NFL Picks Week 5: Predicting Winners For Every Game
The NFL is entering Week 5 and that means we've got a large enough sample size to draw some conclusions about each squad. After the first quarter of the season, no team has separated themselves from the rest of the pack atop the NFL standings.
The Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, and Pittsburgh Steelers look like the three favorites to win the AFC, while the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints appear to be the class of the NFC.
Can one of these teams separate itself from the pack in Week 5? The Steelers have a bye week, along with the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and Seattle Seahawks, but the other five top teams play in this week's slate of 14 games.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Buffalo Bills (0-4)
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The Jaguars are riding high after pulling off an upset against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Bills are at an all-time low after starting the year 0-4 and getting rid of Marshawn Lynch and Trent Edwards.
Jacksonville will continue rolling this week, as Maurice Jones-Drew has his best game of the year so far.
Prediction: Jaguars 20, Bills 9
St. Louis Rams (2-2) at Detroit Lions (0-4)
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The Rams are riding a two-game winning streak. Sam Bradford appears to be worth every penny he received for being the first overall pick.
But perhaps the biggest surprise in St. Louis is how well the defense has been playing.
That defense will face a tough test in the Detroit Lions. Even with Matthew Stafford injured, the Lions have a very potent offense that features Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson.
Unfortunately, the Lions defense won’t be able to keep the Rams from driving down the field at will.
Prediction: Rams 17, Lions 13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
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Josh Freeman and the young Buccaneers are coming off of a bye week after losing to the Steelers in Week 3.
The Bengals took a major step back last week, losing to the Cleveland Browns. Cincinnati simply hasn't looked like the playoff team it was a year ago.
This week will be a test of just how far the Bucs have come in their rebuilding process. Will they accept their loss to the Steelers as expected, or will they come into Cincinnati angry, feeling they should have been more competitive against Pittsburgh?
UPSET ALERT! The Buccaneers will go into Cincinnati and beat the Bengals while they are down, putting their playoff hopes on life support.
Prediction: Buccaneers 17, Bengals 13
Atlanta Falcons (3-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-3)
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Despite a 1-3 record, the Browns are not an easy win. They have lost all three of their games by seven points or less. Last week, they beat a Bengals team that had serious playoff aspirations. While they are still a couple years away from being major players in the AFC North, they are no longer a joke.
The Atlanta Falcons look like a team that could represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Their only loss came to the 3-1 Steelers in overtime, they beat the defending champion Saints to take control of the NFC South, and last week, Roddy White made what could be the defining play of the Falcons' season.
Matt Ryan was picked off by Nate Clements, who thought he was going to score a touchdown. But, White ran him down and stripped the ball, setting up Atlanta's game-winning drive.
The Falcons are playing too well right now to have a slip-up in Cleveland.
Prediction: Falcons 21, Browns 14
New Orleans Saints (3-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
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The Cardinals will give rookie quarterback Max Hall his first career start this week against the Saints, not a good idea.
The Saints have a defense that has a nose for the ball. They find ways to create turnovers and will feast on the rookie's inexperience.
The Cardinals should have given Derek Anderson one more start before throwing Hall to the wolves.
Prediction: Saints 31, Cardinals 6
Chicago Bears (3-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-4)
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Jay Cutler is out after suffering a concussion against the Giants on Sunday night. That means Todd Collins will have to step up, which won’t happen.
The Bears won’t be able to run their offense the way Mike Martz wants to run it, and it will tremendously hamper their ability to score.
Meanwhile, the Panthers will run the ball effectively and grind down the clock, scoring just enough points to win this game.
Prediction: Panthers 12, Bears 10
New York Giants (2-2) at Houston Texans (3-1)
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Arian Foster is on pace to shatter the single-season rushing record. He won't do it, but he'll still have an excellent year.
The strong running game was the missing piece in Houston last year. The Texans have a decent defense and a strong passing attack, now they have a solid running game to complete the team.
The Giants are a mystery, recording 10 sacks last week after recording only two sacks the previous two weeks.
The Texans will keep the Giants defensive line honest by running the ball well, allowing Matt Schaub to have time to throw the ball.
