Site Editor Matt Loede’s NFL Picks for Week 5

San Francisco 49ers' Trent Dilfer, left, is sacked by Seattle Seahawks' Julian Peterson 

Another tough week of games last weekend as plenty of upsets highlighted week 4 of the National Football League. Last week I went 6-8, putting my yearly total at 27-30-2 vs the spread. It’s another full week with a few byes, so here we go for week 5.

Arizona (-1) at St.Louis:

This might seem like a trap game for the Cards, who are coming of an emotional win vs the Steelers at home last week. The Rams are a mess, having scored just 39 points in four games. Marc Bulger sits for St.Louis with broken ribs, and it’s hard to fathom five weeks into the season the Rams would be rolling out Gus Ferrotte at QB and Brian Leonard at RB. The Cardinals at 2-2 are playing well on defense, and it should be more then enough here. Arizona 24 St.Louis 14

Atlanta at Tennessee (-9):

This is a big stretch for the Titans, who have four home games in the next six weeks. The Falcons have some confidence after winning vs a beat up Texans team last week. Joey Harrington is starting to throw well for Atlanta, and their best shot to win is to attack a suspect Titans secondary that has allowed 238 yards per game. The Titans are riding high right now though coming off a bye wee at 2-1, and their running attack should gouge a Falcons team allowing 128.5 yards per game on the ground. This spread though makes me think the Faclons will cover though. Tennessee 19 Atlanta 14

Detroit at Washington (-3.5):

The pass-happy Lions come to Fedex Field to battle the 2-1 Skins coming off a bye. Washington has been a place of horrors for the Lions, having never won there. Washington will try to take the air out of the ball with Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts. This could be a big spot for Betts, who despite gaining just 2.7 yards per carry should get a lot of chances to spell a beat up Portis. As for the Lions, it’s throw, throw, and throw more. Jon Kitna is putting up 312 yards a game, but at some point you’d have to think the Lions are going to have to run. While the Lions are getting better, their one dimensional offense will not be enough here. Washington 24 Detroit 17

Miami at Houston (-5.5):

Last season the Texans were 0-3 and beat Miami in Houston. I see much of the same here, as Miami as shown little, and the Texans, despite some big injuries on offense, will be able to beat the Fins down with their defense. Look for Ahman Green to put up solid numbers vs an awful Dolphins run defense (6.1 yards per carry allowed last week), and for Matt Schaub to have a decent day vs the Dolphins pass defense. Miami needs Ronnie Brown to have another huge day in order to be in it, but I don’t think he alone will be enough. Houston 27 Miami 17

Jacksonville (-2.5) at Kansas City:

The Chiefs have survived a tough first month, playing 3 of 4 on the road and going 2-2. Last week they opened up the offense, and stunned the Chargers in San Diego 30-16. Their offense needs to be mistake free at home vs a solid Jags unit, and Damon Huard has to continue to take some shots down the field with rookie wide out Dwayne Bowe. Jacksonville coming off a bye finally got their running game going vs Denver two weeks ago. This will be a tight, defensive game that will come down to kicking at the end. Kansas City 20 Jackonsville 17

Cleveland at New England (-14.5):

A highly regarded source told me to take Cleveland in this game with the points, that they will cover the high spread. I don’t think so. Cleveland is playing much better than a lot of people thought they ever would, but the Pats are on such a different level from the rest of the league, it’s not even funny. Tom Brady is leading an offense that can’t be stopped right now, averaging 431 yards per game. Randy Moss has already caught 7 TD’s, and Sammy Morris looked strong running the ball on Monday night. Sorry Browns fans, I can’t see this being any less than a three touchdown game. New Engalnd 31 Cleveland 10

Carolina at New Orleans (-3):

Maybe the toughest game of the week to call, and not for good reasons. If the Saints are even going to sniff a shot at the NFC South title, they need to win here and get on track. The Panthers are 2-0 on the road and 0-2 at home, and appear to be heading towards another start for backup QB David Carr. Last week Carr looked terrible, throwing for just 40 yards in the first three quarters vs the Bucs. Look for Carr to settle in better this week with Steve Smith and company. As for the Saints, who knows what team will show up, and without Deuce McCallister for the rest of 07, this season could be a long one in the Big Easy. Carolina 23 New Orleans 21

