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Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 5

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That’s more like it.

After a solid performance in Week 4 from both sides – identical 10-5 records for Stella and myself – I maintain my slim one-game lead through the season’s one-quarter mark. We split the six games on which we differed – for the record, I had the Bears, Texans and Saints; Stella had the Cowboys, Raiders and Ravens.

As for Week 5, we’re at odds on almost half the slate – seven out of the 15 scheduled games.

We’ll start with Green Bay versus Detroit. I’m actually going with the Lions here. While Detroit has obviously scuffled through much of the season thus far, I think that Matt Patricia’s team will be up for this one. Matthew Stafford could have a monster game – especially if Golden Tate can get going. Stella’s leaning toward the Packers. She’s not as concerned with Aaron Rodgers as many people are; she thinks the knee is looking better. And she likes the skill position talent for Green Bay enough to pick the Packers to win on the road.

In a game that illustrates our fundamental disagreements w/r/t the game, I have picked Kansas City to beat Jacksonville at home, while Stella thinks the Jaguars beat the Chiefs. I’ve marveled at the explosiveness of the KC offensive attack; QB Patrick Mahomes, running back Kareem Hunt, pass catchers Travis Kelce and Tyreke Hill – it’s an embarrassment of riches. They’ll put up the points. Stella disagrees; she thinks the high-performing Jacksonville defense will be able to slow down the Chiefs sufficiently to put the Jags in a position to win. She likes just about everyone on that side of the ball and thinks that Mahomes will be thoroughly tested. Her take is simple: the big strengths cancel out and Jacksonville’s offense is less bad than KC’s defense.

I’m picking Denver to win on the road against the Jets, though I have to say I’m not feeling great about it. The Broncos struggled against the terrible Chiefs D last week, but I’m betting that they bounce back against the not-much-better Jets. Stella thinks that I’m underselling the Jets; she’s picking them to take down Denver fairly easily in what will likely prove to be a low-scoring affair.

In another road pick, I’m taking the Falcons to go into Pittsburgh and knock off the Steelers. That Falcons offense has a lot of explosiveness, both in the pass game and with the run – the return of running back Devonta Freeman from injury will be huge. Expect Calvin Ridley to continue breaking out and Julio Jones to keep being Julio Jones. Matt Ryan will look good. Stella’s no fan of this Steelers squad right now, but she’s cautiously optimistic that things are starting to gel. She figures Ben Roethisberger is going to throw the ball 50 times; she’s betting he’ll complete enough against this Falcons secondary to take Atlanta down in a shootout.

I’ve got the Eagles winning relatively easily when they host the Vikings. While Philly has sputtered a bit here and there, the Super Bowl hangover is wearing off. Carson Wentz and company are poised to really start firing on all cylinders. And since Minnesota doesn’t appear to be nearly as good as we though they were, the Eagles look good here. Stella acknowledges the disappointing play out of the Vikings thus far, but she’s not ready to bury them. She thinks that Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are still one of the league’s best receiver tandems; she’s also of the mind that the Minnesota defense is better than it has showed so far this season. She’s not thinking it’ll be an easy win for the Vikes, but she’s calling for the upset.

In maybe my biggest (and potentially dumbest) gamble of the week, I’m picking the abysmal Arizona Cardinals to go into San Francisco and pick up their first win of the season. Why? Mostly because I don’t think that they’ll go 0-16 and this is one of the few winnable games on their schedule. That’s pretty much it. Stella, on the other hand, is making the logical decision to pick the less terrible team to win. That’s not to say she has any great love for the 49ers, but she’s not going to go so far as to pick the Cardinals.

And finally, in the week’s all-Texas matchup, I’m picking the Cowboys to beat the Texans. While the Cowboys have been up and down so far this season, I like them to find a rhythm in Houston. The key will be striking the proper run-pass balance; if Ezekiel Elliott gets going, things will open up for Dak Prescott in the passing game. Stella doesn’t think the Cowboys will be able to move the ball well enough against the Texans; she anticipates they’ll have trouble scoring. She doesn’t foresee any such trouble on Houston’s part – she likes QB Deshaun Watson to have a big game, even if deep threat receiver Will Fuller’s hamstring woes continue. She’s in on the Texans at home.

That’s that. Another week in the books. It’s close, but a seven-game slate is big enough for one of us to make a move. Let’s see how it plays out.

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Thursday, Oct. 4

Indianapolis at NEW ENGLAND

Sunday, Oct. 7

TENNESSEE at Buffalo

Miami at CINCINNATI

BALTIMORE at Cleveland

Green Bay at DETROIT

Jacksonville at KANSAS CITY

DENVER at NY Jets

ATLANTA at Pittsburgh

NY Giants at CAROLINA

Oakland at LA CHARGERS

Minnesota at PHILADELPHIA

ARIZONA at San Francisco

LA RAMS at Seattle

DALLAS at Houston

Monday, Oct. 8

Washington at NEW ORLEANS

Week 5 record: 10-5

Season record: 37-24-2

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STELLA’S PICKS

Thursday, Oct. 4

Indianapolis at NEW ENGLAND

Sunday, Oct. 7

TENNESSEE at Buffalo

Miami at CINCINNATI

BALTIMORE at Cleveland

GREEN BAY at Detroit

JACKSONVILLE at Kansas City

Denver at NY JETS

Atlanta at PITTSBURGH

NY Giants at CAROLINA

Oakland at LA CHARGERS

MINNESOTA at Philadelphia

Arizona at SAN FRANCISCO

LA RAMS at Seattle

Dallas at HOUSTON

Monday, Oct. 8

Washington at NEW ORLEANS

Week 5 record: 10-5

Season record: 36-25-2

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