More byes this week than last, so there are a couple less games on the schedule as a result, which is fine with me because I’m on a roll with my picks lately. Last week featured squeakers by the Seahawks, the Broncos, and the Saints, but all three I picked to pull it out. I’ll admit those games were nail-biters, but there are some like that every single week.
If you’re picking this week you’re probably concerned about how Andrew Luck being out will affect the Colts-Texans game on Thursday night, you’re thinking about how there’s no way Brandon Weeden can beat the Patriots, or you’re wondering if the high-flying Bengals will turn into pumpkins again against the Seahawks’ vaunted defense.
I’ve got all of those picks for you and more in the Week 5 edition of Ace Picks.
Indianapolis @ Houston – The “old guy” was just okay last week, and the Colts squeaked by, while Houston’s tough defense hasn’t quite materialized yet, but this is a divisional game so the gloves are off. Can a wounded Hasselbeck take out the Texans, or will a finally healthy Arian Foster run roughshod over that pitiful Colts defense? I pick the latter. In a close one, I think Foster is the difference. Pick: HOUSTON.
Cleveland @ Baltimore – Baltimore just keeps losing people to injury, so this might just be the Kamar Aiken show… or Justin Forsett keeps it going on the ground against an easily exposed Cleveland defensive front (or should I call them a “back”?). Regardless, I don’t see a Josh McCown-led Cleveland team keeping up with the Ravens and their defense that has looked good in spots this year. This will be one of those spots. Pick: BALTIMORE.
St. Louis @ Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers looked almost human last week against the 49ers but he honestly didn’t have to do much. When your defense limits the opposition to 3 points you usually don’t have to do much on offense. This Rams team is a tougher test, but if it’s going to be a shootout, I trust Rodgers to win the battle every single time. Especially at Lambeau. Pick: GREEN BAY.
Buffalo @ Tennessee – Two mobile quarterbacks meet in this one, and that Buffalo defense has been tested of late, so perhaps Mariota has a big game. What matters most, though, is if that Tennessee defense can shut down or slow down the Buffalo run game. Luckily for them it might be Boobie Dixon handling the ball the most, and he’s not nearly as scary as LeSean McCoy or even Karlos Williams. I think Tennessee limits the Bills. Pick: TENNESSEE.
New Orleans @ Philadelphia – These Eagles are most perplexing. They had that game in Washington, and then their defense broke down, giving up a 90-yard quick strike drive to Kirk Cousins and throwing it out the window. That means they’re angry birds this week, and that Saints defense is still coached by Rob Ryan. That’s a perfect recipe for Sam Bradford to build off of his big game against the Redskins, and build he will. Pick: PHILADELPHIA.
Washington @ Atlanta – Don’t sound the death knell for Washington just yet, but also don’t go coronating them in the NFC East yet either. They’re maddeningly inconsistent, which doesn’t help against a team like Atlanta that is fearless and that challenges down the field — often. Look for a big game from Leonard Hankerson, and another solid effort from Devonta Freeman in a knockdown of the Skins. Pick: ATLANTA.
Seattle @ Cincinnati – I’ve said it before, and I will repeat it here. The Bengals are for real. And after watching the Seahawks offense struggle (at home!) to score points, I don’t see them doing much scoring in this one. While the Bengals face that Seattle defense, and I think the running game will struggle, I see the short passing game paying dividends with Bernard, Green, and Eifert. Seattle is vulnerable, Cincinnati is playing at home, and that will make the difference. Pick: CINCINNATI.
Chicago @ Kansas City – Yes, the Bears bearly (haha) won last week, and Jay Cutler stood tall, but he’s still a turnover machine, and the Chiefs force turnovers. With a hobbled (or no) Alshon Jeffery I don’t see Chicago keeping pace with a Kansas City offense that showed signs of life against Cincinnati last week. Travis Kelce will have a big game, and the Bears don’t have an answer for Jamaal Charles. Pick: KANSAS CITY.
Jacksonville @ Tampa Bay – This is a battle of teams in transition. That Jaguars defense is on the rise, and they almost willed the team to a win last week in Indianapolis, while the Buccaneers are still trying to figure out the kinks. There will be more trying times ahead for Tampa Bay, and the Jaguars will be opportunistic in this one. The outcome will hinge on the turnover battle, which will be won by Jacksonville. Pick: JACKSONVILLE.
Arizona @ Detroit – What a tough luck loss for the Lions last week, and they are the only winless team left in the league this season. But they’re at home, and they’re playing a Cardinals team that is suddenly vulnerable, having lost a close one of their own to the Rams last week. But this isn’t a good matchup for Detroit against Arizona, even at home. So why do I have a sneaking suspicion they get it going here as payback for losing one they maybe should have won last week? Pick: DETROIT.
New England @ Dallas – The only way the Cowboys win this game is if Matt Cassel comes off the bench. Brandon Weeden just doesn’t win games, and now he’s proven it two weeks in a row in the starting role. It’s not all his fault, of course, but teams can focus on the running game with Dez Bryant out (oh, and Lance Dunbar now gone too) so look for some turnovers for that opportunistic Patriots team fresh from the bye. Perfect storm. Pick: NEW ENGLAND.
Denver @ Oakland – All Peyton Manning does is win divisional matchups. So it doesn’t really matter that this one is in Oakland, and it makes no difference that the Raiders haven’t been absolutely miserable this season. That Broncos defense is phenomenal, and that will be the deciding factor as Denver stays perfect on the season. Pick: DENVER.
San Francisco @ NY Giants – There is absolutely nothing about the way the 49ers are playing this season that suggests this game will even be close, but I think it will. I think for some reason Colin Kaepernick gets it going against a defense that has been pretty good against the run this year. But while the game will be a close one, I don’t see the team from San Francisco actually winning it. Pick: NY GIANTS.
Pittsburgh @ San Diego – It will be the Melvin Gordon show. Mark my words. Pittsburgh’s run defense is no longer formidable, and the Chargers will test it early and often in this one in an attempt to keep Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown on the sidelines. Gordon and Woodhead will get a lot of action, and I think they will both make the most of it, taking out the Steelers in a high-scoring affair on Monday night. Pick: SAN DIEGO.