NFL Week Five Picks: From New England Patriots Fans' Perpective

Terry RobinsonSenior Analyst IOctober 9, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 4:  (L-R) Wes Welker #83, Benjamin Watson #84, and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots, stand on the sideline before a game with the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The first quarter of the NFL regular season has come to a close, and some questions have been answered while others have been raised. Some teams are playing far better than we expected, while others have disappointed.

We continue our weekly series of picks without Glenn Card on the menu. After his perfect record in week four, he has been voted off the island. He was just plain making the rest of us look bad.

Steve Frith is along for the ride, as well as Eric Annett, and I think we actually disagree on a pick or two.

The Bears, Packers, Saints, Chargers all have byes this week, and I’m sure San Diego is grateful for theirs.

Sunday, October 11

Cincinnati @ Baltimore

TR: Bengals’ QB Carson Palmer seems to be settling into a groove, surprising skeptics who wondered if he would be effective in rebounding from his 2008 injury. Ochocinco’s mouth hasn’t got him in any trouble yet and with Cedric Benson chewing up some yards on the ground, the Bengals are on a roll. HOWEVER, the Ravens are coming off a painful loss to the Patriots, and they are too good a team not to be fired up now, especially at home, with first place in the AFC North on the line. Joe Flacco continues to improve, Ray Rice has an amazing six yards per carry, and Willis McGahee is not far behind. Derrick Mason is iffy with a neck injury, but fear not; the Ravens pin Cincy’s ears back in this hard fought game.

SF: Ummm...where to start? The Ravens have a great defense, and Flacco is no slouch. Last week, the Patriots handed the Ravens their first loss. The Ravens will be looking for a bit of redemption, and proving to the rest of the NFL that they are indeed one of the top teams in the NFL. Sadly enough, they'll be making an example out of the Bengals, who have more games decided at the last minute than they can care to remember. Ravens pull this one out with ease.

EA: I've got the Ravens winning here because of their defense. Carson Palmer and the Bengals offense were for the most part shut down last week against a soft team in the Browns, I find it hard to imagine them being able to keep up with the Ravens in this week five matchup. With Flacco and McGahee getting off to very good starts, I think the Ravens will be in control all game long. Look for this to be one of the more lopsided games of the week.

Cleveland @ Buffalo

TR: For two teams who have one win between them and are both last in their divisions, it is hard to say who is worse. Terrell Owens hasn’t done much for Buffalo, but the Bills do have RB Fred Jackson going for them. And now the Browns are without the services of Braylon Edwards, which might not mean much anyway. Statistically, there is not much to separate these teams, though the Browns have a slight defensive edge. I don’t think that will mean much in the end, as Buffalo sends the Browns home still looking for a win.

SF: Shouldn't be much of a game. The Browns are still defeated (0-4), and the Bills are 1-3. Not much to say here. The Browns are playing musical QB, and T.O. hasn't made much of an impact for the Bills (maybe he should give the key to the city back?). I'll give this one to the Bills, who desperately want to win, despite that the Browns are still looking for their first win. Bills in the fourth quarter.

EA: Neither of these teams is very good if you ask me, but still, one of them has to win. With a mess of a quarterback situation, the loss of Braylon Edwards, and a very bad overall team, I have a very hard time imagining the Browns winning a game in the near future if at all this year.

Washington @ Carolina

TR: The Panthers’ problems run deep. They have diehard fans scratching their heads at their 0-3 record. The one thing they have done well is to defend against the pass. But the Redskins have done that even better, and with Jake Delhomme leading the NFC in turnovers, I don’t see much hope in this one. Clinton Portis is unlikely for the Skins, but I don’t think it will matter. Sad day for the Cats, as they remain winless.

SF: The Panthers are yet another defeated team. Look for them to stay that way. The Skins are only 2-2, but Campbell is looking to keep his starting job by getting a win this Sunday. Delhomme on the other hand, is the lowest rated QB in the NFL. Man, that's gotta suck. And hurt, too. Look for the Skins to pull this off in the second half thanks to their defense.

