NFL Week 5: Top Games To Watch
Sep 21, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) against the Tennessee Titans at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 33-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
We are officially past the first quarter of the season in the National Football League where there are seemingly still as many questions still in the air as there have been answered. We saw quite a few teams lose some shocking games such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, and New Orleans Saints, and this week there are a lot of teams looking to bounce back in to the playoff race in some great conference match ups in week 5 of the 2014 NFL season. Take a look at the top three games to keep your eye on as you enjoy football this weekend.
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
This is a great contest featuring two revived offenses looking to keep themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Colts are coming off back to back wins where they put up forty plus points each week. The Colts may find it a little more difficult to hand forty on the Ravens defense this week but expect the Colts to stick to their success plan. Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson are likely to be the focal point of the attack as they have been for the last two weeks. Expect Bradshaw to have a little bit better day as quarterback Andrew Luck loves to dump the ball off to him in the backfield. Luck will likely go off for another impressive performance in this one as the Ravens boast only the 24th best pass defense according to nfl.com, so it shouldn’t be too tough. The Colts ariel attack has come alive and the birds in Baltimore will be the next victim. On the other hand however, Baltimore also has enjoyed a nice offensive surge over the last two weeks with veteran wide out Steve Smith Sr. leading the way. The running game has been a nice surprise as well with Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Bernard Pierce leading a three pronged attack that has been quite effective. The Colts have a strong run defense so it may be on the shoulders of Joe Flacco to pull this one out of the bag for the Ravens, something that leaves us all feeling a little unsteady about. This contest will likely come down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes on the field in a good AFC battle.
Prediction: Luck keeps the Madden-like numbers rolling as he leads the Colts back into playoff contention; Indy 31 Baltimore 24
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
This is a bit of an intriguing game as you look deeper in the season. This match up features two premier quarterbacks in Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Eli Manningof the Giants, both of whom are known well for fourth quarter comebacks. The Falcons, after an ugly loss to Minnesota, will be looking to bounce back and stay tied atop the NFC South, while the Giants are looking to keep it rolling after whooping on Washington last Thursday. The Falcons have been somewhat inconsistent offensively due in large part to the weak running game that this team produces. Someone must step up and that guy should be rookie Devonta Freeman, who is a solid change of pace back for the Falcons. Matt Ryan will have to get the ball out quickly against this Giants pass rush, but the secondary has been exposed numerous times this season in New York. Julio Jones will certainly as always be the “x” factor in this one for Atlanta. The Giants have also been very inconsistent as a team this year in their ability to put points on the board. Victor Cruz is finally getting himself in stride though, and that is huge for the Giants who need the explosive playmaker to expose the struggling Falcons pass defense. Rashad Jennings has up and down but against this weak rush defense he should be more than effective this Sunday in keeping the pressure off of Eli to push the ball downfield. These two teams are in the thick of the growing NFC wildcard race and a game like this should show us who the real contender is.
Prediction: A tough one to chose, Matt Ryan is never a safe bet on the road, Eli takes down the Falcons to keep the Giants in the NFC East; Atlanta 28 New York 35
Cincinatti Bengals at New England Patriots
This game is going to be a good as the Bengals come into Foxborough undefeated fresh off a bye week as the Pats try and dust themselves off after getting their butt whooped by the Kansas City Chiefs. Dalton and the Bengals have played a smart and effective offense lead by the ultra dynamic Gio Bernard who is the team’s leading rusher, and tied for the most receptions and most touchdowns on the team. Bernard is just tapping into his potential as the Bengals start to get healthy and that will be huge. The Bengals will likely look to expose the Pats in the same way the Chiefs Jamal Charles using Gio in a facet of ways to create mismatches. A.J. Green will be lined up against Darrelle Revis, who has struggled somewhat this season, which could lead to a huge day for the all-pro. Cincinnati’s defense will have to tread carefully as Tom Brady looks to rebound from one of the worst losses in his career. The Patriots know they don’t have the play makers needed to run a high octane offense, so expect them to utilize as many players as possible to create mismatches in the defense. The guy that needs to come alive is Rob Gronkowski. He has been effective but not the dominant player we saw a few seasons back and its hurting the Pats offense. Gronk is a phenomenal athlete and needs to get 100% healthy so he can start wreaking havoc on the middle of the defense which would be huge against a team missing its best linebacker. The Bengal defense is a tough one to crack but Brady being Brady should find the soft spots that he needs to if his offensive line can keep him upright, it will be a tough tell in this one. These two teams are considered among the best in the conference and for once the Bengals appear to have the Patriots number in this match up.
Prediction: Dalton and Bengals keep the streak alive; Cincinnati 35 New England 27
There you have it folks the three best games heading into the second quarter of the 2014 NFL season. For once there is no divisional match up as I’m sure some of you noticed but this week is chalk full of huge conference match ups that could have tremendous potential on playoff implications. All three of these contests should be greats ones to keep an eye on as you watch the NFL with your friends and family this Sunday.
Joe Kleine is also co-host of the finsradio.com show The Direct Snap, alongside fellow host Tyler McMullen. Please check our Facebook and Twitter