Last week, no favorite of note lost, so virtually everyone who was alive in your pools last week is still around. Let's take a look at this week's slate:
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
These numbers are going to be more skewed and less important this year as many people's pools have ended early, and more second-chance ones are worked into the polling. That means that many people taking the Giants are those who are starting from scratch, and a far lower number have them available in pools that started at the beginning of the season. In any event, assuming you had every team from which to choose, here are my picks:
Week 5 Picks
1. San Francisco 49ers - The Bills are a little dangerous when healthy, but their offensive line and backfield are banged up. That means Ryan Fitzpatrick will carry more of the load, and that's likely a recipe for disaster on the road against this defense. Morever, the Bills defense has been poor against the run. I give the 49ers an 82 percent chance to win this game.
2. New York Giants - The Giants are still a top-10 team, despite losing a coin flip game in Philly, but Cleveland showed it was scrappy last week in Baltimore and has had 10 days to prepare. Moreover, Brandon Weeden has looked competent, Trent Richardson looks like a future superstar, and the defense - even without Joe Haden - isn't terrible. Still, the Giants are at home and aren't likely to take the Browns lightly after losing last week. I give the Giants a 78 percent chance to win this game.
3. Houston Texans - The Texans might be the best team in the league, while the Jets without Darrelle Revis might be in the bottom third. But taking a Monday night road favorite against a wounded animal - the Jets just lost 34-0 last week - is always dangerous. I give the Texans a 77 percent chance to win this game.
4. Green Bay Packers - The Packers have not done anything this year to merit confidence on the road - even against the Colts, and it's not even clear the Colts are a doormat. But while the New Orleans game almost got away from them, that was an experienced team with its back to the wall. I give Green Bay a 75 percent chance to win this game.
New England Patriots - Peyton Manning looked like his old self last week, and you know the Broncos will be up for this game.
Baltimore Ravens - Their defense isn't what it was the past few seasons, and the Chiefs have the personnel at least to play better than they have so far.
Chicago Bears - It'll be their second road game in a row, and off a short week, to boot. Plus, while the offense looked good against Dallas, we don't trust it yet.
Minnesota Vikings - Maybe they're for real - the win over the Niners was especially impressive. But I'd like to see more from an upstart like this before I can buy into them for Survivor purposes.