Week 5 Predictions!
When I created this site and named it About Average Sports, it was done intentionally with the thought that no matter how big of fans any of us are and how committed we are to our conviction in our predictions, most of us have good takes and bad takes. That applies to all of us, including yours truly. We’re only a quarter of a way through the season but as I look back on my NFL preview column there are some areas that I was spot on about and some other areas that I would probably (definitely) want a mulligan.
Things that make me look good:
I was very high on the Eagles to win the NFC East – They are absolutely a Super Bowl contender
Having serious doubt that Matt Ryan was going to be a huge upgrade in Indianapolis – they’re last in the league in points.
Correctly predicting that the AFC North was going to be an up for grabs division
That the Patriots offense was going to struggle this year (Here’s looking at you Joe Judge!)
Having a lot of faith in new head coaches Mike McDaniel of Miami and Doug Pederson of Jacksonville
Things currently making me look bad:
Can I get a redo on the Broncos? They may be the worst 2-2 team in football. Russell Wilson is making weird videos, Javonte Williams is out for the year and Nathaniel Hackett doesn’t look like he can coach a Pop Warner team.
Remember when I predicted the Commanders would finish 2nd in the NFC East? Good, neither do I.
The Saints look like pretenders thus far in a competitive NFC playoff picture.
I thought the Seahawks would be one of the worst teams in football this year. The offensive line has looked great and the pride of Morgantown, West Virginia Geno Smith is having a career year so far. Who knew?
We’ll talk about my Giants a little later but who ever saw 3-1? Certainly not I.
Now clearly, we have a long way to go, but we’re reaching the quarter mark of the season so it will be fair after this week to assume we have a clearer few of who is a contender and who is a pretender. With all of that said, let’s get to this week’s picks!
Indianapolis at Denver – Great news for anyone that doesn’t have Amazon Prime – you won’t be able to watch this game. While this game will not be pretty to watch, it actually is a crucial game for both teams. The Broncos offense HAS to get going this week, especially down Javonte Williams. A Colts loss would leave them staring up at Jacksonville and Tennessee and probably push them out of Wild Card contention. Yes, it’s early but in a super competitive AFC both teams need this win to stay relevant. Look for the losing head coach to be on the hot seat throughout the rest of the season. Mile High is a tough place to play. I’m going with Russ and the Broncos.
NY Giants at Green Bay (but in London) – Alright can I be an old man for a second? I hate these London games. Play the games where they are supposed to be played and stop trying to overexpand with pipe dreams of a franchise in London someday. I don’t want to watch football at 9:30 in the morning. And get off my lawn. Alright now that I got that out of the way, can I just say I am a huge believer in this Packers team, and I feel they’re going to continue to improve as they get key players back and Rodgers develops a rapport with his young receivers. They’re running the ball very well and I think that’s a good thing for Rodgers. They’re 3-1 and haven’t hit their potential just yet. On the other side we have my beloved Giants who have managed to go 3-1 despite injuries to their best defensive player (Leonard Williams), one of the most injury-ravaged receiving corps in the league, and an offensive line that is in need of better interior blocking to say the least. It’s well documented my thoughts on Daniel Jones but one thing I will never question is his toughness. Saquon Barkley looks like the Saquon of old and I think the Giants are doing exactly what I predicted they would do this year – finding some pieces they can build around when they have more cap room and draft capital to operate with. Most importantly, head coach Brian Daboll is showing what competent coaching can do. There is absolutely no one who would have predicted the Giants would be 3-1 at this point of the season. There is a long road ahead but who cares? Let’s enjoy the good times while we can. And in terms of the game, I’m going with the Packers big. Giants just have too many injuries this week.
Chicago at Minnesota – Justin Fields may have some of the worst skill position players around him that I have ever seen in all my years watching football. No exaggeration. The Bears have a franchise quarterback who is going to be the next David Carr if they don’t start building around him. The Vikings are 3-1 and will be 4-1 after this week. If Adam Thielen continues to make strides, it will only open the offense up for everyone including sensation Justin Jefferson. Vikings win big.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay – The Falcons have turned out to be a lot feistier this year than most expected and are in second place in the NFC South. It may not always be pretty but they’re finding innovative ways on offense to maximize Marcus Mariota’s skillset. The Bucs may be 2-2 but all is well. They’re overcoming a tough offseason and a lot of injuries. When they get healthy, they will still be a handful. I’m taking the Bucs at home.
Detroit at New England – Do you know who has the best offense in the NFL so far after 4 weeks? Believe it or not it’s the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately for Detroit, the defense has been as bad as the offense has been good and it has led to them losing some close games that they easily could have won. The Patriots have looked lost this year and injuries to the QB position means that rookie Bailey Zappe is probably in line for his first start of his career. New England may be in line for a full rebuild after this year. Belichick is creative but I think Detroit has too much talent and the Lions win in a close one.
