Much like Bill O’Brien, I got my comeuppance in Week 4 of the NFL season.
I didn’t like my 9-6 record straight up last week and I have to do a lot better than 5-9-1 against the spread, but while my weekly picks are for entertainment purposes only O’Brien lost his job as head coach of the Houston Texans following the club’s dreadful 0-4 start to the season.
How will the Romeo Crenel-led Texans fare in Week 5? Find out below.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears (+4.5) Week 5 kicks off Thursday night in the Windy City as the surprising 3-1 Bears host Tom Brady and the 3-1 Buccaneers. Newly minted starting QB Nick Foles could not keep Chicago on the winning track last week versus Indianapolis and will have a more difficult time trying to outscore Tampa Bay. The new version of the Brady Bunch keeps rolling. Tampa Bay 30-23
Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans (+1) This game is in jeopardy after two more players on the Titans tested positive for COVID-19. Tennessee’s Week 4 game against Pittsburgh was pushed to Week 7 after about 20 players and staff members on the 3-0 Titans turned in positive tests. If this game is played I like Josh Allen and the Bills to improve to 5-0 by capitalizing on a team that appears to be in crisis mode. Buffalo 27-24
Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers (-8) 1-3 Miami travels from the east coast to the west coast for a date with the defending NFC champion 49ers. Which players are not injured on San Francisco’s roster? It seems like everyone is hurt. If QB Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Raheem Mostert, who returned to limited practice this week, play on Sunday – advantage Niners. If they’re out, Dolphins pull off the upset. I’ll go with the former. San Francisco 20-17
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) After claiming their first win last week, the NFC East leading 1-2-1 Eagles head to Pittsburgh to tackle the well rested Steelers. Pittsburgh had last week off (see Tennessee Titans) and have more than enough offensive and defensive muscle to push Philadelphia around. Pittsburgh 30-20
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-13.5) One of the best rivalries in the NFL, Chiefs vs. Raiders may not pack the same hateful punch as it once did, but emotions will be high when the NFC West foes butt heads on Sunday. 4-0 Kansas City didn’t look like their exceptional selves against New England on Monday Night Football and Las Vegas dropped to 2-2 after a poor performance against Buffalo. K.C. quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a big bounce back performance. Kansas City 38-23
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-13) Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow has had a really good start to his NFL career (897. QB rating) but Cincinnati is a mediocre 1-2-1 and will face one of the best all around teams in the league in Baltimore. The Ravens are 3-1 and have averaged 34 points a game in each of their three victories. That trend continues this week. Ravens 34-14.
Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets (+7) With starting pivot Sam Darnold sidelined with a shoulder injury 0-4 New York will start Joe Flacco on Sunday and are crossing their fingers that the 2012 Super Bowl MVP turns back the clock. Don’t hold your breath Jets fans. Flacco hasn’t started a game since Week 8 of the 2019 season when he was with Denver. The 2-2 Cardinals are seething after dropping their second consecutive game last week against Carolina. Arizona 31-16
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-6) Romeo Crennel takes over the head coaching duties in Houston after the 0-4 Texans turfed Bill O’Brien. Most in-season coaching changes provide a spark for the players and Houston has a chance to take out their frustrations against 1-3 Jacksonville, a division rival that has not played particularly well over the last two weeks. Houston, we don’t have a problem – at least, not this week. Houston 27-23
Los Angeles Rams at Washington Football Team (+7.5) The Rams are 3-1 and are fresh off a less than inspiring 17-9 victory over the hapless New York Giants, so they should be motivated to play much better against the equally ineffective Washington Football Team. 1-3 Washington, losers of their last three, will start Kyle Allen at QB instead of Dwayne Haskins. Nothing says ‘pushing the panic button’ than an early season quarterback carousel. L.A. Rams 33-17
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) When an NFL team has its proverbial back against the wall they usually play their best game of the season. That’s what my gut tells me is going to happen with the Atlanta Falcons. At 0-4, Atlanta’s season is on the line and head coach Dan Quinn’s job is likely hanging in the balance. That’s enough incentive for the Falcons when they host 2-2 Carolina. Atlanta 28-24
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-9.5) 1-3 Dallas takes on the 0-4 Giants and the line is at 9.5 points. That’s a huge spread for two teams that are a combined 1-7. But while Dallas’ defence has been shredded over the last three weeks (allowing 39, 38 and 49 points) their offence is explosive and the perfect tonic is paying a visit to ‘Big D.’ The Giants are almost as bad as the Jets and just won’t be able to keep up with the Cowboys. Dallas 41-14
Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns (+1.5) The Colts’ stellar defence has propelled them to a 3-1 start to the season but I don’t understand how they’re favoured against the red hot Browns. Sure, Cleveland won’t have star running back Nick Chubb because of injury but Kareem Hunt is a dangerous fill in and as long as quarterback Baker Mayfield doesn’t turn the ball over, I like the Brownies to keep on chuggin’. Cleveland 23-20
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (-11.5) New England may get starting QB Cam Newton back from the COVID-19 reserve list, and after watching Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham struggle in K.C. on Monday, boy do they ever need him. Pats cornerback Stephon Gilmore is a question mark after testing positive for COVID-19. Even if both Newton and Gilmore are sidelined I can’t see New England lose to the 1-3 Broncos. New England 28-17
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks (-7) The 4-0 Seahawks are back home after an impressive showing in Miami. Minnesota picked up its first win of the year in Houston and will be looking to build on that against one of the best teams in the NFL. The Vikings are too mercurial to be trusted. Seattle 31-21
Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints (-7.5) The storyline in this game is rookie QB Justin Herbert facing a future Hall of Fame quarterback for the second straight week. Herbert played well in the Chargers’ 38-31 loss against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. This week, Herbert goes up against Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans. Back-to-back road games against the best two teams in the NFC South is a tad harsh for Herbert, but hey, this is the NFL. New Orleans 35-27
Overall straight up 40-21-1
Overall against the spread 28-33-2
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.