Editor Stephen Rhodes’ Picks – Week 5

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans quarterback
Week 4: 9-5
Season to Date: 33-28-1

New Orleans (-3) over Carolina
As strange as it may seem, the Saints’ defense will win this game. Of course, if you’re Panthers QB David Carr and you’re on your butt more than the law allows, this should come easy. QB Drew Brees will have a decent game as will WR Marques Colston. Panthers DT Kris Jenkins’ speech will ring hollow – at least this week. Saints get their win easier than you think.

Kansas City (+2.5) over Jacksonville
The Chiefs? 2.5 point underdogs at home? People – the Chiefs are back – and they will show you why on Sunday. Larry Johnson will gain 120+ yards and 2 TD’s, and the defense will render the Jags’ passing game irrelevant. The Chiefs win easily and cover the spread.

Detroit (+3.5) over Washington
This game will pit arguably the best passing offense in the NFL against a Washington defense that is suspect, at times. Expect Lions QB Jon Kitna to throw for 350 yards + and 3 TD’s and expect the Redskins’ running game to suffer (thank you very much Clinton Portis); Ladell Betts should be the Skins’ featured back. Lions should score at least 30 points this week in an important victory. I feel weird picking Detroit to win on any given week, but the Lions have something special going on up in Detroit.

Tennessee over Atlanta (+8)
The Titans have a good running game; the Falcons have an improved Joey Harrington. Talk about contrasts. I envision the Titans’ running attack overwhelming the Falcons’ defensive line at will (185 yards total?) Harrington won’t have the game he had last week. This game shouldn’t be high-scoring at all – the Titans win by a TD.

Houston (-5) over Miami
This game should be interesting because on paper – at least this week – both teams are even (except on defense). What I do see happening though is Texans QB Matt Schaub “West-Coasting” the Dolphins’ linebackers and on occasion the secondary with short-to-medum yardage passes successfully. The Dolphins’ Ronnie Brown should get his 90-95 yards and a TD, but it won’t be enough as the Texans prevail at Reliant Stadium.

Seattle (+6.5) over Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has to be a bit shell-shocked over last week’s loss vs. the Cardinals. I think it will only get worse as Seattle’s Shaun Alexander should run successfully and the pass rush of the Seahawks should make Roethlisberger ineffective. I like Seattle to win here in what should be a close game.

Cleveland (+14.5) over New England
It’s not a question as to who wins this game. It is the matter of whether 14.5 points is a big enough spread. Brady and Co. will do what they usually do on a weekly basis, but at the same time, I think Cleveland will make a game of it with some timely runs by RB Jamal Lewis. The Patriots win, but I think 14.5 is a bit much. Closer to a 10-13 point victory is more like it.

Arizona (-1) over St. Louis
The Rams have issues – big issues. First off, Gus Frerotte takes over for Marc Bulger. Secondly, the Rams have no running game – until Steven Jackson returns. Arizona, on the other hand, have a 2-headed QB, Edgerrin James and an improving defense. Arizona in a romp at Edwrad Jones Dome. Minus 1? Are you kidding me?

New York Giants (-3.5) over New York Jets
The Giants’ defense produced 12 sacks last week; expect more of the same (not 12 sacks, but you get the picture). The Jets’ Chad Pennington will stink – pure and simple. And don’t expect much from Thomas Jones either. The Giants will win easily.

Indianapolis over Tampa Bay (+10)
Most weeks, this would be a good spread. But in light of the recent string of injuries to the Colts, this spread all of a sudden doesn’t look so good. Manning will work harder, but that’s OK. The Bucs’ defense will cause difficulty at times, but not enough as Manning and WR Reggie Wayne should feast on the Bucs’ LB’s. Colts win, but not by 10.

San Diego (+1.5) over Denver
The Chargers have all the offensive tools, yet they’re 1-3. the Broncos are in a world of hurt, especially in light of the news that starting RB Travis Henry has tested positive for marijuana (go to NFL GRIDIRON GAB’s homepage for more details). That being said, The Chargers should be able to squash Selvin Young (Henry’s backup), which will make Broncos QB Jay Cutler’s job more difficult. Things have gone from bad to worse up in Denver. The Chargers win on the road.

Baltimore (+3) over San Francisco
These two teams have some things in common. They both have sucky offenses. They both have excellent running backs. They both have decent defenses. That’s where the similarities end. When the smoke clears, expect the Ravens’ LB’s and secondary to make 49ers QB Trent Dilfer (ex-Raven – oh the irony!!) look pitiful. Gore should do well as will Ravens RB Willis McGahee, but look for a low-scoring Ravens victory.

Green Bay (-3) over Chicago
The Packers are on the rise; the Bears are on the decline. The Bears’ offense will be their undoing, as QB Brian Griese will stink against the Packers defense (look for at least 2 INT’s) and look for the Packers’ Brett Favre to continue his hot streak. Green Bay wins by at least 7.

Buffalo (+10) over Dallas
The Buffalo Bills aren’t as bad as their record indicates. If anything, they’re the unluckiest team. That aside, look for the Bills to keep it competitive till mid-4th quarter. Look for Dallas’ ground game to be the star here (Barber/Jones running wild). Lynch should run for 90-100 yards and a TD, but it won’t be enough as the Cowboys win at Ralph Wilson.

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