NFL: Week 5 Games To Watch
All picks are straight up. The writers begin with the division battle between undefeated Detroit and Chicago.
Chicago Bears (2-2) at Detroit Lions (4-0)
Danny Lee: Lions 24, Bears 17
The Bears' defense will have to put plenty of pressure on Detroit QB Matthew Stafford to win this game. If they don't, Stafford's got a touchdown machine to throw to in Calvin Johnson, who's bagged two TD receptions in each of the four games the Lions have played this season.
Jeremy Bergman: Lions
It will certainly be a night of firsts for the Lions and their loyal/tortured fans. Finally, Motown will be rocking for the Lions' first Monday Night Football appearance since 2001 and the first ever at Ford Field. Stafford and Suh will also welcome first-round pick DT Nick Fairley to the team for his first NFL start. Only the meek Bears O-line is preventing heavyweights Suh and Fairley from pressuring Jay Cutler into making Cutler-esque mistakes and leading the Lions to their first 5-0 start since 1956.
Aaron Fischman: Lions
Last season, the Bears swept the Lions, but with Matthew Stafford healthy and Calvin Johnson consistently beating triple coverage, the Lions will likely move to 5-0. Regardless, you can expect a tightly contested NFC North battle.
Ryan Nunez: Lions
This is a huge Monday night game and, by far, the toughest game to call. My lack of confidence in Jay Cutler will always lead me to pick against him. Detroit goes 5-0 and Megatron keeps up his epic touchdown pace.
New York Jets (2-2) at New England Patriots (3-1)
Don't think for a second that New England's players have forgotten about Bart Scott's claim that their defense couldn't stop a nosebleed after last season's Jets playoff win in Foxborough. This one could get ugly, as Bill Belichick would love nothing more than to stick it to a heated rival spiraling in the wrong direction right now.
Belichick and Brady haven't forgotten last year's embarrassing home playoff loss to their arrogant AFC East rivals from New York. With the Jets grounded for the moment with offensive line troubles and morale issues - never thought I would say either of those things about a Rex-Ryan-coached team - the Pats will be able to take full revenge. Jets LB Bryan Thomas is out for the season, and Brady will be able to pick apart the middle of the Jets D with the help of Ron Gronkowski and Wes Welker (left).
How can I expect Mark Sanchez to compete with Tom Brady after he single-handedly gave the Ravens 21 points in Week 4? For the Jets' sake, Mark Sanchez must remember to merely score touchdowns for his own team. He needs to stop being so generous with his opponents.
The Jets have proven that when they're flying high, they can beat the Patriots in January. Well, they’re not flying high and this isn't January. Belichick relishes running up the score, especially on rivals. This one gets ugly as the Dreamboat-to-Welker connection runs it up big.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1)
I expect to see plenty of points on the board in this showdown. Buffalo will pull out a close one thanks to playing at home and the fact that Philadelphia has yet to establish a consistent running game or provide any semblance of protection for Michael Vick.
The Dream Team vs. the No-Name Bills. A team that has blown two big leads in the second half for two horrible losses vs. a team that has made two huge comebacks in the second half for two improbable wins. High-profile, electric, but banged up, Michael Vick vs. modest, consistent, Harvard-grad gunslinger in Ryan Fitzpatrick (right). In a Eagles season that has been anything but a dream, Fred Jackson and the Bills are about to make it a nightmare.
Without the use of any rational logic whatsoever, I believe that the Eagles are too talented not to break their three-game losing streak. The Bills have been playing really well for much of the season, but the Eagles can't keep losing, right? Consider this a hunch.
At the beginning of the year, this one looked like an obvious Philadelphia win. At this point in the season, this one looks like a tantalizingly obvious Buffalo win. It is best to not over-think these things. Fred Jackson and Ryan Fitzpatrick continue to keep fantasy owners happy and the Eagles continue to stink.
Green Bay Packers (4-0) at Atlanta Falcons (2-2)
Atlanta has the defensive talent to keep this game close, but the Falcons been wildly inconsistent on offense this year. On the other side, the Packers' attack looks like an unstoppable juggernaut that will roll over and demoralize many opponents this season.
These are not last year's Falcons. The defense that was very consistent and level-headed last year has somehow lost its way, and Matty Ice hasn’t been as clutch and precise in the second half. Even worse news? These are last year's Packers...and then some. Expect Aaron Rodgers and the Pack to drop bombs on an Atlanta secondary that had a hard time even trying to stop Tarvaris Jackson.
I usually hate going against Matt Ryan's impressive, nearly spotless home record. The man is 21-2 at home in his career. With that said, I can't bring myself to pick the Falcons. In recent weeks, their offense has become one-dimensional with Michael Turner struggling mightily in the running game. In a quarterback battle between Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers, do I even have to say who will win?
If the 2010 Falcons show up, this will be an amazing game. If the uninspired bunch that needed every advantage they could get to beat Seattle shows up, this will be the most boring game of the week and Green Bay will win it handily. Expect the uninspired bunch to show.
Oakland Raiders (2-2) at Houston Texans (3-1)
Lee: Texans 28, Raiders 20
The key to this game will be how often Jason Campbell connects with Oakland receivers. The Texans will probably try to make Darren McFadden earn his yards, while daring Campbell to beat them with his arm. That being said, Oakland's run defense is too porous to hang with a more balanced Texans team.
What a big loss for the Texans, losing wide receiver Andre Johnson at this point in the season. But don't worry - they will recover. Houston has one of the most dynamic and balanced offenses in the NFL with Matt Schaub and Arian Foster (right) leading the way. Darren McFadden and the Raiders may keep it close with the ground game, but I do not trust QB Jason Campbell against the NFL's up-and-coming defense.
Andre Johnson's absence will be felt, there's no doubt about that. Even so, Houston is balanced enough, offensively, to recover, at least for this week. Many also discount the significant strides the Texans defense has made this season. Don't forget their D!
Are the Raiders the best crappy team or the crappiest good team? This week will tell the tale. The Texans proved last week that they can win when they are at less than full strength. Arian Foster will gash Oakland worse than McFadden can gash Houston and the Texans take the W.
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