NFL Week 5 Predictions
The St. Louis Rams are above .500. Christian Ponder is the only quarterback in the NFL yet to throw an interception. The New York Jets are in first place in the AFC East. Maybe the Mayans were right about 2012. Don't worry, this week's predictions are just about as solid as the Mayans':
Philadelphia Eagles @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeremy Bergman: Steelers 23, Eagles 13
Pittsburgh can’t afford to drop to 1-3; the Ravens and Bengals are already pulling away from them in the North. Though I don’t foresee the Steelers running into trouble against the Eagles, who are in first place in their division despite a -17 point differential and a -5 turnover differential. Mike Vick won’t make it out of the stadium after the Steel Curtain is done with him, but the Steelers will, with an easy victory.
Evan Budrovich: Steelers 19, Eagles 17
The Steelers will avoid a deadly 1-3 start by capitalizing on Michael Vick turnovers to win the game. Big Ben will continue his hot passing by hitting Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown deep on numerous occasions. The Eagles defense has vastly improved this season, which will keep the game close, but expect the Steelers to pull out another squeaker over their inner-state rivals.
Aaron Fischman: Steelers 27, Eagles 20
Both times we’ve been asked to predict Eagles games, I’ve picked Philadelphia to lose and I’ve been wrong. Third time’s a charm? Pittsburgh will be rested, playing at home, and probably see the return of James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall. What’s not to like?
Jacob Freedman: Steelers 31, Eagles 24
In a role reversal, the Steelers enter this game desperate for a win to avoid starting 1-3. The Steelers defense is struggling without stalwarts Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, but both of the former All-Pros look to return for this in-state battle. Ben Roethlisberger is being hammered in the pocket by the subpar Steelers offensive line, but he's still leading an impressive passing attack and will continue to pass the Steelers to victory on Sunday.
Max Meyer: Steelers 27, Eagles 17
Troy Polamalu and James Harrison returning will boost Pittsburgh's defense immensely. Michael Vick will have nightmares thinking about that pass rush. The Steelers will win in a must win game at home against an overrated 3-1 Eagles team.
Law Murray: Eagles 21, Steelers 20
The last time these two teams met was in 2008, and Ben Roethlisberger took nine sacks and gave up a safety on intentional grounding. It was a masterful defensive performance, and the Eagles are surely capable of stirring up another one. The Eagles need Michael Vick to be close to flawless on the road against a Steelers defense that has a LOT more to prove than you think; PIT gave up 34 points and a win to an otherwise listless Raiders offense two weeks ago.
Matthew Tufts: Eagles 27, Steelers 24
The Eagles have had three comeback victories after being down at the two-minute warning, and Pittsburgh has squandered several late leads this season. Throw in Michael Vick's erratic rushing nature, and it's clear that no lead is safe. That said, the Eagles will win in typical Philadelphia fashion, coming back from a fourth quarter deficit thanks to a couple of key Vick runs for first downs.
Bergman: Falcons 27, Redskins 20
The KC Star is refusing to write the team name, “Redskins”, in any of their publications, out of respect the Native Americans that are offended by the term. Well, the Star certainly won’t have to write Washington into the win column this week. The Falcons are one of two undefeated teams left and they lead the NFC in scoring, while Washington has given up an average of 31 points per game. “Fail” to the Redskins!
Budrovich: Falcons 27, Redskins 23
The Atlanta Falcons will ride the arm of Matt Ryan to continue their undefeated season. RGIII’s Redskins will move the ball against the Falcons average pass defense, but will struggle to convert their drives for touchdowns. Meanwhile, Julio Jones and Roddy White will each have huge days for the Falcons propelling their team to victory.
Fischman: Falcons 34, Redskins 24
Atlanta has dominated on both sides of the ball for much of the first quarter of the season. That said, this will probably be a close, relatively high-scoring game. Expect Robert Griffin III and Matt Ryan to put up big numbers.
Freedman: Falcons 34, Redskins 24
I feel like a broken record, but I'm vouching for Matt Ryan this week again. The Redskins secondary was burned in the second half against Tampa Bay last week, and the Buccaneers don't have a receiver close to the caliber of Roddy White or Julio Jones. RG3 will dazzle us on a few plays, but his Redskins will be playing catch-up all day. The Redskins are much improved from 2011, but don't have the defensive personnel to stop the Falcons.
