Mac's NFL Picks - Week 5

Much to the chagrin of NFC West head coaches Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Holmgren, a lot has been made the last few weeks about teams from the west coast struggling in 1pm ET games in the Eastern time-zone.

Faced with back-to-back road trips to Washington and New York, Whisenhunt opted to keep his the Arizona Cardinals on the east coast in the week between those games. The Cardinals left the desert at 2-0 and poised to run away with the division. They returned home with a .500 record, questions about their 37-year old starting quarterback's ability to protect the football, and without one of their top receivers, who was hospitalized after he was nearly decapitated in the final minute of a blowout loss.

With the Seahawks going to New York this week, reporters peppered Holmgren with questions about why Seattle struggles when traveling to the East Coast, and he made it clear that he has no interest in using the early start time as an excuse.

"You lose a football game for the same reason you lose a football game at home, on the road, a two-hour time change, when we go to Arizona, San Francisco—you lose because you played lousy." Holmgren said. "You fumbled the ball, and you threw interceptions, and you missed tackles. Period. I don't want to hear it."

I agree with Holmgren and the bottom-line is that it is the player's responsibility to be ready to play the game, whether their body clock reads 1pm, 10am or 7am. As professional athletes, they have to be ready.

That said, I think it's ridiculous that the NFL schedules West Coast teams for 1pm games in the Eastern time-zone. There are only six teams not in either the Central or Eastern time-zones, so there's no reason why those 6 teams can't play exclusively in the late games on Sundays.

Look at this Sunday's schedule: There are 12 games on Sunday, with 8 of them starting at 1pm ET. Of those 8, two involve West Coast teams (San Diego at Miami; Seattle at NY Giants). One of the 4pm games is Cincinnati at Dallas, an Eastern time-zone team traveling to a Central time-zone team. Couldn't the Bengals-Cowboys game taken place at 1pm, with the Chargers-Dolphins and/or Seahawks-Giants game starting at 4pm? That still would give the NFL a 7-to-5 ratio of 1pm to 4pm games.

Anyways, if the NFL hasn't changed their scheduling policy by now, they'll likely never do it. Teams on the West Coast will just to continue to deal with it.

Week 4: 7-6
2008 Season: 28-31-1

Tennessee (-2 ½) at Baltimore – The Nashville police had to track down their reportedly depressed franchise quarterback, leaving Kerry Collins as the starter. They've got a rookie from East Carolina getting the bulk of the carries in the running game and I can't name more than two wide receivers on their roster. Yet the Tennessee Titans are the best team in the NFL at the quarter mark.

From this, I can draw one definitive conclusion: Albert Haynesworth is gonna get paid in the off-season. Pick: Titans -2 ½

Kansas City at Carolina (-10) – Good news for the fantasy football owners of Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammed: Both of the Chiefs starting cornerbacks are rookies. Pick: Panthers -10

Chicago (-3 ½) at Detroit – Will the first game of the post-Matt Millen Era in Detroit end in a "W" for the Lions? Chicago has helped the cause by suspending Tommie Harris, but the bottom line is the real post-Millen Era won't begin until the roster is free of the mistakes that played a large role in the team's 31-84 record under his leadership. Pick: Bears -3 ½

Atlanta at Green Bay (-7)Aaron Rodgers wants to play, but I'm not sure how long he'll last. If he can't go, he'd be just another injury the Packers will have to deal with. They're already without Cullen Jenkins, Al Harris, Atari Bigby and A.J. Hawk might not play and the 2007 version of Ryan Grant has yet to show itself. The Falcons may be young, but they got Michael Turner and that might be enough to score an upset. Pick: Falcons +7

Indianapolis (-3) at Houston – In my preseason predictions, I had the Colts winning the AFC South with the Houston Texans earning a wild card spot in the AFC. A quarter of the way into the season, they've combined to win one game.

So I was kinda off on that prediction.

