The NFL has loaded Week Five with a lot of interesting questions in the three marquee matchups. Can Nick Foles and the confused Bears offense keep up with Tom Brady and the revived Buccaneers franchise? Can the spiraling Vikings turn it around against a red-hot Russell Wilson and his army of late-round draft stars? Who will triumph down in New Orleans, young buck Justin Herbert or one of the best to ever play, Drew Brees? It is time to dive into this primetime slate, figure out who is poised to take home a win, and predict who is going to be disappointed with their untimely defeat.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Chicago Bears
Tonight’s game features a quarterback matchup akin to Super Bowl 52, when Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles upset Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 41-33. However, this time there will be new teams and different players. This matchup is poised for a Tom Brady win.
Tampa Bay, as a team, has not lost since their opening defeat to the New Orleans Saints. Brady has surely gotten into a comfortable groove with the Buccaneers offense, having a perfect passer rating in the second half of the Bucs’ comeback victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. In that game, the 43-year-old Tom Brady became the oldest quarterback in NFL history to throw 5 touchdowns in a game. And the Tom Brady experiment is clearly working in Tampa.
The Bears, by contrast, had a regression in Week Four against the Indianapolis Colts—despite their magnificent comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons, a week prior. During Week Four, Nick Foles and his offense looked like they could not move the ball, only amassing a meager 269 yards of total offense and just 11 points. The Colts defense may be one of the headlines for the season, but in today’s NFL, offenses should be able to move the ball and score at least two touchdowns.
The Buccaneers and the Bears each have defenses that are formidable and opportunistic. Both have solid scoring defenses, with the Bears having the 8th best scoring defense at 20.2 points per game and the Bucs tied for 9th best scoring defense at 23 points per game. This has the makings of a solid matchup. However, the Bears don’t seem to know what they have on the offensive side of the football. Led by Coach Bruce Arians, the Bucs can exploit the Bears’ weaknesses on the tape.
The Bears defense will make this a game, but Brady and his slew of offensive weapons are going to be too dynamic to overcome. The Bucs as 3.5 point favorites is the right line since they are on the road, but Tampa will cover and win this game pretty lopsidedly.
Prediction: Bucs 31- Bears 17
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday Night Football has a tradition of being one of the best games of the week. And this Sunday will be no different. Kirk Cousins and a desperate Vikings squad versus MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson and the high-flying Seahawks will prove to be one of the most entertaining games this week.
The Minnesota Vikings came into this season with hopes of a NFC North crown and a shot at the Lombardi Trophy, but at a disappointing 1-3 record to start the first four weeks, the Vikings are starting to feel the pressure to win, and to win now. Oddly enough, Minnesota’s offense doesn’t seem to be the cause of the team’s disappointing record. Kirk Cousins has limitations as a quarterback, but he usually gets the job done and scores enough to win. The Viking’s real problem has been their defense, which has given up scores of 23 or more points in every game this season. The Vikings defense currently gives up 31.2 points per game, which is the 6th worst in the league. Meanwhile, Seattle possesses one of the best offenses in the league—meaning that the Vikings have a major obstacle to overcome.
The Seahawks’ offense is led by Russell Wilson, who is finally earning some of the respect he’s lacked for the past few years. And players like Chris Carson and David Moore, who are both 7th-round draft picks, look phenomenal in this offense, precisely because of Russell Wilson’s ability to elevate the players around him. The Seahawks are 2nd in points per game at 35.5 points an outing. Russell Wilson leads the league in touchdown passes at 16 and is on pace for the single season record at 64 touchdowns in a year. Wilson probably won’t reach former Denver Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning’s record of 55, but his stat line is phenomenal, regardless. The Seahawks are clearly competitive and ready to seize the opportunity for a win.
This game has potential to be one of the best of the year. The Seahawks are admittedly playing against both a struggling Vikings defense and Kirk Cousins, who is subpar in primetime football games. However, while the Seahawks should handle business effectively, the Vikings still have plenty of talent when it comes to wide receivers and linebackers. This should prevent the game from getting out of hand.
