Incredibly, the 2013 NFL season is already a quarter of the way finished. Through Week 4, there are only five teams with undefeated records, while four teams are languishing without a single victory to their credit.
A few powerhouses from last season have stumbled out of the gates, but with most of the season still remaining, there's still time to fight back and make a strong push for the postseason.
The schedule for Week 5 features a few stinkers, but it makes up for them with a few must-see games you won't want to miss. These upcoming contests will help shape the league power structure as we ease into the second quarter of the season.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Indianapolis Colts
If the Colts win this game and if the Houston Texans lose to the San Francisco 49ers (more on that later), then Indy will have a two-game lead atop the AFC South heading into Week 6. On the other side, if the Seahawks win the game and the 49ers lose, then they'll carry a three-game lead over San Francisco in the NFC West.
Last season, the Colts featured a porous defense, and Andrew Luck was forced to win games by coming from behind in the fourth quarter.
But the Colts of 2013 are dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and the team's defense is among the league's best. Through four games, Indy is allowing just 12.8 points per game, has tallied 13 sacks and has forced eight turnovers.
Which team will win?
Indy recently shut down the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park, and Russell Wilson and the Seahawks won't find the Colts easy to overcome this weekend.
The team that can run the ball while not turning the ball over will win.
Seattle has been one of the league's best at creating turnovers the past two seasons, but Wilson has shown a tendency to let a few passes escape him on the road (nine of his 13 interceptions have come on the road).
Final Score: Colts win 28-24
Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have a tenuous hold on the NFC East, but a huge win at home against the Denver Broncos would help Dallas rebound from a poor showing in San Diego last weekend.
A loss, however, would move the 'Boys back to 2-3 on the season, giving hope to the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, and even the hapless New York Giants.
It's hard to imagine the Cowboys winning this upcoming contest.
Philip Rivers had a monster game at home against Dallas' new-and-improved defense, racking up 401 yards and three touchdowns while leading his team to victory.
Peyton Manning is playing at a level most NFL quarterbacks can't even dream about. Through four games, he's completed an astonishing 75 percent of his passes for 1,470 yards with 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
How many TD passes will Manning throw against Dallas?
For you stat nerds out there, he's projected to finish the season with 5,880 yards and 64 touchdowns, which would be new NFL records.
Making matters worse for Dallas is the fact that Denver's defense has been playing incredibly well against the run, allowing just 74 yards a game to lead the league. This means Tony Romo will have to try to keep up with Manning—a prospect that doesn't bode well for the Cowboys.
Final Score: Broncos win 45-30
Houston Texans vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Texans are a couple of big plays away from being 0-4 to start the season, having won two games on fourth-quarter comebacks as their competition crumbled.
The 49ers have shown more than Houston, but not by much.
After opening up the season with a huge win over the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco was blown out two games in a row by the Colts and Seahawks before rebounding against the St. Louis Rams.
Which team will win and move to 3-2 on the season?
Both of these teams are teetering on the brink of mediocrity, and a couple more losses early in the season could doom their playoff chances. There's a lot on the line, and you can be sure these veteran-laden clubs will come out fully focused on Sunday at Candlestick Park.
Interestingly enough, both teams have won recently using the same formula: Run the ball and stop the run.
Quarterback play still determines the outcome, however, and given the way Matt Schaub has played the past three weeks—throwing a pick-six in all three games—you'd have to give the nod to Colin Kaepernick in this discussion.
Final Score: 49ers win 31-21
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