Antigonish - October 7, 2012 - Week 4 proved kinder than its predecessor to the Pigskin picker, with a 4 for 5 finish (1 point away from a New Orleans upset that would have made for a perfect week) to make for a barely passable 10 for 20 mark on the season. Week 5 brings a slate of games in which it seems there are several considerable mismatches, although as we have seen thus far in this 2012-3 season, any team can win on any given Sunday.
On to the picks:
Lock of the Week: Houston vs NY Jets: In a week with several big favorites, this game takes the cake. "Gang Green" are certainly looking under the weather thus far this season, one that looks to have gone completely off the rails with shoddy QB play, an ineffective running game, and a defence that seems to have lost its mojo when star CB Darell Revis went down with a torn ACL. Is it Tebow time yet in the Big Apple? It may not matter versus one of the best teams in the league in Houston, which has defensive MVP candidate JJ Watt terrorizing offences, and backs that up with a balanced offensive attack that can go deep to Andre Johnson or run it down your throat with Arian Foster. Looks like a mis-match to me. Texans win!
Upset of the Week: Atlanta at Washington -The explosive Falcons, led by MVP candidate QB Matt Ryan and a wicked receiving corps boast one of the best offences in the league. Redskin rookie QB Robert Griffin may be even better, and supported by the great play of unheralded RB Alfred Morris, the Redskins may be one of the few teams in the league that can keep up to the Falcons in a shootout. In what should be a high scoring affair, look for the Redskins to surprise the Falcons. Redskins win!
Game of the Week: Denver at New England: One of the great QB matchups of all time, Manning vs Brady is always a chess match. While Manning may have changed jerseys, look for the "game within the game" to bring this match to a new level, and for both QB's to raise their games accordingly. Manning's play has steadily gotten better and better as the season has progressed, and as he has made adjustments to compensate for his somewhat diminished arm strength. Brady, although likely without star TE Aaron Hernandez, has plenty of weapons at his disposal, including the teams other star TE Rob Gronkowski, WR's Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, and a newfound power running game led by Stevan Ridley. While the Broncos Manning is still a star, look for the better team to prevail at home. New England wins!
Green Bay at Indianapolis - As much as I wanted to move this game to the upset of the week category, Green Bay is simply so much better a team than the Colts, I cannot. While the Colts are likely to be playing with a lot of emotion after finding out first year head coach Chuck Pagano has leukemia and will be out for an extended period of time, this is a young Colts team that is dealing with several injuries at key positions, and they simply do not match up well versus the powerful Green Bay passing attack. The one Packer weakness is the O-line, but the Colts are not likely to be able to take advantage of that by consistently putting pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers with star LB Dwight Freeney questionable and the secondary trotting out backups with Vontae Davis out. Look for Andrew Luck to play yet another solid game, but for the better team to prevail. Packers win.
Chicago at Jacksonville - When QB Jay Cutler is given time to throw, the Bears boast a formidable passing attack. The same cannot be said of Jacksonville, as rookie WR Justin Blackmon's game is still developing, and QB Blaine Gabbert tries to turn his young career around. The one constant in Jacksonville is a strong running game led by Maurice Drew Jones, but a one dimensional offence is in trouble versus the strong Bear defence, who have turned back the clock as the new monsters of the Midway. Look for Cutler and the Bears to simply overpower the Jaguars with a combination of WR Brandon Marshall and RB Matt Forte. Bears win!