NFL Week Five Preview
Rams @ Seahawks
After watching the Football Team, Giants, Panthers, Texans, Bengals, and Jaguars play on Thursday Night Football for three straight weeks, the football gods have decided to bless us with a phenomenal game to kick off week five of the NFL season. The Rams are coming off their first loss of the season to the Arizona Cardinals. For a team in contention for home-field advantage, the Rams cannot drop two straight division games in October. Russell Wilson is 9-1 in his career on Thursday night, and the Seahawks are coming off a great team win against the 49ers. Unfortunately, both Chris Carson and Gerald Everett are inactive for this prime-time game. That means that Pete Carroll must let Russ cook. Jalen Ramsey will most likely be covering DK Metcalf which means Tyler Lockett will have the mismatch. Without Carson, the only way Wilson will be able to keep up with Sean McVay's offense is by airing the ball out. Rams defensive coordinator, Raheem Morris, knows that and will keep two safeties over top to keep Wilson humble. As for the Rams offense, they need to find a way to get back on track. The Seahawks struggled to contain Deebo Samuel last week who was constantly on the move before the snap. I'd expect Sean McVay to find ways to confuse Seattle's defense with pre-snap motion. Whether it be Robert Woods or Cooper Kupp, I expect lots of movement before the ball is hiked. This could free up Van Jefferson as a deep threat. Mathew Stafford is never scared to "let it rip" and I expect him to test the back end of the Seahawks defense come Thursday Night. The creativity that comes with McVay's offense will be too much for the Seahawks' defense to handle. I expect the Rams to win this game in a close one.
What to Watch For: Will Pete Carroll let Russ cook?
Player of the Game: Robert Woods WR Rams
Final Score: Rams 31 Seahawks 27
Jets @ Falcons LONDON GAME
Last season, we NFL fans were deprived of the game across the pond. This year, Tottenham Stadium will host two of the top rookies in the 2021 NFL draft, Kyle Pitts and Zach Wilson. Against the Falcons in week four, Wilson had his breakout game. While he did connect with Corey Davis on a handful of throws downfield, what impressed me the most was his ability to do the simple things. Whether it's throwing bootlegs on the run or checking down to Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson, the Mike Lafleur offense is finally clicking for him. The Jets' offense is still missing speed. That is what allows the 49ers to run Kyle Shanahan's offense to perfection. Before his injury, Raheem Mostert was the engine that made the 49ers go. While the Jets may be able to upset the Falcons without speed, for long-term success, Joe Douglass needs to acquire someone who can take the top off of a defense. As for the Falcons offense, if there was ever a game where Kyle Pitts should break out, it would be this one. Without Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, Pitts needs to be fed the football. Arthur Smith should lather him in targets. Defensively, the Falcons struggled to contain Taylor Heinicke. Once Heinicke was able to break the pocket, his receivers freed up downfield. Wilson will need to buy some time, and by extending plays, Elijah Moore will be running free downfield. I like the Jets in this game and I believe Zach Wilson will start gaining some momentum.
What to Watch For: Will this finally be the Kyle Pitts breakout game?
Player of the Game: Zach Wilson QB Jets
Final Score: Jets 27 Falcons 21
Patriots @ Texans
Standing at 1-3, the Patriots are not in panic mode yet, but it's time to start putting their foot on the gas. Promise would be an understatement when describing what Mac Jones showed last week against the Buccaneers. He went toe-to-toe with the greatest football player to ever walk this earth in Foxborough, nearly spoiling Tom Brady's revenge game. He nearly upset the G.O.A.T in the building that he built. Jones was confident and was playing the same way that Brady played for years on end. Death by a thousand paper cuts. This week, New England doesn't have to gameplan for Devin White, Shaq Barrett, or Vita Vea. They're game-planning for Demarcus Walker, Garret Wallow, and Eric Murray... and before you ask, no I did not make those names up. This is a must-win for the Patriots. While Justin Reid is a top 12 free safety in the league, Mac Jones needs to find a way to air the ball out. I have yet to see him take a shot this season. The Texans defense should force Mac Jones to throw the ball downfield. Houston should come up, press the Patriots receivers, and bring five rushers. Can Mac Jones let loose? Against this defense, I think he can. Statistically, this will be Mac Jones most impressive game of the season thusfar. The Patriots should win this game in a blowout.
What to Watch For: Will Mac Jones air it out?
