NFL Week 5 Picks: Breaking Down Key Divisional Matchups
There may only be three divisional games this week on the NFL schedule, but all three contests are absolutely vital for the teams playing.
In the NFC East and AFC West, four teams will be fighting to stay afloat after slow starts to the season, while in the NFC North two playoff contenders will do battle in a game that should be one of the weekend's top matchups.
Let's take a closer look at these divisional showdowns.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) at New York Giants (0-4)
Neither one of these teams plays a lick of defense, so this one could easily become a shootout. Don't be surprised if Eli Manning throws for 400 yards or if the Eagles rush for over 200.
The Eagles come in ranked 31st in pass defense, while the Giants are 28th against the run. The difference is that the Eagles have shown balance this year—10th in passing offense, first in rushing—while the Giants have yet to get the ground game going (30th in the NFL).
Add in the fact that the Giants are an atrocious minus-nine in turnover differential, and the Eagles seem like the better choice in a high-scoring, sloppy game.
Prediction: Eagles win, 31-27
Detroit Lions (3-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Historically speaking, the odds are stacked against the Lions in Green Bay, where they've lost 22 straight games. Now, the Lions won't be frightened by this—after all, they just won in Washington for the first time in 74 years—and have looked like one of the NFL's best teams in the early going.
But it's rare that Green Bay loses to anyone at home, having won 30 of its last 35 games at Lambeau Field. Plus, the Packers have had an extra week to prepare for this game with a Week 4 bye. And the Lions are allowing 268 passing yards and two passing touchdowns per game.
In a matchup that seems destined to become a shootout, it's unwise to bet against Aaron Rodgers.
Prediction: Packers win, 31-17.
San Diego Chargers (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-3)
Neither one of these teams is very good on defense—San Diego is 30th in total yards allowed, while the Raiders are 18th—so this game could end up being one of the weekend's best.
It's a shame nobody east of the Mississippi will see it, as it doesn't begin until 11:35 p.m. ET.
The Raiders are in trouble in this game. Both Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece could be out, for starters. From Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Marcel Reece had MRI on knee, nothing surgical is needed. Allen said too early to speculate how long he & Darren McFadden (hamstring) out— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 30, 2013
Plus, the reemergence of Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates has been impressive, and the Chargers have a very balanced offense, with four players notching at least 15 receptions. San Diego also boasts the league's No. 5 passing offense and has a capable, if unspectacular, rushing game.
The Raiders may be the hosts, but the Chargers will make themselves at home in Oakland.
Prediction: Chargers win, 28-21
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