I managed to work my way back over .500 last week, nailing a few upsets and butchering some other certainties. I’m not brave enough to put my reputation on the line and pick NBA preseason games, but in a few weeks time, we will have the deal. So this week is once again dictated by a full schedule of NFL games, as the byes commence and two pivotal MLB playoff matches. Here we go.
Last Sunday Picks: 8 – 6
Overall: 302 – 235
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Houston Astros @ Boston Red Sox
THANKS to the hot bats of the Astros they are on the verge of sweeping the five-game series against Boston. I really want to give the Red Sox a win here, with the Fenway Park crowd behind them, but I just don’t see it. Doug Fister (5-9, 4.88 ERA) hasn’t been convincing in his last four starts to end the year giving up at least three runs in each outing. Against Houston, it could get ugly quickly if he doesn’t reign it in.
Verdict: Astros W
Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees
THE Yankees showed some fight and were unlucky to walk away from Cleveland without the series ledger at 1-1. With a vocal New York following behind them, it might be a hard ask for Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.88 ERA) to slow down the likes of Aaron Judge and Co. However, Carrasco tied for the MLB lead in wins for a reason and this game has the potential to be another epic. I’m giving New York the edge at home though.
Verdict: Yankees W
Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals
IF Buffalo is the real deal then this is the game where they make a statement to the league. After some early struggles, the Bengals seem to be back on track thanks to the benefit of playing Cleveland. This will be a slugfest with the Bills defense containing Cincinnati and I don’t think that Buffalo can score enough without Jordan Matthews to get a win.
Verdict: Bengals W
New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns
AVOID this game at all costs. The ‘Toilet-Bowl’ sees two teams going into battle under very different circumstances. With a combined 2-8 record the Jets and Browns have more wins now than most fans thought they would finish the year with, but surprisingly New York kind of looks somewhat decent. I think the debut of Myles Garrett for Cleveland will help them break their duck and record their first win of the year though.
Verdict: Browns W
Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions
THIS may very well be the match of the round with both teams sitting at 3-1 and eager to prove they are contenders. Both teams have multiple weapons and are pretty evenly matched so this may boil down to which quarterback plays better on the day. I don’t think that Newton has recaptured his superstar form just yet and that will help Matthew Stafford lead the Lions to victory.
Verdict: Lions W
San Fransisco 49ers @ Indianapolis Colts
MAKE no mistake the 49ers can win this match on the road. Their third straight game away from home for San Fransisco comes against a lowly Colts team eager to put on a show for Peyton Manning. The former franchise great had a statue erected at Lucas Oil Stadium in his honour and I think Indianapolis can surge to a win with help from the weekly improving play of Jacoby Brissett.
Verdict: Colts W
Image from indystar.com
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
WITHOUT Marcus Mariota under center for the Titans, I don’t like their chances of beating Miami. That being said the Dolphins are far from a threat after an uninspiring 1-2 start. After watching Houston put a franchise record points total on the Tennessee defense they will come out fired up with something to prove, but it won’t be enough to rob Miami of win number two.
Verdict: Dolphins W
Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Giants
IMAGINE if at the start of the season I told you that the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers would be going into this Week 5 matchup without a win between them. Because the Giants are at home I want to give them the edge but it’s really hard to pick either team with confidence. Just to be different I’m tipping LA to buck their trend of losing close games and come through for their fans while breaking the hearts of Giants fans.
Verdict: Chargers W
Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles
PHILADELPHIA are shaping up as the best team in the NFC East and they should take care of Arizona as a result. Should. With Fletcher Cox’s status still up in the air, it may help Carson Palmer stay on his feet for longer than usual (Arizona has given up a league-high 17 sacks so far this year). Arizona has enough players to make things interesting but not interesting enough to change the outcome.
Verdict: Eagles W
Image from raisingzona.com
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers
LAST week I thought that the Ravens could upset the Steelers. Oh how wrong I was. Pittsburgh seems like they are starting to find their feet with LeVeon Bell erupting for his first great game of the season. That’s not good news for a Jags defense that lost to the New York Jets last week.
Verdict: Steelers W
Baltimore Ravens @ Oakland Raiders
THIS game has plenty of ramifications in the AFC playoff race, despite just four games having been played. If both the Raiders and Ravens are duking it out for a wildcard spot later this year, the winner of this match will be in the box seat to see playoff action. With Derek Carr sidelined it’s a real chance for Baltimore to steal one away from home, but don’t expect Oakland to go down that easily.
Verdict: Raiders W
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams
WHO would have thought one of the matches of the round would be the division leading Rams hosting their rivals the Seattle Seahawks. If Los Angeles is a competent offensive team then this is the team they need to show it against, with Seattle’s defense in a league of its own. A second-half surge against the Colts a week ago has the Seahawks offense once again look dangerous and I think they can take a narrow win home form the Coliseum
Verdict: Seahawks W
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys
THE last time we saw these two sides clash another epic chapter was written in their storied postseason rivalry. Dallas and Green Bay are quite different in modern times with injuries and inconsistencies raising concerns with both teams so far this year. After a 10 day break and with the Cowboys best defender Sean Lee likely to miss, Aaron Rodgers should pile on the points which will be too much for Dallas to keep up with.
Verdict: Packers W
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
THE nightcap features two of the feel good stories of the season so far at quarterback. Alex Smith is in MVP form leading the Chiefs to a 4-0 record at the moment, the only team yet to lose a game. The Texans on the other side of the ball are happy with their starting quarterback as well, with first-round pick Deshaun Watson helping Houston put a franchise record 57 points on the board. I have a sneaky suspicion that at home and with the defense and offense clicking into gear Houston will give Kansas City their first L.
Verdict: Texans W