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Week 5 NFL Game Previews: Early Games

Tennessee Titans (3-1) vs. Buffalo Bills (1-3)


Tennessee has managed to string together back to back wins against two very tough opponents in the Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles. In those games, the Titans put their strong defensive front on display and showed that they could score if need be. While none of their wins have been pretty, they keep squeaking out victories, and their only loss was by three points to the Texans. They should continue to be a force to be reckoned with. The Bills, on the other hand, have one strange win against the Minnesota Vikings and three very bad losses. They scored 7.66 points per game in their losses, including a shutout and a 3 point offensive performance. The Bills haven't scored a touchdown in 102 minutes and 14 seconds, and their Defense has been no better, allowing 33.33 points per game in losses. Neither side of the ball has been even remotely competitive.

Players to watch

The Bills will have trouble keeping Josh Allen upright against a Titans defense that has 12 sacks from nine different players, led by team sack leader Jurrell Casey. They should have a field day against an offensive line that has allowed a league-high 21 sacks on the year. Buffalo needs to control the clock with aging running back LeSean McCoy. Titans linebacker Wesley Woodward and safety Kevin Byard will look to put a stop to any progress on the ground. Marcus Mariota has shown signs of improvement, so the Bills will need to stop him with the same game plan they used against Kirk Cousins — beat him up. Sack leader Jerry Hughes will need to lead the charge to stifle Mariota. Even if the Bills manage to stop Mariota, the combination of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry could prove to be too much for rookie Trumaine Edmunds and his fellow Bills.

Keys to the game

Tennessee Titans

  • Mariota needs to use his legs

  • Let the backs control the game

  • Pressure Allen

  • Stop LeSean McCoy

Buffalo Bills

  • Protect Allen

  • Get Shady going early

  • Keep the Titans offense off the field

  • Keep Mariota contained

Injury list

Tennessee Titans

  • Wesley Woodyard, LB: Shoulder (Out)

  • Kenny Vaccaro, S: Elbow (Out)

  • Dennis Kelly, T: Illness (Questionable)

Buffalo Bills

  • Charles Clay, TE: Ankle (Questionable)

  • Rafael Bush, DB: Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Micah Hyde, S: Groin(Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Marcus Mariota, QB (TEN)

  • Dion Lewis, RB (TEN)

  • Corey Davis, WR (TEN)

  • Josh Allen, QB (BUF)

  • LeSean McCoy, RB (BUF)


The Bills are just not a great team. They can’t block, they can’t run, and they have no skill position players outside of McCoy, who really seems to be on his last leg. The Titans have shown they can score and get after the quarterback. They match up with the Bills very well, and have faced much tougher battles than this in their previous four games. This is a layup for the Titans and they should handle possibly the worst team in the league very easily.

Final Score: Titans 31, Bills 10

Written by: George Haraktsis

Atlanta Falcons (1-3) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1)


This Week 5 matchup is a quite intriguing. Both of these teams come in as disappointments thus far in the season who are looking to get back on track. This is marked up to be an offensive battle, as we will see two of the worst defenses in the NFL. It will likely come down to who has a bigger game between Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan. As bad as these two teams have been this season they still have hope, but this one could serve as a must-win.

Players to watch

This game will come down to the passing game of both teams, as both secondaries are ranked towards the bottom of the league. Ben Roethlisberger will be looking to find Antonio Brown, who hasn’t had many opportunities for big plays this season. On the other side of the ball, Joe Haden will likely be tasked with covering Julio Jones, who currently leads the NFL in receiving yards but has yet to find the end zone. The Steelers must also find an answer for rookie Calvin Ridley, who leads the NFL receiving touchdowns with six.

Keys to the game

Atlanta Falcons

  • Get Julio in the end zone

  • Put pressure on Roethlisberger

  • Get Freeman/Coleman going

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Establish a run game

  • Get AB more involved

  • Big game from the secondary

Injury list

Atlanta Falcons

  • Grady Jarrett, DT - Ankle (Out)

  • Justin Bethel, DB - Knee (Out)

  • Derrick Shelby, DE - Groin (Out)

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Vince Williams, ILB - Hamstring (Doubtful)

  • Morgan Burnett, SS - Groin (Doubtful)

  • Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR - Ankle (Doubtful)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Julio Jones, WR (ATL)

  • Antonio Brown, WR (PIT)

  • Ben Roethlisberger, QB (PIT)

  • Calvin Ridley, WR (ATL)

  • Juju Smith-Schuster, WR (PIT)


This game will be a true offensive shootout. I look for both Roethlisberger and Ryan to march down the field and tear these secondaries apart. This game could come down to the final possession, but I like Pittsburgh in this one by a touchdown. They simply match up with the Falcons defensive backs better, and believe that Antonio Brown is due for a huge game. Regardless of the outcome, this will be a fun one to watch!

