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Oct 04

NFL 2014 Pick’em: Week 5 Predictions

After numerous blowouts in Week 4, the experts seem to be strong agreement as to who will win in Week 5. So are we going to have a boring and awful week? Not so much. There are actually FIVE Games of the Week and nine total match-ups between teams within five ranking slots. At first glance, it seems like one of the weeks that will have a bunch of hard-fought battles but surprisingly few underdogs prevailing victorious. Honestly, we need the competitive games, but we also need some stability heading to October. That way, we can see a true playoff picture begin to develop for the second half of the season. Let’s hope for this week to pan out as expected.

Now to the predictions for Week 5. Remember, by using the TABRankings as a basis for illustrating the “power” and quality of each game, the week’s schedule will be divided into three groups:

  • Games of the Week (3 points each): Any game with two teams having a combined ranking total of 24 or less. Both teams MUST be within 10 spots of each other. (Thus, the “weakest” match-up will feature the seventh-ranked team and the 17th-ranked team.)
  • Non-GOTW Divisional Games (2 points each): Any divisional battle that isn’t in the aforementioned group.
  • The Rest (1 point each): Any match-up that is neither a Game of the Week or a divisional battle.

This week’s predictions will be the first of the season that DOESN’T use the preseason predictions as a guideline for picking winners. However, all of these picks ended up being the same as those of the original predictions. Considering that this week involves a favorite-heavy slate of predictions, and those favorites are our original favorites, we’re definitely in great shape to keep doing our thing. Just look at it this way; it’s a testament to our success that our August predictions are now the expectation in October.

Games of the Week (3 points each)
(14) Atlanta Falcons (2-2) at (8) New York Giants (2-2)
Honestly, this game doesn’t have much of a Game of the Week feel. The Falcons have thus far played horribly on the road, and we expect that to continue.On the opposite side, New York has improved on offense each game. If the Giants continue to play solid, we can conclude they official have the chemistry needed to run Ben McAdoo’s offense at normal efficiency.

(9) Houston Texans (3-1) at (13) Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
Long time football man Gil Brandt calls this a trap game for his employers in Big D. After all, the Cowboys won a big Sunday Night Football game against the Saints last week and now have a huge date next week in Seattle. Personally, we think the Texans are too good and the Cowboys not good enough for Jason Garrett’s team to get caught in a trap game, but Brandt’s intuition has validity. Many think this is Big D’s game to win. Houston’s run defense is shoddy, so the Cowboys just need to limit J.J. Watt enough while not compromising their offense in the process. They do that, and it will be a 4-1 start for the Cowboys heading into Seattle next week.

(12) Buffalo Bills (2-2) at (7) Detroit Lions (3-1)
The Lions have a front seven worthy of a Super Bowl contender, but the offense is playing quite flat. However, the Bills have held the same narrative in September. As we already discussed in detail, the Bills switched from E.J. Manuel to Kyle Orton. We explained that Manuel’s efficiency numbers dropped significantly after the loss in Houston, but his biggest problem was the inability to lead efficient drives on a consistent basis. If Kyle Orton just plays at a league-average level, it makes these two teams equals. This game ultimately comes down to Calvin Johnson’s help, because he makes big plays possible more than any other receiver in the league. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, perhaps the most reliable Lions beat writer, Johnson is expected to play.

(5) Baltimore Ravens (3-1) at (10) Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
This one is about a 50-50 proposition, in my eyes. The Ravens are suddenly playing some of the most efficient football on offense, but we think there will be some elasticity-based regression for Joe Flacco and crew. Also, we have to account for the reality that Baltimore is on the road, and its lone road victory came by the skin of its teeth in Cleveland. It’s not a guarantee the recent level of play is shown in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, the Colts have yet to beat somebody for real, but at least Andrew Luck warm up for the match-up by dominating two inferior opponents. That offense must be feeling very comfortable and rhythmically-sound coming into this game.

(4) Arizona Cardinals (3-0) at (2) Denver Broncos (2-1)
The Cardinals look like that type of good team that will scrape out big wins. That’s not exactly what you want when you travel to Denver to face an explosive Broncos team that is off a bye week that follows a loss. You want something more. It’s one thing for Drew Stanton pull off a win across the country against a Giants team that was still learning to running its offense efficiently. It’s another thing to defeat a divisional opponent at home. Neither one is quite heard as this task. Arizona will suffer its first loss.

Non-GOTW Divisional Games (2 points each)
(22) Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at (18) Green Bay Packers (2-2)
We again correctly predicted the winner for Thursday Night Football.

(30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) at (25) New Orleans Saints (1-3)
Tampa Bay earned a potential season-saving victory in Pittsburgh last week. This could be a spark that allows the Buccaneers to make this divisional game a competitive one. However, the Saints are back at home with their season on the line. Drew Brees hasn’t played elite football yet, but he goes up against arguably the worst pass defense of September. That’ll be the game-changer.

