WEEK 5 PICK RESULTS: N/A
UPSET #1 – Cleveland Browns +10
Although the Houston Texans (2-3) should win this game, beating a ten point spread is too much to ask of the depleted Texans this week. JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus are out with injuries, which leaves the defense exposed and leaderless. On the other side of the ball, the Texans offense has been solid this season. Rookie QB DeShaun Watson has already thrown for 1072 yards with 12 touchdowns since being named the starter. With the help of Lamar Miller, Watson should be able to put together a few scoring drives against a reasonably solid yet unproven Browns defense. While the Cleveland Browns (0-5) don’t possess the most efficient offense, newly named starter QB Kevin Hogan only missed three targets last week after DeShone Kizer was benched. If Hogan can stay consistent and drive the ball with confidence then his team should rally around him. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. will need to bounce a few tackles for extra yardage, and with no JJ Watt, they should be able to find some gaps. Watson should be able to lead Houston to the victory at home, but the Browns will cover the spread. Texans win 24-15.
DOUBLE DOWN #1 – Green Bay Packers -3
The Green Bay Packers (4-1) have cruised through 2017 thus far and in all likely hood will cruise to victory in Minnesota (3-2) on Sunday. Offensively the Pack matchup better at every position. Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 1367 yards and 13 touchdowns this season; he should be able to spread the ball effectively against an equally skilled and tough Viking defense. Case Keenum will get the start for the injured Sam Bradford. Keenum has thrown for 895 yards and four touchdowns. He’s has had difficulty moving the ball and leading Minnesota with confidence and efficiently thus far in Sam Bradford’s stead. Vikings’ Dalvin Cook will be sidelined Sunday, and Packers’ Ty Montgomery is questionable. Green Bay’s Aaron Jones ripped the Dallas D last week for 125 yards and a touchdown on route to a crucial victory. Jones or Montgomery should move the ball effectively due to the fact Minnesota has to respect the aerial attack Rodgers presents. At RB, Jerick McKinnon was effective out of the Vikes backfield last Monday in Chicago. McKinnon rushed for 95 yards on 16 carries, but it’s important to note that 58 of those yards came on a terrible break down by an injury-depleted Bears defense. If the Vikes try to pass, they’ll have to do it without top receiver Stephan Diggs. Diggs has accounted for 395 yards almost 35% of all Viking receiving yards. Jordy Nelson, DeAnte Adams, and Randle Cobb are all healthy and slated to start, essentially pick your poison. On the defensive side of the rock, the Packers will force Keenum into uncomfortable passing situations so he’ll make mistakes. To do so, Green Bay will have to sell out and stop the run, which is more than possible. The Vikings D should be able to make some big plays and keep it close, but they’ll tire as the game progresses. Rodgers will make some ridiculous game-breaking play like he always does in NFC North match-ups, on route to a 24-20 victory.
UPSET #2 – Los Angeles Rams +2.5
The Rams (3-2) rumble into Jacksonville (3-2) after a tough loss at home to Seattle. Los Angles could only muster ten points, and Jared Goff just hit 46% of his passes with two picks. That doesn’t vote well for a team that faces a similar Seattle pass defense. The Jags intercepted Ben Roethlisberger an astounding five times last week in their unofficial coming out party. For LA to be successful they must run the ball efficiently against a weaker Jaguars’ run defense, enter Todd Gurley III. Gurleys rushed for 405 yards, averaging over four yards a carry and four touchdowns, not to mention 241 receiving yards with three touchdown receptions. If Gurley can slash through the Jacksonville front four, he’ll open up passing lanes for Jared Goff. Goff’s had a solid sophomore campaign and is much more reliable than his counterpart, Blake Bortles. Goff has thrown for 1360 yards with a passer rating over 94. Bortles has thrown for just 827 yards with a PR of only 78.2.The Rams have to stuff the red-hot Leonard Fournette. Fournette has shown flashes over brilliance in his young career, last week he rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns. If the Rams skilled edge rushers can bottle Fournette up and hold him to an average game, LA should be able to squeeze out of Jacksonville with a narrow victory. Rams win 28-27.
DOUBLE DOWN #2 – Washington Redskins -11
The Washington Redskins (2-2) have one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, the San Fransisco 49ers (0-5) have one of the most dismal offenses in recent memory. Brian Hoyer has had a tough time protecting the ball this season, and it won’t be any easier against a confident and well-rested Skins team on home turf. Hoyer has thrown for a solid 1211 yards, but he only has four touchdowns with four picks and three fumbles. Carlos Hyde and the run game are becoming predictable to opposing defenses despite his stellar abilities and efforts. Washington, on the other hand, has a dead shot QB with a 7-1 TD-INT ratio, a passing percentage over 66%, and a career-high 107.6 passer rating. Kirk Cousins is off to the best start of his six-year career, a large part of that is his diverse backfield. Cousins leading receiver Chris Thompson leads the team in receptions and receiving yards along with 142 yards on the ground with an average carry of 7.1 yards. With the lack of offense that the 49ers posses, their defense will get exhausted and mowed down by Chris Thompson and the other Redskins’ backs. Kirk Cousins will have no problem picking apart a tired San Fran secondary. Redskins 31-14.