Final Score: Steelers 42, Falcons 35

Written by: Ryan Lippert

Denver Broncos (2-2) vs. New York Jets (1-3)


The Broncos are traveling to Metlife stadium to take on the Jets this Sunday. They are seated at second place in the AFC West at 2-2, while the now slumping Jets look to get back on track after blowing out the Lions in week one. Both of these teams acquired their starting quarterbacks in the offseason, but neither acquisition has paid dividends yet. The Broncos have a more solidified units on both sides of the ball and are in a must-win game this week, and will have to rely on the run and take the ball out of Case Keenum's hand in order to win this bout. If the Jets have any chance of winning they’ll have to use a similar script that worked against the Lions — controlling the tempo with the run and allowing Darnold to manage the game. With all that being said, the Broncos should win this, but we’ve already seen a Jets shocker this year.

Players to watch

Linebacker Avery Williamson and the Jets defense will have their work cut out for them against both Denver ball carriers, Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay. This thunder & lighting duo will easily take advantage of a defense giving up over 108 yards on the ground per game. If that doesn't work, Case Keenum can hopefully make mincemeat of the Jets’ secondary, like the Jaguars did, by using his diverse group of wide receivers consisting of Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Courtland Sutton. The Jets will have to implement a similar game plan against Brandon Marshall, and are relying on Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell to take the heat off of Sam Darnold. They also must protect their young signal caller from Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb, so Darnold can help get the ball to Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson.

Keys to the game

Denver Broncos

  • Get Keenum going

  • Let the running backs control the game

  • Pressure Darnold

  • Take advantage of secondary

New York Jets

  • Protect Darnold

  • Establish the running game

  • Force Keenum to beat you

Injury list

Denver Broncos

  • Marquette King, P: Groin (Doubtful)

  • Todd Davis, LB: Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Adam Gotsis, DE: Knee (Questionable)

  • Jared Veldheer, T: Knee (Out)

New York Jets

  • Trumaine Johnson, CB: Quadriceps (Out)

  • Charone Pake, WR: Hamstring (Out)

  • Marcus Maye, S: Ankle (Questionable)

  • Neal Sterling, TE: Concussion (Out)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Emmanuel Sanders, WR (DEN)

  • Royce Freeman, RB (DEN)

  • Phillip Lindsay, RB (DEN)

  • Case Keenum, QB (DEN)

  • Sam Darnold, QB (NYJ)


The Broncos are just frankly a better team from top to bottom. They have a better wide receiving corps, a stable of running backs, and an offensive line. The Denver defense is elevated over New York’s just because of Von Miller’s presence on the edge. The only way the Jets can win this game is if they establish the run and allow Darnold to manage the game. The Broncos are the 8th best defense against the run so it seems like a long shot for that to occur. This should be a cakewalk for the Broncos.

Final Score: Denver Broncos 27, New York Jets 13

Written by: George Haraktsis

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1) vs Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)


This game is set up to be the biggest test yet for the undefeated Chiefs. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes proved himself against a good defense last week, but this one may be the best he faces all season. It will be interesting to see how he fairs against this impressive Jacksonville secondary. This one should be a very hard-nosed match up between two Super Bowl contenders and will likely come down to the wire.

Players to watch

As I mentioned in my preview, the key to this game will be the matchup between the Chiefs passing attack and the Jaguars secondary. The matchup that I’m most looking forward to seeing is wide receiver Tyreek Hill vs defensive back Jalen Ramsey. The fastest wide receiver in the league going against the top defensive back will be must-see TV. On the other side of the ball, it will be interesting to see if T.J. Yeldon can get going against this Kansas City defense.

