Predicting studs and duds for NFL Week 5

Rachel Wold
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jameis Winston NFL quarterbacks
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

As NFL Week 5 rolls around, there remains only one undefeated team. Will the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs pump out another winning performance against a legitimate, star-studded team?

Meanwhile, four other franchises are desperately looking for their first win.

Week 5 also matches up two winless clubs to see which can earn their first victory. We predict a surprise player here could make a huge impact. What happens when a third-year quarterback squares off against the league’s worst defense on prime time television? Will he benefit from facing this worn-out passing defense?

Speaking of prime time games, a rookie quarterback who looked tremendous this preseason might have a tough go of it in his first official start.

Based on matchups and individual performances, here are our choices for studs and duds in NFL Week 5.

Stud: Khalil Mack, outside linebacker, Oakland Raiders

When the Raiders host the Baltimore Ravens, Mack could come out a big winner in what looks to be a defensive fistfight. Quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens have been utterly miserable, tallying a total of 16 points in their past two games. Mack is on a roll after logging two sacks and seven combined tackles in his last matchup. The Ravens’ run game is anything but solid, but neither is Flacco after he took four sacks, threw two picks and fumbled in his last performance. Surely, Mack could enjoy some spoils considering the dumpster-fire condition of the Ravens offense.

Dud: Antonio Brown, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

Brown is coming off of a lousy four-catch, 34-yard performance. Sorry fantasy football owners, but we have him pegged to disappoint once again in Week 5. Brown will be pitted up against Jalen Ramsey and a Jacksonville Jaguars pass defense that ranks No. 1 in the league. We might see more fits than touchdowns from Brown against a Jags defense that is allowing just 7.75 wide receiver catches on average per game. It has also given up one lonely wide receiving touchdown. Brown will have to outperform some stout defenders to defy these odds on Sunday.

Stud: Jameis Winston, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winston is slated for a grand prime time performance at home against the New England Patriots. While quarterback Tom Brady is attempting to carry his entire team on his back, the Patriots’ defense is unraveling at warp speed. Winston faces a defense that is allowing a 116.5 quarterback rating. It is also giving up 324 passing yards on average per game and has let 11 passing touchdowns get by. Winston could put on a blindfold and likely still have a stellar performance against New England’s overly generous defense in this game.

Dud: Bilal Powell, running back, New York Jets 

Powell was a complete rock star last week when he rushed for 163 yards, including a 75-yard long touchdown. But, the buck will stop here for Powell on the road against a ferocious Cleveland Browns front seven. The Browns have allowed only 3.0 rushing yards per attempt and just two running back rushing touchdowns. If the Jets somehow manage to play from behind, it will force quarterback Josh McCown to rely on his receivers. We predict Powell to come back to reality when the Browns handily keep him in check this week.

Stud: Cooper Kupp, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams

It will be Kupp’s first rodeo against the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom when Los Angeles plays host to Seattle. Kupp is coming off a sweet 60-yard, one-touchdown performance and could be the Rams’ secret weapon against the Seahawks in Week 5. We expect Seattle to have their best defensive resources covering wideout Sammy Watkins and running back Todd Gurley, who has been destroying through the air as of late. Outside of Gurley, targeted a team-high eight times last week, Kupp saw seven targets.

Dud: Jay Cutler, quarterback, Miami Dolphins

Simply stated, Cutler has been on a downward spiral over his last two games. Unfortunately, we predict more of “Smokin’ Jay” when the Dolphins host the Tennessee Titans in Week 5. Last week, Cutler should have thrived against the New Orleans Saints considering their passing defense ranks within the bottom five. Instead he took four sacks, threw an interception in the end zone, fumbled and failed to score. We would like to think Cutler could find success against a Titans passing defense that currently ranks 29th, but we are not holding our breath.

Stud: Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals

We predict a big performance from Fitzgerald on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5. The Cardinals are going to have to put pedal to the metal against an Eagles team that will prove much more troublesome to slow down than last week’s San Francisco 49ers. Field goals won’t cut it, and Fitz should find great success against an Eagles defense allowing 25.2 receptions on average per game. This stat ties for a league high. Only New England’s defense ranks worse against opposing receivers than Philadelphia’s. Fitz should dazzle with a dominant performance.

Dud: Dez Bryant, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys

Bryant and the ‘Boys host the Green Bay Packers, whose defense has been quite stingy against receivers. Throughout four games, the Packers have allowed only two wide receiving touchdowns and 11.5 catches to the position on average per clash. Quarterback Dak Prescott loves to spread the ball around, and Green Bay’s top defensive backs likely won’t allow Bryant the 19.6 yards he averaged per catch last game. Instead, look for running back Ezekiel Elliott to thrive. The Packers have given up five total running back touchdowns and 4.3 yards on average per carry on the season.

Stud: Glover Quin, safety, Detroit Lions

Quin and the Lions’ defense is not to be messed with this season. The unit has managed 11 total takeaways in four games compared to 14 the entire 2016 season. Quin should be primed for a grand day at home this week antagonizing the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Cam Newton was sensational in his last game, but that was against the worst defense in the NFL. In four games, Quin has tallied 23 combined tackles, defended five passes, recorded two interceptions, forced two fumbles and scored one touchdown. The Pro-Bowl safety could just expose Newton’s weaknesses, which were very blatant prior to his last performance.

