Six teams on upset alert in NFL Week 5

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend, we correctly predicted five upset specials as a wild slate of games unfolded, and NFL Week 5 could offer more of the same.

It’s a weird schedule this Sunday, with only two afternoon games, and a contest in London. We expect the outcomes to get weird, too. With that in mind, these six favorites are on upset alert in Week 5.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Houston Texans (-4)

The Texans struggle to defend the pass against elite receivers. Keenan Allen had 13 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns two weekends ago. This could be the game in which Julio Jones breaks out in a big way after a frustrating outing last weekend against Tennessee. Look for Matt Ryan to feed his top receiver early and often as Atlanta attempts to break out of its funk.

On the other side, while Atlanta hasn’t been tremendously effective at generating sacks this season, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and Co. should have a field day rushing Deshaun Watson. He’s been sacked 18 times already this year and is getting little help from his offensive line, as usual.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (-3)

This NFC South battle should be a ton of fun to watch. These two rivals have a history of getting into a bit of extracurricular activity that tends to lead to yellow flags. The game also features one of the best individual matchups of NFL Week 5, as Marshon Lattimore will try to stop Mike Evans from going off.

What this contest really will boil down to is whether Jameis Winston can continue to play like he has the past few weeks. Touchdowns are up (eight) and interceptions are down (two) in his past three games. If Winston can avoid throwing the ball to the other team, then the Bucs have a tremendous chance of pulling off the upset.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-3)

Chances are, this game is going to be a hard one to watch. Both teams are among the league’s worst, in general. Both defenses are prone to giving up huge plays. Both offenses are atrocious at protecting the quarterback, ranking worst and second-worst in sacks allowed.

The reason we’re picking the Cardinals to pull off the upset special over the Bengals is that Kyler Murray leads an offense that at least has a hope of putting points on the board against a destitute Bengals defense. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton has seemingly regressed every single weekend this year so far, and his game against Pittsburgh Monday night was pure filth.

Minnesota Vikings (-6) vs. New York Giants

It’s understandable that the Vikings are road favorites in this one. The Minnesota defense has been outstanding this year and allows under 16 points per game. The thinking is, it will continue to be outstanding in NFL Week 5 going against a rookie quarterback who is once more going without star running back Saquon Barkley.

Daniel Jones may struggle at times, to be sure. But he’s also getting Golden Tate this weekend, and the Giants have been able to move the ball at will since Jones took over. Wayne Gallman did a fantastic job last weekend at running back, and tight end Evan Engram has been phenomenal since Jones became the starter.

Oh, and on the other side, the Vikings still have Kirk Cousins. Enough said.

Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys (-3)

For the Packers, the bad news is that Davante Adams will not play this Sunday due to a toe injury suffered in the second half last Thursday. The good news is that Aaron Rodgers is starting to get into a groove with his other receivers, the final pass of last game notwithstanding.

Given the way Green Bay’s defense parted like the Red Sea any time a running back toted the rock last Thursday against Philly, we expect to see a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott in NFL Week 5. However, in the end the outcome will likely come down to whether Dak Prescott can outplay Rodgers when it matters most. And despite a rough outing in Week 4, the Packers have a stellar defensive secondary that is very good about taking balls away from opposing offenses.

Cleveland Browns vs. San Francisco 49ers (-4)

It’s hard to know how good the 49ers really are. Sure, they’re undefeated so far. It’s also worth pointing out that the three teams they have beaten have a combined record of 3-9 through four weeks. Starting Monday night, and then moving into next week when they take on the Los Angeles Rams, we’re going to get a much better idea about this team’s true caliber.

The Browns have a dominant defensive front, led by the incomparable Myles Garrett, that can get after the quarterback. San Francisco’s offensive line is down a starter, as left tackle Joe Staley is out with a broken leg. The 49ers have been very good protecting the passer so far this year, but this will be a huge test. On the other side, the Browns bring an elite rushing attack that should challenge San Francisco’s very good run defense. The battles between San Francisco’s secondary and Cleveland’s elite receivers, along with the 49ers defensive front taking on a good Browns offensive line, will be must-see television.

This game is anyone’s for the taking. It’s on Monday night, and the entire NFL will be watching. If the 49ers take the Browns down in the same fashion they’ve shown other teams so far this year, we’ll know they are for real. If not, we’ll have more questions than answers.