We’re past the quarter pole, and things are getting weird. Keep your eyes on these matchups in week five.
NFL Week 5
Buccaneers at Bears: Thursday, 10.88:20 pm ET.
Brady at Soldier Field against a pass-stifling Bears defense? Yes, please.
What to watch for: Can the Bears finally get it done? Tom Brady has never, I repeat, never lost to the Bears. In two decades, he’s beaten Chicago every single time. But now Chicago has someone who does know something about taking down the GOAT, new quarterback Nick Foles. Granted, neither of these veteran signal callers are wearing the uniforms they donned to face off in Super Bowl LII, but maybe that doesn’t matter so much. Chicago’s defensive secondary is likely to be the x-factor here. They’ve allowed the lowest opposing QB completion percentage in the league thus far, holding opponents to 56.4% as well as the fewest passing touchdowns in the league (3) through week four. Brady and the Buccaneers will have their work cut out for them.
Bills at Titans: Sunday, 10.11 1:00 pm ET
Is this really happening? If so, I can’t wait!
What to watch for: The Titans are still trying to contain the outbreak that started before their unplanned bye week, and I’m not sure that Buffalo is going to be itching to go into that building and put their team at risk, but if the league green lights this one, it’s going to be a showdown between two up-and-coming contenders in the AFC. Tennessee was a surprisingchallenger last season, upsetting New England and Baltimore en route to the AFC Championship game. They’ll bring a heavy dose of Derrick Henry against a Bills defense that ranks in the top ten in rushing yards allowed but did let Rams RB Darryl Henderson run all over them for 114 yards on twenty carries last week. Henderson is good, but he’s no Derrick Henry. The Bills and QB Josh Allen might look like the heir apparent to the AFC East, but they’ll need to win some tough road games like this one to make that happen.
Raiders at Chiefs: Sunday, 10.11 1:00 pm ET
Pulse check on the Raiders, who have shown just glimpses of being a contender.
What to watch for: Do I think that the Raiders can win on the road in K.C.? Probably not. But they’ll need to avoid being roadkill if they want to make a run in the crowded AFC playoff field. Here’s what I’m looking for. First, can the defensive front make Pat Mahomes look uncomfortable? New England gave the league the blueprint on Monday night, let’s see if the Raiders have the horses to duplicate it. Second, can the Raiders get the pieces together on offense? It seems like the Raiders offense works well in fits and spurts, with Josh Jacobs shining at times, Darren Waller at others, and Nelson Agholor for a few plays per game. The Raiders will need all these guys to have big games to even hope to keep up with the Chiefs. Getting speedy WR Henry Ruggs III back would also be a boon against the team that inspired Oakland to draft him in the first place.
Chargers at Saints: Monday, 10.12 8:15 pm ET.
Nothing to lose for the Chargers here. I’m on full-blown upset alert.
What to watch for: The Chargers have come alive since going to Justin Herbert at quarterback. They took the Chiefs to overtime and made Brady and the Buccaneers come from way behind as well. The injury to Austin Ekeler hurts, but these Saints haven’t looked as good as Tampa Bay yet this year, much less Kansas City. Los Angeles is about as good as a team can be to sit at 1-3, and this looks like a game they can stay in and win late. If they want to make any noise in the AFC wildcard scene, this is probably a must-win game.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: AP Images