Raise your hand if you had the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and New York Jets either alone in first place in their division or sharing a piece of the lead after Week 5 of the NFL season. Or that the New York Giants, who won 11 games a year ago, would be one of a trio of winless teams at this point.
Now put your hand down, because you're lying.
The always unpredictable NFL continues to throw us for a loop, as the results from the fifth week of action prove once again. But even with all that uncertainty there are still some things we can rely on, like Aaron Rodgers orchestrating a last-minute comeback to make an already great game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers even more memorable.
Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde speaks for all of us:
Pat Forde @YahooForde
Once again thanks, Rutgers and Princeton, for getting the whole football thing started in 1869. Because eventually it led to games like this2017-10-8 23:29:44
So what will Week 6 have in store for us? Probably a lot more of the same.
Based on what we saw Sunday—but without knowing the extent of injuries and how they'll impact future games—and pending the results of the Monday night game between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, we've made some early predictions for Week 6:
Week 6 Picks
- Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (Thursday): Panthers 23-19
- San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins: Redskins 30-16
- Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons: Falcons 37-14
- Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans: Texans 27-15
- Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints: Lions 31-30
- Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens: Ravens 28-17
- Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings: Packers 23-20
- New England Patriots at New York Jets: Patriots 41-14
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals: Cardinals 20-17
- Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguars 34-30
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs 30-23
- Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders: Raiders 34-21
- New York Giants at Denver Broncos: Broncos 36-16
- Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (Monday): Titans 29-26
Thursday Night Game of the Year?
The NFL's insistence on forcing a pair of teams to play on only three days' rest—instead of doing so with clubs coming off a bye—has meant quite often we get a dog of a matchup on Thursday nights. Yet occasionally we get a good one like the Week 3 shootout between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.
This week's early game could end up being just as fun, and not just because it pits division leaders with matching 4-1 records.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers were a combined 13-19 last season, finishing last in the NFC's East and South Divisions, respectively. They enter this one atop those divisions and the winner will be no worse than tied for the best record in the conference.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is coming off a tremendous performance in a 27-24 result at the Detroit Lions, their second straight road win. He threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-33 passing to follow up his 316-yard, three-TD effort the week before at New England.
The last time he had back-to-back 300-yard games was the first two of his career, in 2011, when he threw for 422 and 432 yards in losses to Arizona and Green Bay. Throw in the TD passes and his effort is even more rare, per NFL Research:
NFL Research @NFLResearch
Cam Newton: First @Panthers QB with back-to-back games with 3+ pass TD and 300+ passing yards since Steve Beuerlein in Weeks 14 & 15, 19992017-10-8 19:01:38
Eagles QB Carson Wentz had consecutive 300-yard passing games to start this season and added a third in Week 5, throwing a career-high four TD passes in a rout of the Arizona Cardinals. In his second year he's coming into his own and out-dueling Newton would only further his progress.
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers At Risk of a Letdown?
Rodgers was given 1:13 to drive the Packers down the field for either a game-tying field goal or a go-ahead touchdown at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He only needed 1:02 and didn't bother going for three, instead connecting with Davante Adams on a 12-yard score to key a 35-31 victory.
After such a huge win it's not uncommon for a team to have a disappointing performance the next time out. That's what the Minnesota Vikings will be hoping for when Rodgers and the Packers come to town.
Recent history indicates that's possible. Since 2012 the Packers are winless in three tries on the back end of a two-game road trip after winning the opener, with Rodgers averaging 194.3 passing yards per game. The last time they won road games in consecutive weeks was 2011, when it happened three times (and Rodgers dominated in those outings).
Rodgers is 12-6 against Minnesota, the third-most wins against any team but fewest against an NFC North Division foe. What happens this time out might depend more on who the Vikings have at QB, though, since they've gone 1-2 with Case Keenum while Sam Bradford was electric in their opener before getting hurt.
Bradford appears ready to return from injury for the Week 5 Monday night game against the Chicago Bears, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Vikings QB Sam Bradford expected to return Monday night vs Bears.... https://t.co/rDJHCo26dn2017-10-9 00:36:38
Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams Both Ahead of Schedule
They might have lost 16-10 at home to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5, but there's no denying the Los Angeles Rams product that first-year coach Sean McVay has put on the field is far more impressive than the version Jeff Fisher presented last season. Had they won that last game they would have matched the 2016 team's win total (four) after only five games.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have already matched what they managed in the win column (2016) from a year ago, getting to that number in impressive fashion with a 30-9 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was running back Leonard Fournette's coming-out party, the rookie rushing for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Fournette could be in for another big game because the Rams allow 4.5 yards per carry.
One thing seems certain, though: It will be a high-scoring game. The Rams' 152 points in five games is second to only the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs' 164, and they've accounted for 30 percent of the 10 40-point games in the league this season, along with the Jaguars.
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.