giants (0-5) @ Chicago (3-2): How bad can things get for New York? I still remember a recent meeting between these clubs in which Jay Cutler simply could not stop defenders from pummeling him. Where is the pass rush now? It almost feels as if the roles are reversed in terms of the offensive line here, relative to that meeting. The Bears have a youth movement on their line and the offense has been pretty good.

 

I keep waiting for Eli Manning to have a perfect game to end this losing streak. However, he has no line and no running game. That just doesn’t work these days, and it really doesn’t work on the road against a competent defense capable of forcing turnovers. Chicago’s offense can get it done. Alshon Jeffery is emerging and when defenses adjust it will only mean more work for Brandon Marshall. I can’t justify getting too tricky here although I expect effort from the visitors and for Thursday Night Football to finally get back to some defense: Chicago 21, NY Giants 17 (NYG +7.5/under 47)

 

Oakland (2-3) @ Kansas City (5-0): No one saw the Raiders whip, for the most part, the Chargers in what amounted to the SNF night cap. They were impressive, albeit against an erratic opponent under strange circumstances. The Chiefs have been strange themselves as the wins keep piling up. It has been everything they dreamed of when they brought in a steady quarterback, Alex Smith, and a solid head coach, Andy Reid, to right the ship.

 

I like the pass rush and defense for Kansas City, but Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor is really starting to blossom. Usually the visitor plays well in this series, and often it’s the running game that keeps the game tight. I’m not sure how much backfield help Pryor is going to get here though, and the home team has Jamaal Charles. They also have Dwayne Bowe who is a sleeping giant, and the kind of player who typically gives them trouble in the form of Donnie Avery. Ultimately I favor them slightly in a very tense game: Kansas City 24, Oakland 20 (OAK +9/over 40.5)

 

Philadelphia (2-3) @ Tampa Bay (0-4): It is really difficult to peg when a team that has strung together a few losses (or wins) is finally going to have their streak snapped. The Bucs seem lost, having released their starting quarterback and with their offense forced into the hands of rookie Mike Glennon. The Eagles finally found themselves last week by beating the winless Giants and must feel great about facing another team without a victory. Anyone is capable of taking the NFC East at this point and 7-9 might do it.

 

On defense I know the Bucs can match up and contain this offense, and they should be able to hang around. The Eagles are not a shutdown defense by any means, so I read this game as a 50/50 affair. It kind of depends on which team is more prepared and up for it. Philly should be feeling like they can be a contender if they win here while Tampa Bay wants the pain to stop. I tend to like the home team in a spot like this, even if it doesn’t make sense. Nick Foles is not Michael Vick, and I think Glennon has settled in a bit: Tampa Bay 20, Philadelphia 16 (TB +1/under 46)

 

Green Bay (2-2) @ Baltimore (3-2): Maybe both of these teams are starting to warm up after shaky starts to the season. The Pack stymied Detroit last week, albeit with Megatron sidelined, and the Ravens went to Miami and got the job done against a decent team. Aaron Rodgers still doesn’t have a steady running game to rely on with a backfield that changes regularly, but he should be able to work against this defense. Joe Flacco has really struggled with the new parts around him and looks very little like the guy who had a magical playoff run.

 

This game means a lot to both teams as they fight for division titles in their respective conferences. Green Bay lost Clay Matthews and that really hurts their defense. Baltimore has yet to really get all of their parts on defense working together. This could make for an offensive show. Ray Rice is not yet himself so I expect the quarterbacks to put it all out there, and even though Rodgers has struggled on the road he is playing better: Green Bay 28, Baltimore 27 (BAL +3/over 48)

 

Detroit (3-2) @ Cleveland (3-2): The Browns are starting to turn things around. If the Bengals and Ravens aren’t careful, they might be looking at the wild card route to the playoffs. I’m kind of serious. Their defense is stout, and I like where the offense is heading. Of course, now they are going back to Brandon Weeden at quarterback. On the plus side he helped them come back to beat Buffalo last week. On the negative side, they had to come back (at home!) to beat an average team in what should have been a showcase game for them.