Player of the Game: Mac Jones QB Patriots
Final Score: Patriots 31 Texans 16
Lions @ Vikings
Both of these teams are better than their records indicate. While they both put up stinkers in week three, they could easily have two wins apiece. To be frank, the Lions don't have any defensive back who will be able to keep up with either Adam Thielen or Justin Jefferson. Arguably the best receiving duo in the NFL, my bold prediction for Sunday is that both Jefferson and Thielen top 100 yards and have four total touchdowns. The Vikings defense played great against the Browns last week. Holding Odell Beckham Jr. to 27 yards on two catches, I don't expect the Lions to get much going through the air. While Quintez Cephus has quietly had a very strong season, he isn't catching anything on Patrick Peterson come Sunday. Two players that should play well for the Lions are D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. Nick Chubb ran for 100 yards last week and Kareem Hunt had 86 total yards and a touchdown. While I do expect the Lions running back duo to combine for at least what the Browns duo ran for, I don't expect it to be enough to keep up with Minnesota's offense. Justin Jefferson is in store for a huge game, I expect the Vikings air attack to stress out Detroit's secondary.
What to Watch For: Is Patrick Peterson Back?
Player of the Game: Justin Jefferson WR Vikings
Final Score: Lions 22 Vikings 30
Eagles @ Panthers
Both the Eagles and Panthers are two of the most interesting teams in the NFL. Offensively, Jalen Hurts played his best game last week. While the Eagles didn't pull off the upset, they still put up 30 points against the Chiefs. Everybody who has been reading my articles knows that I'm a Jalen Hurts believer. With that being said, the Panthers are playing at such a high level right now. Unfortunately, we won't get to witness Devonta Smith line up against Jaycee Horn. For now, it will have to be CJ Henderson lined up against the rookie. I like that matchup in Smith's favor. Henderson is still getting acclimated to Phil Snow's defense, while Smith finally looks like he has his feet under him. The Panthers' offense has been unstoppable thus far. No defensive back has been able to cover DJ Moore. The Eagles gave up 180 yards to Tyreek Hill last week and I believe Moore will have a day against this secondary. I expect this game to be a high-scoring affair, but for the Eagles to pull off the upset, they need to feed Miles Sanders. Sanders has only run the ball nine times in the past two games combined. If coach Nick Sirianni can get the ball in Sanders' hands, I like the Eagles' chances. Before the last game, the Panthers were rolling, assuming Sanders doesn't get fed properly, I expect the Panthers to get things back on track in week five.
What to Watch For: Miles Sanders' workload
Player of the Game: DJ Moore WR Panthers
Final Score: Eagles 31 Panthers 37
Titans @ Jaguars
I can still barely wrap my head around what happened with Urban Meyer this week. I have been watching the NFL for a decade, and I have never seen a head coach be involved in such a situation. Doubts surrounding Meyer have flooded the locker room and echoed throughout the entire organization. The Jaguars are in shambles right now and this is a perfect opportunity for the Titans to bounce back. While Julio Jones is still hurt, AJ Brown will be returning to the offense. The Titans' offensive line has struggled to protect Ryan Tannehill; this week their task is to stop Josh Allen. Allen has been a lone bright spot on the Jaguars' defense. As for the Jaguars' offense, Trevor Lawrence has looked like a rookie but showed promise. Despite having a long week to prepare for the Titans, I expect this team to look discombobulated. The Urban Meyer scandal is just such a rare instance, I have no clue what to expect out of Jacksonville's players. Derek Henry has run for 110+ yards in three straight games and the Jaguars have the 24th ranked run defense. Even if the Jaguars load the box, I don't expect them to have an answer for the king. AJ Brown will be playing this game with a chip on his shoulder. His slow start to the season was wildly unexpected. This is the game where he will start to pick things up. I like the Titans to win this game, a lot to a little.
What to Watch For: Taylor Lewan vs Josh Allen
Player of the Game: AJ Brown WR Titans
Final Score: Titans 27 Jaguars 10
Saints @ Football Team
This game features two of the most disappointing sides of football. The Saints offense and the Football Team's defense. The Saints have five plays on the season of 20 or more yards which is the least in the NFL. Sean Payton is desperately missing Drew Brees and Michael Thomas. Alvin Kamara has just 10 catches this season and this offense has just been extremely underwhelming. Washington Football Team's defense has been abysmal. They have given up at least 29 points in each of the past three games, and Chase Young doesn't have a sack yet. The Football Team's offense has also been anti-climactic, Antonio Gibson hasn't been receiving his proper workload and Taylor Heinicke is at quarterback. The Saints' defense should have their way against Washington's offense. Marcus Williams has had a strong start to the season and Malcolm Jenkins is a true veteran. Payton Turner has shown promise on the defensive line and Washington is missing their leader, Brandon Scherff, on the offensive line. I cannot believe I'm saying this, but I prefer the old Jameis Winston. The one that would take shots downfield even if his receiver was in double-coverage. While his willingness to take risks may increase once Michael Thomas returns to the lineup, for now, we have to settle for conservative Jameis. I believe conservative Jameis is enough to beat the Football Team with Taylor Heinicke leading the charge.
