NFL Week 5 Picks: Kansas City Chiefs Will Remain Unbeaten
One unbeaten left. And boy do they have a challenge waiting for them.
In order to avoid a blemish in their record, the Kansas City Chiefs will have to go to Indianapolis and beat the Colts, usually the epitome of success in the league.
The parity-strong (or stricken depending on your preference) league also has only four winless teams left, all in action looking for that first win.
League officials must also be salivating at the super-star laden, storyline-rich Monday matchup between the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings.
Who do you think will win the big matchup? Will the Chiefs continue their winning ways? Will any of the winless teams finally get in the win column?
Bye week: Miami, New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle
Last week: 9-5
Jacksonville (2-2) at Buffalo (0-4)
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The Bills got beat down once again last week and then traded running back Marshawn Lynch.
They rank last in the league in rushing yards per game allowed and will have to try and contain Maurice Jones-Drew.
Try being the operative word.
Jones-Drew is eight in the league in rushing yards and had his best game this season last week against the Colts, going for 105, his only rushing touchdown of the season, and added a receiving touchdown as well.
Tampa Bay (2-1) at Cincinnati (2-2)
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Turnovers and Peyton Hillis burned the Bengals last week.
The Buccaneers don’t have the offensive weapons, mainly at running back where Cadillac Williams and his measly 2.5 yards per carry will now share the ball with Kareem Huggins and LaGarrette Blount.
The Bengals are sixth in the league in passing yards per game and Terrell Owens is fifth in the league in receiving yards thanks to his 10 catches for 222 yards last week.
Atlanta (3-1) at Cleveland (1-3)
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Atlanta ranks in the top ten in both rushing and passing yards per game. They also have the best turnover ratio in the NFC, third-best in all of the NFL.
Not to take away from a great game by Browns running back Peyton Hillis last week, the biggest difference-makers in the victory over the Bengals were the Bengals turning the ball over more and being penalized for more yards. The Browns were severely manhandled by the Bengals passing game, which had been lackluster until this game.
In addition to their turnover differential, the Falcons are one of the top ten fewest penalized teams in the league. They should protect the ball well enough to control the game.
St. Louis (2-2) at Detroit (0-4)
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Last year this proved to, surprisingly, be an exciting game as the Rams got their only victory of the season.
Other than being at home, Detroit doesn't have much going for them. Matthew Stafford is still out. Jahvid Best is questionable. They lead the league in penalties. Their turnover differential is worse than St. Louis'.
They played Green Bay tight, but the Packers committed four turnovers, which allowed Detroit to keep it close.
The Rams are on a small winning streak (any winning streak for them is good). Their point differential is improving every game, and Sam Bradford is getting more comfortable. His accuracy could be better, but he's throwing for more yards each game and he is limiting his interceptions after a three-pick Week 1.
Kansas City (3-0) at Indianapolis (2-2)
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The Colts' biggest weakness, their run defense, has been greatly exposed this season. They rank 29th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. They have been outrushed in three of their four games this season, including against the Denver Broncos lowly ground game (ranked last in the league), and in their two losses they have been outrushed 431 to 102.
The Chiefs on the other hand have one of the best ground games in the league. Both Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles have over 200 yards rushing.
The problem for Kansas City is getting the ball in the end zone. They rank in the bottom ten in the league in points scored (to be fair they did have their bye week last week, so they have a game in hand against most teams).
To win they will need to capitalize on their chances. In the past Thomas Jones has been a great goal-line back, so expect him to get a lot of touches.
Matt Cassel has been less-than-average throwing the ball this season, but the Colts lost last week against the struggling David Gerrard, even though Peyton Manning had a better game. It isn't out of the question for the running game to take over.
Red zone scoring and no turnovers will be key if the Chiefs want to stay unbeaten in this big test.
Kansas City wins.
Green Bay (3-1) at Washington (2-2)
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Green Bay came away from last week’s game with the Lions victorious, but just barely. Turnovers are killing the Packers, even in victories.
The Redskins won as well, but they too were not very convincing. They were beat in first downs, total yards and time of possession. They were helped by Michael Vick’s injury, more turnovers, more penalties and a good running game.
So who wins?
Both teams are without their starting running backs, but Green Bay has more weapons on both offense and defense. Plus Donovan McNabb won’t have the extra juice this week like he did against the Eagles.
Green Bay wins.
Chicago (3-1) at Carolina (0-4)
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Jay Cutler was battered around by the Giants defense last week and has since been ruled out for the game against the Panthers.
Last week’s game was absolutely awful; no quarterback protection and no ability to hold onto the football.
Carolina held the Saints in check last week, and Jimmy Clausen had a productive day, which can go a long way in helping the Panthers get their first victory.
As said what seems every week in this blog, Carolina needs to establish the rush with BOTH DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. It will not be an easy task with a strong Chicago run defense in front of them, but the Bears are very vulnerable right now.
Denver (2-2) at Baltimore (3-1)
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In a very surprising turn of events, we have the top ranked passing offense against the top ranked passing defense.
Kyle Orton is enjoying a great season thus far, but with such a bad rushing game with starter Knowshon Moreno out another week, the lack of balance against a strong defense will severely hurt the Broncos here.
