Picking the Winner of Every Game For NFL Week 5

Well, my debut of this column didn’t go so hot in Week 4. I went 8-8 and you can see the hilarity of my selections here. In my defense, there were six or seven legitimate upsets in Week 4. The NFL has been a crazy roller coaster so far this season and it’s darn near impossible to see any favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Week 5 promises several marquee match ups, including one right off the bat on Thursday night. I’ve got an upset or two brewing and a couple of teams getting their first win. Here’s my picks for this week (and here’s to hoping I go better than .500).

New England Patriots (2-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
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We had one good Thursday Night Football game between the San Francsico 49ers and Los Angeles Rams before the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears brought back the lopsided game we’ve come to know on these nights. On paper, this game between the Bucs and Patriots should be a fantastic one.

Both teams feature high powered offenses and defenses that have struggled to stop anyone. Those expecting a shootout should get exactly that, and fantasy football owners are likely to be pleased with the outcome. It’s hard to see Tom Brady losing in consecutive weeks, even if they are on the road.

Winner: Patriots

Buffalo Bills (3-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)
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The Bills just beat the undefeated Denver Broncos and the undefeated Atlanta Falcons in back-to-back weeks, with the Atlanta win coming on the road. They are doing it with defense, a solid running game and Tyrod Taylor not making mistakes. The Bills forced 2016 MVP Matt Ryan to throw three interceptions on Sunday.

The Bengals have gone 1-1 with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and Andy Dalton has played terrific in both games. They are getting A.J. Green involved — finally — and getting explosive plays. The Bengals’ defense has been quietly effective as well. This is a tough game to pick, but I have a feeling the Bengals can put together a good performance to keep them afloat in their division. Don’t expect much scoring as these two teams are first and third in the NFL in points allowed.

Winner: Bengals

New York Jets (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (0-4)
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The Jets were picked by some to finish the season 0-16 yet have won back-to-back games and find themselves right in the thick of it in their division. They have a top 10 rushing attack now after dismantling the Jacksonville Jaguars for 256 yards on the ground. However, Cleveland is only allowing 87 yards per game which is good for eighth in the league.

Given these two franchises’ recent history, this could come down to a wacky play or two. Call me crazy, but I’m taking Cleveland to get in the win column in front of their fans.

Winner: Browns

Carolina Panthers (3-1) at Detroit Lions (3-1)
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Were it not for the refs enforcing a bogus rule that requires a 10-second runoff after they overturned a touchdown that should not have been ruled one, the Lions would be 4-0. Surprisingly, they’re having some success with their rushing attack and defense, which is not something we’ve come to expect with Matthew Stafford being the NFL’s all time leader in pass attempts per game (yes, that’s a real thing).

The Panthers are also coming off a strong victory over the Patriots on the road. This matchup pits two really good defenses against two so far average offenses. In a toss up game like this I usually take the home team

Winner: Lions

San Francisco 49ers (0-4) at Indianapolis Colts (1-3)
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The 49ers were once again in the game until the very end but gave up a late touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald to lose to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime. They’ve shown heart and it is hard not to like the fight you’re seeing from this young team. This is a tough game to call as neither team has been very impressive on the scoreboard, plus Andrew Luck is supposedly practicing this week. If he plays I think it’s an easy call, otherwise I like the 49ers to get their first win as the Colts have been giving up too many points this season.

Winner: 49ers

Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)
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Talk about a tough week for both teams. The Titans got crushed by the Houston Texans, allowed 57 points to a rookie quarterback and lost Marcus Mariota with an injury. It’s not supposed to be serious, but the Titans signed Brandon Weedon so his prospects of playing against the Dolphins are not good.

Meanwhile Adam Gase has struggled to get Miami’s offense going; they have scored only 26 points in three games and got blanked by the New Orleans Saints in Week 4. Going up against a defense that just surrendered 57 points might help.

Winner: Dolphins

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) at New York Giants (0-4)
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It’s hard to figure out which of these teams is more disappointing. The Chargers lost their first two games because they couldn’t make field goals at the last second, whereas the Giants lost their last two games on walk-off field goals. Both offenses have struggled to score while both defenses are not living up to expectations. Given the two quarterbacks were swapped for each other in the 2004 NFL Draft, you could say these teams are mirror images of each other so far.