EA: Woe is the Carolina Panthers in this young 2009-'10 NFL season. Nothing has gone right for this team—whose playoff run was halted in its tracks by the Arizona Cardinals last January—as they have picked up right where they left off in their divisional round playoff game. Jake Delhomme is committing turnover after turnover, neither DeAngelo Williams nor Jonathan Stewart have had standout performances from the backfield, and the defense isn't boasting the same kind of roar it seemed to in years past. While this Redskins team isn't very good either, they'll be good enough to eke out the win in Charlotte this Sunday.

Pittsburgh @ Detroit

TR: What is there to say? Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford will in all likelihood miss this game, and it doesn’t matter anyway. I can’t find one area in which Detroit has the advantage. Rashad Mendenhall will run all over the Lions, Ben Roethsliberger will do…whatever, it doesn’t matter. Poor Lions.

SF: The Steelers are hoping to stop sucking. I hope they keep sucking. However, this week they might get Polamalu back, which will make a HUGE difference for them (last I read, it'll be a gametime decision). On the flipside, the Lions don't look half bad. Stafford has done a good job with the team thus far, and even earned them a single win, which is more than they had last season. I'm going to give this game to the Lions (yes, the Lions) because the Steelers have had a rough time thus far into the season, and haven't looked good in the fourth quarter. If the Steelers wobble in the second half, Stafford will take advantage of it and lead his team to another victory.

EA: It's a shame that this game has to be played. Obviously the Steelers are going to win this matchup, but the real questions are regarding the standout performers. Will Hines Ward, who has been Big Ben's number one target, finally break out with a touchdown or two against this weak Lions secondary? Will Rashard Mendenhall have another huge game, or will it be Willie Parker's time to shine? I just hope their defense doesn't go too hard on Detroit, for Matt Stafford's sake. Nevertheless, it's going to be a long day for Detroit fans.

Dallas @ Kansas City

TR: It should be a lock that winless KC goes down here. Matt Cassel is averaging a pathetic 4.5 yards per pass attempt, and who can be sure about his health? Then again, Tony Romo isn’t setting the league on fire, having thrown three picks and one TD in the past three games. But the Dallas ground game has been effective, and KC doesn’t have one. After last week’s loss to Denver, the Cowboys will be looking for some respect, which they will find.

SF: Chiefs. You heard it here first. Call it an upset if you want to. Romo and the rest of the offense won't view the Chiefs 28th ranked pass defense as a threat. Well, as inaccurate as Romo has been, they probably should. Romo has been horrible this year, and all of the critics are hounding him. The Chiefs are still looking for their first win, and an overrated Cowboys team might just be their first victim. Casell will be looking to improve all aspects of his game, and the Chiefs will be looking to improve their game overall. This game will be a turning point for the Chiefs. I've been wrong so far about them so far all season, but I'm right this time. I think. Chiefs late in the fourth quarter.

EA: Because of their recent performance, I almost wanted to pick the Chiefs in this one. However, my better judgment tells me the Boys will prevail, as they boast the most successful rushing attack in the league, but have other offensive weapons in Roy Williams and Jason Witten in case the ground game can't work out. Matt Cassel is good, but nothing is going in his favor here. The Chiefs don't have a good enough defense to keep them in this game, and Cassel doesn't have enough offensive weapons to keep them close in a shootout with Tony Romo. Expect the Cowboys to win, but don't give up on Kansas City if it's close and late.

Oakland @ New York Giants

TR: I don’t think there is much to be said here, either. Even with Eli’s foot injury, even if he doesn’t play, the Raiders don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. Agreed?

SF: Crap. Freakin' Giants take this one. Unless the Raiders play like they played in week one. Then it's the Raiders. I'm going to pull for the Raiders...if I pick the Giants, I'll throw up in my mouth.

EA: Like Detroit and Pittsburgh, the question isn't if the Giants will win, it's by how much. That all depends on who is under center. With Eli Manning battling a hip injury and missing practice, and Tom Coughlin yet to announce a starter, nobody yet knows if it will be Manning taking the snaps, or his backup David Carr. With minimal experience in practice throwing to receivers Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, this is where I expect Brandon Jacobs to have a bigger impact on the game. If Manning is out, look for big-yardage.