Meyer: Falcons 34, Redskins 23
The Falcons almost slipped up last week against Carolina, and because of that they will take the Redskins seriously. The Falcons' passing game has been one of the best in the league to start the season.
Murray: Falcons 29, Redskins 27
These teams aren't familiar with each other at all (only fourth meeting since 1994). Matt Ryan has been on fire to start the season (11 TDs, 2 INTs) and I look for the trend to continue. The Falcons defense doesn't get a break facing RGIII a week after narrowly escaping Cam Newton.
Tufts: Falcons 35, Redskins 17
RGIII has been brilliant in his first four weeks in the NFL. Unfortunately for Washington, the same cannot be said about their defense. Matt Ryan and his deadly receiving duo will pick apart the NFL's 31st ranked pass defense for Atlanta's fifth victory in as many games.
Bergman: Panthers 21, Seahawks 20
Without the replacement refs around, the Seahawks are 0-1. Seattle’s also winless on the road this season. It won’t be easy breaking that trend, facing an angry Panthers team that’s lost two games in a row in embarrassing fashion. Although the Hawks boast a tough run defense, they haven’t had to face Cam Newton, the epitome of the dual threat. Cammy Cam has a huge game, silencing his critics, and Pete Carroll goes back to the drawing board with Russell Wilson.
Budrovich: Seahawks 21, Panthers 17
Cam Newton will lose the lead for the second straight week, as the Seattle Seahawks will storm from behind to defeat the Panthers. The Panthers rushing attack will struggle against the stout Seattle D-Line, putting Newton in dangerous third and long situations. Russell Wilson has struggled in his last two starts, enter skittles to save the day.
Fischman: Panthers 26, Seahawks 23
This game pits one of the best defenses of the NFC against one of the worst, but strangely I’ll pick the team with the significantly worse D. The Panthers nearly won last week, so I expect them to be even hungrier against Seattle. It’s also worth noting the Seahawks are not nearly as good when playing away from their beautiful stadium.
Freedman: Panthers 20, Seahawks 14
The Seattle offense has the dubious distinction of being the only team in the NFL with more yards on the ground than through the air. Russell Wilson hasn't thrown for more than 160 yards in a game, and the Seahawks inability to move the ball through the air cost them in a loss against the Rams last week. Cam Newton won't find his breakout game here, but his dual-threat abilities will do enough to keep the Seahawks defense on guard and guide the Panthers to an ugly win at home.
Meyer: Seahawks 23, Panthers 14
Seattle's defense is simply dominant, and they will shut down the Panthers' deadly rushing attack. This is a make or break week for quarterback Russell Wilson, you have to think that the Seahawks will replace him at QB with prized offseason acquisition Matt Flynn.
Murray: Seahawks 23, Panthers 21
I know the Seahawks would like to open the passing game up, but chill. Give RB Marshawn Lynch 20+ carries and an extra bag of Skittles against this rainbow soft rushing defense of the Panthers. The Seahawks will have to deal with Cam Newton, but at least they won't have to face Legatron this week.
Tufts: Seahawks 21, Panthers 17
Seattle's defense has not allowed over 20 points in a game this season going into a matchup against Cam Newton. However on offense, Russell Wilson's three interceptions against the Rams were a cause for concern. Still, Marshawn Lynch can make up the slack for Wilson, and Seattle will bring their record up to 3-2.
Bergman: Broncos 27, Patriots 25
Don’t believe the Pats’ 52-point beatdown against Buffalo – the New York Jets put up 48 on Buffalo and look where they are now. Although New England’s running game has picked up in recent weeks, I don’t think their offense has reached the level necessary to single-handedly to carry the team. The bigger storyline is of course Brady-Manning: Same Faces, Different Places. Peyton is playing like the same ol’ Peyton and will avenge himself from the last time they played, a 31-28 Pats victory in 2010.
Budrovich: Patriots 28, Broncos 16
Manning and Brady will go at it again, with the result similar to most of their previous matchups, a Brady victory. The Patriots offense will explode against the Broncos weak pass defense, spotting them an early lead. Peyton Manning will dip and dunk the Broncos back in the game, but their inability to synch as an offense will ultimately cost them against the superior Patriots.
