The Kansas City Chiefs have started the NFL season on an explosive roll.
The Chiefs made a bold move in the offseason when they installed second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the team's starting quarterback and traded former starter Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins.
While there is still a long way to go in the season, the decision appears to have been a spectacular success. Mahomes looks like an accomplished leader to this point, and he has the Chiefs off to a 4-0 start as they prepare for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs are averaging 36.25 points per game.
Mahomes has shown off a spectacular arm since moving into the starting lineup, but that's not what is allowing him to make big plays on a regular basis. He sees the field well and makes excellent decisions with the ball. He is an accurate passer, and he plays with poise.
That characteristic was on display in the Week 4 Monday night game when Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller was chasing him down late in the fourth quarter. Mahomes transferred the ball to his left hand and shoveled the ball to Tyreek Hill on a third-and-5 play that allowed the Chiefs to keep their drive alive.
It is the kind of play that separates Mahomes from the competition and could help the Chiefs make a legitimate run at the Super Bowl.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will represent a significant test because of their powerful defense. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue are two of the best pass rushers in the league, and they can get after Mahomes.
The problem for the Jaguars is that they don't have the offense to compete with the Chiefs. While it's fair to say that Blake Bortles has improved significantly, he is limited, and if he tries to make some of the throws he sees Mahomes making, it could be disastrous
This game should belong to the Chiefs, and Kansas City is a three-point favorite, according to OddsShark. Look for the Chiefs to come away with a 28-14 victory.
Week 5 Point Spreads and Predictions
Indianapolis at New England (-10), New England 35, Indianapolis 23
Jacksonville at Kansas City (-3), Kansas City 28, Jacksonville 14
Tennessee (-3.5) at Buffalo, Tennessee 21, Buffalo 17
Atlanta at Pittsburgh (-3), Atlanta 33, Pittsburgh 30
Denver at N.Y. Jets (-1), Denver 20, New York Jets 13
Green Bay (-1) at Detroit, Detroit 28, Green Bay 24
Baltimore (-3) at Cleveland, Baltimore 33, Cleveland 27
N.Y. Giants at Carolina (-7), Carolina 23, N.Y. Giants 13
Miami at Cincinnati (-6.5), Cincinnati 24, Miami 17
Oakland at L.A. Chargers (-5), L.A. Chargers 35, Oakland 27
Arizona at San Francisco (-4.5), Arizona 17, San Francisco 16
L.A. Rams (-7) at Seattle, L.A. Rams 23, Seattle 13
Minnesota at Philadelphia (-3), Philadelphia 34, Minnesota 13
Dallas at Houston (-3), Houston 22, Dallas 20
Washington at New Orleans (-7), Washington 35, New Orleans 28
All point spread information courtesy of OddsShark.
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Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
It has been a slow start for the Matthew Stafford and the Lions, but there have been positive signs for rookie head coach Matt Patricia and his team in the last two weeks.
The 1-3 Lions beat the New England Patriots in Week 3, and they used a sharp fourth-quarter drive to take a late lead on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4. The Lions could not hold the lead and lost on a last-second field goal, but it was a competitive effort against a favored opponent.
If the Lions are going to have a decent season, they have to find a way to beat a divisional rival at home. This will be an offensive showdown featuring Stafford's strong arm going up against a Green Bay defense that is coming off a shutout of the Buffalo Bills but has some weaknesses.
However, when Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback on the other side, there can't be any backsliding in this game. Rodgers is going to have his moments throwing to Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, but Stafford needs to get the ball to Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones with consistency.
Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson could be the difference-maker. He has the ability to give the Lions the ground game they have needed for years, and he has rushed for 216 yards and 5.7 yards per carry.
Look for the Lions to come up with their second win of the season and outlast the Packers by a 28-24 margin.
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers
It took a near-miracle comeback, but the Raiders came up with their first victory of the season in overtime against the Cleveland Browns.
Head coach Jon Gruden was happy that his team came up with the W, but the Raiders once again made a slew of mistakes.
The Raiders were fortunate they were playing the Browns, a team that appears to be improved but does not know how to close out victories with any kind of frequency.
The Chargers have not hit their stride yet either, and they nearly lost at home to the injury-riddled San Francisco 49ers. Philip Rivers led a comeback effort and the Chargers escaped with the victory.
While Los Angeles has problems on defense and with special teams, the offense has a chance to dominate with Philips, running back Melvin Gordon and wideout Keenan Allen.
The Chargers should be able to outscore the Raiders, but Derek Carr should be able to make a number of big plays. Former Packers wideout Jordy Nelson is clearly Carr's most dependable receiver, but he can't do it by himself at this point.
The Chargers will probably start to get better when Joey Bosa returns from his foot injury, but they are not there yet. However, they should have enough to beat the Raiders by a 35-27 margin.