No Sleep Till Football

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2014 NFL WEEK 5 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

THE NARRATIVE. My cousin and I are trying to pick every game this year to see how accurate we can be with picking winnings and also picking against the spread. It’s a futile attempt to be sure because even the best guys in Vegas aren’t incredible at it. Note also that we are picking EVERY game, not just the games we are most confident in. We go back and forth about who will win and why, but this week I wanted to spend a little time going through why I pick the teams I pick. I usually create a narrative that changes during the course of the season that I think will play out. Usually this narrative is interesting to me & it’s how I see the football season playing out. It’s all based of course on initial thinking about how the season plays and then reacting and changing the narrative once the game start & we get a glimpse as to how the teams are actually going to play. This is how I see the narrative for this week. As always the games are listed in descending order of importance, or at least my perception of importance.

 

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The 3-0 Cardinals go into Denver to take on the 2-1 Broncos! Denver has already lost to one NFC West team while the Cardinals have beaten the AFC West they’ve faced. This game will be brutally tough on Arizona because they have a hard time stopping the pass & #18 is the bets QB of all time. The narrative here though gives Denver the win. San Diego has a good chance at winning which puts the Bolts at 4-0. The Broncos simply can’t drop to 2-2. In the NFC West it’s hard to imagine Arizona jumping out to 4-0. SF could lose putting them at 2-3. A 3-1 Cardinals team makes the West a little more realistic.
An oddball narrative here. Both teams should be playoff teams, but how the divisions shake out is interesting. The Ravens are 3-1 while the Colts are 2-2. A Colts loss here puts Indy at 2-3 but Houston has a good chance at losing which would put the Texans at 3-2. That is palatable. An Indy win/Houston loss scenario puts both at 3-2. A Colts loss/Texans win scenario puts Indy at 2-3 & Houston at 4-1. That seems off. The best narrative for Baltimore is a Ravens win & Bengals loss. I think Indy wins but I also think the Bengals have to lose to keep the AFC North looking OK. This one is a tricky game to pick.
Speaking of the AFC North, I think the main reason Baltimore can lose against Indianapolis & why I’m picking Indianapolis is because I think the Bengals have to lose this game. Although I think you’d have to think Buffalo won’t win in Detroit, if the Bills win that game, they’d improve to 3-2. If New England loses they’d drop to 2-3. It’s not a huge problem, but no matter what turmoil might be surrounding the Patriots, they are still favored. A win here keeps things nice in the East. I’m still not completely sold on Cincinnati. They lose here because being 3-2 makes a lot more sense in keeping the North close.
This is sort of tricky because Dallas is playing so well. A win here puts the Cowboys at 4-1 which seems ridiculous given what everyone thought of the Cowboys defense coming into the season. On the other hand I think both the Giants & Eagles should win so the Cowboys getting to 4-1 doesn’t throw the NFC East completely off. I think Houston has to lose for one reason. The Colts have to keep it close. A Houston loss puts the Texans at 3-2 so even if the Colts lose to Baltimore, Indianapolis remains just a game behind at 2-3. A Texans win/Colts loss combo puts Houton up 2 games. I can’t see that happening.
Another tough game. Arizona faces Denver so the Cardinals are going to drop to 3-1. Seattle gets Washington so the Seahawks are going to improve to 3-1. So the big question is whether the NFL universe looks completely off if the 49ers lose & drop to 2-3? I think the answer to that question is YES so the 49ers win. A Chiefs loss isn’t heartbreaking in Kansas City. It certainly puts them back a bit because both Denver & SD should win this week but the Wild Card is probably going to be pretty soft in the AFC so the Chiefs will still battle for a playoff spot even if they start the season off 2-3. The Chiefs will be fine.
Very interesting game. I think the Giants will win this one but it’s interesting how you get there. New York has looked like a completely different team offensively the last couple of weeks & maybe the new offense is settling in. If it is then the Giants are a real threat in the East & thus they need to keep up with Dallas & Philadelphia. Both the Cowboys & Eagles have real chances to win this week to improve to 4-1 so the Giants have to win to keep pace at 3-2. The NFC South is sort of a mess. If Atlanta loses, at worse they’ll be a game behind Carolina if the Panthers beat the Bears this weekend. It’s not must win for ATL.
A little tricky because Buffalo has caused some upheaval within the NFL narrative already by going into Chicago & taking down the Bears in Week 1. I think the Lions have to win this game. For Detroit to be a player they have to take care of home games against non-elite talent which is what Buffalo is. The Lions offense simply plays better in their dome and a win here would put Detroit at 4-1. I think the Packers win this week so they’ll still be a game up on GB which isn’t bad & more importantly a Bills loss doesn’t allow Buffalo to get too far ahead of the Patriots in the East. The Bills could surprise though & have done so before.
