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NFL Picks & Pans: Week 5

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Despite the Baltimore Ravens being on their Bye week, the games will still go on without them. Two 9-7 weeks in a row picking winners will just not do after starting off the season so hot. I tried to shake a few things up with a couple of longshots, but the Oakland Raiders were no match for the New England Patriots. Along with the Dallas Cowboys blowing another fourth quarter lead due to the irresponsible arm of QB Tony Romo, the Minnesota Vikings unable to win a game so far in 2011, as well as the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills finding out a way to lose to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, the possibility of another solid week went right down the drain.

So let's get back on track as we watch a couple of key games that could have implications on the Ravens march to the playoffs, starting with their week six opponent after their Bye.

Texans over Raiders: Houston seems to be one of the more well-rounded teams in the league, but when you take a closer look at the teams they've beaten, perhaps they might not be as good as people think. The loss of WR Andre Johnson shouldn't keep them from beating Oakland, but it might hurt them when they come to Baltimore next week.

Steelers over Titans: While I'd like to jump on the Tennessee bandwagon and see Pittsburgh get punk'd in their own crib, that would just be the "perfect storm," and therefore, is the exact reason I expect Big Ben to pull one out of his you-know-what and prove the Steelers are far from in the Ravens rear-view mirror just yet.

Saints over Panthers: No one had any idea how good Carolina's Cam Newton was going to be, and while his team is not doing anywhere as well as he is, don't expect that to change against a well-oiled offensive machine like New Orleans and that will give Newton a great chance to watch and learn from Drew Brees firsthand.

Colts over Chiefs: Unless one of these teams bag this game, the "Andrew Luck Sweepstakes" just got a bit closer as Indianapolis is a much better team with Curtis Painter at QB than they were with Grandpa Collins, while Kansas City was only able to barely beat a terrible Minnesota Vikings team at home.

Bills over Eagles: Can Philadelphia really start the 2011 season off at 1-4 while Buffalo goes to 4-1 in what qualifies as one of my two "Upset Special Picks of the Week?" What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, as this proves that all is right in the world when a small market team with a Harvard-educated QB can beat a big-market team with a previously-incarcerated QB. 

Giants over Seahawks: No way a bad team from the west coast can come east and beat a good team, as New York QB Eli Manning is proving there is still a good Manning QB playing in 2011 and Seattle is beginning to realize that perhaps Matt Hasselbeck still had a bit left in his tank.

Bengals over Jaguars: Cincinnati continues to prove they might be one of the surprise teams in the league as their defense keeps shutting opponents down and their rookie QB is doing just enough to manage the game while over in Jacksonville, their rookie QB just does not have enough help to do the same thing. Surprisingly, according to the oddsmakers, this game is also considered an "Upset Special."

Vikings over Cardinals: If Minnesota is going to win at least one game at some point, this seems to be the perfect time. Of course, the fact that my two fantasy quarterbacks are Arizona's Kevin Kolb and the Vikings Donovan McNabb will probably mean that whoever I start,...the other team will win!

49ers over Buccaneers: This will be a pretty decent game with two young but up and coming teams fighting to prove they deserve to be in the playoff races in their respective divisions. Since the game is in San Francisco, I'm going with the home team, but if it was in Tampa, I'd be picking the Bucs.

Patriots over Jets: Perhaps, just perhaps, if this game were in New York Jersey, the Jets might have a chance to at least make this respectable, but since it isn't, I can see New England putting a real hurting on New York. While there is no comparison between the Pats and Ravens defense, there is also no comparison between the Pats and Ravens offense, so I can't see a huge difference in the outcome with the only similarity being the Jets on the losing end of the score.

Chargers over Broncos: The only cheers you will hear in Denver will be the ones for Tim Tebow if he ends up getting a chance to prove that he can't make the Broncos any worse than they already are. Meanwhile San Diego has started on the right track for a change even though the competition they've beaten has been pretty weak, and besides, Denver is one of those weak teams anyway.

Packers over Falcons (Sunday Night Football): This should be a match-up of two Super Bowl contenders but Atlanta has just not held up their end of the promotion, looking rather average so far in 2011. On the other hand, is there any team that can derail Green Bay's path to Super Bowl 46, as QB Aaron Rodgers has not had a game this season with a QB Rating under 100.

Lions over Bears (Monday Night Football): Oh my! Will Detroit continue their magical season and keep pace with the Packers as the only two remaining undefeated teams in the NFL? Yes, I believe they will and at the same time show the nation that they actually deserve to be on TV this Thanksgiving for the first time in a long time, which means that Chicago will have to be the weaker animal in this NFC North slugfest.

Last Week:  9-7

Season Record:  41-23