NFL Week 5 Picks: Highlighting Sunday's Biggest Showdowns
With the Denver Broncos traveling to the New England Patriots on Sunday, that headlines the marquee matchups of Week 5.
It's an AFC showdown and the implications will surely affect the postseason picture in December.
Plus, some questions remain unanswered elsewhere in the NFL as well: Will the Green Bay Packers improve defensively? Can the Philadelphia Eagles maintain offensive consistency? And, how vulnerable are the Atlanta Falcons?
There are others in addition, so let's get to analyzing the best games pro football offers this Sunday.
Packers at Colts
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It's quite fascinating how two teams can differ from year-to-year.
In 2011, this game was a blowout on paper and it likely would have occurred as well.
Fast forward to 2012, however, and the Packers have more proving to do than expected. On the flip side, the Indianapolis Colts are coming off a bye week and have certainly improved compared to last season.
Right now Green Bay fields the better defense as it has ridiculously improved against the pass and at applying pressure. Aaron Rodgers and the offense have yet to hit a rhythm like last year, but this week has potential.
Indy is vulnerable defensively by allowing an average of 362.6 total yards per game. Andrew Luck, though, is capable of moving the ball against Green Bay because his pocket awareness and mobility will extend plays.
Also, expect the Colts to run more as the Packers still allow 4.4 yards per carry. This won't be a blowout and we will see Indianapolis give Green Bay a scare at home. That said, Rodgers is the difference for Titletown.
Packers 28, Colts 21
Falcons at Redskins
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With the Arizona Cardinals falling to the St. Louis Rams, the Washington Redskins just got more confident.
Hosting the undefeated Atlanta Falcons, this game has upset written all over it.
Presenting Robert Griffin III at the helm, Washington has an explosive attack to Atlanta's susceptible defense. Despite ranking No. 8 against the pass, the Falcons are No. 29 against the run and allow 146.3 rush yards per game.
So, anticipate the Redskins hitting on the ground quite often and RGIII's mobility will avoid any pressure.
Therefore, this game will be up to Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense. Washington is also vulnerable against the run as it allows 4.3 yards per carry. Even worse, the Redskins rank No. 31 against the pass and attacking via aerial assault is Atlanta's primary forte.
Washington won't be able to use double coverage any one receiving target, because Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez are all capable of beating man coverage. This in turn, prevents the Redskins from focusing on Michael Turner who slams well on the ground.
This has the feel of an upset, but that's about it.
Falcons 31, Redskins 23
Eagles at Steelers
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This cross-conference/in-state matchup will greatly affect each team's 2012 campaign.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-2, coming off a bye week and really need a win to get back on track.
The Philadelphia Eagles on the other hand, are 3-1, coming off a big win in Week 4 and need momentum for Week 6.
Considering that both face a rather difficult schedule, this game will change the complexion of the season. Pittsburgh still has questions at offensive line and Ben Roethlisberger remains the best option at moving the ball.
Backed by a struggling ground game and limited pocket protection, expect Philly to load the box and constantly bring pressure. The Eagles are well-versed in the secondary to lockdown with man coverage, so forcing an early release and stopping the run will only benefit at controlling the game's tempo.
When Michael Vick is under center, anticipate the same from Pittsburgh. The Steelers will need to shutdown LeSean McCoy and Dick LeBeau's secondary is good enough to blanket in single coverage. In short, this game will come down to which offensive line first establishes the run to set up play-action.
Eagles 17, Steelers 14
Broncos at Patriots
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If there's one game NFL fans need to watch in Week 5 it's the Denver Broncos at the New England Patriots.
For obvious reasons, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady dueling once again will be awesome.
Additionally, this game has legit postseason implications because the Broncos and Pats could certainly meet again in January. As for this contest, expect each offense to come out attacking hard.
The defensive weakness for Denver and New England is against the pass, so pressing downfield early will create stronger balance later on. Here, the competitive edge goes to the Broncos because of a more capable pass rush in Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
One major concern, though, is how Denver slows down all of Brady's offensive weapons. That's a tough challenge and New England will utilize a lot of quick-developing plays to nullify Denver's rush. Manning, however, will bring a slightly different approach.
With the Pats not as well-versed in applying pressure or defending the pass, Denver's receivers will have a bit more time to develop routes and get yards after the catch.
The winning team, though, gets a bit more consistent quarterback pressure and fields a more reliable play-making secondary.
Broncos 30, Patriots 27
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