About a quarter of the season is already behind us (thanks a lot, 17-game schedule) and some things seem clear. The Eagles are for real, the Texans are not Super Bowl bound, and Tom Brady really, really loves football.
As we hit Week 5 on the schedule, it’s time for teams to begin to separate themselves from the pack. Are the Giants a legitimate playoff contender? How will the Dolphins handle an injury at the sport’s most important position? Let’s use some trusty Elias Insights to try to figure it all out.
Last week, the Green Bay Packers needed overtime to survive a spirited challenge from the Bailey Zappe-led New England Patriots. Green Bay got timely plays from their offense when they needed them, and dug in defensively late in the second half to come away with a gritty victory despite entering as a 10-point favorite. This week, the Packers play their first ever international game, and will look to their defense to stymie the Giants.
The strength of the Packers defense is against the pass, where they rank third in the NFL in passing yardage allowed. But the Packers did struggle against the run last week against the Patriots, giving up 167 yards on 33 carries from the Patriots. Against a Giants team that will look to run the ball early and often with Saquon Barkley, the Packers will need to prioritize stopping the run to give themselves the upper hand.
The New York Giants are off to a surprising 3-1 start to the season after beating the Chicago Bears at home in Week 4. They got two rushing touchdowns from quarterback Daniel Jones in that game, and have the league’s leading rusher in Saquon Barkley after the first month of the season. This week, the Giants will continue to run the football in hopes of upsetting the Packers and moving to an impressive 4-1 on the year.
While the Giants have had success running the football this season, they will need more from their passing offense to avoid being too predictable against the Packers. The Giants rank 31st in the NFL in passing yardage, averaging 139.5 passing yards per game. Against a Packers team that ranks third in the league in passing yards allowed at 168 yards per game, the Giants may have trouble moving the ball through the air once again.
Last week was a nightmare scenario for the Miami Dolphins, as they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. Even worse, they lost quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to a head injury, and have already announced that he will not play in Week 5 against the New York Jets. That means Teddy Bridgewater will start at quarterback on Sunday for the Dolphins, in his first start since joining Miami after playing for the Denver Broncos last season.
Last week, Bridgewater completed 14 of his 23 pass attempts for 193 yards, with one touchdown and one interception in relief of Tagovailoa. He is 33-31 straight up in his career as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Though the Dolphins have won eight of their last nine games against the Jets since the 2017 season, Bridgewater will need to play at a high level to continue their run of dominance over the Jets.
The New York Jets moved to 2-2 on the season with a win last week over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jets got out to a 10-0 lead against Pittsburgh, allowed 20 unanswered points, then scored the final 14 points of the game to clinch a victory late in the fourth quarter. Zach Wilson threw for 252 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in his first start after a knee injury kept him out for the first three weeks of the season.
Wilson was especially effective in the fourth quarter, helping the Jets erase a double-digit deficit. He completed 10 of his 12 passes in the final period for 128 yards and a touchdown. The Jets will hope to see him play more like he did in the fourth quarter than he did in the first three against the Dolphins this week.
The Los Angeles Rams lost on the road on Monday Night Football in Week 4, falling to the San Francisco 49ers to move to 2-2 on the season. Los Angeles was stifled offensively in that contest, failing to find the end zone and amassing just 257 yards of offense. Returning home this week, the Rams will need to beat another stout defense in Week 5 if they want to get above .500 on the year.
Sean McVay’s team needs to do a better job of protecting Matthew Stafford to get a win this week. Stafford has been sacked 16 times already, tied for the second most among NFL quarterbacks this season, including a whopping seven sacks against the Niners last week. Against a Dallas defense that is tied for second in the league with 15 sacks, pass protection will be of vital importance to LA’s chances.
The Dallas Cowboys improved to 3-1 on the season last week when they defeated the Washington Commanders at home. The win was the third straight for Cooper Rush as the team’s starting quarterback, after Rush replaced an injured Dak Prescott in the middle of their Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This week, Prescott could return to action, with the sticking point being whether or not the Cowboys feel the need to hurry their starter back, considering the level of play Rush has provided.
Having one of the top defenses in the NFL could also compel the Cowboys to wait to bring Prescott back into the fold. The Cowboys have the third-best scoring defense in the NFL, allowing 15.5 points per game through Week 4. While they will need to find a way to limit the explosive Cooper Kupp this week, Dallas ranks sixth in pass defense coming into this contest and will accept that challenge amidst a strong start.
Last week, the Baltimore Ravens got off to a great start against the Buffalo Bills, leading by a score of 20-3 in the second half. But they fell apart down the stretch, giving up 20 straight points in the final 30:09 to let the Bills leave M&T Bank Stadium with a win. On Sunday Night Football, the Ravens will look to get their first home win of the season and avoid a second-half collapse for the third straight time at home.
Scoring has not been the issue for the Ravens so far, as they rank third in the NFL averaging 29.8 points per game. Instead, it has been the defense of the Ravens that has been the problem, ranking last in passing yards allowed and 30th in total yardage allowed. Against the Joe Burrow-led Bengals, with weapons such as Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd to contend with, Baltimore has to figure things out defensively to get back into the win column on Sunday night.
The Cincinnati Bengals won on Thursday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins last week, benefiting from the injury to Tua Tagovailoa in the process. This week they face a more difficult defensive assignment against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. But with the Bengals coming off a sweep of the Ravens last season, they will have plenty of confidence in spite of the challenge Baltimore poses.
After a slow start to the season, Joe Burrow has found his touch over the last couple of games for the Bengals. Burrow has thrown five touchdown passes and no interceptions over the last two games, and faces a Ravens defense that has given up the most passing yards in the league this season at 315.3 yards per game. A third straight quality performance from Burrow could help the Bengals move closer to the AFC North lead.
Enjoy all that Week 5 has to offer, and make sure to join us for another round of What To Expect next week.