NFL Picks Week 5: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Predictions
If Week 4 of the NFL season didn't have enough excitement for you, Week 5 is sure to satisfy. As the season rolls on, it seems like the storylines, action and fantastic play just won't stop. It hardly feels like a quarter of the season is over, but here we are!
There are two big possibilities for game of the week honors as the Chicago Bears host the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers take on the Houston Texans in a game that would probably be labeled something like "Contenders vs. Pretenders" if this was the WWE. The two teams that come out of these matchups with wins will likely find themselves back on the right track as the season heads toward its halfway mark.
Other intriguing must-watch matchups include Detroit vs. Green Bay, New England vs. Cincinnati and Baltimore vs. Miami. Our experts seem pretty confident on the outcomes of those games, but in a crazy NFL where anything can happen, no one should be surprised if surprising results continue to take place.
All those picks and more as you scroll ahead. Don't like our picks? Feel free to leave yours in the comments below.
Name: Last Week; Overall
Consensus: 8-7; 39-19
Matt Miller: 10-5; 46-17
Ty Schalter: 12-3; 45-18
Andrea Hangst: 9-6; 43-20
Erik Frenz: 8-7; 42-21
Matt Bowen: 7-8; 40-23
Chris Hansen: 6-9; 40-23
Brad Gagnon: 5-10; 39-24
Tyson Langland: 7-8; 39-24
Michael Schottey: 11-4; 39-24
Zach Kruse: 9-6; 39-24
Mike Freeman: 8-7; 37-26
Knox Bardeen: 8-7; 36-27
To see how Bleacher Report's experts are faring against the best at other media outlets, check out Pick Watch.
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
B/R Consensus Pick: Browns (10-2)
Schottey: Browns, 23-17
This game just screams "Pick 'Em," but the B/R crew is clearly dialing into the fact that this is a home game for the Browns and that their defense has been solid this season. In a game that can go either way, it's weird picking the Brian Hoyer-led team, but here we are.
Bowen: Browns, 26-20
Three straight for the Browns? Why not? Hoyer and Jordan Cameron target the Bills secondary in the red zone in this one.
Schalter: Browns, 23-20
After driving the Browns bus all offseason, preseason and for three weeks, I abandoned them last week, and they beat the Bengals. I like both teams, but I'm finally "dancing with the girl that brung me."
Freeman: Bills, 20-14
Bills picked off Joe Flacco five times. The Browns defense is suffocating, but the Bills offense makes just enough plays.
Miller: Bills, 23-21
Three straight wins for Hoyer? Not happening. The Buffalo defense is just too good.
Frenz: Browns, 27-19
The Brian Hoyer era is off to a brilliant start in Cleveland, even if people may have thought the Browns were tanking the season when they traded Trent Richardson. The Bills could make his Hoyer's life difficult, but with C.J. Spiller at less than 100 percent, it's going to be hard for Buffalo to find any type of offensive rhythm to complement their defense.
Hangst: Browns, 30-21
The Cleveland Browns have an effective passing offense and a brutal defense—yes, you're reading that right—and a share of the top spot in the AFC North. The Bills just masterfully took down the Baltimore Ravens, but head to Cleveland on a short week, which plays right into the surging home team's hands. Cleveland will get its third straight win.
Hansen: Browns, 27-20
The Browns were my surprise team, and I'm glad the Richardson trade didn't derail this team's guts. Rookie quarterbacks on the road are always risky, and Ray Horton's defense is playing fantastic football.
Bardeen: Browns, 24-14
I'm starting to believe in Hoyer more. He'll never be an elite passer, but he's got enough to lead the Browns over the Bills in a short week.
Gagnon: Browns, 16-13
I don't know which overachiever I trust less, and the fact that this is a Thursday night game is even more dangerous. This could be real sloppy, which could make it unpredictable. The Browns are at home and the Bills haven't won back-to-back games in over a year, so I'll go with Cleveland.
Langland: Browns, 16-10
Hoyer has the Browns playing with a new-found intensity on offense. Cleveland makes it three straight wins in a defensive struggle.
Kruse: Browns, 20-17
The last rookie quarterback to play on Thursday night (Geno Smith) threw three ugly picks during a road loss. A similar script could play out in Cleveland, although I don't think EJ Manuel is quite that generous.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Pick'em (6-6)
Schottey: Giants, 35-28
Do I feel really uncomfortable picking the Giants? Yes, yes I do. But if anything is going to perk up Eli Manning and company, it's going to be a rivalry game (at home) against their nemesis.