Houston at Jacksonville – “With the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select…” get ready to hear that come next April because it is almost a virtual certainty. The Texans have some fight, but they just don’t have the talent this year. The Jaguars lost a messy game in Philadelphia but considering the weather conditions I’m not holding that against them too much. This is a much-improved team that is on the rise and may contend for the division. Jacksonville is the pick here.
LA Chargers at Cleveland – The Chargers are sitting at 2-2 and losing tackle Rashawn Slater is a huge blow. Yes, they won in Week 4, but they also gave up 17 second half points to the previously mentioned Texans. I love Justin Herbert. I think this team is custom made for Sean Payton to come out of retirement because current coach Brandon Staley is not the answer. The Browns lost a close one to the Falcons and are 2-2 but could easily be 3-1 if it wasn’t for their collapse against the Jets a few weeks back. I could be wrong, but I think the Browns surprise here. Going with Cleveland in an upset.
Miami at NY Jets – The Dolphins will be without QB Tua Tagovailoa who suffered presumably his second concussion in less than a week on Thursday night. The disturbing images will force the NFL to re-evaluate its concussion protocols and will put the pressure on team doctors to do even more to protect players and prevent them from re-entering games if they are displaying any signs of a concussion whatsoever. Turning the attention back to football, this has all the makings of a fun game. The Jets are 2-2 and looked reinvigorated with the presence of QB Zach Wilson. The Dolphins on the other hand are down Tua but have a more than capable backup in Teddy Bridgewater and I expect them to win a close one at Met Life Stadium and keep pace with the Buffalo Bills. I’m taking Miami.
Pittsburgh at Buffalo - The Steelers need to be honest with themselves about who they are, where they’re at as a franchise, and who they want to be moving forward. This year is a throwaway year. I’m not sure I get throwing rookie QB Kenny Pickett into the fire when his next 4 games are at Buffalo, home against Tampa Bay, at Miami and at Philly. They have a bye week after that which would have been a perfect time to insert him into the lineup. The Bills meanwhile just keep rolling along and pulled off a nice come from behind win against Baltimore. The scariest part is that they have reinforcements on the way defensively and are only going to continue to improve. Bills win big this week.
Seattle at New Orleans – The Saints are coming off a loss in London versus the Vikings and are off to a disappointing 1-3 start to the season. I still think the Saints have potential to play better, but they need to get Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara healthy in a hurry. The Seahawks put up 48 points against Detroit and are not the walkover on the schedule that many expected. I think the Seahawks pull off the mini upset here. I’m taking Seattle.
Tennessee at Washington – After a slow start to the season the Titans have won 2 in a row and are absolutely contenders in a very weak AFC South. I still question their skill position players, but Mike Vrabel is a great coach and will maximize the most out of the talent he does have. The Commanders on the other hand are a dumpster fire right now. They’ve lost 3 in a row and are 0-2 in the division to start the year. Most surprisingly to me? The defense has looked very poor. I still think Washington has talent, but I can’t pick them over Tennessee this week. Going with the Titans.
San Francisco at Carolina – The 49ers looked dominant against the Rams this week and will look to continue the momentum as they face a Carolina Panthers team that looks to be one of the worst in the league. Panthers QB Baker Mayfield is not a starting level quarterback in this league, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is Matt Rhule’s last year as head coach in Carolina. 49ers win big here.
Dallas at LA Rams – The Cowboys have won 3 in a row with backup quarterback Cooper Rush. If they win this week will there be a quarterback controversy in Dallas? It certainly will be the topic on a lot of debate shows, but the attention should be on the stingy Dallas defense which has given up the 3rd fewest points in the league. The Rams are coming off a very uninspired loss to the 49ers and look like they’re suffering from a Super Bowl hangover. They need this game this week. Rams win in a close one.
Philadelphia vs. Arizona – I had said before the season that much of the Eagles success was going to depend on the development of QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts has delivered and then some so far this year and the Eagles look like one of the most balanced teams in the NFC thus far. They’ll have their hands full with an Arizona Cardinals team who has a dynamic playmaker of their own in Kyler Murray, but I think the Eagles train (unfortunately for this Giants fan) keeps on rolling. Eagles win on the road.
Cincinnati at Baltimore – What a great Sunday night game. Two divisional rivals, two teams with Super Bowl aspirations and two fantastic young quarterbacks. The Ravens lost another game that they had well in hand last week and the defense is really missing the presence of former coordinator Wink Martindale. The Bengals have won 2 in a row and look to have steadied the ship after a rocky start. Can’t wait to see what unfolds – I’m going with Baltimore in a close one.
Las Vegas at Kansas City – The Chiefs won convincingly over the Bucs this past week and Patrick Mahomes continues to fill the highlight reel with his dazzling arsenal of offensive plays. The Raiders finally won this past week against Denver but will have a tall task winning in Arrowhead on a Monday night against a loaded Chiefs team. Chiefs win here.
Thanks as always for reading. Enjoy Week 5!