A quarter of the 2013 NFL season is in the books, but it's hardly time for rest and relaxation with Week 5 bringing football fans everywhere plenty to sink their teeth into.
The upstart Cleveland Browns took the AFC North lead by beating the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, thus kicking off the action and reminding us that anything can happen during an NFL season.
The Browns are the only surprising team with a chance to do more damage on Sunday.
Across the board, teams that had early draft picks in April have shown resistance to the idea that rebuilding is a multi-year process. Several have big games against expected playoff contenders this week.
We'll pass along predictions for the entire Week 5 slate below and offer you some additional analysis for games including surprising NFL squads.
Complete Week 5 NFL Picks
Predictions for Surprising Teams
Baltimore 23, Miami 21
The Ravens and the Dolphins faltered in Week 4, and this Week 5 matchup will feature bounce-back expectations for both franchises.
Baltimore has struggled on offense through four games. The running game has been nonexistent, and Joe Flacco hasn't been his usual clutch self in the fourth quarter to bail the Ravens out of jams. A 2-2 start has been the result.
Miami is a surprising 3-1 but stumbled against New Orleans on Monday Night Football, giving up 413 passing yards to Drew Brees in a lopsided 38-17 defeat.
Even on the road and in a hostile environment, Baltimore desperately needs to win this game to avoid losing ground in the AFC North. Expect the pass rush to try and attack Ryan Tannehill early and often, as this tweet from CSN Baltimore suggests:
In a back-and-forth, heated affair, we finally see the defending Super Bowl champs display the poise and late-game execution that won them the Lombardi trophy last season. Both teams will be 3-2 come Monday morning.
Green Bay 34, Detroit 23
The Lions have a chance to take a firm grasp on the NFC North, but the Green Bay Packers have had two weeks of preparation to gear up for this divisional matchup.
Currently 1-2 and staring down the barrel of a catastrophic start, Aaron Rodgers and Co. know that winning this game is crucial if the team is going to make the playoffs this year.
Detroit has been a surprise in 2013. I'm not sure many thought the addition of Reggie Bush would reinvigorate the offense to the tune of 404.8 yards per game.
Jim Schwartz's men are also playing well on defense and have momentum after beating Chicago last week, but Green Bay is a desperate team and will play like it on both sides of the ball.
Kansas City 20, Tennessee 12
The Chiefs yield only 188.8 passing yards per game, which is a harrowing stat for the Titans since backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is taking over for the injured Jake Locker on short notice.
The key to this one will likely be on the ground, where Kansas City gives up a friendlier 117.5 yards per game to opponents. Titans running back Chris Johnson—as you can see in this tweet from The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt—expects to carry the load on offense:
While Johnson is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, only New Orleans (5.5) allows a better per-rush average than Kansas City (5.4). Something has to give on that front, but I would expect Andy Reid and Bob Sutton to stack the box and make Fitzpatrick beat them.
That situation favors the Chiefs.
Another factor here figures to be turnovers; Tennessee and Kansas City are the NFL's co-leaders in turnover differential with a mark of plus-nine. The team that creates more will likely take home the victory.
Behind another turnover-free day from Alex Smith and a balanced offensive attack, I like the Chiefs to start the season 5-0.
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