Week 5 in the 2011 NFL season looks like a tough one for tipsters and gamblers alike. Injuries to several big name players including Andre Johnson and Ben Roethlisberger, as well as poor performances from some big-name teams last week add some spice to the lineups for this week's action. Our preview will briefly look at each game, and I’ll pick a winner with a margin in the process. Enjoy this week’s preview.
Philadelpha Eagles @ Buffalo Bills
Current Odds: Philadelphia (1.67) Buffalo (2.27)Philadelphia have lost their last five home games so an away tilt against the red-hot Bills. Statistically the Eagles are playing far better then the Bills but on the field they are struggling to close out games. The Bills meanwhile are the NFL’s darlings and have had no trouble closing out games, coming back from 21 points down twice this year. Vick has been surprisingly effective averaging over 250 yards per game while Fitzpatrick continues to find wide open receivers to average 280 yards per game. But the key to this game will be Philadelphia’s offensive line. If they can withstand the Buffalo pass rush then Vick and his crew should pick apart the Buffalo secondary. Buffalo will have to minimize mistakes and maintain possession using Fred Jackson out of the backfield . I think Buffalo can hold on and win this game at home. My Pick : Buffalo by 6.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts
Current Odds: Kansas City (2.05) Indianapolis (1.80)The Chiefs have their first win of the season as the Freeney-Mathis led Colts aim for theirs. The last time the Colts had a a start this bad they went 0-10 in 1997 and finished the season with a 3-13 record - the season they drafted Manning. Since then the Colts have begun the season 4-0 five times. The Colts defense is gaining momentum, and I cant see how any player on the Chiefs is going to slow down Mathis and Freeney. These two will get their hands on Cassel and disrupt play after play. Expect the Colts to win a tight game. My Pick: Indianapolis by 3.
Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings
Current Odds: Arizona (2.25) Minnesota (1.68)The Cardinals look to break a hoodoo this week as they are 0-6 at the Metrodome. This Sunday McNabb gets his first chance to take down the man who he was traded away for in 2009. The Vikings passing game is struggling as McNabb slowly adapts to the Minnesota offense, while Kolb is bedded in and averaging over 260 yards a game. Kolb’s four interceptions have all been on terribly thrown balls, so if they are lucky the Vikings might get a surprise from him this week. Adrian Peterson should have a big game after struggling last week, Beanie Wells had a career best game last week running for 130 yards and three touchdowns - expect a big game from him this week. Arizona are the better team and I can't see McNabb leading Minnesota to a victory any time soon. My Pick: Arizona by 4.
Seattle Seahawks @ New York Giants
Current Odds: Seattle (4.55) New York Giants (1.22)The Seahawks have lost their last six games on the road and things don't look much better as they travel east for a 1pm game. New York are 3-1 in the NFC this season and are scoring 10 more points on average then Seattle so far this year. The Seattle defence has played well allowing 24 points per game, but the offense is only averaging 14 points per game. Two touchdowns wont win games in the NFL. The Giants will be too strong and hold off the Seahawks. My Pick: New York Giants by 17.
Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Current Odds: Tennessee (2.60) Pittsburgh (1.53)The story of this game is Pittsburgh’s offensive line. Both Roethlisberger and Mendenhall are injured, but Roethlisberger expects to play Sunday while Mendenhall looks like he will miss. The Titans meanwhile have cruised to a 3-1 record early in the season and thanks to their lockdown defense they have allowed a league-low 14 points per game. The Titan offensive line has been rock solid - protecting Hasselbeck, combined with Hasselbeck’s maturity and determination, the Titans might cause the upset of the week here. I like the Steelers at home as Heinz is a strong advantage and I believe the Pittsburgh passing game is better than what has been delivered. If you're looking for a lean, a Tennessee head to head looks tempting My Pick: Pittsburgh by 3.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
Current Odds: New Orleans (1.37) Carolina (3.20)Cam Newton gets his first shot to go head to head with Brees this week on his own turf and it might not end so well. For the second week in a row the Saints defence gets to go against a rookie QB, and while they didn't destroy Gabbert last week they still game him some trouble. Look for the same this week. The New Orleans blitz will be too brutal for Newton to handle as he may gain a few yards but ultimately will be left with only five touchdowns for the season. The Saints' running game is just warming up with Sproles and Thomas combining beautifully, continuing to find ways through defences. My Pick: New Orleans by 9.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Current Odds: Cincinnati (1.92) Jacksonville (2.04)Cincinnati walk into this game as the league's number one defence alongside a rookie quarterback under centre on offense. I cant see the Jacksonville passing game causing the Bengals any issues. The Bengals are playing a fast-paced, aggressive defence and the Jags are playing a slow, plodding offense. I like the Bengals to play aggressively on offense too with Lewis unleashing Dalton and letting him go deep on an inexperienced Jacksonville secondary. My Pick: Cincinnati by 7.