What to Watch For: Can Alvin Kamara crack a big run?
Player of the Game: Marcus Williams FS Saints
Final Score: Saints 20 Football Team 13
Dolphins @ Buccaneers
When it rains, it pours... The Dolphins have been hammered with injuries on every facet of the team. Tua Tagovailoa, Will Fuller, and Davante Parker are all out. Trying to beat the Buccaneeers with that many injuries is like fighting Tyson Fury with your left arm tied behind your back. If the Dolphins are going to pull off the upset, it will be due to Jaylen Waddle taking the top off of this defense. Last week, the Buccaneers were able to get back on track against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. This week, Tom Brady is facing a team that he is no stranger to beating. He's played against this team more times than the majority of players on the Dolphins have played for this team. He knows the Dolphins scheme like it is the back of his hand. With Xavien Howard matched up on Mike Evans and Byron Jones on Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown will be asked to dominate from the slot. Not only will the offense give the Dolphins problem, I expect the defense to as well. Right Tackle, Austin Jackson, has struggled mightily and this week he is facing Shaq Barrett. He will also be lined up against the Buccaneers' first round pick, Joe Tryon. Tryon may only have two sacks on the season, but he has made his presence felt in all four games. I expect Tryon to reak havoc on Jackson and be breathing down Jacoby Brissett's neck all game long. The Dolphins won't have any answer for the Buccaneers as they come across the state to play in "the Florida Bowl".
What to Watch For: Joe Tryon-Shoyinka against Austin Jackson
Player of the Game: Antonio Brown WR Buccaneers
Final Score: Dolphins 13 Buccaneers 41
Packers @ Bengals
In a matchup between two 3-1 teams, this game could be where Joe Burrow steps into the spotlight and takes his rightful spot as a top ten quarterback. While the combined record of the teams that the Bengals have beaten is 2-10, there is a quiet confidence in this building. This should be a close game however; the Bengals don't have a corner that will be able to matchup against Davante Adams. Even if they keep a safety over the top of him; that leaves opportunity for Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard. The Packers are for real this year. One area that the Bengals could expose is the Packers secondary. Without Jaire Alexander, Ja'Marr Chase will be matched up against fellow first round pick, Eric Stokes. That is a matchup where I'd want to get popcorn and snuggle up in front of the TV just to watch. Two of the best rookies at their position going head-to-head. On the other side of the field will be Tee Higgins against Kevin King. I know it is low hanging fruit, but if the Bengals are going to have a shot at the Packers, they'll need to exploit that matchup. Higgins has been quiet through four games, but this is the matchup where he'll start making some noise. While I do expect the Bengals to find favorable match ups, I don't think they have enough to keep up with the Packers offense. Joe Burrow and Aaron Rodgers have a similar confidence, but it will be hard for the second year player to upset the vet. This should be a great matchup, but I can't pick against the Packers.
What to Watch For: Ja'Marr Chase vs Eric Stokes, a rookie showdown
Player of the Game: Randall Cobb WR Packers
Final Score: Packers 27 Bengals 24
Broncos @ Steelers
As long as Teddy Bridgewater is behind center for Denver, the Broncos will always have a chance. Underwhelming is an understatement when describing the Steelers start to the season. Ben Roethlisberger looks like an ancient artifact playing quarterback. He's so stiff; this offense is lacking explosion. JuJu Smith-Schuster's frustration is growing and Chase Claypool is waiting for his breakout game. While Najee Harris has looked great in the first quarter of the season, he's facing the number one run defense in the NFL last week. If the Steelers are going to pull off the upset, someone other than Harris will have to make plays. Whether it is Diontae Johnson or Chase Claypool, one of their playmakers needs to step up. As for the Broncos offense, Courtland Sutton has been unstoppable thusfar. With Jerry Jeudy destined for a comeback, this might be the last game Sutton has to hold down the fort. This team is rallying behind Bridgewater, and I'm all in on the Broncos. The Steelers offensive line has struggled this year and Von Miller has been eating quarterbacks up like it's for breakfast. With Roethlisbergers' immobility, I don't think the Steelers will be able to get the ball out of their own backfield. The Broncos will not only win this game, but do it in a dominant fashion.
What to Watch For: Can one of the Steelers' receivers step up?
