2013 Regular Season: 38-25 (60.3%)
2012 Regular Season: 164-91-1* (64.3%)
Last Week: 8-7 (53.3%)
All-time Colts Predictions: 15-6 (71.4%)
Another ho-hum week for the Predictificationist - let's hope this doesn't start a trend. The good news is that I'm still ahead of last year's pace at this time (which was 35-28-1) and we all know what happened last year (I was named "Smartest Man Alive" by several major news outlets after predicting the Ravens as Super Bowl Champs).
The Colts did what they were supposed to do last week, beating up on a terrible Jaguars team. Going 0-16 is tough to do, but this Jacksonville team has a real chance to do it. Those pesky Rams may get in the way of "perfection" if the Jaguars aren't careful.
Injuries are starting to pile up for the good guys in blue - but, as in the past (except for Curtis Painter), guys are stepping in to fill the holes nicely. I'm a Samson Satele fan (he's always been very nice to my son) but it's clear to me that Mike McGlynn has outplayed him to this point (maybe we won't miss A.Q. Shipley as much after all, Brad) and I think he should remain the starter - for what that's worth. I'm sure that the Indianapolis Colts coaching staff will disagree with me.
The Seahawks will probably be the toughest test yet for the Colts when they come to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Russel Wilson has all of the mobility of Terrelle Pryor and Colin Kaepernick and a better arm (and more playmakers). The Seahawks defense is big and mean (and that's just the starting corners) and they will want to make a statement early - the offensive line better be ready for a lot of blitzes. Marshawn "Skittles" Lynch scares me, too... he is the type of running back that has given the Colts fits in the past - but then, these aren't the Colts of the past.
For what it's worth the Colts are ranked as the top team with a loss this year according to the ESPN Power Rankings - meaning they are sixth overall behind the five unbeaten teams. I bet you'll never guess where the Jaguars ranked... (hint: it rhymes with dirty shoe)
Here's a recap of my best picks from last week:
49ers at Rams - I told you the 49ers would rebound and win by a lot more than three points. Fact is, a lot of people overreacted to San Francisco's 1-2 start, even though they played the Packers, Seahawks and Colts. Here's what I said last week:
"Everyone is wondering what it wrong with the 49ers - not me. The 49ers beat a good Packers team and lost to the Seahawks and the Colts. That's a tough schedule to start the NFL season. Fact is, the Seahawks have one of the best pass coverage units in all of football and the Colts look pretty strong in that category as well. The 49ers will rebound this week and should win by much more than three points.
49ERS WIN 27-17"
Cardinals at Buccaneers - I said that I don't take too many rookie quarterbacks to win their first start and that the Cardinals would pull this one out - I hope you listened.
Dolphins at Saints - I predicted that this "battle of the unbeatens" would end in embarrassment for the Dolphins. They aren't ready for the big time yet and I told you they'd take it on the chin. My prediction was a 34-17 route - it ended up a 38-17 route. Close enough.
Before we get to the games, here are some other fearless predictions, news and notes for Week 5:
- The Colts are 3-1 for the first time since 2004 and only the third time in Indianapolis Colts history (2002, 2000). Twice they've gone to 4-1 and once fallen to 3-2. Twice they've won their first game, lost the second, and then won two more to get to 3-1 and each time finished with a 10-6 record. The Seahawks and Colts have split their eight matchups since the team moved to Indianapolis, 4-4 (the Colts had a 2-0 record against Seattle while in Baltimore).
- If you project Andrew Luck's stats from the first four games to a full season his stat line would be: 64.1% passing, 20 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and 3,672 yards. Much less gaudy than many of us were anticipating but I think it's in the range the Colts want. Indianapolis is on pace to rush for 2,392 yards this year - which would it's best since 1985 (2,439) and only the sixth time in Indianapolis Colts history (1984, 1987, 1988, 1994) the team exceeded 2,000 yards rushing. Look at those years.... In this era of football running for 2,392 yards would be like 10,000 back then (adjusted for inflation).
- I tried this last week - and I'm going to keep trying until I'm right. Peyton Manning has never gone 5 complete games without an interception in his career. He once finished the season with four interception-free games but he was pulled after the first series of the fourth game. Will he make it five interception-free games this weekend against the Cowboys? I don't think so - I expect the streak to end against Dallas.
