Week 5 NFL Picks: Predicting the Late and Primetime Games
After the dust settles on the early games on Sunday in Week 5, a host of late contests will take center stage that will culminate with another installment of the epic Tom Brady against Peyton Manning series on Sunday Night Football.
There are storylines galore in the late slate of action.
Will Cam Newton rebound at home against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks?
How will the Chicago Bears fare after their big win over the Dallas Cowboys?
The Minnesota Vikings have a great opportunity to move to 4-1 at home against the Tennessee Titans. Will they take advantage?
How about the Monday Night Football matchup?
Will it get ugly for Gang Green against the Houston Texans?
Let's get to some predictions.
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers
The Buffalo Bills looked to be on the brink of putting away the New England Patriots, as they cruised to a 21-7 lead in the third quarter of their Week 4 matchup.
Then Tom Brady exploded.
The Pats offense scored a ridiculous 45 points in the second half, en route to a 52-28 win.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four touchdown passes, but had four interceptions in defeat.
The 49ers, well, they manhandled the New York Jets 34-0 in New Jersey.
After witnessing the Bills get surprisingly thrashed on the ground by the Patriots' duo of Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden, one has to think San Francisco will have no trouble moving the football on offense and stymieing Buffalo's offense that will be without two offensive line starters.
This could be a bit of trap game for an ultra-confident 49ers team off a blowout win against a team who was just blown out.
Buffalo hangs tough, but late-game turnovers cost the Bills a chance at a major upset victory.
49ers 31, Bills 24
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton's off-field sulking and touchdown celebrations are one of the hottest topics in the NFL right now, and his team is 1-3.
The Panthers nearly pulled out a victory in Atlanta against the mighty Falcons, but a fumble by Newton in the final minutes and porous safety play led to a crushing last-second defeat.
The Seahawks were physically outmatched against the Rams in St. Louis, but held Sam Bradford's offense to one touchdown.
If Newton wants to silence the doubters, this is a game he has to win.
Sure, Carolina's defense is far from intimidating, but the Seahawks offense is certainly not dynamic.
Newton puts on a show against a stingy Seattle defensive unit and leads his team to a thrilling victory.
Panthers 24, Seahawks 23
Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars
Jay Cutler was wildly efficient in the Bears' road win on Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys, throwing for 275 yards with two touchdowns on only 18 completions.
The defense reeled in five interceptions and held DeMarco Murray and Co. to a pedestrian 41 yards rushing.
Chicago can't get too confident after its huge primetime victory, but the Bears defense won't have any trouble slowing down an improved but still relatively inept Jacksonville Jaguars offense.
Bears 27, Jaguars 14
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings
Everyone had the NFC North as a three-team race in 2012, but no one included the Minnesota Vikings in the trio of teams that would battle for the divisional crown.
The defense isn't outstanding, but heading into Week 4, it was allowing the 10th-fewest yards per drive in the NFL and had allowed a touchdown in a mere 16 percent of defensive possessions.
Pretty darn good.
Christian Ponder is slowly moving from game-manager to efficient gun-slinger, and Adrian Peterson has returned to form.
With Jake Locker sidelined with injury, the Titans will turn to 37-year-old Matt Hasselbeck and will likely implement an offensive system predicated on high-percentage throws instead of stretching the field with deep passes.
If Minnesota is for real, or at least a team primed to finish with a record above .500, (I'm starting to think they are), it wins this game.
Vikings 31, Titans 17
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
The matchup of Week 5.
Tom Brady. Peyton Manning.
Both quarterbacks are fresh off amazingly effective Week 4 showings and their teams sit at 2-2.
From a personnel standpoint, the Patriots probably have more talent, but the bookend pass-rushing duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil can be fantastic equalizers.
This should be a classic quarterback duel between two of the best signal-callers in history, but don't count out the secondaries in this one.
They'll make plays.
Not a shootout, but a highly competitive game.
Brady has too much talent on offense. Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski and a revamped running game will lead New England to a huge win at home.
Patriots 31, Broncos 27
San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints
When this game was scheduled for Sunday Night Football, we thought we'd be getting two teams above .500 and a New Orleans Saints team amped up for another game at home.
While the Saints may be excited to take the field in New Orleans, the first two games inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome certainly didn't go as planned.
Drew Brees will set the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass in this Week 5 clash, but the play of the defense will determine the outcome.
Philip Rivers and his Chargers have played three relatively solid games and a horrible one.
San Diego's defense is improved, but it needs to be more consistent.
This shootout will live up to the billing, and I just can't envision the Saints starting 0-3 at home.
Saints 41, Chargers 35
Houston Texans at New York Jets
This matchup is far from favorable for the Jets.
No Darrelle Revis. No Santonio Holmes. A severely struggling Mark Sanchez. A regressing defense.
Now, the Houston Texans come to town. The most complete team in the AFC.
Arian Foster will go to work and turn in another 100-yard performance and J.J. Watt will wreak continual havoc in New York's backfield.
Texans 30, Jets 13