Bowen: Eagles, 33-27
Where is the Eagles offense from Week 1? Can the Giants clean up this 0-4 mess? I think Manning will produce against a suspect Eagles secondary, but LeSean McCoy is too much for the Giants defense.
Schalter: Eagles, 27-21
The Giants have better than 0-5 talent, but I'm not picking them to win until they show signs they're capable of it.
Freeman: Giants, 24-21
Giants finally get a win because their defense finally plays well. Finally.
Miller: Eagles, 28-23
I'm not sure anyone deserves to win this one with the way they've been playing. However, the Eagles offense is too much for the New York defense.
Frenz: Eagles, 23-17
The Giants have been the cure for everyone's woes this year. Their undisciplined defense is exactly the kind of prey the Eagles feast on offensively, and if the Giants offensive line can't protect Manning, I don't see how they stay competitive.
Hangst: Giants, 20-17
Shocking underperformance has been the hallmark of the NFC East so far this season, with the winless Giants at the bottom of the pile. The Eagles aren't looking all that good, though, and the Giants cannot let the losing streak continue. This is a good opportunity for a New York win—finally.
Hansen: Eagles, 34-31
Chip Kelly finally gets to play another defense that will allow his offense to run wild. His defense will continue to be a problem, but that shouldn't matter in this game.
Bardeen: Giants, 31-21
To continually pick the Giants as they go winless is something akin to stupidity. Call me stupid. Manning gets it going against a suspect Eagles defense.
Gagnon: Giants, 23-20
That Philadelphia defense is so bad. I think this could go either way, but the Giants still have the better quarterback and might have an edge on D. They will get their first victory at home.
Langland: Giants, 30-24
As good as Philadelphia's offense is, its defense is its Achilles' heal. Manning will torch the Eagles secondary and help secure the Giants' first victory of the season.
Kruse: Eagles, 30-20
The Giants have been outscored 69-7 over the last two weeks and will now come home to what should be a hostile crowd. I wouldn't want to be wearing blue and grey if the Eagles go up a couple scores early.
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Saints (9-3)
Schottey: Bears, 35-31
It's time to see how Marc Trestman responds following a loss. This is the toughest team the Saints have faced to date, and I think the Bears defense can force enough turnovers to win at home.
Bowen: Bears, 27-22
The Saints are hot, but can they continue to play at a high level away from the Superdome on a short week? Look for Jay Cutler to rebound from last week's suspect play in a Bears win.
Schalter: Saints, 28-24
Jay Cutler and the Bears are better than they showed against the Lions, but even the Bears of the first three weeks can't beat Drew Brees and this Saints team.
Freeman: Saints, 20-17
That offense slows down outside of the Superdome, but Brees is hot right now.
Miller: Saints, 24-17
Frenz: Saints, 29-12
Is anyone going to stop Brees this year? Even if the Saints offense somehow struggles, their defense will make life difficult for Cutler.
Hangst: Saints, 33-20
The Saints on the road aren't the Superdome Saints, but they don't have to be to defeat the Bears this week. Bad Cutler reared his ugly head in Week 4, and the Rob Ryan-led New Orleans defense should take proper advantage of this development.
Hansen: Saints, 28-23
The Bears are pretty good at home, but it's hard to pick against the New Orleans Saints after what they did to a good Dolphins team on Monday night. Brees gets a late touchdown for the win on the road.
Bardeen: Saints, 31-21
This Saints team is for real. Sean Payton is back, Rob Ryan is making a difference, but playing away from the Superdome will be challenging. Drew Brees will easily outduel Jay Cutler, though.
Gagnon: Bears, 24-21
Chicago is better than what we saw last week. At home, the Bears will prevail against a Saints team coming off a short week.
Langland: Saints, 31-27
The Bears always play well at home, but right now, the Saints defense is playing as well as their offense. This, in turn, spells bad news for Chicago.
Kruse: Saints, 34-30
Cutler is going to bounce back after another turnover disaster. But the Bears defense? Brees will have a field day against a unit that has been really poor to start this season.
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
B/R Consensus Pick: Patriots (10-2)
Schottey: Patriots, 34-24
The Patriots are 4-0 with all the chips stacked against them. The Bengals aren't going to make it easy at first, but don't be surprised when Tom Brady hits his stride against that secondary.
