Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Patterson/AP/Shutterstock (13410283bd) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) looks to pass during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, in Philadelphia Vikings Eagles Football, Philadelphia, United States - 19 Sep 2022

NFL Sunday Preview, Week 5: Four divisional clashes highlight huge slate of games across the league

New York Giants (3-1) at Green Bay Packers (3-1) (London)

Time/TV: 8:30am CT/NFL Network

The Green Bay Packers have won three straight games since their Week 1 loss and will look to make it four in a row against the 3-1 New York Giants on Sunday morning in London. The Packers are the only team to have never played there before this trip, and demand to attend the game is undoubtedly high, with tickets costing upwards of $550 just to enter the building. Despite their recent wins, Green Bay doesn’t feel like they’ve hit their stride yet thus far in 2022. That it took overtime to topple a New England squad mainly playing with their third-string quarterback is not a good sign, and the Giants team meeting them in London is as confident as they’ve been in years. New York plays what many experts consider the easiest schedule in the NFL, and they’ve taken advantage so far with wins over the Panthers, Titans, and Bears. The Giants enter Sunday with the top-ranked rushing attack in the NFL thanks to both Saquon Barkley’s and Daniel Jones’ exploits on the ground and will have a chance to continue that trend against a Green Bay defense ranking 22nd in rush defense. A win over the Packers would help build a case for New York as a legitimate NFC contender, while the Packers are hoping to begin to pull away from a mediocre NFC North division with a win of their own. 

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1)

Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/CBS

The Buffalo Bills head into Week 5’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers as massive favorites fresh off two straight hard-fought games on the road in Miami and Baltimore. Buffalo is seeking revenge after last season’s Week 1 loss at home to the Steelers and hoping to take control of the AFC East at 4-1. For Pittsburgh, Sunday’s game is about embracing the challenge they’re putting in front of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett as he makes his first NFL start after relieving Mitch Trubisky in last week’s gut-wrenching loss. Pickett struggled with interceptions in his debut but showed promise with his ability to make throws downfield and managed to rush for two touchdowns in the second half. His ability to succeed Sunday will come down to how well he performs under pressure, something Buffalo’s defensive front led by Von Miller has produced consistently through the season’s first month. Both teams are dealing with a litany of injuries – Buffalo is missing Jordan Poyer, Dawson Knox, and potentially two or three more starters, while Pittsburgh will be without TJ Watt and Ahkello Witherspoon on defense. If the Steelers are going to keep things close at Highmark Stadium, they’ll likely need to force turnovers on defense while Kenny Pickett takes a big step in the right direction. 

Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2)

Time/TV: 12:00pm/CBS

As the Los Angeles Chargers head to Cleveland for a battle with the Browns, it’s fairly clear and obvious that their defensive focus will be on improving a run defense that allowed 131 yards on the ground to rookie Dameon Pierce just last week. They’ll have to contend with the NFL’s leading rusher this week in Nick Chubb, who leads a rushing attack that ran for 230 yards on the road in Los Angeles last season. The Chargers came out on top in that game 47-42 behind a huge passing day from Justin Herbert, but are again going to be without top wideout Keenan Allen for this game. Los Angeles does boast the league’s top passing attack despite Allen’s missed time, a testament to how well young quarterback Justin Herbert has played through four games. Winds gusts potentially reaching 20-25 miles per hour in Cleveland Sunday afternoon will certainly work in the Browns favor, potentially limiting the Chargers’ passing game and allowing Cleveland to stick with a run-dominant game plan.  

Chicago Bears (2-2) at Minnesota Vikings (3-1)

Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/FOX

Fresh off a win in London last weekend, the Minnesota Vikings will look to make it two in a row Sunday as they host Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears. Minnesota won last year’s two matchups by an average of 11 points per game, but both teams enter 2022 with new head coaches at the helm. Chicago has tried hard to lean on their run game through the season’s first month, allowing Justin Fields to throw just 67 total passes despite trailing frequently. Head coach Matt Eberflus is hoping that approach will work at U.S. Bank stadium once again against a Vikings’ defense that ranks 21st against the run through four games. With David Montgomery listed as questionable, it remains to be seen how Chicago divides the workload at running back between him and Khalil Herbert. Herbert has impressed, averaging more than six yards per carry and leading the team in rushing so far. The Vikings’ offense has looked good for two weeks in a row, scoring 28 points in wins over New Orleans and Detroit. Kirk Cousins notoriously enjoys playing noon Sunday games at home and will look to get his elite group of weapons involved early and often against a Bears defense allowing more than 350 yards per game. 

Detroit Lions (1-3) at New England Patriots (1-3)

Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/FOX

The Detroit Lions have been involved in shootouts every game so far this season, both scoring and allowing an average of 35 points per game through a month of play. They’ll hope to punish former head coach Matt Patricia’s offense in New England Sunday, where the Patriots will again turn to third-string rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe out of Western Kentucky. Zappe did enough to keep the Pats in the game last week, forcing overtime against a Green Bay team with high expectations. New England would prefer to avoid a shootout for obvious reasons, as Bill Belichick will attempt to cause Goff the kind of stress he did in the 2019 Super Bowl. The game represents Detroit’s first played outdoors, and they’ll remain without star running back D’Andre Swift. Amon-Ra St. Brown remains questionable but has started practicing as the week has progressed and will likely play. 

Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at New Orleans Saints (1-3)

Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/FOX

The Geno Smith revival tour heads to New Orleans next for a battle with the Saints, who return from London licking their wounds after a close loss to the Vikings. New Orleans will be without several key offensive pieces, including quarterback Jameis Winston and wideout Michael Thomas, while running back Alvin Kamara remains questionable. The constant turnover all over the field for the Saints has undoubtedly taken its toll through four weeks, and yet they’re a few plays away from potentially being 3-1 instead of 1-3. Seattle stays on the road for a second consecutive week after last week’s shootout in Detroit and hopes to build on the momentum they gained in the 48-point offensive explosion. Quarterback Geno Smith has only thrown two interceptions through four games, as the Seahawks somehow lead the NFC West in scoring with 95 points heading into Week 5. The crowd at the Superdome will be incredibly loud, especially given the desperation of a Saints team looking to avoid an ugly 1-4 start. 

Miami Dolphins (3-1) at New York Jets (2-2) 

Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/CBS

The New York Jets return home for their first divisional game of the season Sunday afternoon, a matchup with AFC East division-leading Miami Dolphins. The Jets have struggled mightily in front of their home crowd, failing to score more than 12 points in either game at Metlife Stadium through four weeks. Both of their road games have provided at least temporary reasons for hope, though, as New York has completed furious fourth-quarter comebacks on the road in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Miami is notably without concussed starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, turning to steady veteran Teddy Bridgewater in his stead to right the ship after losing their first game of the season on the road in Cincinnati two Thursdays ago. Miami hasn’t lost to the Jets since 2019, winning four straight in the series despite turnover at the quarterback position. They’ll have an excellent chance to continue that streak against a defense ranking 27th in points allowed through the season’s first month. 

Atlanta Falcons (2-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/FOX

The Atlanta Falcons have certainly exceeded expectations in the early portion of the 2022 season but will be without two massive offensive weapons in tight end Kyle Pitts and running back Cordarrelle Patterson, Sunday in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers’ offense seemed to finally awaken in last week’s loss to the Chiefs and has scored 40 or more points each of the previous two years when the Falcons make the trip south to Tampa. The Buccaneers certainly figure to be focused after two consecutive home losses and are seemingly catching Atlanta at the perfect time. The Buccaneers have been known for elite rush defense for several seasons now but were embarrassed on the ground by Kansas City last week. Without Cordarrelle Patterson available, expect Tampa’s defense to pin its ears back in an effort to set the record straight and stuff the run all afternoon, daring Marcus Mariota to beat them through the air. 

Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Washington Commanders (1-3)

Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/CBS

The Washington Commanders’ Week 1 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars feels more difficult to imagine as a real thing that happened with each passing week. Carson Wentz has struggled mightily in the three games since, turning the ball over three times while being sacked 16 times – the most of any quarterback in the NFL over that span. The Commanders’ defense hasn’t been a whole lot better, ranking 29th in points allowed heading into Week 5. The visiting Tennessee Titans are seemingly heading in the opposite direction, as involving Derrick Henry in the passing game has seemingly opened some things up for an offense that struggled early on. Tennessee can finish the day alone atop the AFC South with a win and a Jaguars’ loss, a scenario that might’ve been difficult to imagine just two weeks ago. 

San Francisco 49ers (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-3)

Time/TV: 3:05pm CT/FOX

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find positives for the Carolina Panthers, who rank dead last in the NFL in offense through the season’s first four weeks. It’s probably bad news for the Panthers then that the 49ers come to town this week, boasting the league’s top-ranked defense after dismantling the defending Super Bowl Champion Rams on Monday Night Football last week. Panthers’ Head Coach Matt Rhule might be coaching for his job and will need a better performance from Baker Mayfield (last in the NFL in completion percentage) if he wants to be assured he’s on the sidelines next week against the Rams. San Francisco is looking for their first road win of the season, entering the game having scored exactly 10 points in each of their road contests versus Chicago and Denver. With a four-way tie in the competitive NFC West, a win at Carolina feels like a necessary step for a 49ers team with its sights on another deep playoff run. 

Philadelphia Eagles (4-0) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2)

Time/TV: 3:25pm CT/FOX

The Philadelphia Eagles are the NFL’s only remaining undefeated team through four weeks, a title they’ll aim to hold after their trip to battle the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon in the desert. Philly has been especially dominant in the first half of games, outscoring opponents 92-35 before the break heading into Week 5. This bodes incredibly well for the Eagles against Arizona, who has been outscored 66-16 in first halves, including a 10-3 deficit last week against the lowly Panthers. Arizona ranks 28th in the NFL in scoring defense, a stat that will need to improve immediately if the Cardinals are to be a real factor in the NFC West. Arizona tight end Zach Ertz finds himself in a particularly emotional spot for this one, taking on his former team for the first time since being traded from Philadelphia in 2021. 

Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (2-2)

Time/TV: 7:20pm CT/NBC

After a nightmarish start to the 2022 season, the Cincinnati Bengals have found their groove offensively while winning two straight heading into Sunday night’s divisional clash on the road against the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore held leads of 17 or more in both of their losses this season, entering Sunday 2-2 despite quarterback Lamar Jackson’s elite play to this point. The Ravens ought to be hungry for revenge, as 2021’s AFC Champion Bengals blew out the injury-ridden Ravens in both matchups last season. Wide Receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins each posted games of 194+ yards against the Ravens last season, a trend Baltimore hopes to put to rest if they’re going to topple Cincinnati on Sunday. Baltimore has been a dominant team at night at M&T Bank Stadium under John Harbaugh, posting an 18-2 record in the regular season in such spots since he took over as head coach.

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