Friday, October 16, 2009

NFL Pick 5 -- Week 6

Another week, another over-.500 record as I went 3-2 in Week 5's picks, bringing my season record against the spread so far to a very solid 13-7. I really spread the wealth around on the week, as I nailed another big favorite, taking the Vikings +10 against the terrible Rams, plus a small favorite in Indy crushing the Titans on Sunday night. I also won with a big dog in the Lions +10.5 against the Steelers who have looked good but not great since defensive standout Troy Polamalu went down in Week 1. My one bad loss was the Cheatriots -3 at Denver, though I can't kick myself too much on that one as I don't know of basically anybody who picked the Broncos to win that one and move to the highly improbable 5-0. And for the fourth time in five weeks I got the Monday night game wrong as well, and for the fourth time in my 7 losses so far on the year, it was another last-minute comeback which did me in as the Dolphins beat the Jets in Miami. Still, 13-7 is much better than I could have ever hoped for this point in the season, so I'm not complaining, and even though I did have the one big 5-0 week, out of my four weeks of picking these games, I have recorded better than a .500 record in all but the first week which saw me start off going 2-3 thanks to again being on the losing side of two late-game come-from-behind wins.

For Week 6 I am once again going to spread it around with picks on a few different kinds of teams. Here are my Week 6 NFL picks against the spread, as usual in no particular order:

1. Philadelphia Eagles -14 at the Oakland Raiders. I really hate taking these big lines, but what can I be expected to do if the Raiders are going to continue to insist on playing Jamarcus Russell at quarterback? The guy won't throw for 100 yards against the Eagles, and the team is not likely to score more than 10 points if recent games for both teams are a guide. I don't think the Eagles are the best team in the NFL, but one thing that can't be argued is that the Eagles are crushing the NFL's worst teams this year, recording wins of 38-10 on the road at the Panthers, and then 34-14 vs. the Chiefs and 33-14 vs. the Buccaneers at home. And the Raiders are pretty much worse than all of those three squads that the Eagles smushed so bad, on both offense and defense in fact. Though the lines continue to creep up every week as it becomes more and more obvious that the bottom of the NFL has sank wayyyyy below the rest of the league here in 2009, I still see value in Eagles -14 this week at the NFL's worst of the worst.

2. Seattle Seahawks -3 vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Here's another game I like because I think the public is focusing still on Arizona being the defending NFC champions and on how badly Seattle got beat for a couple of weeks early this season when quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was out with broken ribs. In three games where Hasselbeck did not play throughout, the Seahawks were 0-3, including a 23-10 loss at San Francisco and a 34-17 loss at Indianapolis. But Seattle is a team that historically plays much better at home, and in the two home games where Hasselbeck has been the full game starter, it's like an entirely different team: 28-0 win over the Rams, and a 41-0 shellacking of the Jaguars last week in Seattle. This week the Seahawks welcome the Cardinals to town, and although I highly doubt we will see another home shutout, I think the Hawks should be able to generate enough offense to combine with their solid home defense to win by more than a field goal on Sunday.

3. Atlanta Falcons -3.5 vs. the Chicago Bears. Since losing on opening day and throwing about 18 interceptions, Bears' QB Jay Cutler has been solid, tossing seven tds and just one pick in his last three games, all wins for the Bears. This week I am sensing Cutler's first loss since Week 1 as his team faces the Falcons in Atlanta. The Bears have not been good so far on the road, losing in Week 1 after that horrible performance from Cutler at Green Bay, and beating Seattle only 25-19 with Seneca Wallace at the helm for the Hawks. And Atlanta, meanwhile, is 2-0 at home in 2009 and they appear to be clicking on all cylinders, buoyed by the addition of Tony Gonzalez at tight end. I would be much happier if this line had dropped back to 3 if not 2.5, but even at 3.5 I believe this line is a bit under -- if Atlanta gets 3 points just for being at home, I definitely see the Falcons as more than a half-point better than the Bears at a neutral site.

4. Carolina Panthers -3 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I really don't like to pick bad teams to win games when they're laying point to boot, but I have watched the Buccaneers play three different games this year, and I can say with authority that they royally suck. Even worse than the Panthers, who I have also watched lose twice to the Eagles and the Cowboys already in 2009. Carolina is coming off their first win of the season against the horridious Redskins, and the Panthers and head coach John Fox will know that this is a good chance for the team to get back to 2-3 with a game against the unimpressive Bills next week in Carolina to get back to .500, and I just don't see the Panthers letting this opportunity go. Lastly, I should mention that in two home games this year, the Bucs have given up an average of 29 points to the Giants and Cowboys, getting crushed in both games including a beautiful 24-0 beating suffered in front of the home town fans against the New York Giants. Again I wish this line was a bit smaller, but I'm expecting Carolina to find a way to win this one by a touchdown a more.

5. Denver Broncos +3.5 at the San Diego Chargers. For some reason I am insistent on demonstrating to myself my prowess in picking the Monday night game every week, even though I am 1-3 so far in 2009, so once again I am going back to well this week and taking the undefeated Broncos in this one. I was wavering which way to go on this pick as I actually think the Chargers could easily win the game, but when this line moved above its opening of 3 points, I opted to go with the Broncos who I have to say at this point are the better team overall. I am well aware that the Chargers smushed the Broncos in the final week of the 2008 regular season to cement their 8-8 AFC West crown, but that was a different Chargers team that included a contributing LaDainian Tomlinson unlike so far this season, and a very different Broncos team that now features Kyle "Just Win Baby" Orton at qb and new head coach Josh McDaniel. I don't see the Broncos winning this one huge, but with their team defense I am expecting a fairly close game that could easily end in a small Denver road victory or a field goal or less win by the Chargers to stay within three games of the Broncos in the division early here in the 2009 season.

So it's one big road favorite this week in the Eagles, one small road favorite in the Panthers, and two small home favorites in Seattle and Atlanta. This is rounded out by my only underdog pick of the week, the Broncos plus a few points on the road at San Diego. 13-7 so far in 2009, let's try to make it 18-7 after Week 6 of the NFL season comes to a close.

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