Clairvoyant, sibylline, prescient, vatical, all wonderful words to describe someone who has the ability to see into the future. Clearly, none of those words describe the author of this column. A 5-9 performance last week has dropped our record to an unsightly 33-39-5 for the year. Let’s be honest with each other, this season has been a struggle. I would love to promise all of you that this week will be better, but I can’t bring myself to do so. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I put in extra time studying. I didn’t. My girlfriend already thinks she ranks behind football. Which, in theory, shouldn’t be that big of a deal since the dog is far more important than I am. If we’re both second on the list I’d say that’s pretty damn good, right?
It’s been an incredibly zany year in the NFL. What we thought we knew proved to be false. Not a single intelligent person on the planet would have said the New York Jets would be in a far better position than the Atlanta Falcons after five weeks. Not one! Yet, here we are, the Jets are contending at 3-2 after defeating the Falcons on Monday Night Football courtesy of a last second field goal. Atlanta? A team that was just a few short yards away from appearing in the Super Bowl last season is now 1-4, they find themselves four games behind the New Orleans Saints in their own division, and now without superstar wide receiver Julio Jones, their season is over. The Falcons are finished. It’s only been five weeks, remarkable.
In other oddities across the NFL, the Cleveland Browns, more commonly known as the Brown Baggers, are atop the AFC North division at 3-2. You don’t acquire a nickname like Brown Baggers because you’re historically good at football. Cleveland’s fierce rival, the historically great Pittsburgh Steelers, have yet to win a game.
The Kansas City Chiefs were awful a season ago. Their 2-14 record earned them the top pick in the NFL draft which they used on offensive lineman Eric Fisher. Fisher built his rep on competing against powerhouse schools like Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Akron. I’m not discounting Fisher as a player or the importance of having a quality line, but I am suggesting the pick hardly screamed “dramatic turnaround” for the Chiefs. Today, the Chiefs are undefeated and have the same amount of victories as the entire NFC East. This is really incredible stuff. If you had the Chiefs with an equal number of wins after five weeks as the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, and Dallas Cowboys combined then I suggest you immediately move to a state that sells lottery tickets.
I know you don’t care to hear a sob story. You want winners, not excuses. OK then, I’ve got my magic dart board out, let’s get to the picks!
New York Giants @
CHICAGO BEARS -8
The Chicago Bears have forced 14 turnovers this year, second to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC. The New York Giants have turned the ball over an astonishing 20 times, tops in the conference. Losing the turnover battle is a quick way to lose a football game. The bumbling Giants travelling to the hallowed Astroturf of Soldier Field, to face the mighty Bears? Yikes! How’s this for a prediction? Chicago’s defense will score more points than New York’s offense. Bears win 31-6
Cincinnati Bengals @
BUFFALO BILLS +9
I literally don’t know who the Bills are going to start at Quarterback. Rookie E.J. Manuel had been playing well for Buffalo but he is out with a knee injury. I assume either vaunted Washington State Cougars legend Jeff Tuel or journeyman Thad Lewis will get the nod at QB for the Bills. The Bengals QB situation is much clearer, Andy Dalton will be throwing passes this Sunday, unfortunately for Bengals fans he’s not very good at throwing. The Bills defense and home crowd will be enough to keep this game close. Bengals win 19-13
DETROIT LIONS @
Cleveland Browns +3
The Lions are coming off a loss to the Green Bay Packers when they were without all world WR Calvin Johnson. Megatron will be back this week to face the Browns. That’s good news for Detroit backers. I’m almost certain that Isaac Newton, while dabbling in physics, noted that the Cleveland Browns being in first place violates the fundamental laws that govern our universe. It simply cannot be. Ask a Browns fan, they’ll tell you as much. Lions win 27-20
OAKLAND RAIDERS @ Kansas City Chiefs -10
Kansas City has to be one of the more surprising 5-0 teams in NFL history. This team was lousy last season. The job Head Coach Andy Reid has done is nothing short of remarkable in turning this long struggling franchise around. Oakland has been sneaky competitive behind the play of young quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The Chiefs are making a habit of winning low scoring defensive battles. Chiefs win 23-14
Carolina Panthers @
MINNESOTA VIKINGS -1
Just like last week the Panthers are being treated with kid gloves in Vegas. Carolina isn’t good enough to be less than a field goal underdog on the road. Minnesota finally won a game without Christian Ponder under center. Ponder will be absent this week as well. That’s good news for Vikings fan. Adrian Peterson runs wild over a bewildered Panthers defense to lead the Vikings back to relevance. Vikings win 26-20
PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ New York Jets -2
When the Jets win this game don’t blame me, blame the magic dart board. This is a classic let down spot for the Jets coming off a dramatic last second win against the Atlanta Falcons. The Steelers are coming off a bye after starting their season with four consecutive losses. Pittsburgh is a proud team. I just can’t imagine Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, and company remaining winless any longer. As great as Geno Smith looked last Monday I still don’t trust him. Steelers win 23-20
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2
It doesn’t matter who’s under center for the Philadelphia Eagles with Chip Kelly coaching the team, they’re going to score points. Nick Foles is expected to take a turn this week as the often injured Mike Vick is sidelined. Tampa Bay’s entire organization is crumbling. The Bucs now stop with rookie Mike Glennon at quarterback. Glennon was awful in college, which means success in NFL is unlikely. Bucs coach Greg Schiano appears determined to sink this ship. Eagles win 30-14
GREEN BAY PACKERS @ Baltimore Ravens +2
Baltimore has been up and down all year and the Ravens were victorious in Miami just a week ago. The Packers righted the ship last Sunday with a solid victory in Lambeau over the Detroit Lions. This matchup is a showdown between the two highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. One earns his money and the other? It’s always tough to side against Aaron Rodgers, it’s especially challenging when the spread is less than three. Packers win 30-24
ST. LOUIS RAMS @
Houston Texans -9
The St. Louis Rams are a bad football team but a nine point underdog against a quarterback that throws touchdowns to the opponent more frequently than his own team? Houston QB Matt Schaub has thrown pick sixes in four consecutive games! A local favorite burger joint in the Houston area created a “pick six” burger in Schaub’s honor. Just this past week a particularly insane fan visited Schaub’s home to harass the embattled quarterback. Texans win 23-17
JACKSONVILLE JAGS @ Denver Broncos -28
Jacksonville may very well be the worst football team I’ve ever seen but they’re better with Chad Henne throwing passes and Henne will be under center on Sunday. The Broncos appear to have a historically great offense but their defense is leaking oil. Giving up 48 points to Tony Romo has to raise a red flag in the Mile High City. As bad as the Jags are they still have 53 professional football players on their roster. If they have any pride at all it will show up in a contest where they became the largest underdog in NFL history. Broncos win 48-21
TENNESSEE TITANS @ Seattle Seahawks -15
The Seahawks have looked shaky in back to back road affairs but still enter this matchup in good position at 4-1. Tennessee will be without starting quarterback Jake Locker for the second straight week. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid player capable of keeping the Titans in the game behind the strength of their defense. The Seahawks will win but a late score gives the Titans a back door cover. Seahawks win 27-14
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ New England Patriots -3
The Brady Bunch are the least impressive 4-1 NFL team in recent memory. Fortunately for chowder heads star Tight End Rob Gronkowski is set to return this week to face the Saints. The Saints enter the game undefeated largely because of Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham’s fantastic play. New Orleans defense however has been the catalyst. Rob Ryan’s group doesn’t have to be great for the Saints to win but so far this season they’ve been just that. Saints win 31-23
ARIZONA CARDINALS @ San Francisco 49ers -13
Both NFC West rivals enter this contest at 3-2 just a single game behind the division leading Seattle Seahawks. After a rough start to the season the 49ers have effectively returned to basics relying on a dominant rushing attack to beat opponents into submission. Arizona hasn’t played great but they appear to be rounding into form after defeating the Carolina Panthers a week ago. Thirteen points is too much for these rivals. 49ers win 26-20
Washington Redskins @ DALLAS COWBOYS -6
As bad as Dallas’ defense was last Sunday surrendering 51 points to the Denver Broncos you still left impressed with the Fighting Jerry’s performance. Tony Romo was fantastic tossing for over 500 yards and five touchdowns matching Peyton Manning score for score. The Redskins are a desperate team entering this contest but I’m still not convinced Robert Griffin’s knee is healthy enough for him to carry the Skins’ offense. Cowboys win 30-23
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ San Diego Chargers -2
The Colts were impressive while handing the Seattle Seahawks their first loss of the season last Sunday. We’ll ignore the fact that Seattle was on the wrong end of some obviously blown calls which aided the Colts effort. Andrew Luck’s second season is shaping up to be a coronation of sorts as he’s exceeding the incredibly lofty expectations placed on him coming out of Stanford. Luck’s brilliant play continues. Colts win 31-17