Joey P’s Week 5 NFL Picks

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Each week I pick the winners of all the NFL games (or try to, anyway) without point spreads and without bias, either. 

The byes begin this week. Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, and Washington all get the week off. That puts only 14 games on the slate, which means a smaller margin of error for me.

Fortunately, I had a fourth straight winning week–10-6 record–bringing my season mark to 40-23 (.635).

No bye week for me, though, so let’s get on with the picks for Week Five.

(NOTE: All games will be played on Sunday afternoon unless otherwise noted.)

New England 24, Tampa Bay 23 (Thursday night): It would be tempting to take the Buccaneers here, considering the Patriots’ defensive problems and the fact that Tampa Bay is at home. But it’s still hard to go against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Oakland 24, Baltimore 10: Both teams are on two-game losing streaks, but the Raiders are at home. They won’t have quarterback Derek Carr, but backup EJ Manuel beat the Ravens four years ago. On top of that, RB Marshawn Lynch has to love what Le’Veon Bell and Leonard Fournette did to the Ravens’ banged-up run defense.

Cincinnati 23, Buffalo 13: If this game was being played in Week One or Two, I’d take the Bills–even though they are on the road. But the Bengals have changed OCs and have come to life.

New York Jets 26, Cleveland 10: This game is being “cross-flexed,” meaning that it would normally be on CBS, but it’s being moved to Fox to gain a larger audience. The question is: Who would want to see this game? For those who do, the Jets are clearly playing better.

Carolina 36, Detroit 33: The Panthers in general, and Cam Newton in particular, got their groove back in New England with a confidence-building win. I have a feeling this will be the game that brings Detroit back to earth.

San Francisco 19, Indianapolis 13: When these two teams met in Indianapolis in November 2001, the 49ers’ upset win provoked Colts’ head coach Jim Mora’s “Playoffs?!” rant. It’s tough on West Coast teams to travel east, but the ‘Niners are simply better right now.

Tennessee 31, Miami 20: It’s true that the Titans were taken to the woodshed by Houston last week, but they still put enough points on the board for me to trust Marcus Mariota over Jay Cutler. Miami’s at home, but that’s hardly relevant.

New York Giants 26, Los Angeles Chargers 23: OK, somebody has to win this game. Right? It would be very bold of me (or anyone else) to pick a tie. But it would make sense considering how frustrating these teams’ losses have been. In a case like this, I always take the home team.

Philadelphia 30, Arizona 17: The Eagles seized control of the NFC East with a road win at Los Angeles–in a game that felt like a Philadelphia home game. This week they are really at home–and against a team that has to travel east. That’s a big handicap for the Cardinals.

Pittsburgh 24, Jacksonville 20: These two can compare notes on how to beat the Ravens. The Steelers’ run game rounded into form against banged-up Baltimore, but it won’t be as easy for them this week.

Los Angeles Rams 27, Seattle 26: This is one of the tougher games pick games of the week. Do I go with a Seattle offense that looked resurrected (albeit against the Colts)? Do I opt for the host Rams (coming off a big win at Dallas)? I’ll pick the home team … by a nose.

Dallas 31, Green Bay 23: The Cowboys’ defense tired down the stretch in a home loss to the Rams. I don’t see that happening against a banged-up Packer team. Plus … it’s pay-back time for a home playoff loss.

Houston 23, Kansas City 16 (Sunday night): The Chiefs get a second straight national-TV prime-time game.  But they play a Texans squad that, when playing at home, is better than it looks on paper. My pick: the Chiefs take their first loss.

Chicago 20, Minnesota 17 (Monday night): This is strictly a hunch play with rookie QB Mitch Trubisky taking over in prime time, no less. But the Vikings’ offense seems to have been slowly going away over the last two weeks and RB Dalvin Cook is done for the year (knee).


About Joe Platania

Veteran beat writer, Joe Platania, is entering his 39th year in Baltimore media. He covers sports with insight, humor, and prescient eye. A former longtime member in good standing of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and the Pro Football Writers of America, Platania manned the CFL Stallions beat for The Avenue Newspaper Group of Essex (1994 and ’95) and the Ravens beat since the team’s inception — one of only three local writers to do so — for PressBox, The Avenue, and other local publications and radio stations. A sought-after contributor and host on talk radio and TV, he often appears on “Inside PressBox” (10:30 a.m. Sundays) and he can be heard at 10 a.m. Saturdays on the “Purple Pride Report,” WQLL-AM (1370). He has also appeared on WMAR-TV’s “Good Morning Maryland” (2009), Comcast SportsNet’s “Washington Post Live” (2004-06), and WJZ-TV’s “Football Talk” postgame show — with legend Marty Bass (2002-04). Platania is the only sports journalist in Maryland history to have been a finalist for both the annual Sportscaster of the Year award (1998, which he won) and Sportswriter of the Year (2010). He is also a four-time Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association award winner. Platania is a graduate of St. Joseph’s (Cockeysville), Calvert Hall College High School, and Towson University, where he earned a degree in Mass Communications. He lives in Cockeysville, MD.

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