The Ravens offense is still putting it all together, and Ray Rice seems to be much healthier than last week. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Anquan Boldin appear to be coming together with Joe Flacco in recent weeks, and Todd Heap is doing a better job this season catching the ball.
New York Giants (2-2) at Houston (3-1)
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Arian Foster is leading the NFL in rushing yards.
The only stat that Foster hasn’t bested from last year’s rookie season is games played (6). He’s come out of nowhere, but he has had some explosive games on the ground. Yup, it’s one of those seasons in the league.
The Texans will need him with Andre Johnson questionable because of a knee injury.
Houston also will get Brian Cushing back from suspension. Last year’s defensive player of the year will have fresh legs and be more than ready to get after the quarterback. The Texans will hope his energy and excitement to getting on the field will be honed in a positive manner, namely getting after Eli Manning.
Pressured, Manning makes a lot of mistakes, either interception or fumble, and giving the Texans potent offense more chances is a bad thing.
New Orleans (3-1) at Arizona (2-2)
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The Saints have struggled early this season, but have somehow managed to squeak out three wins, including a come-from-behind victory against the winless Panthers last week.
The running game was improved, eclipsing the 100 yard-mark (121 total yards on the ground) for the first time this season. That group should get an additional boost against the Cardinals defense, ranked 30th in rushing yards allowed per game. They also have given up 40-plus points twice.
Arizona has also made another change at quarterback, going with rookie Max Hall. He will have his business cut out for him with wide receiver Steve Breaston ruled out for the game.
New Orleans could use a convincing win, and this game is set up just for that.
San Diego (2-2) at Oakland (1-3)
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San Diego’s record isn’t what they’d like, but statistically they are clicking, so they should be able to turn things around.
They are third in passing yards per game, tenth in rushing yards per game, fourth in passing yards allowed per game and seventh in rushing yards allowed per game.
Philip Rivers is fifth in quarterback rating, third in yards, and second in touchdowns. Tight end Antonio Gates is fourth in the NFL in receiving yards and the only tight end in the top ten. He also leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns, with six.
Oakland has been relatively quiet on offense and will be without Darren McFadden, one of two bright spots in the offense (tight end Zach Miller the other).
San Diego wins.
Tennessee (2-2) at Dallas (1-2)
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The Cowboys are coming off their bye week in good spirits thanks to the win over the Texans in Week 3. They lowered the number of yards they were penalized for (although there is still room for improvement) and they didn't turn the ball over for the first time this year.
They have a strong passing game (fourth in the NFL in yards per game) and they face a vulnerable Titans pass defense that was just lit up by Kyle Orton last week.
Tennessee has one of the worst passing games in the league and will have difficulty keeping pace. The rushing game, headed by Chris Johnson, is good but the Cowboys have a strong rush defense.
With the Cowboys having home-field advantage and an extra week to prepare, it could be a long day for the Titans.
Philadelphia (2-2) at San Francisco (0-4)
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Michael Vick and Asante Samuel have been ruled out for the Eagles. So two big injuries right there.
Kevin Kolb will be the quarterback and he was supposed to be the long-term guy in Philly. There were lofty expectations for him coming into the season. However, there are two potential issues at hand here.
What will Kolb’s confidence level be? The only reason he is the starter right now is because of Vick’s injury. They kept him on the bench because they have a weak offensive line and feared for his safety coming off a concussion.
Also, with Kolb in at quarterback, the Eagles don’t best utilize the true weapons. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are exciting receivers who play fast and were getting a lot of love from Vick. Kolb looks to tight end Brent Celek and running back LeSean McCoy more (by the way, both Celek and McCoy are banged up and on the injury report. They should play, but they aren’t at their best).
Why not take advantage of the weapons you have?
San Francisco has been truly disappointing. However, Frank Gore has enjoyed a strong year despite the offense’s issues and the Eagles have the 27th ranked defense in rushing yards allowed per game.
The 49ers need to rely on him this week. Give him the ball, let him pound the Eagles front-line, eat up clock and punch the ball into the end zone.
San Francisco wins.
Minnesota (1-2) at New York Jets (3-1)
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The two teams that get the biggest headlines in the media go at it. There is no shortage of storylines here.
Brett Favre returns to the Meadowlands, where he participated in a pretty uneventful season with the Jets.
Randy Moss, in his first game as a Viking (well the second time at least) faces off against Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie once again, both of whom shut him down when Moss was with the Patriots.
Santonio Holmes returns from a four-game suspension to play in his first real game for the Jets.
And then there’s Adrian Peterson, Mark Sanchez, LaDanian Tomlinson, Jared Allen and Braylon Edwards.
A cast of characters and a host of subplots showcased in primetime.
The Jets have the upper hand here. They are home and you can expect the fans to give Favre and Moss an earful. Moss and Favre will need time to get to know each other, and playing together on the fly will be difficult with Moss being covered by Revis.
And did you know Mark Sanchez hasn’t thrown an interception yet this season? It’s hard to imagine that he’ll go into a swoon in this game as the Vikings are in the bottom seven in the league in interceptions with two.
New York wins.