NFL Week 5 Preview
As we enter into Week 5 of the 2010-11 NFL season the teams will begin to settle into their own, and the division battles will start to take shape as the 2010-11 NFL season progresses. Teams with byes are Miami, New England, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. My pick for Game of the Week is Minnesota at the New York Jets. An epic clash of experience and youth.
Here I look at the matchups, giving you some early insight that will help make your 2010 NFL wagers winners.
SUN, OCT 10 TIME (ET)
Jacksonville at Buffalo 1:00 PM CBS – The Jags will try to keep its momentum going as they visit winless divisional foe Buffalo for the first time in four years. Jacksonville upset the Colts 31-28 in Week 4 on a 59-yard field goal from Josh Scobee with time expiring. They will need strong performance from QB David Garrard who made a vast improvement from the previous two weeks tossing five interceptions. The Bills are trying to avoid their first 0-5 start since losing the first six games of 1985. Garrard found Sims-Walker for a 3-yard scoring toss with 56 seconds left to secure an 18-15 win over the Bills last November. Look for more of the same.
Tampa Bay at Cincinnati 1:00 PM FOX – Cincinnati amassed 413 total yards in a 23-20 loss to Cleveland last weekend. With a bye week yet to come the Bengals do not want to fall any further behind division leaders Baltimore and Pittsburgh, so beating the Bucs will be of utmost importance. Tampa Bay is coming off a bye week after being pounded by the Steelers, 38-13 in Week 3. Facing the vaunted Bengals passing game led by Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, the Bucs secondary will face a tough test. With its running game struggling, the Buccaneers will rely heavily on QB Josh Freeman’s ability to find and use rookie wide receiver Mike Williams and veteran tight end Kellen Winslow. Tampa Bay has beaten Cincinnati five straight times dating to 1995, but not this season.
Atlanta at Cleveland 1:00 PM FOX – Seeking its first four-game winning streak in six years, the Falcons look for another solid defensive effort when they visit a Cleveland Browns team that posted its first victory with a 23-20 win over defending AFC North champion Cincinnati last Sunday. Led by QB Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner, receiver Roddy White and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons ranks sixth in the NFL in total offense, and ninth in scoring. The defense is not too shabby either, and leads the NFL with eight interceptions and has allowed an average of 15.0 points, sixth best in the league. They will have to contain Browns back Peyton Hillis, who will attempt to thrash an Atlanta defense that ranks 11th in the NFL against the run. The Browns have won four straight in Cleveland and I look for that to continue.
St. Louis at Detroit 1:00 PM FOX – St. Louis tries to win three straight for the first time in four years when it visits a Detroit team that are still seeking its first victory. The Rams’ Sam Bradford era began with two losses by six total points, then a 20-3 win over Seattle on Sunday, following a 30-16 win over Washington on Sept. 26. The Lions, lost at Green Bay in their last outing 28-26, but again showed improvement, especially from backup quarterback Shaun Hill. Although the Lions have managed to move the ball, they have committed eight turnovers while committing a league-worst 30 penalties over the past three weeks. Those types of mistakes against a Rams team that has forced 10 turnovers, plus a stingy defense will be their demise.
Kansas City at Indianapolis 1:00 PM CBS – The Chiefs are the league’s lone undefeated team and will try and preserve it as they seek their first win over a Colts team that is 0-2 in the AFC South for the first time. Kansas City has done it by relying on an impressive rushing attack, ranked third in the NFL and an opportunistic special teams unit. Now they will face Peyton Manning, who leads the league with 11 touchdowns and a 112.2 passer rating, and a high-powered offense that are desperate to get back on the rails. Kansas City has lost in each of its four trips to Indianapolis and is 1-9 against the Colts. If the Colts can establish a running game they could end the Chiefs run, leaving the NFL without a 4-0 team for the first time since 1970.
Green Bay at Washington 1:00 PM FOX – The Packers held on for an 28-26 home win over winless a Detroit their last time out and will look to be more productive when they travel to face the Washington Redskins, who will be without RB Clinton Portis. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers will attempt to take advantage of a Skins’ defense that has allowed 305 passing yards per game — second worst in the NFL. Washington are coming off a 17-12 win at Philadelphia last week scoring on their first three drives in Donovan McNabb’s return to Philadelphia. He’ll be looking to avoid a Packers’ rush that is tied for the league lead with 16 sacks. Green Bay has won the last four meetings with the Redskins and you can expect this one to be number five.
Chicago at Carolina 1:00 PM FOX –Chicago suffered its first loss in Week 4, but more importantly, QB Jay Cutler, who is hopeful he can return from a concussion. The winless Panthers are expected to start rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen for the third time. Despite finishing with fewer passing yards than the previous week, Clausen showed improvement in Sunday’s 16-14 loss at New Orleans after a mistake-filled debut. Clausen’s job may be even tougher this week with receiver Steve Smith likely to sit out at least one game with a sprained left ankle. The Bears and Panthers have split four regular-season meetings with each team winning twice at home including a Carolina rally for a 20-17 victory in the last matchup Sept. 14, 2008. Not this year.
