By Mike Crum
Dallas Cowboys Team Analyst and Co-Host of the Across The Cowboys Podcast
Photo from PrintYourBrackets.com
Man another rough week, barely above .500. We are now at 40-22 overall. My hope is that now, in week five, I have a little better idea of what to expect from these teams. let's try and see if I can turn it around from the last two weeks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TB) at Chicago Bears (CHI)
My dad is a Bears fan, so I feel bad saying this, but I don’t believe in the Chicago Bears. They are 3-1 with a four point scoring differential in total. Their wins are against teams with a combine record of 1-11. I know I usually go with the home team on a short week, but the last two weeks I took the team considered not as good cause they were at home and I lost them both. I believe TB is the better team and will win even on the road in a Thursday night game.
Buffalo Bills (BUF) at Tennessee Titans (TEN)
This is a game that was made very difficult to pick due to the COVID issue in the Titans organization. Typically after a bye week I’d pick the Titans because their coach is excellent with extra time to prepare. Unfortunately we just found out that the team had new positive tests and the facility will not be opened. I can't see a team off of two weeks without practice beating an opponent as good as the Bills. I’m gonna go the easy way and take the team that I know can fully prepare for the game. Bills had to travel from Buffalo to Las Vegas, now to Tennessee, so in normal circumstances I'd probably pick the Titans, but in these circumstances I'll go Bills.
Jacksonville Jaguars (JAX) at Houston Texans (HOU)
The Texans have fired their head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien. Veteran coach Romeo Crennel will take over as interim coach for the rest of the year. You could've fired O'Brien just for trading a top WR in the league for a second round pick. Add to that, the team is 0-4 with Deshaun Watson as the QB, and It's hard to defend not firing him. Look I can’t act like I know what the Texans are gonna be so quickly after firing their head coach, but I’m taking Watson to make enough plays to beat the Jaguars. Jaguars are coming into Houston from a trip to Cincinnati while the Texans are on back to back home games. Texans finally get their first win Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals (CIN) at Baltimore Ravens (BAL)
Bengals are a young, talented, up and coming team. They are playing well right now, but there is no chance I’m taking them to beat the Baltimore Ravens. Ravens have a great roster, have barely had to travel so far this season, and they beat everybody except the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular season. I don’t think the Bengals are ready yet for this level of competition.
Carolina Panthers (CAR) at Atlanta Falcons (ATL)
The second hardest game for me to pick this week. To the shock of myself, and most I believe, the Panthers are 2-0 without Christian McCaffrey. I’ve picked against them both games myself. They didn’t beat terrible teams either, winning in Los Angeles against the Chargers and at home versus the Arizona Cardinals. On the other side the Falcons are 0-4 and have lost in some of the worst ways possible. It would make sense to pick Carolina in this circumstance, but I can’t help but think a team with the talent the Falcons have won’t lose every game. This Panthers team isn’t that spectacular. They have allowed more points then they have scored overall this season. They are worse on 3rd down, they throw less touchdown passes, they average a yard less than their opponents on rush yards per attempt, and have allowed almost 3 times more sacks then they’ve sacked the QB themselves. Falcons will hold a lead finally this game to get a notch in the win column.
Las Vegas Raiders (LVR) at Kansas City Chiefs (KC)
The Raiders are closer than we all may think. Derek Carr is playing some great football. Against a really good Bills defense, Carr went 32/44 for 311 yards, and two touchdowns with no interceptions. They have a giant offensive line, and plenty of talented young skill guys to put up points. The problem is their defense. The Raiders rank 25th in points allowed, 26th in rush yards allowed, 32nd in rush TDs allowed, 29th in sacks, and 26th in total turnovers. It isn’t as bad as the Cowboys defense, but it’s bad. You can’t bring that defense into a game against KC and Patrick Mahomes. Going KC in a close game. Mahomes will help pull KC away late.
Arizona Cardinals (ARI) at New York Jets (NYJ)
I picked the NYJ to beat the Denver Broncos on a short week, with Denver traveling across the country, starting a back up QB, and missing their best offensive weapon. The Jets still got beat by two scores. I will not pick the NYJ with Adam Gase as the head coach ever again. Cardinals easy.