Fischman: Patriots 30, Broncos 24
Tom Brady hasn’t lost two consecutive home games since November of 2006, but don’t be fooled. Winning won’t be easy for the home team. Denver is too talented not to keep this one close.
Freedman: Patriots 35, Broncos 27
It's the AFC's most competitive rivalry! The powerful Patriots take on the lightning-strike Colts as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning square off under center! Wait, Peyton's on the Broncos now you say? Well that changes… not much. In this case, the Patriots and not the Broncos have the better rushing attack and lineup of pass-catchers, even with tight end Aaron Hernandez sidelined indefinitely. Give me Tom Terrific at home.
Meyer: Patriots 35, Broncos 24
The Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry is back after a one-year hiatus. Peyton's arm strength hasn't looked the same thus far, and the Patriots simply have too many weapons for the Broncos to deal with. Patriots' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will get revenge against his former team.
Murray: Patriots 35, Broncos 31
The Patriots really could have saved some of those TDs in Buffalo for this one, don't you think? Alas, the Patriots really embarrassed the Broncos defense last year, averaging 43 points in two games. The Patriots won't have TE Aaron Hernandez and will have to sweat all game against Peyton Manning, but they will be at home and working to blitz the Broncos with the run.
Tufts: Patriots 28, Broncos 20
The Brady - Manning rivalry will be renewed with Peyton's new team when the Broncos march into Foxboro. Given that it Brady vs. Manning has been the greatest NFL rivalry in the past decade, both teams have shown a lot of commitment to the run. Expect the Patriots to get an early lead and then run the ball to limit Manning's time on the field.
Bergman: Saints 30, Chargers 28
Who dat?! Who dat?! Who dat saying the Saints can’t win?! They can’t lose every week, right? With Sean Payton sketchily watching on from the stands – or from a Superdome dungeon – N’Awleans will capture their first victory of the year, by the grace of Steve Gleason.
Budrovich: Chargers 37, Saints 34
Last time these teams met in 2008 the Saints won a thriller in London. This time around, the Chargers will pull out the nail bitter largely due to the play of their quarterback, Philip Rivers. Drew Brees will play his best game of the season against his former club but his efforts will not result in the Saints first victory.
Fischman: Saints 34, Chargers 30
The Saints could fall to 0-5, but they probably won’t. True, their defense is horrendous, but as much as I complain about Brees’ occasional poor decision-making, it’s tough to imagine the guy not willing his team to victory Sunday night.
Freedman: Saints 27, Chargers 21
For me, predicting the Chargers is like flipping a coin. Heads, they go out like last week and dominate the Chiefs 37-20 on the road. Tails, the Bolts get throttled 27-3 at home by Atlanta like two weeks ago. Heads last week means I'm expecting to see the ugly version of the Chargers this week, meaning the beleaguered Saints will at long last gain their first victory of the season as suspended head coach Sean Payton looks on from the Superdome stands.
Meyer: Saints 30, Chargers 21
Which start is more shocking? I know the 0-4 Saints is the obvious answer, but when has a Norv Turner Chargers team had a good September? The underperforming Chargers' offense struggles again, this time against the NFL's worst defense, which will give the Saints their first win.
Murray: Saints 34, Chargers 30
Yes, the Saints are 0-4. But with Brees-Unitas history looming and Philip Rivers (the reason Brees is in the Big Easy), Sean Payton, Joe Vitt, and Mickey Loomis (suspensions lifted) in the Superdome, I expect Brees to have a big, record-breaking night complete with a win.
Tufts: Chargers 27, Saints 21
Drew Brees and the Saints travel to San Diego still in search of their elusive first win, this Sunday. The Chargers' running game has been good of late, while the Saints' run defense has been abysmal. Look for Drew Brees to get an early touchdown, but not enough for the win as San Diego will maintain possession, running the ball for much of the game.
Matthew Tufts 15-6
Law Murray 7-3
Jacob Freedman 14-7
Max Meyer 12-9
Jeremy Bergman 11-10
Evan Budrovich 11-10
Aaron Fischman 11-10