The NFL season now enters its second quarter. Only one undefeated team remains in the form of the Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, there are still four winless squads through the first four weeks. Two of those squads will take on one another in one of the matchups we look at for Week 5.
We’re also going to check in on how a poor Seattle Seahawks run defense plans to stop a dynamic Todd Gurley this week. It’s an important divisional matchup for a Rams team that sits at 3-1 on the season.
It’s also going to be interesting to see how the Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins duo performs against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters. These are among the top matchups for each Week 5 NFL game.
New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Stephon Gilmore vs Mike Evans
After catching 7-of-9 targets for 93 yards in Week 1, Evans has caught just over 50 percent of the passes thrown in his direction over the past two weeks. Going up against the likes of Xavier Rhodes and Janoris Jenkins didn’t help there, but Evans will have to prove to be a more consistent target for Jameis Winston in order for the quarterback to build off last week’s strong performance.
On Thursday night, it comes against a Patriots defense that ranks dead last in the NFL stopping the pass and has yielded an absurd 116.5 quarterback rating through four games. After a disastrous performance against Carolina last week, it’s also time for the big-money Gilmore to step up. It was so bad in New England’s loss against the Panthers that Gilmore himself was benched after halftime. He’ll be given another opportunity here. And the former Bills standout will definitely have to live up to expectations.
San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts: 49ers defensive line vs Colts offensive line
The young 49ers’ defensive line has started to make its presence known from a physical standpoint. Led by second-year stud DeForest Buckner, this unit sacked Carson Palmer six times in Week 4’s overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It also hit Palmer a whopping 16 times. This comes two weeks after the 49ers laid 10 hits on Russell Wilson in another narrow loss.
If San Francisco hopes to win its first game of the season, it will have to dominate a weak Colts offensive line. Indianapolis has yielded 14 sacks and 30 quarterback hits in four games this season. Should the 49ers pressure Jacoby Brissett in this one, it will likely lead to more turnover issues for the Colts. If not, San Francisco’s embattled secondary could be exploited.
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns: Jets offensive tackles vs Myles Garrett
Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, will make his regular season debut on Sunday after missing the first four games of the season with a high-ankle sprain. He’ll also immediately become the best pass rusher for a Browns team that has five sacks from the defensive line in four games.
Whether Garrett is going up against Brandon Shell (injured) or Brent Qvale, he should be able to dominate out of the gate. Josh McCown has been sacked 12 times and hit on 16 percent of his drop backs this season. The primary issue here has been a right tackle position that has two players who started a combined nine games prior to this season. Should Garrett show up big here, maybe the Browns will earn their first win of the season.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers: Jalen Ramsey vs Antonio Brown
Brown is coming off one of the worst statistical performances of his career. In Week 4’s win over Baltimore, the All Pro recorded four receptions for 34 yards on nine targets. It was a major struggle against an elite-level Ravens corner in the form of Jimmy Smith. And his frustration showed.
Now set to take on one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL, it will be interesting to see how Brown responds. Following last week’s game, quarterbacks have put up a 23.4 passer rating when targeting Ramsey through four games. And now, one quarter of the way through the season, the second-year corner ranks No. 1 among NFL corners in yards allowed per snap. This is a definition of someone set to step up to elite status. He’ll definitely have an opportunity against Brown on Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants: Chargers pass rushers vs Giants offensive line
In a battle between two winless teams, Sunday’s game could very well come down to trench warfare. We know both Philip Rivers and Eli Manning struggle with pressure in their face. It’s what has made them among the most turnover prone quarterbacks in the NFL over the past couple seasons.
For Manning, this is magnified a bit more by the disastrous play of his offensive line. Left tackle Ereck Flowers and his counterpart on the right side, Bobby Hart, have struggled to do anything of substance this season. They’re going to play a huge role against a Chargers pass rushing tandem in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram who have combined for eight sacks in four games.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals: E.J. Gaines vs A.J. Green
The Bills have now allowed one touchdown compared to six interceptions for an opposing passer rating of 64.1 through four games. That’s just some absurd stuff, especially with a rookie in Tre’Davious White and a Rams castoff in the form of E.J. Gaines shouldering the coverage burden. It’s also come against the likes of former MVPs Cam Newton and Matt Ryan in recent weeks.
At 3-1 on the season, the Bills can continue their early-season surprise performance with a win over the 1-3 Bengals on Sunday. And in reality, it will be all about the team’s cornerback duo stepping up again. Andy Dalton and Co. struggled mightily through the first two weeks of the season. Though, they’ve picked it up recently. Over the past two games, Dalton has thrown six touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s also completing 75 percent of his 20 passes to A.J. Green during that span.
Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions: Christian McCaffrey vs Jarrad Davis
Assuming Davis is able to play after sitting out last week with a concussion, this could be an elite-level rookie matchup right here. McCaffrey has already proven himself to be a game-changer as a decoy on the field. More than that, the former Stanford running back has shown himself to be a dynamic performer for Carolina. Through the first quarter of his rookie season, McCaffrey has put up nearly 300 total yards. He’s also caught 22-of-29 targets for 206 yards.