Keys to the game

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Get pressure on Mahomes

  • Big game from Ramsey

  • Long drives from the offense

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Establish a run game

  • Limit mistakes on offense

  • Stop the run

Injury list

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • D.J. Hayden, DB - Toe (Out)

  • Leonard Fournette, RB - Hamstring (Out)

  • Tre Herndon, CB - Hamstring (Questionable)

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Eric Berry, SS - Heel (Doubtful)

  • Sammy Watkins, WR - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Dee Ford, LB - Groin (Questionable)

  • Armani Watts, S - Groin (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Patrick Mahomes, QB (KC)

  • Tyreek Hill, WR (KC)

  • Tyler Kelce, TE (KC)

  • T.J. Yeldon, RB (JAX)

  • Blake Bortles, QB (JAX)


This game will be very competitive for the most part. The thing that will set these two teams apart is offensive production. I simply don’t believe that the Jaguars will have the offensive weapons to keep up with this high-powered Chiefs offense. The Jaguars will get some key stops on defense to keep this one interesting, but the Chiefs will pull through in the end to remain undefeated.

Final Score: Chiefs 28, Jaguars 17

Written by: Ryan Lippert

Green Bay Packers (2-1-1) vs Detroit Lions (1-3)


In 16 career games playing against the Detroit Lions, Aaron Rodgers is 13-3, has a 34-6 TD-INT ratio, averaged a 109.4 Passer Rating, and completed 66.52% of his passes. Now history may be on Green Bay’s side, but the injury report certainly is not. Rodgers is on one knee, they lost their free agent acquisition Muhammad Wilkerson to injured reserve this week, and could be without their top three wide receivers. The Lions, on the other hand, are desperate for a win, sitting at 1-3 after suffering a loss to Zeke Elliot and the Dallas Cowboys last week. Detroit will need to defy the odds and find a way to win in order to have any chance at salvaging their season.

Players to watch

Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford will most likely wind up in a shootout this Sunday. The question will be whether or not Rodgers will have wideouts to throw to. Randall Cobb has been ruled out, and both Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison are questionable. Stafford will have a stable of weapons, including wide receiving trio Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay. Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson has looked like a steal thus far, but the Lions have yet to fully utilize his talents by consistently feeding him the rock. If the Packers are down multiple wideouts, expect Aaron Jones to shoulder a heavier load than usual.

Keys to the game

Green Bay Packers

  • Protect an injured Aaron Rodgers

  • Get Aaron Jones going early

  • Limit Detroit’s explosive plays

Detroit Lions

  • Give Kerryon Johnson 20+ touches

  • Set up the deep ball with play action

  • Pressure Aaron Rodgers

Injury list

Green Bay Packers

  • Lucas Patrick, G - Undisclosed (Questionable)

  • Jimmy Graham, TE - Knee (Questionable)

  • Randall Cobb, WR - Hamstring (Out)

  • Davante Adams, WR - Calf (Questionable)

  • Geronimo Allison, WR - Concussion (Questionable)

  • Jaire Alexander, CB - Groin (Questionable)

  • Bashaud Breeland, CB - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Kentrell Price, S - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Justin McCray, OG - Back (Questionable)

  • Jermaine Whitehead, S - Back (Questionable)

Detroit Lions

  • Tracy Walker, S - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Michael Roberts, TE - Knee (Out)

  • Da'Shawn Hand, DE - Undisclosed (Questionable)

  • Nevin Lawson, CB - Illness (Questionable)

  • Ezekiel Ansah, DE - Shoulder (Out)

  • Quandre Diggs, DB - Hand (Questionable)

  • Eli Harold, LB - Not Injury Related (Questionable)

  • Marvin Jones Jr., WR - Ankle (Questionable)

  • T.J. Lang, OG - Concussion (Out)

  • Nevin Lawson, CB - Illness (Questionable)

  • Tavon Wilson, S - Back - (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Aaron Rodgers, QB (GB)

  • Matt Stafford, QB (DET)

  • DaVante Adams, WR (GB)

  • Golden Tate, WR (DET)

  • Kerryon Johnson, RB (DET)


If the Packers are even remotely healthy, Green Bay beats Detroit handedly, but if Rodgers is missing a majority of his pass catchers, it could be a different story. If the Lions defense can pressure a hobbled, weaponless Aaron Rodgers, then they have a legitimate chance at pulling off the upset. The Lions and specifically Jim Bob Cooter’s game plan should be to use a run heavy approach to limit Green Bay’s time of possession and set up the deep ball. Still, it’s hard to bet against the Packers QB, even if he is on one leg, with one hand tied behind his back. It will be a tight game but a late 4th quarter passing TD will seal the deal for Green Bay in week 5.