Dud: Mitch Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago Bears

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Enough is enough. Quarterback Mike Glennon coughed up turnovers left right last week. The Bears (1-3) finally made the decision to start Trubisky at home against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5. Trubisky performed better than Glennon in the preseason. But the rookie will be tested in a prime time Monday Night Football matchup against seasoned starting defenders. The Vikings have allowed only 19 points per game, and opposing quarterbacks have scored only five passing touchdowns in four weeks. We wish Trubisky success, but this could be a rough tilt.

Stud: Carlos Hyde, running back, San Francisco 49ers

Hyde and his winless 49ers hit the road to face the Indianapolis Colts (1-3). The fourth-year running back, who is averaging 4.9 yards per carry so far, could run away with the farm in Week 5. He will be up against a Colts defense that just gave up 5.88 yards per attempt and 194 rushing yards to the Seattle Seahawks. Furthermore, the Colts are allowing an average of 135.7 combined yards to running backs per contest. Hyde has wheels and he can catch, as proven by his 17 receptions to date. He should be primed for a stud performance when the 49ers attempt to gain their first win on the season.

Dud: Lamar Miller, running back, Houston Texans

Miller just rushed for a season-high 75 yards and scored two touchdowns in a landslide victory against the Tennessee Titans (57-14). But, we do not predict such lopsided results when the Texans host the high-rolling Kansas City Chiefs. Miller will likely slip back to his middling self against a Chiefs run defense that only yielded 73 total rushing yards and zero scores to Washington’s running backs last game. Quarterback Deshaun Watson most likely will have to rely on his aerial skills in this challenging matchup.

Stud: Micah Hyde, safety, Buffalo Bills 

Hyde, who is coming off of a marvelous two-interception performance, will hit the road to tango with the Cincinnati Bengals. Hyde made forcing turnovers on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan look like stealing candy from a baby. Now he will face Andy Dalton, who looks to have turned a new leaf. But, we must remember that Dalton threw four picks in Week 1. Hyde and the Bills are not easily penetrated and have given up only one passing touchdown. They could make life quite brutal for the whole squad of Bengals pass-catchers.

Dud: Devin Funchess, wide receiver, Carolina Panthers

Funchess, who has yet to score more than five times in one season, has not suddenly turned into an overnight sensation. It might look that way after Funchess tallied seven catches for 70 yards and scored twice in his last performance. But, that was against that ever-so-giving Patriots defense. Funchess and the Panthers should be far more challenged when the team travels to take on the Detroit Lions. Detroit has allowed only three wide receiving touchdowns. Plus, Funchess will have to fight for his quarterback’s attention in a much more hostile environment in this clash.

Stud: Eddie Lacy, running back, Seattle Seahawks 

Due to the unfortunate injury of rookie running back Chris Carson, Lacy is the featured back looking to shoulder the load against the Los Angeles Rams. And, boy does Lacy have a tasty road matchup on tap. The Rams’ rushing defense cannot stop a turtle these days. Lacy should thrive against a unit that is allowing 4.9 yards per carry as well as 151.5 rushing yards on average per game. If for some reason Lacy cannot kick it into high gear here and take advantage, the Seahawks have a severe problem.

Dud: LeGarrette Blount, running back, Philadelphia Eagles

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From week to week, we are never sure what Blount will bring to the table. After gashing the Los Angeles Chargers for 156 total yards last game, we are predicting Blount’s game to come to a screeching halt. The Eagles host the Cardinals, who rank 10th-best against the run. Their rushing defense is giving up just 3.2 yards per attempt and has allowed only two running back rushing scores. Blount should be hard pressed to find the legs he had last week when he looked like bottled thunder and lightening.

Stud: Demarcus Lawrence, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys

Lawrence is the sack-master of the league so far and is on pace for 30 sacks this season. The fourth-year pass rusher will look to add to his 7.5 sacks when the Cowboys host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Week 5. Rodgers is not catching much of a break from his offensive line this season and is enduring an average of 3.75 sacks per game. He has also been hit 27 times. This is unfortunate for Rodgers, but it’s a great opportunity for Lawrence to help the Cowboys gain the upper hand defensively this game.

Dud: Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Oakland Raiders

Cooper would be challenged to catch a cold on Sunday, much less find success at home against the Ravens passing defense. Throughout his two last disastrous performances, Cooper caught three of his 13 targets for a total of 15 yards. The former first-round pick also has dropped seven passes. We should not expect overnight improvement with backup quarterback E.J. Manuel under center, should we? The embattled quarterback connected with Cooper just once when he entered the game to fill in for the injured Derek Carr. The Ravens have given up only two wide receiving touchdowns on the season. Let’s do the math.

Stud: Wayne Gallman, running back, New York Giants

Gallman makes for our sneaky stud of the week for those who are even familiar with him. The former Clemson product just tallied 50 total yards and scored a receiving touchdown in his NFL debut last week. In Week 5, the Giants will host the Los Angeles Chargers, who rank second-worst at defending the run. We mentioned Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount earlier, who rushed for an average of 8.5 yards per carry against the Chargers last week. Perhaps Gallman finds similar success when both of these 0-4 squads attempt to scrape up their first win.

Dud: DeShone Kizer, quarterback, Cleveland Browns 

Kizer and his 0-4 Browns are not exactly thriving, and things might continue to look bleak for the rookie against the New York Jets. As much as everyone counted out the Jets before the season even began, they are stepping up their game. Their passing defense ties for seventh-best in the league, and quarterbacks are completing only 58.8 percent of their passes against it. Kizer has been floundering, completing a mere 51.4 percent of his passes over four games. He also has scored just five total touchdowns compared to tossing eight interceptions. We do not envision Kizer suddenly getting in sync in what looks to be a low-scoring defensive battle.