Last year when I was picking NFL games for Baller Mind Frame, I sat in a very similar spot after four weeks as I do right at this very moment. Last year I was 37-24 after four weeks, and after a 9-6 showing last week, I’m 38-24 today on the 2015 season.
I noticed this and thought to myself, “Self, what can you do to ensure that you nail your Week 5 picks just like you did last season when you went 12-3?” I Christian pondered, and then I came to the conclusion that I should conduct this weeks column in the same fashion I did last year; sorting out all of the things that I know and all of the things that I’m not so sure about when it comes to this NFL season. Maybe it’s just good juju, or maybe laying all the cards on the table helps me sort out all of the thoughts going on in my mind, but regardless, if it worked before, it will work again. I’m convinced of it. And what’s sad is, that’s the same logic that was used to make Rocky V. Let’s get to the picks!
Home Teams in CAPS
Indianapolis over HOUSTON
What I know: I know that both of these teams are lucky that they play in the AFC South, because in any other division they’d be a bread that you typically eat at breakfast time, and I’m not talking about a bagel, muffin, croissant or baguette (what’s up, Dalton) … Toast, guys. They’d be toast. Houston is a quarterback wasteland (like, this is a serious problem) and Indy’s defense is just an atrocity (possibly an even bigger problem that Houston’s QB situation). I’m ashamed that I picked these teams to finish with a combined 24 wins this season. After this game they’d need to go 20-2 collectively for that prediction to pan out.
What I don’t know: I don’t know how Matt Hasselbeck is still a back-up quarterback. He’s this generations Mark Brunell in terms of former starting quarterbacks who have prolonged their careers because they remained a back-up quarterback. They are even pretty similar statistically. Here, check it out.
CINCINNATI over Seattle
What I know: I know that I’m terrified that I’m picking Andy Dalton in a marquee game that he’s favored in against the best defensive team of the last three years. I don’t care how loaded with talent Cincinnati might be or how Seattle hasn’t looked quite as juggernaut-ish as they have in the past … this scares the bejesus out of me.
What I don’t know: I don’t know why Cincinnati was only favored by four points last week against Kansas City. I’m not complaining or anything, I took advantage of it; but I can’t say it didn’t baffle me. For all we know, Cincinnati might be one of the three best teams in the league (we’ll have a better idea about this after this Seattle game), and although Kansas City has lost to three undefeated teams, would it really surprise you if they ended up being a 5-11 team?
KANSAS CITY over Chicago
What I know: I know this guy is going to be a superstar.
What I don’t know: I don’t know if the Bears are allowed to draft him one year early. Can you draft a guy who can’t even enter the league for another calendar year?
GREEN BAY over St. Louis
What I know: I know that Todd Gurley is really good at football, and if he tries really hard someday he could be almost as good as future Chicago Bear Leonard Fournette.
What I don’t know: I don’t know if it’s good or bad that I’m so enamored with Fournette. In reality, the Bears need to draft a franchise quarterback (preferably one who could rival division foe Aaron Rodgers) or build a defense that could stifle Rodgers, and Fournette doesn’t accomplish either of those things. On the other hand, he’s probably going to rush for like 25,000 yards, so I’m cool with it.
ATLANTA over Washington
What I know: I know that the Falcons aren’t going to play a team that currently has a winning record until Week 14 when they visit the Carolina Panthers.
What I don’t know: I don’t know if Atlanta is fool’s gold or the real deal, though I’m leaning towards the latter. For all I know they could just be decent, but there is still a very real chance they could end up 13-3 and host a Divisional Round Playoff game. We just have to see if they can avoid too many slip ups in winnable games along they way, because it’s inevitable that they’ll have some. Next Thursday they play at New Orleans against a presumably still healthy Drew Brees and the rejuvenated Saints. Then in the middle of the season they have a moderately tricky Indianapolis/Minnesota back-to-back stretch, but both of those are home games. I don’t know, I think the Falcons are cruising to an NFC South title.
TAMPA BAY over Jacksonville
What I know: I know that professional football in the state of Florida has seen better days. The Bucs, Jags and Dolphins have three combined wins, a minus-126 point differential and Miami is now being led by an interim head coach. Anybody have the scoop on if Joe Philbin made it back from London alright, or is he just going to stay there and become a soccer hooligan now that he’s without a job?
What I don’t know: I don’t know if either of these young starting quarterbacks (Jameis Winston and Blake Bortles) are any good. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m saying that either of them should be benched or kicked to the curb. That’s one thing that bothers me quite a bit; when bad teams toss aside young quarterbacks too quickly in favor of a journeyman veteran who isn’t any better in the short term or the long term. EJ Manuel is a bad quarterback, but Kyle Orton wasn’t the savior for the Bills last year, you see what I’m saying? The good news is they are both young and expectations weren’t tremendously high for neither the Bucs or the Jags this year anyway.
PHILADELPHIA over New Orleans
What I know: I know that I’m 0-4 picking Philadelphia Eagles games this year, and I’m not too confident about this one either.
What I don’t know: I don’t know when DeMarco Murray goes off, but it’s gotta be coming soon, right? I mean, this guys was a terror last year, and granted his offensive line was much better in Dallas, but seriously, he’s currently 81st in the league in rushing yards this year. There are twelve quarterbacks that have more rushing yards than Murray does so far this year.