Bowen: Patriots, 23-16
I picked against the Patriots last week, and I refuse to bet against Brady and Bill Belichick again. Look for another solid defensive game plan from New England.
Schalter: Bengals, 28-24
The Patriots keep finding ways to win against all possible odds, but the loss of Vince Wilfork is finally too much. Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be too much for the Patriots linebackers to stop.
Freeman: Patriots, 28-24
Pats stay unbeaten because they repeatedly pick off Andy Dalton, who is regressing.
Miller: Patriots, 21-10
This is the worst-looking good Patriots team I can remember. And they are good. Logan Mankins will slow down Geno Atkins and the defense can stop Dalton. Done deal.
Frenz: Patriots, 27-20
Belichick is notorious for his ability to scheme out a team's best offensive player, so expect a quiet day for wide receiver A.J. Green. Wilfork being out could expose some flaws against the run, but their linebackers are built to pick up the slack
Hangst: Bengals, 28-27
The Bengals were manhandled by the Browns in Week 4, but good news: The three defensive backs (Dre Kirkpatrick, Leon Hall, Reggie Nelson) who missed that game should be back against the Patriots. As long as the Bengals offense can be more balanced and stop asking Dalton to do too much, the home team should get a close win.
Hansen: Patriots, 28-17
The Bengals might be the most over-hyped team in the league. The Patriots could be getting Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski back and their young receivers are starting to find a groove with Tom Brady. Patriots move to 5-0 easily.
Bardeen: Patriots, 27-20
It's starting to become more and more difficult to pick against the Patriots and Brady. With new personnel and injuries all over the place, New England keeps finding ways to win. That won't stop against the Bengals.
Gagnon: Bengals, 27-20
The Bengals are simply a better all-around team, especially with New England so banged up. The Patriots are due to lose and Cincy should battle back after a flat performance in Cleveland.
Langland: Patriots 23-16
No proven receivers for Brady, no problem. Despite the circumstances, the 14-year veteran keeps getting the job done week in, week out.
Kruse: Patriots, 20-17
A healthy Bengals defense is built a lot like those from New York that gave Tom Brady problems in the past. But can Dalton make enough plays to beat a surprisingly good Patriots defense? Confidence in the Bengals quarterback is starting to waver.
Jacksonville Jaguars at St. Louis Rams
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Rams (12-0)
Schottey: Rams, 33-10
Jaguars, man...the Jaguars. They're the worst football team we've seen since the end of the Matt Millen era in Detroit, and that might be understating it. Sam Bradford is going to look like an All-Pro at the end of this one.
Bowen: Rames, 20-14
The Rams have their own issues, but can anyone pick the Jags right now? St. Louis finally gets Tavon Austin involved in the game plan in this one.
Schalter: Rams, 13-10
Neither team is getting good quarterback play, rushing offense or anything resembling defense. The Rams have at least shown a little fight this season. Were this in Florida, I *might* have picked the Jags.
Freeman: Rams, 30-6
Not even the sorry Rams could lose to Jacksonville.
Miller: Rams, 21-17
This is just what the Rams need—a terrible Jaguars team coming to town. Rams win, but not as big as you might think.
Frenz: Rams, 30-10
I haven't picked the Jaguars once, and I'm not about to start now. The Rams haven't look good in the last couple of weeks, but the Jaguars have been straight-up out-classed in their first four games.
Hangst: Rams, 27-10
The Rams and the Jaguars both have problems. Whoever has fewer will win the game, and right now, the Rams are the best bet. It helps immensely that they play this game at home.
Hansen: Rams, 24-10
If there was a week to pick the Jaguars, this would be it. But no one is picking the Jaguars, not even against the lowly Rams.
Bardeen: Rams, 26-13
When two teams are pitted against one another and each has major problems, the team with the most talent on its current roster should usually win. St. Louis is definitely the better team on this field.
Gagnon: Rams, 20-13
The Rams have looked so bad the last two weeks, but they're well-rested and at home for quite possibly the only team in the league that is inferior to them. That Las Vegas double-digit point spread is too high, but St. Louis will prevail.
Langland: Rams, 20-9
After back-to-back blowout losses, the Rams need this game in the worst way. Expect offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to open up the playbook against the hapless Jaguars.