Denver at Baltimore 1:00 PM CBS – The Ravens defense got a boost from QB Joe Flacco with a huge 17-14 win over division rival Pittsburgh at Heinz Field last Sunday. Baltimore’s defense held off a late Steelers’ drive after Flacco sealed the victory with an 18-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds remaining to rally the Ravens. Meanwhile, the Broncos, who are averaging a league-high 354.8 passing yards, walked away with a 26-20 win at Tennessee on Sunday, as QB Kyle Orton threw for 341 yards, and two touchdowns. The Denver offense continues to be one-dimensional, and will now face one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses. They will have to establish some sort of run game if they want to win in Mobtown.
NY Giants at Houston 1:00 PM FOX – Houston is off to a franchise-best 3-1 start with its second-best rushing defense in the league, yielding 62 yards per game. They beat the Raiders last time out 31-24. Now they will face a Giants’ team that features RB Ahmad Bradshaw, fifth in the league with 382 rushing yards. Bradshaw recorded his second-highest career-rushing total with 129 yards on 23 carries, in 17-3 win over Chicago last week. The G-Men also have the third-best defense in the league, giving up 257.0 yards per game, but rank 22nd against the run with an average of 117.2 yards allowed. This could be a problem in Texas. With Manning’s current cold streak of zero touchdown passes in consecutive games, my money’s on the Horns.
New Orleans at Arizona 4:05 PM FOX – The defending champions Saints can’t be happy with its offensive production, but will get a chance to beat up on a struggling Cardinals offense that is being orchestrated by undrafted rookie free agent Max Hall. New Orleans is off from where it was last season, averaging 19.8 points and 344.0 yards compared to leading the NFL in points (31.9) and yards (403.8) per game a year ago today. QB Drew Brees did manage completing 33 of 48 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday’s 16-14 win over Carolina. He should have a big day in the desert as Brees, who has the league’s fourth-most passing yards with 1,131, faces a Cardinals team yielding 29.5 points and 388.0 yards per game. Arizona’s QB issues continue to plague them, as Derek Anderson has been intercepted five times and has the league’s lowest passer rating at 59.5. If the Cards want to win they will need more from their running game that combined for an anemic 43 yards in its 41-10 loss against San Diego.
San Diego at Oakland 4:15 PM CBS – The Chargers’ defense may be in for a much tougher task than usual against as Oakland’s offense has been showing improvement since Bruce Gradkowski replaced Jason Campbell at quarterback. The Raiders are fifth in the AFC, averaging 354.2 yards of total offense after finishing 31st in the league last year with 266.1. The Raiders came up short again last week, losing 31-24 to Houston as their defense was overwhelmed for 249 rushing yards. San Diego will try to build on its 41-10 pounding of Arizona against the Raiders, a team they have dominated for nearly seven years. San Diego has won 13 in a row over Oakland by an average of 14.4 points, but the tide may be changing unless the Bolts can get a good game out of rookie RB Ryan Mathews in this one.
Tennessee at Dallas 4:15 PM CBS – Dallas avoided its first 0-3 start since 2001 with a 27-13 win at Houston, and are now coming off its bye week seeking to ruin visiting Tennessee’s’ 10-game win streak against NFC opponents. The Titans are coming off a 26-20 home defeat to Denver last week. RB Chris Johnson, who everyone knew would be the success or demise of Tennessee, has been in consistent. He is currently sixth in the league with 354 yards on the ground. While the Cowboys are happy with their first victory, they must realize they will need to establish a more balanced attack if they want to win this one.
Philadelphia at San Francisco 8:20 PM NBC – Kevin Kolb is expected to make his first start since Week 1 when the Eagles try to send San Francisco to its first 0-5 start in 31 years. The 49’ers need to improve, and quickly. Staring with QB Alex Smith who has had an awful season, tying for the league lead in interceptions with seven, and is ranked near the bottom among all NFL quarterbacks in passer rating. Despite the 49ers’ struggles in the passing game, running back Frank Gore has been outstanding, leading the NFC in yards from scrimmage and ranking second in the conference with 29 receptions. Likewise, Philadelphia’ s LeSean McCoy, is having a breakout year with a team-high 273 rushing yards and four TDs. McCoy, though, is questionable after suffering a broken rib in the first half of last Sunday’s loss. Regardless, I expect Kolb to have a good comeback game with a win in the City by the Bay
MON, OCT 11 TIME (ET)
Minnesota at NY Jets 8:30 PM – Randy Moss will suit up for the Vikings for the second time in his career just in time for Monday night’s bout against the New York Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Moss, and Brett Favre. Does it get any better than that? Not to mention it will take the added pressure off running back Adrian Peterson who leads the Vikings with 13 receptions. Minnesota has dropped six in a row to the Jets since a 29-21 victory in 1975. Favre, who is one touchdown pass away from 500 in his career, has also lost his last three starts against the Jets. New York will try to delay that celebration by bringing its fourth ranked rush defense, yielding an average of 74.8 yards, but they’ll likely have their hands full trying to stop Peterson, whose 130.7 rushing yards per game rank second in the league. Meanwhile, Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez has done a stellar job leading New York’s offense this year, throwing eight touchdown passes and no interceptions. Mix in a little re-energized LaDainian Tomlinson, and the Jets are going to be tough beat at home, even with Moss.
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Matt Martz is a freelance writer located in Central California. Blessed is the gambler who expects nothing, for ye shall not be disappointed.