This is a toss up again. Give it to the home squad.

Winner: Giants

Arizona Cardinals (2-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
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The Eagles are rolling through the first month of the season with a 3-1 record that has them in first place in the NFC East. They have run the ball extremely well these last two weeks and Carson Wentz is picking up right where he left off his impressive rookie season. The Cardinals have wins against the Colts (1-3) and 49ers (0-4) and barely squeaked by in both. The Eagles are just too good to lose this one at home.

Winner: Eagles

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)
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The Jaguars are an impossible team to figure out. One week they are blowing out the Texans and Baltimore Ravens, others they are getting blown out by the Titans or losing to the Jets in overtime. Their struggles can largely be linked to the play of Blake Bortles, who won’t have it much easier at Heinz Field on Sunday. The Steelers got their run game going against the Ravens in Week 4 and should expect to do the same to a team that just gave up 256 rush yards in Week 4. As with the other Pennsylvania team, the Steelers are too talented to lose this one at home.

Winner: Steelers

Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-2)
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In most cases, an east coast team traveling to the west coast would be an issue, but the Ravens have lucked out with Derek Carr missing at least two weeks with a back injury. If the Raiders are able to emulate the success the Steelers had running the football against the Ravens, it could open things up for E.J. Manual (or, maybe, Colin Kaepernick??). So far the Raiders haven’t been able to do that this season, averaging just 86.3 yards per game on the ground. They also allow 120 yards per game as a defense.

Here’s a crazy stat for you, the Ravens both rush for and allow 127.3 rushing yards per game. So, it would appear the Ravens have a leg up and may be able to take advantage of Oakland’s defense. With Carr out, and possibly Michael Crabtree again, it’ll be real tough on the Raiders.

Winner: Ravens

Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at Los Angeles Rams (3-1)
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The Rams find themselves atop the division and are giving Los Angeles fans everything they could want in a team.
The LA fans love points and the Rams have scored a lot of them. In fact, they lead the league averaging 35.5 points per game. Sean McVay has Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the rest of this offense believing they can score on anybody.

Counter that with a Seahawks team that prides itself on defense and you have an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. I went with the offense when that happened between the Bills and Falcons last week and got it wrong, but the Seahawks have struggled to stop the run so far this season despite acquiring Sheldon Richardson. I also have a tough time trusting Seattle’s offense, especially on the road.

Winner: Rams

Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
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America’s Game of the Week on FOX features a 2016 NFC playoff re-match between two of the better teams in the league. It was a high flying, exciting affair last year and should be much of the same this time around. The Packers have struggled stopping the run of late and that’s exactly what Dallas will try to exploit. Meanwhile the Cowboys pass defense has been abused in every game besides Week 1. Which team comes out ahead? I say the Packers

Winner: Packers

Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) at Houston Texans (2-2)
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The Chiefs are the NFL’s lone remaining undefeated team and have some impressive victories already on their resume. They took down the Patriots on the road and handily dispatched of the Eagles at home. Alex Smith is looking like a man out to prove he should not be replaced by Patrick Mahomes. Most everything about the Chiefs looks good: they are No. 3 in points per game, No. 10 in points allowed per game, No. 1 in rushing yards per game, No. 2 in total yards per game and No. 4 with a +5 turnover differential.

The Texans have looked similarly impressive in the last two games, albeit with a 1-1 record. They gave the Patriots everything they could on the road and followed that up with a 57-14 drubbing of the Titans. Deshaun Watson just might be the real deal. Another real tough one to call, but Andy Reid is 3-1 against the Texans since joining the Chiefs, including two road victories.

Winner: Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at Chicago Bears (1-3)
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The big story on Monday Night Football will be surrounding both quarterbacks. Sam Bradford has missed the previous three games after a stellar opening performance, and the Bears announced rookie No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky will get his first career start under the bright lights. I have a hard time believing the Bears will move the ball against this stout Minnesota defense, especially with a rookie quarterback in his first ever start.

Winner: Vikings