Kruse: Rams, 21-9
The Rams have been beat up the last three weeks and are now a disappointing 1-3. But this team will have 10 days to prepare for a Jaguars club that looks like one of the worst the NFL has seen in recent years.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
Rob Carr/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Dolphins (9-3)
Schottey: Ravens, 27-17
The Ravens are coming off of a terrible offensive performance, but the Dolphins are as well. Expect the Ravens defense to take control of this one early as they take advantage of the Dolphins' terrible tackle tandem.
Bowen: Ravens, 22-19
Joe Flacco can't throw five picks again, right? The Ravens quarterback bounces back and Baltimore picks up the road win.
Schalter: Dolphins, 24-17
Flacco is who we thought he is, and the Dolphins pass defense is even better than the Bills'. Score could be more lopsided, but without a better run game, the Ravens should be able to slow Ryan Tannehill.
Freeman: Dolphins, 21-17
Miami rebounds from a horrid loss to the Saints by shutting down Flacco.
Miller: Ravens, 17-14
Flacco won't throw five Eli Mannings (er, interceptions) this week. The Ravens will pound the ball and play smart football to win.
Frenz: Dolphins, 26-14
The Dolphins have held their own against some of the better teams in the league, and the Ravens looked far from a Super Bowl winner in an ugly loss to the Bills. As long as Tannehill stays clean on the turnover sheet, the Dolphins should be able to hold serve at home.
Hangst: Dolphins, 23-20
That long-lamented dearth of receiving targets for Flacco came home to roost in Week 4, with the Super Bowl MVP throwing a career-worst five interceptions. It didn't help that he passed the ball 50 times to just nine Ravens rushes. Expect more balance, less interceptions but yet another Baltimore road loss.
Hansen: Dolphins, 26-14
Miami's defense is pretty good and will be much better at home than it was last week in New Orleans. The shine is coming off Flacco, while Tannehill is starting to come into his own. I like the Fins by a late field goal.
Bardeen: Dolphins 21-14
Tannehill should get back on track in the hot South Florida sun. Expect the Dolphins to bounce back from Monday night's debacle in New Orleans and thump the current champions and move to 4-1.
Gagnon: Dolphins, 23-20
This one scares me because the Ravens have been doing the Jekyll & Hyde thing thus far and Miami is back at home but on short rest. Still, I think the Dolphins are slightly better right now. They win a close one.
Langland: Dolphins, 24-17
Even though the Dolphins got blown out on the road versus the Saints, a return trip home and a big game from Tannehill will get Miami back on track.
Kruse: Dolphins, 24-16
Miami should get back defensive end Cameron Wake, and the Ravens have been awful away from Baltimore this season (0-2). Both factors tilt the scales in the Dolphins' favor.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Packers, 10-2
Schottey: Packers, 38-35
I picked against my hometown Lions last week and they surprised me, but I didn't learn my lesson. The Lions absolutely stink up Lambeau every time they're there, and even this new and improved squad will struggle against Aaron Rodgers.
Bowen: Packers, 31-27
Look for the Packers to play a ton of 2-Man versus Calvin Johnson and the Lions, with Rodgers taking over the fourth quarter to get the win.
Schalter: Lions, 35-33
The last time the Lions won in Wisconsin, Jason Hanson was a junior at Washington State. But the Lions just manhandled a very good Bears team and still haven't played a complete game.
Freeman: Packers, 28-20
I think Green Bay's defense finally plays a good game.
Miller: Packers, 34-31
I have no faith in the Green Bay defense to stop the Lions playmakers...but on the flip-side, there's no way the Lions are stopping Rodgers.
Frenz: Lions, 38-30
Is a bye week long enough to help the Packers offensive line protect Aaron Rodgers? On the flipside, it's hard to trust a Packers defense that has already given up 88 points, ranking 13th in the NFL despite playing only three games.
Hangst: Packers, 33-30
The Packers should rebound nicely after a bye week, especially with a home game to get them back to speed. The Lions are nothing to balk at, but they'll have a tough time getting everything just right in Lambeau.
Hansen: Packers, 33-30
The Lions are playing well, but the Packers are coming off their bye week and playing at home. Hard to imagine the Packers dropping to 1-3 with Rodgers at quarterback, but he'll have to fight for this one.
Bardeen: Packers, 31-21
Green Bay is historically very good after a bye week and against the Detroit Lions. There's no real reason for either of those trends to stop.
