This week starts with a divisional matchup between the Vikings and the Packers. Green Bay is coming off a beatdown of the Bears on the road, so it seems like they’ve turned a corner, at least offensively. And Minnesota is coming off a win of its own, but they may well be starting Christian Ponder at quarterback. Ouch. Some good games are on tap between that one and the Redskins/Seahawks clash on Monday night.
Here are my picks for Week 5…
Minnesota @ GREEN BAY – This seems like a major mismatch… if Christian Ponder is indeed at quarterback. The Minnesota running game should be just fine anyway against that Green Bay defense, but can the Vikings stop Aaron Rodgers and his complement of receivers? I don’t think so. Green Bay takes a close one at home to start the week. Pick: GREEN BAY.
Houston @ DALLAS – Are these Cowboys for real? Both teams are 3-1 but after last week they feel like two very different versions of 3-1. If the Cowboys keep feeding DeMarco Murray and if their defense keeps playing as it has this should be an easy one. I think both things happen and the Cowboys take a close one this week. Pick: DALLAS.
Buffalo @ DETROIT – The Lions looked good in winning last week, but with a hobbled Calvin Johnson they could have been even better. Buffalo is tough against the run, so it might be tough sledding for Reggie Bush, but Matthew Stafford should be able to dominate through the air with the targets he has. This one won’t even be close. Pick: DETROIT .
CLEVELAND @ Tennessee – It seems like an eternity since the Titans were riding high at 1-0 and the Browns dropped a tight one to the Steelers in week one, and both teams are in need of a win this week. But with the Browns coming off a bye, and with Andrew Hawkins due for a touchdown, I like Cleveland on the road in this one, and I like Hawkins to get two scores against that Titans defense. Pick: CLEVELAND.
BALTIMORE @ Indianapolis – The Colts have looked good in evening up their record at 2-2 after starting off 0-2, and they’re at home this week which should be a bonus. But the Ravens are flying high off a win against Carolina, and Joe Flacco looked good in that one. Even though he doesn’t usually play his best on the road I think he picks it up in this one and wins a shootout with Andrew Luck. Pick: BALTIMORE.
Tampa Bay @ NEW ORLEANS – Yes, that Saints defense is horrible, but Tampa Bay isn’t Dallas. However, Mike Glennon is the answer at quarterback and he led them to a win in Pittsburgh last week. Two road games in a row isn’t optimal, though, especially since this one is in New Orleans. The Saints win their second game of the season at home. Pick: NEW ORLEANS.
ATLANTA @ NY Giants – Are you buying into the renaissance of the Giants? I think they’re due for a course correction, even against the Falcons at home, a team that doesn’t travel well and that plays poor defense. That offensive line has been protecting Eli through the past two games, but I think they regress against an Atlanta team that will get after the quarterback. Matt Ryan finally has a good game away fr0m home and the Falcons take a close one. Pick: ATLANTA.
St. Louis @ PHILADELPHIA – LeSean McCoy has had two horrible games in a row, and people are wondering if he can get it going again. I say he can, and I say it starts here at home against the Rams. The offense has had a week to get its ducks in a row, and I think they quack big time in this one. The defense will keep up its tough efforts of late and force some turnovers as well. Philadelphia wins it big at home. Pick: PHILADELPHIA.
CHICAGO @ Carolina – The Bears are 2-0 on the road this year, and they are coming off an embarrassing loss at home to Green Bay. They rebound well, and Carolina is out of sorts after an abysmal two game stretch against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I don’t see anything changing as Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte come to town. I think this is a get-right game for Jay Cutler and the Bears stay undefeated on the road against the Panthers. Pick: CHICAGO.
PITTSBURGH @ Jacksonville – Maybe the Jaguars don’t go winless this season, and perhaps they’ve found lightning in a bottle with Blake Bortles, but does that translate into a win this week at home against an angry Pittsburgh team? It depends which Steelers team comes out to play, the one that decimated Carolina two weeks ago, or the one that looked listless in losing at home to the Buccaneers last week? I think it’s somewhere in-between the two, but that should be good enough to beat Jacksonville. Pick: PITTSBURGH.
Arizona @ DENVER – That Arizona defense is for real, but so is that Denver offense, and I don’t see the Cardinals stopping Peyton Manning and his many weapons, especially in Denver. Both teams are well-rested off of byes last week, but the Denver defense will step up in this one. They’re an underrated unit that just held Seattle to 26 points at home, and I think they come up big here. Denver wins one going away. Pick: DENVER.
NY Jets @ SAN DIEGO – The Jets are in disarray, and this is one loss they definitely cannot afford, on the road against San Diego. Does Geno Smith step up and prove the naysayers wrong? Can that defense shut down Philip Rivers and his connections with Royal and Floyd? I think Keenan Allen finally proves his mettle and Donald Brown finds some room against the Jets front. New York is in trouble. Pick: SAN DIEGO.
KANSAS CITY @ San Francisco – The murmurs stopped for a week in San Francisco as the 49ers held off the Eagles (who didn’t score an offensive touchdown). But the Chiefs looked like world beaters against the Patriots on Monday night. Kaepernick didn’t look great against the Eagles, but he did enough to win behind a strong effort from Frank Gore. I’m not sure they can get Gore rolling against Kansas City in this one, which will be the difference. This is my upset special of the week. Pick: KANSAS CITY.
CINCINNATI @ New England – Yes, that New England offense IS as bad as they looked last week, and as they’ve looked pretty much all season to this point, and that won’t change against a Cincinnati defense that is as solid as they come in rushing the passer and preventing big plays. While Dalton doesn’t play his best on the road he won’t have to here, as AJ Green will catch whatever is thrown his way, and Giovani Bernard will create space on the ground. Cincinnati takes one in New England. Pick: CINCINNATI.
SEATTLE @ Washington – You’ve heard me say a million times that the Seahawks don’t play as well away from the confines of Seattle and the 12th man. But that doesn’t mean they lose this one in Washington. Their defense is still quite potent, and they will get after Kirk Cousins. This one may be closer than you’d think, but the Seahawks emerge from D.C. with a win. Pick: SEATTLE.
The Fantasy Ace