Ben Graham’s NFL Week 5 Preview: Banged Up Vikings Wary Of Bears


Week 4 gave us something of everything.

Great games, upset results, big plays, two overtimes, season ending injuries, protests, records broken, close games, new contenders emerge and exciting game plans introduced by rookie head coaches.

Let’s hope Week 5 in the NFL has more of the same (minus the injuries). 

Tampa Bay v New England | Friday, October 6, 11.25am (AEDT), Raymond James Stadium

This week’s early game shapes up to be a huge game.

Tampa Bay had a much-needed win at home against the Giants to keep them alive in a hotly contested NFC South whilst the Patriots after close loss at home against Carolina, suddenly find themselves in an unfamiliar position, not on top of the AFC East.

Whilst heavily relying on QB Tom Brady (pictured above) and the offence, the defence is really struggling and currently considered one of the worst in the NFL.

Tampa Bay has many weapons to cut up the Pats’ defence including QB Jameis Winston (332 yards, 3 TD’s), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (108 total yards), WRs Adam Humphries (70 yards) and Mike Evans (67 yards, 1 TD) and TEs Cameron Brate (80 yards, 1 TD) and O.J. Howard (63 yards, 1 TD).

They also have RB Doug Martin (pictured below) resuming after a three-week suspension.

The Verdict

Things are really looking up in Tampa with questions now being asked in New England.

The Patriots are favoured in this game but I think the Buccaneers can produce a memorable win in a high scoring affair. 

Unibet Odds: Tampa Bay 3.00 New England 1.41

Tip: Tampa Bay

Line tip: Tampa Bay +5.5

Cleveland v New York Jets | Monday, October 9, 4am (AEDT), Firstenergy Stadium

I’m still wondering why I picked the Browns last week as they fell flat at home against the Bengals to remain one of four teams to start the season 0-4.

In Week 5, the Browns welcome the New York Jets who have two wins in a row after a slow start to the year.

It took a field goal in over-time to seal the deal but there are encouraging signs for the Jets with RB Bilal Powell running for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Punter Lachlan Edwards (pictured above) is continuing the tradition of Aussies punting in New York and has done a good job this year, particularly in the last two weeks when field position has been so important.

The Verdict

In a prediction that will frustrate Jets fans, I’m using my head over my heart and tipping the Browns to get their first win of the season in a close game. 

Unibet Odds: Cleveland 1.79 New York Jets 2.07

Tip: Cleveland

Line tip: Cleveland -2.5

Detroit v Carolina | Monday, October 9, 4am (AEDT), Ford Field

The Lions are well placed after a division win in Minnesota but now face a tough challenge at home against the Panthers.

RB Ameer Abdullah (94 yards, 1 TD) is exactly what QB Matthew Stafford (pictured above) needs to keep opposition defences on their heels and will need him to play well against an in-form Panthers who look to be right back in it with a huge win in New England.

The Verdict

This could be another exciting, high scoring match-up with QB Cam Newton-led Carolina looking to continue their winning ways to keep pace with Atlanta but I really like Detroit and predict them winning a close one.

Unibet Odds: Detroit 1.62 Carolina 2.35

Tip: Detroit

Line tip: Detroit -2.5

Indianapolis v San Francisco | Monday, October 9, 4am (AEDT), Lucas Oil Stadium 

More misery for the Colts in Week 4 with a bad loss in Seattle.

Their only win of the year was a 3-point result at home against Cleveland, not much to be proud of but at least not still winless like the hapless San Francisco 49ers.

Even though the 49ers are yet to get a W, the losses in the last three weeks have been by 3, 2 and 3 points.

Believe it or not, they could’ve very easily been 3-1.

The Verdict

In a tough game to pick, I’m rooting for the 49ers to travel to Indianapolis and steal their first win on the back of a great defensive performance. 

Unibet Odds: Indianapolis 1.83 San Francisco 2.02

Tip: San Francisco

Line tip: San Francisco +1.5

Miami v Tennessee | Monday, October 9, 4am (AEDT), Hard Rock Stadium

Miami has now dropped two in a row.

Both were bad losses and QB Jay Cutler is starting to look like……well……Jay Cutler.

These aren’t good signs but the Dolphins will return home to Miami from London for their first home game of the year.

The Titans are also coming off a bad loss (I tipped them to beat Houston but they were blown away 54-17) and to make matters worse, QB Marcus Mariota (pictured above) suffered a hamstring injury with his status for Week 5 unclear.

Like any team that loses their starting QB, it’s difficult to know how they’ll go, back-up QBs are back-up QBs for a reason.

