NFL Games of the Week: Cats and rookies highlight Week 5

Zach Hake

Sports Blogger

@zach_hake

 

After an exciting Week 4, only three teams remain undefeated in the NFL. The first month has brought us a few surprises. Sure, we all expected the Patriots to possibly lose a game with quarterback Tom Brady suspended. However, few could have predicted the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals would both open the year 1-3. As we move into a make-or-break week for several teams, there may be a few more surprises headed our way. Here are the games of the week for Week 5.

 

Houston Texans (3-1) at Minnesota Vikings (4-0), 12:00 p.m. Sunday on CBS

Quarterback Brock Osweiler and the Texans are coming off a big home win thanks to a punt return by Will Fuller. As they head to Minnesota to face the tenacious Viking defense, one thing is for sure; this matchup will be a smash-mouth defensive battle.

For Osweiler, coming off a two-interception game against Tennessee requires some adjustments. When targeting Fuller, Osweiler has averaged 9.5 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. When targeting Sammy Watkins, on the other hand, Osweiler has averaged 6.9 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.

If Minnesota focuses primarily on Watkins like the Titans did last week, Osweiler is going to have to make some better decisions Sunday to avoid costly turnovers against arguably the best defense in the league.

For Minnesota, this game is a chance to prove they are the real deal. Having not allowed more than 16 points thus far, the Vikings defense is leading the league in turnovers. If Minnesota comes out with the same results against Houston, who was scoreless during its first road game, it’s going to be a repeat of last week’s matchup against the Giants for Minnesota.

I think Minnesota has momentum on its side; the defense is off to a potential record-setting start and it seems like the “Purple People Eaters” are back in business. With this in mind, I say the Vikings continue the hot streak and the Texans fall to 3-2 in a relatively low-scoring affair.

Minnesota 20, Houston 17

 

Atlanta Falcons (3-1) at Denver Broncos (4-0), 3:05 p.m. Sunday on FOX

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are coming off a franchise record-setting week against the Panthers. With over 500 yards through the air, Atlanta made Carolina look like they had no reason playing in Super Bowl 50 last season.

Regning Super Bowl champion Denver has been seemingly untouchable. Quarterback Trevor Siemian has stepped up after the retirement of NFL great Peyton Manning. However, after injuring his shoulder last week against Tampa Bay, Siemian will be watching rookie Paxton Lynch command the offense from the sidelines Sunday against Atlanta.

Lynch, the first round draft pick out of Memphis, looked solid his during his debut against Tampa Bay. He threw for 170 yards and a touchdown on 14 completions.

The Falcons are heading to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in an attempt to prove they are worthy of the No. 1 spot in the NFC South.

The Broncos remain hopeful that their destructive defense will continue to carry them, especially with a rookie making his first career start at quarterback.

I think Denver is going to extinguish the flame Atlanta started last week against Carolina. The league’s best defense and league MVP Von Miller are going to give Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan nightmares and put a stop to the Falcons’ three-game winning streak.

Denver 28, Atlanta 10

 

Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1), 3:25 p.m. Sunday on CBS

Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott will lead the Cowboys against the Bengals on Sunday. (Bruce Adler, Flickr)

Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott will lead the Cowboys against the Bengals on Sunday.
(Bruce Adler, Flickr)

Andy Dalton and the Bengals are coming off a convincing victory over Miami last week. They head to Dallas on Sunday for a tough road test against the Cowboys’ rookie duo of running back Ezekiel Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott.

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert is expected to return Sunday, which bodes well for Dalton and company. The Cowboys, however, may have to go without their star receiver Dez Bryant.

The key for a Bengals victory is to attack through the air. Cincinnati is the third-best passing offense in the league, so if they can continue this streak of air superiority, it will be hard for Dallas to stop them.

For the Cowboys, it’s a little more complicated. Prescott, the rookie out of Mississippi State, has went four games without an interception. If he’s able to continue making smart decisions and tucking it if he feels pressure from the Cincinnati defense, I don’t see a problem in the Cowboys being contenders in this matchup. With that being said, Dallas receivers Cole Beasley and Terrence Williams have to step up should Bryant be sidelined.

As for Elliot, I think he’s finally starting to find his niche in the Dallas offense. Earlier this season, it seemed like every time Elliot touched the pigskin he was trying to run for huge gains rather than taking what he could get, which resulted in some costly fumbles. If Elliot runs like he did against San Francisco last week, I think Dallas will be able to give the Bengals a run for their money.

Dallas 31, Cincinnati 24

 ozone@ocolly.com

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