NFL Week 5: 14 Games, 14 Bold Predictions

Michael Vick

On Thursday night the Green Bay Packers pummeled the Minnesota Vikings in a game that sent a message: Aaron Rodgers and Co. remain the bullies on the block in the NFC North.

That was the start of Week 5, but there are 14 more NFL games on the slate this Sunday and on Monday night.

XN Sports will take a look at each one of the other 14 matchups, providing you with some insight and one bold prediction.

New York Jets vs. San Diego

Jets fans are calling for Geno Smith‘s job, but it looks as if Rex Ryan is sticking to his guns and sticking with his guy. However, the Jets must make the cross-country trip to San Diego to take on a surging Chargers squad that’s making a case to be one of the top two teams in the AFC. Philip Rivers is headlining the MVP discussion, and even a healthier New York defense probably won’t halt his campaign.

Bold prediction: The New York fans and media have spoken, and this will be the game Smith is benched at halftime in favor of the veteran Michael Vick. The Jets need a spark, and since they’re in the midst of the hardest part of their schedule, they need a spark now. There’s only one move capable of doing that.

Atlanta vs. New York Giants

The Falcons struggle, mightily, away from the Georgia Dome, and Matt Ryan has lost eight straight starts in games played outdoors. Well, Giants Stadium is very much in the outdoors, and it serves as home to a Giants team turning a corner on both sides of the ball. Eli Manning is being very careful with the ball, as well as accurate. The defense is also generating pressure like the championship teams of old, which is bad news for an injury riddled Atlanta offensive line.

Bold prediction: Will Ryan break his own streak? Well, defenses help teams win on the road, and the Falcons don’t have a good D. I think Manning continues his resurgent 2014 campaign, burning the Atlanta secondary with plenty of time to sit in the pocket. Manning leads all quarterbacks in yardage this week.

Chicago vs. Carolina

It’s difficult to get a good gauge on the Bears, which were blanked in the second half against Green Bay last week after having their way offensively in the first half. That second half, bad Jay Cutler came to play, and Bears fans have to hope he doesn’t replicate that performance against a stout Carolina defense. That defense has been less effective of late, though, but injuries have ravished the Panthers offense, and the team subsequently has dropped two in a row.

Bold prediction: Cam Newton has yet to have a signature game this season. With no help in the backfield and a pretty inconsistent defense, it’s time for Newton to put on his Superman jersey to get Carolina back above .500. Five touchdowns for Cam, three through the air and another two rushing. Who needs running backs anyway, right?

Cleveland vs. Tennessee

Coming off a bye week, the reports out of Cleveland was that there’s a growing confidence in Brian Hoyer under center. Wow, such praise for a quarterback who didn’t even suit up Week 4. But now let’s see how real that hype is as he should be able to feast on a lackluster Titans defense. The Titans look awful, and even though Jake Locker is expected to regain the starting job the Titans’ future remains bleak.

Bold prediction: Can Hoyer really prove the hype is real? If there was ever a chance for it, it’s now. However, the Titans have been run over as of late, and Ken Whisenhunt is too good of a head coach to allow another embarrassment, especially at home. Locker does thrive in this one, exploiting the underachieving Joe Haden and first-rounder Justin Gilbert en route to the upset.

St. Louis vs. Philadelphia

Austin Davis has been anointed the man for St. Louis, while the man in Philly — Nick Foles — has been playing subpar so far this year. Foles has already eclipsed his interception total in 13 games a year ago in four games, and the Eagles’ defense has been absolutely horrific. Record-wise, the Eagles have to be strong favorites. I just remain skeptical about the Eagles until they solidify the quarterback position and can make key stops.

Bold prediction: Doubts aside, the dirty birds are 3-1 with their first loss coming on the road at San Francisco. The Rams are just not well-rounded enough to keep pace with even an average performance out of Foles and Co. Is it crazy to think, though, Philly has to rally again in this one?

Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans

The Buccaneers just notched win No. 1 in the Lovie Smith era, with Mike Glennon getting the nod over Josh McCown behind center. Meanwhile, the disappointing Saints just lost, again, this time to an upstart Dallas team. The problem for Tampa is that this one’s going to be played in the Superdome, where the Saints play great football. I’m not ready to throw the towel in on Drew Brees and Co. just yet, but this should be a must-win for them considering their record.

Bold prediction: The Superdome is among the best home-field advantages in all of sports, and I think Glennon making a second consecutive start is a recipe for success for Rex Ryan’s defense. Glennon certainly performed well last week — against Pittsburgh — but an injury ravished defense at that. Time for that Saints defense to show up. Consider three turnovers forced a coming out party.

Houston vs. Dallas

The State of Texas has a pair of surprising football teams this season, with the Texans — who just had the No. 1 overall pick a few months ago — making a run at the AFC South. Then there’s the Cowboys, who despite a host of defensive losses and concerns about Tony Romo, are leading the NFC East alongside Philadelphia. This is a matchup that features the Texans’ dominant defensive front, featuring J.J. Watt, against the Cowboys’ offensive line, which is arguably the best in football.

