Thursday, October 8, 2020

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 5

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

Tampa Bay @ Chicago (-5½)

Tom Brady passed for 5 touchdowns to lead the Bucs to a comeback 38-31 win over the visiting Chargers. Tampa is 3-1 this season.

"Russell Wilson isn't the only quarterback who can throw for 5 touchdowns," Brady said. "Really, Russell can throw for 5 TDs in every game, but it will be that one TD he didn't throw that I'll always find most memorable.

"It's personal against Nick Foles. The last time I saw Foles, he was walking away with the Super Bowl MVP trophy. I hear Nick has a room in his house dedicated to that trophy. I can relate, because I have a house dedicated to that trophy."

The Bears lost for the first time, falling 19-11 to the Colts at Soldier Field. The Bears managed only 28 yards on the ground, and Nick Foles couldn't bring the Bears back.

"So we're not undefeated," Matt Nagy said. "I'm guessing the members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins weren't too worried. If they were worried, they probably forgot later why they were.

"We need Nick to have the 'Big Nick Energy' he showed in our comeback win over the Falcons. Now, leading a comeback against the Falcons doesn't mean you have 'Big Nick Energy.' If it did, everyone would have 'Big Nick Energy.'"

Brady uses the Super Bowl LII loss to Foles and the Eagles as fuel, and throws for 3 touchdown passes, and Bruce Arians calls a fake "Philly Special" play that results in a score.

Bucs win, 27-18.

Carolina @ Atlanta (-3½)

The Falcons lost 30-16 at Green Bay on Monday night as injuries continued to pile up for Dan Quinn's team. Atlanta is 0-4, last in the NFC South.

"The Packers just had too much fire power," Matt Ryan said. "But what frightens Dan Quinn most is how much 'fire power' Arthur Blank has.

"The Mercedes-Benz Stadium uses drones to clean the facility. Can drones remove a coach? Because Blank seems unwilling to do it."

The Panthers upset the visiting Cardinals, 31-21, led by Teddy Bridgewater, who passed for 2 touchdowns and ran for another.

"Teddy is doing things Cam Newton can do," Matt Rhule said, "like rushing for scores. He's also doing things Cam can't do, like play last Sunday."

Bridgewater takes advantage of a depleted Falcons secondary, and the Panthers repel a late Atlanta rally.

Carolina wins, 27-24.

Buffalo @ Tennessee (+6½)

The Bills remained undefeated after vanquishing the Raiders, 30-23, in Las Vegas. Josh Allen had 3 total touchdowns and the Buffalo defense made the crucial plays when necessary.

"We know the Titans are a solid team," Josh Allen said. "So we expect a 'test.' In fact, we expect many tests. We also expect an NFL-mandated six-foot neutral zone.

"If you're familiar with Bills-Titans history, you know about the 'Music City Miracle.' That's been a sore subject with Bills fans for years. They really need to let that go. I suggest they make a concerted effort to forget about and move in the same direction of a Frank Wycheck lateral — forward."

The Titans' Week 4 contest with the Steelers was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak among Titans players and staff.

"The NFL is investigating us for allegedly violating coronavirus protocols," Mike Vrabel said. "As a run-heavy team, I'm surprised anyone is looking at our 'passing offenses.'

"We've had 20 players and staff infected with COVID. Once upon a time, this franchise featured a player named Vince Young. Vince never 'tested positive,' while taking the Wonderlic Test."

Bills win, 27-23.

Las Vegas @ Kansas City (-12)

The Chiefs beat the Patriots 26-10 on Monday in a game postponed from Sunday due to COVID-19. On a night when Patrick Mahomes was not his best, the K.C. defense picked up the slack with 4 turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

"It doesn't matter what day we play," Mahomes said. "Sunday, Monday, happy days. Thursday, Saturday, happy days.

"New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for coronavirus, and we actually hugged after the game. Just as a precaution, I'm doing anything and everything in my power to avoid contracting the virus. I draw the line at drinking bleach, but I'm all for having beams of light shined inside and around my body. Much like the Raiders most famous punter, I'm a 'Ray Guy.'"

The Raiders lost 30-23 to the visiting Bills and fell to 2-2 on the year.

"As I said before," Derek Carr said, "I'm sick of losing. Now, if the cure for losing was simply wearing a mask, I'd still be sick of losing.

"The Chiefs have a distinct home-field advantage. Even with limited capacity, their fans can make an impact. I'd be shocked in the K.C. fans didn't boo us unmercifully. Heck, those fans boo displays of unity."

Chiefs win, 35-20.

Denver @ New England (-11)

The Broncos beat the Jets, 37-28, at MetLife Stadium to capture their first win of the season.