Philadelphia Eagles (PHI) at Pittsburgh Steelers (PIT)
Eagles defense has actually played really well this year. They are first in sacks, ninth in total points, fifth in yards per play, and fifth in third down defense. If Carson Wentz starts to play up to potential they will run away with the NFC East Division. Unfortunately for Eagles they run in to a tough game this week in Pittsburgh. The Steelers got a surprise bye week that allows them extra time to prepare for the Eagles. If I trusted Wentz I’d make this more like a coin flip, but the way he is playing now, the last thing Wentz wants to see is this Steelers defense. Steelers pass rush should wreck this Eagles passing game, and the Pittsburgh offense will put up enough points to win this game. I’d bet the Steelers get a defensive TD too.
Los Angeles Rams (LAR) at Washington Football Team (WAS)
You honestly can’t pick an NFC East team to beat anybody except another NFC East team right now. I would like to see how Jared Goff would perform against a fully healthy Washington pass rush, but they are banged up. Rams will win this comfortably.
Miami Dolphins (MIA) at SanFrancisco 49ers (SF)
So I have to make a choice between a not very good Dolphins team, traveling across the country to play a game, or a very good team, depleted by a multitude of injuries. Man I wish I knew if Jimmy Garoppolo was able to play. I guess I’m going SF either way if I’m honest. In Kyle Shanahan I trust for one more week at least.
New York Giants (NYG) at Dallas Cowboys (DAL)
Two really bad football teams. This game would stink if it wasn’t my team playing in it and because it has the Jason Garrett storyline to it. Giants look like a team destined to pick top 5 in this years draft, possibly only better than its fellow New York team, the Jets. I don’t know what it will say about the Cowboys if the they can’t beat the Giants. I expect the typical 30 points from Dak and the offense, but hopefully not the same turnovers. Can Cowboys defense hold Giants under 30? I sadly can’t say for sure, but I’m gonna pick them to do just that. Cowboys in a closer than expected game that leaves us fans still questioning if this Cowboys team can even win this bad division.
Denver Broncos (DEN) at New England Patriots (NE)
Bill Belichick always puts the hurt on young QBs. I expect nothing different this week when he goes up against Brett Rypien. Whether it’s Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, or Jarrett Stidham starting, I'd go with the Patriots. NE just hung in close with the Chiefs, in KC, and NE had their back up QBs playing.
Indianapolis Colts (IND) at Cleveland Browns (CLE)
Easily the toughest game of the week. The Browns are 3-1, but have beaten all one win teams in the Bengals, the Washington Football Team, and the Cowboys. They run the ball and stop the run extremely well, but can they do that against the Colts? The Colts come in as the best defense in the NFL and also bring an excellent offensive line, maybe second only to Cleveland’s line. This should be a trenches war, for me it comes down to QB. While going into the year I would’ve taken Baker Mayfield over Phillip Rivers, Rivers has been playing unbelievably well through four weeks. I’m gonna lean with Rivers and the Colts mainly for that reason. Both these teams are legit, and Browns will get better as the defense gets healthier. Coin flip game, give me the Colts.
Minnesota Vikings (MIN) at Seattle Seahawks (SEA)
Vikings finally got their first win in Houston last week against the winless Texans. I don’t see that becoming a winning streak though. Vikings have to travel from Houston to Seattle for a second straight road game. They are a running team up against a solid run defense with players like Poona Ford, Jarran Reed, Bobby Wagner, and KJ Wright. Seattle has a poor pass defense, but I don’t think the Vikings are a team that can attack that weakness very well. Seattle still has a top level MVP candidate playing QB in Russell Wilson. I expect him to play very well again this week. In a primetime game, Sunday Night Football, if you can take Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson, who you got? Yes, I've got Wilson too. Seattle for the W.
Los Angeles Chargers (LAC) at New Orleans Saints (NO)
Welcome back Saints. I questioned them the last two weeks without Michael Thomas and they put up 30 or more points in both games. I believe the Saints, when healthy, have the best roster in the NFL. On the opposite side, the Chargers lost to the Panthers at home. They then went across the country to put up a really great battle with the Buccaneers, but in a second straight loss. Now they have to go to New Orleans and I’m picking them to lose their third straight. Herbert will continue to improve, he should be the starter for the rest of the season for the Chargers, but this might be a spot for a bad game. Good or bad from Herbert, Saints are the better roster, and should get the win here.
Ok guys now I wanna here from you, be like Frankie Kenneth and drop your own picks! At least let me know where you think I'm smart, or where you think I’m a fool. I’m barely over .500 the last two weeks, tell me why. Good luck to all your teams!
TB over CHI
BUF over TEN
HOU over JAX
BAL over CIN
ATL over CAR
KC over LVR
ARI over NYJ
PIT over PHI
LAR over WAS
SF over MIA
DAL over NYG
NE over DEN
IND over CLE
SEA over MIN
NO over LAC
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