NFL Week 5 Picks: Last-Minute Expert Predictions from Around the Web
The first month of the 2013 NFL season is in the books.
September saw hot starts for the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, a return to winning ways for the New Orleans Saints and a dominant month of football from Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, two franchises who have enjoyed their share of postseason success in recent years, are still searching for their first win of the season.
As the calendar turns to October, here's a look at how experts from around the web expect Week 5 to unfold.
Experts Roll Call
Before we move on to Week 5's games, let's take a look at our panel of experts.
ESPN: ESPN's picks are a combination of the selections of 13 experts. Those experts include writers like Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter as well as former players such as Ron Jaworski and Mike Ditka.
CBS Sports: The CBS Sports picks feature eight writers, including senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco and NFL insider Jason La Canfora.
USA Today: As with the other sites on our panel, USA Today uses a committee approach, with seven writers offering their picks for this week's games.
Bleacher Report: I would be remiss not to include the prognostications of my esteemed colleagues here at Bleacher Report. This year's starting lineup for Bleacher Report's picks team features each of the national lead writers as well as the lead writers covering the NFL's divisions.
There you have it: over 40 NFL experts (plus one computer) all offering their opinions on this week's action.
Week 4 got off to a rocky start for the experts, but a late surge pulled out a winning week.
Last Week: 8-6
New England Patriots (4-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
Final Verdict: Some NFL games are poetry in motion, back-and-forth affairs that keep fans on the edge of their seats.
This was not one of those games.
What it was, however, was a huge win for the Bengals, a 13-6 victory spurred by a great defensive performance that knocked the Patriots from the ranks of the unbeaten.
ESPN: Patriots (8-5)
CBS Sports: Patriots (6-2)
Fox Sports: Patriots (4-1)
USA Today: Patriots (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Patriots (10-2)
Overall: Patriots (33-12)
No Danny Amendola? No Rob Gronkowski? No problem!
Despite being without two of his top weapons in the passing game, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has led the Patriots to an undefeated record and their usual perch atop the AFC East.
This week, the Golden Boy leads the Patriots into the Queen City to battle a Cincinnati Bengals team smarting after a road loss to the Cleveland Browns.
The consensus believes the Bengals will be smarting even more after Sunday, but Bleacher Report AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst looks for Cincinnati to pull off the upset:
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.
New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Chicago Bears (3-1)
Final Verdict: Don't look now folks, but the New Orleans Saints are back.
The Saints rolled into Soldier Field undefeated. They rolled out the same way, riding a huge game from running back Pierre Thomas to a 26-18 win and a 5-0 record.
For the Bears, it's their second straight setback. The natives are getting restless in The Windy City.
ESPN: Bears (8-5)
CBS Sports: Bears (5-3)
Fox Sports: Saints (4-1)
USA Today: Saints (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Saints (9-3)
Overall: Saints (27-18)
What a difference a year makes.
Four weeks into the 2012 season, the Saints were a team without their head coach, reeling from the Bountygate scandal and sitting at 0-4.
One year later, Sean Payton is back, Rob Ryan has installed an aggressive new defense and the undefeated Saints sit atop the NFC South.
The Saints face a stiff test this week at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears. It's a classic matchup of offense vs. defense, with New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees facing off against cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs and the Bears.
It's a matchup that Bleacher Report AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz believes the Saints will win: "Is anyone going to stop Brees this year?" Frenz wrote. "Even if the Saints offense somehow struggles, their defense will make life difficult for Cutler."
Detroit Lions (3-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Final Verdict: The Detroit Lions were without their top offensive weapon on Sunday, as wide receiver Calvin Johnson was a late scratch with a knee injury.
He was sorely missed by the Lions. One week after laying 40 points on the Chicago Bears, the Lions managed fewer than 10 points in a 22-9 loss at Lambeau Field.
ESPN: Packers (13-0)
CBS Sports: Packers (7-1)
Fox Sports: Packers (5-0)
USA Today: Packers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Packers (10-2)
Overall: Packers (42-3)
The Detroit Lions are coming off something of a signature win, a 40-32 victory over the Chicago Bears in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates.
The Lions will be tasked with repeating that feat in Week 5 with a trip to Lambeau Field to meet a Green Bay Packers squad coming off its bye week.
The overwhelming majority of the experts polled expect the Packers to get back to .500 with a win at home. That includes Bleacher Report NFC North Lead Writer Zach Kruse, who predicts a seven-point win for the Pack:
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 (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (3-1)
Final Verdict: The good times keep rolling for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Tennessee Titans gave the Chiefs a good game, but behind 145 total yards and a touchdown from star running back Jamaal Charles the Chiefs pulled out a 26-17 win to move to 5-0 on the season.
From 2-14 to 5-0. That's what you call a turnaround.
