By Brien O’Donal
Follow me on Twitter @ODonalsVanguard
My office pick’em league looked pretty bad this week. Only 3 out of 8 players finished above .500 but rest assured; I was one of the 3. I went 9-5 on my picks last week but none of those losses were all that surprising. That puts me at 48-29 for the season, which I’m not really that happy about. There are a lot of teams having up and down seasons so far and it’s hard to pin down week to week who will be on the right side of the scoreboard. But I’m right back at it again in week 6, ready to give you some insight into the matchups this week.
Bye Week: Bills, Bengals, Cowboys, Seahawks
Eagles (4-1) at Panthers (4-1)-Thursday 7:25 p.m. CT; CBS, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
2 teams with 4-1 records to start the week off right. And for me, a difficult choice to make. Carson Wentz has been showing himself worthy of the #2 overall pick and the Eagles defense has been able to put on enough pressure to compensate for their poor secondary. The Panthers have Cam Newton rounding into form and can do a little damage on defense when they need to. I’m truly torn on who I think will win this one so I will pick the home team Panthers to win.
Bears (1-4) at Ravens (3-2)-Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
The Ravens got back on track defensively last week against a backup quarterback and I think they will be able to stay in stride against the Bears. Trubisky didn’t look terrible in his debut but the typical rookie mistakes cost him a chance to win in the final minutes Monday night. I think the Ravens will pounce and win at home.
Browns (0-5) at Texans (2-3)-Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
The Browns can’t seem to get it together and might just have the #1 overall pick again. The Texans lost a big game and some big players last week but their offense looks like it can compensate, especially at home against the Browns. This should be an easy win for the Texans.
Packers (4-1) at Vikings (3-2)-Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Big divisional game in the NFC North but I don’t think it will be a good game to watch. The Vikings defense is pretty good but they can’t do everything and with all the quarterback troubles they’ve had in recent weeks, I think the Packers will be able to get a lead and hold it. Aaron Rodgers showed last week that he is capable of amazing things and I have a feeling he will be able to work all kinds of magic in this one. I’m taking the Packers to win on the road.
Lions (3-2) at Saints (2-2)-Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
The Saints made headlines this week by trading away Adrian Peterson who was a fish out of water anyways. The reality is that Peterson’s departure frees up touches for Ingram and Kamara who can keep their offense moving like it is meant to. That being said, their defense still isn’t very good. The Lions have lost two close games and have had a few hiccups but they should be able to get a win with Stafford slinging the ball around. I’m taking the Lions in this one.
Dolphins (2-2) at Falcons (3-1)-Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
The Falcons are coming off a bye week and are at home against a Dolphins team that is still not a sure bet. They are struggling with inconsistency on offense and their defense is holding it’s own but barely. The Bills took a little bit of the shine off of the Falcons back in week 4 but after some rest they should come out firing all the way to a nice win. I’m taking them to win big here.
Patriots (3-2) at Jets (3-2)-Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
An early battle to remain atop the AFC East. This is surprising because no one thought the Jets would win 1 game let alone 3 so early in the season. The Patriots are the flip side of that coin. I don’t think too many people had them with two losses so soon. Their defense has looked terrible even in the games they have won. But the Patriots always seem the have the Jets’ number and I think they will again this week so I’m taking the Patriots to win this one.
49ers (0-5) at Redskins (2-2)-Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
The 49ers have shown a lot of fight but close losses are still losses. The Redskins are another one of those up and down teams. They will just have to get wins where they can; like when they’re at home against a winless team. I’m not too much interested in watching this, but I’m taking the Redskins to win.
Buccaneers (2-2) at Cardinals (2-3)-Sunday 3:05 p.m. CT; Fox
Tampa Bay has been underwhelming so far but they have put some good games together, they just haven’t finished. Unlike some other teams, I think they have what it takes to get that corrected. It starts with finding a decent kicker. Once they start putting points on the board with special teams they can be in better situations defensively. I think that starts this week against a struggling Cardinals team that looks lost without its’ star running back. They are coming off a bad loss to the Eagles and I don’t think one week is enough time to put things together against another tough defense. I’m taking the Buccaneers to get their 3rd win of the season.
Rams (3-2) at Jaguars (3-2)-Sunday 3:05 p.m. CT; Fox
And here we have two teams that are over-performing early in the season. The Rams offense has been pretty good but the Seahawks showed what that means against a good defense. The Jaguars have been living off of their strong defense so far and winning despite Blake Bortles. Their head coach has realized that handing off to Leonard Fournette is the key to their offense’s survival and it has served them well so far. I look for that to continue this week so I’m taking the Jags at home to win.
Steelers (3-2) at Chiefs (5-0)-Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; CBS
What happened to the Steelers? I haven’t seen them recently, maybe they decided to take a vacation. Too bad for them they face the last undefeated team who just put up 42 points last week. Too bad for them Alex Smith is on an MVP campaign. I don’t know what it would take for the Steelers to get right but I don’t think Arrowhead Stadium is where they go to do it. I’m taking the Chiefs to stay undefeated this week.
Chargers (1-4) at Raiders (2-3)-Sunday 4:25 p.m. CT; CBS
It was nice for the Chargers to finally get a win. I picked them last week and they came through like I thought they would; finally. This week is different though. They aren’t facing another winless team. They are facing a team at a crossroads, the Oakland Raiders. The latest news is that Derek Carr will be back under center Sunday and just his presence will make the offense better than it was last week. I don’t know if it will be enough. But even though the Raiders will have a quarterback coming off an injury, and the Chargers just won a game; I think Derek Carr will be able to control his offense and make a few good throws to beat the Chargers. I’m taking the Raiders in this one.
Giants (0-5) at Broncos (3-1)-Sunday 7:30 p.m. CT; NBC
I read that the NFL can’t flex this game out of the Sunday night slot because they didn’t give enough notice. My question is: why not? It was obvious from the get go that the Giants were bad and that Trevor Siemian made the Broncos offense serviceable. This looks like it will be a waste of a prime time game. The Broncos should win this one without too much trouble so I’m taking them to win.
Colts (2-3) at Titans (2-3)-Monday 7:30 p.m. CT; ESPN
And to follow up Sunday night’s game we have this one. The Titan’s just lost a close one after getting walloped in Houston. Now they face a Colts team that is lucky to have its’ 2 wins after a close call in overtime last week. Marcus Mariota is still questionable to play so I am hesitant to pick the Titans but I feel I they are a safer bet than picking the Colts to win without Andrew Luck. So, I’m going to take the Titans in this one; barely.