This Sunday will be Week 5 of the NFL season, and it's time to get those predictions ready for this exciting day of big games.
The schedule for Week 5 is a bit different than it has been in previous weeks. We will have the standard early 1 p.m. and late afternoon games, but we will have two evening matchups. The Houston Texans will be taking on the San Francisco 49ers at 8:30 p.m., then the San Diego Chargers will play the Oakland Raiders in a West Coast battle at 11:35 p.m. on NFL Network.
Below are my predictions for Week 5's games, followed by a breakdown of the biggest games to keep an eye on.
Detroit Lions (3-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Prediction 35-30, Packers
Get ready for an old-fashioned shootout to start Week 5 Sunday off on the right foot as two impressive quarterbacks go against each other in this NFC North battle.
Matthew Stafford has gotten off to a solid start this season, but the Detroit offense is much more balanced in 2013 and is taking a lot of the pressure off of its starting QB. After passing the ball 727 times in 2012, Stafford is on pace for just over 600 pass attempts this year.
Running backs Joique Bell and Reggie Bush have been a big reason for that. The two have combined for around 750 total yards of offense and five total touchdowns. Bush in particular has looked like his old self when healthy, making plays as if he were once again back at USC.
Aaron Rodgers and Co. are coming off of a much-needed bye week. The Packers should be getting back a number of key players for this game, including RB Eddie Lacy, tight end Jermichael Finley and safety Morgan Burnett.
We finally got to see Johnathan Franklin in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and it was worth the wait. The former UCLA Bruin tailback went off for 103 yards on just 13 carries with a touchdown, though he did have an enormous game-changing fumble that the Bengals returned for a fourth-quarter TD.
It is uncertain how many carries Franklin will get with Lacy likely returning, but you can bet that Mike McCarthy will find ways to get Franklin some touches in this game.
Stafford and Rodgers both are going against struggling defenses this week and have weapons like Calvin Johnson and Randall Cobb, respectively, to throw to, so this should be quite a high-scoring affair. If you're into ugly defensive battles, this game isn't going to be for you, but the majority of fans should have an awful lot of fun watching this game.
Denver Broncos (4-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Prediction: 42-30, Broncos
There are just two late afternoon games this week, but getting a chance to watch Peyton Manning and the Broncos take on Tony Romo and the Cowboys should make up for it.
The clear front-runner for the NFL MVP award, Manning has not only thrown for 1,470 yards and 16 touchdowns, he has also not thrown a single interception through four games. Based off those numbers, he's on pace to shatter a handful of NFL single-season records.
This Denver offense is simply tearing apart opposing defenses. They're averaging 44.8 points per game, with the Packers a distant second at 32 points per game.
After going 8-8 the past two seasons, the Cowboys look to be headed straight for another season of mediocrity. They've started 2-2 and are looking to find a way to get over the hump.
Romo has led the offense to some impressive performances, but he's not the only weapon on that side of the ball. Dez Bryant is starting to fulfill his tremendous potential. Jason Witten is adding on to what's been a fantastic career, and DeMarco Murray is continuing to show signs of greatness.
As it always is with this team, the Cowboys' main focus is going to have to be on consistency. In some games, this sqaud looks like a legitimate playoff contender, but in others they look as if they are positioning themselves for a top-10 draft pick.
The pass defense hasn't helped, having allowed 304.5 yards per game through four weeks.
Never bet against Manning in a shootout against a team that's struggling against the pass. The Cowboys are going to put points on the board but not as many as the Broncos.
Houston Texans (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: 24-13, 49ers
Here are two playoff teams from 2012 that are looking to turn things around a bit on Sunday Night Football.
But one team is going to walk away from this game with a sub-.500 record.
Something is up with Matt Schaub right now. He's thrown a pick-six in three straight games, tying an NFL record. The one against the Seahawks in Week 4 was an especially egregious error, as Schaub's ill-advised throw was intercepted and returned for a game-tying score by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman with just 2:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
J.J. Watt looks just as dominant this season as he did in 2012, with the rest of the Texans defense gelling around him. The unit currently ranks first in the league in pass defense, allowing just 141 passing yards per game.
Yet Houston is losing some tough games thanks to problems on special teams and offense.
After losing two straight games to the Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts, the 49ers looked better in Week 4 last week against the St. Louis Rams. The offense looked much improved thanks to a big game by Frank Gore and solid outings from Colin Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin.
The defense has appeared to take a step back this year. They weren't able to do much to stop a banged-up Colts offense in Week 3, and the Packers torched them through the air in Week 1.
Both of these teams will be looking for win No. 3. I like the 49ers more, however, because this is a stronger all-around team than the Texans, and they have the superior coach in Jim Harbaugh.
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