ESPN: Chiefs (12-1)
CBS Sports: Chiefs (6-2)
Fox Sports: Chiefs (5-0)
USA Today: Chiefs (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Chiefs (12-0)
Overall: Chiefs (42-3)
Before the 2013 season started, it's unlikely that many folks had the Week 5 tilt between the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs circled on their calendars.
However, through the first month of the season, these teams have combined for one loss. In fact, that one defeat was in overtime, with the Titans falling to the Houston Texans back in Week 2.
It's the visiting Chiefs who are the overwhelming favorite, with all but three pundits forecasting that the Chiefs will move to an eye-popping 5-0 on the season.
That includes a clean sweep of the experts here at Bleacher Report. NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter said of this matchup, "[I] 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."
Seattle Seahawks (4-0) at Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
Final Verdict: Attention NFL fans. The Indianapolis Colts are the real deal.
Two weeks after taking it to the San Francisco 49ers, the Colts downed the previously unbeaten Seattle Seahawks 34-28 at the RCA Dome.
No pressure Houston, but if the Texans fall to San Francisco Sunday night the Colts will open up a two-game lead over the defending champs in the AFC South.
ESPN: Seahawks (8-5)
CBS Sports: Colts (5-3)
Fox Sports: Seahawks (5-0)
USA Today: Seahawks (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Seahawks (9-3)
Overall: Seahawks (29-16)
The Seattle Seahawks are in the third week of their tour of the AFC South, traveling to face the Indianapolis Colts one week after a thrilling come-from-behind win at Houston.
The Colts, meanwhile, are riding a two-game winning streak that has seen the team lay claim to a share of first place in the division.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey expects the visiting Seahawks to prevail, 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.
AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz, however, likes the Colts:
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.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) at St. Louis Rams (1-3)
Final Verdict: If a team loses a football game that no one's watching, does it make a sound?
Look at the bright side Jaguars fan: Sure, the team is 0-5 after falling to the Rams 34-20.
But hey, they scored 20 points. That has to count for something, right?
ESPN: Rams (13-0)
CBS Sports: Rams (8-0)
Fox Sports: Rams (5-0)
USA Today: Rams (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Rams (12-0)
Overall: Rams (45-0)
The St. Louis Rams are a hurting football team. After winning their season opener the Rams have dropped three in a row, the last a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
However, things could be worse.
They could be the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jags' point differential this season is a staggering minus-98, and not a single pundit feels like the Jaguars will leave the Edward Jones Dome with a win in Week 5.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman offered this glowing assessment of this game:
"Not even the sorry Rams could lose to Jacksonville."
Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-1)
Final Verdict: The Baltimore Ravens entered Sunday's matchup with the Miami Dolphins determined to get the ball to running back Ray Rice more.
The Ravens did just that, and while Rice's 102 total yards on 33 touches is hardly eye-popping, the sixth-year pro found the the end zone twice in a 26-23 Baltimore win.
ESPN: Dolphins (9-4)
CBS Sports: Dolphins (5-3)
Fox Sports: Dolphins (3-2)
USA Today: Dolphins (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Dolphins (9-3)
Overall: Dolphins (30-15)
Things haven't exactly gone according to plan where the title defense of the Baltimore Ravens is concerned.
The Ravens enter Week 5 mired at 2-2, coming off a loss to the Buffalo Bills where Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco threw five interceptions.
Two-thirds of the experts in this week's poll expect Baltimore's early-season swoon to continue in South Florida.
However, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller isn't one of them.
"Flacco won't throw five Eli Mannings (er, interceptions) this week," Miller said. "The Ravens will pound the ball and play smart football to win."
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) at New York Giants (0-4)
Final Verdict: The free-fall continues for the New York Giants.
Despite losing Michael Vick to a hamstring injury, the Philadelphia Eagles had no problem moving the ball in a 36-21 win over the reeling G-Men.
Nick Foles threw two second-half touchdown passes, the Giants were once again unable to run the ball, and New York now sits deep in the NFC East cellar at 0-5.
ESPN: Eagles (8-5)
CBS Sports: Eagles (5-3)
Fox Sports: Giants (3-2)
USA Today: Eagles (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Tied (6-6)
Overall: Eagles (25-20)
The 2013 season has been nothing short of a disaster for the New York Giants.
Picked by many to win the NFC East, the Giants sit at 0-4. The defense has been horrible. An injury-ravaged offensive line has been worse.
The Giants have been blown out in each of the last two weeks, and while it's a close vote, the majority of the experts think the Giants' skid will continue Sunday when they host the Philadelphia Eagles.
The vote at Bleacher Report was an even split. NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller explained why this contest is such a close call.
"I'm not sure anyone deserves to win this one with the way they've been playing," Miller wrote. "However, the Eagles offense is too much for the New York defense."
Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
Final Verdict: Some games are so ugly that they should pass out blindfolds to the fans in the stadium.
Such was the case with Sunday afternoon's duel in the desert, a turnover-filled mess of a game between the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals.