 

The Lions enter with their eyes wide open against a rest opponent. They know this team is hot, and having just played without Calvin Johnson things didn’t go so well for them last week in Green Bay. Clearly their offense needs Megatron and Reggie Bush to function on any level. They typically struggle outdoors and this defense is nasty. I don’t know how I can predict anything other than a low scoring game here. With Hoyer I would be all over the Browns, but Weeden is a wild card. Detroit’s defense is pretty good too. I think I like the home team here by a little bit: Cleveland 19, Detroit 17 (CLE +2.5/under 45)

 

Carolina (1-3) @ Minnesota (1-3): There are often games I don’t want any part of deciding and this is one of them. Cam Newton and the Panthers just looked awful at Arizona, while the Vikings are home following a bye week having the renewed confidence of adding Josh Freeman at quarterback. He won’t play, but the fact that he is on the roster shows the team that their front office hasn’t given up on the season. Believe me, it’s a boost.

 

My inclination is still to go with Carolina though, because they can run the ball and Newton still has his athleticism. Minnesota has been such a mess thus far, having to go across the pond for their first win over a similarly struggling Pittsburgh team. I feel like one of these teams is going to overwhelm the other here, even if that is totally contrary to the pick I’m making. Sometimes I just throw caution to the wind: Carolina 28, Minnesota 27 (CAR +2.5/over 44)

 

St. Louis (2-3) @ Houston (2-3): The Texans are starting to feel the heat. Their starting quarterback has people coming to his house trying to get him to stop throwing touchdowns to the other team and that’s not a good sign. The Rams are feeling better after whipping the Jags, but still rest in last place. In 2012 they were awful outside the division and that’s precisely why I see trouble for them here. Houston is primed to take their aggression out on St. Louis after falling to their two division foes the past two weeks in rough fashion.

 

While I don’t like Matt Schaub whatsoever, these are the kind of games he can perform in. His defense is going to wreck whatever Sam Bradford and company try to do, namely because their running backs are weak while their wide receivers are just average. Plus, at home the Texans can bring the heat on defense with J.J. Watt leading the way. I would not be shocked to see around 10 points from the visitors. Meanwhile, Arian Foster and Ben Tate should be running wild for an offense that really doesn’t want to throw it much for obvious reasons. They cruise: Houston 27, St. Louis 13 (HOU -7.5/under 43)

 

Pittsburgh (0-4) @ NY Jets (3-2): This is a rough spot for New York. They just won an emotional road game on MNF at Atlanta. Now they come home, but it’s against a team that has been resting following their trip to London two weeks ago. The Steelers make a short trip east and should be ready to roll trying to get their first win. Plus, Geno Smith faces a Dick LeBeau defense and typically rookies are awful against him.

 

I kind of love what the Jets have done thus far, winning close games they have no business stealing. I kind of hate what the Steelers have done thus far, losing all their games and looking awful. Ben Roethlisberger is going to have a tough time against this defense with no running game to help him. We saw the same thing on MNF only he doesn’t have Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones running pass patterns. This is going to be an ugly game. I hate picking a rookie to win here, especially given the fatigue situation. However, Big Ben might turn it over multiple times and at this point everyone in green is starting to believe in miracles: NY Jets 17, Pittsburgh 14 (NYJ -2.5/under 41.5)

 

Cincinnati (3-2) @ Buffalo (2-3): In an instant the Bills watched their season pretty much go down the drain. Rookie E.J. Manuel was off to a nice start and quite frankly they probably win last week in Cleveland if he stays on the field. Instead, now they are going with Thad Lewis from their practice squad against a ferocious defense trying to stave off a 2-4 start. I don’t see it happening.

 

The Bengals are going to be deflated having just won a huge game against New England. Hitting the road against a mediocre opponent after such a win is always tough, but I think their offense has a chance to get moving here because the defense is going to create turnovers. For me this one isn’t too tough to figure. Even though Cincinnati hasn’t run the ball much this year and it will make it tough for them to get a rout here: Cincinnati 24, Buffalo 14 (CIN -7/under 42)

 

Tennessee (3-2) @ Seattle (4-1): Injuries are a bummer. I wish we could see Jake Locker return to the place he played his college ball and try taking down a very good football team. Instead we get Ryan Fitzpatrick who is not the same type of threat. He’s a savvy vet and knows how to ride his defense to a win, but these are extreme circumstances. I like the Titans on defense to keep this within reason and that’s about it.

 

The Seahawks are almost unbeatable at home. It takes the right team and the right circumstance and this isn’t it. The Titans need to do everything right just to stay close. They are in a lot of trouble the more I think about it. To this point they are overachieving, and that doesn’t work on the road against a dominant defense: Seattle 24, Tennessee 10 (SEA -13/under 40.5)

 

Jacksonville (0-5) @ Denver (5-0): Everyone knows the Broncos are going to win this game, right? Well, the last time a team was favored by (almost) this much the Patriots escaped with a 3-point win over the Eagles. Anything can happen. My big thing here is that Justin Blackmon is capable of going crazy with big touchdowns to make the huge spread shrink. Plus, at what point does this offense tire out and want to take it easy for a week? Right about now I believe.