It will be a difficult task for Davis to cover McCaffrey one-on-one come Sunday. But he’s already proven himself to be the Lions’ best cover linebacker of the past decade. It’s in this that one matchup between two rookies will go a long way in determining whether Carolina or Detroit open the second quarter of the season with a 4-1 mark.
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins: Derrick Morgan vs Ja’Wuan James
If the Dolphins have any hope of overcoming their early-season funk, the team will have to do a better job protecting a struggling Jay Cutler. The veteran has been sacked nine times in three games and hit on over 15 percent of his drop backs on the season.
Now set to take on a Titans defense that yielded an absurd 57 points to Houston last week, there’s an opportunity for the Dolphins to exploit what has suddenly become a weak defense. With six points in the past two games, the biggest key will be fending off a pass rusher in Derrick Morgan who is on pace for 12 sacks on the season.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Peterson vs Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery still has yet to hit his full stride a quarter of the way through his first season in Philadelphia. He’s currently on pace for less than 70 receptions and has caught just 50 percent of the passes thrown in his direction from Carson Wentz. Despite this, Philadelphia finds itself at 3-1 on the season and with a top-10 scoring offense. Imagine what this offense will look like should the Wentz-to-Jeffery connection start clicking.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, it might not come Week 5 against a cornerback in Patrick Peterson that has allowed less than 60 receiving yards in four games this season. That’s an absolutely stunning number from a guy that’s earned a Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons in the NFL.
Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders: Jimmy Smith vs Amari Cooper
Cooper has been downright horrible through the first quarter of the season. He leads the league with a 37 percent drop rate and has not found a way to connect with franchise quarterback Derek Carr during a lackluster 2-2 starts to the season for a team many considered to be a Super Bowl contender.
All said, Cooper has caught 12-of-23 targets for just 110 yards in four games. That must change in short order if the Raiders want to overcome their early-season struggles. Week 5 presents him with an a opportunity to do just that against a corner in Jimmy Smith who ranks among the top corners in the NFL this season and held Antonio Brown to 34 yards last week. Unfortunately for Cooper, he will have to turn it around with the injured Carr sidelined.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams: Seahawks run defense vs Todd Gurley
There’s an argument that can be made. It includes Gurley being the best running back in the NFL through four weeks. The former Pro Bowler has dazzled to the tune of 364 total yards and four touchdowns over the past two games. And he’s currently on pace to put up nearly 2,400 total yards with 28 touchdowns. That’s just crazy.
For their part, the Seahawks rank in the bottom six of the NFL against the run and have yielded five yards per rush on the season. That’s just not good. And in reality, the team needs to fix this issue if it wants to avoid falling two games behind Los Angeles in the NFC West heading into Week 6.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys: Clay Matthews vs La’el Collins
After moving back to a full-time pass rusher role to start this season, Matthews has picked his game up from that aspect in a big way through the first four games. Matthews has already put up 2.5 sacks and seven quarterback pressures in four games. This has him on pace for his highest sack output since the 2014 season, the last time Matthews avoided playing inside linebacker on a part-time basis.
For their part, the Cowboys’ offensive line has been questionable through the first quarter of the season. Dak Prescott has been sacked just six times this season, but the second-year quarterback has found himself hit on 24 percent of his drop backs. For comparison’s sake, that number stood at just 14 percent last season. As the one uncommon denominator here, Collins has to step up in Week 5.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans: Marcus Peters vs DeAndre Hopkins
It’s now at the point where Dashaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are so comfortable with one another, teams have to start scheming to stop this duo. In last week’s 57-14 win over Tennessee, Hopkins caught 10-of-12 passes for 107 yards and a score. Over the course of the past two games, he’s caught 85 percent of the 20 balls thrown in his direction.
It’s going to be especially difficult Sunday night against a cornerback in Marcus Peters who is looking to rebound after yielding this 44-yard touchdown to Terrelle Pryor in Week 4. With 15 interceptions in 35 career games, Peters has proven to be one of the best ball hawks in recent NFL history. He’s also prone to giving up the big play on occasion. That’s where the Watson-to-Hopkins connection could propel Houston to a win against the undefeated Chiefs.
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears: Vikings defense vs Mitch Trubisky
It makes perfect sense that the Bears would wait for Trubisky to make his regular season debut at home. Though, some think he should have been given garbage time action during a blowout loss to Green Bay last week. Either way, the rookie No. 2 overall pick will replace a high-priced and struggling Mike Glennon under center in front of a nationally televised audience Monday night.
This won’t particularly be the best possible matchup for Trubisky. Sure the Vikings have struggled to the ninth-worst pass defense in the NFL this season. But they still do have a dominating Xavier Rhodes on one side of the field. Chicago also boasts a wide receiver group that has combined for just 40 percent of the team’s receptions, well below the league average. It will most definitely be interesting to see how the North Carolina product performs in a big first test as an NFL starter.