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Can you believe it is Week 5 already in the NFL?
Who thought teams like the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers would all have winning records at the quarter mark of the season?
The season has had many surprises: the Philadelphia Eagles and the Carolina Panthers being 1-3; the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and the Oakland Raiders at 2-2 and the St. Louis Rams at 0-4.
The Houston Texans and New York Giants are playing under the radar at 3-1.
The Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts are just plain bad.
Lastly, we have the usual teams on top. The Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers are just good.
Here are five underdogs that will win outright in Week 5.
Arizona Cardinals At Minnesota Vikings
Both these teams have been major disappointments. Minnesota is favored despite a worse record, perhaps because they are at home.
Arizona is the better team, though. The Cardinals actually have a passing game: Kevin Kolb has 1,049 yards; Donovan McNabb has 680.
The Cardinals have better receivers; Larry Fitzgerald leads them with 361 yards receiving. The Vikings best receiver, Michael Jenkins, has 144—less than half Fitzgerald’s total.
The Cardinals’ run game has been increasingly better. That happens to be the only positive of the Vikings offense.
Beanie Wells, now the feature back in Arizona, went over 100 yards last week and is giving the Cardinals a balanced attack.
Philadelphia Eagles At Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots, so why not Philadelphia? Philadelphia has the line by three, but I say the Bills can squeak this one out.
It’s at Buffalo, so that plays to the Bills’ advantage. The Eagles secondary has been struggling, too. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been thriving in the air game, except for an off game last week in their loss to Cincinnati.
Buffalo has a balanced attack as well, as Fred Jackson is running the ball well (369 yards for the season). Stevie Johnson has given Fitzpatrick a solid deep threat.
The Bills defense is also much improved, especially their pass rush.
Cincinnati Bengals At Jacksonville Jaguars
The battle of rookie quarterbacks. Cincinnati is 2-2; Jacksonville is 1-3 and favored.
Cincinnati is the better team, though. Dalton has had a better season and has more offensive weapons than Blaine Gabbert.
Dalton has 868 yards, where Gabbert has 367 on the season.
Both running games are about equal, but the Bengals can air it out more with the versatile A.J. Green, who has had a spectacular rookie season with 19 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns on the year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers At San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are favored to win this game at home. They have a hot hand, but Tampa Bay is the better team.
San Francisco has the better defense, but Tampa Bay has the better offense and so far this season, offenses have trumped defenses.
Josh Freeman had a great Monday night game against Indianapolis and has 969 passing yards on the season. The Buccaneers win because they have the better quarterback.
Both teams’ receiving games are up and down; both have solid running games.
Oakland Raiders At Houston Texans
This may be bold, but the Oakland Raiders might win this game despite being on the road and underdogs.
Houston will miss Andre Johnson, so we could see the running game really flourish in this game.
Oakland has the better run game now. Darren McFadden is having a breakout 2011 season with 468 yards and three touchdowns on the year.
Oakland’s passing game isn’t all that bad, especially with rookie speedster Denarius Moore having a breakout 2011 season.
I’d say it comes down to who can run the ball better. If Arian Foster can be effective, he and Matt Schaub may pull it out against the Raiders.