Player of the Game: Justin Simmons FS Broncos
Final Score: Broncos 23 Steelers 14
Bears @ Raiders
Revenge is a dish best served cold. Khalil Mack may not be a waiter, but he's going to be serving the entire Raiders' offensive line problems. While the Raiders are looking to get back on track, there have definitely been distractions surrounding their head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden was exposed for making racist comments when he was calling games for ESPN. Those comments had to have made some of the players question playing for him. As for the Bears, they finally have their guy who they can rally behind. Justin Fields is officially the starter and he has built up quite the connection with Darnell Mooney. Mooney is one of the most underrated route runners in the NFL and the Raiders have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Big plays will be on the table for the Bears offense and Fields will have a chance to shine. I'm curious to see how Damien Williams plays with David Montgomery on IR. While Fields is special, he'll need his teammates to help him rally the troops to upset the Raiders. Having Justin Fields at quarterback with Matt Nagy at head coach is like having a ferarri without a motor. Thankfully, Bill Lazor is calling plays. While Lazor isn't some type of savant, he has a better feel for the game than Matt Nagy. The Raiders are dealing with too many distractions and I like the Bears to get something rolling with Fields behind center.
What to Watch For: Can Damien Williams fill David Montgomery's role?
Player of the Game: Khalil Mack DE Bears
Final Score: Bears 24 Raiders 21
Giants @ Cowboys
The Giants are coming off a major upset victory against the Saints and are looking to do the impossible in back-to-back weeks. While the execution of it is unlikely, there is a recipe for the Giants to upset the Cowboys. It all starts with their star, Saquon Barkley. The Giants need to control the line of scrimmage. Run the football and keep Dak Prescott on the sideline. That is the key to the game for the Giants. When throwing the ball, Daniel Jones needs to stay away from Trevon Diggs. Diggs has been a menace this season; he has five interceptions in four games. Not only do the Giants need to gameplan for Diggs, but also Micah Parsons. Parsons has fully embraced his role as a pass rusher and has been getting after the quarterback. One player that needs the ball more is Kadarius Toney. Toney has some Deebo Samuel in his game. What he can do after the catch is special. His ability to pivot and and change directions is ridiculous. As for the Cowboys offense, they just need to keep doing what they've been doing all season long. Dak Prescott is having a career year and the Cowboys offense has been rolling. While there is a strategy for the Giants to beat the Cowboys, Dallas' offense is just too damn good.
What to Watch For: Will Jason Garrett get Kadarius Toney the ball?
Player of the Game: Micah Parsons EDGE Cowboys
Final Score: Giants 23 Cowboys 33
49ers @ Cardinals
49ers faithful... it's time. The bay area is about to turn into the Trey Area. Trey Lance has the opportunity to upset this undefeated Cardinals team. Without George Kittle, it will be tough, but the Cardinals are without a few of their stars. Byron Murphy is out and Chase Edmunds is banged up. The Cardinals are the hottest team in the NFL, but they don't have a lot of tape on Trey Lance. I'd expect the Cardinals to make Lance beat them. Arizona is going to go all out on stopping the run and force Lance to beat them with his arm. Without Kittle in the line up, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are going to need to help the rookie quarterback. As for the Cardinals offense, Kyler Murray will find success running the football. The 49ers have struggled to stop quarterbacks from running the past few years. Last week, Russell Wilson ran for a 22 yard touchdown and I expect multiple rushing touchdowns from Murray this week. A matchup that will be surprisingly good is Deandre Hopkins against Emmanuel Moseley. Moseley has been a star for the 49ers secondary and this will be his biggest challenge yet. This game should be awesome, and I think the 49ers will pull off the miraculous upset by establishing the run and getting explosive plays downfield.
What to Watch For: Trey Lance's ability to process the defense
Player of the Game: Trey Lance QB 49ers
Final Score: 49ers 30 Cardinals 27
Browns @ Chargers
This game should be a casual reminder how different NFL players are from normal human beings. Baker Mayfield is playing in an NFL game against Joey Bosa with a torn labrum. The mentality that Mayfield is playing with is special. The mentality that his running backs, Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb play with is also special. They compliment each other so well. Knowing that Mayfield is playing through injury, Kevin Stefanski will most likely dial up a heavy workload for his two headed monster. As for the Chargers, I'm expecting Justin Herbert to air the ball out all game long. Mike Williams is having a career year and should be Herbert's favorite target today. Both of these teams are great and will be playing well into January. The difference in this game will be Baker Mayfield's health. How much does his torn labrum affect him? For that question I'm going to pick the Chargers. Joey Bosa has been unstoppable this year. He's going to give Mayfield a hard time and plant the flag, just like his younger brother. This should be a great game, and I'm rolling with the home team.
What to Watch For: How does Baker Mayfield's health affect him?
Player of the Game: Joey Bosa DE Chargers
Final Score: Browns 23 Chargers 26