New York Jets at New York Giants (3.5):

The Jets lost a game last week vs a team they had no business losing to in the Bills. The Giants defense dominated the Eagles with a monster 12 sacks in a 16-3 win. The battle of New York should be an interesting game, but I don’t think either team is going to score all that much. The Jets defense has got to make some plays, and on offense they have to get Thomas Jones more involved than just 10-15 carries. The Giants defense, which has been reborn in the last two weeks, will step it up again here against Chad Pennington and the Jets offense. New York Giants 17 New York Jets 10

Seattle at Pittsburgh (-6):

A rematch of Super Bowl XL at Heinz Field, the Steelers will look to rebound after their first loss of the year in Arizona last week. The Seahawks have also only lost once, and to the same team in the same venue. I think Seattle will try to throw early and often on the Steelers, using their west coast offense to put up 4-5 yard gains and will take what they can get. The Steelers offense went into a shell after scoring in the first quarter, not scoring again till late in their 21-14 loss. Pittsburgh has some injuries to deal with, but should have all their starters but possibly Hines Ward back and ready to go. I think in the end the Steelers 3-4 defense will do enough to stop the Hawks and their offense will move the ball enough to win. I do think 6 is a bit much though. Pittsburgh 27 Seattle 23

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis (-11):

Sure the Colts have looked great, but they are banged up coming into this contest. Marvin Harrison is ailing, as is Joseph Addai and Bob Sanders. Rob Morris is done for the year as well for Indy. The Bucs are looking good at 3-1, but also have issues as starting RB Carnell Williams is out of the year, as left tackle Luke Petitgout. Tampa’s defense has looked strong in four games, allowing just 24 points in their three wins, and 44 points overall. Peyton Manning may not have all his weapons, but the defense will carry the Colts in a game tighter than the spread suggests. Indianapolis 20 Tampa Bay 16

San Diego at Denver (-1.5):

An AFC West matchup with two teams that sorely need a win. While the Chargers have lost three straight, the Broncos have dropped two in a row. The loser here will see their season slipping away just five weeks in, which is not good. San Diego is a mess on offense, and they can’t see to get any big stops on defense. The Broncos were beat up by the Colts last week on the road, and now after allowing 226 yards to Indy on the ground will take on a very displeased L.T. and the Chargers running game. By far the toughest game to call, I think again the Chargers fail to live up to the hype. Denver 29 San Diego 27

Baltimore (-3) at San Francisco:

The Ravens were punched in the mouth last week in Cleveland, falling behind 14-0 and never recovering. The offense puts up plenty of yards in between the 20’s, but can’t make the big play when they need it. The 49’ers are awful on offense, and really need a big day from Frank Gore to make this game interesting. San Fran is on the verge of going backwords, and with Trent Dilfer under center this one could be ugly. Dilfer though is bent on showing Ravens coach Brian Billick a thing or two after Billick replaced him after winning the Super Bowl in 2000. It won’t matter here. Baltimore 17 San Francisco 9

Chicago at Green Bay (3.5):

Can the Bears show some signs of life after allowing 34 points in the 4th quarter Sunday at Detroit? That’s the big question here, as Chicago is on life support at 1-3 with a rash of injuries. They badly need Ced Benson to give them some yards on the ground to take the pressure off of Brian Griese and the passing game. The Packers defense has been solid, and should be able to get to Griese and force a few mistakes. I am still under the theory that the Packers are not as good as 4-0, and their inept running game will catch up to them. I just think that Brett Favre might be my MVP for the first four weeks, which is enough for me. Green Bay 23 Chciago 17

Dallas (-10) at Buffalo:

Give the Bills some credit for a tough, hard fought win last week vs the Jets at home. This Monday night though will be a different story, as Dallas will not be so quick to not attack on offense. You can bet that Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton will attack a Bills defense that is still just totally beat up with injuries. Trent Edwards will not have the same success he had last week vs New York, as the Cowboys will rush and rush hard to force a few mistakes. Look for Dallas to build a lead and use the 2-back Jones/Barber combo to salt away their 5th win. Dallas 30 Buffalo 14

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