Rusty Ryan and Trent Walker’s NFL Week 5 Picks Against the Spread
Trent Walker’s Picks:
After last week’s poor performance I am taking a different approach, looking for a little redemption. Week 5 will be a big week for favorites and I picked five of them. I picked 5 teams with the biggest mismatch to swallow the points and beat the spread.
Houston (-8) at NY Jets
Last week I took a similar pick with the San Francisco 49ers traveling to New York. We knew the Jets were bad, and loosing their best defensive player would only make them worse. But wow, do the Jets have a problem.
For Mark Sanchez so have any success, he needs a run game to keep linebackers from cheating on coverage, and receivers with some ability to make plays on the outside. He has neither, and with the loss of receiver Santonio Holmes things just went from bad to worse. With a defensive minded head coach the Jets will not be able to scheme there way around these problems on their way to their second consecutive whipping.
Buffalo at San Francisco (-9.5)
The show stopping 49ers defense is one of the “known commodities” in the NFL. They are big, they are fast, and most importantly they tackle like no other team in the NFL. Last season they led the league in turnover differential with 36 takeaways to just 10 giveaways. Ryan Fitzpatrick is too mistake prone not to suffer dramatically against this defense on the West Coast.
The offense in SF has been the limiting factor, but after a 34 point performance last week Alex Smith’s confidence appears to be catching up. With strong additions at wide receiver Smith now has more than just Vernon Davis as a reliable target. Not to mention the biggest swing in Smith’s favor this season, this is the first time since Smith was signed as a rookie that he has had the same offensive coordinator in back to back seasons.
Green Bay (-7) At Indianapolis
The Packers have been through a tough stretch of games recently, but at last they fall on a truly inferior opponent. Rogers has been carrying the Packers, but fortunately for Green Bay he is one of the special players capable of taking a team far on his own.
This game will be played indoors which is a great benefit to a team that leans on their QB as heavily as the packers. For the Colts, I believe Andrew Luck will be successful, but will miss a step this weekend without his head coach. One extra mistake beyond Rogers is almost inevitable and could easily cost Indy the spread. GB has the talent at corner to cover Reggie Wayne and Clay Matthews has the ability to exploit the Colt’s weak offensive line. Green Bay has covered their last 10 of 11 in a dome and do so again this weekend.
San Diego at New Orleans (-3)
Head coaches around the league should all thank Sean Payton for the raise they will be able to request after this season. The absense of Payton and the Saints subsequent drop to 0-4 has proved just how important head coaches are in the NFL.
This week the difference is, Sean Payton will be back in the building. Granted, not on the sideline coaching, but he has been allowed in the Superdowe to watch as Drew Brees attempts to break Johnny Unitas’ record of most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. On an emotional night with a longstanding NFL record at stake, a punished head coach allowed back into his home stadium, against a weak Charges team, I think we will see the best the Saints have to offer. If there is a game all season the Saints dig deep to avoid an absolute disaster season, it might be this Sunday night, Saints cover.
Seattle at Carolina (-3)
A fifth favorite to round out my top five, but Seattle is coming off a brutal loss and crossing the country for the second consecutive time. Of their away games, Seattle has covered the spread less than one third of the time. Pre-snap, Seattle is one of the worst teams in the league and on the road this will be magnified and could be the difference in a close game
Seattle’s run defense is tough, but if Cam Newton has any success in the air at all the Panthers should have no trouble. Emotionally, this game has the Panthers fighting to avoid a season crushing 1-4 start, and in front of their home crowd no way the Panthers drop this one.
Rusty Ryan’s Picks
Bears (-6) at Jacksonville
So far the only bad game that the Bears have played was week two when they got crushed by the Packers and couldn’t protect Jay Cutler. Since then the Bears have beaten the Rams by 17 and Cowboys by 16.
The Jaguars best strength is the running game but the Bears allowing the third lowest amount of rushing yards a game. The pressure will be on Blaine Gabbert to produce and against a pass rush featuring Julius Peppers I don’t think he will be able to do enough to win.
Ravens (-6.5) at Chiefs
The Ravens are one of the best teams in football. They have Flacco who is good enough to not screw it up, Ray Rice who can take 26+ carries a game, and Torrey Smith who stretches the field vertically.
The Chiefs have Matt Cassel who looks worse every year but they have good pieces around him. Peyton Hillis, the white rhino, is a good player, and Jamaal Charles is a burner who can score a touchdown almost every time he touches the ball. Their defense has serious question marks. They’ve given up 40, 35, 24 to the Saints, and 37 and now sit at 1-3.
Rice and Ravens will be able to pound away but expect Charles to break a huge run against the aging Ravens defense.
Texans (-9) at Jets
The jets are mediocre at everything right now. Week 1 against the Bills was simply a mirage, a tease of promise only to be shattered. They can’t get pressure, they are down their best player, Sanchez looks below average, the running game is plodding, not punishing, and Santonio Holmes is out.
On the other hand the Texans may be the most complete team in football. They are 9th in the league with rushing and 11th in the stopping the rush and 2nd in stopping the pass. I just don’t see how the Jets can keep up over the course of the game.
Maybe this will be the game where Tebow time reigns over all. It is only after death that Tim Tebow can resurrect the team, like how he sucked for three quarters and then decided to play well in the fourth.
Broncos at Patriots (-6.5)
Hernandez is inching his way back in to the lineup, meaning that the Patriots superstar offense will be back in full force. The Patriots’ only loss so far was against an Arizona team that is actually really good and the Ravens who are really good. The games against the Titans and the Bills were easy covers for them.
I’m interested to see if Peyton Manning’s arm can take advantage of a weaker Patriot secondary. The lack of zip on some passes could make it easier for opposing defensive backs, which is something the Patriots need. Tom Brady also tore the Broncos defense apart last year and I expect more of the same, with the Patriots pulling away in the second half.
Bills at 49ers (-9.5)
This one could get ugly. I have images of Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing in to double coverage as he gets blasted by Patrick Willis and then the ball getting returned for a pick-six. This happens many times in my head at night.
The only way this stays close is if the Bills can jump out to a quick lead and force Alex Smith to throw the ball a lot. Last week the Bills pretty much forgot they had Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller in the backfield but I expect the Bills to go back to them this weekend. Basically they have to out 49er the 49ers, which only the Vikings have accomplished.