NFL Week 5: Popularity still remains as high as ever

  • By Nolan Rose
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 10:06pm
  • Sports

The Sultan of Sides is riding a tidal wave of excellence into the fifth week of the NFL season. A pocket book pleasing 9-4 mark against the spread in week four followed an even fatter 11-4-1 tally in week three. The two-week stretch raised the column’s record to a satisfactory 33-27-1 for the year.

The first quarter of the NFL schedule has been unlike any other in recent memory. The league has been rocked by domestic violence and child abuse issues. Almost too many to count. Commissioner Darth Goodell has seen his popularity plummet to depths even lower than a United States President could reach. It’s a testament to the incredible popularity of the league that TV ratings remain unbelievably high. In America, football is king.

Speaking of royalty. The Soldotna High School football team is on some kind of run. West Valley was supposed to be a test for the Stars and that thought proved accurate until the game started. SoHi held a 59-14 lead in the fourth quarter before holding on for a 37-point victory? Wow! The young men in blue passed that test with flying colors. The last team standing between the Stars and another undefeated regular season is rival Kenai Central High School.

I haven’t been to a high school football game since I daydreamed my way through Algebra II in the year 2000. It’s been over a decade. I’m going to the SoHi-Kenai game this weekend. You have to if you’re a fan of football. Can Kenai pull off the impossible and stop the SoHi freight train in its tracks? Or will the Stars roll another opponent on their way to the state playoffs? A win for Kenai would taste sweeter than a triple chocolate cookie to Kardinal faithful, but defeating a SoHi team that would undoubtedly be favored over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars will be a challenge.

Minnesota Vikings @
GREEN BAY PACKERS -9

Neophyte passer Teddy Bridgewater has sparked a Minnesota Vikings team without their star rusher Adrian Peterson. Now the Vikings travel to hallowed Lambeau Field to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on a short week. Green Bay’s defense has been shredded cheese through four weeks. Expect the Pack to add a few wrinkles into the game plan to confuse Bridgewater. Rodgers found his rhythm last Sunday in Chicago. Expecting the Vikes rookie to keep up with the future Hall-of-Famer is a tall order. Packers win 34-20

CHICAGO BEARS @
Carolina Panthers -2.5

I’d feel better about siding with the Bears at +3.5 but beggars can’t be choosers. Carolina’s offense is a steaming pile of injuries. DeAngelo Williams, out. Jonathon Stewart, out. Mike Tolbert, out. Who is Cam Newton going to hand the ball off to? A suspect Panthers passing attack won’t be able to match the Bears on the scoreboard. Bears win 26-19

CLEVELAND BROWNS @
Tennessee Titans +1.5

What can the Browns do for you? Cover spreads! Take that UPS. Tennessee is awful, the Titans have been outscored by 66 points in their last three contests following an opening week victory. That’s a 22 point average margin of defeat. Yikes. Cleveland is sneaky competitive. Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer has played well enough to pause ESPN’s seemingly endless obsession with Johnny Manziel. The world owes Brian Hoyer a thank you. Browns win 20-17

ST. LOUIS RAMS @
Philadelphia Eagles -7

Undrafted, second year quarterback Austin Davis has filled in admirably for the St. Louis Rams replacing injured passers Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill. The Eagles high flying attack was grounded last week in San Francisco. Star rusher LeSean McCoy has averaged a paltry 2.7 yards per carry through four contests. Philadelphia’s pass blocking hasn’t been much better. Something the Rams fearsome front four should take advantage of. St. Louis doesn’t have enough to pull off the upset but the Mountain Goats will keep things interesting. Eagles win 27-21.

