One man's Week 5 NFL picks, made while trying to figure out why Randy Moss isn't still in New England. According to Bill Belichick, the trade "wasn't about contract or money."
So what happened? They decided Taylor Price and Brandon Tate were better bets to draw double-teams and average a TD catch a game? Look, I know Belichick didn't want to tell the truth (sorry for the spoiler) about what really went down, but why go out Thursday and take the angle he took? Just another bizarre twist in a strange 48 hours.
To the picks we go (and you can book an 11-3 week, I feel less stress without Moss and his contract issues hanging over me) …
CINCINNATI (-7) over Tampa Bay
Marvin Lewis has been the coach of the Bengals since 2003. He's coached 116 games and his record is 58-57-1. I think 116 NFL games at .500 is a big enough sample size to know that this isn't the guy that's going to win the last game of the season. Only Jeff Fisher, Andy Reid, Belichick and John Fox have been with their teams longer. Of course, those four have combined for 34 playoff wins, or 34 more playoff wins than Marvin Lewis. But he'll move two games above .500 on Sunday, the Bucs just don't score enough (16.7 points per game) to hang in with the Bengals.
WASHINGTON (+2.5) over Green Bay
"Mike and I are on the same page. We got no issues. … I get paid to play the game, and Mike gets paid to be the head coach. So, I know my role, and he knows his. I know where I'm at on the chain." -- Aaron Rodgers
Done and done. We know that always ends well.
I just don't trust the Packers. Just when I'm starting to get the playoff loss to the Cardinals out of my head (gave up 531 yards of offense and 51 points) and warm to the idea that they might be a real Super Bowl threat after a 2-0 start, they lose at Chicago (thanks to 18 penalties and Mike McCarthy wasting a fourth-quarter timeout after losing a challenge on an obvious fumble from James Jones -- I don't know his record, but McCarthy is the worst challenge coach I've ever seen. If he were the coach of the Lakers in 1977 he would have tossed the replay flag because he felt Rudy Tomjanovich was flopping) and beat the Lions by two at home. Other than preseason hype, I see no reason to think that the Packers are a better football team than the Redskins through four weeks.
INDIANAPOLIS (-8) over Kansas City
Look, here's how the Chiefs keep this close: Lots and lots of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles against a Colts defense that has allowed 150 rushing yards per game this season. Keep Peyton Manning off the field and dominate time of possession. But while it wouldn't stun me if this is "Colts 17, Chiefs 13," with eight minutes left, I just think after that loss to Jacksonville the Chiefs picked the wrong week to roll into Indy.
Atlanta (-2.5) over CLEVELAND
If you're the Browns, why exactly do you go back to Jake Delhomme? Is he going to play any better than Seneca Wallace has over the last two weeks (36-54, two TDs and one INT vs. the Ravens and Bengals)? Delhomme is 35 years old, injured, and coming off a season where he threw 18 picks and just eight touchdowns. Wallace is maybe an average NFL QB, but he gives them the best chance to win right now.
BALTIMORE (-7.5) over Denver
It's early enough in the season for the media to overreact about a quarterback's performance, good or bad. Kyle Orton is off to a nice start, but he's 28 years old and has never come close to keeping up this pace for a full season. But because it's the first four weeks of a season people want to believe that this is a "new Orton." If he did this from Week 9-12 last year no one would've noticed. This happens all the time. Here's Peter King handing out his MVP of the first quarter of the 2008 season:
"My MVP is tied for 12th in touchdown passes with four, 10th in passing yards with 930 and 10th in passer rating at 93.5. But the Bills are 4-0, and the difference is an efficient quarterback who, like all the great ones, plays better when the game's on the line than any other time of the game."
Yup, Trent Edwards. Think "SI's First-Quarter MVP in 2008" will make his bio in the media guide for the 2012 Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL?
