NFL 2017 – Week 5 Preview & Picks

Last week’s predictions were a mixed bag, but hit the nail on the head for certain games, particularly the Bills. This week kicks off with the Patriots @ Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football, then seens a Sunday full of interesting match-ups – lots of winning teams facing other winning teams, and a few toilet bowls too (Jets @ Browns, 49ers @ Colts…). Going in to week 5, it’s bizarre to think both the Chargers and Giants are 0-4, but at least one of them will avoid going 0-5 this week as they face off. So yes, week 5 could be summed up as “quite tough to call”.

New England Patriots (2-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
1:25am Friday 6th Sep (UK time)
Who would have predicted the Patriots starting the season 2-2? Last Sunday the Panthers managed to knock down Brady & Co, proving once again that the Patriots really are mortal. That might not bode well for Tampa Bay though – they’ll face an angry Brady on Thursday night. The Buccaneers are at least going into week 5 with a winning record, and the return of Doug Martin from suspension, which should give them a fighting chance. They might go down, but they’ll go down fighting.

Buffalo Bills (3-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)
6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
The Bills are a sneaky good team, having just clipped the Falcons. Last week I said the Bills @ Falcons match-up would be interesting, and it certainly was. The Bengals finding their first win thanks to the Browns might not mean a lot, but Andy Dalton finally put in a performance. Somehow the bookies have the Bengals as favourites here, which must mean either half the Bills are out with food poisoning, or the bookies are all smoking crack, because the Bills are going 4-1 this week.

New York Jets (2-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-4)
6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
The Jets don’t really have a quarterback, but it appears they have a whole lot of run game in Powell and rookie McGuire, who combined for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns last week in Matt Forte’s absence. The 0-4 Browns are still the Browns, and proof that a potentially great QB still can’t perform when surrounded by Browns. With wins over the Jags and Dolphins though, the Jets aren’t exactly a solid 2-2 team, and still belong near the bottom of the rankings. But above the Browns. Everyone’s above the Browns.

Carolina Panthers (3-1) @ Detriot Lions (3-1)
6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
File this one under potentially interesting, certainly meaningful, but probably nothing to get really excited about unless you’re a fan of big cats. Whilst the Panthers just handed an L to the Patriots and the Lions look like they can beat just about any team on any given Sunday, it’s almost inevitable both of these teams will implode just before or during the playoffs. Detroit look like they can put enough points on the board to stop the Panthers, given that both teams have solid defensive games… so yeah, let’s say Detroit 4-1.

San Francisco 49ers (0-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-3)
6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
A game with profound implications. If you believe in the string theory multiverse concept. In this universe, only 49ers and Colts fans will be tuning in to this, and maybe not even them. San Francisco have had a couple of close games, so this week perhaps their pride (in addition to Carlos Hyde) will stop them falling to 0-5.

Tennessee Titans (2-2) @ Miami Dolphins (1-2)
6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
Jay Cutler being Jay Cutler, and Mariota being injured this week, make this one interesting. Both teams have stud running backs, a nice bunch of receivers and a huge wad of potential on paper. So far Miami have squandered that potential, losing back to back games against the Jets and Saints, and whilst the Titans came into this season looking strong, they’ll have either Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden at the wheel this week. Bit of a coin toss to predict, but the Dolphins need this win if they want to avoid being a dumpster fire this season. Come on Cutler!

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) @ New York Giants (0-4)
6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
The Chargers don’t deserve the title of a 0-4 team. The Giants arguably do. This week one of these teams should avoid the dreaded 0-5. Despite living on different coasts, these two teams have a lot in common – in terms of misfiring QBs and underperforming run games. At least the Chargers have Melvin Gordon on the roster, and if he’s fit and healthy on Sunday, he could win the game for LA.

Arizona Cardinals (2-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
Injuries and mishaps have turned the once great Cardinals into a team that barely just beat the 49ers last week. The Eagles are quietly stacking up the wins, even if they are quite messy, marginal and over teams like the Giants and Chargers. Still, this week the Eagles look to be the bigger birds, and due to the often animal influenced naming of NFL teams, they should win this bird fight.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)
6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
Bell is back. 144 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Ravens last week. With Big Ben, Brown and Bell all on the same page, the Steelers are potentially unstoppable. Jacksonville started the season strong, and looked bizarrely good in London, but fell flat last week against the Jets. Watch as the Steelers go 4-1 and become serious contenders.

Seattle Seahawks (2-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-1)
9:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
Things between the Seahawks and the Rams are always interesting, even when the Rams have had otherwise abysmal seasons. This year things are different, and the Rams appear to be hot, especially after last week’s win over the Cowboys – even if they did only score half as many touchdowns as Dallas (so. many. field. goals). The Seahawks have been having a rocky start to their season, with an O-line in crisis, but last Sunday’s impressive win over the Colts should bring back some confidence. Still, the Rams often manage to win against Seattle, and this is the best Rams team in a long time, so they should get the victory this time.

Baltimore Ravens (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (2-2)
9:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
Two things we’ve learnt this season: the Ravens can’t travel, and their scary defense isn’t really that scary. Oakland have the team to beat Baltimore, but sadly, after last Sunday they don’t have the quarterback, with Derek Carr out for the next 2-6 weeks with a back injury. Still, if backup EJ Manuel can just hold it together, with a little help from Beastmode, the Raiders should be able to outscore the Raven’s complete lack of offense.

Green Bay Packers (3-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
9:25pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
Week 5 is a week of interesting games, pitting some of the strongest teams against each other. The Cowboys 2-2 record doesn’t quite shout “Super Bowl contenders!”, but this could be the decisive moment in their season – a win over the Packers shows they have what it takes to make it to the playoffs, a loss on the other hand could be fatal. You can never count against Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, but they’re not infallible – especially early in the season – and as long as Dallas don’t mess up their game plan, they can get back on track with a win over the Packers. Dallas really need to win.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) @ Houston Texans (2-2)
1:30am Monday 9th Oct (UK time)
The last remaining 4-0 team in the NFL, and a face-off between two of the best BBQ cities in the nation. Kansas have found a new star in Kareem Hunt, currently leading the RB rankings. Finally though, Houston have found their star quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Last week Houston recorded their best victory in franchise history, defeating the Titans 57-14, with Watson himself matching the rookie QB record scoring 5 touchdowns. Last month we’d have predicted an easy win for the Chiefs, but today this looks like a game well suited for Sunday night – an up and coming Texans team will have the chance to test their mettle against arguably the best team in the NFL right now. I’ve often thought the Texans were just a good QB and a better O-line short of being Super Bowl contenders, given their typically strong defense, run game and the hands of DeAndre Hopkins. This should be an incredibly close game, the Chiefs going in the favourites, but anyone could come out the winner.

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) @ Chicago Bears (1-3)
1:30am Tuesday 10th Oct (UK time)
Two NFC North teams. Two strong defenses. Two flakey quarterbacks. One writer wondering why this was scheduled for Monday Night Football. The Vikings are now without star running back Dalvin Cook for the rest of the season, which doesn’t bode well for them getting too many points on the board. The Bears will be starting their first round draft pick Mitchell Trubisky in place of quarterback Mike Glennon for the first time this week, hoping he becomes their new hope. All of this makes it very difficult to predict the outcome of Monday’s game – a poor debut from Trubisky could lead to a defensive Vikings win, but if he puts in half a performance, things might get interesting as we watch the Bears and Vikings both go 2-3.

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