Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/5/13
Kansas City Chiefs -3 at Tennessee Titans: The loss of Jake Locker just as he was heating up coincides with the Titans just heating up.  With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback it allows the Kansas City defense to play up against the run due to his lack of arm strength, and his lack mobility should play right in the hands of the fierce Kansas City pass rush.  The Chiefs should be able to remain undefeated after this one and more then cover the three point spread. Pick: CHIEFS...Prediction: CHIEFS 24 Titans 13Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins -3: The Ravens have really struggled in their world title defense so far in 2013.  With Ray Rice hobbled and Bernard Pierce running ineffectively the focus of the offense has been the passing game and quarterback Joe Flacco has failed to move the ball effectively.  The absence of tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Anquan Boldin as well as the injured Jacoby Jones has forced receiver Torry Smith to play the part of the intermediate receiver, taking away the big play threat and allowing defenses to double Smith and sit on the short passing game.   The Dolphins are coming off a one sided Monday night loss to the Saints, their first of the season.  As crazy as it is to say, the Ravens actually need this game pretty badly to keep up with the Browns...that's right...the Browns.  Don't underestimate the heart of a champion, the Ravens will find a way to win this one.           Pick: RAVENS...Prediction: RAVENS 23 Dolphins 20Jacksonville Jaguars at St Louis Rams -11.5: The Jaguars are beginning to look like contenders to become the second 0-16 team in NFL history.  They can't move the ball on offense, in fact they can barely hold on to it and they can stop anyone consistently on defense.  The Rams are looking to turn around their struggles both defending the run and running the ball themselves.  In an effort to fix the latter, it appears as though they will undergo some personnel changes at running back.  All indications are the Daryl Richardson will not get the start in the backfield, but who will is still a mystery.  Whoever it is should find the going fairly easy, and so should the Rams as a whole, no matter the spread it's a bad idea to put your money on Jacksonville in 2013.                            Pick: RAMS...Prediction: RAMS 31 Jaguars 13New England Patirots at Cincinnati Bengals PK: The Patriots have managed to start 4-0 despite the absence of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, Tom Brady's two most proven targets entering the season.  With every given week, Brady seems to make leaps and bounds with his young corps of receivers, last week's victory in Atlanta was a great illustration.  Cincinnati experienced a big let down last week against Cleveland a week after their dramatic come from behind home win over the favored Packers.  This is an intriguing match up, the Bengals are looking to enter the upper ecehlon and a win over the unbeaten and highly respected Patriots would go a long way in boosting their confidence.  With Steven Ridley hurting and struggling, expect LeGarette Blount to carry most of the load on the ground for New England.  For the Bengals, they are turning more and more to rookie Giovani Bernard, but Benjarvus Green-Ellis could have a boost in motivation facing his former team so the touches may shift back more into "the Law Firms" favor in this one.  Cincinnati is a tough team to figure out, they are more then capable of beating the Pats, especially at home, but they are also more then capable of losing to just about anybody.  A.J. Green has a tough matchup this week against Patriots corner Aquib Talib, who shut down Atlanta's Julio Jones for three quarters a week ago.  This is a tough game to call, which is why it's a pick 'em.  The Pats did have a difficult time defending the tight end position a week ago, allowing Tony Gonzalez to run wild.  The Bengals have two effective tight ends in Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert.  This could be the difference, I'm going with the home team here in a see-saw battle. Pick: BENGALS...Prediction: BENGALS 34 Patriots 31Seattle Seahawks -3 at Indianapolis Colts: The Seahawks came from behind late to take down the Texans in Houston a week ago.  Could this be a let down week for the mighty Seahawks.  The Colts rolled past the hapless Jaguars as expected and could be the better prepared team in this one because the lack of competition from Jacksonville may have allowed the Colts to look past the Jags and focus an additional week on preparing for this tough home contest.  This is the kind of game the Colts traded for Trent Richardson for, the Seahawks have as tough a secondary as you'll find in the NFL, an effective ground game is essential if you want to come away victorious against them.  The Colts don't have it, not quite yet anyway, Richardson still appears to be getting comfortable in the Colts offense and while the Colts do appear more physcial then they have in the past, the Seahawks run game is the toughest challenge they've faced up front to date.  