We’re into week five now and in many cases the wheat is starting to be separated from the chaff. Here’s a quick look at my predictions for the action in week five
Titans @ Bills
The Titans are fast turning in to a team that is difficult to beat whilst the Bills are a team that are finding it difficult to do anything! The gritty type of football that Vrabel is employing for the Titans would be well suited to the north east. The Bills need to show a big improvement to beat this Titans side. I think more likely is that this Titans side continues with their momentum and Vrabel gets another win
Verdict: Titans comfortably
Giants @ Panthers
The Panthers come back from their early bye week with a match against an improving Giants team, despite their results. Eli is getting used to playing with a crowd of defenders getting in his face and this Panthers team is likely to carry on doing that. The Panthers offence is starting to get more exciting under the stewardship of new coordinator Norv Turner. They’ll give the Giants defence guessing and whilst they’re improving as a unit, will struggle against all the different weapons that Newton and co have on offer
Dolphins @ Bengals
The Bengals are playing as good as they ever have in the last ten years. In Tyler Boyd they have another receiver that needs attention, allowing less attention to be tuned in on AJ Green, which is always good for Dalton. For the Dolphins, this is the second of two good teams that they’ve played in two weeks and again, will find themselves struggling to compete.
Ravens @ Browns
The Browns were unlucky to lose last week whilst the Ravens are looking better every time we see them. I expect defensive coordinator Gregg Williams gave the Browns defence a rollocking after giving up 45 points to the Raiders. They’ll need to improve as the Ravens offense is really starting to click with new receiver John Brown building a strong relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco.
Verdict: Ravens, but a close one
Packers @ Lions
With every week, Aaron Rodgers is getting fitter and the Packer defense seems to be getting better. It’s a good combination to have. The danger here is the injuries to the Packers receiver corps with Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison all sitting out of practice on Thursday. The Lions top three receivers are all fit and firing on all cylinders, but whether that’s enough to beat an improving Packers team is a big question.
Jaguars @ Chiefs
The game of the week as the Jags travel to the unbeaten Chiefs. This should be a classic case of offense against defense. Will we see Mahomes throw his first INT of the year? Probably. This Jags backfield is still amazing and the pass rush will be able to get into his face, much like Denver. I do think though, that being at home, the Chiefs will be able to do enough to stop Bortles and secure the win.
Broncos @ Jets
The Broncos were unlucky to lose to the Chiefs last week. Their defense needs to show as much drive this week and get to quarterback Sam Darnold. For the Jets, they need to do likewise. If Case Keenum can be rattled from the pocket he’s more than likely to make a mistake. Saying that, the Broncos have the better pass rush and a better run game which Keenum could, and should, lean on.
Falcons @ Steelers
A battle of two teams with great offenses and pretty bad defenses. This has all the elements of being a rumbustious shootout, so it probably won’t be! The Falcons have one major advantage over the Steelers – they have a run game. Freeman is likely to be back, but even without him, Atlanta have dangerous and effective runners with Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith. Couple that with the scoring sensation that is Calvin Ridley and I’m giving this one to the Falcons.
Raiders @ Chargers
The Chargers may have got a win last week against the 49ers but they weren’t all that convincing. They’re still not getting to the quarterback enough and if they don’t do that against the Raiders then Carr has the weapons to punish them. What the Chargers do have though is an increasingly powerful offense which has the potential to beat the Raiders in the air and on the ground.
Vikings @ Eagles
A repeat of the NFC Championship game. Both these teams will be disappointed with their record to date. The Eagles backfield has been allowing all manner of passes to be completed against them and the Vikings have great receivers and a more than competent quarterback. The one area of the Vikings that isn’t working well is the offensive line, specifically the interior. That’s where Fletcher Cox can damage Minnesota and with an increasingly improving Wentz I’m going to give this win to the Eagles, but only just.
Cardinals @ 49ers
The 49ers showed character in almost getting a win over a much better Chargers team. CJ Beathard looked ok and his relationship with tight end George Kittle showed productivity. Their needs to be an improvement in the defence still and would hugely benefit from generating some turnovers. The Cardinals rookie quarterback, Josh Rosen, looked solid under centre. He needs a better performance from his receivers who dropped a number of passes should he score his first thing. Both these teams are facing difficult seasons and each will see this game as crucial for putting a score in the win column.
Verdict: 49ers. But a very close game
Rams @ Seahawks
The Seahawks will face the best offense in the league without one of their best players in franchise history, Earl Thomas. The Seahawk offensive line, at best an average unit, will be trying to hold Suh and Donald at bay. If this goes any other way than a Rams win it’ll be a huge upset
Cowboys @ Texans
A battle of Texas. The Texans pass rush is starting to look awesome with Clowney and Watt starting to produce the goods. The backfield isn’t quite as good, but does that matter when they’re facing Dak, does it? Last week the Cowboys used Zeke more, they’ll need to do that again to stand a chance of securing a result. On the other side, Watson is getting better and at home, I’m giving it to the Texans
Redskins @ Saints
The Redskins may be coming off a bye week but they travel to New Orleans to face a Saints team getting back one of their best players. Mark Ingram adds another dimension to an offense that is up their with the best in the NFL. The Saints defense is their weakness and Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson will likely find time and space to make an impression – but I can’t see them keeping up with the Saints.