You know the NFL season is a quarter of the way over and I have only done one preview post since the season started. Lets see if I can do 12 more in a row shall we?
We come into week 5 with 6 undefeated teams remaining, the Bengals, Patriots, Packers, Falcons, Panthers and Broncos. If you would have told me the Bengals, Falcons, and Panthers would all be in this position after 4 weeks I probably would have said you were crazy, but here we are, and after last year, where the division winner in the NFC South had a sub .500 win total, lets just say I am surprised about this start. I would have expected Indy to be undefeated, and Seattle at least 3-1, due to a loss in GB, but for the Colts and Seahawks to be 2-2 after 4 weeks, yeah, I am a bit surprised. Andrew Luck is winless, albeit due to injury, with the ageless Matt Hasselbeck leading the Colts to their last two wins. Injuries are a big story this year, with Big Ben, Luck, Drew Brees, and Marshawn Lynch all going down in the first quarter of the season to injury, so yeah, it has been an event-filled season thus far. Miami firing their head coach, not living up to the expectations of their preseason hype, with Tannehill not continuing his success from last year, as he seems to have digressed rather than progressed, Suh not leading, Winston looking like the rookie he is, and the Patriots being, well, the Patriots. Still, its early and the season has a long way to go, but the cream is rising to the top of the field and we are running into the second quarter of the season. With that being said, here are 5 games I am looking at for week five of the NFL season….
1. Seattle Seahawks @ Cincinnati Bengals – Sunday 1pm Eastern – This game could very well be the marquis matchup of the day, as the two time NFC defending champs come into Cincy trying to give the Bengals their first loss of the season. Bengals are a 3-point favorite coming into the game, and Dalton and crew are hot right now and they can score on you in the blink of an eye. The vaunted Seattle defense has not quite shown its dominance of the last two seasons, but they have gotten better over the last two weeks, and this would be the perfect time for that defense to put it all together and keep Andy and AJ Green in check. Lynch will not play, and Freddy Jackson is questionable as of this writing, but I expect him to play. I look for the key matchup of Richard Sherman vs. AJ Green and the ability of the Seattle defense to stop the run, as the Bengals are averaging 128 yards on the ground. They have stepped it up in the last two weeks, but this will be a strong test for the Seahawks, but I feel that the Seahawks offense wont be able to keep up with the scoring ability of the Bengals and they will fall to 2-3 on the season. BENGALS 31 SEAHAWKS 17
2. New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1pm Eastern – Well on a personal note, it appears to me that the Chip Kelly experiment is waning thin in Philly. His offense is a gadget, and he is trying to bring the college-style of offense to the NFL. I have said it over and over again, it has NO CHANCE of succeeding in the NFL. The players are stronger and faster, the coaches are smarter, and it has only taken two seasons for teams to figure out how to beat his system. The Saints are coming off an emotional win against the Romo-less Cowboys on Monday night and they are feeling good about themselves. In Philly, DeMarco Murray is angry about not getting enough carries, the offense appears like they question their ability to score, they have kicking problems, they have a coach with an ego bigger than the entire state of Pennsylvania, and they are in disarray, because they can’t finish games. The issue for the Saints is Drew Brees’ arm. He showed signs of difficulty last week, as he has a sprained rotator cuff, but he was able to make a couple of key throws including the game winner to CJ Spillers in overtime. Philly is a tough place to play, and many will say they have some of the worst fans in the NFL, so the Saints have a large mountain to climb, but I like their chances. SAINTS 17 EAGLES 14
