What stands out about the week 5 schedule in the NFL is that many of the league’s bad teams are getting a bye and many top teams are hitting the road. In fact, the four teams on bye have combined for just two wins, while all five teams that remain undefeated will face a tough road test this weekend. It should be a great weekend in the NFL, so let’s take a closer look at each game.
New Orleans at Chicago – The Saints have had the home-field advantage in three of their four wins, so playing in Chicago will be a test for them. The Bears will also be the best team New Orleans has played so far, as Jay Cutler and company will be a challenge for a Saint’s defense that played great all throughout September. Of course, Chicago’s defense will also have its hands full, as this game could turn into a track meet and could come down to whether or not Cutler can avoid turning the ball over like he did last week.
New England at Cincinnati – The Bengals will try to rebound from a disappointing loss in Cleveland last week. Cincinnati needs to find a way to get its running game going, and they also need to get big plays out of A.J. Green. If Aqib Talib can slow down Green this week the same way Joe Haden did last week, the Bengals could have trouble outscoring a New England offense that’s starting to find its stride with Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman.
Detroit at Green Bay – The Packers have had an extra week to prepare for this game, and they also need the game a lot more in order to avoid a 1-3 start. Meanwhile, the Lions are flying high after their win against the Bears last week and they have a chance to take control of the NFC North if they can get a win at Lambeau Field. Despite its two losses, the Packers have done a lot well this season, except for stopping the pass, which is where the Lions can really hurt them. Unless Clay Matthews and company can slow down the Lion’s passing attack, this could be another game in which Aaron Rodgers is on his own and needs to win the game himself.
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Kansas City at Tennessee – These two teams are awfully similar, as they’ve both had success early in the season with good defense and mistake-free play from their quarterback. However, the Titans now have to move forward with Jake Locker on the sidelines. The Chiefs will do their best to put pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick, and how he handles the pressure could be the biggest factor in the outcome of the game.
Seattle at Indianapolis – This could be the best matchup of the weekend. Andrew Luck and the Colt’s offense have looked good this season, but they haven’t gone up against a defense like the one the Seahawks have. On the other side of the ball, Seattle’s offense hasn’t exactly been impressive this season, although Russell Wilson has made the right plays at the right time. Despite two great quarterbacks facing off, this game should be low scoring, and could depend on which quarterback makes a mistake at the wrong time.
Jacksonville at St. Louis – This may actually be one of Jacksonville’s best chances to win a game this year. The Rams have had all kinds of problems stopping the run the past two weeks, and if the Jaguars can find a way to get Maurice Jones-Drew going, they can put themselves in a position to win the game in the second half. The Jaguars will have to play better as well, but if the Rams play like they have the last two weeks, they’ll be in danger of losing to the lowly Jaguars.
Baltimore at Miami – The Dolphins took a step backwards Monday night in New Orleans, but the Baltimore offense they’ll face this week is nothing like what they saw in the Super Dome. The Ravens haven’t had an effective running game this season, and they don’t have the weapons in the passing game that Joe Flacco needs. Miami’s run defense has been pretty stingy this year, which means Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have to worry about getting into a shootout. This will be a 4th quarter game and could come down to either Flacco or Tannehill leading their team on a game winning drive late in the game.
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Philadelphia at New York Giants – The Giants just need to forget about the first four games of the season. They were on the road for three of them, and played the Broncos in the other one, but if they can win their games within the division the rest of the way, they’ll have a chance. There’s not much the Giants can do offensively if their line doesn’t play better, but if their defense can put pressure on Michael Vick and force turnovers, they’ll be able to prevent the Eagles from putting a lot of points on the board, which will give Eli Manning a chance to win, something that hasn’t happened the past two weeks.
Carolina at Arizona – The Panthers have looked promising through their first three games, but they have just one win to show for it. As for the Cardinals, after a couple of poor games on the road, expect the Arizona offense to look a lot more dangerous upon returning home. On the other side of the ball, Carolina has an effective rushing attack, while the Cardinals have one of the best defenses against the run, and whoever gets the better of that matchup could be in the driver’s seat in this game.
Denver at Dallas – The Cowboys have been good this season, just a little inconsistent, and they’ll be put to the test this weekend against the Broncos. Dallas hasn’t exactly had a strong pass defense this season, allowing over 300 yards a game, and that doesn’t bode well against Peyton Manning and the Denver offense. The Cowboys will need their running game to show up and do their best to keep Manning off the field. It will also allow them to set up play action and take advantage of a Denver defense that’s missing some key players. But if Dallas can’t run the ball, there’s little chance of Tony Romo being able to keep up in a shootout against Manning.
Houston at San Francisco – This game could be lacking offense. Both defenses have played well this season, especially against the pass, while both quarterbacks are struggling a bit and searching for some confidence. Colin Kaepernick is probably in a little better shape, as his team won easily last week and has had a few extra days to prepare. For Matt Shaub, it may not be such a bad thing to get out of Houston and hit the road this week, although the San Francisco defense isn’t exactly who he’d like to see. Look for both teams to let their running backs do a bulk of the work, at least early in the game, and hope their quarterback can settle in and make winning plays in the second half.
San Diego at Oakland – Phillip Rivers has looked like a much different quarterback this season than he’s been the past couple of years, and he and the Chargers have a chance to keep it going against the Raiders. Unfortunately, the San Diego defense hasn’t been quite as good this season, leaving it up to Rivers to win games for them. Terrelle Pryor will return to the field after missing last week with a concussion, and he’ll have a chance to put points on the board against the Charger’s defense, but if not, the Chargers should run away with the win, as the Oakland defense could be in for a long night.
New York Jets at Atlanta – The Falcons face a must-win situation on Monday night, as they can’t afford to go to 1-4 heading into their bye week. Atlanta has been good offensively, but they haven’t really exploded the way they’re capable of, and that’s unlikely to change against the stout defense of the Jets. On the other side of the ball, the Jets will be in good shape if they can just stop turning the ball over. Last week, they gained more yards than the Titans, but they turned the ball over four times. New York should be able to rely on its defense to keep the game low scoring, and if they can run the ball and avoid turnovers, they’ll be in position to win the game and surprise everyone by getting off to a 3-2 start.