Tampa Bay @ Philadelphia

TR: The winless Buccaneers currently share the NFC South cellar with the Panthers and show little sign of improvement from where I’m sitting. The Eagles, on the other hand, have a lot going for them. Never mind the blowout by New Orleans in week two. McNabb will return from his rib injury following Philly’s bye week, Brian Westbrook will return to action, so it looks as if the team has the horses to get this one done.

EA: This is perhaps one of the most lopsided games of the week. One of the best pitted against one of the very worst. The Bucs are very, very soft defensively, and they should collapse under Philly's explosive offense. Rookie quarterback Josh Johnson probably won't fare all that well against the Eagles' defense, as there's no smooth sailing in sight for these Buccaneers.

Jacksonville @ Seattle

TR: Jaguar QB David Garrard has played well of late, and then, of course, there is Maurice Jones-Drew. Matt Hasselbeck looks ready to return for the Seahawks, and he has a guy or two who can make a catch. I even heard a rumor that sell-out Deion Branch has caught a few passes without getting injured. Bottom line: Seattle just doesn’t have the horses on either side of the ball.

SF: I'll keep this one short, too. Jaguars continue their winning streak. Everyone saw this coming.

EA: Coming off a blowout of the Titans, I'm looking for Jacksonville to keep on rolling in Seattle against a very weak Seahawks team. Maurice Jones Drew should have a big game in particular, as Seattle has allowed 5.1 yards per play against the rush, while quarterback David Garrard should follow suit and have big numbers through the air.

Indianapolis @ Tennessee

TR: Tennessee has turned in perhaps the most disappointing performance in the NFL this year. Peyton Manning and the Colts have played impressive football, some of the best in the league. Wouldn’t this be a fun upset? Too bad it isn’t going to happen that way. Colts win big. 

SF: Another 4-0 vs. 0-4 game. I'm going to give this one to the underdogs. Titans take this one late in the fourth quarter. The Titans have looked bad as a whole, and hopefully they'll be able to come together as a team and beat Peyton and the Colts.

EA: With their backs up against the wall, the Titans matchup against the Colts this week can either make or break their season. After this Sunday's showdown, they'll be best off folding, or their hopes will stay alive another week. Tennessee's stock will be placed in Chris Johnson, who has had a great start to the season. Meanwhile, the Colts will be counting on the recently-on-fire Reggie Wayne to keep up his high rate of play to do their division rival in early on the season. I say the Colts will jump on the chance to get the Titans that far out of playoff contention and take control of the game from opening kickoff and win by a mile.

New England @ Denver

TR: Undefeated Denver’s defense has been scary for everyone they have played so far, but the Patriots’ offense has been steadily developing into a force. Fred Taylor’s season-ending ankle injury is bad news for the Patriots, but this is where the committee comes in. The New England defense is one of the most underrated units around. Both teams did well in just getting past last week’s opponents: Denver defeating upstart Cincinnati while NE took down the elite Ravens. Home field is huge, but I predict the Patriots in a close one. You expected something different from me?

SF: McDaniels and the Broncos vs Belichick and the Patriots. This looks to be a good game, and an anticipated one due to the fact that Josh is Bill’s student. Make all the "student passing the teacher" jokes you like, but the Pats have been coming back into form, and their young defense looks fast and aggressive. Look for Brady and the Pats to make quick work of the Broncos, handing them their first loss. Most people (myself included) will be looking to see what kind of a handshake will be exchanged between the two head coaches. I'm guessing that it'll be fine (i.e. not a typical cold Bill handshake).

EA: The Broncos are without a question much improved from the last time these two met, despite Eddie Royal being a virtual non-factor and Brandon Marshall not making as many big plays following the trade of Jay Cutler. However, Kyle Orton has been nearly flawless under center and the Broncos have played good defense. But on the other side, the Patriots have an unparalleled aerial assault, a good running game anchored by Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney, as well as an ever-improving defense that has done much better than expected. This should be a fun game to watch for both sides, with New England finishing on top.

