2011 NFL Week 5 Primer

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick encourages his team against the Oakland Raiders at the Coliseum in Oakland, California on October 2, 2011. The Patriots defeated the Raiders 31-19. UPI/Terry Schmitt

Titans @ Steelers, 1:00PM ET
Want to know how dire the Steelers’ situation is along their offensive line? They just signed a guy (Max Starks) whom they released in preseason. Ben Roethlisberger’s bruised foot was in a walking boot as he watched practice on Wednesday and the Titans have a couple of linemen in Karl Klug and Derrick Morgan that can get after the passer. Don’t be shocked if we see an upset in Pittsburgh this Sunday.

Eagles @ Bills, 1:00PM ET
Michael Vick says that the “Dream Team” moniker is now dead in Philadelphia and that the Eagles no longer want to be called that. Seeing as how they’re 1-3 and taking on a Buffalo team that has been unbeatable at home this year, I don’t think anyone will have a problem obliging Mikey’s request.

Saints @ Panthers, 1:00PM ET
Don’t be surprised if Cam Newton has another big day passing this week. The Panthers figure to be trailing in this one and the Saints have struggled defensively this year. Will Smith and Sedrick Ellis are about the only linemen who have helped generate a pass rush, while guys like Roman Harper have struggled in coverage. As expected, all three linebackers have had their issues as well. Jonathan Casillas has two sacks and four QB pressures, but he has struggled in coverage while Jonathan Vilma has been suspect against the run. There’s certainly holes in New Orleans’ defense that Newton can take advantage of.

Seahawks @ Giants, 1:00PM ET
Assuming the Giants win this week, who would have thought that their only loss this season would be against the Redskins in Week 1 and not at Philadelphia in Week 3? Give Tom Coughlin’s squad credit. They could have easily lost last Sunday in Arizona and looked like they would with about five minutes left to play. But they persevered and now have what should be an easy win this Sunday. Tarvaris Jackson played well against Atlanta’s soft zone last weekend but the Seahawks are a completely different team on the road than they are at home. New York should roll.

Bengals @ Jaguars, 1:00PM ET
Andy Dalton has certainly had his ups and downs through the first quarter of the season, but the Bengals have to be pleased with the way he’s battled. With the Bills up 17-3 last Sunday, Dalton and Cincinnati could have shut it down in the second half, especially considering how inept the offense looked versus the 49ers the week before. But they picked up a huge win and now go on the road to face a Jaguars team that has struggled with rookie Blaine Gabbert under center. It’s pretty remarkable to think that he Bengals could be 3-2 after this week when you consider how messy their offseason was.

Cardinals @ Vikings, 1:00PM ET
Is Leslie Frazier starting to warm up to the idea of starting Christian Ponder? Here was Frazier’s comments on the rookie this Wednesday: “He’s working hard in practice, doing the same thing in meetings. We feel like he’s progressing well and we’re optimistic, that, when his time comes, he’ll be ready to go.” A couple of more brutal showings by Donovan McNabb and Ponder’s time might be coming soon.

Raiders @ Texans, 1:00PM ET
This is yet another big test for the Texans, who held their own the past two weeks against the Saints and Steelers. Oakland’s offense is no joke and Darren McFadden is a budding superstar. Jason Campbell has also had plenty of success this season thanks in large part to the protection he’s received up front. Without Andre Johnson it’ll be interesting to see if the Texans go with a more ball-control offense to try and keep McFadden and Co. off the field. They certainly have a workhorse back in Arian Foster if they want to utilize that approach.

Chiefs @ Colts, 1:00PM ET
Curtis Painter wasn’t good last Monday in Tampa Bay but he certainly wasn’t the train wreck that Kerry Collins has been this year either. I don’t really think there’s much to debate: Jim Caldewell needs to start Painter on Sunday whether Collins is healthy enough or not.

Bucs @ 49ers, 4:05pM ET
I’m highly impressed with the way Jim Harbaugh has the 49ers playing despite the fact that this was one of the teams that was at a disadvantage because of the lockout. If Alex Smith can play with consistency and the offensive line (which has been horrible this season) can raise its level of play, there’s no reason the Niners can’t make the playoffs. That said, they have a tough test this Sunday against a Bucs team that has looked sloppy in the early going yet is 3-1 overall. The Niners need to take advantage of the fact that the Bucs are coming off a short week and have to fly cross-country.

Jets @ Patriots, 4:15PM ET
Just what Rex Ryan needs with a trip to New England coming up this weekend: potential issues between Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez. Holmes told the media that there is no rift between he and Sanchez, even though the media suspected such following New York’s brutal offensive showing last Sunday. Clearly the Jets’ offense is a mess right now. They can’t run the ball and Sanchez isn’t good enough to beat opponents solely with his arm. And don’t think for a second that Bill Belichick will let his foot off the gas if the Patriots get up big in the first half. He saw his team squander a 21-0 lead against Buffalo two weeks ago so we could be in store for another 45-3 massacre, which is what happened the last time these two teams met in Foxboro during the regular season.

Chargers @ Broncos, 4:15PM ET
I’m not really sure what kind of message John Fox was trying to send to his team or the Broncos’ fan base by not benching Kyle Orton last week once the game got out of hand in Green Bay. Not only did Fox leave Orton in the game but Denver kept running the ball when it was down by double-digit points in the second half. It’s one thing to leave a struggling Orton in the game but it’s quite another to allow him to stay in just so he can hand the ball off to Willis McGahee. I just don’t get what the game plan is right now in Denver.

Packers @ Falcons, 8:20PM ET
This is a huge game for the Falcons. HUGE. They could easily be 0-4 right now and another loss could put them three games back of both the Saints and the Bucs in the NFC South. Unfortunately for them, they host a Green Bay team that blew them out 48-21 in the playoffs last January. Another blowout loss could be detrimental to the Falcons’ confidence and it’s not like Aaron Rodgers is going to take it easy on them. It’s gut check time for Atlanta.

Bears @ Lions, 8:30PM ET, Monday
For as bad of luck as the national TV networks have had the past two weeks with the Colts playing on prime time, ESPN certainly struck gold with this Monday night matchup in Week 5. Not only are the Lions 4-0 but they’re playing a divisional rival in Chicago that needs a win to keep pace with Detroit and Green Bay in the division. The Bears certainly have a tough task this week playing in a city that has been dying for something to cheer about. The Lions have a great fan base and Ford Field will be LOUD come Monday night.

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