James Phillips: ((Last week 1-4) Season 7-6)
Panthers At Lions Pick: Lions 20-17 Reason: The Lions have the most defensive takeaways in the league with 11, and that opportunistic defensive unit has been the leading force for the Lions impressive start. I don’t see the turnovers stopping this week as the Panthers are tied for the 5th most turnovers in the league. Ameer Abdullah was easily the most impressive Lion to me last week averaging 4.7-yards per carry and showed crazy effort and balance on his three yard touchdown run. He also showed flashes of his pre-injury self. If Abdullah can replicate that performance and give the lions a balanced offensive attack for the first time since 2014, they should have more than enough firepower to win this game and improve to 4-1. Also if Ameer Abdullah continues to run this effectively and be an asset in the passing game, it’s only a matter of time until he becomes the three-down back everyone was hoping he would be when he was drafted.
As for the Panthers, Cam Newton looked to be back to normal last week against the Patriots; however, it’s time we accept that as of right now, the Patriots have been the worst defense in the league and production against them needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The Panthers’ receiving core is not one that particularly scares me, and up till last week the Panthers offense looked completely out of sync while trying to force the ball to Christian McCaffery. This game will be decided on which Panthers offense shows up to Ford Field Sunday.
Vikings at Bears Pick: Vikings 24-10 Reason: It’s not sure yet whether or not Sam Bradford plays in this one; however I’m not sure it matters. I like Mitchell Trubisky as player but it sure is one tough task to ask him to debut on primetime against this Vikings defense. With the few weapons at his disposal, I think it’s going to be very hard for him to be able to create any type of effective passing offense. The Vikings will miss Dalvin Cook for sure, but I still think they have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league and they should feast on this Bears secondary.
Packers at Cowboys Pick: Cowboys 31-27 Reason: The Cowboys still have the reminisce of the formula that made them so good last year. When the run game is going, they have the best ball control offense in the league. The Packers made it look easy last week, but an under the radar component to their offense this year has been running back Ty Montgomery operating as a feature back. He’s gonna play but he’s gonna power through broken ribs so who knows how effective he is going to be. The Cowboys definitely have defensive deficiencies, however; Demarcus Lawrence is playing at an all-pro level and will put enough pressure on Aaron Rodgers to make him just uncomfortable enough to make one or two mistakes to give the cowboys the edge.
Seahawks at Rams Pick: Rams 27-21 Reason: I think it’s time to accept that Sean McVay has turned around this Rams operation and helped them form a top-10 offense. We have a big enough sample size now to see that this is not a fluke. Todd Gurley has been playing like an MVP candiate being effective in both the run and pass and has opened up the field for Jared Goff and crew to operate. Outside of last weeks second half dismantling of the Colts, the Seahawks have been a tough watch this year as their offensive line looks to have a hit out on Russell Wilson the way they have protected him up to this point. Heading into this year, I thought both these teams would be leaning heavily on their defenses, but this is set to be a offense battle and the Rams just have more balance on that side of the ball.
Chargers at Giants Pick: Chargers 31-21 Reason: This was a trendy Super Bowl pick for some, but it hasn’t looked too accurate so far as they have a combined record of 0-8. Both of these aging quarterbacks have struggled so far this year. Eli Manning has looked far worse of the two and the entire offense has been dependent on Odell Beckham Jr creating jaw-dropping plays. Wayne Gallman did provide a spark last week and I do believe he provides an upgrade in the running game; however Phillip Rivers still has some left in the tank and the Chargers have had some pretty fluky losses. Overall, the Chargers just have too many weapons on both sides to fall to 0-5.
James Gullett ((last week 4-1) Season 10-3)
Panthers at Lions Pick: Lions 35-17 Reason: The Carolina Panthers have the fourth worst turnover ratio in the NFL so far this season. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions have the best turnover ratio in the NFL. I see this major mismatch as an opportunity for the Lions to get some extra possessions in this game.
With Jarrad Davis set to play, I see the Lions defense being able to control Cam Newton’s running abily.
The Panthers lack a lot of offensive game changing options. McCaffrey, Benjamin, Funchess, and Samuel are dynamic, however they aren’t the caliber of Odell Beckham Jr, Juilo Jones, and Larry Fitzgerald, who the Lions have already shut down this year.
Vikings at Bears Pick: Vikings 17-7 Reason: Minnesota even without Cook, the Vikings have two great WR’s, and Sam Bradford may be back giving Minnesota a weapon back after losing Cook in the Lions game last week. The Vikings defense will hold the rookie QB for the Bears in check this week.
Packers at Cowboys Pick: Packers 21-17 Reason: This is a coin flip game as far as I’m concerned, both team have below average defense and strong offense. Packers have a better pass game while Cowboys have a better run game. This all being said, I’ll take the team with the better QB.
Seahawks at Rams Pick: Rams 24-17 Reason: The Rams so far this season have the number one offense in the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks always have a great defense and will be the biggest test of Jared Goff’s young NFL career.
Todd Gurley is having a breakout season much like his rookie year. He looks almost unstoppable.
The Seahawk’s offense has looked abysmal this year and their offensive line has almost looked nonexistent. I do not have any faith in the Seahawk’s offensive line to protect Russell Wilson from Aaron Donald.
Chargers at Giants Pick: Giants 14-10 Reason: Both the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Chargers are horrendous teams this year. They both have yet to win a game coming in to week five. They have a combined average of 23 points allowed a game, while only averaging fewer than 20 points a game.
With so many things similar between these two teams, I’ll take the team that has the better defense in my opinion, which also happens to be the home team. I’ll take the Giants in this low-scoring affair.
Jace Osborn-Sweet: ((last week 3-2) Season 7-6)
Panthers At Lions Pick: Lions 28-24 Reason: After the Panthers showed out against a lackluster Patriots defense, they will want to come out and do the same, but this a different team and defense. I expect a close down-to-the-wire game.
Packers vs Cowboys Pick: Packers 35-27 Reason: This is a big week for the NFC North. I see the Packers taking this one after Rodgers shreds this Cowboys secondary. This Packers D will have problems, but their offense will be able to mask their deficiencies.
Rams Vs Seahawks Pick: Rams 21-20 Reason: The Rams are coming off some big wins the past few weeks and will see their first “real” test as a team. I believe in Jared Goff.
Giants vs Chargers Pick: Giants 24-14 Reason: Neither of these teams are “good” and that’s why this will be the Giants first win of the season. This Chargers defense is decent but not great and the offense has not been very good as of late. Giants 24-14.
Bears vs Vikings Pick: Vikings 28-14 Reason: I expect the Vikings to come out and win this one. Never underestimate the Bears, as they are a sneaky team that has come out on top in some close games. Vikings 28-14.