Last week was rough… between my, unfortunately, inaccurate “upset” predictions and a a couple close games that went the other way, I finished last week with an 8-7 record. I hope my Week 5 NFL Predictions are a little more accurate.
I missed on St. Louis, Baltimore, Houston, Cincinnati, Oakland, Dallas and Atlanta. St. Louis had a chance to take advantage of a 49ers team that was struggling, but looked awful themselves at home. I have made it clear that I believe Buffalo has the makings of a long term contender and could make some noise this season, but I didn’t expect them to beat Baltimore. My Houston pick was a Matt Schaub pick-six away from looking pretty good. Cincinnati underperformed, but a loss to Cleveland once a year is expected no matter the Bengals’ talent. Oakland was missing Terrelle Pryor, like I thought they might, and I have to finally admit to me being wrong about San Diego. They look solid. Atlanta was a miss on my part. I thought the Falcons offense would finally pull together a solid performance, but it wasn’t enough to beat New England.
This week Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington are on a bye. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Thursday, 10/3 – 8:25 pm ET
Buffalo Bills 2-2 @ Cleveland Browns 2-2
Prediction: Cleveland Browns
What did I tell you about Buffalo? They have some talent and will surprise teams as the season progresses. Now… I didn’t see this coming from the Browns at all. I don’t think it is maintainable into the middle part of the season, but there is something exciting going on in Cleveland. Thursday night games are ugly to begin with because it is such a short week to prepare for, so I think the difference maker is defense and the Browns’ home-field advantage. The Dawg Pound is excited to, not only be nationally televised, but also be coming into the game on a winning streak, which will be enough to force a rookie mistake from E.J. Manuel. Yes, Cleveland. “Winning streak” is a real thing and you will continue to ride its brilliance for at least one more week.
Sunday, 10/6 – 1:00 pm ET
New England Patriots 4-0 @ Cincinnati Bengals 2-2
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
Hear me out here. The Bengals looked atrocious last week in Cleveland and the Patriots outlasted the Falcons on the road, so why do I like Cincy in this one? The Bengals are still tremendously talented on both sides of the ball and with the loss of Patriots defensive nose tackle, Vince Wilfork, the Patriots defense, that has looked great, can be exposed. I don’t expect A.J. Green to have a big game because the Patriots, like the Steelers, Packers and Browns, will limit his impact. Look for Giovani Bernard to potentially play a big role. Also, the Bengals are returning at least Reggie Nelson, in the secondary, who missed last week with a hamstring injury. Tom Brady will do well, but this defense should be able to limit this Patriots offense that isn’t clicking quite yet.
Detroit Lions 3-1 @ Green Bay Packers 1-2
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
Following an impressive showing against the rival Bears, the Lions are sitting pretty atop the NFC North and have some saying they are the team to beat in the North. I agree… to an extent. The Packers are coming off a bye week where they could rest up, make adjustments, and spend two weeks game-planning for this home game. Aaron Rodgers will play well and I think the bye week makes all the difference in what should be a close, high-scoring affair.
Seattle Seahawks 4-0 @ Indianapolis Colts 3-1
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks
I thought I had it last week. The Seahawks came out flat and looked like any other team in Houston before storming back and winning in overtime. Seattle on the road especially for 1 p.m. ET games are not the same beast they are at home and while I think Indianapolis should play well and could very well win this one, Seattle was impressive coming back last week. At some point an early road game will get Seattle, but I don’t think it will this week.
Baltimore Ravens 2-2 @ Miami Dolphins 3-1
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
Maybe Miami isn’t as good as everyone thought before heading into their Monday Night matchup with the New Orleans Saints, but the Dolphins still show promise. Playing in New Orleans is tough for any team, so I’m not buying into the poor showing too much. It is how they come back from it. Baltimore, on the other hand, looked awful (see Joe Flacco’s five interceptions) in a loss to Buffalo. I’m rolling with Miami because they have the home-field advantage, a capable defense who can slow down Flacco and the Ravens’ one-dimensional offense.
New Orleans Saints 4-0 @ Chicago Bears 3-1
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
Speaking of the Saints… welcome back! The Saints are contenders once again. Their offense is clicking and defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, has done a great job turning them into a solid unit. After last week’s poor showing in Detroit, some think the Bears of old (interceptions, fumbles, sacks…etc) are back. The Bears will get back on track, but New Orleans is a tough team to recover against even at home.