Go with the better team here, Seattle will take it in a hard fought physical contest. Pick: SEAHAWKS...Prediction: SEAHAWKS 24 Colts 20Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers -7: The last time the Lions won in Green Bay their coach was Wayne Fontes and Brett Favre was a rookie third string quarterback in Atlanta.  Bush was president...H.W....not W.  So you could say the Lions are due, and as impressive as they've looked with a helathy Reggie Bush on offense they're certainly capable of giving any defense a long day.  But this is a must win game for Green Bay, they can't afford to fall to 1-3 and allow the Lions to reach 4-1.  The Packers early season bye week actually couldn't have come at a better time as they were severely banged up for it being this early in the season.  Some of the returnees from injury include safety Morgan Burnett, who will be playing his first game of the season, Clay Matthews who sat out the second half of the Bengals game with a strained hamstring, rookie running back Eddie Lacy who missed the Cincinnati game and all but a handful of plays in the Washington contest after suffering a concussion, and tight end Jermichael Finley who suffered a concussion of his own in the first quarter against the Bengals.  That's a whole lot of returning help for the Green and Gold.  Look for a career game out of Lacy and a much improved effort on defense thanks to the return of Burnett, and that along with a bounce back effort by Aaron Rodgers who played one of his worst games in years at Cincinnati should be enough for the Packers to handle the upstart Lions, and make a statement that the path to the North division crown still runs through Titletown.              Pick: PACKERS...Prediction: PACKERS 38 Lions 24New Orleans Saints -1 at Chicago Bears: The Saints were impressive on Monday Night Football, remaining undefeated by trouncing the previously unbeaten Dolphins.  The return of Sean Payton to the sidelines has been huge, but so has the arrival of Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator.  Ryan has the Saints defense playing with renewed aggressiveness and vigor, forcing turnovers and putting heat on the passer.  Speaking of passers, Drew Bress looked sensational against a gifted Dolphins defense, but he's struggled historically in Chicago, having never won a start in the Windy City.  That should change this Sunday however, it's expected to be a balmy 65 degrees in Chi-town so weather won't be a factor, and the Bears defense, while opportunistic at times has also finally started to look older and slower, a fact exposed by the lightning fast Lions a week ago, and more specifically running back Reggie Bush.  Darren Sproles will be a difficult mathcup for thiis defense, and tight end Jimmy Graham is a difficult matchup for any defense.  In the end the Saints should be able to light up this older Bears defense like a Christmas tree.  Take the Saints in this one.                         Pick: SAINTS...Prediction: SAINTS 42 Bears 24Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants -1.5: It's strange to see an 0-4 team favored against anybody, but the Giants are just too gifted a team to lose every week, and the Eagles have struggled to slow down anybody's passing attack all season.  After lighting up two of the leagues worst defenses in Washington and San Diego, the Eagles were exposed the last two weeks by the class of the AFC West Kansas City and Denver who were able to keep Chip Kelly's fast break offense in check.  The Eagles should have their moments but in the end Eli Manning should have his best performance of the year and it should be enough to put the Giants in the win column for the first time. Pick: GIANTS...Prediction: GIANTS 34 Eagles 28Carolina Panthers -2 at Arizona Cardinals: Carolina couldn't have asked for their bye week to come at a worse time, breaking the momentum of an impressive 34-0 shellacking of the New York Giants in week three.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals defense was able to come up with enough big plays against rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to come away with a hard fought victory over the Buccaneers a week ago and should receive a significant boost with the return of linebacker Daryl Washington from a four game suspension.  Don't expect a high scoring game in this one, Carson Palmer has been a disappointment through the first four games of the season, and the Panthers, despite their 34 point outburst over the Giants has also struggled for the most part to move the ball with any consistency.  Take the Cardinals in this one, their big play defense matches up well against the mistake prone Cam Newton of Carolina, and Arizona has historically been a tough place to play for east coast teams.  Pick: CARDINALS...Prediction: CARDINALS 20 Panthers 17San Diego Chargers -5 at Oakland Raiders: Phillip Rivers has experienced a re-birth under new head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.  