Five weeks, five teams
Only five teams remain undefeated after the first five weeks of the 2009 NFL season. From the National Football Conference (NFC), the Vikings, Giants and Saints haven't dropped a game yet. From the American Football Conference (AFC), Denver and Indianapolis stand alone.
Those teams have flawless records because of their players. This weekend, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre continue their reign of victory over, well, the entire NFL. Manning leads the league with nine touchdowns so far, and Favre is right on his heels with eight. Outside of the fantastic five, Mark Sanchez is a player to watch as he looks to rebound after last week's struggle against New Orleans.
None of the top five formidable teams will play each other this weekend, though there are certainly interesting games lined up. Blazers should definitely watch the Broncos v. New England and Cincinnati v. Baltimore matches. Denver's astounding defense has provided the team with a perfect record so far, but New England is still on a roll from last week. Many Blazers want the Ravens to make up their heartbreaking week four loss against the Patriots, but Cincinnati will make the Ravens fight for it. The Bengals have beaten household names Green Bay and Pittsburgh this season, and only lost to Denver. If nothing else, week five offers an interesting and entertaining game mix.
So, Blazers, the NFL leaves you with a familiar feeling of anticipation, not to mention some important questions. Which players will stand tall this week? Will the (undefeated) ferocious five continue their dominance? Who will emerge victorious? If you don't know the answer to those questions, don't worry. SCO NFL predictors are standing by to support you with our NFL knowledge and, of course, our predictions. Come Sunday all you will have to do is sit back and let the Chips fall where they may.
Sunday, Oct. 11
Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-0) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1-0)
Rose - Baltimore
Dennis - Baltimore
Ava - Baltimore
Despite a 23-20 Bengal victory over Cleveland last week, Cincinnati barely scraped by with a win. On the last possible play, the Bengals pulled ahead. The Ravens are the first in the AFC North, and their recent loss to New England didn't really stain their reputation. (To be honest, Ava and I expected a Patriot win). Still, Baltimore should dominate the Bengals although the game should be fairly intense.
This is the battle for the top seat in the AFC North. Since Baltimore's offense has been carrying the team this season, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is going to have to improve his defensive squad so that it mirrors the prominence of past years. Eyes are going to be glued on Cincinnati WR Chad Ochocinco as he takes the field after claiming to go "Ricky Bobby" on the Ravens. The Ravens aren't going to let the Bengals roar to first in the AFC North.
Despite their loss last week against New England, the Ravens played well and managed to trail the Patriots by three points for almost the entire game. With many Blazers cheering them on at home this weekend, Baltimore should get the "W." But I say that with caution; Cincinnati is on a run and this game may upset Ravens fans.
Washington Redskins (2-2-0) at Carolina Panthers (0-3-0)
Rose - Washington
Dennis - Washington
Ava - Washington
At last, our home team is offered another opportunity to snag an easy win! Not only did Carolina have no game last week, but they are also 0-3, which is significant despite the weakness of Redskins offense and the lack of coherence in Washington plays. The Panthers won't even be able to ruffle the Redskins.
Someone who knows the wealth general manager Dan Snyder has invested in the Redskins may have expected the team to play better. On the other hand, NT Albert Haynesworth hasn't displayed great potential either. Still, the Redskins beat out Carolina in total yards and passing yards per game, and the team is just one yard short of matching the Panthers in rushing yards. The Skins win it.
This is another toss up. Of course we'd like to see the Redskins pull off a victory, but it might be time for the Panthers to finally win. The Redskins's only victories have been over two of the worst teams in the NFL, so it really could go either way. Last week they made fans nervous in the first half of the game, but Jason Campbell was able to scrounge two touchdowns in the third quarter. Who knows? Perhaps they won't be so fortunate this game. Nevertheless, gotta go with the Skins.
Cleveland Browns (0-4-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-3-0)
Rose - Buffalo
Dennis - Cleveland
Ava - Buffalo
Unfortunately for Cleveland, their luck has been few and far between. While they put up a good fight against the Bengals last week, the plays were fraught with errors. LB D'Qwell Jackson will also sit out of Sunday's game due to a healing hamstring. Despite these weaknesses, the Browns haven't even managed a "W" yet, and are facing a team with a win. The record says it all on this one: Bills for the victory.
