Published on 6 Oct 2022 3:41 pm (UK Time)
It’s week 5 and the whistles have blown to end the first-quarter of the 2022 NFL season.
Despite being 4 weeks into the new season, some could argue that we’re yet to find an obvious favourite that will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Arizona come February 2023.
You could argue that all 32 teams have displayed some kind of chink in one’s armour through 4 weeks, though one still stands with their shield very much untouched; the Philadelphia Eagles.
Could this be the week that Jalen Hurts and the Eagles fall, or can they keep the win train rolling? Find out as we predict all 16 week 5 games…
TNF: Colts @ Broncos
You could call this the Peyton Manning derby, but both offenses have played nowhere near to that standard of the two-time (one with both teams) Super Bowl-winning QB.
Russell Wilson has had a treacherous start to life in Denver, yet finds himself with a 2-2 record heading into Thursday Night’s battle with Indianapolis
The Bronco’s offense has struggled through the early parts of Nathaniel Hackett’s tenure, whose continuous clock-management troubles is causing real unsettlement amongst Bronco fans, as well as his apparent reluctance to ‘let Russ cook’.
Wilson himself has come under scrutiny from parts of the US media, with some questioning whether the 33-year-old still has the skates to move around in the pocket and create plays with his feet, something the third-round draftee had huge success with in Seattle.
The Colts are also going through a rough transition at quarterback, with former Falcon Matt Ryan evidently struggling to get to grips with Frank Reich’s offense.
Apart from a shock win over the Chiefs in week 3, Indy and Ryan have produced very little to prove their favouritism tag in the AFC South, with both defeats [and tie] coming all at the hands of their in-division rivals.
The failure to protect Ryan is a clear flaw, with the 37-year-old being sacked a total 15 times in his first 4 games.
Despite the degree of difficulty to replicate his form, Jonathan Taylor has not performed to his usual high-standards that seen him canter to last year’s rushing title as a result of the O-line’s failures.
With both teams contesting with themselves on the offensive side of the ball, the winner of this game should be defined by the defenses.
Denver’s D have only conceded a total of 683yds and 3 TDs through the air, which pinpoints them as a top 5 defense in the league, while the Colts remain average in most defensive categories and have struggled to turn the ball over to their offense.
With home-field advantage on their side, and arguably the better weapons and offensive-line, you have to give the edge to Russ and the Bronco’s in a low(ish)-scoring affair.
Prediction: Colts 13 Broncos 21
Falcons @ Buccaneers
If you’re going to lose two games in a row in this league, surely the biggest consolation you can find is that it’s to Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes?
The Bucs were right up against it from minute go on Sunday night after rookie Rachaad White fumbled the opening kick-off, which resulted in Mahomes and co. capitalising on a short field.
But if there is one thing you can’t criticise ‘the GOAT’ for, it’s throwing in the towel.
The 7-time Super Bowl champion showed guts and resilience as he went on to throw for a grand total of 385yds and 3 TDs in the 41-31 loss to Kansas City.
The return of Chris Godwin was a clear boost to an offense that struggled to move the chains the week before against Green Bay and is looking much healthier with the reinstatement of previously suspended Mike Evans, who chipped in with 2 TDs himself.
The Bucs next 3 opponents combine for record of 4-8, which gives them a solid opportunity to take command in the struggling NFC South, so let’s not jump the gun to join the ‘Tom Brady is washed’ fan club just yet.
One of those opponents are the Atlanta Falcons, who with Marcus Mariota, are shattering this notion that Arthur Smith’s team are allegedly ‘tanking’.
The Falcons are giving every bit as much as they’re getting in terms of competitive football and showed it last week with a close win over the Cleveland Browns, making it two-in-a-row after a road win in Seattle the week prior.
This team’s never say die attitude was perfectly personified in week 2, when trailing 28-3 at some point to the Super Bowl champions and managing to claw their way back to bring the game down to the very last play.
Although their impressive toughness is something to be admired, you just feel that Brady’s Bucs are destined to win this game.
This outstanding defense’s ego will feel bruised after giving up 41 points in their own backyard and the offense has put up 40+ points in the previous two meetings between the franchises at Raymond James Stadium.
With Atlanta’s own limitations on offense and the Buccaneers receiving core slowly but surely picking up the pieces, expect Brady and co. to wrap this one up early.
Prediction: Falcons 14 Buccaneers 42
Eagles @ Cardinals
This battle of the birds will see two QB’s that play the game in a very similar way face off for the second time in their short careers.
