The beginning of October is generally my favorite time of year because it's usually when I decide to write my annual "There's no NFL conspiracy against the Browns" piece, only to get halfway through it and realize that, yes, there is probably an NFL conspiracy against the Browns.
If Kirk Herbstreit is upset, then a conspiracy is definitely possible and Kirk Herbstreit was upset after a strip-sack by Myles Garrett in the fourth quarter of Cleveland's loss to the Raiders was ruled a strip-sack, except without the stripping part. If I know one thing about stripping, it's that you never want to leave that out.
That is one of about 30 calls that have gone against the Browns over the past few years.
I'm not sure how deep this conspiracy against Cleveland goes, but I think we can all agree that Roger Goodell, every ref in the NFL and the guy who caught the possum last week are all involved. I also think Hue Jackson is in on this conspiracy because I'm not sure there's any other explanation for how he still has a job despite going 0-32-1 in Sunday games during his Browns coaching career. That's right, Hue Jackson has never won a Sunday game with the Browns. Is the Deep State involved? I don't know, but I don't think we can rule anything out at this point.
I'm also convinced that Le'Veon Bell might be involved in this conspiracy because how else do you explain the fact that he's reportedly decided to return to Pittsburgh the same week the Steelers ARE PLAYING THE BROWNS. If you would have asked me five weeks ago when Bell was going to return, I would've bet my entire Steven Seagal DVD collection that it would come in a game against the Browns and I think Browns fans knew it was going to be against the Browns, too.
If you're a Browns fan, things can't really get much worse for you at this point, unless your name is also Heather, because, apparently, there's also a conspiracy against Heathers: They're going extinct.
Please hug any Browns fan named Heather that you see this week.
Alright, let's get to the picks, and that's mostly because if I keep talking about conspiracy theories, people might start thinking I have a side job working for Infowars.
Actually, before we get to my picks, here's a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. The reason you should click over and check out the other experts this week is because CBSSports.com fantasy guru Jamey Eisenberg put on a clinic in Week 4 by going 9-5-1 against the spread. Now, technically speaking, I don't think he has the proper certification to put on a clinic, so maybe I shouldn't be bragging about that. Instead, I could brag about the fact that I went 13-2 with my picks, but I'm way too humble for that, so I'll let our friends at Pickwatch.com do it for me.
Alright, let's get to the picks where I promise to pick your team unless I don't think they're going to win, then I'll probably pick the other team.
NFL Week 5 Picks
Indianapolis (1-3) at New England (2-2)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (Fox)
This game is fascinating for multiple reasons. First, since it's being played on a short week, we're about to find out what recovers faster: Tom Brady's 41-year-old grandpa body (which is powered by avocados) or Andrew Luck's reconstructed throwing shoulder (which I think is powered by books).
If anyone knows how these two quarterbacks are feeling right now, it's probably me, and that's because I'm also kind of recovering on a short week with an injured body. Specifically, my liver hurts. I was at a bachelor party in New York over the weekend and although I should probably be in concussion protocol right now, I decided to power through and write these picks anyway.
The thing about a bachelor party is that it means a wedding is also coming up and all I have to say is that I hope my buddy doesn't get left at the altar like the Colts did with Josh McDaniels. Of all my favorite storylines from the offseason, McDaniels spurning the Colts after he had already accepted the job is easily my favorite. I mean, after Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson got engaged, I assumed that literally anyone could make it work, but apparently McDaniels and Indy weren't meant to be.
Due to the McDaniels factor, this feels like a perfect revenge game for the Colts and if this was a Sunday game, I would think about taking them, but it's a Thursday game and the Patriots are getting Julian Edelman back. Luck's arm is also probably close to falling off after throwing 62 passes in an overtime game on Sunday. My arm almost fell off just watching that game.
The pick: Patriots 30-20 over Colts
Tennessee (3-1) at Buffalo (1-3)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
If Mike Vrabel's goal is to win every game by exactly three points this year, then he's off to an amazing start. The Titans have won three games in a row and they've won each of those games by three points. Basically, if you've seen one Titans game this year, you've seen them all. I've watched enough of the Titans this season to know that you can sleep through the first half because nothing exciting is going to happen until the second half. You can probably also sleep through every first down on Sunday because, LUCKY US, this game will be featuring two of the three worst first-down quarterbacks in the NFL this year.
First-down QB play is hugely important for offensive success in today's #NFL, and here are the top-rated through the first 4 weeks.— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) October 1, 2018
Look at the #LARams Jared Goff by the way...#GoBucs #ChiefsKingdom #GoSaints #DUUUVAL #FinsUp #DaBears #InBrotherhood #Jets #GoBills #TitanUp pic.twitter.com/MvD3aldQqy
Marcus Mariota can barely feel his fingers due to an injury and Josh Allen's aim is so bad, I don't think I've ever seen him hit a receiver in the fingers (or the hands), so I guess those numbers aren't that shocking. One thing you might find shocking though, is my pick. I'm not sure if it's because my liver still hurts from the weekend, which means I can't trust my gut, but I'm going with Buffalo.
