As the NFL season approaches week five, there are still teams that are undefeated, teams that are all but defeated, and many in-between looking to shake off early season woes.
Atlanta Falcons Vs Pittsburgh Steelers:
A matchup between two teams with only one win at the bottom of their divisions is usually not a must see game. But this is Pittsburgh vs Atlanta, and regardless of records, there is a ton of talent on both sides of the ball for each team that is worthy of a look.
Atlanta has been dealt a tough hand to start off their season. The Falcons have faced quarterbacks Andy Dalton, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton in the last three weeks, and have struggled to stop any of them.
Now in week five Atlanta needs to find a way to slow down a Steeler offense led by Ben Rothlisberger that has thrown for over 300 yards in three of four games this season.
The Falcon defense isn’t hopeless, in an opening week loss to the Eagles, quarterback Nick Foles struggled in the passing game and threw for under 200 yards and an interception. But Big Ben is no Foles, and the expectation is he should surpass 400 yards in the air this game.
The Steelers have only faced one elite quarterback so far this season in the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, and he threw for 326 yards accompanied by six touchdowns.
Now they face elite quarterback Matt Ryan who has been lights out the last two weeks, throwing for 793 yards and eight touchdowns with no giveaways. But the Falcons lost both of those games.
The Steelers offense finally stalled out last week against the Ravens, failing to put anything on the scoreboard in the second half. They will look to turn it around against a Falcon defense that has been the achilles heel of their team all season.
It would be a shame not to mention the four players to look for in this game, receivers and quarterbacks will have a field day in Pittsburgh this week.
The Matt Ryan to Julio Jones duo have continued their career success, with Jones passing 100 yards receiving twice so far this year and leading the league in yardage. Jones will most likely be lined up across from Steeler corner Joe Haden, and will use his four-inch advantage to make the big play downfield for Atlanta.
On the other side, Rothlisberger and Antonio Brown have had a lower start. Brown has only found the end zone twice and has yet to reach 100 yards in a game. The Falcon defense has allowed a 100 yard receiver in each of their last three games, and Brown expects to join that list this week.
Prediction: Falcons 38 – Steelers 35
Kansas City Chiefs Vs Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC Division leaders take the field against each other Sunday in Kansas City as the Jaguars impressive defense looks to put a stop to Mahomes’ tear through the NFL.
Its been hard to place exactly where the Jags stand this season. They are currently 3-1, highlighted by an impressive blow out victory over the Patriots in week two. But Jacksonville followed that franchise altering victory with an ugly 9-6 loss to the Titans.
An up and down start does no take away the fact that Jacksonville is 3-1, have put up 30 points twice, and have yet to surrender more than 20 points on defense this year.
But the strong defensive effort will face a true test this week against an offense in the Chiefs that has scored at will in almost every game this season.
The Chiefs offense has been unstoppable, scoring 38 or higher in the first three games. But their hiccup in week four makes a contest with the Jaguars a little more interesting. The Chiefs beat the Broncos 27-23 in a comeback overtime win Monday night.
Here is the dangerous stat for the Chiefs: running back Kareem hunt rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries in their worst offensive performance so far this season. In each of their first three games, Hunt failed to come close to that number. Why is that scary?
The Chiefs almost found out Monday that relying on the run game in today’s NFL slows the offense down. It is a fast paced league and handing the ball off down the field takes up too much time to put up significant point totals. To put it simply, put the ball in Mahomes hands almost every play.
The Broncos are similar to the Jags on defense, giving Jacksonville hope of stopping the blitzkrieg happening in Kansas City, and the Jaguar offense is much better than what they have out there in Denver. The Chiefs have a short week after playing on Monday night, giving the Jags an extra day to rest up and scout their competition.
The extra rest won’t help the Jags too much as they will be without running back Leonard Fournette this week (hamstring), forcing Blake Bortles to challenge Mahomes arm on the opposite side… which is a losing battle.
Prediction: Chiefs 31 – Jaguars 18
Washington Redskins Vs New Orleans Saints (Monday Night Football):
Two NFC first place teams look to keep their lead in what is shaping up to be an air show in the Bayou.
The Washington Redskins are well rested coming off an early bye week looking to keep their early season success going. The team is 2-1, beating a winless Arizona team before flexing their muscles against a historically talented Green Bay team.
Offseason acquisition Alex Smith has proved to be a safe bet so far. The quarterback has shown he is still a great game manager on the field, putting up average numbers but only has one giveaway through three games.
Running back Adrian Peterson continues to prove father time wrong, carrying for 96 and 120 yards in both his teams wins this season.
Both players will need to find that second gear this week if they want to win against a Saints offense that has really hit its stride recently.
The Saints offense has scored 40 points twice already this year, something even the Chiefs have yet to do. Drew Brees continues to set records, passing Brett Favre’s completions record last week and is only 201 yards away from becoming the leagues all time passing leader.
Playing at home, in a game where Brees is almost guaranteed to break the passing yards record, the New Orleans Superdome will be deafening for opposing defenses.
Prediction: Saints 33 – Redskins 20
Minnesota Vikings Vs Philadelphia Eagles
Both the Eagles and Vikings seasons have started out disappointing, but based off last season’s success both teams still have the expectation to make the playoffs in 2018.
The Vikings have played slightly below expectations, going 1-2-1 in their first four games. 2-2 sounds a whole lot better, and a tie to the Packers is no result to stress over. Minnesota still has a talented offense and a defense that has the ability to get itself back on track.
New quarterback Kirk Cousins has taken heat in the media for the Vikings record so far this season, but after one month he has thrown for 10 touchdowns and only tw0 interceptions. The Viking offense has the ability to challenge elite offenses in this league, and that showed last week in a close shootout against the juggernaut L.A. Rams.
So far the Eagles defense hasn’t given up 30 points in a game, but they also haven’t played any quarterbacks of any concern since week one. Cousins has performed to expectation, and should be able to put up over 30 points this week.
The Eagles eased in to the 2018 NFL season, resting QB Carson Wentz for the first couple weeks while he recovered from offseason ACL surgery. The team went 1-1 without him, and have gone 1-1 with him.
The Philly offensive core hasn’t been healthy all season, including star back Jay Ajayi playing with a small fracture in his back. But the injury report has shrunk for the Eagles and they enter week five as healthy as they have been so far this season.
The x-factors in this one will be the receiving corps for both teams.
The Vikings, let by Adam Thielen and Stephon Diggs, have caught everything so far this season. Thielen has racked up at least 100 yards in every game this season and is currently second in the league in yardage. Diggs is close behind, going over 100 yards twice so far.
The Eagles receivers, on the other hand, have struggled with shaky quarterback play through the first four weeks. A different player has led the team in receiving each game, but tight end Zach Ertz has hovered around the top in each contest. Ertz is an athletic tight end and will have the ability to challenge the bulky run stopping linebackers of Minnesota down field.
The Eagle offense will struggle to compete with the air raid of the Vikings. Look for Minnesota to throw the ball deep early and force a tentative Wentz to throw 40 times or more in this one.
Prediction: Vikings 31 – Eagles 27
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