NFL Week 5 predictions

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And breaking down the first quarter of the season.

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Trent Masterson | October 8, 2011

Philadelphia Eagles Dream Team t-shirt

The Dream Team is dead.

This week we turn over the prediction duties to regular Impose contributor Gregory McGreevy. His expertise is noisy, experimental music. Let's see if he can keep up our rich tradition of predicting NFL football games at about a 50% accuracy rate.

Philadelphia Eagles logoPhiladelphia Eagles vs. Buffalo BillsBuffalo Bills

Although the NFL loves living week-to-week, I think we can chalk up the Bills loss to the Bengals as a combination of Patriots hangover, mediocre defense, and the Bengals defense actually being as good as the early numbers suggest, though I’m not really sure how you let a team like the Bengals back into the game after going up by a couple of scores. I still believe the Bills should continue on through the rest of the year pushing for a spot in the playoffs deep into the season. While you do have to be concerned about a defense that constantly gets the team into a hole or can’t keep a lead, the Bills are a talented offensive team led by one of the league’s most dynamic backs, but they will not be able to come back from 20 point deficits every week. This was a problem last year, as well, so the Bills’ push to be taken seriously in the AFC might have to wait until the defense is up to par at least. The Eagles defense, on the other hand, was not supposed to be this bad. Anyone can run on this line, the linebackers are a complete liability, and Asmougha will never replicate his time in Oakland as a shut down corner if he’s playing zone defense. A lack of fundamentals and efficient play calling have killed this defense. You may think the offensive side is looking better putting up 24 points a game, but too much of this is coming off of broken plays and Michael Vick’s improvising. McCoy has asserted himself as a top RB in the league, but the offensive is still very questionable. I expect the Bills to win this game. With the Eagles lone win coming against the now evidently regressed St. Louis Rams, you can’t overstate how much of a slide this team has the potential to go on. I can’t help but think that Fred Jackson will eat them alive. The Eagles have so far been pretty good against teams number one receivers, but their lack of depth outside the top flight corners means that slot guys, TEs and RBs have the potential to get a lot of dump offs in space. Not to mention that the Eagles gave Frank Gore his first bit of success this season and Alex Smith engineered a 20 pt comeback on them. Yes, the Eagles could fully go off on this Bills’ defense, but will they be able to hold off what could be the most balanced offense they’ve seen yet? I’m going advantage Bills at home. If they really are a contender this year, the Bills will bounce back from a loss at home. If the Eagles remain without fundamentals in their play and play calling, they will continue to lose to teams that they probably have more talent than.

New York Jets logoNew York Jets vs. New England PatriotsNew England Patriots logo

I’m going with the Pats here because Mark Sanchez essentially looks to his first read and if it’s covered he immediately shits himself. Their offensive line is looking so awful that Sanchez isn’t even allowed time to make reads, which is even worse. Not to say that the Patriots’ pass rush is inspiring fear in anyone, nor is the rest of their defense for that matter. So why are the Jets going back to “ground and pound” on the precipice of playing one of the worst pass defenses in the league? Who knows? I know that the Jets still have a good defense, but it’s not as good as the Pats’ offense, especially since they are susceptible to teams with spread offenses and loads of talent between the slot and two TEs. That would be the Pats.

Kansas City Chiefs logoKansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis ColtsIndianapolis Colts logo

A pivotal match-up in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Really, who gives a shit? Indy looks to be somewhat more competent with Painter at QB, KC got their first win last week with Cassel and Bowe not crapping the bed for the first time this year. I think KC showed a glimpse of why they won the AFC West last year, but I don’t like taking them on the road. I think KC still has as many TDs as they do INTs, but they have a better QB and a better defense, so I’m picking them here.

Seattle SehawksSeattle Seahawks vs. New York GiantsNew York Giants logo

Well, I can’t pretend I get to see every moment of every game, but one thing I think I can honestly put out there without having seen much of the Seahawks this year is that they are one of the worst teams in the league. They can’t get to the QB or protect their own. Tavaris Jackson is the QB. Sydney Rice has provided a needed spark, but…c’mon. On the other hand, I am not sure how for real I take the Giants right now. Regardless, the Seahawks travelling anywhere outside of Qwest is a bad proposition, especially if it’s all the way across the country. Giants win, possibly covering the 10 point spread comfortably.

Arizona Cardinals logoArizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota VikingsMinnesota Vikings logo

The Cardinals have one win and have loss to some supremely crappy teams. The Vikings have zero wins and can’t give games away fast enough. The Cardinals have weak tackles and the Vikings have strong DE's. Kolb gets happy feet regardless of how strong the pocket is. Neither team has a great pass defense, but neither team’s opponent will likely be able to take much advantage of it. As long as teams can double up on Fitzgerald, Kolb won’t have many other options. They will likely want to lean on Beanie Wells again after his performance last week, but the Vikings run D is not that bad at all. I’m thinking the Vikings finally lean on Peterson (is he healthy?) in the second half and grind out their first win.

Tennessee Titans logoTennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh Steelers logo

Now we’re talking. See, I’m of the mindset that this Steelers team will not pull itself together and make a run at the end of the year. I am of the mindset that they used up what little fuel they had in the tank, took the lucky breaks they got and almost got a SB victory out of it. Now, a year removed from such a let down, with several players recently being locked into monster contracts, it looks like they will have the same kind of unmotivated year they had after winning their last Superbowl. In addition to the fact that they have offensive line issues and you can attack their weak secondary with spread sets, apparently they can’t stop the run either, now, and get pushed off the line like they aren’t there. Tennessee does not have the greatest line either, though Hasselbeck is a lot more decisive with where the ball goes right after the snap and thus avoids a lot of the hits Roethlisberger would otherwise take. Tennessee seems to have a solid defense to boot and the whole issue of “continuity” hasn’t killed them yet. Even though the only good team they’ve beat was the Ravens coming into a total trap game, I’ll take them in the upset.