Gagnon: Packers, 35-24
The Packers haven't lost coming off the bye since 2008, and they're probably particularly fired up for this one. They can't afford to drop to 1-3. Aaron Rodgers and Co. will dominate that leaky defense.
Langland: Packers, 42-31
The Lions took it to the Bears in Week 4, but don't expect the same results in Week 5. The last quarterback any defense wants to see is Aaron Rodgers, especially after an early bye week.
Kruse: Packers, 34-27
The Lions haven't won in the state of Wisconsin since 1991, but this looks like a team that could finally break the streak. However, it's simply too difficult to pick against a Packers team coming off a bye and playing at home, where Green Bay has won 21 of its last 22 games.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Chiefs (12-0)
Schottey: Chiefs, 24-13
No Jake Locker? No problem for the Chiefs defense. This game is only close because the Chiefs get cautious with the lead.
Bowen: Chiefs, 17-13
Two really good defenses in this matchup. But without Locker, the Chiefs squeeze by to move to 5-0.
Schalter: Chiefs, 24-10
Was really looking forward to this matchup, but the loss of Locker is a killer. Don't like Ryan Fitzpatrick against the KC pass rush.
Freeman: Chiefs, 22-10
No Locker, no win.
Miller: Chiefs, 17-9
5-0 for the Chiefs, as Alex Smith's offense gets enough points to overcome a good Titans defense. Locker's absence is huge in this one.
Frenz: Chiefs, 26-20
The Chiefs defense might be susceptible to Locker's combination of arm and leg talent, but Fitzpatrick is too limited to pose any consistent threat.
Hangst: Chiefs, 30-13
Locker is done for now. Fitzpatrick (or someone else) appears to be taking over the Titans quarterback job. This injury couldn't have happened at a worse time for the improving Titans. The undefeated Chiefs will show them no mercy.
Hansen: Chiefs, 27-10
Kansas City's defense is fantastic, and it will roll over a team that will be forced to use its backup quarterback. The Titans have surprised me through four games, but without Locker, things could go south in a hurry.
Bardeen: Chiefs, 27-20
Kansas City was 2-14 last season and outscored more than 2-to-1. Now the Chiefs are 4-0 and outscoring opponents at a better-than 2-to-1 clip. KC moves to 5-0 in one of the better rags-to-riches stories of 2013.
Gagnon: Chiefs, 27-14
Kansas City is legit, but I'm still not convinced Tennessee is. And while the Titans are at home, they will not have Locker, who has been surprisingly reliable. Chiefs win handily.
Langland: Chiefs, 24-14
Kansas City's defense has played lights-out through the first four weeks of the season. It would be wise to figure the Chiefs front seven will control Fitzpatrick and Co. all game long.
Kruse: Chiefs, 23-14
Watching these two defenses clash should be old-school fun. Jake Locker's unfortunate hip injury will likely present the Chiefs with a golden opportunity to start the season 5-0.
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts
B/R Consensus Pick: Seahawks (9-3)
Schottey: Seahawks, 30-22
I've got the game this close because I respect the heck out of the Colts and it's at Lucas Oil Stadium. That said, we still haven't seen the "best" out of a Seahawks team that is still adding pieces back from injury and suspension. I think we'll get a sneak peek against the Colts, who have hiccupped on offense a bit much for my liking.
Bowen: Seahawks, 24-20
Schalter: Seahawks, 28-24
I really, really agonized about this one. The Colts have balance and great turnover margin—but like Annie Oakley, anything the Colts can do the Seahawks do better.
Freeman: Seahawks, 17-14
Indy won't be able to move the ball against that great defense.
Miller: Seahawks, 28-21
The Seahawks are due a road loss, but the Colts won't be able to push them around like they did the 49ers.
Frenz: Colts, 30-20
The Seahawks have won two games on the road this season and have so far silenced the stigma that they don't travel well, but the Colts just have a magic about them in Lucas Oil Stadium. Seattle has played well, but is due for an upset.
Hangst: Seahawks, 24-20
The Seahawks aren't as dangerous on the road as they are at home, but they showed against the Texans that they can battle back and win a hard-fought overtime contest. The addition of Trent Richardson has helped better protect Luck, but the entire Seahawks defense will be too much for the Colts offense to overcome. Seattle will remain undefeated.
