You might love him, you might hate him, but Colin Cowherd’s “Blazing Five” segment each week is one of the best in sports talk radio.
I should point out that Cowherd’s track record is spotty at best throughout the years, but he’s having quite a “blazing” year so far in 2011 with a 20-10-5 overall record through seven weeks. He only has one week with a losing record and went 2-1-2 last week, with the Panthers (+4) at Atlanta being his only loss.
Judging by search terms, a ton of people have an interest in Cowherd’s opinion so, for now, I’ll keep posting his picks each week until I decide to pull the plug.
With the NFL entering its seventh week, Cowherd unveiled his “Blazing Five” for this weekend’s games earlier Friday morning.
Note: You can listen to Cowherd’s ESPN radio show by clicking here.
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COLTS @ SAINTS -14
Cowherd’s analysis: It’s a huge number, but this is the Colts’ second of three straight road games. Drew Brees finally has a healthy Marques Colston, he’s got an emerging star at tight end in Jimmy Graham. Hey, Jimmy Graham has become a star in this league, just like Antonio Gates about four years ago.
The Colts surrendered 28 to Matt Cassel and 27 to Andy Dalton. Now they get the league’s No. 2 offense. Don’t forget, Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been great after losses. The last six losses, the Saints have bounced back with wins. The Saints’ defense has had to deal with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman. Now Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator, gets Curtis Painter. They will unleash the hounds, and few teams in this league play better at home than the Saints. This is a major step down in competition for the Saints, who finally get a weak quarterback and a weak team. They have an edge at quarterback, offensive line and coach. The Saints’ defense is vulnerable to elite quarterbacks, no question. Curtis Painter is not one of them.
The Pick: Saints 33, Colts 13
CHARGERS @ JETS +2
Cowherd’s analysis: I like the Jets to win this game straight up. The Chargers are a soft 4-1 with wins, and they’ve struggled at times, against the Vikings, Chiefs, Dolphins and Broncos. Philip Rivers is not having a great year. I continue to argue that every year with Norv Turner there’s some erosion. Last year, there was the special teams. This year, it’s turnovers. They’re minus-5. It’s another sloppy Norv Turner team.
In the last nine quarters the Jets have played at home, they haven’t given up a touchdown. I think the Jets are desperate, and they’re a different team at home. Coaching advantage to the Jets. Defense advantage to the Jets. Mark Sanchez, two games, no picks. They’re becoming the Jets of late last year again. The weather cools, a little more formidable. I’ll take the Jets to win the game outright.
The Pick: Jets 23, Chargers 21
BRONCOS +2 @ DOLPHINS
Cowherd’s analysis: I’m getting points, and I get the better team here with Denver. Miami’s not that much worse than Denver, but they’re worse, and they’re going in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, the locker room for Denver right now is energized with Tim Tebow. In three starts last year he gave you 200 yards passing, 60 yards rushing, but he gave you seven all-purpose touchdowns, and that’s what Tebow does. He’s not Aaron Rodgers.
One thing Denver does well, they can pound it. They have three capable guys who run the ball — Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball. Add a fourth with Tim Tebow’s legs. All I know is this: I’m going to get an energized Denver team that is formidable running the football. I get nothing offensively with the Fish. By the way, Brandon Marshall, who has a case of the drops this year for Miami, will be neutralized because Champ Bailey is a lock-down corner. Miami’s going in the wrong direction. It’s a locker room that is splitting. Denver’s the better team, so I’m taking the points.
The Pick: Broncos 23, Dolphins 21
FALCONS +4 AT LIONS
Cowherd’s analysis: Detroit’s a nice team, but they’re a little overrated. Detroit is fourth in the league in penalties, atrocious on third down, and they can’t stop the run. I get the veteran quarterback, Matt Ryan, and I get four points. The Lions are 26th in the league against the run. They can rush the passer, but Frank Gore gashed them, Matt Forte gashed them, Adrian Peterson’s given them trouble, and now I get Michael Turner. By the way, because the Lions are so banged up in the secondary, Tony Gonzalez is going to have a field day because the Lions’ safeties can’t rotate much to help on Gonzalez because they have to respect Roddy White and Michael Turner running the football.
Yes, Atlanta lost big on the grass to Chicago and Tampa. But those are grass fields. That’s an off surface for the Falcons. They’re a nice dome team. They’re a nice turf team. That’s what they get in Detroit. They are desperate to win this game because Tampa and New Orleans right now are winning their games. I get a little more urgency, I get a veteran quarterback, I get the team that can pound the run, I get a younger team coming off a tough, emotional loss to the Niners. I’ll take the four points, and I have Atlanta winning, but just take the four points.
The Pick: Falcons 23, Lions 21
STEELERS @ CARDINALS +4
Cowherd’s analysis: I’m going the other way on this. I’m gonna go Arizona +4 on this. I get Ken Whisenhunt, who knows Pittsburgh’s people, with a bye week. They are desperate. The season, right now for Arizona, is this game. I get a Steelers team that the past four weeks is 1-3 against the spread, beat up physically. Troy Polamalu, not at 100 percent. You’ve got all sorts of guys hurt — James Harrison, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith. You have a Pittsburgh team right now that’s sloppy. Big Ben has been sacked 18 times, they’re minus-10 net difference in turnovers. This is not a Pittsburgh Steelers team right that is healthy, playing great football, that is tight or efficient.
You get an Arizona team off a bye. It is their season. I think they have a chance to win this game. Whether they do or not, just take the four points. It’s too many to give a desperate team against a banged-up Steelers club.
The Pick: Cardinals 24, Steelers 23