As the slate of Week 5 NFL games kick off, we should see some teams favored to win fall short of expectations. Could the last-place team in the AFC North actually win its first game? There are plenty of reasons to expect its defense can take advantage of a weak opponent.
On a west coast road trip, don’t count out a bumbling Baltimore Ravens squad just yet. They might just surprise no matter who is at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. Also out west, how many yards and points will the Seattle Seahawks pile up against a giving Los Angeles Rams defense? Will it be enough to produce an upset?
Meanwhile, might last week’s only scoreless team rebound and pull off a much-needed victory?
Here are six teams we are putting on upset alert in Week 5.
Miami Dolphins upset Tennessee Titans (-3)
The Dolphins finally get to play in Miami after a brutal pair of off-site games that saw the team score a total of six points. Head coach Adam Gase has since threatened his players’ jobs if they do not start producing better results. This week at home against a Titans unit offering a mixed bag of results thus far, may be the winning ticket.
The Dolphins need to take advantage of a matchup likely featuring backup quarterback Matt Cassel. Stopping the Titans run game is a must. A plus here is the Dolphins’ run defense ranks No. 2 and is allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry may falter here.
When it comes to quarterback play, we would like to believe Jay Cutler can take advantage of a Titans passing defense that ranks fifth-worst. It is also giving up 2.75 passing touchdowns on average per tilt. It would be quite scary if Cutler and his talented cast of receivers do not produce a win under these circumstances.
San Francisco 49ers upset Indianapolis Colts (-1.5)
The 49ers are desperately seeking their first win. It might just happen at the mercy of the 1-3 Colts who are not exactly winning much these days either. Defensively, the Colts are yielding a league high 34 points per game. San Francisco is giving up 23.5.
Therefore, a booming run game led by running back Carlos Hyde will be key. Hyde is averaging a stealthy 80.2 rushing yards at a pace of 4.9 yards per attempt. He should be on course to destroy the Colts on the ground. The Colts have allowed six rushing touchdowns and 4.0 yards per attempt. Veteran Frank Gore might not be so fortunate. He will be up against his former team whose run defense is yielding an average of 3.3 yards per carry. Passing-wise, the Colts’ defense has looked non-existent and is offering the third-highest yardage to quarterbacks. If the 49ers cannot take advantage here, then there might be little hope the team ever notches a win this season.
Seattle Seahawks upset Los Angeles Rams (-1.5)
The Seahawks (2-2) will be arriving to Los Angeles with the goal of upsetting the Rams. Who knew the Rams would currently lead the NFC West with three wins at the quarter mark? Quarterback Russell Wilson, throughout his 10-game career history against the Rams, has completed 67.47 percent of his passes. His established record against the Rams, versus that of quarterback Jared Goff, might tip the scales in favor of the Seahawks. Goff has faced the Seahawks just twice and his pass completion rate is 52 percent.
Goff is playing better this season, but the Seahawks’ defense should be equipped to challenge him. Overall, the Seahawks’ defense is giving up 19.3 points on average per game compared to the Rams allowing 26.3 points. Both the Seahawks and the Rams have been terrible at stopping the run. But, Seattle has only surrendered three rushing touchdowns compared to the Rams’ seven. Seattle’s defense needs to neutralize Todd Gurley and do what it can to pressure Goff. If it can, then the win should go to the team with the more experienced quarterback.
Baltimore Ravens upset Oakland Raiders (-3)
This game might not be a high-scoring one based on how poorly both offenses have been performing. On the Raiders side, quarterback Derek Carr is questionable to play. But does that really matter? The Raiders offense has been pretty stinky over its past two games. The team will face a stout Ravens defense that ties for a league-high 11 takeaways over four games.
This clash presents the perfect opportunity for the Ravens to get things right. The team’s defense forcing mistakes will be its ace in the hole. The Raiders pass catchers have hands of stone lately, having scored twice in two games. And, Beast Mode has been slowly disappearing before our very eyes. On offense, quarterback Joe Flacco must find success in the passing game. The good thing here is the Raiders’ defense is allowing a 67.8 percent completion through four games. Keeping the offense on field and dominating the clock will be key. If all goes according to plan, the Ravens might take this one.
Buffalo Bills upset Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
The Bengals and quarterback Andy Dalton got their game back on track and finally managed their first win. Things might not come so easy hosting the first-place Bills. Beating the Bills could prove challenging. Buffalo’s defense should be feared as the team is allowing a league-low 13.5 points to be scored on average per clash.
The Bengals have scored 55 points in their last two games, but this production could come to a screeching halt on Sunday. Buffalo has given up only one passing touchdown throughout four games, producing six interceptions in the process. Has Dalton improved enough to flip the tables? Speaking of quarterbacks, we do not see Tyrod Taylor accomplishing many points either against the Bengals’ fourth-ranked defense. This game looks to be defensive showdown with the Bills could sneak in with win No. 4.
Cleveland Browns upset New York Jets (-1)
Before dozing off just envisioning this matchup, the Browns have a legitimate chance to mark their first victory of the season. The Jets are on a two-game winning streak, but quarterback Josh McCown will be the first signal caller to meet pass-rusher Myles Garrett. Defensively, the Browns could present nightmares all game long for McCown and his offense. Plus, don’t look for running back Bilal Powell to save the day again and deliver a 75-yard rushing touchdown. We predict he lofts back to reality when he faces a Cleveland defense that has allowed just 3.0 yards per attempt and two rushing touchdowns.
Speaking of running backs, we expect it will be Cleveland’s backs that shine this game. The Jets’ run defense is horrific and is allowing an average of 4.7 yards per carry as well as 143.5 yards per matchup. A productive ground game that keeps rookie DeShone Kizer out of trouble in the air, combined with a strong Browns defensive effort could deflate the high-flying Jets this week.