Philadelphia Eagles 1-3 @ New York Giants 0-4
Prediction: New York Giants
Wow… the Eagles’ offense is actually pretty entertaining to watch, but their defense is swiss cheese. The Giants are just awful all the way around. If the Giants don’t turn the ball over, which is a mighty stretch, then I like the Giants to put points on the board against Philly. This should turn into a shootout, but I think the Giants offense will do something positive this week and pull out the win at home.
Kansas City Chiefs 4-0 @ Tennessee Titans 3-1
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
Both teams are legitimate players early this season with strong defenses and solid offenses that take care of the ball. With Jake Locker missing a chunk of time for the Titans, I think Kansas City wins this one behind quarterback Alex Smith’s decision-making and a Chiefs defense that has been lights out. Don’t sleep on the Titans as Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the best backups in the league, but I like the Chiefs.
Jacksonville Jaguars 0-4 @ St. Louis Rams 1-3
Prediction: St. Louis Rams
What do you want me to say? The Jaguars are awful and the perfect “let’s get back on track” matchup for a Rams team that has underachieved this season.
Sunday, 10/6 – 4:05 pm ET
Carolina Panthers 1-2 @ Arizona Cardinals 2-2
Prediction: Carolina Panthers
Coming off a bye is an advantage and despite the 1-2 record, the Panthers losses have been by a combined six points to the Seahawks and on the road in Buffalo. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are a hard team to gauge as they do have some talent and head coach Bruce Arians, who will have the offense clicking eventually, but Arizona doesn’t play very well. I’ll take the Panthers.
Sunday, 10/6 – 4:25 pm ET
Denver Broncos 4-0 @ Dallas Cowboys 2-2
Prediction: Denver Broncos
I can’t pick against Denver with how they are playing right now. Peyton Manning is playing out of his mind and the Broncos are looking like the class of the league as they have cruised to 4-0 without any signs of slowing down or any hiccups along the way. Dallas is a challenge, don’t get me wrong, but Manning trumps all right now. If Dez Bryant, Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray can get the Dallas offense on the board a couple times and the defense, across the board, can limit Manning in any way… there is a chance. I’m having trouble even thinking about how to beat Denver with how they are playing right now and it doesn’t look promising for Dallas.
Sunday, 10/6 – 8:30 pm ET
Houston Texans 2-2 @ San Francisco 49ers 2-2
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers
Neither team is looking like who we thought they would be this season. Houston’s offense is incredibly inconsistent with the problems stemming from quarterback Matt Schaub and his inconsistent play. It seems as if Houston is always either behind and makes a dramatic comeback or has the lead and gives it away. Not exactly what you are looking for when traveling into San Francisco. The 49ers are also a little broken themselves as they have looked out of sorts. They did beat St. Louis last week, but that win didn’t show me that the 49ers of last year were back by any means. This week, it will come down to quarterback Colin Kaepernick once again to silence critics. I think playing in San Francisco against a talented, but inconsistent Houston team will mean that San Francisco comes out motivated, plays well and Houston makes it a close one. San Francisco wins this one.
Sunday, 10/6 – 11:35 pm ET
San Diego Chargers 2-2 @ Oakland Raiders 1-3
Prediction: San Diego Chargers
San Diego has been impressive this season with quarterback Philip Rivers playing very well to this point. Tight end Antonio Gates is showing glimmers of his former youth and suddenly this team is very intriguing. On the other side, the Raiders get Terrelle “Superstar” Pryor back from his concussion. After seeing Oakland last week without Pryor, I’m thinking the “Superstar” nickname I keep using for him is more and more accurate. He is at least very interesting to watch. San Diego, as far as pure talent is concerned, is the better team and they are playing better to this point, so I’m taking the Chargers. This game is being played late because of baseball. I know! Ridiculous right!?
Monday, 10/7 – 8:40 pm ET
New York Jets 2-2 @ Atlanta Falcons 1-3
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
What is up with this? The Jets at 2-2 and the Falcons looking like they deserve their 1-3 record? It has been an interesting season to this point. I do think Atlanta will get back on track and against the Jets would be a great opportunity. The Jets aren’t pushovers and their defense is a very stingy unit, but rookie Geno Smith is looking like a rookie quarterback for New York. I expect that to continue. Only time will tell if Smith would have benefitted more from sitting for most of the season. Atlanta, on the other hand, will need a great game from quarterback Matt Ryan. There is an outside shot that running back Steven Jackson returns for the Falcons.