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans
Current Odds: Oakland (2.95) Houston (1.42)Due to the unfortunate passing away of Oakland owner Al Davis this game looked much different yesterday than it does today. Will the Raiders come out fired up in honour of their fallen owner, or will it rattle then? This could be a ugly matchup for the Raiders as they face the 10th ranked offence in Houston. The Texans offence has been surprisingly explosive so far this season, but it might be tempered this week with the loss of Johnson. Houston will have to find a way to contain McFadden who is itching to breakout after he was shutdown by the Patriots last week. This could be the best game of the round. My Pick: Houston by 4.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ San Francisco 49ers
Current Odds: Tampa Bay (2.25) San Francisco (1.68)This will be a clash of two battling teams. Both have struggled to find form but have managed to win games unconvincingly. San Francisco may have the best head coach in the NFC this year dealing with some very average talent. Nonetheless, he has squeezed out three wins so far. Both defeneces have played surprisingly well, each allowing less then 20 points per game. I like Tampa in this one because they seem to move the ball with greater efficiency and don't rely on special or defensive team plays. My Pick: Tampa by 7.
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos
Current Odds: San Diego (1.58) Denver (2.45)Denver returns home to host rivals San Diego and hope that it will be enough to stop the rot in their defence. The Broncos have allowed an average of 27 points per game this season, but they cant afford an average like that against a dangerous Charger offence. San Diego have beaten Denver three of the last four times they have met, twice at Mile High. I think this week is the week Rivers finds his stride for the rest of the season. My Pick: San Diego by 10.
New York Jets @ New England Patriots Current Odds: New York Jets (3.95) New England (1.95) New England face a defence that's had a strange season so far. New York are the second best pass defence this year but 28th against the run. This may work into their favour as they try to minimise Brady’s impact. The Jets have to decide who to strand on Revis Island - Branch, Welker, Gronkowski or Edelmen. Look for Revis to rotate onto each of them at some point. The opening line for this game was currently -9 NE which seems crazy but perhaps is a reflection on the Jets' horrible performance last week in Baltimore. The Patriots have less questions to answer than the Jets and I think they'll win it at home. My Pick: New England by 6.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
Current Odds: Green Bay (1.42) Atlanta (2.95)Atlanta is beginning to look like the little team that could but never did. If the Falcons can’t get up for this game after what happened in January in the Georgia Dome then it might be time for some changes. This is the biggest game of their regular season. Green Bay in the meantime have been going about their business, blowing out teams at home and on the road. Ryan won't play as bad as he did in January but he will struggle against a feisty Green Bay defence. Another spanner in the works is Green Bay’s ability to stop the run - they rank 10th in the NFL this year averaging 3.6 yards per attempt. This is a battle between Atlanta’s offence and Green Bay’s defence, and I dont see Atlanta doing anything extraordinary to stop the Packer offence. If the Flacons want to be a NFC contender you have to beat the champs. My Pick - Green Bay by 12.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
Current Odds: Chicago (2.95) @ Detroit (1.42)The Lions head into this game with longest current win streak in the NFL - eight games stretching back to last season. Their most recent loss was in Week 13 to the Bears last season. This game shapes up as one of the most interesting of the week with the resurgent young Lions against a veteran Bears team. Stafford has 11 touchdowns through four games with only three interceptions, and has found ‘Megatron’ Johnson 24 times. It's a match made in heaven. For the first time in their careers both Stafford and Johnson are healthy and in sync, and I don't know who Chicago will use to match up against Johnson. Cutler can lead the Bears up and down the field scoring points and handing it off to Forte but Detroit look ferocious and determined. My Pick - Detroit by 7.