BALTIMORE over Cleveland
What I know: I know that Josh McCown, or anyone who allows any of his digits to nearly get hacked off in a fire chopping incident shouldn’t be starting at quarterback in the NFL.
What I don’t know: I don’t know if we should count out the Ravens just yet. Just consider the state of division: the Bengals have an insane schedule moving forward (Seattle, St. Louis and a presumably healthier Pittsburgh team all at home, plus road games in Buffalo, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Denver), the Steelers are without Ben Roethlisberger until he decides he’s done being hurt (that’s how it works with Roethlisberger, right? He’ll just pop a couple aspirin and rub some dirt on whatever hurts and he’s good) and the Cleveland Browns are being quarterbacked by Josh McCown.
Then consider the rest of the AFC: Indy and Houston are both far worse than expected, Kansas City is 1-3 and San Diego could very easily be 0-4. Miami fired their head coach and Buffalo is heading towards an inevitable collapse. Only the New York Jets have truly exceeded expectations, and they have Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the way. I wouldn’t bet my life on Baltimore making the Playoffs, but I also wouldn’t bet my life on them not making the Playoffs.
Buffalo over TENNESSEE
What I know: I know that on Sunday NFL Countdown it will take Chris Berman no longer than five seconds to utter the words “Music City Miracle” once he starts his Bills/Titans spiel.
What I don’t know: I don’t know which pre-social media Bills-related event would have been the most fun for me to observe on Facebook if I and it were around at that time: The Music City Miracle, Scott Norwood’s missed field goal in the Super Bowl, or the hysteria and eventual downfall of Doug Flutie. Honestly, it’s a toss-up for me.
Arizona over DETROIT
What I know: I know we shouldn’t be panicking about Arizona just yet. Sure, they dropped a home game to a division rival, and yes, their first three wins were against New Orleans (one win so far on the year), Chicago (one win), and San Francisco (one win), but they’ve still been dynamite over the past two years so long as Carson Palmer has been under center. I was a little quick to anoint them favorites of the NFC last week, but their loss to the Rams last week said more about St. Louis than it did Arizona.
What I don’t know: I don’t know if Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell is upset about his teams 0-4 start because the man doesn’t speak, move, gesture or feel any sort of emotion. A semi-related sidebar: you know what television character would be an awesome head coach to watch on the sidelines. This guy:
New England over DALLAS
What I know: I know that the Cowboys need Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to share a bottle of deer antler spray and get back on the field pronto, because the Brandon Weeden/Cole Beasley connection is bumming me out.
What I don’t know: I don’t know if the Patriots or any of the remaining six teams that are undefeated can go 16-0, but I somebody makes a serious run at it. Frankly, I don’t even care who it is (that’s a lie, I don’t want Green Bay to win another game, ever). Remember how the stakes just seemed higher for Super Bowl XLII because there was a chance that for the first time in almost forty years we’d see an undefeated season? Would there be a bigger NFL moment over the last twenty-five years than if the undefeated Atlanta Falcons played the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl 50? Sign me up.
Denver over OAKLAND
What I know: I know I feel confident about my preseason prediction that the Oakland Raiders would win at least eight games next season.
What I don’t know: I don’t know if Peyton Manning will still be around next year, and if that is the case that makes the Raiders an intriguing pick for some sort of future bet on upcoming seasons division winners. Is that allowed? Does anyone know where I could make a bet like that?
Semi-Related: My friend Collin came and visited me this past weekend, and every time I see him I develop a slight gambling problem. It’s bad. Also, he happened to on the winning end of the greatest gambling moment I’ve ever seen in person last Saturday. If you want to know what exactly happened, hit me up on Twitter. You can get my deets below.
NEW YORK GIANTS over San Francisco
What I know: I know that the NFL needs to start flexing some of these Sunday Night Football games. I know there isn’t a great group of games to choose from this week, but give me Seattle and Cincinnati here. That’s a potential Super Bowl matchup and this is rather unappealing unless you’re banking on Odell Beckham Jr. doing something crazy (always in play) or seeing how red Tom Coughlin’s face gets (dependent on the weather in New Jersey).
What I don’t know: I don’t know if this is one of those games that the Giants are supposed to win and botch or if that comes a little later in the season. Last week they had a textbook “We’re supposed to lose this game, but we’ll screw over everyone who is too high on Buffalo and get a road win here” game. It was so textbook that I called for it in my Week 4 picks column but didn’t pick it. Anyway, I’m officially putting the Giants on upset watch this week, even though Colin Kaepernick is playing like I imagine Shane Falco did in the Sugar Bowl.
SAN DIEGO over Pittsburgh
What I know: I know I need Melvin Gordon to get his shit together, because I held off on drafting a running back until the fifth round simply because I expected that Gordon would be the rookie who ended up in the top ten in fantasy points for his position. There’s one every year, and it’s probably going to be Todd Gurley, not Melvin Gordon.
What I don’t know: I don’t know if either of these two teams make the Playoffs this year. And the outlook only becomes murkier for the loser on Monday night.
Last Week: 9-6