Another perplexing narrative. I can’t get out of my mind that the Bears are actually a pretty good football team with a very explosive offense meaning they should win a lot of games. The NFC North has to stay relatively close & with my picks of Green Bay & Detroit panning out then Chicago has to win to stay with those 2 teams at 3-2. As with Atlanta, this simply isn’t a must win for the Panthers who can stay at the top of the division even with a loss. The one aspect that could throw things off here is if Buffalo wins. If the Lions lose then Chicago could theoretically lose this game & still remain 1 behind both Detroit & GB.
Not a ton of narrative here. Seattle is an ELITE team while the Redskins for the most suck. You have to take Seattle in this one. The one aspect of the narrative that could be interesting is that I’d expect Kirk Cousins to have a decent game & Seattle isn’t playing pass defense like they did a year ago. If the Redskins can get some pressure on Wilson & avoid turnovers themselves then the game could be interesting. If you are a team like Seattle then you must win road games against inferior opponents. That is the basic narrative of the game. Beat the teams you are supposed to beat. Seattle wins this game.
It’s difficult to say at this point that San Diego has joined the elite class of teams such as Seattle, Denver, San Francisco & possibly even Philadelphia but if that is the case then there isn’t much narrative here at all. The Chargers should hammer away at the Jets in San Diego. The more interesting narrative here might be that of Rex Ryan. I think Ryan is a helluva head coach but he’s been dealt bad QBs from the start. Whether it was Mark Sanchez or Michael Vick or Geno Smith, Ryan simply can’t win with QBs who aren’t starting QBs in the NFL. Ryan has to get out of the New York & more losses equal his exit.
With the Vikings starting Christian Ponder, this is almost a game Green Bay can’t lose & really that is for the best because if you are sticking with the chalk narrative of the NFC North, then Green Bay has to win a lot of games. I think Chicago & Detroit have really good chances at winning this week so the Packers must win to stay the course. They have the easiest game of the top-3 teams in the division although it is a rivalry game so who knows? Either way, if Detroit & Chicago win, it almost seems certain the Packers will win to improve to 3-2 and keep pace. A Vikings loss is also OK because Minny drops to just 2-3.
The narrative here is that New Orleans has to win this game. Interestingly enough I think the narrative everyone was sticking to befor the season began was that the Saints were the most likely team to topple Seattle & get to the Super Bowl especially if the Saints could secure home field advantage. Starting the season 1-3 and playing horrific defense isn’t helping the cause but New Orleans MUST win this game if only to help them improve to 2-3. If Carolina & Atlanta figure out ways to win they’ll both be 3-2 & a Saints loss means 1-4, but the Saints have already lost to the Falcons. They are at home too. The Saints have to win.
Not a ton of narrative here because the teams seem to be on the opposite sides of the spectrum. On the other hand, the narrative surrounding the NFC East is getting more intriguing the by the week. I think Dallas & New York win this week which would put the Cowboys at 4-1 & the Giants at 3-2. A win by Philly here keeps them on pace with Dallas, a game ahead of the Giants. A loss puts them a game behind the Cowboys & even with New York. While a loss here wouldn’t devastate the Eagles chances in the East, this is one of those must win home games. I think Philly gets it done with that much on the line.
With the emergence of Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers have turned into the opposite of Steelers teams in the past by being dominating on offense & just decent on defense, if they are even that good. Jacksonville does suck, but this is a must win for Pittsburgh because I think they can capitalize this week with Baltimore & Cincinnati both losing. That would drop Cincy to 3-1 & Baltimore to 3-2 with the Steelers getting to 3-2 with a win. Pittsburgh has already lost to Baltimore so that keeps them relegated to 3rd place in the North. More than anything Pittsburgh has to win just in case Cincy & Baltimore do.
I think this is the least interesting game of the week but the implications are actually pretty big. A win by Cleveland keeps the Browns at 2-2 & just 1 game behind Cincinnati for division lead assuming the Bengals lose. That’ pretty incredible when you think the Browns are already 0-2 within the division! I’m not sure I’d want a team like Cleveland hanging around believing they can pull off upsets anytime they want. For Tennessee, a Titans win would put them at 2-3. That’s still just 1 game behind Houston/Indy. A loss here drops the Titans to 1-4 and at best 2 games behind Houston & at worse 3 games behind the Texans. Both teams have A LOT to play for. I’d go with Tennessee because they are at home.
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October 8, 2014 - Posted by | Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Big Games, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Must See Games, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Week 5

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