Despite his failure to lead his team to a win over Cincinnati, Cleveland QB Derek Anderson seemed poised in the pocket for the first time this season. He's also going to have to deal with a receiver corps lacking its former number one receiver, Braylon Edwards, who was traded to the New York Jets this week. In Buffalo, WR Terrell Owens has been looking less than impressive with only eight catches for 158 yards. He's going to have to step it up if the Bills want to win this game. The Browns take it.
Both of these teams aren't doing very well, so this one is tough. Neither team has a definite advantage, but I'll bet on the Bills because they're at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-0) at Detroit Lions (1-3-0)
Rose - Pittsburgh
Dennis - Pittsburgh
Ava - Pittsburgh
Although they beat the Redskins in Week Three, unfortunately that doesn't reveal much about their strength or power (considering the sub-par performance of Washington this season). With 278.8 passing yards so far this season, the Steelers have the third highest rank in the NFL. Pittsburgh domination for this game is inevitable.
Pittsburgh rebounded with a strong offensive performance last week against San Diego, but their inability to perform in the second half almost cost them the game. Even so, the Detroit run defense is ranked 20th in the league and Steelers's RB Rashard Mendenhall had a killer game last week. Though it won't prove that the Steelers have found their rhythm, they'll be able to crush the Lions.
Roethlisberger isn't doing too bad so far; last week he had 333 yards, the third largest in the NFL. But Pittsburgh is 0 – 2 on the road so far, and the Lions's only win in over a year has come at home. If the Lions were going to make a splash in the NFL, this would be the game to do it. But chances are the Steelers will take this one fairly easily, and Detroit won't make so much as a ripple in the metaphoric NFL waters.
Dallas Cowboys (2-2-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-4-0)
Rose - Dallas
Dennis - Dallas
Ava - Dallas
This pick couldn't be more obvious. At this point, the Chiefs should be embarrassed by their record, despite the fact that their competition has been relatively lofty. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are ranked third in the league for 163.8 rushing yards and fourth for 401 total yards. They will easily master Kansas.
Kansas City QB Matt Cassel knows he'll need to find a way to move the ball down field in order to beat Dallas, as he's been having trouble doing that in the past two weeks. The Cowboys's own QB, Tony Romo, has his own problems to work on (namely his accuracy). Once looked upon as an elite QB, he has only completed 57.6 percent of his passes. Romo will have it a bit easier this week against the Chiefs. 'Boys go 3-2.
Let's take a look at Tony Romo and his inability to perform well, shall we? First of all, the turnovers are getting ridiculous. Secondly, he was one of the bottom five QBs last week for yards gained. Oh, and we can't forget that he's only had four touchdowns this season! Despite Romo's impressive list of blunders, we can't (or try not to) forget that he does have talent. Dallas should take this game. It's not that the Cowboys are on fire; it's more that the Chiefs are simply incapable of a victory.
Minnesota Vikings (4-0-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-4-0)
Rose - Minnesota
Dennis - Minnesota
Ava - Minnesota
Brett Favre's vim and vigor has not been exhausted yet. The Vikings are still playing strongly with a sparkling, stainless record. The team is even keeping fans on the edge of their seats by creating intriguing drama on the sidelines. With a drunk driving charge on cornerback Cedric Griffin's record, the player was arrested in late August and charged with two days community service and a $300 fine this past Wednesday. Talk about juicy gossip! Griffin pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree DWI charge, and apologized for his behavior. But this recent development won't affect Minnesota's power on the field. They will remain undefeated.
St. Louis looked pathetic in a 35-0 loss to the San Fransisco 49ers. What will stop Minnesota from doing near the same? Not much. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson hasn't been performing up to his full potential in the last two weeks (with an average of 3.2 yards per carry), but watch for him to turn his gears this week. Favre is also on a roll. Look for a Viking victory.
The undefeated Vikings will definitely take the completely defeated Rams. St. Louis doesn't have much to offer, and La Favre played well in an important game last week. We know he can hold up under the pressure and scrutiny of playing a rival on Monday Night Football, so beating the Rams should be a walk in the park.
Oakland Raiders (1-3-0) at New York Giants (4-0-0)
Rose - New York
Dennis - New York
Ava - New York
Without starting QB Eli Manning, will the top-ranked NFC East Giants still be able to pull off their characteristically strong defeats? The odds are all for it. Oakland doesn't present much of a threat, considering the fact that the Giants have achieved about twice the points, passing yards and total yards of the Raiders. Giants go 5-0.