The Rest (1 point each)
(20) Chicago Bears (2-2) at (17) Carolina Panthers (2-2)
We think we know what’s up with the Panthers. Meanwhile, we’d like to figure out exactly what the Bears are up to. Carolina comes into the game with problems in the pass defense, and the Bears should match up well to that with their trio of dominant big-man receivers. The problem for Carolina on defense boils down to the pass rush, as the team really looks really lost on the back end when it doesn’t have edge rushers to force the issue. On the flip side, the Bears’ problem is that the pass defense has been boom or bust. The Panthers have yet to throw an interception, puts some worry into the issue. However, the Carolina offense isn’t exactly getting it down the field.

(24) Cleveland Browns (1-2) at (28) Tennessee Titans (1-3)
Jake Locker will reportedly be back as a starter. Thus, it becomes a hit-or-miss situation when it comes to picking the Titans. Locker will either stink up the joint or make a bunch of very nice plays. We’re not very big fans of the way he plays, so we won’t pick Tennessee. After all, Cleveland has played competitive in all three games so far, and all were against teams we expect to fight for playoff spots.

(26) St. Louis Rams (1-2) at (16) Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
The less-than-impressive Eagles have a well-timed match-up against the Rams. In between a big game in San Francisco and what promises to be a huge divisional game against the Giants, the Eagles face the lowly Rams in a bounce-back game. They need it to figure out what’s going on offensively, as they face a Rams front seven that is suddenly struggling to rush the passer. On the flip side, despite Austin Davis playing well against Dallas two weeks ago, he shouldn’t be expected to keep up with Chip Kelly’s offense.

(19) Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at (32) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) **Lock of the Week**
Generally speaking, choosing the 20th-ranked team as a lock for a road game seems like a very tenuous choice. However, historically speaking, playoff contenders don’t lose to winless teams in back-to-back seasons this late in the season. Also, add in the fact this match-up pits a Dick LeBeau defense against a rookie quarterback. That in itself had made for a virtual lock over the past decade.

(15) Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) at (11) San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
This game is very much a toss-up like the Ravens-Colts game. San Francisco doesn’t yet have the home-field advantage, while the Chiefs played a style of offensive the past two weeks that can translate on the road. The problem is, though, that Alex Smith has limitations as a quarterback. Colin Kaepernick has its own limitations, but his skill set allows for more big plays. This is what got the 49ers to the Super Bowl with Kaepernick and what got Smith traded before the 2013 season. We stick with that theme here.

(29) New York Jets (1-3) at (6) San Diego Chargers (3-1)
The narrative around the Geno Smith controversy is just silly. Bottom line, the Jets are playing superior teams. Their three losses came against an NFC North division that has three potential playoff teams. Now, they will face a true Super Bowl contender. You know that after this loss, the quarterback controversy will get louder, but the reality is that Michael Vick would be 1-3 too.

(1) Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) at (23) New England Patriots (2-2) **Upset of the Week**
Well, we said the Patriots just aren’t a good team right now. Meanwhile, the Bengals played as good as any team in the first three weeks. The problem here is that we need to have some upset, and this is just the best candidate. New England generally plays very well after a loss, and still did it this season in a dominant win at Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Bengals have continuously come up short in big spots. This could be a statement win for Cincinnati, but it has a feel of the Patriots proving all the loud and incessant doubts wrong in a primetime home victory. New England was “on to Cincinnati” immediately after its embarrassing loss, so the short week might actually help here.

(3) Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at (27) Washington Redskins (1-3)
Kirk Cousins has played downright awful against good defenses. Combine his playoff relief appearance against the Seahawks with his two starts against the Giants, and he has these numbers: 41-of-92 for 457 yards, a touchdown and six interceptions (36.37 rating). Cousins also took five sacks and lost two fumbles. While the Monday Night Football scene could boost that crowd, it’s much more likely the Seahawks dominate Cousins and see solid offensive play from a true mature young gun in Russell Wilson.

9 comments

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  1. Buck Anderson

    week 6 predictions?

    1. tabm1327

      It should’ve been schedule to be up! I’ll get it fixed.

      1. Buck Anderson

        thanks!

  2. Buck Anderson

    No Thursday night game analysis?

  3. Buck Anderson

    curious as to when Week 7 predictions will be posted? thanks!

  4. Buck Anderson

    I think I’m doing something wrong. Are your NFL predictions posted somewhere before the games begin? Is there a premium service at which I can access your predictions?

    1. tabm1327

      It’s not you. I’ve have back-to-back day-long commitments on Saturday, so predictions have been pushed to Sunday. This SHOULD NOT happen again next week. Sorry for any inconvenience! Time’s just been too limited for me!

      1. Buck Anderson

        understand completely. thanks for the reply. i enjoy your work!

        1. tabm1327

          Thank you for the support! There’s a bunch of construction I’m doing with the website over the next few months, but I’ll make sure to keep the NFL stuff timely here.

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