Mike Ivcic’s Week 5 NFL Preview and Free Picks [2014]

By Mike Ivcic, UltimateCapper Contributing Writer

So much for THAT idea. One week after going 11-5 with my newfound “strategy,” I promptly posted a 4-8 week in straight up picks, saved only by the extra half point the Niners were laying against the Eagles to pick up the extra win against the spread. So now it’s back to the drawing board this week, where we just throw darts and see what sticks. This whole “philosophy” for picking games is for the birds.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
Thu, 8:25pm, CBS/NFL
Line: Packers by 9
So I may have wiffed on my view of both the Vikings and the Packers last week, so now I’m forced to re-evaluate them while simultaneously factoring in a nine-point line. That seems rather high to me, even on a Thursday night when home teams typically flourish. I like the Packers to win this one, but I’ll buck my trend and pick a road cover.
Pick: Green Bay 28, Minnesota 24

Atlanta Falcons @ New York Giants
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Giants by 4
This game exemplifies the problem with making determinations on teams after just two weeks. At that point, it looked like the Falcons had regained their 2012 form and the Giants were headed for a top three pick in the 2015 draft. Now both teams are 2-2, as New York is coming off a throttling of the Redskins with tons of momentum and three extra days off while Atlanta surrendered 48 points to a rookie QB and now has to deal with another slew of injuries. As long as Eli Manning doesn’t turn the ball over – which may be asking too much but is still nonetheless a requirement to keep Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense off the field – the Giants should take this one.
Pick: New York 27, Atlanta 17

Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Colts by 3.5
If only the Ravens offense could play Carolina every week. Since their opening week loss to Cincinnati, Baltimore has been on a mission to prove that they are back as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, ripping off three straight wins and keeping the pressure on the Bengals. Now they get their toughest test since week one with a trip to Indy and Andrew Luck. The Colts, meanwhile, took care of business against division foes Jacksonville and Tennessee to get back to .500, and appear due for a quality win after falling short against both Denver and Philadelphia. Look for a close game that goes the way of the home team, which means another road ‘dog covers the spread, with that extra half-point looming large.
Pick: Indianapolis 30, Baltimore 27

Buffalo Bills @ Detroit Lions
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Lions by 7
One thing no one seems to have mentioned – the shrewd move by Doug Marrone to hand the reins of the offense to Kyle Orton against a team he’s faced multiple times. That familiarity may be enough to keep this game close, but I like Detroit to win.
Pick: Detroit 24, Buffalo 20

Chicago Bears @ Carolina Panthers
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Panthers 2.5
It’s already gut-check time for both of these teams, coming off terrible losses to Green Bay and Baltimore, respectively. Carolina has a greater margin for error since New Orleans and Atlanta have also struggled, which means I should take Chicago here as they have more to lose. But, after watching that pitiful performance against the Packers at home, I can bring myself to pick them against a now-angry defense on the road.
Pick: Carolina 22, Chicago 13

Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Titans by 1.5
I don’t like the Titans. It’s really that simple.
Pick: Cleveland 27, Tennessee 20

Houston Texans @ Dallas Cowboys
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Cowboys by 5.5
Don’t look now, but suddenly the Cowboys are looking like a legitimate playoff contender in the NFC after throttling the Saints on Sunday night. We’ve seen this script before, though, and it probably means they’re due for a letdown game. Will this be the day? Survey says…
Pick: Dallas 34, Houston 21

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Steelers by 6
Will the real Pittsburgh Steelers please stand up? Here’s what they’ve done so far:
Week 1, first half – excellent
Week 1, second half and Week 2 – terrible
Week 3 – excellent
Week 4 – terrible
So that means they win this one…. Right?
Pick: Pittsburgh 24, Jacksonville 16

St. Louis Rams @ Philadelphia Eagles
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Eagles by 7
The Eagles have clearly been exposed over the last couple of weeks, falling behind big in the first three games and then coughing up a lead with a pitiful offensive performance in week four. Still, 3-1 is 3-1, and it should easily be 4-1 after they get done running the Rams ragged.
Pick: Philadelphia 37, St. Louis 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Saints by 10
This is the last chance for the Saints to get into the playoff hunt, because 1-4 with a home loss to Tampa all but assures New Orleans of watching the postseason. That’s not good for my preseason NFC champion – and it’s also probably not happening. They’re too good of a team to allow a below-average Buccaneers team walk into the Superdome and win. Still, this is a troubled team that is struggling to get any sort of defensive continuity, and believe it or not this year has actually been much more defensively-oriented than last year. Tampa’s definitely not going anywhere this year, and unless the defense shapes up quickly neither will New Orleans.
Pick: New Orleans 33, Tampa Bay 13

Arizona Cardinals @ Denver Broncos
Sun, 4:05pm, FOX
Line: Broncos by 7
Arizona’s a good football team, but they’re not winning in Denver. Covering? Sure, maybe. Not winning.
Pick: Denver 24, Arizona 20

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Francisco 49’ers
Sun, 4:25pm, CBS
Line: 49’ers by 6
Alex Smith returns to San Francisco!

Well, ok, Santa Clara. But that’s close to San Francisco!

Aaaaaand that’s about all I got. Both teams are flawed and inconsistent, so I’ll do what I’ve done multiple times this column – home team win, road team cover.
Pick: San Francisco 27, Kansas City 24

New York Jets @ San Diego Chargers
Sun, 4:25pm, CBS
Line: Chargers by 6.5
Geno Smith is still playing. So is Philip Rivers. As they say in the business, “Next!”
Pick: San Diego 20, New York 9

Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots
Sun, 8:30pm, NBC
Line: Bengals by 1
Is it really possible that the Patriots might be 2-3 after five games? That’s almost unheard of in the Bill Belichick era, but at this point it doesn’t appear that the offense is going to be able to produce too much of anything this year – and that’s not just because they traded away Logan Mankins. They don’t have a big play receiver and opposing defenses have zero respect for the running game, leaving Brady with just Gronkowski and Edelman as viable offensive options. Meanwhile the Bengals defense is as stout as any in the league and Andy Dalton is finally starting to emerge as an upper echelon QB. The odds all point to a Bengals victory – so I’m going against the grain and saying the Pats come through with a big-time performance at home and steal one late.
Pick: New England 20, Cincinnati 17

Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins
Mon, 8:30pm, ESPN
Line: Seahawks by 7
As if the Seahawks needed any more help. Coming off a bye week against a terrible Washington squad, they actually get an extra day beyond that since this is a Monday Night game. True, the Redskins played Thursday last week so they have some additional rest, too, but the way Kirk Cousins looked last week it won’t make any sort of difference. This Seattle defense is legit, and the Redskins offense is most certainly not. Seattle wins this one going away.
Pick: Seattle 34, Washington 13

Last Week
Straight-Up: 4-8
vs. Spread: 5-7

Straight Up: 33-27
vs. Spread: 31-29