A quarter of the 2013 NFL regular season is over with, but things are just getting started on the gridiron.
With traditional powerhouses like the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants sputtering to 0-4 records, the landscape of the league in general is set to change dramatically.
Although, no team can ruin its Super Bowl chances after 240 minutes of football—not even the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Let's take a look at how Week 5 will shake up as we learn more and more about who will contend in January and who will be watching from their respective couches.
Week 5 Notable Matchups
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Fresh off a decisive and persuasive Monday Night Football win over Miami, the Saints go on the road to Soldier Field to face one of the NFC's hottest foes, the Chicago Bears.
Other than that Peyton Manning fellow, Saints gunslinger Drew Brees has looked like the top quarterback in the entire league, as he's led his team to a 4-0 record with 10 touchdowns through four games. Oh, and did I mention he's thrown for 320-plus yards in every game this season?
The Bears also convinced plenty of doubters with a 3-0 start behind the suddenly flawless QB play of Jay Cutler, but the old turnover issue reared its ugly head Sunday in a 40-32 loss to the Lions.
Detroit's havoc-creating defensive line gave Cutler fits all game, a not-so-rare sight for the Bears offense in recent seasons. With those old problems exposed, expect Rob Ryan's defense to continue flying toward the ball—it notched four takeaways against Miami on Monday—and creating more problems for Chicago.
It'll be a traditional barn-burner between two of the NFC's best, and quite possibly a game we could see again in the postseason. But in this one, the team with more momentum wins.
Projection: New Orleans 38, Chicago 34
Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
Two teams that could undoubtedly use a break from the schedule-makers won't get it in Week 5 when the Houston Texans travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers for what should be a thrilling Sunday Night Football contest.
The Texans come in reeling after two straight losses—and two wins to start the season that should've been losses—and hopes for starting quarterback Matt Schaub aren't exactly through the roof after his game-tying pick-six to Richard Sherman in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Seahawks on Sunday.
Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick also came under scrutiny after his Niners got off to a 1-2 start, largely due to offensive inefficiency, but a 35-11 win on the road against last year's pest in the St. Louis Rams helped keep those criticisms at bay.
Despite Schaub's untimely mishap, he played an incredible game against Seattle, featuring 31-of-49 passing for 355 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his two picks. After an offensive no-show against Baltimore the week prior, coming out with this much effect against the league's most talked-about secondary is nothing to scoff at.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick hung up all of three points against Seattle in Week 2, along with a 13-of-28 passing performance for just 127 yards and three interceptions.
This game is another one that could go both ways. We've seen the good, bad and ugly from each team thus far through four games. But vast differences right now in the passing game should tilt this one in the road team's favor.
Projection: Houston 28, San Francisco 23
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Raise your hand if you had these two teams combining for one win through four weeks of the season.
The jury is still out on the 2013 Eagles and the revamped Chip Kelly offense. Michael Vick has looked unstoppable in stretches—they've reached 30 points twice and lead the league in rushing—but turnovers and a vulnerable defense have led to a 1-3 record, including a 52-20 beating by Denver in Week 4.
Then there's the New York Giants, who have quickly made it a punchline that they won a Super Bowl just two years ago. The G-Men are 30th in the league in rushing with little potential at the running back position to give Eli Manning a complement in the backfield to throw off defenses.
After being beaten by a combined 85 points through four games, New York is making a strong argument for it being the worst club in the entire NFL.
Philly has obviously had its fair share of struggles this season—but nothing compared to that.
On the road, Vick's Eagles will take care of business and absolutely scorch a Giants defense that ranks 28th in the league in opponents' rushing yards. Manning will improve greatly from two uncharacteristically horrid games, but no running game will continue to bite this team all season.
Projection: Philadelphia 34, New York 24
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