NFL Week 5 Picks: 10 Games That Could Put Teams on Playoff Life Support
NFL Week 5 features a handful of matchups between teams with credible postseason aspirations, but the majority of the meetings this week feature teams in danger of quickly heading in the wrong direction.
The most obvious battle of the bad takes place in Buffalo, where the Bills are already enduring what appears to be a lost season with the Jaguars coming to town in Week 5.
Elsewhere, the Cowboys and Titans meet in Dallas in a matchup featuring two playoff hopefuls that desperately need wins to avoid falling even further behind in the race.
Here’s a look at 10 games that could send teams spiraling in the wrong direction in Week 5.
No. 10: Jacksonville at Buffalo
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Jaguars are riding high after knocking off the Colts at home in Week 4, and winning at Buffalo could at least keep them in the conversation for a postseason berth.
A loss would be absolutely devastating for a team with a very small margin for error.
Meanwhile, the Bills already have nothing to play for besides pride.
Now that Marshawn Lynch has been dealt, it will be interesting to see if the clarity in the Bills’ backfield produces some positive results.
Prediction: Buffalo 24, Jacksonville 20
No. 9: Saint Louis at Detroit
The Lions are competitive, but simply can’t catch a break or stop beating themselves.
With Matthew Stafford still out, Detroit can’t begin to look towards the future quite yet.
Meanwhile, the Rams have won two straight and could make a huge statement with another win, even with it coming against the woeful Lions.
Prediction: St. Louis 31, Detroit 24
No. 8: San Diego at Oakland
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The Chargers are a Jekyll and Hyde team, having recorded two impressive wins and two bad losses.
Philip Rivers leads a dynamic offense into Oakland, and can’t let the Chargers suffer a second defeat in AFC West play.
Tom Cable’s Raiders are sinking fast, and have been surprisingly ineffective on defense this season. A win would make things better, at least for the moment.
Prediction: San Diego 27, Oakland 16
No. 7: Chicago at Carolina
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Todd Collins looked beyond rusty Sunday night against the Giants, and the Bears have no choice but to throw him to the Panthers in Week 5.
Chicago’s schedule is brutal down the stretch, so recording wins against inferior opponents now is a must.
Meanwhile, there will be no postseason talk in Carolina this year.
Prediction: Chicago 16, Carolina 12
No. 6: New Orleans at Arizona
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Despite struggling in the last two weeks, the Saints are still sitting pretty in the NFC South. A win over the Cardinals would keep the pressure on the Falcons in the race for divisional supremacy.
Meanwhile, the NFC West is so bad that the Cardinals still have a decent chance. A win with Max Hall at the helm would inspire optimism in the desert.
Prediction: New Orleans 38, Arizona 13
No. 5: New York Giants at Houston
Thearon W, Henderson/Getty Images
The Giants have wins over the Panthers and the baffling Bears this season, but still have more questions than answers.
The NFC East is still wide open, and winning at Houston would be huge for the Giants’ postseason positioning early this season.
At 3-1, Houston is in a very good position.
Elite NFL teams rarely have letdowns, and if the Texans want to continue toward elite status, a loss Sunday must be avoided.
Prediction: Houston 23, New York Giants 17
No. 4: Tampa Bay at Cincinnati
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Tampa Bay is headed in the right direction, but they are still at least a year away from being serious playoff contenders. Still, a win to improve to 3-1 would be huge for Josh Freeman and the young Bucs.
Carson Palmer and the Bengals are still trying to figure things out and can ill-afford a loss.
So-called Super Bowl contenders don’t lose to the Browns and Buccaneers in back-to-back weeks.
Prediction: Cincinnati 23, Tampa Bay 13
No. 3: Tennessee at Dallas
Bob Levey/Getty Images
After committing seven turnovers in the Week 2 loss to the Steelers, it didn’t appear that things could get much worse for Jeff Fisher’s team.
That was before last week’s dreadful home loss to the Broncos.
Now, the Titans need to pull an upset to avoid another loss in the race for the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys need to build on the Week 3 win over Houston to get back into the NFC East race.
Prediction: Dallas 27, Tennessee 14
No. 2: Minnesota at New York Jets
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
Randy Moss might be happy camper in Minnesota, with the team prepared to restructure his contract, but things won’t start looking up for the Vikings until the team starts winning.
The win over the Lions in Week 3 was big, and beating the Jets after coming off a bye week would be a huge step in the right direction.
With Green Bay and Chicago dealing with injury issues, the NFC North is up for grabs.
At the same time, losing for a third time in four games to start the season would make things difficult for Brett Favre and friends.
With all eyes on the Vikings’ offense, look for Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, and a revitalized LaDainian Tomlinson to get the job done.
Prediction: New York Jets 20, Minnesota 17
No. 1: Philadelphia at San Francisco
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
How quickly things can change in the NFL.
Less than two weeks after riding high, the Eagles are coming off a loss to the Redskins and no longer able to reap the benefits of the Michael Vick experience.
Philadelphia appears to have better chemistry than the mistake-prone 49ers, but winning on the road with a depleted roster won’t be easy.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are fighting to stay alive in the woeful NFC West. Another loss would likely end Mike Singletary’s chances of scrapping and clawing into the postseason.
Prediction: San Francisco 23, Philadelphia 16