- The NFL is a weird league. Consider this: Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco are a combined 2-10 with 59% passing, 16 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and 9 fumbles. Meanwhile, E.J. Manuel, Brian Hoyer, Jake Locker and Matt Cassel have combined for an 8-3 record, 60% passing, 18 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and 6 fumbles. Weird.
On to the picks!
Seattle Seahawks (4-0) at Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
Line - Seahawks by 2.5
The Seahawks come to town as one of the hottest teams in the NFL - and a pretty impressive resume. They resemble the Colts in a lot of ways: Each has beaten the 49ers and Jaguars (for the Colts, each has been on the road), each faced a young mobile quarterback (Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor), each have faced one other quality opponent (Dolphins and Texans) and they each depend on a power running attack, smothering defense and a young promising quarterback (who can scramble around when needed).
The stats are nearly identical, too - Seahawks have scored 109 points to 105 for the Colts. Seattle's allowed 47 points and Indy's allowed 51. Seahawks average 5.5 yards per play, the Colts average 5.7. Indianapolis has ran for 598 yards and a 4.9 YPC - Seattle's rushed for 577 and a 4.2 YPC. And finally, the Colts score on about 44% of their drives this season and the Seahawks score on about 39%.
The difference? Turnovers. The Colts have shown incredible improvement thus far this season, already forcing eight turnovers (9th best in the league). To put that in perspective, the Colts forced just 15 all of last season (30th in the NFL). The Seahawks forced 31 turnovers in 2012 (5th best) and already have 13 this season (2nd best).
This game will come down to turnovers. These teams have similar playing styles and it looks like an even game on paper. The difference is that the Seahawks depend on their defense to provide extra possessions for their offense and to improve field position. This Colts team has shown that it doesn't turnover the ball - they have only two all season (2nd best). If the Colts can continue this trend they will take down Seattle this weekend and kick the hype train into hyperdrive.
I'm taking the Colts.
COLTS WIN 27-24
Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Line - Browns by 4
On paper it looks like the Bills should win this game - of course, on paper it doesn't take into account things like momentum. I don't know what it is about this Browns team but they've really seemed to rally since the Trent Richardson trade and the Brandon Weeden benching. It's like fighting a man that has nothing to lose and no fear of death - and that's scary (at least I think it would be).
I think the Browns keep the streak going and the defense harasses E.J. Manuel all day.
BROWNS WIN 24-17
New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Chicago Bears (3-1)
Line - Even
You never want to overreact to what you saw the week before. The Saints had their way with a decent Dolphins team and Jay Cutler seemed to be back to his old ways as the Bears lost in Detroit. Make no mistake about it, the Bears can compete with the New Orleans Saints and could win at home. I just don't think it'll happen.
The Saints are rolling and Drew Brees, Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham are better than Cutler, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall right now.
SAINTS WIN 38-31
New England Patriots (4-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
Line - Bengals by 1.5
Everyone seems a little slow to pick up on the fact that the Patriots are gaining some chemistry and the Bengals seem to be losing it. Combine that with the fact that Tom Brady may have Danny Amendola back this week and I like the Patriots.
I know the Patriots are without Vince Wilfork - and that probably eliminates and any kind of deep playoff run for the Patriots. But, let's be honest... does the combination of BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2.7 YPC) and rookie Giovani Bernard seem like it'll be the difference maker? I don't think so.
PATRIOTS WIN 24-17
Detroit Lions (3-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Line - Packers by 7
Green Bay is coming off a bye week and are pretty disappointed about how the season has played out to this point. The Lions just might be feeling a little too satisfied after their win over Chicago last week - and I think they are primed for a beat down.
I think the Packers come out firing and won't allow themselves to fall into a deeper hole in the division. Look for Aaron Rodgers to "daa-ble" his passing yards from his previous game against Cincinnati (217) with over 400 yards and three or more touchdowns.
PACKERS WIN 34-17
Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (3-1)
Line - Chiefs by 3
This game would be so much better if Jake Locker were playing. It's hard for me to decide at this point in the season if the Titans are a legitimate threat to the Colts in the AFC South or not. The good news is, without Locker for 4-6 weeks, they probably aren't.