Although Seattle is an undefeated team, they still have their weaknesses—particularly with their line play. Entering the year, the Seattle offensive line was projected at 28th in the league. The team has since improved and the ranking has increased slightly, but the line remains subpar and creates an exploitable weakness for Minnesota. The team’s defensive line is a similar story, ranking 27th in sacks with only 6 on the year. The Seahawks don’t often get pressure their opponent’s quarterback, which could allow Kirk Cousins to upset the Seahawks. Otherwise stated, Cousins could make plays that jeopardize this game for Seattle, if the game is close.
Minnesota is in a must-win situation, since 1-4 is behind the 8-ball when it comes to making the playoffs. Hopefully, the Vikings will play one of their better games of the season against the 7-point favorite Seahawks. However, if Russell Wilson works his magic, throwing for three or four touchdowns, his team will overcome the Vikings assault. The Seahawks won’t cover the spread, but they should get a satisfying win.
Prediction: Seahawks 34- Vikings 28
Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints
Monday brings one of the best matchups of the old guard, quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, against the new kid on the block, Justin Herbert, and the Los Angeles Chargers. This game could give us a clearer picture of how formidable the Saints are, as contenders. The game could also resolve the debate over the new Chargers’ franchise quarterback.
New Orleans entered the 2020 season as the favorite to win the Super Bowl from the NFC. But, despite a strong Week One performance in a 34-23 win over rival Tampa bay, the Saints have seemed like a subpar football team. They currently sit at 2-2, making the team second in the NFC South. The Saints are behind the aforementioned Tampa Bay Bucs squad, possessing two losses (one to the Las Vegas Raiders, and one to the Green Bay Packers). In those two losses, Drew Brees was outplayed by Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr and Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers. Even in last week’s win over the Detroit Lions, the Saints had to rally from an early two-score deficit. For these reasons, the Saints need to win this next game, preferably handily. The Saints have the superior roster—especially defensively—against rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who’s coming off a demoralizing loss to Brady and the Bucs.
While Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers were recently outmatched by an all-time performance by Tom Brady in the second half of the Bucs game, there was a lot to like about Herbert’s play and poise. Herbert has an inferior offense to that of the Buccaneers, but he threw 3 touchdowns and 1 interception in just his third start. Every day, the Bucs team looks more and more like a Super Bowl team—but the Chargers still routinely made plays to keep the upper-hand, during the game’s first half. This roster is no joke, and if the Chargers want to push for a playoff spot, then the time is now to make a stand.
New Orleans should be able to confuse and slow down Herbert, but the largest problem for the Saints is the team’s inability to throw the ball down the field. This year, the Saints are a mere 23rd in yards per play at home. Even on the road against Las Vegas, New Orleans had more completions to running backs, who are usually right by or behind the line of scrimmage, than wide receivers. Teams cannot win in today’s NFL consistently or achieve massive success without some big-play threat that gets a quick touchdown or two. Michael Thomas’s absence has certainly exposed this issue, but he is not a solution to the problem. Requiring perfection on most drives does not bode well for teams. The Chargers need to take advantage of this, but they are missing some key players due to injury. With Melvin Ingram, Derwin James, and Chris Harris Jr. sidelined, the Chargers face a massive uphill battle.
The Chargers’ storyline is very intriguing, but the Saints just have too much moxie and talent to fall behind two games to the Bucs. The New Orleans Saints are 7.5 point favorites. That number is slightly high, but the Saints should pull through.
Prediction: Saints 27- Chargers 20
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-2.0): 28 – 23 Atlanta Win
Buffalo Bills (-6.5) at Tennessee Titans: 34 – 24 Buffalo Win
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-13.0): 35 – 27 Kansas City Win
Arizona Cardinals (-7.0) at New York Jets: 27 – 13 Arizona Win
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.0): 31 – 27 Pittsburgh Win
Los Angeles Rams (-7.0) at Washington Football Team: 24 – 7 Los Angeles Win
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-13.0): 38 – 17 Baltimore Win
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-6.0): 21 – 17 Jacksonville Win
Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers (-8.5): 31 – 20 San Francisco Win
Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns (-1.5): 24 – 16 Indianapolis Win
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-9.5): 35 – 10 Dallas Win
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (-8.0): 20 – 10 New England Win
All lines provided by https://www.espn.com/nfl/lines