By Scott Taylor and Dave Petrishen
TAMPA – Thursday night’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns proved three things: (1) Buffalo still isn’t very good. (2) NFL officiating is really marginal. (3) Playing quarterback in the NFL is dangerous.
Thursday night, The Coach nailed it, taking the Browns to cover. Cleveland whipped Buffalo 37-24 as Brandon Weeden came off the bench to replace the injured Brian Hoyer and help a terrific Browns defense and a remarkable performance by punt returner Travis Benjamin — who ran a punt back 79 yards for a touchdown – to easily defeat the Bills.
In the end, Hoyer tore his ACL and will be out for the season. However, Buffalo quarterback EJ Manuel tore up his knee and will be gone six-eight weeks.
Trouble for Buffalo, however, was the fact Cleveland had Brandon Weeden on the bench. The Bills had Jeff Tuel (Did you know that the NFL website doesn’t even have his picture?), and that poor kid went eight-for-20 for 80 yards and a pick-six interception.
If Thursday night’s game was an indication of what’s in store for Week 5 in the NFL, there won’t be any starting quarterbacks left and Josh Freeman will have a job.
We’ll also see some very interesting football. After all, you can’t deny that Thursday night’s game was both fun and interesting.
Last week Dr. Football went 10-5 (44-19) straight up and 9-6 (30-33) against the spread. The Coach, meanwhile, went 12-3 straight up (44-19) and 12-3 (34-29) against the spread.
This week, the Doc prepares the prose for our educated guesses while the Coach watches the baseball playoffs and eats Funyuns. By the way, like The Coach, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa and Washington have this week’s byes.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (3-1) Line: Chiefs by 2.5.
The Titans will be forced to start backup Ryan Fitzpatrick because of a hip injury to Jake Locker, but it won’t matter; the Chiefs have had the best defense in the league, and they won’t lose at home. The Coachs says: Just when I started to believe Jake Locker was a winner…
The Doc: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.
Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-1) Line: Miami by 3.
Despite their blowout loss on Monday night, the Dolphins are for real having already beaten Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Atlanta. The Ravens are struggling, having been beaten by the Bills last week and now face their second road game in a row. Ryan Tannehill has outperformed Joe Flacco through four weeks and that should continue on Sunday. The Coach says: Miami is better than we think and Baltimore is not as good.
The Doc: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) at St. Louis Rams (1-3) Line: Rams by 11.5.
Lucky for the Rams that the Jaguars are one of the worst teams the NFL has seen in years. They haven’t been competitive and have lost every game by double digits. Sunday should be no different. The Coach says: Zzzzzzzzzzzz.
The Doc: TAKE THE RAMS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE RAMS TO WIN AND COVER.
New England Patriots (4-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) Line: Bengals by 1.
A 4-0 team that gets no love from the odds makers? Bill Belichick loves these kind of games. Tom Brady is getting comfortable with his young receivers each week; this was evident in the Patriots win last week in Atlanta. The Bengals won’t keep up. The Coach says: With a win this week, Tom Brady could wrap up his 2013 MVP. But I think he still has some work to do.
The Doc: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Seattle Seahawks (4-0) at Indianapolis Colts (3-1) Line: Seahawks by 2.5.
The Seahawks played hard last week in Houston, and earned a road win. They can’t afford to start flat again against Andrew Luck’s offense, an offense that can light it up; he won’t make the mistakes that the Texans Matt Schaub did. The Colts are home after two weeks on the road and will be fired up. The Coach says: This could be a great football game.
The Doc: TAKE THE COLTS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN.
Detroit Lions (3-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-2) Line: Packers by 6.5.
Aaron Rodgers against Matthew Stafford is always fun. The Packers are coming off a bye, while the Lions are coming off a huge win knocking off the previously undefeated Bears. This will be a shootout. The Coach says: Matthew Stafford’s biggest night.
The Doc: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Chicago Bears (3-1) Line: Bears by 1.
The Saints are more than just a top offensive team; they now boast a defense that’s performing at an elite level. Chicago gave up 40 points to the Lions in Week Four, and even though New Orleans isn’t the same team on the road, Drew Brees and company should be able to score enough to steal a road victory. The Coach says: Marc Trestman’s biggest NFL game to date.
The Doc: TAKE THE SAINTS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE BEARS TO WIN AND COVER.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) at New York Giants (0-4) Line: Giants by 2.5.
The Giants are a disaster at 0-4, and the Eagles aren’t much better at 1-3. The Giants have had trouble getting their offense going, while the Eagles offense hasn’t played well since the first half in week 1. This is a good spot for Eli Manning; Philadelphia doesn’t have a dominant pass rush, so he’ll get more time to thrown than he had in recent weeks. Giants get their first victory of the season. The Coach says: Who’s worse? Michael Vick or Eli Manning? I never thought I’d ever ask that question.
The Doc: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2) Line: Panthers by 2.
The Panthers are coming off the bye and have one of the top defensive lines in football; they sacked Eli Manning six times in just over a quarter back in Week 3’s blowout win over the Giants. The Cardinals return home after beating Tampa Bay but being beaten up in New Orleans. I think this is the week that Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald really click. The Coach says: This is a statement game for the Cards. Yeah, right.
The Doc: TAKE THE CARDINALS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN.
San Diego Chargers (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-3) Line: Chargers by 4.5.
San Diego’s Philip Rivers is finally playing like the quarterback that was an MVP candidate from 2008-2010. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to keep it up against the lowly Raiders, The Chargers defense will force Terrelle Pryor into making a lot of mistakes. The Coach says: I don’t like either one of these teams, but I like Oakland less.
The Doc: TAKE THE CHARGERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CHARGERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Denver Broncos (4-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2) Line: Broncos by 7.
No team has been as dominant in in the last few years as the 2013 Broncos. Their smallest margin of victory has been 16 points. The Cowboys gave up over 400 yards to the Chargers last week through the air. Now they get Peyton Manning. The Coach says: Remember when people thought Tony Romo was good?
The Doc: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
Houston Texans (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2) Line: 49ers by 6.5.
49ers Colin Kaepernick looked good last week, but he hasn’t been able to string together two straight consistent performances. The Texans defense is one of the best in the league and San Francisco’s will take a hit without Aldon Smith. The 49ers will win at home, but it should be close until the end. The Coach says: Maybe Matt Schaub can throw another “butt-fumble” interception. Or maybe Matt Schaub will be benched. It’s amazing, but there is talk that Schaub is “done” in Houston.
The Doc: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.
New York Jets (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-3) Line: Falcons by 8.5.
The Falcons are a much better team than their record indicates, while the Jets aren’t a very good 2-2. Geno Smith has the worst passer rating of all the starting QB’s. Look for Matt Ryan to come out swinging in this one, and he’ll put up some big numbers. The Coach says: What he said.
The Doc: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.