Week 5 NFL score predictions: A guide to best games, fantasy help, more

Bruschi sees Stafford breaking out in Lions win over Pack (0:47)

Tedy Bruschi predicts that Matthew Stafford will break out and lead the Lions over Packers. (0:47)

We're previewing the Week 5 NFL slate with score predictions for each game from our Nation reporters, what to watch for in fantasy, Football Power Index projections from ESPN Stats & Information's Seth Walder and Hank Gargiulo, and much more.

Thursday Night Football result: NE 38, IND 24
Teams with byes in Week 5: CHI, TB

Jump to a matchup:


Jaguars (3-1) at Chiefs (4-0): 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Point spread: KC -3 | Matchup quality: 68.7 (of 100)

Mike DiRocco's pick: Patrick Mahomes destroyed the Broncos outside the pocket last week (192 yards), and the Jaguars' No. 1 priority is keeping him from getting loose. They have the personnel to match up against the Chiefs' weapons, but the problem is maintaining coverage while Mahomes is scrambling. He will make three or four big plays outside of the pocket that will make the difference. Plus, the Jaguars haven't turned in back-to-back good offensive performances this season. Chiefs 24, Jaguars 20

Adam Teicher's pick: The goal for the Chiefs on Sunday is to score more than 20 points. Jacksonville was 1-5 last season in games in which it allowed more than 20 (the Jaguars haven't allowed more than 20 this season). The Chiefs were 10-2 last year and are 4-0 this season when scoring more than 20. It's impossible to see how the Chiefs won't get past that mark on Sunday at home, no matter the quality of the opposing defense. Chiefs 24, Jaguars 23

FPI win projection: KC, 59 percent. How good has the Chiefs' offense been through four weeks? It is the fifth-most efficient offense since 2006, trailing only the 2018 Rams and three iterations of the Patriots (2007, 2011, 2015). This might be Kansas City's most difficult encounter yet, however, as the Jaguars are FPI's top-ranked defense and have been the second-most efficient unit this season. The Jags are only slightly behind their pace from 2017, when they ended the season as the most efficient defense.

What to watch for in fantasy: When T.J. Yeldon gets at least 15 touches in a game, he averages 15.04 fantasy points for his career. He gets a Chiefs' defense that is allowing a league-high 5.73 yards per carry this season on a short week. Read more.

In case you missed it: Jaguars' defense bracing for Chiefs' offense ... 'It's going to be crazy' ... Tyreek Hill eager for challenge of Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey

Falcons (1-3) at Steelers (1-2-1): 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Point spread: PIT -3 | Matchup quality: 64.8 (of 100)

Vaughn McClure's pick: Getting running back Devonta Freeman back this week should make a Falcons' offense averaging 29 points per game that much more dangerous. And the Steelers have allowed 12 passing touchdowns, so the Falcons should find the end zone. But Atlanta's defensive woes might continue with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett out of the lineup. It is allowing 30.5 points per game and has had communication issues, and now Atlanta heads into what is sure to be a loud stadium. Steelers 31, Falcons 28

Jeremy Fowler's pick: The Steelers know falling to 1-3-1 would require a serious climb back to contention. Pittsburgh is bad in virtually every metric. It is averaging 2.8 yards per rush the past three weeks, leads the league in penalties by seven (42) and its 1,682 yards and 12 passing touchdowns allowed are franchise worsts through four games. Atlanta will most likely capitalize on those issues. Falcons 35, Steelers 28

FPI win projection: PIT, 58 percent. Atlanta's defense has been decimated by injuries, and it has showed. The Falcons rank 30th in the league in defensive efficiency.

What to watch for in fantasy: JuJu Smith-Schuster has been getting a lot of attention, but Antonio Brown is still maintaining a 29 percent share of Ben Roethlisberger's targets (eighth highest in the league). Read more.