It was the Arizona defense that was the story in Week 5, as seven sacks and three interceptions propelled the Redbirds to a 22-6 win and 3-2 record.
ESPN: Cardinals (7-6)
CBS Sports: Panthers (5-3)
Fox Sports: Cardinals (3-2)
USA Today: Panthers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Panthers (11-1)
Overall: Panthers (31-14)
Given that the offensive line is again a sore spot for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, it was somewhat surprising that the team traded tackle Levi Brown to the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this week.
Yes, Brown has been a disappointment since being drafted in the first round back in 2007, but the Redbirds are now forced to turn to Bradley Sowell at left tackle this week against the talented defensive front of the Carolina Panthers.
Most of the experts expect the Panthers to win that battle and the ballgame, among them Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey.
According to Schottey, "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."
Denver Broncos (4-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Final Verdict: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, as he's been known to do, went from hero goat in the span of seconds on Sunday.
Romo threw for a career-high 506 yards and five touchdowns, but all anyone is going to remember is the fourth-quarter interception that allowed Denver to kick a field goal and leave Dallas with a 51-48 win.
ESPN: Broncos (13-0)
CBS Sports: Broncos (8-0)
Fox Sports: Broncos (5-0)
USA Today: Broncos (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Broncos (12-0)
Overall: Broncos (45-0)
There hasn't been a more impressive team in the NFL so far this year than the Denver Broncos.
The 4-0 Broncos were an offensive buzzsaw in the month of September, with quarterback Peyton Manning throwing an eye-popping 16 touchdown passes against zero interceptions.
The experts are unanimous in their belief that the buzzsaw will keep humming along Sunday in Dallas.
In fact, many of the pundits don't think this game will be especially close, including Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter:
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.
Houston Texans (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Final Verdict: If Houston Texans fans were angry with Matt Schaub before Week 5, then at some point on Sunday night they collectively burst into flames out of sheer fury.
Schaub threw three more interceptions against the 49ers (including a fourth straight game with a pick-six) before being yanked in the fourth quarter of a 34-3 rout.
The Texans are in trouble.
ESPN: 49ers (13-0)
CBS Sports: 49ers (8-0)
Fox Sports: 49ers (5-0)
USA Today: 49ers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: 49ers (11-1)
Overall: 49ers (44-1)
The Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers are a pair of 2-2 teams that appear headed in opposite directions.
After dropping two in a row, the 49ers righted the ship last week with an emphatic win over the St. Louis Rams.
Meanwhile, the Texans are trying to recover from a crushing home loss to the Seattle Seahawks, a game where the Texans squandered a 20-3 lead.
That game left Houston fans burning Matt Schaub jerseys in the parking lot.
Every expert but one doesn't think those fans are going to be any happier in Week 5.
The lone dissenter? Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter:
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.
San Diego Chargers (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-3)
Final Verdict: Neither of these teams is going to contend in a division where two teams are undefeated, but Sunday's late-night game offered a glimmer of optimism for the Raiders.
That optimism came in the form of a great first half by Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor is still very much a work in progess, but five games in there's no denying that the third-year pro adds a spark to a Raiders offense that desperately needs playmakers.
Pryor led Oakland to a 17-0 halftime lead with two touchdown passes, and the Raiders made the fans who came out late happy with a 27-17 win.
ESPN: Chargers (12-1)
CBS Sports: Chargers (8-0)
Fox Sports: Chargers (5-0)
USA Today: Chargers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Chargers (11-1)
Overall: Chargers (43-2)
Football fans get a freebie on Sunday night.
With the Oakland A's playing on Saturday in the Coliseum, the start time for Week 5's AFC West tilt between the Chargers and Raiders was pushed back to 11:35 p.m. ET.
That should give fans in The Black Hole plenty of time to get lubricated, but the experts don't think it helps the Raiders' chances of winning this game.
In fact, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman feels this game has the makings of a rout.
"[Philip] Rivers looks fixed," Freeman said. "The Raiders are broken."
New York Jets (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
Final Verdict: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had never lost consecutive starts in the Georgia Dome.
Until Monday night.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith led his third game-winning drive in five games, Nick Folks punched through a field goal as time expired, and the New York Jets handed the Falcons a stunning 30-28 loss.
ESPN: Falcons (13-0)
CBS Sports: Falcons (8-0)
Fox Sports: Falcons (5-0)
USA Today: Falcons (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Falcons (12-0)
Overall: Falcons (45-0)
In 2012, the Atlanta Falcons were the NFC's top playoff seed with a 13-3 record.
In 2013, the Falcons have already lost three games. The team has been devastated by injuries on both sides of the ball, and sitting three back of the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons face a must-win Monday-nighter against the New York Jets.
Fortunately for Atlanta fans, it's a clean sweep; all 45 experts have predicted a Falcons victory.
We'll let Bleacher Report AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst wrap things up in Week 5 with her take on this game:
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.