11 of the top 17 teams in my power rankings yesterday were NFC teams. There was a stretch where the AFC won five of the six Super Bowls, but the NFC has won the last three. Is there a changing of the guard on our hands? And it’s not necessarily that the NFC’s best are better than the AFC’s best, it’s more that the NFC has the edge in the middle and bottom tier as well.
I’m all about trends, so we’re NFC-heavy with this week’s picks. And in case you missed last week’s games, here’s an entertaining recap of what happened through the eyes of NFL quarterbacks. Here we go…
Locks of the Week:
TAMPA BAY -3.5 over Kansas City
The Buccaneers have pissed some teams off this year with their dirty tactics (it even goes down to Schiano’s son), but they're generally playing a lot harder than they did at the end of last year. The bye week and the Chiefs' defense should cure their running game issues for one week at least. With Matt Cassel unlikely to play, Kansas City will bring out the Brady Quinn experience at QB. While Chiefs fans want Cassel long gone, they won't be able to get too excited about the former Notre Dame star. And here we have our first NFC over AFC pick.
ATLANTA -8.5 over Oakland
As mentioned in yesterday's survivor pick, the Falcons should treat this game like another day at the office. The question for me is whether or not teams will find a way to limit their passing attack at any point this season. You kind of have to pick your poison like the Redskins did last week when they allowed all the underneath stuff to Tony Gonzalez and focused on limiting the outside receivers. At least that kept them in the game until RG3 got concussed.
Minnesota +2.5 over WASHINGTON
I’m going to assume the Vikings will continue to go about their business until I’m proven otherwise.
Trap Game of the Week:
Detroit +5.5 over PHILADELPHIA
The Eagles win games, but they haven't shown the ability to put everything together so far this season. There also could be a letdown after back-to-back tough games against the Giants and Steelers. The Eagles should win this game because the Lions are having problems on the defensive side of the ball, but it won't be by more than the spread due to the factors above and the Lions' offensive potential.
Rest of the Picks:
Dallas +3.5 over BALTIMORE
The Ravens really leave a lot to be desired for a Super Bowl contender. How do you only score nine fucking points against the Chiefs when every other team dropped at least 24? Sure the Chiefs have healed some of their injuries, but it’s pathetic to not amass more than 300 yards of offense. It’s especially bad when you force four turnovers as well. They frustrate their fans in the Joe Flacco era about as much as the Giants do their fans, but at least the Giants have two Super Bowl rings in the last 5 years to show for it. The only thing worse than the Ravens last week was the production effort by CBS.
MIAMI -3.5 over St. Louis
I like both of these teams in their own way. Their new coaches have increased the detail and energy level. St. Louis lacks an aerial attack and the Dolphins can limit an opponent’s running game, so I think St. Louis will struggle to score without Danny Amendola. Sam Bradford did go 7-21 last week with Amendola missing most of the game. Until St. Louis improves their receiving core, I’ll continue to harp on how I don’t understand why management won’t give their former #1 pick some weapons to throw to.
CLEVELAND +2.5 over Cincinnati
Home dogs are killing it this year. Through five weeks and last night's game, they're a combined 19-11 against the spread. I'm done picking against the home dogs. Cleveland tries hard enough where they likely won't lose every game this season. This week looks just as good of a week as any.
Indianapolis +3.5 over N.Y. JETS
Here we have two teams going in different directions. Colts' fans are filled with hope, while Jets fans are filled with despair. Indianapolis has been at home since their Week 1 road defeat, so I'm not completely sure how Andrew Luck will respond, but we've seen enough moxie from him recently to think it won't be an issue. Conversely, Mark Sanchez is making history. He’s the first quarterback since 1999 to throw 25 or more passes in four straight games and complete less than 50% of them. The last guy to do that? Stoney Fucking Case. (Credit to NFL.com’s Adam Shein for that stat.)
Buffalo +5.5 over ARIZONA
Buffalo’s gotten whacked in back-to-back weeks, but Arizona doesn’t have the type of offense to whack anyone. The Cardinals’ offense line might be the cure to ail the Buffalo pass-rush even with Mark Anderson now lost for the season.
SEATTLE +3.5 over New England
Just ask Green Bay and Dallas, how easy it is to go into Qwest Field and win. The Seahawks' defense is still an underrated unit and does really well limiting the passing game specifically. And oh yeah, Seattle is another one of those home dogs…
N.Y. Giants +5.5 over SAN FRANCISCO
There's a lotta talk out of San Francisco about how the 49ers want revenge for last year's playoff loss to the Giants. I hate to break it to them, but a win in Week 6 doesn't exactly atone for losing in the NFC Championship Game. Whatever helps them get out of bed in the morning… The key to this game will be the turnover margin. It cost the Giants in their regular season trip to San Francisco last year, but it turned in their favor during the playoff game. Their offense is plenty good enough to cover this large spread without turnovers.
Green Bay +5.5 over HOUSTON
Houston's strong defense looked surprisingly vulnerable last week. The loss of Brian Cushing will subtract from their overall ability going forward, so look for the Packers to keep this close and possibly pull it out.
SAN DIEGO -2.5 over Denver
At some point Denver will have to stop digging themselves such large holes to get out of. They've fallen behind by double digits against New England, Atlanta, and Houston before halftime. San Diego's another good offensive team and should be extra motivated against their division rival after the refs screwed them last week.
This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 6-7-1