Is this even fair? New York finally comes home after a 3-0 road stretch and the dominant defense faces the league's last-ranked starting quarterback in JaMarcus Russell. The Giants easily move up to 5-0.
Last week Oakland was atrocious against Houston. JaMarcus Russell, with a 40 percent completion rate, is probably the worst quarterback in the NFL. Not to mention the Raiders are going up against Eli Manning and the undefeated Giants. New York fans will yet again have something to look forward to on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-1-0)
Rose - Philadelphia
Dennis - Philadelphia
Ava - Philadelphia
Finally Tanard Jackson is back in the game! As the only defensive player in NFL history to start every game for his first two seasons, Jackson may be able to make a significant dent in Eagles defense. But the chance of a Buccaneers win is not likely. Philadelphia still trumps Tampa Bay by a mile.
Tampa Bay QB Josh Johnson needs to start playing like a starting quarterback. After a touchdown pass on his first pass, Johnson was unable to get any movement with the ball through the air last game. The Philadelphia defense will definitely cause some problems for the Buccaneer pass attack. Also, the Eagles get QB Donovan McNabb back this week - it'll be interesting to see how he performs. The Eagles soar above Bucs.
Donovan McNabb says he's ready to play against Tampa Bay this Sunday, so his return will no doubt be the focus of this game. McNabb shouldn't worry too much, though; if the Bucs lost to the Redskins, they will lose to the Eagles.
Atlanta Falcons (2-1-0) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1-0)
Rose - San Francisco
Dennis - Atlanta
Ava - San Francisco
Before embarrassing St. Louis with a whopping 35-0 victory, the 49ers put up an impressive fight against the powerful Vikings. Of course, Brett Favre came through and made a final touchdown in the last moments of the game to secure Minnesota's flawless record and substantiate his own extraordinary reputation. But San Francisco had the Vikings worried. If they can buck against the likes of Minnesota, they can surely dominate the Falcons.
Atlanta will be looking to RB Michael Turner to reveal holes in the San Fransisco run defense for a chance at winning. After a bye week, the Falcons should be rested up and ready to take on the 49ers. San Francisco's TE Vernon Davis has finally emerged as the promising first round pick he was supposed to be. This one is going to be a tight race, but Atlanta edges out.
I'll go with the 49ers since they're 2 – 0 at home. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2008, lived up to his reputation during the first couple of weeks this season. Then, New England's rock–solid defense stumped him. San Francisco's d line is formidable as well, so if Ryan plays like he did two weeks ago against the Patriots, San Francisco will defeat the Falcons.
Houston Texans (2-2-0) at Arizona Cardinals (1-2-0)
Rose - Houston
Dennis - Houston
Ava - Houston
The flu epidemic may have breezed across the surface of the NFL by infecting rookie linebacker Brian Cushing, but the Texans athlete is back and ready to encounter the Cardinals. Looks like this game may be a close one, but Houston has the upper hand. With wide receiver Jacoby Jones as AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, the Texans now have two players that have been acknowledged for their performance. Arizona won't break through the power lines.
Houston has always been a team with surprises, whether in wins or losses. That being said, this game could really go either way, but production from Texans QB Matt Schaub and RB Steve Slaton has greatly improved. Arizona is coming off a bye-week, but that won't be enough to propel them to the win.
Houston's offense has been decent this, but has improved steadily. If they're up to the challenge this week, the Texans should beat Arizona. In addition, QB Matt Schaub has been playing well. We all know that Houston's bum defense will give up a ton of points, but it's a question of whether the offense can make up for it. If not, it's going to be a long Sunday for Texas fans.
New England Patriots (3-1-0) at Denver Broncos (4-0-0)
Rose - Denver
Dennis - New England
Ava - Denver
This game is guaranteed to be intriguing. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has worked wonders for Denver defense. A defensive line that was once the butt of all jokes in the league is now saving the Broncos from tarnishing their perfect 4-0 record. Will Nolan's guidance continue to influence smart defensive play? Most likely. The Patriots are in for an unexpected treat.
In a heated match up last week, New England displayed an impressive offensive performance to defeat Baltimore. WR Randy Moss has much more freedom now with receiver Wes Welker back in the mix. To upset the Patriots, Denver will require some major play-making from WR Brendan Marshall like he did against Dallas last week. Patriots hand the Broncos their first loss.
