Bet On It: Week 5 predictions
Much like the 0-4 Saints, my record is deceiving. I've been in the game, but the numbers are coming up just short. Not this week. The Saints will finally get into the win column, and these picks will flirt with perfection. By next Tuesday, it'll be both "Tebow Time" and "Perloff Time."
The Chargers' defensive backs have played well, ranking ninth in the league in interceptions, but the Saints are going to be fired up with Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis likely in the stands. Brees will have to throw often against his former team, because San Diego's offense will put up points on the Saints' suspect defense.
Expect a shootout in the Keystone State showdown. The Steelers get stars Troy Polamalu and James Harrison back, but the unit might be too old to reestablish itself as dominant. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger was impressive in a 34-31 loss to the Raiders two weeks ago, throwing for a lofty 384 yards. Vick has to be careful about not absorbing too many hits and will rely on LeSean McCoy screens to keep Pittsburgh honest.
Nelson has been Green Bay's leading receiver in two out of four games this season, but he hasn't really had a monster game yet. Last year Nelson had five 100-plus-yard games, with none so far in 2012. This is a good matchup for the Green Bay passing game.
The Vikings' pass rush came to life last week against Detroit and should be all over the immobile Matt Hasselbeck, who's filling in for the injured Jake Locker. The key for Minnesota will be stopping Titans running back Chris Johnson, who finally showed up last week, topping the 100-yard mark. If Johnson reverts to his early-season form, the Titans will be in obvious pass situations and Hasselbeck will be in trouble.
The Niners destroyed the Jets on the ground last week and will take the same offensive approach to control the game this Sunday. But unlike the Jets, the Bills can fight back with their own effective run game. Buffalo running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are banged up, but they're still a better option than having quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick face that Niners pass rush.
Newton got back on track last week against the Falcons despite losing a key fumble in the final minutes of a tough 30-28 loss. But he'll face the No. 9-ranked pass defense, and the Panthers will try to establish a run game that's 11th in the league after finishing third in 2011. The Seahawks seem to be losing confidence in the rookie Wilson and don't want to expose him to a Panthers' pass rush that has improved after a slow start to the season.
Cincinnati's defense is getting healthier and will start to resemble the unit that ranked No. 7 in the NFL last season. You had to be impressed that Tannehill threw for 431 yards last week against a Cardinals defense that shut down Tom Brady and Michael Vick for 533 yards
Gronkowski has been nursing a sore hip and hasn't been himself this year, on pace for just 1,040 yards. Last week he caught five balls for 104 yards against the Bills, but he also had a fumble and a few drops. Nevertheless, it's just a matter of time until Gronk gets loose, and the Pats should call his number often on Sunday.
Sanchez was under a ton of pressure last week and threw for just 103 yards against San Francisco. The Texans' pass rush is just as fierce, giving Sanchez no time to look downfield. Plus, there's always the chance that the Jets will decide to pull their starter if the game gets out of hand. This is exactly the point of the season the Broncos turned to Tim Tebow in 2011.
This is a perfect storm for Tebow to finally be part of a touchdown. With 1:37 left in a non-competitive game, Tebow plunges in from two yards out on national TV to ignite a media firestorm.