The NFL enters Week Six and some nitty gritty is starting to be sorted out, and the coming fifteen games certainly can have a say in what gets sorted out going forward. My picks have been quite bad of late, so we'll try again this week -
Colts over Texans - The Texans have already surpassed 2013's dismal record but face a Colts team rejuvinated after a slow start. Arian Foster's recent bitching about Thursday Night games is the attitude of losers and the Texans aren't ready to take the next step yet. Bill O'Brien nonetheless has them going forward.
Patriots over Bills - The Bills presently hold the tiebreaker in the AFC East and got a shocking win at Detroit with "new" quarterback Kyle Orton. They've shown overall improvement but still haven't given reason to think they've begun planting a workable program. The Patriots meanwhile proved a point to universal doubt last week and now look to build on it for what has been a rivalry chockablock with exciting games the last five years - though I'm not sold Kyle Orton can put up enough offense to make this game that good.
Ravens over Buccaneers - The Ravens got stepped on by a usual suspect in Indianapolis last week; they won't face as good a foe in the Bucs this week. The Bucs nonetheless are showing legitimate fight.
Browns over Steelers - The Browns are doing some headhunting on defense and have one of the most amazing comeback wins they've ever seen to build on going forward. The Steelers are no longer what they were and the Browns want to bleed them.
Panthers over Bengals - The Panthers have a pretty inspiring comeback win to their credit going into Cincinnati after embarrassing Jay Cutler's Bears last week. The Bengals come off as awful a shellacking as seen in awhile (the irony is this week they get the runner-up from Superbowl XXXVIII) and while they're still a legitimate division contender they're facing a Panthers squad that's proving doubters wrong.
Broncos over NY Jets - Believe it or not the Broncos may not win the AFC West. The Jets can certainly testify to Denver's #1 threat in the division, and they come home with the worst possible scenario going forward - their ostensible quarterback of the future looks to be a dead duck, plus the last time Rex Ryan did anything to handle Peyton Manning was 2010.
Lions over Vikings - Teddy Bridgewater may play this week against the Lions, who are coming off a bitter loss to a disgraced ex-coach and a washout of a starter. If Bridgewater plays the Vikings may prove my pick wrong.
Packers over Dolphins - The Dolphins come off their post-London bye week in better shape than expected, with some fight shown from Ryan Tannehill. The Packers appear to be the stronger team, particularly given they've scored 38 more points than Miami so far, but I can see a scenario where the Dolphins pull off the upset given the mediocrity of the NFC North in general and Aaron Rodgers in particular.
Titans over Jaguars - Right now I'm thinking Jake Locker plays, as his thumb injury from the Browns game (coming after whacking a Browns defender's helmet) appears to be in better shape than expected. The issue with the Titans the last few weeks has been poor quarterback play - Locker went into the Browns game to prove a point and was doing so quite well and Charlie Whitehurst proved not to be the answer. Defensively the Titans certainly have issues, especially against the run. Overall, though, they're still a legitimately talented team. The Jaguars come in with a worse defense and fewer points scored - and by the way they haven't won a game, even though I like the direction they're going in.
Chargers over Raiders - The story has come out that the NFL will deploy two teams into Los Angeles around 2015, this even as no new stadium has even begun legitimate planning or construction; the Chargers are ostensibly one of the teams to be deployed there, even though their audience is in San Diego and there isn't any plausibility that San Diego will let the team go. The Raiders meanwhile appear to have a new stadium deal in the works. It won't help them beat anyone right now.
Falcons over Bears - Neither team played like playoff contenders last week. The difference here is the Falcons offense is still good and the Bears offense is mediocre.
Seahawks over Cowboys - The Cowboys are 4-1 right now and have already reached 800 rushing yards with five touchdowns. But it's Tony Romo and it's a Seahawks team at home that is top five in offense, top nine in defense, and has stuffed the run all season. Will the real Tony Romo please stand up where his career was first defined.
Cardinals over Redskins - Since the shootout loss at Philly the Redskins have plummeted with just 31 points scored the last two games and Kirk Cousins officially winless as a starter (the Jacksonville win is listed as belonging to Griffen III). The Redskins blitz that led to a huge Marshawn Lynch catch and run near the end of Monday Night Football right now personifies the inability of the Skins to win.
Eagles over NY Giants - The Eagles are 4-1 and lead the league in points scored, but surprisingly they're not stopping anyone. Eagles-Giants games have always been vicious affairs and the Eagles have consistently found a way to win. The Giants nonetheless come in having won three straight and scored 105 points in those wins.
49ers over Rams
- Anemic on both sides of the ball, the Rams slog forward having to play a quarterback who's in over his head. They host a 49ers team where scuttlebutt about dysfunction with the coach and front office won't go away and where Colin Kaepernick hasn't yet shown the growth as a quarterback expected of him.
So that's that heading for Week Six.