Here's the thing, I know the Bills are bad, but the Titans are incapable of blowing anyone out: 12 of their past 14 regular season games have been decided by one score, so I have no reason to think that's going to change this week. This game is going to go down to the wire and somehow Buffalo is going to win and then Bills fans are going to celebrate by illegally slamming themselves through tables that will most likely have been set on fire.
The pick: Bills 16-13 over Titans
Jacksonville (3-1) at Kansas City (4-0)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
If I have one piece of advice for teams that are playing the Chiefs, it's this: Don't bother bringing your kicker to the game. The Chiefs are averaging roughly 100 points per game this season and there's no way you're going to be able to keep up with them with things like field goals and extra points. As a matter of fact, you can probably just leave your punter at home too, because if you're not going for it on fourth down against Kansas City, you've already lost.
Now, the upside here is that if you don't bring your punter or kicker, you won't need your long snapper either, which means you now have three open roster spots, which you'll probably want to fill with defensive backs and/or people who know how to operate oxygen tanks, because your entire defense is probably going to need one after chasing Mahomes around for four quarters.
Of course, if there's one defense in the NFL that might give Mahomes some trouble, it's the one in Jacksonville. The Chiefs had some serious trouble with the Broncos on Monday and the Jaguars are basically the Broncos on steroids: Their defense is better, their offensive line is better and you could probably make an argument that their quarterback is better, which all means trouble for the Chiefs.
Although I'm not 100 percent sure, I don't think Mahomes can keep up the pace he's on, which means he's going to have a bad game at some point and I'm guessing the Chiefs are going to lose that game. I mean, think about it, Mahomes has basically played four perfect games so far and the Chiefs are still only winning by an average of 7.5 points per game thanks to a defense that hemorrhages points. The Chiefs are playing this game on a short week, Andy Reid teams almost always implode at least once per October and there's a possibility that KC might be looking ahead to the Patriots in Week 6. I'm taking the Jags, but I might change my pick if I find out they plan on bringing their kicker.
The pick: Jaguars 23-20 over Chiefs
Arizona (0-4) at San Francisco (1-3)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
I'm not sure what the etiquette is on cheering against your own team this early in the season, but I feel like Cardinals and 49ers fans might want to start doing that this week. I mean, let's be real, the Cardinals are winless and the 49ers lost their starting quarterback for the season, which means cheering for the highest possible pick in the NFL Draft is the only move that makes sense at this point.
Cheering for your own team to lose actually sounds like something that could seriously help someone cut down on stress. Instead of throwing your phone threw a window after a loss, you could actually celebrate by imagining who your team might take with the first overall pick in the draft. By the way, I'm only mentioning the first overall pick because this game might actually have some implications on who gets it since the Cards and 49ers are the top two teams in terms of draft order right now.
As of this morning, the top 5 order of the NFL draft would be:— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 1, 2018
The biggest problem for the Cardinals this season is that I think they've forgotten they have David Johnson on their team. At some point, he's going to explode and I think that that point is going to be this week. Although the Cardinals have had trouble scoring, the 49ers will likely be the perfect team to fix that problem since they're giving up 29.5 points per game, which ranks 26th in the NFL. Do I already hate myself for picking the Cardinals and the Bills to win in the same week? Yes, but I'm going to do it anyway.
The pick: Cardinals 22-16 over 49ers
NFL Week 5 picks: All the rest
Ravens 31-24 over Browns
Broncos 19-16 over Jets
Steelers 38-34 over Falcons
Chargers 34-26 over Raiders
Best pick: Ithat I lost track of them all, but I guess that's what happens when you correctly pick 13 out of 15 games. You know what else happens? People compliment you! I've been on the internet since back in the days when Al Gore invented it and let me just say that no one ever compliments anyone, especially on Twitter, which is basically just 93 percent people hurling insults at each other and seven percent viral cat clips at this point. However, that changed this week thanks to my 13-2 record.
Thumbs up and smiley face emoji? Definitely printing that out and putting it on my refrigerator.
I also got a standing ovation from Nicole Kidman's giant hands.
If I can figure out how to print out a GIF, that's going on the refrigerator too, although I might need a bigger fridge to fit the hands, so maybe I won't put it up.
Worst pick: Last week, I picked the Steelers to beat the Ravens in a shootout and let's just say, I couldn't have been more wrong: There was no shootout, the Steelers didn't win, and I even started Ben Roethlisberger on my fantasy team, so the Steelers ruined my weekend. Of course, I don't even remember half the weekend since I was at a bachelor party, so they really only ruined three hours of my life, which are the three hours I spent watching them play on Sunday night.
Straight up in Week 4: 13-2
SU overall: 41-20-2
Against the spread in Week 4: 8-6-1
ATS overall: 31-30-2
Exact score predictions: 1