The Raiders did just what I thought they would do. They went into a hostile Baltimore and came out with a narrow victory, which was my upset special of the week. I was also right about Jacksonville taking it to the hapless Colts (who did stage a massive comeback in London that ultimately fell short), and about the Rams keeping their win streak alive in the desert.
Of course those weren’t the only games last week, though, and the Bills surprised a lot of people (me included) by how easily they shut down every avenue for the Patriots in Foxborough. Overall I went 9-6, which was a step back in the right direction, and that’s two straight weeks getting the upset special to come through. Things only get more difficult from here, though.
Starting with my Week 5 Ace Picks…
Chicago @ INDIANAPOLIS – Yes, this is the Bears we’re talking about, but they haven’t looked half bad the last two games. Coincidentally, Brian Hoyer has started those games instead of Jay Cutler. Okay, so it’s not a coincidence. The Jaguars showed last week in London what can happen to a poor defense, and the Bears will keep it up. Pick: BEARS.
New England @ CLEVELAND – I’d love to say this is a trap game, that the Browns will come out all fired up to defeat Tom Brady and the Flying Bradys, that Terrelle Pryor will do it all in an amazing win, but I can’t say it. Because that’s not going to happen. I don’t think these Patriots are as good as the best team in the league, even with Brady, but they’re definitely better than the Browns. Pick: PATRIOTS.
Philadelphia @ DETROIT – Remember the snow bowl of two years ago, when the Nick Foles juggernaut Eagles played small ball and won with over 200 yards of offense from Shady McCoy? That game was in the City of Brotherly Love, Foles and Shady are long gone, and there’s a new sheriff in town. Turns out he can play pretty well on the road too, and the Lions defense is horrible against the pass. Pick: EAGLES.
Tennessee @ MIAMI – There’s the “good” Dolphins and the “bad” Dolphins. There really is no in between. Which one shows up against a Tennessee team that has been banged up and abused so far this season? Ryan Tannehill has shown some sparks of life lately, and I think that continues here in a close one. Pick: DOLPHINS.
Houston @ MINNESOTA – If Sam Bradford starts to turn the ball over, then we might have an issue in Minneapolis, but otherwise I don’t see it happening. Bradford has been great keeping the ball in hand, the Minnesota defense has done the rest, and that’s all they’ve needed. It’s all they’ll need against a previously overachieving Texans team. Pick: VIKINGS.
NY Jets @ PITTSBURGH – I told you that beat-down in Philadelphia two weeks ago would wake up the sleeping lion. But do the Steelers have anything left after totally annihilating the Chiefs last week? I say they sure do, especially at home, especially against a turnover prone Ryan Fitzpatrick. Pick: STEELERS.
Washington @ BALTIMORE – These teams are geographically pretty close, they have passable defenses, and neither one is quite like they were last year. That’s where the similarities end, though. Baltimore lost a heartbreaker to Oakland last week at home while the Redskins escaped the Browns with a win. Tables turn here. Pick: RAVENS.
Atlanta @ DENVER – The offensive beast meets the defensive maestro. It happens often enough, and most times the defensive maestro orchestrates a better game. It happened in the Super Bowl last year, and it will happen here as well, because the Broncos can do something no other team has been able to do the past three weeks: stop Julio Jones. Pick: BRONCOS.
Buffalo @ LA RAMS – The Rams are riding a three game win streak, they’re undefeated at home, and they face a Buffalo team destined for a letdown after an emotional win in New England. Not to mention the trip cross country. But these Bills will keep it close. I just don’t think they will stop the win streak for Los Angeles. Pick: RAMS.
Cincinnati @ DALLAS – For most other teams being at home might be seen as an advantage, but somehow the Cowboys aren’t quite like other teams. They haven’t been lights out at home, even with Tony Romo in seasons past. I know everyone’s high on Ezekiel Elliott, but the Bengals have the defense that can limit him. I think they take a tough one in Dallas. Pick: BENGALS. Upset Special.
San Diego @ OAKLAND – The Chargers keep losing players but keep playing hard. It hasn’t been enough to stop them from starting the season 1-3, though, and now with Jason Verrett out for the season that makes things just a bit more difficult. Derek Carr is just warming up, and he has his full arsenal of weapons against a mostly toothless defense now. Pick: RAIDERS.
NY Giants @ GREEN BAY – Lost amid the rush of FOUR TOUCHDOWNS from Mr. Rodgers before the bye week was the fact that he only threw for 205 yards in total, and that the Lions only lost by one touchdown. To me that means the Giants have a shot, even at Lambeau Field. They haven’t played poorly on defense, so they could apply pressure, and it will be close throughout, but in Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood I don’t see an upset happening this week. Pick: PACKERS.
Tampa Bay @ CAROLINA – This might not be the same Panthers team that went to the Super Bowl last year. They certainly don’t look like it through four games. And they probably won’t have the services of Cam Newton either. But this Bucs team is prone to making big mistakes at inopportune times, and on the road I can see those coming back to bite them. Carolina takes it. Pick: PANTHERS.