Final Score: Packers 28, Lions 23

Written by: Jack Bourgeois

Baltimore Ravens (3-1) vs. Cleveland Browns (1-2-1)


The Cleveland Browns could easily have two or three more victories at this point in the season, but they are simply not closing out games like a good NFL team does. The Browns lost a gut wrenching game on the road to the Oakland Raiders after scoring 42 points and having a double digit lead at multiple points of the game. If the Browns cannot figure out a way to win these close games, this will be another long season. The Baltimore Ravens have looked stellar in all facets of the game thus far in 2018. Joe Flacco seems to be playing better, and newly acquired John Brown is stretching defenses every game as well. The Ravens have a huge mental edge over the Browns heading into this week 5 matchup.

Players to watch

In order for the Browns to compete this week, Baker Mayfield is going to have to have a great game. Antonio Callaway has been asked to be the Browns’ vertical threat, and he is going to have to make multiple plays down the field this week. Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb will not be able to run all over the Ravens like they did the Raiders. For the Ravens, John Brown will need to continue to be very efficient with his touches. He is a threat to score every single time Joe Flacco throws him the ball. I look for Javorius Allen to be the Ravens’ lead back, mostly because the Browns struggle with handling backs out of the backfield in the passing game.

Keys to the game

Baltimore Ravens

  • Get pressure on Baker

  • Establish the run

  • Do not give up big plays in the passing game

Cleveland Browns

  • Protect Baker

  • Win the turnover battle

  • Do not let John Brown make big plays

Injury list

Baltimore Ravens

  • Anthony Averett, DB: Hamstring (Out)

  • Brandon Carr, DB: Knee (Questionable)

  • Hayden Hurst, TE: Foot (Questionable)

  • Anthony LeVine, DB: Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Tim Williams, OLB: Hamstring (Out)

  • Willie Henry, DT - Abdomen (Questionable)

  • Za’Darius Smith, LB - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Michael Pierce, DT - Foot (Questionable)

  • Alex Lewis, OG - Shoulder (Questionable)

Cleveland Browns

  • James Burgess, LB: Knee (Out)

  • Damarious Randall, FS: Heel (Questionable)

  • Christian Kirksey, LB - Illness (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • John Brown, WR (BAL)

  • Carlos Hyde, RB (CLE)

  • Jarvis Landry, WR (CLE)

  • Javorius Allen, RB (BAL)

  • Ravens D/ST


Unfortunately for the Browns, the Baltimore Ravens’ defense is probably the best that they have faced all season. This could be a game that Baker Mayfield really struggles in simply because the Ravens can get after the quarterback. Javorius Allen will give the Browns fits out of the backfield, especially on third down, all game long. In the end, the Ravens’ experience will be too much for the youthful Cleveland Browns.

Final Score: Ravens 24, Browns 17

Written By: Jake Leicht

New York Giants (1-3) vs Carolina Panthers (2-1)


This week we see the Giants’ second straight matchup against the NFC South, with them traveling to Carolina after being taken care of by the Saints at home last week. This game is certainly a must-win for them, as they have to find a way to climb back from the bottom of their division in order to compete in the NFC East. They have arguably one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, so they have to start winning soon if they want to have any chance of competing. The Panthers are coming off of a bye, and will be looking to keep pace with the surging Saints. A win for the Panthers would mean tie at the top of the division with the Saints (at least until the Saints play Monday night), so this is certainly a pivotal game for them as well.

Players to watch

The Panthers have the highest rushing yards per game average in the NFL, and a big reason for this is the contributions of Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton. In order to shut down McCaffrey and prevent him from having a performance similar to Kamara’s last week, Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree will need to play far better than he did last week. Saquon Barkley will also need to have a great rushing and receiving game to help the Giants keep the Panthers offense off the field. While Odell Beckham Jr. is obviously the big play threat for the Giants, Sterling Shepard will need to have another great game to help the Giants receiving depth. The Carolina secondary, including James Bradberry and Donte Jackson, will be key in preventing this offensive strategy.