The Verdict

With the uncertainty surrounding Mariota and my struggles predicting the AFC South, I think the Dolphins (and Cutler) can rebound at home. 

Tip: Miami

Cincinnati v Buffalo | Monday, October 9, 4am (AEDT), Paul Brown Stadium

Great to see Cincinnati finally get a win on the board (even though I picked against them) but they are showing some real signs of life.

QB Andy Dalton (pictured above) looked good (286 yards, 3 TD’s), RB Joe Mixon settling in as the main man and the defence having their best outing in what has been a great start to the year.

They’ll need to be at their best with Buffalo coming to town, who have won two in a row and are the form team in the NFL.

The Verdict

In another tough game to predict and as much as I like the Bills, I’m restoring faith in the Bengals to win at home.

Unibet Odds: Cincinnati 1.65 Buffalo 2.30

Tip: Cincinnati 

Line tip: Cincinnati -2.5

New York Giants v LA Chargers | Monday, October 9, 4am (AEDT), Metlife Stadium

This will be a good game for all the wrong reasons but neither of these two winless teams are as bad as their records suggest.

If last week’s two-point losses are anything to go by, both teams aren’t too far away from finding some form.

Unfortunately (a tie aside), one team will come out feeling good about salvaging a disappointing start to the season, the other succumbing to an horrendous 0-5.

The Verdict

The underlying reason for my prediction in this game, is home field advantage. 

Unibet Odds: New York Giants 1.52 LA Chargers 2.63

Tip: New York Giants

Line tip: New York Giants -3.5

Pittsburgh v Jacksonville | Monday, October 9, 4am (AEDT), Heinz Field

The Steelers are back on track following a 17-point win over Baltimore but should’ve won by more, opting to run the ball for the majority of the second half after a 19-0 at the half.

There are too many factors in favour of Pittsburgh to tip against them in this match-up but what concerns me is the unpredictability of Jacksonville.

They are by far the most frustrating, inconsistent team this year, I haven’t got them right once yet this season.

The Verdict

Hopefully I get this one right and pick the Jaguars to lose. 

Unibet Odds: Pittsburgh 1.25 Jacksonville 4.25

Tip: Pittsburgh

Line tip: Pittsburgh -8.5

Philadelphia v Arizona | Monday, October 9, 4am (AEDT), Lincoln Financial Field

The Eagles would be happy with their start to the season (only loss at Kansas City), sitting atop of the tough NFC East, winning two in a row and this week welcoming a banged-up Arizona Cardinals to town.

The Cardinals are coming off a heart-stopping, over-time win at home against the 49ers squaring the ledger at 2-2 but are quite banged up and have three tough games to come before the bye with this the most difficult. 

The Verdict

Philadelphia by 10.

Unibet Odds: Philadelphia 1.35 Arizona 3.30

Tip: Philadelphia

Line tip: Philadelphia -6.5

LA Rams v Seattle | Monday, October 9, 7.05pm (AEDT), Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

The Los Angeles Rams are the surprise packets of the season, winning two in a row, sitting atop of the NFC West and looming as a serious contender.

With the NFL’s highest scoring offence (142 points) and the recent wood over the Seahawks, this is a big test to see if the Rams are the real deal.

Last week’s win in Dallas was simply outstanding with QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley (both pictured above) establishing a formidable partnership, scoring enough points to secure the win.

The Seahawks had a big win of their own against the lowly Colts last week and are 2-0 at home but 0-2 when away.

The big question is will the Seahawks defence be able stop the Rams from scoring big?

I don’t think they can.

Add an injury to Seahawks RB Chris Carson and it makes it that little bit tougher.

The Verdict 

In one of the games of the week, the Rams by a field goal in a cracker.

Unibet Odds: LA Rams 1.83 Seattle 2.02

Tip: LA Rams

Line tip: LA Rams -1.5

Oakland v Baltimore | Monday, October 9, 7.05pm (AEDT), Oakland Coliseum

Things have turned for the worse for Oakland, dropping two in a row and now facing life without QB Derek Carr for at least a few weeks with a fractured back.

Carr is a star in the making and it’ll really hurt them if he misses too much action.

EJ Manuel (pictured above) looked ok last week when called upon but it was always going to be tough against the Broncos’ defence.

The difficulty when a back-up QB takes the helm mid-season, is it takes a few weeks to get on the same page with the rest of an offence.

In better news, the Raiders play at home for the next three games.