Hansen: Seahawks, 24-21
The Colts don't have the defensive line to expose the Seahawks offensive line like J.J. Watt and the Texans did last Sunday.
Bardeen: Colts, 26-23
On paper, this game should go to the Seahawks, especially since they are coming off a scare from Houston last week. For some reason, though, I like Luck and the newly added Richardson to pull off the upset at home.
Gagnon: Colts, 26-23
The Seahawks merely survived against Carolina and Houston on the road. The Colts are better than both of those teams. Time for Seattle to finally drop a game.
Langland: Seahawks, 21-17
Playing on the road is no longer the Seahawks' weakness, which means they are the most complete team in football. This game in Indianapolis will be a dogfight, but Seattle will prevail thanks in large part to its strong secondary play and formidable pass rush.
Kruse: Seahawks, 24-20
You can't get much better than Wilson vs. Luck in terms of a young quarterback showdown. The difference here is the Seattle defense, which has carried the Seahawks in two road wins this season.
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Panthers (11-1)
Schottey: Panthers, 20-10
Carson Palmer is floundering in Bruce Arians' vertical offense because there's so little help in front of him. He's going to get hit early and often in this one.
Bowen: Panthers, 17-14
I like Cam Newton and the Panthers' defensive front seven on the road. Look for Palmer to struggle with pressure in his face.
Schalter: Panthers, 24-13
I've been saying all year the Panthers are better than their record; that defense will smother Palmer and the Cardinals.
Freeman: Panthers, 17-16
Panthers start to get on a roll. Newton begins to play like his old self.
Miller: Panthers, 21-17
My confidence is low in this prediction, but Newton and the Carolina offense should score here. And the Panthers' front four on defense can upset the Cardinals offense.
Frenz: Panthers, 38-24
If it's a shootout, give me the more talented quarterback. Newton's dual-threat ability gives the Panthers an edge against nickel fronts.
Hangst: Cardinals, 17-13
If there's one thing the Panthers offense does well, it's run the ball. However, there's one thing Arizona's defense does just as well—stop the run. That means Newton could be forced to the skies, playing (literally) into the hands of the Cardinals secondary. At the same time, the Panthers will have to stop Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona wins.
Hansen: Panthers, 24-14
Something keeps drawing me to the Panthers this year like a moth to a flame. I don't trust the Arizona Cardinals on offense or defense. Star Lotulelei keeps making his case for Defensive Rookie of the Year by getting to Palmer.
Bardeen: Panthers, 23-17
It is absolutely time for Newton to take over and win a game for the Panthers. Arizona should be able to shut down Carolina's rushing attack, but Newton is starting to get into sync with more than just Steve Smith, and this Panthers defensive front is downright nasty.
Gagnon: Panthers, 27-17
Carolina has played well in three straight road games dating back to last December, and is coming off a bye as well as a blowout victory over the Giants. Arizona isn't as good as its record. Panthers win.
Langland: Panthers, 28-17
The Cardinals may have a better record than the Panthers, but we all know who the better team is. Cam Newton will air it out en route to his first 300-yard passing game of the season. Carolina wins.
Kruse: Panthers, 23-13
Quietly, the Panthers have built a defense that can play with anyone. Carolina should ride that unit Sunday, as the Cardinals offense is just 26th in yards and 25th in points this season.
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
B/R Consensus Pick: Broncos (12-0)
Schottey: Broncos, 38-28
Peyton Manning against a Tampa 2 defense that just struggled to stop the Chargers? Yeah, Manning wins again.
Bowen: Broncos, 37-23
Manning versus Tampa 2? I'm taking the Broncos and Manning continues his MVP season.
Schalter: Broncos, 35-20
I'm still not sure I know if the Cowboys are underachieving or overachieving, but the Broncos are definitely not losing to anyone anytime soon—and when they do, I won't be the one to have picked it.
Freeman: Broncos, 30-27
Cowboys make it a game, but Tony Romo throws at least one pick while Manning stays flawless.
Miller: Broncos, 30-21
I am not betting against Manning. No way, no how. Especially not when the Dallas safeties are easily exploited.
Frenz: Broncos, 40-24
Manning is playing the best football of his career. He carved up Cover 2 in practice for years with the Colts. This one should look like practice for him, too.