3. Chicago Bears @ Kansas City Chiefs – 1pm Eastern – Jay Cutler is starting his second game in a row after injuring his hamstring in week 2 against the Cardinals, but he was able to lead the team to a win against the Raiders last week and he looked pretty good. He has 3 picks in 3 games this year, which is right about where he usually is, but he seems more confident this year and is not as prone to mistakes as he has been in previous seasons. He really seems to have picked up on the new system under John Fox and despite “Da Bears” apparently going through somewhat of a fire sale lately on some of their players, (there are rumors that even Matt Forte is not off the table) the Bears played well last week. They are building for the future and trying to get as many draft picks as they can to place themselves in position to build a winner. The Chiefs are coming off their third straight loss, the last two by double digits, and for a team that looked to hopefully challenge the Broncos for the division this year, it looks like at this point they are just trying to compete. They gave up five sacks against the Bengals last week and the health of Alex Smith has to be a concern if his OL can’t protect him. Playing at Arrowhead is always a challenge for the visitors, and Sunday will be no different for Chicago. CHEIFS 24 BEARS 10
4. New England Patriots @ Dallas Cowboys – 4:25pm Eastern – This is the test Dallas has been waiting for. They are without their franchise QB (no really) and they are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Saints on MNF. Brandon Weeden, yes THAT Brandon Weeden, has looked decent, and for the most part has evaded the mistakes that have plagued him most of his first three years in the league. He can run this offense pretty well, and although he is not Romo, he has shown the last two weeks that he is able to manage the game and keep the ‘Boys in it. Weeden wasn’t the reason Dallas lost to both Atlanta and New Orleans, its their defense that has let them down. They give up big chunks of yards and are unable to get teams off the field on 3rd downs. With that being said, Tom Brady and the world champs are coming to town to play in the Mausoleum, as I like to call the new Texas Stadium, Jerry’s house, whatever. New England is playing with a big chip on their shoulder due to “offseason happenings”, and they are not about to allow a depleted Cowboys team to knock it off. Brady has command over this team from start to finish, and it may not be pretty for Dallas this weekend. Look for “Hoodie Bill” to run up the score and break a slight smile when it is all said and done. PATRIOTS 45 COWBOYS 17
5. Pittsburgh Steelers @ San Diego Chargers – 8:30pm Eastern Monday – Monday Night Football rolls into San Diego and after the owners meetings earlier this week, the prospect of the Chargers possibly playing in LA next year looms large over this game. That’s the sideshow, and no doubt Tirico and Gruden will probably mention it about 5 or 6 times during the game (over-under is 3) to add some drama to the game. However, they still have to actually play the game and Pittsburgh is coming off a tough loss to the Ravens in overtime last week. My buddy Brian “Scooter” Cullen will tell you, this is a make or break game for the Steelers this week. If they lose, they fall under .500 and will trail the Bengals for the division lead by at the very least 3 games, and he isn’t happy about it. Mike Vick is playing for the injured Ben Roethlisberger for the second straight week and we don’t expect to see Big Ben for at least 3 or 4 more weeks. Vick is not the running threat he used to be, and he has had his usual problem holding on to the ball, but he has an added weapon back in the lineup in Martavis Bryant who is coming off a 4-game suspension. The Chargers on the other hand are coming off a victory against the Browns (uggh) and look to take two in a row against an AFC North opponent. Philip Rivers is playing some of the best football of his career, but he needs to keep doing it in order to get past the Steelers. The Steelers have had kicking issues this year and signed Chris Boswell after releasing Josh Scobee following his dismal performance last week. Le’veon Bell looks to carry the load, and Antonio Freeman is one of if not the best WR in the league (Julio Jones might have something to say about that). The Chargers are getting a potent weapon of their own back this week in Antonio Gates, who was also suspended for the first four games, so it will be good to see him back in there and hook up with Rivers. This game is really too close to call but I give the edge to the Chargers simply because of Rivers and they are playing at home. CHARGERS 21 STEELERS 17
Well that’s my weekly preview for week 5. Enjoy the games everyone and remember to join Brian and myself, along with Robert Arnold, the raging Redneck, for The Sports Nerds show on Blab tomorrow night at 7pm eastern. follow me on Twitter @The_Sports_Nerd to get a notification when the show goes live.
Scott Wright “The Sports Nerd”