In case you missed it: Matt Ryan, Big Ben show QB sneaks aren't exactly a lost art in the NFL ... Le'Veon speaks: Expectations, message to teammates, trade talk ... How the Steelers can survive a 1-2-1 start

Giants (1-3) at Panthers (2-1): 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Point spread: CAR -7 | Matchup quality: 47.6 (of 100)

Jordan Raanan's pick: This isn't a prime spot for the Giants' offense to get on track. The Panthers have a top-10 scoring defense while Eli Manning & Co. are having trouble scoring points. The Giants are 29th in the NFL, averaging 18.3 points per game. The Panthers have won their past three games coming off the bye and averaged 30.7 points in those games. Panthers 26, Giants 18

David Newton's pick: The Giants are having major trouble protecting Manning, who already has been sacked 15 times. The Panthers thrive on stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback, so this could be a long day for Manning against a defense with fresh legs coming off the bye week. Carolina's offense was starting to click before the bye, rushing for 230 yards (Christian McCaffrey had 184) in its most recent outing against Cincinnati to get the play-action game going. Panthers 28, Giants 13

FPI win projection: CAR, 73 percent. The Giants' offense is once again struggling, ranking in the bottom five of the league in offensive efficiency even with the addition of Saquon Barkley and the return of a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. FPI still sees the Panthers' defense as an above-average unit, ranking seventh in the league.

What to watch for in fantasy: McCaffrey logged a combined 68 touches over three games this season, and the Panthers now face a team that has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards. Read more.

In case you missed it: Some realistic changes the Giants can make to fix their offense ... Curtis Samuel's speed could be what doctor ordered for Panthers' offense

Packers (2-1-1) at Lions (1-3): 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Point spread: GB -1 | Matchup quality: 47.5 (of 100)

Rob Demovsky's pick: Aaron Rodgers is 13-3 in his career against the Lions, with 34 touchdowns and six interceptions (including only one interception in his past eight games against Detroit), but he has never had to do it without his top three receivers. If Davante Adams (calf), Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (concussion) are all out, Rodgers and the Packers are in big trouble. The Lions can double-team Jimmy Graham and leave the three rookie receivers in single coverage. If that's the case, then it's all in Detroit's favor. Lions 27, Packers 17

Michael Rothstein's pick: Rodgers might be the best quarterback in the NFL, but there is clear concern about who he's is going to throw to Sunday. The strength of Detroit's defense is in its secondary with Darius Slay and Glover Quin. While three of the Lions' top four safeties are also injured (including starter Quandre Diggs), if the corners are healthy against rookie wideouts, there is a significant advantage in a game that otherwise seems fairly even. Lions 28, Packers 23


Woodson picks with his heart, chooses Browns over Ravens

Darren Woodson takes the Browns over the Ravens much to the chagrin of Tedy Bruschi.

FPI win projection: GB, 50 percent. FPI sees this game as a coin flip. Though Rodgers led the Packers to a heroic comeback victory in Week 1, he hasn't posted a Total QBR above 60 in the three games since. If Rodgers' knee is affecting him, FPI will mostly miss that, since it takes a wide-lens view of past QB performance.

What to watch for in fantasy: The Lions are allowing a league-low 13.2 fantasy points per game to players lined up on the perimeter. It could be a tough matchup for some inexperienced receivers. Read more.

In case you missed it: Aaron Jones: Packers' spark-plug running back now, starter later ... Packers receivers for now: Adams and three rookies

Ravens (3-1) at Browns (1-2-1): 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Point spread: BAL -3 | Matchup quality: 45.2 (of 100)

Jamison Hensley's pick: This looks like the best Browns team in more than decade, but they still find ways to lose at the end of games. Baltimore has been the best second-half team in the NFL this year. The Ravens haven't lost in Cleveland since 2013, outscoring the Browns 59-30 in the second half over the past four trips there. Ravens 27, Browns 20

Pat McManamon's pick: Baker Mayfield has done a lot of things well, but the level of challenge increases against a Ravens defense that is ranked in the top five in every major category. Ravens 24, Browns 19

FPI win projection: BAL, 72 percent. This game pits a team FPI loves more than most against a team it is more skeptical of than most. Though Vegas has Baltimore as a 3-point favorite, FPI thinks the line should be over a touchdown.


