Six teams on upset alert in NFL Week 5

By Jesse Reed
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There are some huge games coming up on Sunday that could lead to some big upsets as the league moves into its second quarter in NFL Week 5.

We’ve got two of the AFC’s best squaring off at Arrowhead Stadium early Sunday morning in what should be one of the best games of the weekend. On Sunday afternoon the defending champs will host an NFC opponent that was supposed to challenge for the conference title but so far has disappointed.

Who’s going to come out on top? Who’s ripe for an upset? We’ve got you covered with six potential upset specials in NFL Week 5.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-3)

The most potent offensive attack going up against the league’s most dangerous defense. This should be fun, fun, fun.

We saw last week how a feisty defense can actually slow Patrick Mahomes and Co. down. Unfortunately, the Denver Broncos just didn’t have enough juice to close out the deal at home. The Jaguars, however, feature a defensive front that far exceeds what Denver was able to throw at Mahomes, and they should finally give the second-year passer some real trouble for the first time all year.

On the other side, look for Blake Bortles to exploit Kansas City’s weak secondary by spreading the ball around to his talented young group of skilled receivers. And look for T.J. Yeldon to have a field day on the ground.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)

Two of the NFL’s most explosive passing offenses on one field, and neither team features a defensive secondary that’s likely to slow them down. It’s going to be a shootout at Heinz Field Sunday morning, and it’s about time the Falcons won one of those.

Pittsburgh’s offense has put up gaudy numbers this year, but to this point the Steelers have just one win because Ben Roethlisberger has made mistakes at the worst time and because his defense has given up more passing touchdowns than every team but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Meanwhile, Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level and has thrown just two interceptions in four games. The Falcons have so many weapons in the passing game, and they can run the ball when they need to. Don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh still has just one win when this one’s finished.

New York Giants vs. Carolina Panthers (-7)

The Saquon Barkley/Christian McCaffrey game is going to be fun. That is, it’ll be fun IF the Giants actually use their rookie star the way he’s meant to be used. The two games in which Barkley was featured as a runner, the Giants nearly beat the Jaguars and did win against the Houston Texans.

So, as much as this team has struggled early in 2018, there is a recipe for success, if only Pat Shurmur will put it to use. Additionally, don’t discount the impact Odell Beckham Jr.’s recent public comments questioning his team’s heart will have on the way Big Blue performs on the road Sunday.

On the other side, we don’t expect the Panthers to crumble. This upset pick is more about the Giants finally waking up to their identity and living up to their potential.

Oakland Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers (-6)

Don’t expect a defensive showdown when the Raiders visit the Chargers at StubHub. These two teams allow a combined 60.8 points per game. Heck, the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers both had big offensive days against them last weekend.

Derek Carr, if he can avoid throwing interceptions, will have a field day against the Chargers. He’s been slinging the ball around very nicely early this season, taking to Jon Gruden’s offense with ease. Marshawn Lynch is looking like his old self again, and Jared Cook is the most productive tight end in football.

Then there’s the crowd factor. The Chargers know that this is effectively going to be a road game. Last weekend, 49ers fans dominated at StubHub, and during practice leading up to this weekend’s game, the Chargers piped in crowd noise to prepare for Raider Nation. So, effectively, the Raiders get nine home games this year. They’ll take advantage.

Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers (-3)

The 49ers are seriously banged up. On both sides of the ball, at every level, this team is dealing with a massive loss of talent due to the injury bug.

On the other side, while Arizona is still winless on the season, the Cardinals did come awfully close to beating the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks the past two weekends. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen isn’t skating through life right now, but he gives Arizona’s offense at least a chance for success. And it should find it this weekend against a bad 49ers defense.

It’s possible that tough-as-nails C.J. Beathard has it in him to carry the 49ers to their second win of the year. But given the losses San Francisco has endured, we’re picking Arizona to finally win on Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-3)

After having well over a week to recover from that loss on Thursday night, the Vikings will have to be sharp on both sides of the ball to beat the defending champs.

At some point, Minnesota’s defense is going to resemble the dominant unit we saw last year. The Everson Griffen situation has no doubt been a big factor that has impacted the Vikings both on a personal and professional level, but it’s a situation they have to overcome.

We know the Vikings can score points — just look at what they did in Week 4 on the road against the mighty Los Angeles Rams. Look for Harrison Smith to reassert himself as a dominant defender and pick off Carson Wentz at least once as his defense once again rises to the occasion.