Hangst: Broncos, 40-30
The Dallas Cowboys are back in the friendly confines of their home stadium, where they're more than comfortable. However, it's hard to imagine any venue would rattle the confidence of the Manning-led Broncos. He is the best quarterback in the league right now, and that won't change on Sunday.
Hansen: Broncos, 37-27
The Denver Broncos looks nearly unstoppable and the Dallas Cowboys look like they always do—average. Manning has too many weapons and Denver's defense will make enough plays to build a solid lead, but they might not get another 16-plus point victory like the last four games.
Bardeen: Broncos, 37-27
Manning could be playing both teams from the Lonestar State and still pull this win off. I literally believe Manning could complete passes against a defense comprised of 22 Cowboys and Texans defenders. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating, but the Denver quarterback is playing awe-inspiring football right now.
Gagnon: Broncos, 35-31
The Cowboys will keep this close. They're 2-0 at home this year and have generally played well on defense. Plus, Romo is off to a great start. Still, can't pick against Manning right now.
Langland: Broncos, 35-24
When you have the best quarterback in the league under center, you will be favored to win on a weekly basis. Manning and the boys will remain perfect in convincing fashion come Sunday.
Kruse: Broncos, 42-31
Philip Rivers just smoked the Dallas defense for 401 yards and three scores. Is there really any sane reason to think Manning won't continue his assault on the NFL record books?
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Chargers (11-1)
Schottey: Chargers, 34-13
Philip Rivers is simply playing too well for the Raiders' rag-tag defense to stop him.
Bowen: Chargers, 27-17
Rivers looks comfortable in Mike McCoy's scheme, and he continues to make big throws down the field. The Chargers win the divisional matchup here.
Schalter: Raiders, 24-21
If Terrelle Pryor starts and plays well, the Raiders should win. If not, the Chargers definitely will. Call me crazy, but I'm betting on Pryor. The Black Hole is loudly behind TP as well.
Freeman: Chargers, 30-10
Rivers looks fixed. The Raiders are broken.
Miller: Chargers, 31-17
Rivers is playing some of the best football of his career. That's bad news for a not-so-good Raiders secondary.
Frenz: Chargers, 31-27
Rivers is hitting his stride and rolling into a contest against a completely retooled Raiders defense. The advantage seems to go to the offense. The Chargers just need to get enough stops in key spots.
Hangst: Chargers, 20-17
This divisional game is always tense, and made even more so when it takes place in Oakland. The home-field advantage and intra-AFC West matchup means the Raiders will keep it close, but Rivers is looking like a throwback to his old self, which leads San Diego to the victory.
Hansen: Raiders, 24-21
If Pryor plays, he should be able to expose San Diego's weak defense. This game will come down to Rivers against Oakland's defense. Rivers looks like a MVP candidate while Oakland's defense looks improved. The Raiders also get to play at home, which should give them enough of an edge to get the win.
Bardeen: Chargers, 26-17
Rivers is leading the way for a three-man contingent of former NC State quarterbacks who are starting in the league this season, and he should be able to shine against Oakland's defensive backfield. Because this game is in Oakland and there's a rivalry involved, it won't be a blowout, even though San Diego is talented enough to make it one.
Gagnon: Chargers, 28-17
San Diego has made some silly mistakes and had some tough breaks, but the Chargers could easily be 4-0 right now. With the Raiders dealing with some killer injuries, the Bolts keep rolling.
Langland: Chargers, 24-13
Oakland has flashed potential at times this season, but San Diego is getting top-notch quarterback play from Rivers. He will simply be too much for the Raiders' weak secondary.
Kruse: Chargers, 27-14
Rivers' red-hot start (11 TDs, 2 INTs, 118.8 rating) should be a much bigger story. He looks like the quarterback he was from 2008-10, when most considered him on the fringe of elite status. The Chargers will ride him to a road win in the AFC West.
Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
B/R Consensus Pick: 49ers (11-1)
Schottey: 49ers, 27-23
What new and inventive way will Gary Kubiak and Matt Schaub find to lose a game this week? Stay tuned!
Bowen: 49ers, 20-17
This should be the most physical matchup of Week 5. Expect the off-tackle run game to lead the game plan on both sides with Frank Gore closing this game out in the fourth quarter.
Schalter: Texans, 28-20
It'll be trendy to pretend the Texans have no chance, but they gave the Seahawks a heckuva lot better game than the 49ers did. I'm more confident in this pick if Duane Brown can go.
