One of the most exciting aspects of football is when an underdog wins over a favorite. There are some games on the slate in NFL Week 5 that could produce such an outcome, though upsets are always difficult to predict.
For instance, nobody outside the Buffalo Bills organization thought the New England Patriots would be shut out at home by #BillsMafia. Opposing teams rarely win at Gillette Stadium, and a shutout is unheard of.
That’s the beauty of competition. You never know what will happen.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a handful of games from the NFL Week 5 schedule that could feature an upset special.
Note: Odds courtesy of Bovada
1. Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
The Dolphins have done nothing so far this season to convince us they have done anything to improve since the arrival of rookie head coach Adam Gase. Ryan Tannehill and Co. have managed to eke out one win, and it was a struggle at home against the Cleveland Browns, who were rolling with rookie quarterback Cody Kessler.
This team still can’t run the ball (No. 29 in the NFL), and it can’t stop the run either (No. 28).
Coming into town Sunday is a team that most certainly can run the ball. Tennessee features a punishing rushing attack that head coach Mike Mularkey relies on almost exclusively for his offensive output.
Look for DeMarco Murray, rookie Derrick Henry and quarterback Marcus Mariota to run all over Miami’s pathetic defense.
On the other side, don’t be surprised if Tannehill coughs up a couple of turnovers against an underrated Titans defense that kept Matthew Stafford and Co. in check a few weeks ago in Detroit.
2. Chicago Bears vs. Indianapolis Colts (-5)
The Colts aren’t good. The Bears aren’t that good, either. But when you match these two teams up against one another it’s clear Chicago gets the nod as the more complete team.
Truly, aside from Andrew Luck, his speedy receivers and Frank the Tank Gore, Indy’s roster is a pathetic mess.
He has no offensive line — 15 sacks through four games, on pace for 60 on the year — and no security blanket tight end. He also has to constantly come from behind thanks to a defense that has given up 31.3 points per game to the likes of Detroit, Denver, San Diego and Jacksonville.
But if you ask general manager Ryan Grigson what the problem is, it’s hard to build a roster around a top-paid quarterback (more on that ridiculous comment here).
On the other side, Chicago may finally be on to something with quarterback Brian Hoyer. He has thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions the past two games. Chicago’s defense ranks 10th in the league in yards allowed and held Matthew Stafford and Co. to just 14 points last week.
Sure smells like an upset is brewing in Indy.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (-3) vs. Detroit Lions
The Lions tend to be a different team at home, and while the Eagles have been hot defensively, they don’t have the cornerbacks to shut down Detroit’s receiving corps.
This means Matthew Stafford is set for a big bounce-back game after he threw two interceptions against the Bears last weekend in Chicago. Look for Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin to get open often Sunday.
On the other side, the Eagles are facing a potential pitfall on two fronts.
First, it’s the first game off their bye week, which could potentially mean the Eagles will come out flat. Secondly, rookie Carson Wentz has to come down to earth at some point after starting out the season on Cloud 9.
Detroit’s secondary hasn’t been top notch this year, but it does feature a front seven that can get to the passer. Led by unheralded Kerry Hyder (undrafted in 2014, practice squad player the past two years), the Lions have nine sacks through four games. If they can pressure Wentz into a mistake or two, then the outcome will tilt in their favor.
4. New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers (-7)
If ever there was a week in which the expensive Giants defense could finally emerge as one worth its price, it’s this week. Green Bay’s offensive line is pretty rancid, having allowed eight sacks this year and 47 last year.
Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul and Co. need to prove their worth in a major way. To this point, Big Blue’s offseason investments are looking sketchy. But a big performance in this upcoming game at Lambeau could turn this perception around.
The Giants have plenty of offensive firepower to hang with Aaron Rodgers and the Pack. Provided Odell Beckham Jr. quits with the tantrum act and actually keeps his head in the game, New York’s offense is as explosive as any in the league.
Green Bay’s defense is allowing opposing passers to complete 66.7 percent of their passes (No. 26) and a 105.3 passer rating.
Admittedly, it’s not a given that the Giants will come through when it’s time to execute. But on paper this team has a legitimate chance of taking out the Pack at Lambeau Sunday night.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers (-4.5)
In a battle between two 1-3 teams, it’s quite possible last year’s NFC representative in Super Bowl 50 will continue its free fall at home.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is reportedly going to be out with a concussion (more on that here). This means Derek Anderson will run the offense. And while he did show some positive things during Carolina’s blowout loss to Atlanta last weekend, he also threw two interceptions in the second half.
And unlike last year, the Panthers are a mess defensively. They have allowed 29.5 points per game, ranking 28th in the NFL, and are about to go up against an offense in Tampa Bay that thrives on deep passes down the field.
It’s been a rough first four weeks for second-year quarterback Jameis Winston, who has eight interceptions already. That said, he also has eight touchdown passes and isn’t shy about taking his shots downfield.
In particular, his connection with Mike Evans is something to watch. They have the ability to abuse Carolina’s weak secondary, and we cannot forget about veteran Vincent Jackson, either.
Should the Panthers win at home on Monday night? Yes.
But will they? That’s certainly not a given.