The previous meeting went right down to the wire, with Murray’s Cardinals coming away with the 33-26 ‘W’ in Arizona.
It was turbulent off-season for Kyler Murray, with rumours circulating that the former OU Sooner had various clauses in his new $230million contract that required the QB to spend a certain amount of time watching game tape, something the star reportedly detests.
It does seem however that Kliff Kingsbury’s team has steadied the ship somewhat, as home loses to both the Chiefs and Rams have been evened out with road-wins against the Raiders and Panthers.
With Murray’s favourite weapon DeAndre Hopkins still suspended due to substance abuse, the 25-year-old has rested his arm-talent hopes on SB winning tight-end Zach Ertz and former Raven Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, who sits top 5 in receptions amongst receivers in the league.
Despite their success defending the run, the Cards pass defense must steadily improve, as they’re one of a handful of teams that have allowed over 1000yds through the air after 4 short weeks.
The Eagles on the other hand, are *pardon the pun* flying.
They remain the only undefeated team left in the NFL thanks to the sudden arrival of third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts and the immaculate machine that is the Philadelphia defense.
The on-form Jaguars was turned over 5 times against this unit, while Hurts’ development as a pocket passer has given opposing defenses headaches in trying to figure out how to deal with him.
It is however, with his feet where Hurts is most dangerous.
Only Lamar Jackson has more rushing yards among QBs, while Hurts sits in third in rushing TDs amidst ALL players.
While many seem fixated on the Eagles at this moment in time, there is some question marks surrounding the teams they have beaten as of yet.
Albeit, Minnesota and Jacksonville are good teams, but both victories have come at the intimidating Lincoln Financial Field, while the other two were against the woeful Washington Commanders and the ‘have all you can score’ Detroit Lions.
With Arizona’s O-line performing above average this year, I can see Kyler causing this Eagles’ D some problems.
This cross-country trip to Arizona should be viewed as the Eagles’ first major test against a good team, and one where I see them coming up just short, with Arizona turning their 0 into a 1 with one of the upsets of the week.
Prediction: Eagles 26 Cardinals 27
SNF: Bengals @ Ravens
Despite the fact we’re only in week 5, Sunday Night Football feels like a must-win game for both the Ravens and the Bengals, who both sit at 2-2.
John Harbaugh was quick to extinguish any fires in the media following cornerback Marcus Peters’ lash out at the Ravens’ coach following their 23-20 walk-off field goal loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, by stating that ‘families fight all the time‘.
The loss not only means it’s the second home game running where they’ve lost out to a team from the AFC East, but also the consecutive home game where they’ve blown a 17+ point lead without scoring in the 4th-quarter.
The previous stat is, without doubt, something the Ravens have to address, but there can be no questions regarding whether Lamar Jackson needs to get paid or not.
The 2019 MVP has started the season like a man possessed and is already touted as the man to win this year’s award, having already thrown for 11 TD passes, rushed for 2, and gained 316yds on the ground.
Despite losing his number one wideout in Marquise Brown, the former first-round pick continues to throw the ball down the field effectively, with Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay and the ever-reliable Mark Andrews coming up clutch when needs be.
The defense is undoubtedly a major concern though, as no other team has allowed more passing yards than Baltimore’s through the first 4 games.
The Bengals on the other hand have turned their early season slump on its head, just like many were expecting them to do so.
Following a freak opener against Pittsburgh and a frustrating defeat at the hands of Cooper Rush’s Cowboys, the 2021 AFC Champions have reinstated themselves as a major player after taking Miami’s undefeated tag on primetime last week.
Despite Ja’Marr Chase’s relatively quiet start to the season, Burrow has been spreading the pigskin around more often this time, with Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Hayden Hurst all becoming key targets for the former number-one overall pick.
Joe Mixon has also become a huge asset out of the backfield, not only with his ground game but his ability to get open, which probably explains his 17 receptions, with only the elusive Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers having more to his name among running backs.
Despite the glowing reviews in the passing game, the offensive line continues to struggle in protecting Burrow, whose been sacked 16 times already this season.
The stats suggest that the Bengal’s passing game and elite weapons should feast on this below-par Ravens pass defense, but an in-division game on primetime? Anything can happen.
Cincinnati also has the advantage of longer preparation time having not played since last Thursday’s win over the Dolphins.
But the Ravens have more to prove, and it just feels like one of those matchups that if you’re in doubt, go with the home team.
And that is what we’re going to do.
Ravens, but only just.