Terrelle Pryor returns at quarterback for the Raiders after missing last week's loss to the Redskins with a concussion.  The Chargers are just too high octane on offense for the Raiders to keep up with for four quarters, despite the fact that San Diego has one of the worst defenses in football.  If this line goes up any higher then five you may want to reconsider, but until then, feel safe putting your money on the Chargers. Pick: CHARGERS... Prediction: CHARGERS 34 Raiders 27Denver Broncos -7.5 at Dallas Cowboys: The Broncos' dominance on offense has people talking about some of the elite passing attacks in league history, including the 18-1 2008 Patriots.  Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense appear at times to be toying with opposing defenses, Broncos running backs have actually been caught playing rock, paper, scissors to see who gets to score the next one yard touchdown.  This should however, be the toughest test the Broncos have faced thus far in Dallas when they take on the Cowboys.  Dallas appears to be the class of an unusually weak NFC East so far in 2013, they've committed more to DeMarco Murray and the running game through the first month of the season, and if they want any hope of coming away with an upset in this one, they'll have to rely on it heavily again this Sunday.  It appears the only way to slow down this Broncos offense is to keep them off the field, and the best way to do that is by possessing the football with a strong run game.  The Cowboys have a strong passing attack themselves led by Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten, but it's no match for the Broncos if this turns into a shoot out.  These kind of games have not been kind to Romo historically.  Once the Broncos take a lead, which they inevitably will, Romo will try to keep up through the air, which could lead to another of his famous multi-intercpetion games.  There's something special going on in Denver this season, don't bet against them, not this week, not any week. Pick: BRONCOS...   Prediction: BRONCOS 41 Cowboys 24Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers -6: A week after a heartwrenching loss to NFC West powerhous Seattle, the Texans find themselves traveling to San Francisco to face another NFC West powerhouse, the defending NFC champion 49ers.  Matt Schuab has been under considerable heat in Houston after his inexplicable turnovers cost his team the previous two games.  The Texans have not been the well rounded force most expected them to be through the first month of the season, in fact the Texans could easily be winless at this point if it weren't for a fourth quarter collapse by the Chargers in week one and an overtime victory in week two over the Titans.  The 49ers have been somewhat of a disappointment themselves starting with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  After a sensational effort in week one over the Packers, Kaepernick has struggled mightily, going 1-2 since including lopsided losses to the Colts and the Seahawks, who at this point appear to be head and shoulders better then the defending division champion 'Niners.  Teams have forced Kaepernick to remain in the pocket, and as a result his athleticism has been stymied and his inexperience as a passer has been exposed.  Kaepernick appears lost at times reading defenses, which has led to some inexplicable mistakes at crucial times.  The 49ers appeared to right the ship a bit in last week's win over the Rams, but this will be a much more difficult challenge against a desperate and hungry Texans team.  Houston is at their best when they can lean on the running of Arian Foster and Ben Tate, but the 49ers, even with linebacker Patrick Willis a question mark to start this one, have one of the more stout run defenses in the game.  This is a critical game for both teams, and more specifically both quarterbacks.  Both Schaub and Kaepernick have taken a beating by the media through the first month of the season and would be helped dramatically with a win on Sunday Night Football.  The Texans have struggled in these situations since arriving as a playoff team, they entered a week six contest at home against the Packers as heavy favorites on Sunday Night Football, only to be embarrassed 42-24.  If the Texans want to truly arrive among the NFL's elite, they need to come away with a win like this, they need as a whole, and Matt Schaub especially needs it to get the Houston fan base back on his side.  It still seems unlikely at this point that the Texans would consider turning to backup quarterback T.J. Yates, but stranger things have happened.  This is a tough game to call, so I'm going with the Texans, and more specifically the six points in this one.  They may not take the game outright, but I don't see the 49ers, the way they are playing now,  beating a team as talented as Houston by more then six points. Pick: TEXANS...Prediction: 49ERS 27 Texans 24  
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