Keys to the game

New York Giants

  • Contain Newton

  • Do not let McCaffrey catch passes

  • Create easy opportunities for receivers

Carolina Panthers

  • Shut down Barkley early

  • Keep the Giants one-dimensional

  • Get McCaffrey touches early

Injury list

New York Giants

  • Evan Engram, TE - Knee (Out)

  • Olivier Vernon, OLB - Ankle (Out)

Carolina Panthers

  • Jared Norris, LB - Toe (Questionable)

  • Greg Olsen, TE - Foot (Out)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Saquon Barkley, RB (NYG)

  • Cam Newton, QB (CAR)

  • Christian McCaffrey, RB (CAR)

  • Odell Beckham Jr., WR (NYG)

  • Sterling Shepard, WR (NYG)


As someone who’s been following the Giants and Eli Manning closely, I know that they are a team that will play hard with their back against the wall (as they are now with their 1-3 record). With that in mind, and the talent of Barkley, Beckham Jr., and Shepard, the Giants will keep the game close. However, I think that the performances of McCaffrey and Newton, along with the extra week of practice that the Panthers have had with the bye week, will be the difference in this game. The Panthers will be the more rested team with the more efficient offense, so they will squeeze out the win this week.

Final Score: Panthers 23, Giants 17

Written by: Phillip Salmo

Miami Dolphins (3-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)


The Miami Dolphins head into Cincinnati on Sunday after squandering an opportunity to take a stranglehold AFC East last week. Miami was absolutely obliterated on the road by the New England Patriots, who seemed to be on the ropes early on in the season. The Dolphins lost by a staggering 38-7 score, and their offense didn’t reach the end zone until the 2:42 mark in the 4th quarter. On the flipside, the Bengals marched into Atlanta last week and won a shootout by the score of 38-37. These two teams seem to be heading into opposite directions, even though both are 3-1.

Players to watch

For another week, Tyler Boyd is poised to have a big game. The Dolphins are actually below average against the pass, even though they have a breakout star at cornerback, Xavien Howard. Howard should match up with a banged up A.J. Green, which should leave Boyd to have his way with the other Dolphins defensive backs. I will be interested to see how Joe Mixon is used if he is able to play this week. The Dolphins have to get Kenyan Drake more involved. He is one of their only true playmakers outside of Kenny Stills. Playing Frank Gore is great, but he is no longer the home run threat that Drake is.

Keys to the game

Miami Dolphins

  • Get the run game going

  • Defend Tyler Boyd

  • Blitz Andy Dalton early and often

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Take advantage of single coverage

  • Ease Joe Mixon back into action

  • The front four needs to get pressure on Tannehill

Injury list

Miami Dolphins

  • Brandon Bolden, RB: Hamstring (Questionable)

  • A.J. Derby, TE: Foot (Out)

  • DeVante Parker, WR: Quadricep (Questionable)

  • Cameron Wake, DE: Knee (Doubtful)

  • Andre Branch, DE: Knee (Questionable)

  • Bobby McClain, DB: Knee (Out)

  • Luke Falk, QB - Wrist (Out)

  • Chase Allen, LB - Foot (Questionable)

  • Stephen Anthony, LB - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Reshad Jones, S - Shoulder (Questionable)

  • T.J. McDonald, S - Foot (Questionable)

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Gio Bernard, RB: Knee (Out)

  • Tyler Eifert, TE: Leg (Out)

  • Billy Price, C: Foot (Out)

  • John Ross, WR: Groin (Out)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • A.J. Green, WR (CIN)

  • Tyler Boyd, WR (CIN)

  • Kenny Stills, WR (MIA)

  • Joe Mixon, RB (CIN)

  • Bengals D/ST


I just do not think that the Dolphins can go on the road for the second consecutive week and pull out a victory against another solid team. The Dolphins have a better defense than I expected, but they do not seem to have a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball yet. This is probably because Ryan Tannehill does not have very good weapons. It will be no matter this week, as I expect Andy Dalton and company to score early and often. The Dolphins will have to cause a couple of turnovers if they want a chance to win the game.

Final Score: Bengals 30, Dolphins 20

Written By: Jake Leicht

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