Prediction: Bengals 24 Ravens 27
MNF: Raiders @ Chiefs
The curtain closes for Week 5 on Monday Night Football when the 1-3 Las Vegas Raiders make the trip to Arrowhead Stadium to face Mahomes and the Chiefs in an AFC West grudge match.
Andy Reid’s team put their week 3 special-teams nightmare loss to the Colts well and truly behind them as they avenged their Super Bowl 55 hoodoo in Tampa to Brady’s Buccaneers in an emphatic fashion.
The Chiefs’ run defense was simply faultless on Sunday night, as they reduced the Bucs to only 3yds rushing over the 60 minutes.
With a stat line of allowing 263yds on the ground through 4 games, it comes as no surprise that this unit is number one in the league when it comes to defending the run.
Although that’s all well and good, we know how much of a perfectionist Coach Reid is, and giving up nearly 400yds passing (even if it is to ‘the GOAT’) will bother him.
On the offensive side of the football, it seems that Mahomes and OC Bienemy’s touchline spat in Indy was nothing more than a disagreement, as everything that needed to click on Sunday night certainly did.
The questions surrounding whether or not Mahomes would miss Tyreek Hill have clearly been quashed, with Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling proving reliable additions to the offense, alongside usual suspect Travis Kelce, who’s total showed for 92yds and a touchdown on the night.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was also a thorn in the Bucs side all-night, as he himself rushed for nearly 100yds and a TD while also contributing with a receiving TD to go with it.
Meanwhile, the Raiders finally got off the loss train as they beat fellow AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos at Allegiant Stadium this past Sunday.
Former Alabama running back Josh Jacobs was the star of the show for Vegas after rushing for 144yds and 2 TDs, while new star-studded receiver Devante Adams was able to break the 100yd mark for only the second time as a Raider.
Although Derek Carr will be happy with his new shiny toy in Adams, the Fresno State QB will be hoping to get his reliable safety blanket, Hunter Renfrow back as soon as possible.
Renfrow picked up an injury after fumbling the ball twice in Vegas’ OT loss to the Cardinals in week 2, but Josh McDaniels says they’re taking his progress ‘one step at a time‘.
Tight-end Darren Waller hasn’t lived up to his high expectation either this season and will need to start producing at a higher level should the Raiders want to contend in a stacked AFC West division.
It’s also worth noting that no one has kicked more field-goals than the Raiders.
Albeit, 100% of the kicks have been good, it does ponder the question of whether they need to be more efficient in the RedZone and turn those FGs into touchdowns.
Defensively, the Raiders are around the average mark in most categories but have struggled to turn the ball over.
One shining light has been defensive-end Maxx Crosby, who is averaging 1 sack a game and is causing headaches for O-line men around the league.
McDaniels and co. will need that same energy from Crosby and the rest of the Raider’s D-line if they want to upset their main rivals at the loudest stadium in the league.
But after watching the Chiefs keep the Bucs easily at arm’s length, I can’t see a way in which Derek Carr and his Raiders can outscore this Kansas City team.
KC’s spectacular run-stopping game is going to force Carr to throw the football and make plays with his feet, which is easier said than done when teams visit Arrowhead.
Although they have weapons on the offensive side of the ball, the game will be won if their defense can stop Mahomes from putting up his usual numbers and stopping the freak train that is this Kansas City offense.
Again, easier said than done.
Prediction: Raiders 13 Chiefs 34
Other Games (in a few words):
Giants 14 Packers 24 – Rodgers to give London fans something to shout about
Bears 10 Vikings 27 – No problems expected for Cousins’ Vikings
Lions 23 Patriots 14 – Goff and Lions to outrun ‘boring’ Patriots
Texans 7 Jaguars 31 – Lawrence and Jags to get back to winning ways
Chargers 28 Browns 20 – Hobbled Herbert still good enough to beat Brissett and Browns
Dolphins 25 Jets 23 – Bridgewater to get past stubborn Jets… just
Steelers 10 Bills 38 – Not an easy place for Pickett to start, Bills won’t sweat
Seahawks 21 Saints 18 – Smith’s Seahawks to sneak past sluggish Saints
Titans 27 Commanders 20 – King Henry will be too much to Command
49ers 21 Panthers 7 – 49ers defense to overwhelm Baker and the Panthers
Cowboys 17 Rams 24 – Rams will prove a step too far for Rush, at last
Week 5 upsets: Cardinals, Seahawks & Lions over Eagles, Saints & Patriots