Five weeks into the National Football League season and the league has already provided fans with plenty of headlines. Before we look forward to this week’s marquee matchups, allow yourself to get caught up with the headlines that are buzzing around the league and check in with each division.
Christian McCaffrey pencilled his name into the Most Valuable Player race by scoring three touchdowns, bringing his total to seven.
Aaron Jones ran wild against the Cowboys in Dallas, rushing for four touchdowns which is the most by a Packer since 1999.
The Indianapolis Colts held the Chiefs to just 13 points, Kansas City’s lowest point total in their last 26 games.
Russell Wilson continues to prove that he is a top quarterback in the league, throwing for four touchdowns to beat the Rams, which is Seattle’s ninth win in their last 10 Thursday night games.
Dalvin Cook’s 218 yards from scrimmage is the most made by a Viking since 2012, much to the delight of Vikings fans who had to be feeling the heat after their team’s divisional loss at Chicago in week four.
DeShaun Watson’s Texans laid 53 points on the Falcons. Watson had as many incomplete passes (five) as touchdown throws. Three of those touchdowns were caught by Will Fuller, a career-high for him.
Baker Mayfield was benched in the Cleveland Browns’ troubling performance on Monday night football. The league’s most inconsistent team now find themselves desperate to find stability on offense and defense.
Ending the headlines on a feel-good note, Teddy Bridgewater powered the New Orleans Saints past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with four touchdown passes.
In a post-game interview, Bridgewater noted how far he has come from a career-threatening injury that he suffered in 2016.
“Every morning, I’m able to wake up and put my feet on the ground, I’m able to tie my own shoes, and there was a time in my life that I was not able to do that,” Bridgewater said.
American Football Conference at a glance
The AFC South is the tightest division in the league with just two games separating the leading Houston Texans and fourth-place Tennessee Titans.
Across the country in the AFC North, the Ravens lead the division at 3-2 followed by the 2-3 Cleveland Browns, 1-4 Pittsburgh Steelers and 0-5 Cincinnati Bengals.
The AFC East is a two-horse race between the 5-0 New England Patriots and the 4-1 Buffalo Bills. Out on the west side of the conference, the Chiefs suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday night football. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders won in London against the Chicago Bears, improving their record to 3-2. The 2-3 Los Angeles Chargers are in a win-now mode to keep up with the Chiefs and Bears. You can forget about the 1-4 Denver Broncos.
National Football Conference at a glance
In the east division of the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys have lost sole possession of first place faster than they earned it. After starting the year 3-0, the Cowboys have lost two straight while the Philadelphia Eagles have won two straight. Both teams are tied for first at 3-2, while the 2-3 Giants are still in the hunt. Lastly, the 0-5 Washington Redskins summoned head coach Jay Gruden to their offices at
5 a.m. on Monday morning just to fire him. This is just the latest evidence of malpractice displayed by owner Daniel Snyder, who has earned the “worst owner in sports” title over the past two decades.
The San Francisco 49ers are one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the league after beating the Cleveland Browns on Monday night. The 49ers lead the tightly contested NFC West at 4-0, with the 4-1 Seattle Seahawks, 3-2 Los Angeles Rams and 1-4 Arizona Cardinals rounding out the division.
In the north, the Green Bay Packers bounced back with a huge win on the road against Dallas. Behind the Packers sit the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears at 3-2 while the Detroit Lions are 2-1-1 after their bye week.
Heading south, backup QBs are stealing the show. Both the Saints and the Carolina Panthers have not lost since their starting QBs — Drew Brees and Cam Newton — went down with injuries. The Saints lead the division at 4-1 while the Panthers are 3-2. In third and fourth place of the division sits the 2-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 1-4 Atlanta Falcons.
Week six picks
Carolina Panthers (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This game is a huge divisional matchup. In week two, the Buccaneers travelled to Carolina and stole a win on the road against Cam Newton and the Panthers. This time around, it will be Kyle Allen at QB for Carolina. This will be a big test for Allen, who has yet to play in a divisional matchup.
The Panthers as road favourites should make bettors a little bit uncomfortable. This game could go in any direction. Stay away from this one.
Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
The Eagles are the league’s top run defense, allowing a league-low 63 yards per game. Given Minnesota’s reliance on the running game for their offensive success, the Vikings will find themselves relying on Kirk Cousins — not an ideal situation.
Minnesota should not be five-point favourites against an Eagles team that will not be back home until week nine, on the road at Dallas and then Buffalo. This is a well-coached team, so look for Philadelphia to start their three-game road trip with a win. Take the Eagles here.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-5)
This is an interesting matchup as Houston is fresh off an offensive explosion while the Chiefs are in quite the opposite situation after last week’s efforts against Indianapolis.
Is it time for Chiefs fans to panic? Absolutely not. But that does not necessarily mean bettors can be confident betting on them to cover five points against a dangerous Texans team.
Stay away from this one and enjoy the show.
Seattle Seahawks (-1) at Cleveland Browns
The Browns look so bad right now. After an impressive win on the road at Baltimore in week four, Cleveland was flat out embarrassed after going against the 49ers last week. Browns QB Baker Mayfield threw eight completions on 22 attempts with two interceptions and a lost fumble.
Seattle is fresh off a classic primetime win at home. They are now 9-1 on Thursday nights since 2010.
This is a tough two-week stretch for Cleveland as they will travel to New England to play the Patriots after facing Seattle. They need to win one of these games to stay within striking distance of the division-leading Baltimore Ravens. It is tough to see a Browns win here but weird things can happen when a team has their backs against the wall. This is a near stay-away but Seattle probably wins this one, take the ‘Hawks.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
The undefeated 49ers face are matched up well against a Rams team coming off a close game in Seattle on a short week. Los Angeles kicker Greg Zurelein missed a 44-yard field that would have won the game as time expired.
San Francisco held the Browns to 180 yards of total offense while the 49ers offense recorded 275 rushing yards and 446 total.
Take the 49ers here but understand that the Rams are hoping to avoid their third loss in a row. They might win, but there is a good chance it is by less than four points.
Green Bay Packers (-5) at Detroit Lions
The Lions are coming off their bye week and find themselves as sizable underdogs at home. Detroit is actually better than most people think because they play hard and have some decent talent. Additionally, Green Bay has not won in Detroit over the past two seasons.
However, the Packers are a scary team right now after last week’s win in Dallas. This game is too tough to call. Green Bay should win but it might not cover the spread. Stay away from this game and enjoy the divisional matchup.
Tanner Michalenko/ Sports & Health Editor
Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor