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Sunday, 6 October 2013

TPL Picks: Week 5 + spread picks & Game of the Week

Week 5 sees a bevy of good match-ups. Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck square off in Indy which will give us a good idea of how good the 3-1 Colts really are. Drew Brees takes his resurgent Saints to Soldier Field and Matthew Stafford heads to Lambeau to take on a Green Bay team that he has never beaten.

After the jump you can see our picks, Toby's 3 weekly spread picks and our game of the week. Enjoy.




Houston Texans (2-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-2) - Sunday, 8:30pm ET

I'm picking this game for one simple reason. The best defensive player in the league, Houston's defensive end J.J. Watt, is going toe to toe with the best offensive line in the NFL.

San Francisco's recent success has stemmed from their great offensive line, and their ability to run the ball at will. The majority of that comes from the fantastic guard play of All Pro left guard Mike Iupati and should-have-been All Pro right guard Alex Boone. But this week they'll get tested like never before.

In 2012 JJ Watt was the most disruptive force in the NFL, and this year he's continued that form. He's making tackles in the backfield on runs going the opposite way. He's driving linemen back into the lap of the quarterback and getting hits, hurries and knockdowns at a great pace. And he's still batting balls at the line of scrimmage. Yes, his sack total is down (on pace for just 14 compared to the 20.5 he got last year) but every other part of his game is just as good as it was last year. And right now he's in a foul mood. His post-game interview last week showed just how angry he was with the manner of their defeat, so you can bet he's going to bring the pain on sunday, in primetime, against the 49ers.

So just how do the 49ers stymie the reigning defensive player of the year? With difficulty. Little seems to work to stop JJ Watt. Misdirection and play-action rarely cause him any issues, San Fran have had great success running traps against aggressive inside linemen, but Watt is often too smart and too fast to get trapped, and even on the odd occasion when he does find himself with a pulling guard in his way he can get rid of him in a flash. Alex Boone will be the one working against Watt for the majority of the day, and he's a great run blocker who will get some wins against Watt on sunday, but don't be surprised if full back Bruce Miller is told to chip Watt on every possible occasion. The issue for the 49ers is that unlike last season, blocking JJ Watt isn't the only thing they have to worry about. Brian Cushing has cleared the concussion testing and protocols and will play on sunday. His return from knee injury this season has pushed the Texans defense up a notch, he leads the team in tackles, has 1.5 sacks and a pick 6 so far this season. If they spend too much time and man power focusing on Watt, then Cushing will kill them.

It's a careful balance that the 49ers are going to have to keep if they want to move the ball with any success against a defense that is giving up a league-best 254.3 yards per game.

All of that probably makes you think I'm picking Houston to win. Well I'm not. I think the 49ers will be able to contain Watt just enough to get some points on the board, and on the other side of the ball they will be able to win enough against the Houston offense to come away with a victory. Patrick Willis is questionable for this game, but NaVarro Bowman has been incredible in his absence, particularly as a blitzer. Even with the potential return of Duane Brown and loss of Aldon Smith they should be able to generate enough pressure on embattled quarterback Matt Schaub to create some turnovers, especially with a partially hobbled Andre Johnson on the outside. 

Give me the 49ers by 6. (TD)


TD's Spread picks (1-2 last week, 3-6 on the season):

I'm getting tired of hitting just one in three. This week is going to see a big turn around, I'm sure of it!

New Orleans (PK) over Chicago

Drew Brees has a 1-4 life time record against the Bears (including playoffs), but this isn't your usual Chicago Bears team. Yes, they can still get turnovers on defense, but when they're not taking the ball away they're giving up a lot of yards. Meanwhile on offense Brandon Marshall is gimpy and we saw last week that Jay Cutler can still be Jay Cutler. The Saints have an improved defense and the offense is purring again. I don't care if it's at Soldier Field, give me the Saints!

Carolina (-1.5) over Arizona

Last time we saw the Carolina Panthers they were putting the hurt on Eli Manning with 7 sacks. Now, after a bye week, they get to go against a team that just traded away their starting left tackle and already had a pretty poor offensive line. Let's just say Carson Palmer is going to be in for a long day.

Denver (-7) over Dallas

Peyton Manning in a dome against a defense that's allowing 300 passing yards a game and giving just a touchdown? Sign me up! Yes, the Denver offense will cool down at some point, but I don't think it's this week, not after what we've seen from the Cowboys defense so far this year.


      

Toby Durant

Phil Gaskin 
Gur Samuel 
Bills @ Browns

Browns 
Bills
Browns 
Saints @ Bears

Saints 
Saints
Bears
Patriots @ Bengals

Patriots 
Patriots
Bengals
Lions @ Packers

Packers 
Packers
Packers
Chiefs @ Titans

Chiefs 
Chiefs
Chiefs
Seahawks @ Colts

Seahawks 
Seahawks
Seahawks
Jaguars @ Rams

Rams 
Rams
Rams
Ravens @ Dolphins

Dolphins 
Dolphins
Dolphins
Eagles @ Giants

Eagles 
Giants
Eagles
Panthers @ Cardinals 

Panthers 
Panthers
Panthers
Broncos @ Cowboys

Broncos 
Broncos
Broncos
Texans @ 49ers

49ers 
Texans
Texans
Chargers @ Raiders

Chargers 
Chargers
Chargers
Jets @ Falcons

Falcons 
Falcons
Falcons




Last Week:
  
10-5 
10-5 
10-5 
Overall: 
41-22 
37-26 
40-23 

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