Atlanta @ San Francisco

TR: Well, well, so Michael Crabtree has come to his senses and signed a six-year, $32 million contract. Man, I just hope he can manage to get by on that chump change. He has looked good in workouts with the team, but who knows how long before he can really contribute. Frank Gore is out with a foot injury, and I don’t know that anyone, including Glen Coffee, will be able to step up. Meanwhile, Atlanta is coming off a bye, and they will bring some fire to the City by the Bay. I’m going with the visitor here.

SF: This should be a good game. Both teams only have a single loss, but the the Falcons are coming off a bye week, and should be both healthy and rested for the 49'ers. Look for the Falcons to wear down the 49'ers defense and win it late in the 4th quarter. 

EA: This game might be closer than some expect, but in the end look for the Falcons to win. The 9ers have a good, physical defense up front, but holes in a secondary and a weak offense will do them in against a balanced Atlanta team. 'Matty Ice' can do whatever he wants between Roddy White, Michael Turner, or his favorite new toy, Tony Gonzalez, while Vernon Davis and Glenn Coffee are the only potential offensive impact players for San Fran.

Minnesota @ St. Louis

TR: Favre has been lighting up the Vikings with his flashy 104.6 QB rating. It helps having the likes of Sidney Rice and Visanthe Shianco to throw to. Percy Harvin is a talented WR who needs only to find an answer for his migraines to be consistently effective. And then there’s that Adrian Peterson guy. His stats have fallen off somewhat the past two weeks after a blazing start to the season. No worries, however, they’re playing perhaps the worst team in the NFL and will have no problem.

SF: 4-0 vs 0-4. Look for the Vikings to hand the Rams another loss, ala Adrian Peterson. The Rams defense won't be able to handle the Vikings running game. Should the Rams actually slow the run a bit, then Favre will pick them apart with a decent passing game.

Houston @ Arizona

TR: If Good Houston shows up for this game, they could give the Cardinals a run for their money. If Evil Houston shows up, it’s a different story. The Texans’ Steve Slaton is beginning to develop into the RB we knew he could be. But while Arizona’s overall defensive stats are unremarkable, they do rank 6th in the league in rush defense. The flip side of the coin is that the Cards have a fairly impressive passing game, while Houston has a decent pass defense. I have to give this one to the home team.

SF: While the Texans had a great game manhandling the Rams last week, the Cardinals were resting and brewing up a plan to beat the Texans.  Keeping this short, I'll give it to the Cardinals.

EA: With two great offensive teams with weak secondaries, this one has the makings of a shootout written all over it. Expect Andrew Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald to have monster games while bringing in deep balls. Anquan Boldin and Tim Hightower could sneak in some big plays for Arizona as well, while Steve Slaton can balance out Houston's offensive attack. This will be a high scoring but close game, but I think in the end Texas pulls it out.

Monday, September 12

New York Jets @ Miami

TR: This one is pretty easy, so for once, I’ll keep it brief. The Jets got some game, the Fish got figured out. And with the addition of Braylon Edwards to the Jets’ receiving corps, I go with yet another visitor.

SF: I hope they both lose. Ok, so that won't happen. Then I'll settle for a tie. It should actually be a good game, because the Dolphins are hoping that Sanchez will be shaky from last week's loss, allowing them to keep their momentum of their first win sneak another one. If the Phins can handle the Jets' blitzing attack, then they'll pull this one out. If not, then the Jets will take this one. I'm going to give this one to the Fish at home. Not that I want to, but I guess I have to pick someone, because a tie is to unlikely.

EA: While I'd honestly like the Dolphins to win this one for the AFC East implications, I don't see it happening. Despite coming off a rough game, I like Mark Sanchez' chances to at least be good enough to win against the Dolphins, who aren't even near playing on the level they were on last year. New addition Braylon Edwards should complement Jerricho Cotchery well, adding another offensive weapon for Sanchez to use. Since Chad Pennington is done for the year, I don't see Miami faring too well the rest of the way, either, especially against a physical and dominating defense like New York's.



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