This is probably Week Five's most exciting game. The Broncos are coming in, quite frankly, with a spotless record thanks to the giant goose egg in the "L" column, and Mr. Brady only has four touchdowns this year. Don't forget that New England's only loss this year was on the road, but expect a close game. Denver and their stellar defense will deliver some well-deserved punishment to New England for beating the Ravens last week. Many Ravens's fans now consider the Patriots an enemy and, after all, the opponent of an enemy is a friend, right?
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-3-0)
Rose - Jacksonville
Dennis - Jacksonville
Ava - Jacksonville
The Seahawks are flying nowhere fast, as they're coming off three disappointing losses. QB Seneca Wallace will need all of his natural skills to puncture a tight Jacksonville defense. For Jacksonville, QB David Garrard is coming off his best performance of the season, and should tip the scale for the Jaguars by propelling them to another victory.
Jacksonville QB David Garrard is improving steadily every week and looks to manhandle a Seattle secondary that has not been able to defend against the pass very well. The Seahawks are hoping QB Matt Hasselbeck returns this week to enhance a sub-par offense. Jaguars beat the 'Hawks.
When Maurice Jones-Drew played well in Week Three, the Jaguars beat AFC South rival Houston. Other than that match up, Jones-Drew hasn't produced much and it's time for him to step up his game. Jacksonville's victory rests on their quarterback. With that in mind, Jacksonville may actually have it easy this week against an unimpressive Seattle. So far, Matt Hasslebeck is having a pretty terrible year.
Indianapolis Colts (4-0-0) at Tennessee Titans (0-4-0)
Rose - Indianapolis
Dennis - Indianapolis
Ava - Indianapolis
So far this season, the Titans have been struggling to match their previous prominence. On the contrary, the Colts have stolen the top ranks as first in the league for offense in both yards and pass yards. This game now represents the battle between a 4-0 victor and a 0-4 weakling. Colts leap over Titans.
To the surprise of fans everywhere, Tennessee has started off 0-4. They'll be facing their 4-0 AFC South division rivals: Indianapolis. While the only offensive bright spot for the Titans seems to be RB Chris Johnson, Colts QB Peyton Manning is really making his whole offense look better despite the fact he's relying on two inexperienced wide receivers. This time, it won't be a surprise if the Colts take the 'W'.
The Colts will no doubt get this win. Peyton Manning is leading the NFL with most yards gained this season. Even Seahawk coach Jim Mora admitted that playing against Manning is tough. The QB leads the league with nine touchdowns this season, and the Colts have too many other dangerous weapons for the Titans to handle.
Monday, Oct. 12
New York Jets (3-1-0) at Miami Dolphins(1-3-0)
Rose - New York
Dennis - New York
Ava - New York
This game represents the meeting of two AFC East rivals. Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder has already promised to dirty-mouth the Jets, particularly running back Leon Washington. Perhaps this is because the Dolphins player knows Miami's chances of a win against the Jets are slim to none. Regardless, the Jets have dedicated themselves to unified practice sessions which include new recruit wide receiver Braylon Edwards. The team is shaping up coherently, and should dominate Monday Night Football.
After his first loss of the season, New York QB Mark Sanchez finally faces the pressure of making sure his team doesn't lose consecutive games. Also, RB Thomas Jones is going to struggle against Miami's second-ranked run defense. The Dolphins are going to need a quarterback with consistent play (perhaps Chad Henne or Pat White) to emerge and perform well in place of the injured Chad Pennington. The Jets fly over the Dolphins.
Mark Sanchez struggled last week in the Jets's first loss, and you can bet he'll be looking to rebound. Since the Jets play Buffalo and Oakland in the next two weeks, it's not the worst possible time for Sanchez to be in a slump. If you eliminate Mark Sanchez's three picks last week, the Jets are golden and in a good spot to get a win.
Dennis Chae. Whhaazzaaa, I'm Dennis Chae. I love my Baltimore Ravens and shoes. In fact, I collect sneakers and am always looking for a new pair of Nikes. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is probably going to be the greatest thing ever in a year or so. I ... More »
Ava Wallace. More »
Rose Wynn. I love piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and the ladies of the Blair Pom Squad. More »