As a franchise, the Texans are 1-11 against Indianapolis. There's no doubt that the city of Houston, as well as Gary Kubiak, desperately needs a win this week. I just don't see it happening. Pick: Colts -3

San Diego (-6 ½) at Miami – I would be shocked if Chargers defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell doesn't have his players prepared for the Dolphins "Wildcat" offense. Pick: Chargers -6 ½

Seattle at NY Giants (-7 ½) – Seattle got healthier at the wide receiver position over the bye week, but just because Deion Branch and Bobby Engram are back in action doesn't mean the Seahawks are suddenly going to become a pass-happy offense. They'll still get them involved, but I expect Mike Holmgren to try to control the clock, keep the crowd out of it and wear down the Giants defense by pounding the ball with Julius Jones, T.J. Duckett and Leonard Weaver. Pick: Seahawks +7 ½

Washington at Philadelphia (-6) – Nobody gave Jim Zorn and the Redskins a chance to beat the Cowboys a week ago, but sure enough, they shocked the football world, which this year, means the NFC East.

Expecting them to go on the road and beating another NFC East rival is probably asking too much, but I think they'll keep it close. Pick: Redskins +6

Tampa Bay at Denver (-3 ½) – I firmly believe that at least one of these 3-1 teams is fraudulent, but who? I'm looking at the team with the lousy defense, but since I'm wary of both, I'll take the Broncos. Pick: Broncos -3 ½

Buffalo at Arizona (-1) – I'm in seat 24A on the Buffalo Bills Bandwagon. It's not at the very front, and it's not in the very back. It's right in the middle, adjacent to the emergency exits. Pick: Bills +1

Cincinnati at Dallas (-17 ½) – This game illustrates why I'm not a fan of the way CBS broadcasts the NFL. This game has:

- Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, the two most egotistical players the NFL has seen this decade.
- Pacman Jones and Chris Henry, former teammates at West Virginia and the two biggest criminals the NFL has had this decade.
- Tony Romo playing his first game since reports hit the Internets that he and his celebrity girlfriend were fixin' on getting hitched.

And CBS sends Jim Nantz, the voice of the Masters who is hardly Dr. Excitement, and the solid, but bland Phil Simms to cover it without, as is the case with all CBS broadcasts, no sideline reporter/eye candy.

This game was right in FOX's wheelhouse. Joe Buck could've provided the mock outrage at the pasts of the players in question, while Troy Aikman discussed the statistical affect Romo's pending nuptials would have on his performance and Pam Oliver could stir the pot with real-time smack talk from Ochocinco and Owens. They could've parked Chuck Norris on the sidelines to make sure Henry and Jones didn't break the law for old time's sake.

But instead we get Nantz, Simms and since were talking about CBS, an endless stream of commercial breaks. Gee, I can hardly wait. Pick: Bengals +17 ½ (I like points)

New England (-3) at San Francisco – The last time the Patriots lost by over 20 points, which incidentally came at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, they responded by hanging 40 points on their next opponent. Matt Cassell isn't capable of scoring 40 points in a two-week span, but I expect Bill Belichick to have his team prepared to make some sort of a statement on Sunday. Pick: Patriots -3

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville (-3 ½) – Everything about this game is tilted in Jacksonville's favor. They're at home, Pittsburgh is technically on a short week, and Jacksonville has won three straight in the regular season series. Four straight, if you count the playoffs. Pick: Jaguars -3 ½

Minnesota at New Orleans (-3) – Playing without Marques Colston, and the most part without Jeremy Shockey, is why Drew Brees deserved his NFC's Offensive Player of the Month award in September. At some point, playing without those guys has to have an effect on the Saints offense, right? Minnesota has the defense to do it, and more importantly, they have Purple Jesus, who's licking his chops to face a Saints run defense that is allowing 5.2 yards per carry. Pick: Vikings +3

Brian McIntyre writes about the Seahawks and blogs daily about the NFL. You can reach him via e-mail by clicking here.

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