NFL Week 5 Predictions: Interconference Matchups Take Center Stage
Jeff Hanisch, USATSI

We are now a quarter of a way through the NFL season, and with that, we see true contenders and pretenders emerging.

We all know the stats about 0-4 teams and 4-0 teams. One is way more likely to make the playoffs than the other. For some teams, Week 5 of the NFL season is a make or break point on the road to January.

Tennessee Titans (1-3) at Miami Dolphins (1-3)

Miami -3.5

This game may not happen on Sunday due to Hurricane Matthew, but if it does, roll with the Dolphins. These teams are too evenly matched to pick a clear cut winner so take the home team and the points.

Chicago Bears (1-3) at Indianapolis Colts (1-3)

Indianapolis -4.5

The Colts are coming off of a loss in London to the Jaguars in which they looked terrible on both sides of the ball. The Colts are the first team in NFL history to not get a bye after traveling across the pond. The Bears are coming off a win in which Brian Hoyer and Zach Miller continue to look in-sync. Because of all of these factors, give me the Bears and the points on the road.

New England Patriots (3-1) at Cleveland Browns (4-0)

Cleveland +10.5

We all know the storyline here. Tom Brady is back after serving his Deflategate suspension. We know he will be coming back with a vengeance and with a slightly healthier Gronk, too. Don’t forget that the Patriots are coming off of a loss last week. Let the Browns take as many points as they want, the Patriots win huge here.

Houston Texans (3-1) at Minnesota Vikings (4-0)

Minnesota -7

The Texans aren’t getting enough respect here. Yes they lost J.J. Watt for the season, but there are ten other guys on that defense who are more than capable of making big plays. DeAndre Hopkins has been non-existent for most of the season, including last week’s one catch performance. Expect the Texans to force feed their stud wide out and shut down the run and Sam Bradford just enough to keep it within a touchdown.

Washington Redskins (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

Baltimore -4

I’m just as surprised as you that the Ravens are 3-1 to start their season, but a large part of that can be attributed to their soft schedule. Washington has been abysmal against the pass and even worse against the run, allowing at least one rushing touchdown in every game this year. That being said, the Ravens pass defense isn’t much better. Jordan Reed and Kirk Cousins appear to be clicking at the right time. Both of these teams are accustomed to playing close games, so expect the ‘Skins to finish within a field goal of their mid-Atlantic rivals.

New York Jets (1-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)

Pittsburgh – 7

The Jets are reeling, and their past two disastrous performances don’t offer much encouragement in a tough road game. They have looked abysmal over their last two games and it looks like they will be without Eric Decker, Brian Winters, and probably Darrelle Revis. After the show the Steelers put on last Sunday night against a Chiefs team that handled the Jets with relative ease, give me the Steelers, with the points.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) at Detroit Lions (1-3)

Detroit + 3.5

Coming off of a bye facing a Lions team that has no running game to speak of and struggles against the pass should spell easy victory for the Eagles, right? Maybe. It could only be a matter of time before rookie sensation Carson Wentz makes a pivotal mistake in crunch time. The Lions have done nothing except play close games thus far, and you can expect them to cover on Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons (3-1) at Denver Broncos (4-0)

Denver -4.5

The Denver Broncos are one of three undefeated team remaining in the NFL and seem the most legitimate. Trevor Siemian’s shoulder injury is progressing, but Paxton Lynch may need to start in his place.Whoever starts under center for Denver should be able to take advantage of a Falcons defense that has allowed at least three passing touchdowns in each game this season. Couple that with the fact the Falcons may be without running back Tevin Coleman in the high altitude environment due to his sickle cell trait, and you’ve got the Broncos winning by at least a touchdown.

Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Los Angeles Rams (3-1)

Los Angeles -2

This one might be the toughest matchup of the week to judge and the Vegas line shows it. Reggie Bush will be returning to the LA Coliseum for the first time since his days at USC, but won’t be a factor for the Bills. This Bills team is up and down and traveling out west is not what the doctor ordered. The Rams should be able to take care of business by at least a field goal in this one.

San Diego Chargers (1-3) at Oakland Raiders (3-1)

Oakland -3.5

One of just two divisional matchups on the docket this weekend, this one is always close. Expect a high-scoring shootout between Phillip Rivers and Derek Carr, especially with the loss of Latavius Murray for this week. The main difference in this matchup will come down to which defense can make a big play down the stretch. The debut of Joey Bosa this weekend will be enough to offset the loss off CB Jason Verrett.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

Dallas +1

Next, we have a talented Bengals team on the road against an overrated Cowboys team. The Bengals defense looked re-energized against the Dolphins last week with the return of Vontaze Burfict. A.J. Green is an absolute monster who should fill the stat sheet once again and pull out at least a two-point win.

New York Giants (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Green Bay -7

The Giants are touchdown underdogs here against a Packers team coming off a bye. Playing in primetime on the road against an NFC North team for the second consecutive week certainly does not bode well. Neither does all of the off the field talk of Odell Beckham Jr.’s antics. All of that being said, look for to OBJ channel all of that emotion into a big game and the Giants defensive front gets to Aaron Rodgers just enough for them to pull out a straight up win.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-3)

Carolina -7

Carolina is just too talented to be sitting in the cellar of the NFC South. Cam Newton’s status seems uncertain at this point, but even if he doesn’t play, Carolina has enough options on offense to get it done. The Bucs look lost out there and playing on the road on Monday Night Football isn’t going to help their cause. Take the Panthers here.

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