2021 NFL Week 5 Picks: Which teams will stay on top at quarter mark of season?

There’s been a lot of teams that have been pleasant surprises this year. It’s not the Chiefs, but the Raiders and Broncos who started 3-0 to lead the AFC West. The last remaining undefeated team is not the Rams or Buccaneers, but the Arizona Cardinals. Things like this have made the season difficult to predict, but I might as well continue to try. Last week, I went 11-5, bringing my overall record to 38-26 (39-27 including TNF and the London game). This week, I’ll be predicting each game, as well as which of these strong starters will keep it up.

Lock of the Week

Despite Minnesota’s record, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has consistently performed at an elite level this year. Against a struggling Lions defense, look for Cousins to blow up for over 300 yards and 4 pass TDs. Checkdowns to RBs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams won’t be enough for Detroit to even come close.

Upset of the Week

This Colts defense came up big last week and I expect the momentum to carry into this week against Baltimore. The Ravens aging RB committee will be no match for DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard and the Colts front seven. I don’t see QB Carson Wentz putting up a huge game, but it’ll be enough for an upset as the Indy defense performs at an elite level.

The Other Games

The Patriots may be missing some offensive line personnel, but either way, I expect a pretty strong performance out of QB Mac Jones in this favorable matchup. Meanwhile, Bill Belichick should be ready to stop Houston’s rookie QB, Davis Mills. It’s been a rough start for the Patriots but this game could help them get back on track.
With QB Tua Tagovailoa, WR Will Fuller, and others missing from this Miami offense, the Dolphins are no match for the defending Super Bowl champions. QB Tom Brady may be missing his trusted TE Rob Gronkowski, but he’ll have two other tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate to rely on.
Expect QB Aaron Rodgers to rely on RB Aaron Jones and WR Davante Adams and win this game in the end. However, with CB Jaire Alexander out, I expect the Bengals trio of WRs to put up big games and allow QB Joe Burrow to make this close.
This is a battle of two fairly strong defenses, and also simultaneously a battle of two banged up QBs. I don’t expect much out of either offense, but look for QB Ben Roethlisberger to lean on checkdowns to RB Najee Harris and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to win this.
QB Trevor Lawrence and the Jags should show some promise against a lackluster Titans defense. It still won’t be enough to outpace RB Derrick Henry, who always tends to put up a big performance in Jacksonville.
The Washington defense has disappointed most of the year, but I expect that to shift against an inconsistent Saints squad. Look for them to rely on this defensive performance as well as the run game in a home victory.
The Panthers offense has quietly become one of the most dominant forces in football, and I expect them to put up another strong performance this week against Philly. Expect QB Jalen Hurts to rely on his legs and make this close, but I doubt he’ll be able to outplay a revitalized Sam Darnold.
LA has been off to a strong start this year, but this Chargers defense is no match for Cleveland’s RB duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. I also expect QB Justin Herbert to face a lot of pressure in this one. Look for the Browns to succeed on both sides of the ball against SoFi Stadium.
Despite last week’s loss, I don’t think the Raiders are an early season fluke. Look for QB Derek Carr and his receivers to bounce back against a Bears secondary that has lost a step over the last couple years. It’ll be hard for QB Justin Fields and the Bears to keep up with RB David Montgomery on IR.
It’ll be hard for Dallas to stop a nearly healthy Saquon Barkley. However, I don’t see QB Daniel Jones doing much in the passing game here. He’ll be significantly outperformed by QB Dak Prescott and his receivers as the Cowboys hold on to the NFC East.
I think there’s going to be some growing pains for QB Trey Lance, especially against a Cardinals squad that has dominated every opponent this season. Look for QB Kyler Murray to remain on an MVP pace against a struggling Niners secondary as he leads Arizona to a comfortable victory.
This one is going to be a wake up call for the Chiefs: their defense needs help, and fast. I just don’t see this inexperienced Kansas City secondary stopping QB Josh Allen and his plethora of receivers. I expect an especially big game out of WR Stefon Diggs. QB Patrick Mahomes will toss the usual 3 TDs and make it close, but the Chiefs will fall just short once again.
TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night)
These offenses are pretty much on par with each other, but QB Russell Wilson has to face an elite Rams D, while QB Matthew Stafford gets a favorable matchup against an underperforming Seahawks secondary. This will allow Stafford to put up better numbers than Wilson and lead the Rams to victory.
London Game (Posted to Twitter this morning)
The Falcons offense was already disappointing this year. As they travel to London without WRs Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, their chances at outperforming the Jets are even slimmer. QB Zach Wilson has made a lot of mistakes this year, but should be more consistent in this one.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more NFL and Patriots content in the coming weeks.

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