The Green Bay Packers have gotten off to a 3-1 start, and that's a great jumping-off point for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. However, the second quarter of the season opens up with a tough Dallas Cowboys team on the road, and it will also include divisional rivals like the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.
The Cowboys played nearly pristine football during the regular season last year, but it is a bit more of a struggle for head coach Jason Garrett this season. The Cowboys have dropped two of their first four games, and they have shown a disturbing tendency in their two losses.
When the Cowboys went to Denver in Week 2, the Broncos played a nasty, physical game, and the Cowboys didn't have an answer for them.
The Cowboys lost their Week 4 home game to the Los Angeles Rams, and while the Cowboys were able to gain an advantage in the first half, when the Rams hit back in the second, the Cowboys did not have a response.
It seems that a roadmap has been delivered to the Packers: Stick with your game plan, don't deviate, and the Cowboys will eventually capitulate.
The Cowboys are great front-runners, and they proved that a year ago. However, second-year stars Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have to show that they can respond to adversity and still be effective.
Aaron Rodgers may have his full complement of key players available, and that did not look likely earlier in the week. Running back Ty Montgomery left the victory over the Bears with a rib injury early in the game, and it didn't seem likely he would play in this game. Davante Adams (concussion protocol) was victimized by a brutal hit and was taken off the field on a stretcher.
Both stars were practicing on a limited basis this week and could be in the lineup against Dallas. Look for a solid road effort by the Packers as two-point underdogs, according to OddsShark. We like the Packers to win the game outright with a solid second-half performance.
Week 5 point spreads and predictions (matchup, line, predicted score)
New England at Tampa Bay, NE -5.5, New England 28, Tampa Bay 27
Buffalo at Cincinnati, Cin. -3, Buffalo 21, Cincinnati 20
N.Y. Jets at Cleveland, Even, N.Y. Jets 24, Cleveland 21
Carolina at Detroit, Det. -2, Detroit 28, Carolina 21
San Francisco at Indianapolis, Ind. -1.5, Indianapolis 24, San Francisco 13
Tennessee at Miami, Tenn. -3, Tennessee 20, Miami 14
L.A. Chargers at N.Y. Giants, NYG -3.5, N.Y. Giants 30, L.A. Chargers 27
Arizona at Philadelphia, Phil. -6.5, Philadelphia 23, Arizona 14
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, Pitt. -8.5, Pittsburgh 28, Jacksonville, 17
Seattle at L.A. Rams, Even, Seattle 30, L.A. Rams 23
Baltimore at Oakland, Oak. -2.5, Baltimore 17, Oakland 14
Green Bay at Dallas, Dall. -2, Green Bay 23, Dallas 20
Kansas City at Houston, KC -1, Houston 33, Kansas City 17
Minnesota at Chicago, Minn. -3, Chicago 24, Minnesota 21
*-will cover spread but fail to win the game.
Kansas City at Houston
The Chiefs are the league's only undefeated team, but they needed a last-minute drive to gain their advantage over the Washington Redskins Monday night.
They were pushed to the limit on their home field by a solid opponent, and now they must go on the road in a short week against a team that has discovered many of the answers.
The Texans have found their quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson, but he is not slogging through his learning process. Instead, the former Clemson star is acing his NFL education and he has given the Texans the kind of sharp play at the position that the franchise had been lacking.
Watson is playing with quite a bit of confidence and has completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 811 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also used his sensational athletic ability to run for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
The Texans are coming off a remarkable 57-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans, and they are anxious to prove themselves against an even better opponent in the Chiefs. Lamar Miller is a punishing runner who can get the job done running between the tackles or slash to the outside. Wideout DeAndre Hopkins is a star who is most dangerous after he catches the ball.
The Texans also have the best defensive personnel in the league, although former Player of the Year J.J. Watt has yet to record his first sack this season. Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus are both game-changing players.
The Chiefs have a pair of explosive speedsters who can dominate in Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, and Alex Smith has been more aggressive than he has been in the past.
The Chiefs are one-point favorites, but we like the Texans to pick up where they left off and come through with another convincing home win.
Minnesota at Chicago
The Bears have performed quite well in their two home games, nearly beating the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons and getting the best of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bears have inserted rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky into the starting lineup in place of ineffective Mike Glennon, and the move should energize the Bears as well as their supporters at Soldier Field.
Trubisky played well during the preseason, and he has the measurables to develop into a solid NFL quarterback.
While it's unusual for a rookie signal-caller to be effective right from the start, it is possible and the Bears expect Trubisky to deliver more than Glennon.
The Vikings may look at the 1-3 Bears as an opponent that is there for the taking, but that may not be the case considering Chicago's play at home this season. Additionally, the Vikings still don't know if quarterback Sam Bradford will be back in the lineup.
Bradford looked like a potential star in Minnesota's Week 1 victory against New Orleans, but he has not been in the lineup since then because of a knee injury and is considered day-to-day for this game.
The Bears are three-point underdogs, but we like the home team to get a lift from its rookie quarterback and come through with the Monday night win.