Bold prediction: The matchup to watch is Watt against Tyron Smith, two of the best at their respective positions. Watt is making a case to be in the MVP discussion, but this is unquestionably his toughest test yet. I think Watt jumps ahead in the MVP race by getting the best of Smith, and his strip-sack is the difference in the Texans’ victory over their in-state rival.

Buffalo vs. Detroit

This is the Buffalo debut for Kyle Orton, who unsuccessfully tried to retire this offseason but has now surpassed 2013 first-round pick EJ Manuel on the quarterback depth chart. The issue is he gets a Detroit team that’s really beginning to turn heads and making a case to be a contender in the NFC North. The Lions own the second-best pass defense in the NFL and is ranked sixth against the run, so it’ll be a very difficult challenge for Orton, who hasn’t made a start since the Cowboys’ season finale in 2013 and before that back in 2011.

Bold prediction: This is a recipe for disaster for Orton, and I think Doug Marrone and his coaching staff are going to find out they severely overrated the quarterback change. I expect the coach’s to reverse course, and wouldn’t be shocked if Manuel plays in this game.

Baltimore vs. Indianapolis

The Baltimore-Indy matchup features two teams trending in the right direction. Andrew Luck has thrived the last two weeks, but against the likes of Jacksonville and Tennessee. So while he has put himself in the MVP discussion, he’s done so against inferior opposition. The Ravens, too, are on a roll, convincingly defeating Carolina in Week 4. Joe Flacco looks comfortable and the running game is back.

Bold predictable: This one has the makings of a shootout, because there are holes in both the Colts’ and Ravens’ defenses. Then it comes down to Luck vs. Flacco, a quarterback on the rise and a former Super Bowl MVP. The Ravens are the more complete team, and that shows. Look for Justin Tucker to kick a game-winning field goal with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter.

Pittsburgh vs. Jacksonville

Should we end this game before it starts? Pittsburgh is coming off an upset loss to the Buccaneers, while the Jags enter Week 5 still without a win. The Steelers will be highly motivated, with a defense ready to pounce on a rookie quarterback making his second career start. Jacksonville won’t have an answer.

Bold prediction: In the stinker that this game should be, I think we leave impressed with Blake Bortles. The Steelers aren’t known for turnovers, and they won’t win because of Bortles’ miscues. Bortles still manages 250 yards and two touchdowns, albeit in a losing effort.

Arizona vs. Denver

Arizona again will be without Carson Palmer, whose return looks less and less promising by the day. Drew Stanton will get the nod, and he will be charged with helping Arizona prove they are an elite team and that their 3-0 mark is not a fluke. Both teams are coming off a bye week, with the Broncos’ last game an overtime loss to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl rematch. This will be a statement win for one of these teams.

Read More: Arians Has Cardinals On The Rise

Bold prediction: So far, Stanton under center has not been a hindrance for the Cardinals. Patrick Peterson at corner, though, has. The newly paid cornerback has struggled in the early going, actually being outplayed by counterpart Antonio Cromartie. Peyton Manning sniffs out weaknesses in coverage, and it’s a coming out party for Demaryius Thomas in his showdown with Peterson. It’ll be at least a two-touchdown day.

Kansas City vs. San Francisco

The annual Alex Smith Bowl. The Chiefs kept pace with the Broncos before knocking off the Dolphins and Patriots over the past two weeks. Alex Smith is playing lights out, and you can bet he’s itching to continue that stellar play against his former club. Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick is not playing very well, and these 49ers are truly a middle-of-the-pack team due to its lack of offensive firepower and missing pieces on defense. There’s turmoil in the Bay Area, and I can’t help but believe that’ll continue to play a role.

Bold prediction: In Smith’s return to San Francisco, he dinks and dunks the lackluster San Francisco to get the Chiefs to a winning record and drop the 49ers to below .500. Efficiency? Smith completes better than 70 percent of his passes, and the boo birds start to come after Jim Harbaugh.

New England vs. Cincinnati

So we’re ready to write the Patriots off, right? Well, with the world gunning against them and their season seemingly on the brink, this is where Tom Brady and Bill Belichick tend to shine. The issue, though, is they’re facing a different Cincinnati team. They’re 3-0 for a reason, and they look better than they have in any of their last three seasons, which included playoff appearances. Last season, the Bengals held New England to six points.

Bold prediction: I’ve been touting Cincy as the AFC’s top team, but every time we’re ready to pronounce the Patriots done they prove us wrong. Brady and Co. get by Cincinnati. It’s not pretty and it’s not convincing, but the offense does just enough and the defense steps up in a big-time to pull the upset of Week 5.

Seattle vs. Washington

The defending Super Bowl champs have had a week off to regroup and retool after defeating Denver Week 3 in overtime. Meanwhile, Washington’s quarterback situation remains in flux, as Kirk Cousins followed a promising effort against Philly with a stinker against the Giants last Thursday night. Will 10 days of practice help Cousins work out the kinks? That remains a longshot, especially against arguably the NFL’s most opportunistic defense.

Bold prediction: The Washington defense is well behind the curve, and it made Manning and Foles look like MVP candidates. Russell Wilson, though, is an MVP candidate, and he exploits the ravished secondary for four touchdowns. We’ll have to bump up Wilson in the MVP ranks Monday morning.

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Sam Spiegelman
Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.