 

The Jaguars gave a little bit of effort last week and certainly are better with Chad Henne. They also have Maurice Jones-Drew and he’s not going to quit. The Broncos are outstanding on offense, but their defense is suspect. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them allow over 20 points here, maybe more because garbage time counts. I see this as a revenge game for Jack Del Rio though, so maybe they will pour it on. It’s possible. I think John Fox prevails, however, and calls off the dogs before it gets too out of hand: Denver 38, Jacksonville 16 (JAX +27.5/over 53)

 

Arizona (3-2) @ San Francisco (3-2): The 49ers need to keep their train on the tracks, and that means giving their full attention to a team very capable of beating them here. Carson Palmer returns to the Bay Area where he spent the last couple years quarterbacking the Raiders across the bay. He has helped provide life to this team and if they can somehow steal a win here all bets are off. The Cards play terrific defense and last week San Francisco’s offense didn’t do that much in terms of yardage against Houston.

 

I am starting to think Colin Kaepernick will never snap out of it, at least until he gets Michael Crabtree back. The 49ers can try to run the ball here and ride their defense, but again this is a good defense on the other side. I look for a pretty tight game. Usually San Francisco can break these games open because they don’t make mistakes and force the other teams to screw up. That’s the case here: San Francisco 23, Arizona 13 (AZ +11/under 41.5)

 

New Orleans (5-0) @ New England (4-1): The Patriots not only lost last week, they also blew the consecutive touchdown pass streak Tom Brady had going. He was going to tie the record set by Drew Brees last year, and do so with Brees in the stadium. Instead he has to settle for beating him, and if I know his psyche I think he is going to do just that. He is an assassin and with Rob Gronkowski back in some capacity, plus Danny Amendola the offense should move the sticks. Rob Ryan’s defense can’t play this well forever.

 

I like the Saints to do plenty of damage, but they are not as strong outdoors and could have a tough time matching scores if a few plays go against them as is often the case on the road. Momentum is a funny thing. This truly is a possible Super Bowl preview as far as I’m concerned. The Pats have plenty of time to fix what ails them, and last week’s loss is not going to be the norm for them. I like their chances to show the world they are still a force: New England 35, New Orleans 31 (NE -2.5/over 49.5)

 

Washington (1-3) @ Dallas (2-3): Does anyone want to win the NFC East? If the Redskins can rise from 3-6 to winning the division last year, why not go from 1-3 to taking it again? They just might, and getting a week off has allowed them to reflect on their poor start. Robert Griffin III is healthier and the Cowboys are worn out after a 51-48 loss. Their defense is spent. Tony Romo’s confidence is shot. He might never been a championship quarterback.

 

I see no reason to think this isn’t going to be another high-scoring tilt. Washington has had time to prepare for this game and they are going to pull out all the stops. Dallas is so erratic I never know what to expect out of them. I just don’t trust Romo in the clutch, and if they lose the battle on the ground it’s going to be on his shoulders again. Griffin loves to play in Texas, but he falls just short: Dallas 27, Washington 24 (WAS +5.5/under 53.5)

 

Indianapolis (4-1) @ San Diego (2-3): The Bolts host the Colts in what figures to be an entertaining game. Last week San Diego had to play a late night game in Oakland and not surprisingly got stung. Meanwhile Indy has already won in California, beating up the 49ers. They are coming off an emotional win over Seattle who was previously unbeaten. Hitting the road on MNF after that is going to be tough. They also have a limited running game so a lot rides on Andrew Luck being sharp.

 

Philip Rivers has been hot and he likes to win. I feel as if he is going to be very focused here after last week’s disappointment and he wants to pull the upset. I’m a little concerned about his supporting cast. Danny Woodhead is suddenly a star, and that sort of sums up this crazy offense for the Chargers. Antonio Gates is healthy again and looks it. Keenan Allen is starting to come on as a rookie. They have threats. This is the type of game where if the visitors think they can just roll out their helmets and win, they are in trouble, and it might just happen. Or I might just change my pick  (which I hate doing) at the last minute and I just did: Indianapolis 24, San Diego 23 (SD +1.5/under 50)

 

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