NFL Week 5: 8 Bold Predictions
As the first quarter of the NFL season is now over, more is known about all of the players and teams by fans and the media alike. Of course there will continue to be changes, but four games is a good sample size.
The longer trends are built, the harder it is to pick against them. Great games from players are usually a flash in the pan, more than they are a sign of things to come, because there are only so many studs capable of repeating dominant performances from week to week.
These eight predictions are bold and they may be hard to digest when first read, but be prepared to hold down your last meal.
8. Cam Newton Has His Worst Game as a Pro
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Cam Newton may want the towel over his face after playing New Orleans this Sunday.
Gregg Williams loves getting hits on quarterbacks more than anything, and he'll sacrifice coverage to do so. Carolina's quarterback can expect the unexpected, meaning blind side blitzes that may force a fumble or two from the rookie.
Statistically, Newton's worst game came in the Panthers' Week 3 win against Jacksonville. Safety Malcolm Jenkins is a player to watch because of his versatility. He'll be coming on blitzes and he will get an interception on Newton.
Newton will get over 200 passing yards, unlike against Jacksonville because of Steve Smith but, he'll have a completion percentage of less than 50 percent while tossing two or more passes the Saints' way.
7. Andy Dalton Has Three Touchdown Passes
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The Cincinnati Bengals have only averaged 20 points per game and Andy Dalton has four touchdowns through four games. Jacksonville has given up six touchdowns through the air thus far, which is respectable.
The issue is that Jacksonville only has six sacks on the season. It doesn't matter how great the secondary could be if the front four can find quarterbacks.
Dalton is getting more familiar with his unit and AJ Green is too talented for Rasheen Mathis to cover. Tight end Jermaine Gresham poses the biggest mismatch problem for the Jaguars' defense, with the defense having no respectable linebacker or safety to cover the second-year pro.
Dalton keeps his interception total to one while Blaine Gabbert gets used to being sacked.
6. Tarvaris Jackson Plays Well on the Road Against the Giants
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The headline doesn't read extremely bold, but many believe Jackson to be a terrible quarterback.
Believe it or not, Tarvaris Jackson hasn't been all that bad through the first four games. Sure, he's not going to be the Seahawks' franchise quarterback, but he's good enough to be a stop gap guy.
Jackson still needs to have the pass as a second option to the hand off, but he's completing over 60 percent of his passes for the first time in his career and he has a 5-4 touchdown to interception ratio.
New York's secondary is still wounded while Justin Tuck's neck injury is still an issue, as he didn't play last week against Arizona. Jackson's mobility will come into play against Osi Umenyiora and
Jackson's best game came last week when he had his former Minnesota teammate, Sidney Rice, to look for. A passer rating of 80 is nothing spectacular, but the Vikings would much rather have the guy they got rid of instead of the one they brought in.
The Giants will still win Sunday, but Jackson will throw for two touchdowns and no interceptions in defeat.
5. Jay Cutler Outplays Matthew Stafford
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Jay Cutler gets to go up against the secondary that allowed three first half touchdowns to Tony Romo Week 4 while they also intercepted Dallas' quarterback three times. Chicago's quarterback can have moments like that, but he'll look like the first half Romo on Monday Night at Detroit.
The Lions' pass rush is from the interior and Mike Martz is well-aware of that. The offensive coordinator will get Cutler to roll out of the pocket to escape pressure from Detroit's defensive tackles.
Matthew Stafford still has Calvin Johnson, but Charles Tillman is 6'1" and he'll present more of a challenge than the Cowboys' corners did Week 4.
Julius Peppers is the big reason for this prediction. The former Carolina Panther plays best when the spotlight is on him, which he'll make it after the first quarter. Left tackle Jeff Backus has struggled and Peppers presents issues for even the best pass blockers the game has.
Would it be considered bold if I say Calvin Johnson won't have two touchdowns?
4. Chris Johnson Gets over 100 Yards Rushing in Pittsburgh
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Pittsburgh's defense gave up 150 yards to Arian Foster in his first game of the season. For all anyone knows, Chris Johnson's season started last week against Cleveland when he broke the 100 yard mark for the first time.
Tennessee's offensive line has been good protecting Matt Hasselbeck but not making running lanes for Johnson so far.
The Titans' half back gets his full back back (that's a mind blower) as Ahmard Hall comes off his four game, substabsenance abuse suspension. Lawrence Timmons is forced to play outside due to James Harrison's abscence, meaning Larry Foote will be inserted in the middle.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers still find a way to overcome defensive lapses, but Johnson will have a great game.
3. Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans Is a Defensive Struggle
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Arian Foster and Darren McFadden will not break 100 yards rushing when the Raiders face the Texans at Reliant Stadium Sunday.
Andre Johnson is out with a hamstring injury and it's safe to say that Jacoby Jones won't be able to play like a number one receiver. Matt Schuab's second best target, Owen Daniels, will be covered by Rolando McClain, Oakland's underrated middle linebacker.
Both defensive fronts will be ready to get after the quarterbacks, Oakland's more so because of the absence of Johnson on the outside. The Raiders have been terrible against the run, giving up a league high 5.9 yards per carry, but focusing in on Foster even more should help.
Houston's secondary is improved with the addition of Daniel Manning and Jonathan Joseph, so don't expect the laterally quick Texans to give up touchdowns on reverses like the Jets allowed against Oakland Week 3.
Matt Schaub, or should I say Neil Rackers, leads the Texans to a 17-14 win.
2. Philadelphia Eagles Blow out the Buffalo Bills
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The Bills lost a close game against the Bengals last week in Cincinnati while the Eagles blew a large first half lead to fall to the 49ers. The two teams couldn't have lost in more different ways.
Buffalo has shown a tendency to fall behind big at home, like in Week 2 against Oakland and Week 3 against New England. Philadelphia hasn't closed well, as mentioned before, but Michael Vick and Andy Reid find a way to put it all together for this game.
Buffalo's run defense is allowing 4.9 yards per carry, sixth worst in the NFL, while Philadelphia is getting 5.4 yards. The Bills won't have the fortune of getting interceptions from Vick this game.
Maybe the performance will carry over for the rest of the season for Philadelphia, maybe it won't. Either way, the Eagles will beat the Bills by more than two touchdowns Sunday in Orchard Park.
1. Mark Sanchez Has More Passing Yards Than Tom Brady
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This prediction is skewed to say the least. The Patriots will win the game and they will meet the spread of 10 points.
However, New England's pass defense is last in the NFL in passing yards allowed and they are ahead of the second-worst Packers by over 30 yards. Bill Belichick's unit is third in the league in interceptions and they'll get Mark Sanchez to throw the ball their way a few times, thus keeping the Jets passing throughout the game.
Stevan Ridley is a player that should see more time in the backfield for the Patriots. The rookie ran well against Oakland, falling three yards shy of a 100 yard game. Rex Ryan's defense has given up six rushing touchdowns, which is worst in the NFL.
Brady will get three or more touchdowns, but they will be on play-action plays near the goal line to returning Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.