I think the Patriots-Ravens game this week is a huge game for New England. I am not necessarily sure it is a must win this early on, but I think the game could be very telling in several ways. The obvious one, I think, is to see how this "new look" Patriots offense will be without Randy Moss. More short passes, underneath throws and a running game will have to be featured. The Ravens, however, are probably not the team the Patriots want to see with this new offense.
Another reason this is a big game is to see how the Patriots play against a quality opponent. Yes, they did beat the Dolphins in week four, but a few fluke plays helped New England roll. And it will be interesting to see if the Patriots young defensive backs will be able to handle the Ravens receivers. And, of course, the Patriots got shellacked in last year's playoffs by the Ravens, so we will see how they respond. An early season game yes, but a very big game nonetheless. On with the picks.
As always, home team in CAPS.
San Diego 8 ST. LOUIS
The Chargers suffered a tough loss last week, but I guess they had to lose to the Raiders sometime. The Rams got pasted, and will probably struggle the rest of the year. I am not sure how good the Chargers are, but I know the Rams aren't very good. I like the Chargers away from home.
HOUSTON 4 Kansas City
The Texans have actually been a little disappointing. They got pasted last week. The Chiefs fell back a little bit, but truthfully I think they are better than people realize. However, they are having trouble scoring. I just can't see the Texans losing this game. Their offense has got to get it in gear, but their defense better improve too.
New Orleans 4 TAMPA BAY
I am not sure what is going on with the Saints, but they have not been playing that great this year. The Bucs have clearly been a surprise, and last week's stunning comeback can only help them. They will need more than that here though. The Saints need to get a win to get back on track. They should get that here.
PHILADELPHIA 2 1/2 Atlanta
I am not sure what is going on with the Eagles. Real good one week, then mediocre the next. The Falcons are off to a great start, and for some reason they are flying under the radar. This is a pretty tough game to call, but I guess I will take the Eagles because they are at home.
NEW YORK GIANTS 10 Detroit
The Giants looked great last week, but they can't seem to put it together for two weeks in a row. The Lions should help that. They did get a win last week, and even though they are improved, they still have a lot of work to do. I don't see any problems for the Giants this week.
CHICAGO 6 1/2 Seattle
The Bears have looked decent, and the Seahawks would like to look decent more consistently. The Seahawks are coming off of a bye, and with the extra week of preparation I think they can keep it close in Chicago. I'll take them here.
GREEN BAY 4 Miami
Aaron Rodgers should be ready to go for the Packers, and they will need him. The Dolphins needed the bye week to recover from their embarrassment in week four. I have a feeling the Dolphins are going to keep it close. I still think they are a playoff contender in the AFC. The Packers are definitely a contender, and they should win. But Miami will keep it very close.
PITTSBURGH 13 1/2 Cleveland
This game marks the return of Ben Roethlisberger, and he should be raring to go. I am not sure the Steelers need him the way they have been playing. The Browns have been playing hard, and will start Colt McCoy for the first time. It might not be a very memorable first start for the rookie, as I think the Steelers will roll.
New York Jets 3 DENVER
The Jets are looking very, very good right now. They did have a short week, but they should have plenty of time to prepare for the Broncos, who are mediocre at best. Even in Denver, I see the Jets covering the points.
J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets 23-17
SAN FRANCISCO 6 1/2 Oakland
The 49ers have got to win sometime, but I have been saying this for three weeks. They better win soon before Mike Singletary's head explodes. I think the Raiders might still be on a high from last week's win, but again, the 49ers have got to win sometime. Might as well be against the Raiders.
Indianapolis 3 WASHINGTON
The Colts are devastated by injuries, but it is amazing how Peyton Manning still gets it done. The Colts just don't seem to be the same this year though. The Redskins are their usual inconsistent self, the same that they have been for 10 years. The Colts need to win to keep pace in the AFC. I like them here.
Tennessee 3 JACKSONVILLE
It is hard to tell which one of these teams will show up. I think the Titans are pretty decent, but I don't think the Jaguars can really be trusted too much. This is actually a pretty big game in the AFC South. Chris Johnson is due for a huge game. I'll take the Titans here.
GAME OF THE WEEK
NEW ENGLAND 3 Baltimore
This is a huge game even though it is still fairly early in the season. The Patriots would like some payback from last year's playoff pounding. The Ravens though are a better team than last year's edition, and I am not sure the Patriots are better than last year's squad. I just can't see New England winning this game under any circumstances.
STINKER OF THE WEEK
MINNESOTA 1 1/2 Dallas
I can't believe this is the Stinker of the Week, but based on the records it has to be. Neither team is as bad as their record, but may be both teams were overrated from the beginning. I know the Cowboys were. Brett Favre will be a game time decision, but I will be shocked if he doesn't play. I'll take the Vikings based on them being the home team.
Record For Week Five: 7-7 (7-7 without spread )
Record Through Week Five: 27-32-1 (34-26 without spread )
Game of Week Record: 2-2
Stinker of Week Record: 1-2-1
Jim Poore has been a long time contributor to Patriots Insider with his weekly picks column. Let him know what you think. Email him here:
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