Every week there are a few games to circle that will provide plenty of excitement, and Week 5 has more than a few of those to look forward to.
There are plenty of storylines this week. Five undefeated teams will be looking to go 5-0 and continue their incredibly hot starts. Eight other teams that were in the playoffs last season are currently at .500 or worse through four weeks of play, and seven teams that weren't in the postseason in 2012 either are leading or are tied at the top of their respective divisions.
Below are my predictions for Week 5 of the NFL season, along with a breakdown of this week's biggest games.
|Thursday, Oct. 3||Buffalo Bills||20-13||Cleveland Browns|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Detroit Lions||30-35||Green Bay Packers|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Seattle Seahawks||24-17||Indianapolis Colts|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||New Orleans Saints||31-24||Chicago Bears|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||New England Patriots||20-14||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Kansas City Chiefs||17-10||Tennessee Titans|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Jacksonville Jaguars||7-28||St. Louis Rams|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Baltimore Ravens||17-24||Miami Dolphins|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Philadelphia Eagles||38-28||New York Giants|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Carolina Panthers||23-20||Arizona Cardinals|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Denver Broncos||42-30||Dallas Cowboys|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||Houston Texans||13-24||San Francisco 49ers|
|Sunday, Oct. 6||San Diego Chargers||27-17||Oakland Raiders|
|Monday, Oct. 7||New York Jets||13-20||Atlanta Falcons|
Predictions by Tyler Brooke
Seattle Seahawks (4-0) at Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 6
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Prediction: 24-17, Seahawks
Both of these 2012 playoff teams have looked solid to start the 2013 campaign, but the Seattle Seahawks are looking like the most complete team in the NFL right now.
That defense has been intimidating to say the least for the Seahawks. The secondary with guys like Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner is simply shutting receivers down. They've held opponents to just 191 passing yards per game, with quarterbacks posting just a 60.7 passer rating on them.
The defensive line has been the biggest improvement on this team. The additions of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have been huge, as both have looked like top-tier defensive ends this season.
The offense has been solid with Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch leading the way. Beast Mode has been sensational, putting up signature highlight runs up once again, including this one from last week against the Houston Texans.
The Indianapolis Colts have looked better each and every week, despite key players going down one by one. A close win over the Oakland Raiders and loss to the Miami Dolphins have been followed by a convincing statement win over the San Francisco 49ers and a blowout against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The identity of this team seems completely different from 2012, and a lot of that has to do with Pep Hamilton at offensive coordinator. Instead of the pass-heavy vertical attack with Bruce Arians last season, the offense is now more balanced, taking a lot of pressure off of Andrew Luck.
In fact, that offense has been much more efficient running the ball. They currently rank fourth in the league with 150.3 rushing yards per game, averaging a very impressive 4.9 yards per carry.
The defense has looked better as well. After so many seasons of giving up huge games against opposing running backs, the defense looks more solid as a unit thanks to a fluid and deep defensive line. The secondary has been strong as well, with key pieces in Vontae Davis, Antoine Bethea and Darius Butler making plays on defense.
As much as the Colts have improved throughout the season so far, their offense is going to have nightmares against that defense. Their O-line is banged up and struggling, which means that the Seahawks will get plenty of pressure on Luck and take home their fifth win of the season.
New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Chicago Bears (3-1)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 6
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Prediction: 31-24, Saints
Two teams that didn't quite live up to expectations have looked good to start the season. One team has a new coach, and the other is getting its old coach back.
Which team takes the win?
The New Orleans Saints look like a completely different team, at least on defense. After being far and away the worst defense in 2012, they're now holding opponents to fewer than 14 points and 192.3 passing yards per game.
On offense, Drew Brees still hasn't lost a step. He's already thrown for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns with four interceptions on the year. He's continued to find Jimmy Graham, by far his favorite target, to the tune of 27 catches for 458 yards and six touchdowns.
Marc Trestman has improve the Bears offense significantly. Jay Cutler finally had a bad game against the Detroit Lions last week, but he was brilliant through the first three games. Matt Forte is continuing to be a consistent running back, while Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have been reliable targets for Cutler.
The defense is without Brian Urlacher for the first time in a long time, but they still look like the turnover-hungry defense of old. Losing Henry Melton was a big loss, however, and the defense certainly missed him in the 40-32 loss to the Lions.
Without Melton, the Saints offense is going to be even more dangerous. I think that the Bears can put up points as well, but Brees is too tuned in right now and will find guys like Graham and Darren Sproles to put up points in bunches.
Houston Texans (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 6
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Prediction: 24-13, 49ers
Although these teams were able to win their respective divisions last season, they're already beginning to fall behind in their division races this season.
Last week was a tough loss for the Texans against the Seahawks. Matt Schaub gave the Seahawks an easy touchdown, making a bad throw and giving Sherman the opportunity to take one to the house and tie the game rather than run out the clock and leave with a win.
Despite three straight games with a pick-six from Schaub, the offense isn't looking bad. Arian Foster and Ben Tate have established a strong ground game, while the passing game has been helped by the emergence of rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
J.J. Watt and the rest of the defense have been fantastic against the pass, allowing just 141 yards per game through the air. They're still giving up points however, as opponents have scored 26.3 points per game.
Colin Kaepernick hasn't been the same explosive player that we saw during the 49ers' Super Bowl run of last year. The offense struggled in both losses to the Seahawks and Colts, but they turned things around with a strong win last week on Thursday Night Football against the St. Louis Rams. That was a good sign, especially the 49ers struggling to find healthy and productive receivers not named Anquan Boldin.
Neither side of the ball has looked as dominant as they did last season. The defense has given up 95 points in four games, with the secondary looking like more of a liability than anything, especially with Nnamdi Asomugha and Donte Whitner, or should I say Hitner.
The Texans' confidence is seriously shaken, and it's not going to get any better going into San Francisco. The 49ers have a strong all-around team that's looking to continue to improve, and their dynamic offense should be able to bother the Texans and their defense.