NFC Week 5
Sports Analyst Tim CarrollTim is a freelance Sports Reporter with previous work in the Daily Vidette at Illinois State University.
Sunday, October 11
Washington Redskins (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (4-0)
Washington comes into town feeling good after their victory over Philadelphia. But they’re tied for 1st place in the NFC East largely due to the Cowboys’ injuries, the Giants’ bad luck and Chip Kelly’s insanity. Despite an effective ground game, no one is truly believing Washington is a playoff contender. The Atlanta Falcons, meanwhile, are rolling behind a dominating offense and a defense that’s competence makes it hard for opposing offenses to keep pace. Matt Ryan is truly loving the Julio Jones show in the air, and the stable of running backs, while not really explosive, are doing well to find holes and get into the endzone. Kirk Cousins has missed DeSean Jackson, as he really can’t go deep, leaving the offense to try it’s best to dink and dunk down the field. It’s hard to see the Redskins keeping this up. They’ve run about 18 mores plays per game than their opponents, and with a defense that has yet to grab an interception, and a quarterback who can become turnover prone, that doesn’t exactly make anyone feel confident going forward. Watch for Atlanta to score early and often.
Prediction: Atlanta 35, Washington 17.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)
In a game that could really drive fan interest… two years from now, the Jags head southeast and meet up with fellow Florida dwellers in the Bucs. Both teams have intriguing young talent on offense that everyone is hoping pans out. The Bucs are hoping to end an 11-game losing streak at home, while the Jags are hoping to end an 11-game losing streak on the road. This is a true matchup of modern NFL futility. Jameis Winston can’t get on the same page with exciting young wide receiver Mike Evans. The Jags leave you wanting more too. They had every chance to win that game last week against Indy with Matt Hasselbeck behind center, but it wasn’t to be had. Blake Bortles looks like a prototypical NFL quarterback, but he’s been inconsistent so far in his career. It’s really seemed like QBs nowadays either work out the kinks as their rookie season goes on and are ready to roll (at least statistically) in their sophomore season. It doesn’t seem to be there for him. With that being said, he is still young and could turn it around. But the Bucs have solid defensive talent, including All-World defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who may make Bortles eat dirt repeatedly.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 23, Jacksonville 14.
New Orleans Saints (1-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
This matchup doesn’t have the aura it once did. Drew Brees is still the quarterback in the Big Easy, but something just feels off. He doesn’t have the weapons he once did. His young receivers are nice, but his lack of a good tight end and an aging Marques Colston just don’t get the job done at the top. CJ Spiller has been hurt, but he leaves you wanting more as well. The running game is among the worst in the league as well, with Spiller hurt and Mark Ingram’s perpetual mediocrity. The Eagles are simply not the team we thought they would be this year. Ironically, we all thought that Sam Bradford would be their downfall, but he is the one doing everything he can to keep this team in games. Ryan Mathews has looked good at times, but he hasn’t done enough to carry the load they would need on the ground right now. The Eagles defense is talented enough to keep this team in games, but until DeMarco Murray looks like half the running back he was in Dallas, this team’s best case scenario is 7-9. This game will be a fight to the finish however, as one of these teams will have a positive outlook after this one.
Prediction: New Orleans 27, Philadelphia 21.
St. Louis Rams (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (4-0)
The last few years, you’d have been a little worried about Aaron Rodgers going into this game if you were a Packer fan. The fearsome defensive line of the Rams would be what was necessary to stifle the Green Bay offense, as the Pack generally had subpar line play. But this is 2015. The Packers have only surrendered 6 sacks of Rodgers so far this season. The offensive line is healthy and playing really well. The Rams are likely to get to Rodgers a few times in this one, as it’s just their nature. But can they stop Eddie Lacy, Starks and Rodgers on the ground, as they’ve combined to help the Packers to be third in the NFL in rushing yards. Meanwhile, the Rams are feeling good after an upset of the previously undefeated Cardinals. Young buck Tavon Austin is finally looking like a wide receiver, and Stedman Bailey also caught a touchdown for the Rams last week, as they’re doing their best in St. Louis to remind us of their glory days at West Virginia together. With that being said, Nick Foles is a wildly inconsistent quarterback, and Aaron Rodgers is the best in the game. I think you see where this is going.
Prediction: Green Bay 34, St. Louis 20.
Arizona Cardinals (3-1) at Detroit Lions (0-4)
Is there a team in the NFL as down on their luck as the Detroit Lions? They’ve scored less points than the week before each so far. The running game that was supposed to be fine without Reggie Bush has been nonexistent. They’re last in the NFL in rushing yards, and it isn’t even close. Their 47 yards per game are 22.3 yards per game behind Miami. They’ve average a measly 2.7 yards per carry as well. Meanwhile, the Cards were upset by the Rams last week, and they know they were UPSET. Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson will be coming out eager to prove last week was a fluke. There really isn’t much to discuss in this game, as Matt Stafford will likely never have enough time to hit Megatron and Golden Tate deep enough to make a difference.
Prediction: Arizona 38, Detroit 17.
New England Patriots (3-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
The Patriots have come out this season firing on all cylinders. They appear to be sticking it to everybody who doubted them because of Deflategate. Not unlike the 2007 teams that came out firing after Spygate, I believe this team has a chance to go 16-0. Rob Gronkowski remains a nightmare, as Tom Brady appears to love to sling it to him. The only difference between this team and the 2007 one is that they’re fresh off of a Super Bowl victory, which may bode well for this team. They already know they have what it takes, and they haven’t lost their edge, as some defending champs do. The Cowboys meanwhile, were expecting to come into this game with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, hoping to turn this game into a shootout. Without them, the only threat they have is to run the ball. While that Cowboy offensive line is fantastic, being so one dimensional against Bill Belichick is usually a fatal flaw.
Prediction: New England 38, Dallas 20.
San Francisco 49ers (1-3) at New York Giants (2-2)
The 49ers look like a disciplined defense, as they held the Packers last week to just 17 points. But Colin Kaepernick’s skills have grown stale. He’s become a one-trick pony who can only get hot if you fail to take his running game into account. The Giants meanwhile, appear to be the favorite currently in the NFC East. Eli Manning’s stability is the most you’ll find in the division. He’s also the most stable player you’ll find in this game, as he always seems to find a way to maximize his offense’s potential (when he’s not in one of his interception frenzy seasons). 49ers Jim Tomsula has the backing of plenty of experts around the NFL, he was forced to take over a bad situation, with all those defensive stars retiring, he has little to work with early. I have confidence he can turn the team into a winner again, but not this season.
Prediction: New York 20, San Francisco 17.
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