There are a few marquee matchups on tap for Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season. If you’re looking for upsets, however, focus on the games that aren’t receiving as much national attention.
There are two matchups between 1-3 teams that might not go the way most people expect, and there’s a chance that every NFL team will have at least one victory when the book closes on Week 5.
(Covers.com was used for point spreads)
Aside from failing to surround Andrew Luck with much talent, the Colts made another dubious decision in the spring.
They requested to not have their bye after coming back from London, making them the first team to play the week after their game across the Atlantic since the NFL started playing games in London in 2007. That could leave the Colts vulnerable to an upset if they spent any part of their practice week jet-lagged. The Colts (1-3) need every edge they can get because they’re not that good to begin with. Luck has been sacked a league-high 15 times.
Brian Hoyer completed 28 of 36 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 17-14 win over the Lions. He’ll face the same caliber of defense Sunday. The Lions are 21st against the pass and the Colts are 24th.
The visiting Bears (1-3) aren’t traveling as far as the Colts have this week and could build on the momentum of their first win.
It might sound strange to say that two 1-3 teams are heading in opposite directions, but the Titans have shown signs of life while the Dolphins are looking less and less like the team that almost won at Seattle in Week 1.
The Titans would have forced overtime against the Raiders in Week 3 if Andre Johnson hadn’t been called for offensive pass interference after catching an apparent touchdown pass in the final minute. Tennessee dropped that game 17-10 and then gave the Texans a game at Houston Sunday. After falling behind 14-0, they tied the game in the second quarter and again in the third quarter before Will Fuller’s 67-yard punt return touchdown provided the winning points for the Texans.
#Titans are fourth in the NFL in rushing at 127.0 yards per game and third in yards per carry at 4.8.
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) October 6, 2016
The host Dolphins, meanwhile, seem to be moving further away from being a good football team. They were 31 seconds away from sending The 12th Man home unhappy. They fought back from a 31-3 deficit before falling 31-24 at New England. Those losses were more commendable than their only win in Week 3. The Browns basically handed it to them on a silver platter when Cody Parkey missed a field goal at the end of regulation and Hue Jackson chose to kick when the Browns won the overtime coin toss. In Week 4, the Dolphins were flat all night in a 22-7 loss at Cincinnati.
No matter when or where Hurricane Matthew forces Sunday’s game to be played, the Titans have a real chance at an upset.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown nine interceptions in the last two games and the Jets (1-3) have lost them both. So a trip to Heinz Field might not seem like what the doctor ordered, especially not after the Steelers defeated the Chiefs 43-14 a week after the Chiefs pounded the Jets 24-3.
The Steelers (3-1), however, could be without inside linebacker Ryan Shazier for the second straight game. Shazier has shown signs of becoming a dominant force, but he’s also injury prone. The Steelers also are banged up on the offensive line. Left guard Ramon Foster could come back from a chest injury, but injuries to Marcus Gilbert and Ryan Harris could force the Steelers to start Chris Hubbard at right tackle.
This might not be the best time for all this shuffling on the offensive line. Pro Bowlers Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson as well as former Steeler Steve McLendon will be lining up on the other side. McLendon has two sacks and knows a thing or two about the tendencies of the Steelers’ offensive linemen after playing nose tackle in Pittsburgh for six years.
Darrelle Revis could be out for the Jets, but that might actually help the Jets at this point in his career.
The Steelers atoned for their 34-3 shellacking in Philadelphia with that 43-14 beating of the Chiefs last week. But the Jets have a history of knocking the Steelers down a peg. They snapped the Steelers’ three-game winning streak in 2007, a four-game winning streak in 2010 and a three-game run in 2014.
The Jets have faced three 2015 playoff teams so far and haven’t played a team yet that was under .500 last season. Their record doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Browns (0-4) are the biggest underdogs of the week, but Tom Brady could be rusty in his return from a four-game Deflategate suspension.
Brady might not have all of his weapons at his disposal. Rob Gronkowski, who’s been fighting a hamstring injury, still might not be 100 percent. Julian Edelman was downgraded to a limited participant in practice Thursday with a foot injury, according to Pro Football Talk.
Cleveland boasts the AFC’s leading rusher in Isaiah Crowell (394 yards) and the NFL’s top rushing offense in yards per game (149.2) and yards per carry (5.7). The Patriots, meanwhile, are tied for 20th in the league with 4.3 yards per carry allowed.
The Browns have been competitive in each of their last three games. They jumped out to a 20-0, first-quarter lead over the Ravens at home in Week 2. They missed a field goal that would have beaten the Dolphins in regulation in Week 3 and they led the Redskins 20-17 in the third quarter before losing 31-20.
This isn’t a gimme for the Patriots in the Dawg Pound.
Both of these teams are riding winning streaks. The visiting Bills (2-2) have won two in a row and the Rams (3-1) have won three straight.
The Bills have an edge at a couple of skill positions. They’re hoping Tyrod Taylor can be a franchise quarterback while the Rams know that Case Keenum is keeping the seat warm for Jared Goff until he’s ready. Bills running back LeSean McCoy has run for 297 yards (4.4 yards per carry) while Todd Gurley has run for 216 yards (2.6 yards per carry) as he fights through a sophomore slump. That could be the difference in this matchup of teams that are both strong against the run. The Bills are allowing 3.6 yards per carry and the Rams are allowing 3.7.
Neither defense is stellar. The Bills are 17th in the league with 356.5 yards allowed per game and the Rams are 24th at 379.5. The Bills, however, are fourth with 13 sacks and the Rams have only seven.
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) October 5, 2016
Because of marginal talent on offense on both sides, this game has the lowest over-under of the week at 39.5 points. This suggests a low-scoring game that could be decided by the way the ball bounces on a single play.