It’s pretty hard to believe that we are already a quarter done with the 2020 NFL regular season. It seems like just yesterday football returned, but four games in, we sit just four more away from midseason.
The Week Five slate looks packed with some big matchups. Here’s your preview for this week’s set of games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) at Chicago Bears (3-1) - Thu, 10/8 8:20 ET
This spring, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the offseason. Now, they are winning big in the regular season. Tom Brady and the new look Buccaneers are looking like one of the league’s better teams, getting off to a 3-1 start.
The Tampa offense has put up 28 or more points in all three of their victories, and Brady has thrown for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns to start the year. They haven’t had much of a running game, but Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and others have proven to be one of the best receiving corps in all of football. Brady threw for five touchdowns to five different receivers on Sunday.
He’s getting adjusted ... that’s trouble for everyone. 5 touchdowns to 5 different receivers for The Goat yesterday. He went to Tampa for the weapons, and we’re being reminded what he can do with a supporting cast. #TomBrady #Bucs #TompaBay #TampaBrady #GoBucs pic.twitter.com/RbGEqUreNv— #EverYardMatters (@everyardmatters) October 5, 2020
Tampa also has been pretty solid on the defensive side of the ball. They have the sixth highest rated overall defense, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF also ranks them as the fourth best run defense, and sixth best team pass rush and coverage grade.
On the Bears side of things, we’re about to find out if their 3-1 start was a product of playing bad teams, or if they are a true playoff contender. Chicago has beaten the Detroit Lions, New York Giants, and Atlanta Falcons. Their combined record is 1-11.
When Chicago faced their first true test of the season last week against Indianapolis, it looked ugly. Their offense had an extremely rough day, putting up just 269 yards of total offense, and Nick Foles was inconsistent at best.
Despite a poor performance against Indy, the Bears are not a bad team. They have some things going for them, like their pass rush, ranked third-highest in the league, by PFF. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is off to a great start, registering five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in the first four games.
The Bears’ pass rush is what figures to give them a fighter’s chance in this game. If they can put constant pressure on Brady, they may be able to force him into some turnovers setting up short fields for their offense. If this game turns into a shootout, kiss a Bears win goodbye, but if they can make it ugly and low scoring, they’ve certainly got a shot.
Prediction: Buccaneers 24 Bears 17
Indianapolis Colts (3-1) at Cleveland Browns (3-1) - Sun, 10/11 4:25 ET
There were questions coming into Sunday if the Cleveland Browns 2-1 start was a product of them playing bad teams. While they did only beat a 1-3 Cowboys team on Sunday, at least some of those seems to have gone away.
Cleveland absolutely lit up the Dallas defense, scoring 49 points and putting up 508 total yards in the victory. Despite missing their star running back, Nick Chubb, for most of the game, the Browns ran for over 300 yards against the Dallas defense. Baker Mayfield looked solid, grading out with a 100 QBR, and Odell Beckham Jr. found the end zone three times.
Now despite the fact that they did all this against a Cowboys defense that looks like the worst in the league, Cleveland still came in and won a big-time game, something we are not used to seeing from them. Their 3-1 start is the best since 2001, and they seem built for success if they can continue to be one of the best rushing teams in all of football.
For the Colts, they seem to have completely flipped a switch after a season-opening loss to Jacksonville. Indy has gone on to beat the Vikings, Jets, and Bears in the last three weeks, outscoring their opponents 83-29. The Colts have sported arguably the league’s best defense through the first four weeks of the season.
They have given up the fewest points, total yards, and first downs in the league. PFF has them graded as the highest overall defense and the highest coverage grade of any defense in football. Justin Houston has 3.5 sacks, and the trade for DeForest Buckner looks to be paying off great dividends. On offense, Philip Rivers and company have been decent, but they haven’t had to be more than that with such a good defense.
Justin Houston is still good for 4-5 elite pass rushes a game. Wins easily with an inside swipe here. Denico Autry also with a beautiful swim move on the outside pic.twitter.com/CLlzmmGWGn— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) October 5, 2020
The Browns are about to go from facing arguably the league’s worst defense to the best one week later. Without Chubb, the Browns’ rushing attack will not be as potent, forcing Mayfield to throw the ball downfield more. This plays right into the hands of the Colts defense, setting them up for a chance to take the ball away. I think the Colts do just that, winning an ugly, low-scoring game.
Prediction: Colts 20 Browns 17
Minnesota Vikings (1-3) at Seattle Seahawks (4-0) - Sun, 10/11 8:20 ET
I’ll keep this one brief. If the Vikings want to save their season, they must win this game against Seattle on Sunday night. Mike Zimmer’s Vikings got their first victory last Sunday against the Texans, finally being able to close out a win.
The Seahawks have looked like one of, if not the, best team in football through four games, but the Vikings still must win this game on Sunday. If you look at the Minnesota schedule, they face Atlanta after Seattle and have a bye before facing Green Bay in Week 8. If they lose to Seattle and Green Bay, that would put them at best with a 2-5 record seven games in. That’s not making the playoffs.
The Vikings will be tasked with doing what no team has done yet this season, slowing down the MVP frontrunner, Russell Wilson. The star quarterback has thrown for over 1,200 yards, has tossed 16 touchdowns, and has a QBR of 87.3. PFF ranks Wilson as the second best passer, and second best quarterback in football this season, behind only Aaron Rodgers.
Two hole shots from Russell Wilson:— Mark Schofield (@MarkSchofield) October 5, 2020
*Going the extra step
*Key placement pic.twitter.com/uYRaJdujEC
The Vikings defense that has given up the seventh most points in football this season, so stopping Wilson will be a very tall task. With the way the Vikings ran the ball with Dalvin Cook a week ago, I think they will be able to move the ball on the banged up Seattle defense. In the end however, Wilson will once again just be too good, virtually ending the Vikings playoff hopes.
Prediction: Seahawks 27 Vikings 20
Four Picks to Click
1. Kyler Murray, QB Arizona Cardinals
After two rough games in a row, Murray faces a great bounce back opportunity against the New York Jets.
2. Dak Prescott, QB Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have plenty of unknowns. Dak Prescott showing up big every week is not one of them.
3. The New York Giants offense
The Dallas defense can’t stop anyone right now. New York should be able to easily move the ball up and down the field.
4. The Indianapolis Colts defense
Without Nick Chubb, the Browns will have to throw the football more, playing into the hands of a dominant Colts defense.