It's week five of the NFL. A quarter of the season has gone and teams are beginning to hit their mid-season stride. Lets preview who is going to win and who is going to lose this week.
Vikings @ Packers – PACKERS WIN
In Thursday night games where the amount of preparation is shortened the away team has got to be something special in order to back them for the win.
Traveling away to the Packers the Vikings are simply not good enough to back. Especially, since it looks like Teddy Bridgewater is not going to be 100% fit. Expect to
see Aaron Rodgers give Packers fans further reason to “R-E-L-A-X” with a second divisional win in as many games.
Falcons @ Giants – GIANTS WIN
After watching HBO's excellent “Hard Knocks” in pre-season it was clear that the Falcons were looking to get tougher and that this was going to help them. The first four games of the season though have shown that the physical side of the ball is still a problem for the Falcons. Bigger more physical teams are able to bully them. Witness the Vikings win over them last weekend.
I expect to see the Giants do the same this weekend on both sides of the ball and I expect to see Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams plough through some big holes.
Bills @ Lions – LIONS WIN
The Bills offense should improve with Kyle Orton at quarterback. In particular, they should start to get the ball to Sammy Watkins more. If they were at home I would tip
Buffalo for the win. On the road against a strong Lions team though I'm not going to do that.
The Lions are a very good football team and after last weeks win over the Jets they have shown that they are not dependent on Calvin Johnson for their success. At home the Lions should have enough about them for the win.
Bears @ Panthers – BEARS WIN
Jay Cutler is very successful at surgically dissecting bad secondaries and the Panthers defense is one of the poorest in the NFL. Add to this the fact that the Panthers have almost no rushing game and so won't be able to exploit Chicago's poor run defense and you have the perfect recipe for an away win.
Browns @ Titans – BROWNS WIN
The Browns have had a bye week to get fully fit and prepared for this road trip. Given this and the fact that they are playing a Titans team that has really struggled so far this season I'm tipping the Browns to pick up a win that keeps them in contention in a ultra-competitive AFC North.
Texans @ Cowboys – COWBOYS WIN
Watching J.J. Watt, the best defensive player in the NFL go up against left tackle Tyron Smith and the rest of the strong Dallas offensive line is going to be something special.
The outcome of this battle is also going to decide the game.
The Texans path to victory is anchored on Watt being an absolute beast on defense so that the anaemic offense has a chance. Watt will still be effective of course but the Cowboys strong offensive line will have enough of an effect to allow Murray, Romo and Byrant to score enough point to get the Cowboys the win.
Ravens @ Colts – COLTS WIN
With Andrew Luck on fire as he is, you'd need the Colts to be facing the Broncos or Seahawks not to back them for the win. This will be a tight game though. The Ravens are a much stronger outfit then the Jaguars or the Titans. If only they had a settled running game then this match could be a contender for upset of the week. As it is though the Colts should just edge the win.
Rams @ Eagles – RAMS WIN
The most important unit the the Eagles offense is the offensive line. As I highlighted in my season preview last season Philadelphia's offensive line was outstanding. Right now
though injuries have hit the unit so hard that the Eagles are struggling to put out a functional o-line.
The return of Lane Johnson for suspension will help but it won't be enough against a Rams defensive line that is one of if not the best in the business. Like last week against the 49ers the Eagles will lose the battle in the trenches and as such the game.
Buccaneers @ Saints – SAINTS WIN
As shocking as Tampa Bay's win over the Steelers was last week the result had more to do with the incompetence of the Steelers then it did about the strengths of the Buccaneers.
The Saints meanwhile lost to the Cowboy's last week to give them an identical 1-3 record to Tampa Bay's. This just goes to show then that not all 1-3 records are created the same. Tampa Bay are 1-3 because they are a very poor football team. Whilst the Saints have a 1-3 record because, they cannot win on the road.
This match is at the Superdome in the Saints backyard. They will win this one comfortably to go 2-3 and stay alive in the NFC South.
Steelers @ Jaguars – JAGUARS WIN
This is probably the toughest game to call this week as the Steelers are probably the most unpredictable team in the NFL right now. They can be outstanding for long stretches but then a switch flicks and it is like they all go to sleep.
After going back and forth on it I've tipped Jacksonville to upset the odds and win. Right now the Steelers run defense is awful. Playing at home the Jaguars should be able to
exploit this weakness and get their first win of the season.
Cardinals @ Broncos – BRONCOS WIN
Before the season started I power ranked Denver as the best team in the NFL. Despite an overtime loss in Seattle I would not change that ranking. In fact, coming off a bye
week I'm expecting to see the Broncos open up the playbook and come up with a strategy that allows Peyton to get round a Cardinals defense that has so far shrugged off its personnel losses.
Given this and the home advantage the Broncos should edge this one.
Chiefs @ 49ers – 49ERS WIN
The Chiefs will be buzzing after a dominate victory on Monday night against the Patriots but the 49ers are a step up in class on New England. Against the Eagles, San Fransisco got back to what they do best and used Frank Gore and the running game to great effect. At home I expect to see the same again.
Jets @ Chargers – CHARGERS WIN
This is a game where the poverty of the Jets secondary is going to haunt them. The Chargers essentially have no running game. Injuries to Danny Woodhead and Ryan Matthews have left with Donald Brown and Branden Oliver. Brown averages 2 yards per
carry this season and in the last game against Jacksonville he had 19 yards off 10 carries. Oliver isn't much better.
Fortunately, for the Chargers though the Jets secondary struggles mightily against the pass and Rivers is in great form. Expect to see Rivers throw for at least a couple of passing touchdowns and 300 plus yards.
Bengals @ Patriots – BENGALS WIN
The Bengals are strong throughout the team. They are an exemple on how to build through the draft in the way that the Patriots used to be but no longer are.
Despite being on the road then I'm tipping the Bengals to extend their winning streak to four and beat the Patriots. Quite simply they are the better team right now. Other than swapping Brady for Dalton I'm not sure a single Patriot would start be a starter in Cincinnati.
Seahawks @ Washington – SEAHAWKS WIN
The thought of Kirk Cousins throwing the ball against the Legion of Boom is likely giving every Washington fan nightmares. Coming off a bye week Seattle will win this one
easily. Probably with the defense scoring a couple of touchdowns of their own.