Freeman: 49ers, 22-17
Colin Kaepernick uses this game to continue getting better, while Schaub continues to get worse.
Miller: 49ers, 27-20
The 49ers have a ton of obstacles to overcome, but they found a swagger last week. Schaub did not. Look for the 49ers to beat him up all day with Brown out.
Frenz: 49ers, 28-20
The 49ers have been up and down this season, but it's hard to pick against them at home against a Texans team that just hasn't inspired confidence this year. San Francisco needs to find its run defense, though, because play-action could be the key to this game for the Texans.
Hangst: 49ers, 30-24
The Houston Texans shot themselves in the foot in Week 4, allowing the Seahawks to come from behind and win in overtime. The true Texans haven't been seen yet, though they should give the 49ers a bit of a fight. Ultimately, though, the Niners are the better team, flaws and all.
Hansen: 49ers, 28-20
The 49ers might have a little more trouble getting their ground game going against the Texans, but their secondary can be exploited. Kaepernick has been waiting for an opportunity to explode, and this could be the game to do it. San Francisco's defense playing at home is good enough to handle Matt Schaub trying to bounce back from last week's debacle.
Bardeen: 49ers, 24-20
The Houston Texans will suffer their second close defeat at the hands of a West Coast team in as many weeks. For the sake of the gathered media interviewing J.J. Watt, let's hope the Texans don't blow another big lead.
Gagnon: 49ers, 27-20
The 49ers have had a chance to regroup and get some rest. I don't trust the Texans at all right now, especially on the road against an elite team like San Francisco.
Langland: 49ers, 24-20
Did this past Sunday's loss to the Seahawks deflate the Texans? I think so. The 49ers will catch them in a downturn.
Kruse: 49ers, 30-20
These two quarterbacks certainly seem to be trending in opposite directions. The big mistakes are starting to define Matt Schaub's 2013 season, while Kaepernick got back on track in Week 4.
New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
B/R Consensus Pick: Falcons (12-0)
Schottey: Falcons, 26-17
The Jets defense isn't going to do Matt Ryan and the Falcons any favors (especially in the red zone), but eventually, Geno Smith and that offense are going to make their mistakes and the Falcons will capitalize.
Bowen: Falcons, 24-26
Rex Ryan will have a solid game plan ready for Matt Ryan, but the turnovers continue for rookie Smith in another Jets loss.
Schalter: Falcons, 21-20
The Jets defense is going to make this one close. I thought the Falcons offense would be a juggernaut this season, but without Roddy White, it's just average.
Freeman: Falcons, 35-14
The type of game Ryan usually wins: no pressure, sorry opponent.
Miller: Falcons, 24-10
The Jets defense is good, but their offense is terrible. The Falcons may have some struggles, but they'll get it done in prime time.
Frenz: Falcons, 28-12
The Jets have recently started to come undone as a result of Smith's continued turnovers (12 this season). Their defense didn't do him any favors giving up a quick score last week. After a narrow loss to the Patriots, the Falcons will be hungry for a win, and so will their fans.
Hangst: Falcons, 26-13
At 1-3, the Atlanta Falcons' struggle to win games is a huge surprise from the first quarter of the season. However, there is still time to right the ship, starting on Monday night against the New York Jets. Quarterback experience wins out on the national stage, with the Falcons getting a much-needed win.
Hansen: Falcons, 21-13
I like the Jets defense enough to keep it close, but Atlanta is playing at home and needs this win badly. Ryan and Tony Gonzalez will figure out a win to get the Falcons back on a track, and it doesn't hurt that the Jets can't score points.
Bardeen: Falcons, 28-23
It's starting to get ugly in Atlanta, but it's not nearly gloomy enough to pick the Jets in the Georgia Dome. I think it's going to take a bye week (and some healing) for Atlanta to turn things around completely, but this game against the Jets is just what the doctor ordered.
Gagnon: Falcons, 38-13
No way Atlanta drops to 1-4. The Jets came back to earth against Tennessee, and that'll continue to be the case in prime time in a hostile environment.
Langland: Falcons, 30-13
New York's defense is doing its best to keep the Jets in every game, but the offense is too inconsistent to trust right now. Falcons roll and inch closer to getting back to .500.
Kruse: Falcons, 27-13
The Falcons falling to 1-4 with a home loss to a rookie quarterback would represent one of the bigger upsets of this young season. Atlanta should roll.