Sep 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (98) sacks New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) during the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week Five: Top Five Games to Watch

My dear readers, I won’t bore you with details but this week has been a doosie for me, so I thought I’d do an abbreviated NFL prediction week – on the games that are probably the more anticipated ones. Let’s have a look:

New Orleans (4-0) at Chicago (3-1)

The resurrected and undefeated Saints come into Soldier Field ranked 4th in the NFL in offense AND defense so far in 2013. While the offensive ranking isn’t a surprise, the defensive one is. Combine that with questions about Brandon Marshall’s hip and foot and Alshon Jeffery not stepping up his game on the other side yet, and Chicago’s fortunes on offense appear to ride on RB Matt Forte at least for this week. The problem is the Saints and Drew Brees can score in bunches and this might be one of those games that gets away from the home team in a hurry. This game will really test the Chicago defense while at the same time giving us a decent gauge on just how good the Saints may or not be.

prediction: Saints 27, Bears 17

Seattle (4-0) at Indianapolis (3-1)

In a similar set-up to the previous game in teams with a single loss between them, this game will test the skills of QB Andrew Luck and his weapons against the Legion of Boom Seattle defense. In the end, I think the ‘hawks have to come back to Earth and take a breather once in a while, and Luck & Co. put together an impressive win against a superior team.

prediction: Colts 21, Seahawks 20

Sep 15, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) runs from Buffalo Bills defensive back Justin Rogers (26) and middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (50) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beat Carolina 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina (1-2) at Arizona (2-2)

Yeah, yeah….the Homer picks their own team for a top-five game again, but considering it’s a Panthers’ fansite, what do you expect? Seriously, there are similar teams with similar strengths and weaknesses in some ways and some interesting dynamics here. Both teams have struggling offensive lines and both have very good defenses. With CB Patrick Peterson coming off a 2-pick game last week and rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu so far being everything the Cardinals had hoped, look for DeAngelo Williams to be asked to carry most of the load on the ground. TE Greg Olson should see his share of targets this week as the offense struggles to find a real identity. If you like defensive games, this one should offer plenty of that from both sides.

prediction: Carolina 20, Arizona 13

Denver (4-0) at Dallas (2-2)

This game should be the opposite of a defensive struggle. I can easily see both QBs going for over 350 yards in this one as Romo seems to be heating up and the Cowboys are playing at home. They are not playing solid defense, but I think their offense matches up well with the Denver defense. Look for a shootout here, with the Cowboys having surprising success running the ball.

prediction: Cowboys 37, Broncos 33

Houston (2-2) at San Francisco (2-2)

These are two of the best 2-2 teams I’ve seen meet in a game in some time. Each team is loaded with talent, but it looks like Colin Kaepernick is starting to warm up now while Houston’s Matt Schaub is having fans burning his jersey in the parking lot after games. It should be a great game to watch as the Texans’ running game could find some running room without Aldon Smith on the other side as well as less pressure in the passing game. Schaub really needs a good outing, win or lose, and if they lose it better be in spite of, not because of, his play.

prediction: Niners 31, Texans 17

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