The NFL schedule keeps the pedal to the floor in Week 5 with several major matchups on the calendar sure to entertain fans and help dictate how the rest of the season plays out.
Not every game can be a classic, but plenty begin with that intention, and Week 5 is no different. Several undefeated teams take the field in pursuit of another mark in the win column, while other teams simply look to remain competitive.
The following matchups are some of the most critical Week 5 has to offer for a variety of reasons. We'll explain why and predict how they turn out.
New England Patriots (4-0) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots unsurprisingly remain one of the NFL's undefeated teams despite the absence of star tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Brady has been his usual self through the first month of the season, throwing for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns while steering the franchise through difficult tests, most recently downing the Atlanta Falcons.
Things have not been as great for Cincinnati, a team that seems to play down to the competition. The Bengals upset Green Bay two weeks ago and then failed to score a touchdown in Week 4 during a loss to Cleveland.
The deciding factor here of course is Brady, who will have little issue dissecting the aging Cincinnati secondary if his line gives him enough time. Cincinnati will come out stronger than last week, but the Bengals simply do not have enough firepower to keep up with Brady.
Dalton and the offensive play-calling are holding the Bengals back, and that won't change in a game sure to turn into a shootout.
Prediction: Patriots 35, Bengals 21
Detroit Lions (3-1) vs. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Oftentimes a 1-2 team is not a highlight of any schedule, but it is in this case because the Green Bay Packers are anything but a normal 1-2 team.
Green Bay is looking up at the 3-1 Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears after dropping a game to San Francisco in Week 1 and losing a major lead in Cincinnati in Week 3. Meanwhile, Detroit is sitting pretty while cruising through most contests on the heels of its No. 5 ranked passing attack that tallies 309 yards per game on its own.
Each defense has surrendered 20 or more points in every game this season, so this one can truly come down to which team has the ball last. In crunch time, the former MVP at home is hard to argue against.
Prediction: Packers 30, Lions 23
Houston Texans (2-2) vs. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
The biggest matchup of all occurs on Sunday Night Football, when two powerhouses with identical records collide in San Francisco.
Colin Kaepernick has struggled under center for the 49ers after an explosive Week 1, throwing for 167 yards or less in each of the past three weeks. Kaepernick's passing woes are a bigger issue now that he faces off against the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL.
Houston has no issues offensively to speak of, ranking in the top 10 in both rushing and passing. The duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate on the ground make things easy for quarterback Matt Schaub as the offense controls the pace of each game.
We've seen San Francisco play miserable football at home in Week 3 when Indianapolis embarrassed the 49ers at Candlestick Park 27-7. Houston has dropped two in a row but will bounce back in a big way, courtesy of favorable matchups and balanced play.
Prediction: Texans 20, 49ers 17
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