ATLANTA FALCONS @
New York Giants -4

The New York Small Persons have been much better than I anticipated. I was certain this was the year Head Coach Tom Coughlin ran out of lives in the NFL, but Eli Manning and the offense has hit their stride in time to take some heat off the old ball coach. Atlanta is a hard team to figure out. The Falcons can put points on the board, but how do you let a depleted Minnesota Vikings team, with a rookie quarterback making his first start, tally 41 points a week ago? If the Falcons defense doesn’t improve quickly it could be a long year in Atlanta. Falcons win 31-28

Tampa Bay Bucs @
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -10

The Saints aren’t marching in. What is has happened to the New Orleans Saints? Drew Brees was supposed to lead the team to contention in the NFC. After four weeks the Saints are 1-3 and in real danger of having their lofty aspirations slip away. Fortunately for Saints faithful, the Tampa Bay Bucs are coming to the rescue. I’m not buying Tampa’s win in Pittsburgh last Sunday as anything more than the Steelers overlooking their opponent. Saints win 34-17

HOUSTON TEXANS @
Dallas Cowboys -6

The Battle for Lone Star State supremacy is set for this weekend. Both teams have gotten off to surprising 3-1 starts. The Cowboys in particular have looked great. Running back DeMarco Murray leads the NFL in rushing. The strong ground attack has taken the pressure off quarterback Tony Romo. Texans’ star defender J.J. Watt will have to have a monster performance to stymy the Cowboys offense. Cowboys win 24-20

BUFFALO BILLS @
Detroit Lions -7

Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills! Expect the Bills to rally around newly inserted quarterback Kyle Orton. Orton replaces the embattled E.J. Manuel who failed miserably as a first-round draft pick. An average performance from Orton would be a huge improvement over anything Manuel could offer. Detroit is off to a strong 3-1 start but the Lions of recent memory have been allergic to prosperity. Lions win 27-24

Baltimore Ravens @
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -3.5

Laying a field goal scares me, but Andrew Luck and the Colts offense has finally come alive. Perhaps no quarterback has ever entered the NFL surrounded by as much hype as Luck. The wunderkind passer has been good but now it appears he’s taking the final step toward greatness. Luck has thrown for nearly 800 yards and eight touchdowns in his last two contests. The Baltimore Ravens will be a much tougher test but it’s one I’m confident the Stanford graduate will pass. Colts win 31-24

PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ Jacksonville Jags +6.5

Pittsburgh flopped a week ago against the hapless Tampa Bay Bucs at home. The Steelers will get a chance to redeem themselves against another Florida team this Sunday when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville is terrible, and until the team proves it can lose a game by less than 17 points, something they’ve yet to accomplish, the smart play is to stay away. Steelers win 36-19

Arizona Cardinals @
DENVER BRONCOS -7.5

I’m not buying the Arizona Cardinals as a legitimate contender in the NFC. Quarterback Carson Palmer hasn’t played in nearly a month, that’s not a recipe for success against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Mile High City. Denver has had a bye week to recover from their narrow defeat in Seattle. The Broncos won’t drop two in a row. Broncos win 31-17

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @
San Francisco 49ers -6.5

How impressive were the Chiefs against the New England Patriots a week ago? Kansas City took the Brady Bunch into the woodshed and didn’t let them out until Tom Brady’s hair was messed up. San Francisco survived a scare against the Philadelphia Eagles to reach 2-2 for the year. Despite the win, something seems amiss with this 49ers team. Ex-49er and current Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is primed for a great performance in his return to the bay. Chiefs win 21-17

New York Jets @
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -7

Jets quarterback Geno Smith is really bad at football. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is really good at football. No further analysis is necessary. Chargers win 30-16

Cincinnati Bengals @
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS +1.5

The Cincinnati Bengals, led by one of the top defenses in football, is undefeated through four weeks. The Brady Bunch is 2-2 and looks like a shell of the good team that used to play in Boston. In this wacky NFL universe that means the Patriots are the smart play. I just don’t see a Bill Belichick team laying two eggs in a row. If New England falls this week we can all get off the band wagon. Patriots win 24-21

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @
Washington Redskins +7.5

A touchdown plus is more than you’d like to lay when your backing the visiting side but does anyone think the Washington Native Americans can compete with the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks? Russell Wilson and company have had two weeks to prepare for a team that lost to an average New York Giants squad 45-14 a week ago. Native American fans will be yearning for the Robert Griffin glory years. Seahawks win 30-20

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