The Ravens have dropped two in a row as well, struggling to put up enough points on the board to be competitive, so it’ll be up to the Raiders’ defence to determine the result of this game.

The Verdict

Tip: Oakland

Dallas v Green Bay | Monday, October 9, 7.25pm (AEDT), AT&T Stadium

Dallas can’t seem to get it all together at the one time and just when they seemed back on track, they drop a game they were expected to win, albeit to a rampaging LA Rams.

The numbers on offence look great, 30 points, QB Dak Prescott (pictured above) with 252 yards and 3 TDs, RB Ezekiel Elliott 85 yards rushing and 1 TD, 54 yards receiving and 1 TD and WR Dez Bryant 98 yards.

However, 21 of those points came in the second quarter and with four injuries to their starting defence, they allowed the Rams to put up 35 points.

Green Bay have some injury concerns of their own, especially at Running Back with Ty Montgomery (ribs) and Jamaal Williams (knee) injured in Week 4 vs Chicago.

The Verdict

Being weak at RB heaps extra pressure on the QB and even though Aaron Rodgers can handle the extra load, I’m expecting Dallas to bring a more complete game in all three phases to take the points at home. 

Unibet Odds: Dallas 1.78 Green Bay 2.10

Tip: Dallas 

Line tip: Dallas -2.5

Houston v Kansas City | Monday, October 9, 11.30am (AEDT), NRG Stadium

This is the game I’m most looking forward to watching this weekend.

With the Kansas City Chiefs the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL and Houston Texans Rookie QB DeShaun Watson (pictured above) equalling an NFL record, scoring five touchdowns for a rookie quarterback in the 57-14 rout of Tennessee, this has the hallmarks of being a classic.

The Chiefs’ defence will be Watson’s biggest test to date but the key for the Texans is to take what they give them and not turn the ball over.

Watson has plenty of support in RB Lamar Miller, WRs DeAndre Hopkins and the healthy Will Fuller but his defence needs to control the tempo if Houston are to topple the Chiefs.

QB Alex Smith is having a career year and coming off another great game (293 passing and 1 TD and 56 yards rushing and 1 TD), utilising his weapons RB Kareem Hunt (101 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving) and TE Travis Kelce (pictured above centre) (111 yards + 1 TD) for an expected win against the Redskins.

The Verdict

Whilst there has been a few upsets and inconsistent performances in 2017, the Kansas City Chiefs deserve to be the only undefeated team in the NFL and they’ll stay that way after Week 5 with a win on the road in Houston in a thriller. 

Tip: Kansas City

Chicago v Minnesota | Monday, October 9, 11.30am (AEDT), Soldier Field

Not a great first quarter of the season for Chicago with a change at QB already announced for the Week 5 match-up against NFC North foe, Minnesota Vikings with Mitchell Trubisky replacing Mike Glennon.

They also lose LB Danny Trevathan to a deserved suspension after his vicious hit on Packer WR Davante Adams.

Players must learn that you can’t lead with the head and/or hit in the head of a defenceless receiver. 

The head must remain sacrosanct.

The Vikings have been up and down this season, dropping a division game at home against Detroit but now travel to Chicago for another NFC North match-up.

There’s still uncertainty at QB until Sam Bradford is healthy (Case Keenum is expected to start) but their biggest issue is the ACL injury to rookie RB Dalvin Cook, who’ll miss the remainder of the season.

Latavius Murray (pictured above) is a veteran back-up from Oakland who’ll need to step up in Cook’s absence.

The Verdict

In a tough game to predict, I’ll take Chicago, only because they’re at home.

Bears by three in a stinker.

Unibet Odds: Chicago 2.50 Minnesota 1.55

Tip: Chicago

Line tip: Chicago +3.5

A quick comment on the four teams on a Week 5 bye.

Atlanta Falcons (3-1) - A shock loss at home against Buffalo but are still well placed.

Need to monitor the injuries to WRs Julio Jones (pictured above) and Mohamed Sanu over the coming weeks as they prepare for Miami in Week 6.

Denver Broncos (3-1) - Back on track with a solid win heading into the bye but I don’t think the bye favours them this early in the season.

They play the Giants in Week 6.

New Orleans Saints (2-2) – The Saints have won two in a row after shutting out the Dolphins in London and will also rue the bye now that they’re on a roll but might need the two weeks to prepare for Detroit, especially if the Lions overcome the Panthers in Week 5.

Washington Redskins (2-2) – The Redskins had their chances in Kansas City but enter the bye 2-2. 

They’ll look to refresh and go 3-2 when the 49ers come to Washington in Week 6.

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