The Chiefs have played well (so far) under Andy Reid and I expect that to continue. I'm taking the Chiefs.
CHIEFS WIN 27-17
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) at St. Louis Rams (1-3)
Line - Rams by 11.5
If Jacksonville is going to win a game in the near future, this might be it. After this game they travel to Denver (that could get ugly), play the Chargers and 49ers at home and then visit the Titans (on the week Locker should return). The next winnable game may not come until December when they travel to Cleveland.
The Rams have looked lost the last couple of weeks - and I don't think things are looking good for Jeff Fisher's job security. This team has more talent than they are showing and a loss to Jacksonville just might be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
I'm taking the Rams, but only because the Jaguars shouldn't be picked to win any game this season.
RAMS WIN 20-13
Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-1)
Line - Dolphins by 3
Both of these teams are a mystery to me. The Dolphins looked like the real deal until they played in New Orleans on Monday. The Ravens haven't looked like themselves so far this year - especially on defense.
I think these teams are pretty even and I'm going to go with the team that has more to lose. The Ravens have too much pride to fall to 2-3 and I think the Dolphins are pretty satisfied with a 3-1 record at this point of the season. The Ravens will want this one more - I'm taking Baltimore.
RAVENS WIN 27-20
New York Giants (0-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
Line - Giants by 2
I was able to watch Tom Coughlin's press conference this past week and whatever magic the old man has had in season's past is LOOOONG gone. It'd be foolish to pick the Giants at this point - they don't have anything going for them and they seem to have lost hope.
The Eagles play with a lot of energy - they just have to stop turning the ball over. They should get some turnovers, too - courtesy of the Giants (16 already this year, worst in the NFL). I like the Eagles in a close one.
EAGLES WIN 27-24
Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
Line - Panthers by 2
The Panthers are a bit of a mystery headed into Week 5. I didn't get a very good read on them during their first three games (a lot of up and down performances) and I'm not sure what to expect coming out of their bye week.
The Cardinals have shown themselves to stay competitive in just about every game. At this point I have more confidence in Arizona - but this one could go either way.
CARDINALS WIN 24-17
Denver Broncos (4-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Line - Broncos by 7
I think a lot of football fans are waiting to see the Broncos get tested - and this is probably the best team they've faced. I don't think they're good enough and I expect the Broncos to handle their business in Dallas and then beat Jacksonville to come into Indianapolis undefeated (6-0) to take on the Colts.
The Cowboys have the weapons to compete with Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray - and I hink this game may actually be close in the first half. I expect the second half to be a completely different story with the Broncos building a lead and the Cowboys starting to play desperate.
Broncos win again.
BRONCOS WIN 38-24
Houston Texans (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Line - 49ers by 7
Let me say this: I love watching the Texans struggle right now - and their schedule isn't getting any easier. The 49ers were embarrassed the last time an AFC South team came to their place (courtesy of the Colts) and they may be just mad enough to not let it happen again.
The Texans were dealt a demoralizing loss last week against the Seahawks and face major questions at quarterback (the one they've tried to ignore for the last several years).
I like the 49ers to win this game and the Texans to continue to struggle.
49ERS WIN 27-24
San Diego Chargers (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-3)
Line - Chargers by 4.5
The Chargers have played very well so far this season - probably better than their 2-2 record might indicate. The Raiders have also exceeded expectations and have Terrelle Pryor returning from his concussion.
Like the game against the Colts, this game will come down to difference-makers - and there just aren't enough on the Raiders side of the ball. The Chargers will win a hard-fought, closer-than-you-think kind of game.
CHARGERS WIN 23-20
New York Jets (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
Line - Falcons by 9.5
If the Falcons don't win this game I may just quit watching football (not really). I don't know what's wrong with the Falcons but they have struggled to put points on the board (especially late in games with the game on the line). This is their moment to show something - Monday Night Football against a team that they are MUCH better than - time to flex some muscle.
I like the Falcons to win this in a blowout.
It's the lock of the week (which I haven't missed yet in my Survivor Pool).
FALCONS WIN 34-13
BYE WEEKS: Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings
Agree? Disagree? As always, comments are welcome! I will track my picks during the season and brag when I'm right (and pretend I was right when I'm wrong). Pick against me if you dare - remember, I'm a Predictificationist.
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