Thursday, Oct. 5
The Patriots have stumbled to a 2-2 start to the season thanks to their underachieving defense which ranks last in the league in terms of yards and points allowed. Fortunately for Tom Brady and the offense, the Bucs’ defense has been almost as bad as New England’s. The Patriots badly need a bounce back game and this might be just the matchup they need. Jameis Winston doesn’t have enough weapons to keep up with the reigning Super Bowl champs.
Q’s Pick: Patriots, 27-17
Sunday, Oct. 8
The Browns haven’t been as bad as their 0-4 record indicates, but they certainly haven’t been good. Rookie DeShone Kizer has thrown a league-high eight interceptions, but is also responsible for keeping Cleveland relevant in three of the four games they’ve played this year. One of New York’s question marks will be Bilal Powell, who rushed for 163 yards last week after failing to reach 40 in the weeks before. Which one shows up in Week 5? It’s hard to tell, but even if he doesn’t play like he did last week, Jermaine Kearse should help lead the Jets to a win.
Q’s Pick: Jets, 24-17
This has the makings of an instant classic between two hot teams who are nearly evenly matched and both have a lot to play for even this early in the season. The Panthers offense was clicking while upsetting the Patriots last week and Cam Newton was at the center of it. His play on Sunday will be critical if Carolina wants to win — the Lions defense already has five interceptions this year and allows only 17.5 points per game (4th). If the game was in Carolina, I might give the Panthers the edge but Detroit is a tough team to beat at home.
Q’s Pick: Lions, 27-23
Perhaps the biggest difference maker in this game will be something happening off the field — Peyton Manning will be presented with a statue before getting his jersey retired pre-game. That means Lucas Oil Stadium will be rocking and it should re-energize the Colts, who are still playing without Andrew Luck. Both teams come into the contest with defenses that rank in the bottom third of the league in most categories, but Indy has every reason to play just well enough to earn the win.
Q’s Pick: Colts, 26-20
The Titans were blown right out of Houston last week, allowing 57 points on the road. It’s hard to believe they were burned so badly on both sides of the ball, but the defense has a good opportunity to bounce back against the league’s worst offense in terms of yards gained per game (249.0). Jay Cutler hasn’t quite been the savior the Dolphins needed, he’s been just good enough. Marcus Mariota, on the other hand, is a star in the making and should prove it again in Week 5.
Q’s Pick: Titans, 23-21
Don’t expect too many points out of this matchup. Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense is still struggling while the Bills will be playing without No. 1 receiver Jordan Matthews. The Bills aren’t as good as their 3-1 record indicates but wins are wins so it’s hard to knock Buffalo. Cincinnati will be playing their last game before heading into the bye and getting back-to-back wins before the rest week would be huge for their confidence and that motivation should carry them to a win.
Q’s Pick: Bengals, 20-13
The Chargers are bad this year but the Giants are really bad. New York’s offense is rushing for only 59 yards per game and they are scoring 15 points per game, both second-fewest in the league. L.A. on the other hand is fresh off another close loss — three of their four losses this season have been by three or fewer points. Philip Rivers versus Eli Manning is a somewhat intriguing matchup but if you can avoid watching this game, do it. It’s not going to be pretty. In a battle of 0-4 teams, the bright side is that one of these teams will walk away with a win.
Q’s Pick: Chargers, 24-21
The Jaguars have had more ups and downs than a roller-coaster so far and I still don’t know what to make of their team. Pittsburgh has been much more consistent and Le’Veon Bell is starting to look more like himself — he torched the Ravens defense for 182 total yards last week. The Steelers will also be back at home after playing three of their first four contests on the road so they will be in their comfort zone against Blake Bortles and company. It would be a big upset of the Jags left with a W.
Q’s Pick: Steelers, 26-16
In the battle of the birds, veteran Carson Palmer meets newbie Carson Wentz. Both are at the epicenter of their teams’ offenses but for different reasons. The Cardinals would have loved to rely on David Johnson, but his injury has allowed Palmer to turn his receivers into playmakers which could reap huge benefits against a weak Eagles’ secondary. Philly lacks a run game which is good news for an Arizona defense that has improved since the season started.
Q’s Pick: Cardinals, 30-24
The Seahawks have lost three of their last four games against the Rams and things might not get any better this weekend. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley have the L.A. offense clicking like never before and the Rams defense remains one of the league’s best. Seattle has a top-tier defense of their own to counter, but their offense is nowhere near what the Rams have. Russell Wilson has been the team’s MVP to this point but I don’t see how he will save the birds this weekend.
Q’s Pick: Rams, 27-24
Derek Carr suffered what the team calls a “transverse process fracture” in his back last week but still has not yet been ruled out against the Ravens. If he doesn’t play, EJ Manuel would likely get the start against a completely average Ravens secondary. It would be a good time to try getting Amari Cooper more involved; Cooper has three catches for 15 yards in his last two games. The Ravens offense hasn’t been very good this year and facing Khalil Mack and the Oakland defense on the West Coast isn’t a good place to kick-start your playmakers.
Q’s Pick: Raiders, 26-19
In a rematch of an NFC postseason thriller from last year, Aaron Rodgers and company will travel to the Lone Star state to take on a Cowboys team that gave up 35 points to the Rams last week in an upset loss. Green Bay has had 10 days’ rest to get healthy and prepare for a Dallas defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in yards allowed and points per game. With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb both back to healthy, Dallas’ defense has their work cut out for them.
Q’s Pick: Packers, 30-23
If the Texans offense plays like it did last week — 57 points, 445 total yards, 33 first downs — they may never lose again. Deshaun Watson looks more and more comfortable as the leader of a young team but he may be facing his biggest test of the season against the Chiefs in a nationally televised game. Kansas City ranks in the top-10 with 19.3 points allowed per game while Kareem Hunt and the offense continues to torch teams.
Q’s Pick: Chiefs, 24-20
Monday, Oct. 9
The Vikings will be taking the field for the first time this year without Dalvin Cook, who was one of the league’s leading rushers before tearing his ACL last week. That will be one of a few major question marks surrounding the game. For the Bears, Mitchell Trubisky will be making his NFL debut against a Vikings secondary that has struggled to this point in the season, allowing 246.8 yards per game through the air (24th). However, Minnesota also allows the third-fewest rushing yards per game (71.3) and Jordan Howard has struggled in the Bears backfield so far this year.
Q’s Pick: Vikings, 27-21
*Bye Week: Broncos, Falcons, Redskins, Saints
Last Week’s Record: 10-6
Season Record: 41-22