"And we did it," Vic Fangio said, "with our third-string quarterback, Brett Rypien. His uncle, Mark Rypien, won two Super Bowls. As Rodney Dangerfield might say, 'Neph me?! Neph-ew!'

"Winning in New England will be a tall order for us, but we're up for the task. Our C-team is bringing its A-game."

The Patriots lost 26-10 in Kansas City as Brian Hoyer struggled in the place of Cam Newton. Hoyer had 2 costly turnovers before being replaced by Jarrett Stidham.

"Brian made some uncharacteristically boneheaded plays in that game," Bill Belichick said. "As you would expect, the replays went viral.

"Cam will beat COVID-19. I have no doubt he'll recover. Notice I didn't complete that sentence with 'his own fumble in the Super Bowl.'"

Patriots win, 30-14.

Arizona @ NY Jets (+6½)

The Jets lost 37-28 to the visiting Broncos in a loss marked by missed opportunities and backbreaking penalties.

"Let's say my job is in a metaphorical boat that's taking on water," Adam Gase said. "I guess I have to decide if I'm a 'sinker' or a 'floater.' Most Jets fans would say I can be both.

"In my defense, I have nothing to do with our defense. That's Gregg Williams' job. And he may actually be worse at his job than I am at mine. Collectively, we are the worst."

The Cardinals suffered a 31-21 defeat to the Panthers in Charlotte, despite 3 TD passes from Kyler Murray.

"Kyler's 3 TD passes were all three yards or less in distance," Kliff Kingsbury said. "And Kyler averaged only 4.3 yards per attempt. You could say our downfield passing game is deeply flawed.

"We won't underestimate the Jets. On the contrary, we're going to overestimate them. By that, I mean we're going to prove that they suck more than anyone thought."

Cardinals win, 27-16.

Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh (-7)

The Steelers Week 4 contest versus the Titans was postponed until Week 11 due to the Titans COVID-19 outbreak.

"We're allowing 5,500 fans at Heinz Field for Sunday's game," Mike Tomlin said. "And we're encouraging them to furiously wave their Terrible Towels, thus hopefully creating a vortex that will suck any potential coronavirus germs out of the stadium and back to Nashville, Tennessee where they belong."

The Eagles shocked the 49ers 25-20 on Sunday night at Levi's Stadium and assumed sole possession of the NFC East.

"That was a season-defining win," Doug Pederson said. "And if it remains the only season-defining win of our season, then we're screwed. But that would probably be enough to finish second in the division."

Steelers win, 27-16.

L.A. Rams @ Washington (+9)

The Rams ground out a surprisingly tough 17-9 win over the visiting Giants. Los Angeles got the winning points on Cooper Kupp's 55-yard TD reception from Jared Goff with 6:56 left in the game.

"We did just enough to win," Sean McVay said. "If you're playing an NFC East team, that's all it takes. If we beat Washington, we'll be 4-0 versus the NFC East. You give an NFC East four wins, they've practically clinched the division."

The Redskins lost 31-17 at home to the Ravens. Dwayne Haskins passed for 314 yards and, more importantly, had no turnovers.

"I told Dwayne he had to play better if he wants to keep his job," Ron Rivera said. "At the Ohio State University, that's called a 'bench warrant.' Here in Washington, it's called an 'ultimatum.' It's that thing Daniel Snyder ignores."

Rams win, 26-14.

Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-13½)

The Ravens beat the Redskins, 31-17, behind Lamar Jackson's 3 touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground.

"We already beat the Browns in Week 2," Lamar Jackson said. "So, if we beat the Bengals, we'll be '2 and O-hio.'"

The Bengals beat the Jaguars 33-25 to win for the first time this year. Joe Mixon totaled 181 yards and scored 3 times, while Joe Burrow passed for 300 yards and a score.

"Burrow's no 'Average Joe,'" Zac Taylor said. "In our first three games, Mixon was an 'Average Joe.'"

Ravens win, 32-16.

Jacksonville @ Houston (-6½)

The Jaguars lost 33-25 to the Bengals in Cincinnati and fell to 1-3. Gardner Minshew passed for 351 yards and 2 TDs, both to D.J. Chark.

"Not only is Gardner a great quarterback," Doug Marrone said, "he's also a cult icon. Not many people can go as themselves on Halloween, but Gardner will pull it off."

The Texans are 0-4 after losing 31-23 to the visiting Vikings. On Monday, head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien was fired.

"I wonder what owner Cal McNair said to O'Brien," DeShaun Watson said. "Was it, 'You had one job?' Probably not, because Bill had two jobs. He could have technically fired himself. Then he could have left knowing he made one good decision."

Texans win, 31-21.

Miami @ San Francisco (-8)

The 49ers lost 25-20 on Sunday night to the Eagles. Two Nick Mullens' turnovers in the fourth quarter, one returned for a touchdown, spelled defeat for San Francisco.

