Sunday Selections (Week 5)
ATLANTA AT WASHINGTON- ATL beat WAS 31-17 at home in the last meeting in 2009. ATL has a major edge with Ryan (290 ypg, 69%, 11-2) and his elite WR duo on the perimeter of White (27 rec, 15.3) and Jones (16 rec, 13.7) vs the #31 pass defense allowing 8.8 ypa with an 11-5 ratio. ATL’s defense has also just faced a strong armed, mobile QB with Newton (215 yards passing, 63%, 2-0, 86 yards rush). The Skins new “East Coast” offense has put RG3 in position to have success as evidenced by WAS’s #5 scoring offense but they have faced 4 D’s that came into last week ranked #32, #19, #29 and #26. WAS had an easy time of it last week vs an overly conservative rookie HC still installing his system. While RG3 is dynamic none of WAS’s receiving targets has over 250 yards receiving so far. This is a major mismatch with a playoff level team having momentum against a rookie QB trying to bail out a beleaguered defense.
PHIL’S FORECAST: ATLANTA 31 WASHINGTON 21
PHILADELPHIA AT PITTSBURGH – The Steelers have had extra time to stew on blowing two 10 pt leads in the loss to OAK. While this is an intrastate matchup, PHI is also off comeback win on SNF. While PIT has struggled to run the ball this year (195 total yards, 2.6) part of that has been due to their revamping of the OL and RB Redman (72 yards, 2.3) being dinged up since preseason. Roethlisberger has been stout with 301 ypg (68%) and an 8-1 ratio. While the defense may not have OLB Harrison (knee) back, SS Polamalu practiced over the bye with no issues. I’ll go with an angry home team chasing BAL in the standings as PHI’s OL is a mess and now travelling to a noisy Heinz Field.
PHIL’S FORECAST: PITTSBURGH 23 PHILADELPHIA 16
GREEN BAY AT INDIANAPOLIS – This looked to be a flat spot for GB off the MNF debacle vs SEA, their venting game vs NO and with HOU on SNF on deck. However at 2-2 the reenergized blitz happy unit (#4 in sks) with their #7 pass D will be excited to face off vs the #1 pick in the draft. The Colts spent their bye week expanding the playbook for their rookie QB but Luck has only completed 53% with a 5-4 ratio and like many young QB’s he’s been zoned into his favorite receivers as Wayne and Avery have 55% of the targets and 57% of the completions. He’ll struggle here vs a Packers back 7 that ranks among the league’s best especially as once they take away his security blanket he’ll be forced to deal with the league’s #3 third down defense which is also #3 in QB hits. What’s wrong with the Packers offense was a question that the entire GB unit got sick of hearing. After facing 3 D’s that were ranked in the top 11 they had a back-n-forth game vs NO as they totaled 30 FD’s. Rodgers has been dominant in domes throwing for 71% comp compared to 65% outdoors and with a 20-3 (87%) and last week’s come-from-behind win against a team that was 0-3 insures they stay focused.
PHIL’S FORECAST: GREEN BAY 27 INDIANAPOLIS 13
CLEVELAND AT NY GIANTS – The Giants are in a pure flat spot off a SNF div battle vs the Eagles with a road trip to SF on deck. CLE meanwhile has extra rest. The Browns offense has been atypical as they’ve averaged 225 ypg at home vs PHI and BUF with Weeden throwing for 159 ypg but on the road they’ve averaged 398 ypg vs CIN and BAL with Weeden topping 300 yards in both. Teams that are off to a 0-4 start tend to get overlooked by their foe and you have another letdown spot with CLE keeping it close as the Giants have more important teams on the docket.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NY GIANTS 24 CLEVELAND 17
TENNESSEE AT MINNESOTA – Both teams are known for the rush attacks as 2008’s NFL leader faces off vs 2009’s champ. The difference is Peterson (83 ypg) is back after returning from an injury as he rushed for 102 yards (4.9) last week taking 21 and 25 carries the last two weeks. Opposing defenses now need to respect the rushing attack and Ponder has made them pay throwing for an efficient 68% with a 4-0 ratio. The Titans #27 pass defense is worse than their ranking as they are allowing 75% comp with a 10-1 ratio. TEN’s Johnson meanwhile totaled 103 yards (2.4) in the first 3.5 gms before putting up 83 yards in the 2H of their blowout loss to HOU. The switch to Locker at QB looks like it’ll be put on hold for a few weeks after getting KO’d after 2 att’s last week and that spells trouble for an immobile Hasselback vs a Vikings D that had 5 sacks and 9 qbh last week. The Vikings have a renewed emphasis on protecting their home field after last year’s 1-7 record. An OT win in the opener and an 11 point win vs SF shows that.