Prediction: Texans 20, Giants 17
San Diego Chargers (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-3)
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Philip Rivers is playing like an MVP right now, and Antonio Gates has been the Robin to Rivers' Batman.
Unfortunately, the rest of the team has been disappointing, dropping two games late in the fourth quarter.
San Diego will eventually turn things around like it always does and climb back into the AFC West race, but will it be too late to catch the Chiefs?
Oakland isn't as bad as the Raiders' 1-3 record suggests. They lost to the Cardinals because of special teams mishaps and their win against the Rams is looking better and better every week.
But they still can't beat the Chargers.
Prediction: Chargers 38, Raiders 17
Denver Broncos (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
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Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens showed they are legitimate Super Bowl threats last week. They stayed calm despite finding themselves trailing the Steelers at Heinz Field late in the fourth quarter. Flacco managed to find T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the game-clinching touchdown.
The Broncos had a similar late-game comeback last week. Trailing the Titans late in the game, Kyle Orton managed to lead his team to a come-from-behind victory with a six-yard touchdown pass to Correll Buckhalter.
Despite both teams having statement wins last week, the Ravens are still the better team. Add in home field advantage and Baltimore is the clear favorite to win this game.
Prediction: Ravens 34, Broncos 24
Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Washington Redskins (2-2)
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The Packers lost linebacker Nick Barnett and safety Morgan Burnett for the season last week against Detroit. That will severely hamper Dom Capers’ strong defense.
The Redskins have had their share of injuries too. Running back Clinton Portis will likely miss the game against the Packers. That will most likely make the Redskins’ offense one dimensional, which plays into Green Bay’s hands.
Prediction: Packers 27, Redskins 20
Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Dallas Cowboys (1-2)
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The Cowboys played well against Arian Foster and the Texans in Week 3, earning their first victory of the season. The defense had its best game since last season, keeping the Cowboys' playoff hopes alive.
Now, that defense must face another elite running back as Chris Johnson and the Titans come to town.
Coming off of a bye week, the Cowboys have had two weeks to come up with ways to slow down Johnson. And, as everyone knows, as Johnson goes, so go the Titans.
The Cowboys defense will limit the damage Johnson causes and will win this game.
Prediction: Cowboys 31, Titans 23
Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
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The Chiefs are 3-0, having racked up a couple impressive victories. The running attack has been excellent and the defense has been stout.
The only thing that hasn't come together for the Chiefs is the passing game. But, after having a bye week to work out some of the kinks, they should be better.
Plus, they get to face a Colts secondary that is dropping like flies.
Peyton Manning and the offense will still put up some points, but the defense will have a tough time getting off the field.
UPSET ALERT! The Chiefs are for real! They'll run the ball down Indy's throat this week, and will remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL.
Prediction: Chiefs 21, Colts 20
Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (0-4)
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The 49ers have been overwhelmingly bad this year. They have gone from being expected to win the division easily to one of the worst teams in the NFL.
They can't throw the ball, they can't play defense, the coaches aren't coaching, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong in San Francisco this year.
Meanwhile, not much has gone right in Philadelphia this year either. Kevin Kolb was supposed to be the starter, but he got hurt and Michael Vick took over, but then he got hurt so now Kolb is back in.
To make matters worse, Donovan McNabb came into Philly with the Redskins and beat the Eagles.
Ultimately, the 49ers are more of a mess than the Eagles right now, and that will be enough for Philly to pull off a win by the bay.
Prediction: Eagles 23, 49ers 14
Minnesota Vikings (1-2) at New York Jets (3-1)
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The Vikings now have Randy Moss, and the Jets might not have Darrelle Revis, who continues to recover from a hamstring injury. But, Antonio Cromartie did a fantastic job of shutting Moss down in the second half when the Jets played the Pats earlier this year.
The Jets also have one of the best run defenses in the NFL, so Adrian Peterson won’t be able to run the Vikings to victory.
This game will come down to the right arm of Brett Favre. Can he play the best game of the season? He hasn’t looked like the Brett Favre we all know, and that will cost the Vikings this game.
Prediction: Jets 24, Vikings 13