"Nick in no way deserves all the blame," Kyle Shanahan said. "In this part of the country, there's plenty of 'fault' to go around.

"Thankfully, George Kittle is back from a knee injury and looking good, except for his hairdo."

The Dolphins limited Russell Wilson to just 2 touchdowns, but still succumbed to the visiting Seahawks, 31-23. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a rushing score, but tossed 2 costly interceptions.

"We're sticking with Fitzpatrick at quarterback," Brain Flores said. "We don't want to thrust Tua Tagovailoa into a position for which he's not quite ready. I wouldn't recommend thrusting anything into any position, especially not in Miami.

"When Tua is ready to start, he'll know it. That's because I'll tap him on the shoulder and say, 'Tag, you're it."

The 49ers lean on their running game with 40 rushes, and wear down the Dolphins late.

San Fran wins, 27-23.

Indianapolis @ Cleveland (+2½)

The Browns built a 41-22 lead and held on to beat the Cowboys 49-38 at AT&T Stadium. Odell Beckham, Jr. had 154 total yards and 3 touchdowns.

"It's almost like I beat the Cowboys single-handedly,'" Beckham said. "As you know, I've done things with one hand that would make your head spin. And asked for things to be done that would make your head spin.

"I rushed for 73 yards, and as a team, we rushed for 307. I'm not sure who's disgraced the Dallas star more, Terrell Owens in 2000, or this year's Cowboys."

The Colts controlled the game from the outset in a 19-11 win over the Bears at Soldier Field.

"Colts football is all about ball control and defense," Frank Reich said. "And that is a kind way of saying 'Philip Rivers is my quarterback.'

"The respective mayors of Indianapolis and Cleveland made a friendly wager on the outcome of the game. The loser gets Trent Richardson."

Colts win, 24-19.

NY Giants @ Dallas (-9)

The Cowboys surrendered 307 rushing yards in an embarrassing 49-38 loss to the visiting Browns. Dak Prescott kept Dallas in it with 502 yards and 4 TDs, but the 'Boys couldn't stop Odell Beckham, Jr.

"Fans were allowed at AT&T Stadium for the first time this season," Mike McCarthy said. "Frankly, I'm ashamed at what they had to witness. Masks were required, and blindfolds should have been, also.

"Offensively, we don't need to change a thing. Defensively, the execution is there, because our defense is getting killed."

The Giants lost 17-9 to the Rams in Los Angeles's SoFi Stadium.

"We're 0-4," Joe Judge said, "and in need of a spark. We need inspiration, and I can't think anyone more inspirational than former Giants great Lawrence Taylor. Now, can a 61-year-old say things that will resonate with players in their 20s and early 30s? Absolutely, L.T. has lots of experience talking to people much younger than he.

"Offensively, we must sustain drives to keep the Dallas offense off the field. It's going to be a battle, because the Dallas defense will be trying to keep our offense on the field."

Dallas wins, 38-23.

Minnesota @ Seattle (-7)

The Seahawks beat the Dolphins, 31-23, in Miami. Russell Wilson passed for 360 yards and 2 touchdowns to help keep Seattle undefeated.

"Russell tied Peyton Manning's mark of 16 passing TDs through the first four games of a season," Pete Carroll said. "That record would surely be Russell's alone if he had played our defense in each of those four games."

The Vikings beat the Texans, 31-23, in Houston, keeping the Texans winless. Dalvin Cook rushed for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead Minnesota.

"This offense goes through Dalvin," Mike Zimmer said. "Other offenses go through our defense."

Seattle wins, 31-29.

L.A. Chargers @ New Orleans (-7½)

The Chargers failed to hold a 24-7 lead and lost 38-31 at Tampa Bay and dropped to 1-3 this season. Justin Herbert impressed with 290 yards passing and 3 touchdowns.

"Justin is destined for stardom," Anthony Lynn said. "Heck, if things go right, he could be the next NFL endorser for Chunky Soup. Then he'd be destined for 'soup-er' stardom.

"There's still a lot of questions that need to be answered in regards to this team. At the top of that list is this: 'Who'll be the next player to appear on our team doctor's hidden camera-practical joke reality show called 'Punk'd-tured?'"

The Saints beat the Lions 35-21 at Ford Field after shaking off an early 14-0 deficit.

"Thank goodness Drew Brees is adept at making 'comebacks,'" Sean Payton said. "If Drew had not 'comeback' this season, there was a good possibility that Tom Brady would be our quarterback. That's certainly not a bad thing, but if you take all of Brady's scandals and bring them to the home of the mother of all scandals, then we'd need a full-time employee to keep up with all that. And that employee's job title would be 'gatekeeper.'"

Saints win, 33-21.

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