Thursday, October 6, 2016

NFL Picks, Week 5 - Thursday Night Edition


The majority of the country (in terms of map coverage, not necessarily number of households) will see 
New York Jets at Pittsbugh (CBS, 1 PM)
Washington at New York Giants  (CBS, 4:25PM)
Atlanta at Denver (FOX, 4:00 PM)

The entire country will see 
Arizona at San Francisco (CBS/NFLN/Twitter, 8:30 *Thursday*)
New York Giants at Green Bay (NBC, 8:30)
Tampa Bay at Carolina (ESPN, 8:30 *Monday*)

Arizona (-3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Both of these teams head into this game 1-3, but one is right where we expected them to be while one is a big surprise. The Cardinals were supposed to build on their NFC Championship Game appearance last year to make a real run at the Super Bowl this year. They got a couple of big schedule breaks when Tom Brady was suspended for 4 games (including their week 1 tilt in Arizona) and Marcel Dareus was as well (including Arizona's week 3 trip to Buffalo). Then the Cardinals lost both of those games. 

The 49ers were supposed to comfortably bring up the rear in the NFC West, but they (and so far, they alone) thoroughly dismantled the Rams 28-0 in the final game of week 1. Since then, they've lost by 19, 19, and 7 points. They also lost top linebacker NaVarro Bowman for the season last week to an Achilles injury, though they do get pass rusher Aaron Lynch back. 

This would be an easy pick, except Carson Palmer went and got himself concussed last week against the Rams. With this game being midweek, he simply didn't have time to clear the concussion protocol and will not suit up tonight. So the Cardinals will roll out Drew Stanton instead. While the Cardinals offense has not been firing on all cylinders, replacing Carson Palmer with Drew Stanton is not the type of change that should click things back into place here. I've joked many times about Palmer's penchant for turnovers, but Stanton isn't any better. Worse, Bruce Arians is stubborn about his offense and you can't expect him to dial things back to account for the downgrade at the quarterback position. 

So why am I still picking the Cardinals? It's simple, their team is much better than San Francisco's, and the 49ers aren't much better off at quarterback with Blaine Gabbert under center. Cardinals win a lower scoring affair. 

2016 Midweek Picks: 2-2

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