New Orleans Saints logoNew Orleans Saints vs. Carolina PanthersCarolina Panthers logo

Saints are still the class of the NFC South. Gregg Williams blitz packages seem to be doing more harm than good, but I’m sure we will see a lot of scoring as neither defense can really stop anyone and the Saints are having a tough time putting away games they should obviously win. Look for the Saints to jump up early before another gazillion yard game from Cam Newton allows the Panthers to once again pull off a back door cover of the spread.

Cincinnati Bengals logoCincinnati Bengals vs. Jacksonville JaguarsJacksonville Jaguars logo

Not that I think Cincinnati is going to be a surprise team this year, but honestly a lot of people are probably surprised they have even made it to two wins. If the defense keeps playing well, Benson keeps running like he’s going to jail tomorrow (is he?), and Dalton avoids too many mistakes, they will probably be able to take out equal or lesser teams throughout the year. I consider Jacksonville to be one of these teams.

Oakland Raiders logoOakland Raiders vs. Houston TexansHouston Texans logo

I think the Raiders were underrated then overrated and are maybe just about optimally rated at the moment? I don’t know. Run DMC is obviously a beast, the offensive line is looking good and Jason Campbell is playing smart and efficiently. The Texans are the favorites to take over a now weakened AFC South, but I still have questions about their defense and ability to close games. The Raiders struggle against the run and are susceptible to the varied weapons the Texans have, even without Andre Johnson, though I think the Raiders could win if they can get it going on the ground and control possession. The Raiders are still too undisciplined and get way too many penalties, so I think the opposite will happen and I’m taking the home team to win and cover.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ersSan Francisco 49ers logo

I do think the Bucs will be a team of the future, but I think they were escalated to that status too soon based off a 10-win season that was centered around having one of the weaker schedules in the league. I think the 49ers defense is playing well, and they are doing the little things (like excelling in the kicking game) and not making huge mistakes, which is a big credit to Jim Harbaugh. They look to be odds-on favorites to take the NFC West by already eking out some wins they weren’t supposed to get and playing a talented Cowboys team very tough. I think the Bucs are the better team, but I don’t like them travelling across country to play a team that isn’t the most talented but also isn’t shooting themselves in the foot. I think this one will be a grinder, but the home team will take it.

San Diego Chargers logoSan Diego Chargers vs. Denver BroncosDenver Broncos logo

Admittedly, I know more about Tim Tebow’s “fans” hilariously trying to jumpstart his NFL career than I do about the Broncos this year. Well, I know that I picked them and the 12.5 points against GB and was severely disappointed. It seems like they are more mediocre than the awfulness they were last year. The defense has improved some and McGahee has been a great pick-up. I find the Chargers to be perennially overrated. Rivers seems to be shaking off the rust and the Broncos secondary is swiss cheese. Orton has some talented wide-outs, but SD has a talented group of DBs. I am going to stop acting like I know or care that much about this match up, so I’m just going to say the Broncos win a shocker at home for my upset special of the week. They let me down last week and I don’t expect any less this week.

Green Bay Packers logoGreen Bay Packers vs. Atlanta FalconsAtlanta Falcons logo

Now we’re talking marquee matchups, son! Green Bay can obviously be scored on, but good luck putting up the requisite 40 some points necessary to out gun them. Anyway, I don’t think this deserves much analysis. The Falcons became an overrated/trendy superbowl pick after putting up 13 wins against specious competition. The Packers are somehow under the radar. I expect the Falcons to score, and hey Julio Jones is probably a good fantasy pickup this week, but I don’t think they can match GB and their defense is certainly not about to slow them down. It was also disconcerting to see the Falcons march out to a big lead and almost let it go against the Seahawks. I can see Atlanta covering the spread, but I don’t see them winning in real time.

Chicago Bears logoChicago Bears vs. Detroit LionsDetroit Lions logo

The Bears defense, outside of its linebackers, isn’t showing the same kind of ability to make plays this year. The Lions have some issues and obviously it’s never a good formula to go down 20 points every game before starting to wing the ball any area within 20 yards of Calvin Johnson, but I think they really are a top playoff contender in the NFC. Chicago should give the ball to Forte 50 times and sign the only working piece of their offense to a big deal just to cover their bases here. I think keeping the Lions offense off the field will be their only hope. Chicago’s defense may be able to keep up, but if Jahvid Best can get going like backs have against the Bears the last couple of weeks they will be screwed. Outside of the front 4, Detroit’s defense is shaky, but it may not even matter if Cutler is spending all of his time face-first in the turf. On the other side of things, Julius Peppers is going to be a nightmare for Jeff Backus. If Chicago can get the defense going by making Stafford uncomfortable, sure up the run D, get a lot of possession by running Forte successfully and make a few big plays on special teams to get their offense in good position, they could pull off the upset. However, they won’t.

Bye Weeks

Baltimore Ravens logo
Baltimore Ravens

Glad they blew out the Jets even though Flacco had one of his worst games to date. Getting several players healthy.

Miami Dolphins logo
Miami Dolphins

Positioned to become the front runner for Andrew Luck.

Dallas Cowboys logo
Dallas Cowboys

Wondering how they could be so dysfunctional with so much talent. This is a good a time as any for their bye.

Cleveland Browns logo
Cleveland Browns

Thinking about how unlucky it is to be a trendy pick to play better than years past.

St. Louis Rams logo
St. Louis Rams

Still the frontrunner for Andrew Luck/worst team in the league. I’m guessing they are wishing it was already over

Washington Redskins logo
Washington Redskins

No, Rex Grossman has not magically become a competent NFL QB.

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