PHIL’S FORECAST: MINNESOTA 28 TENNESSEE 20
MIAMI AT CINCINNATI – Miami, with a rookie QB, has relied on the rush attack which clearly runs through Reggie Bush. That bodes well versus a Bengals team that is #24 in rush D allowing 5.4 ypc. Tannehill (262 ypg, 56%, 2-6) takes a big step down here as after facing the Jets pass def with a healthy Revis for most of game and ARZ’s #18 unit he gets a CIN’s inflated #17 pass defense which didn’t play 3 of its top 4 CB’s last week. CIN has been very lucky getting 2 rookie QB’s and Gabbert in 3 straight games. Expect a higher scoring game as Dalton/Green continue to be a combo to watch as the Bengals win a squeaker at home.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CINCINNATI 24 MIAMI 23
BALTIMORE AT KANSAS CITY – This is a flat spot for the Ravens who are off 3 prime time games (with 2 emotional impacts) and have faced 2 AFC North rivals, the team that beat them in the playoffs last year, an upper level NFC team and have DAL on deck. The Ravens new up-temp offense is avg 424 ypg but their aging D that finished #3 last year is allowing 390 ypg (#11) so far this year. KC has posted some surprising early season stats as they match the Ravens in off (#4-3) and best them on D (#13-23) and are outgaining foes by 86 ypg (#5) but have been done in by -13 in turnovers.
PHIL’S FORECAST: KANSAS CITY 21 BALTIMORE 20
SEATTLE AT CAROLINA – The Seahawks have done what many teams do with a rookie QB. The emotion of their loyal home fans has led them to upsets over DAL and GB but on the road they have dropped a pair of division games. The one constant has been a Seahawks D that has kept all 4 foes under 300 yards led by a rush D allowing 63 ypg (2.9). CAR is off a disappointing loss as Cam Newton led them on 4 td drives which averaged 70 yards each vs a very good Falcons D but CAR lost on a 40 yard FG with :05 left. The good news for CAR is that they returned to the run game (199 yards, 5.7) vs ATL which allowed them to stay in the game. SEA has a big defensive (#4-24) edge especially with their DB’s and while this is a rare trip East, I love the NFL’s new shutdown defense. This team reminds me of a BAL squad just a few seasons back with Flacco at the helm and a D that can dominate the LOS and I don’t mind picking SEA despite them having dropped their first 2 road games.
PHIL’S FORECAST: SEATTLE 20 CAROLINA 17
CHICAGO AT JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars have the situational edge being at home for a second straight while the Bears are traveling for a second straight game coming off their MNF at DAL. Unfortunately for Jacksonville that’s the only edge they have against the Bears. While the offenses both rank near the bottom the Bears’ have been without Forte (1,058 yards per year the last 4 years) the last 1.5 games and he should be ready to go here. On the defensive side of the ball CHI has a huge edge (#6-27) and they lead the NFL in sacks spelling trouble for JAX QB Gabbert who has only a tiny 5.8 ypa on a 56% comp rate while being sacked 12 times (1 every 9.4 att). With the return of Forte and the D edge, expect the Bears to snatch a solid road win here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CHICAGO 30 JACKSONVILLE 17
DENVER AT NEW ENGLAND – Brady vs Manning again! Belichick and the entire Patriots squad have been seeing the Manning brothers in their nightmares as they’ve knocked them off 4 straight times with Eli getting the L/2 including the Super Bowl and Peyton winning his last two games in ‘09 and ‘10. In the last two seasons Peyton faced NE he threw 5 of his 33 interceptions vs the Belichick schemes. NE snapped a 2 game losing streak by beating Buffalo as they exploded for 45 2H points. They now return home where they are 23-2 and the last time they were off a previous home loss they won 34-3. DEN is now making a long road trip sandwiched between an all important div road win vs OAK and a MNF game at SD. Many will obviously write that the Broncos have playoff revenge from last year but the reality is when a team is at DEN and beats them 41-23 then hosts them in the playoffs and beats them 45-10 with a 509-252 edge they’re just a far superior team. Last year NE allowed 478 ypg their first 4 but then allowed only 355 ypg the next 6. This year they allowed 368 ypg their first 4 and we expect to start seeing the transition.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NEW ENGLAND 30 DENVER 20
BUFFALO AT SAN FRANCISCO – The SF offense has just faced a pair of top 10 D’s plus DET and the NYJ. The Alex Smith led offense will happily welcome a Bills D that is allowing 462 ypg when not facing a rookie QB. The Bills have won just 4 road games dating back to the 2010 season and they do not have the veteran leadership to match up against a superior foe. The superior team is still hungry here with an aggressive HC and the 49ers start a 3 game home stand off in dominant style.
PHIL’S FORECAST: SAN FRANCISCO 27 BUFFALO 13
SAN DIEGO AT NEW ORLEANS – Drew Brees and Philip Rivers led the #2 and #5 scoring offenses last year and what was to be a marquee showdown pits a pair of teams that are a combined 3-5. SD is on the road for a second straight week and in a division sandwich. Last year SD was outgained in 4 of their 5 non-div road games. A lot has been made that Brees has a chance to break the 50-yr old record set by Unitas for most consec gms with a td pass (48) and could this be the week that the Saints get their inaugural win? I don’t think so as the Chargers are the better balanced tm so far.
PHIL’S FORECAST: SAN DIEGO 31 NEW ORLEANS 30
For a complete projected box score on all of these games, click here. (Please note – the projected box scores are computer generated. My scores above could differ from the projected scores as I factor in weather, situations, emotions, etc.)
For an update on the college results and how my selections did, click here.