HOUSTON (-2.5) over New York Giants
I thought the Bears were a soft 3-0, so I don't put a lot of stock into the Sack Fest (not to be confused by what we all saw on Deadspin Thursday afternoon) on Sunday night. The Giants just are not clicking offensively (20th in points scored, Eli is 19th in passer rating) and I don't think they'll be able to keep up with a Texans offense that ranks fourth in the league in points.
St. Louis (+2.5) over DETROIT
My 2010 NFC West champions getting two and a half points against a team that has lost 41 of 44? That's getting close to Lock of The Week territory.
Jacksonville (PK) over BUFFALO
The Bills have allowed 473 yards rushing over the last two weeks and Maurice-Jones Drew has rushed for 193 yards over the last two weeks. In a pick 'em game that's just too much to overlook.
CAROLINA (+1.5) over Chicago
Admit it, you didn't know Todd Collins was still in the NFL. He starts for the Bears Sunday, which will be his 20th on-field appearance since 1998, that magical time when there were no "Star Wars" prequels and we all still believed when Rick Pitino told us that Andrew DeClercq was a perfect fit for the system.
New Orleans (-7.5) over ARIZONA
Max Hall would have been a perfect name for a sportswriter in the 1940s but I have no idea if he's going to be a legitimate NFL quarterback. Tough first career start vs. a New Orleans team that is still looking for a 2010 breakout game from its offense. Hard to imagine that this won't be the kind of game that FOX cuts away from in the middle of the third quarter with the Saints up three or four touchdowns.
San Diego (-6) over OAKLAND
OK, so I'm 19-26-1 in picks this season (20-26-1 if you count my choice of Europe to win the Ryder Cup, which I will). Not good, and really, when you think about it, who the hell am I to bash Marvin Lewis? At least he's above .500. I'm killing the Bengals for giving him eight years, how much longer can Ben Bradlee Bradford send me out to make lousy picks? I'm touched by the loyalty, though. I'm Butch Hobson to his Don Zimmer.
But I am 3-0 on Locks of the Week, and I'm banking on the Chargers for win No. 4. The Chargers are at 2-2, but they are first in the NFL in total offense (450.8 yards per game, 35 more than any other team) and second in total defense (238.0 yards allowed per game). The lone bright spot for the Raiders this year has been the huge jump from "a year away from bust" to "Hey, this is the guy we thought we were getting when we picked him fourth overall!" courtesy of Darren McFadden. But it looks like he's out Sunday (hamstring).
(And yes, I know that if I lose my Lock of the Week perfect streak because I picked a Norv Turner team on the road I have no one to blame but myself. But doesn't Tom Cable wash Norv out? Always the best argument: The other coach is at least as crappy. Stunning that I'm seven under .500 this year.)
Tennessee (+8) over DALLAS
Hey, why hasn't Vince Young returning to the city where he shoved a woman during a brawl at a strip club been mentioned as much as McNabb going back to Philly was last week? I'm a sucker for reunion stories. Here's hoping CBS plays it up big during the game. I demand at least one Jim Nantz pun after a TD ("Young is allowed to touch … DOWN!").
SAN FRANCISCO (+3) over Philadelphia
Because the Eagles have to fly cross-country, Kevin Kolb must feel like he's Andy Reid's rebound date, the 49ers have to win a game at some point and they already should have wins over two of the five or six best teams in the league (New Orleans and Atlanta).
NEW YORK JETS (-3) over Minnesota
I wasn't sure looking at the first picture, but the second one was a dead giveaway for Favre. Uh, I mean, doesn't Diana Taurasi look crazy hot in the new ESPN The Magazine Body Issue? Gimme a minute, I can get out of this …
I think Favre is going to REALLY try and make Randy Moss happy this first game out, and just as it was with Brady in the second half of the Jets game it's going to be to the detriment of the club. I think Moss will catch a TD pass but I bet Favre throws a couple of picks trying to get him the ball. The Jets defense plus the subpar Minny O-line plus Favre's ankle also means it's a one-in-three shot we see Tarvaris Jackson take some snaps Monday. And when he underthrows Moss by 20 yards on a deep route Bill O'Brien might not look so bad.
Last Week 5-9