Several backup QBs have taken their teams to varying degrees of success so far this season – from Teddy Bridgewater to Kyle Allen to Gardner Minshew – stepping into the limelight as a replacement – whether due to injury or poor performance, these backups have handled themselves quite well so far.
In the spirit of “next man up”, I’m filling in this week for our colleague Matt Branigan. He is currently hiding in a corner after posting his first losing record in week 5, going 6-9 with his picks (j/k – he’s actually just swamped with work). However, he lent me his playbook, so I’m using his picks to call the plays and see if he gets back on a winning track.
Before we get to the weekend’s games – I need to say a brief word about Thursday night’s clash between the New England Patriots and my NY Giants. This was a game nobody expected the Giants to win – or even be competitive in. They were missing four starters on the offensive side of the ball (Shepard, Engram, Barkley, Gallman). Dainel Jones – a rookie QB – was starting against Bill Belichick – and that NEVER goes well. Let’s not even mention the defense. Those were the storylines heading into the game (and that’s only from NY’s side).
Nevertheless – our boys in blue put up quite a fight. The defense was stout for most of the game and got the team to the 4th quarter still having a shot at stealing a win. However, on a crucial drive in the 4th the Giants found themselves in a 4th & 2 situation down by two scores. For some reason – they PUNTED! I don’t know, but to me, you’ve got to at least try to get the first down there. It’s not like they were backed up in their own end or anything. If you go for it and fail, that’s one thing – but to boot the ball away – to me as a fan – felt like a team that wasn’t interested in trying to win. I don’t care how well the defense was playing.
One last takeaway – the missed Pass Interference call. After the Patriots had put the game out of reach, the Giants got the ball back to try and make it more respectable in defeat. They were driving down the field once again until this:
The Giants challenged – but the officials decided to let the call stand. This new rule, in reaction to the debacle in the playoffs last season, has been a total joke – and everyone in the league who isn’t Roger Goodell or wearing a black & white striped shirt knows it.
OK – now that I got that off my chest – on to this week’s picks:
Week 5 Picks Record: 6-9
Season Picks Record: 47-33
Panthers at Bucs (London)
The NFL “across the pond” continues with this division clash. Both teams battle to keep pace with the NO Saints. Kyle Allen continues to start under center for the Panthers. He’s undefeated since taking over and looks to continue the trend.
The Buccaneers have been up and down so far, and they look to “right the ship” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) before it’s too late. Bucs win 28-24.
Eagles at Vikings
Both teams were impressive last week, though both teams beat bad opponents. The Vikes demolished the NY Giants and the Eagles stomped a Darnold-less NY Jets. Kirk Cousins has been pretty woeful against teams with winning records so far. Will he step up today? Eagles win 26-20.
Redskins at Dolphins
A battle of the winless. Gross. Who wants the first pick in next year’s draft more? Dolphins win 20-13.
Texans at Chiefs
The opposite of the game taking place in Miami – this figures to be one of the more exciting games of the weekend. Two of the hottest QBs in the game square off. Hopefully it lives up to the hype. Patrick Mahomes is coming off a loss to the Colts where he literally limped off the field. Will he be 100% come game time? Will Deshaun Watson continue the torrid start he’s off to this season? Texans win 34-33.
Saints at Jaguars
Raise your hand if you thought this game would feature Teddy Bridgewater going up against Gardner Minshew… Yeah, I didn’t think so. But it hasn’t mattered. Teddy has impressed while filling in for Drew Brees – and don’t even get me started about “the stache” down in Jacksonville.
The battle of the backups should be entertaining to say the least. I’ll give the edge to New Orleans. Saints win 19-13.
Seahawks at Browns
The Browns were the most talked-about team heading into the season. Mayfield had a great first season and the team was adding OBJ to their already impressive offensive arsenal. WHAT HAPPENED? Needless to say, things haven’t gone as well as they’d planned so far. Now they run into a buzzsaw in Seattle, who are sitting at 4-1 on the season. Do things turn around? Not this week. Much like Cleveland’s longtime mascot Swagger, I expect them to be retired by Seattle when the clock winds down to zero. Seahawks win 27-21.
Bengals at Ravens
Another winless team looking to get in the win column. This week they run into a team whose QB hopes to find his stride again after being stifled recently. If Lamar Jackson can’t pick apart this hapless Bengals team, there may be big trouble in Baltimore. Ravens win 24-13.
49ers at Rams
How many ways can this 49ers team win? We’re still finding out as they haven’t yet lost this season. Their run game is pretty crazy, with multiple backs posting big numbers, led by Matt Breida. Will their injuries hurt their chances today against their in-state rivals (who are dealing with some struggles of their own)? I think this is a close one, and the loss of fullback Kyle Juszczyk proves to be bigger than thought. Rams win 24-23.
Falcons at Cardinals
How will Atlanta respond after a drubbing from Houston last week? Many hope they’ll step up in a big way against a Cardinals team that is still a long way away from being relevant. Falcons win 30-21.
Cowboys at Jets
Fans of Gang Green will be ecstatic to finally see Sam Darnold take the field after missing several weeks due to mono. The team is so happy that they went ahead and waived Luke Falk! What they might not be so happy about is seeing the Cowboys come to town. Dallas has feasted on bad teams so far this season – and even with Darnold under center, the Jets probably don’t improve enough to change that. Cowboys win 20-14.
Titans at Broncos
The AFC South is pretty wide open, and Tennessee needs to take care of business against Denver if they hope to stay in the mix. Marcus Mariota has felt like a QB trying to get over the hump for his entire career – will he ever prove himself to be the franchise signal-caller the Titans have hoped he’d be? He’s certainly shown flashes at times, but will he find the consistency needed to make a playoff push? Who knows. Broncos win 20-17.
Steelers at Chargers
Delvin Hodges? Yet another backup QB in 2019. Only in Hodges’ case, he’s not even a backup. I guess technically he became one when Big Ben went down and Mason Rudolph was thrust into the starting role. But now that Rudolph is out after a vicious hit last week, he’s looking to make a name for himself against a Chargers squad who just gave the Denver Broncos their first win of the season. That could prove to be a tall order, especially given some of their other injury woes. Chargers win 17-14.
Lions at Packers
Coming out of the bye, the Lions have a chance to prove they’re for real this year. They’ve done well for themselves so far this season. They’ve even done well against the Pack of late. They’ll look to continue the trend and prove to be a playoff contender in 2019. Lions win 30-27.
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