Previewing NFL Week 5

The NFL has three prime time games that don’t appear ready for prime time this weekend.

The weekend opens Thursday night with a pair of 2-2 teams – Indianapolis at Denver – that don’t appear to be contenders although the game does feature two veteran quarterbacks – Denver’s Russell Wilson and Indianapolis’ Matt Ryan — in their first season with new teams.

The Sunday night game also features two 2-2 teams – Cincinnati at Baltimore. Cincinnati has overcome an 0-2 start while the Ravens are struggling on defense and gave up 17 point leads in their two losses. 

The Monday night game pits the 1-3 Raiders at 3-1 Kansas City. This should be an easy win for the Chiefs if they aren’t looking ahead to next week’s game with 3-1 Buffalo, which hosts Pittsburgh and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who figures to make his first start Sunday.

The 9:30 am London game matches a pair of surprising 3-1 teams – Minnesota and the New York Giants – with new coaches – Kevin O’Connell of the Vikings and Brian Daboll of the Giants.

The best game this weekend is the Fox doubleheader game on Sunday with the 3-1 Cowboys going to the defending champion 2-2 Rams, who are off to a disappointing start. The Cowboys need a win to stay close to the 4-0 Eagles, who figure to beat 2-2 Arizona in the other late Fox Sunday game.

The defending champion Rams will be no worse than a game off the division lead even if they lose because all four NFC West teams are 2-2. The Rams and Cardinals are home while Seattle goes to New Orleans and San Francisco goes to Carolina. 

It will be interesting to see if the trend of close games continues this weekend. So far, 50 games have been within one score in the fourth period. Last week 15 of 16 games were within one score in fourth quarter and through four weeks, 23 games have been decided by three points or fewer and 31 have been decided by six points or fewer. All are records for the first four weeks of the season.

This is the parity the NFL likes, but the downside is that 14 teams are off to 2-2 starts and only one game this weekend pits two teams with winning records. The Giants and Packers, who play in London, are both 3-1. It is the first time two teams with winning records have played in London.

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