Bruschi, Woodson both take Titans over Bills

Tedy Bruschi sees the Titans defense as the deciding factor vs. the Bills in Week 5.

What to watch for in fantasy: The Ravens have shaved an average of five PPR fantasy points per game off opponents' tight ends through four weeks. That's a problem for David Njoku, whose red zone usage to date has been rather disappointing. Read more.

In case you missed it: Move over Rams, Ravens are the NFL's most complete team ... Why Joe Flacco is off to best start since his Super Bowl season ... From teammate to rival: Facing Mayfield is 'scary thought' ... Mayfield: Browns can be 'great' with more attention to detail

Dolphins (3-1) at Bengals (3-1): 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Point spread: CIN -6.5 | Matchup quality: 44.4 (of 100)

Cameron Wolfe's pick: The Dolphins aren't doomed after their eye-opening loss to the Patriots, but it did reveal their margin for error is smaller than most good teams. This was already a tough road matchup before the Dolphins' injuries started to show up. The status of Miami's makeshift interior offensive line screams for a big day from Geno Atkins, and the Bengals' suddenly electric receiving crew could create trouble for a Dolphins' secondary without Bobby McCain. Bengals 27, Dolphins 19

Katherine Terrell's pick: The Bengals are brimming with confidence after a 3-1 start, despite the concerning performance of their defense over the past two games. But with the return of Vontaze Burfict and the likely return of Joe Mixon, the Bengals should be able to handle the Dolphins, whose offense disappeared against the Patriots last week. Bengals 31, Dolphins 20

FPI win projection: CIN, 76 percent. The Dolphins rank dead last in our new Pass Block Win Rate metric, which uses NFL Next Gen Stats. That doesn't bode well against a Bengals team with a good pass rush.

What to watch for in fantasy: Frank Gore has been the more productive running back in Miami this season, gaining almost four yards per carry. What does it mean for Kenyan Drake? Read more.

In case you missed it: Where is Drake? Dolphins must find bigger role for RB ... Bengals WR Tyler Boyd has turned patience into payoff in 2018

Broncos (2-2) at Jets (1-3): 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Point spread: NYJ -1 | Matchup quality: 23.1 (of 100)

Jeff Legwold's pick: It would be easy to say the Jets have a 21-year-old rookie quarterback whom the Broncos' defense should be able to confuse at times, but Sam Darnold has one more touchdown pass than the Broncos' Case Keenum does this season (four to Keenum's three), and Darnold has thrown one fewer interception than Keenum (five to Keenum's six). The Broncos say they're playoff worthy, and if that's true, this is a game they must win. Broncos 24, Jets 16

Rich Cimini's pick: If the Jets couldn't stop Blake Bortles, how are they going to deal with the Broncos, who have the third-ranked rushing offense and big-play receivers? It's hard to imagine the Jets solving their defensive issues in one week. Their season has that slipping-away feel to it. Broncos 23, Jets 17

FPI win projection: NYJ, 59 percent. This is one of only two remaining games in which FPI favors the Jets. They'll need more of the Week 1 version of Darnold (83.1 Total QBR) than Weeks 2-4 Darnold (24.3 QBR). Denver's defense hasn't lived up to the hype this season, as it ranks No. 23 in defensive efficiency.

What to watch for in fantasy: Jermaine Kearse was injured to begin the season, but played a season-high 45 snaps Sunday. Look for him to be involved. Read more.

In case you missed it: Broncos need to run more if they want to win more

Titans (3-1) at Bills (1-3): 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Point spread: TEN -3.5 | Matchup quality: 19.8 (of 100)

Turron Davenport's pick: The Titans are in a groove offensively after Marcus Mariota exploded for almost 400 yards of total offense in Week 4. The wide receivers match up well against Buffalo's cornerbacks, and running back Dion Lewis should thrive catching passes out of the backfield. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will dial up the interior gap blitzes and nickel blitzes to pressure Josh Allen into making careless throws. Titans 27, Bills 13

Mike Rodak's pick: The Bills' formula for fixing their 31st-ranked offense has been made clear all week: They want to run the ball more often on early downs and focus on quick, short throws when they decide to pass. The Titans have allowed the fourth-most yards per carry (5.04) on first and second downs this season, which might make Tennessee the perfect opponent to settle down a Josh Allen-led offense that turned the ball over three times and allowed seven sacks in a shutout loss last week. Bills 17, Titans 14

FPI win projection: TEN, 57 percent. The Bills followed up the best all-around game in terms of total efficiency (98.4) since 2006 with their league-leading third game with an overall efficiency below 10 in the shutout loss to the Packers. Tennessee could potentially seize control of the race for the AFC South with a road win, as the Jags have a tougher contest in Kansas City.

What to watch for in fantasy: Kelvin Benjamin has aligned on the perimeter on 89 percent of his routes this season, including wide to Josh Allen's left on 54 percent of his routes (Malcolm Butler's side). He could be in for a big day. Read more.

In case you missed it: Titans need pass rush to force mistakes by Bills' Allen ... Mariota to Corey Davis connection took off in Week 4 ... Bills should consider trading LeSean McCoy, Kelvin Benjamin

Raiders (1-3) at Chargers (2-2): 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

Point spread: LAC -5 | Matchup quality: 46.5 (of 100)

Paul Gutierrez's pick: Jon Gruden said it best in the wake of his first NFL win in almost 10 years. There is no time to celebrate. Not with the Chargers up next, and not with the Raiders starting rookies at both offensive tackle spots for the first time since at least the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, in first-round pick Kolton Miller and third-rounder Brandon Parker. Plus, Philip Rivers has a history of carving up Oakland's secondary, which is noticeably slower this season, especially in the back end. He has more yards passing (6,055) and touchdowns (41) than any other QB Oakland has faced in franchise history. Chargers 30, Raiders 21

Eric D. Williams' pick: The Bolts swept the Raiders last season and now face an Oakland team playing two rookies at offensive tackle. So even without Joey Bosa, the Chargers should get pressure on quarterback Derek Carr. Rivers has a 16-8 career record against the Raiders and faces an Oakland defense giving up 31 points a game, second worst in the NFL. Chargers 31, Raiders 23

FPI win projection: LAC, 73 percent. Gruden's Raiders might have gotten their first win of the season in Week 4, but Week 5 will be pivotal to any potential playoff run. Oakland's odds to make the playoffs would drop to 2 percent with a loss, though an upset here would jump them to almost 9 percent. The Chargers, on the other hand, are looking to keep pace with the Chiefs for the division -- a win would keep them very much in the race with a 17.5 percent chance to take the AFC West.

What to watch for in fantasy: The Chargers rank seventh in run-blocking grades, which is only helping Melvin Gordon. Read more.

In case you missed it: Holy Roller at 40: How a Raiders fumble-turned-TD changed the NFL ... Raiders' latest version of Beast Mode: fiery leader and wise mentor ... Corey Liuget's return from suspension adds push to Chargers' pass rush ... Another slow start, but Chargers find their 'juice' from Rivers-Gordon combo

Rams (4-0) at Seahawks (2-2): 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Point spread: LAR -7 | Matchup quality: 84.6 (of 100)

Lindsey Thiry's pick: The Rams are 4-0 and sit atop ESPN's Power Rankings, but their matchup against the 2-2 Seahawks is not one they're taking lightly, in large part because of the noise at CenturyLink. And don't forget about Russell Wilson. "He can beat you himself," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "Not many quarterbacks can do that. You have to cover him for a long time, and that makes it hard." Rams 32, Seahawks 21

Brady Henderson's pick: Los Angeles leads the league by a fairly wide margin in yards per play at 7.38, and Jared Goff has the most completions of 20-plus yards of any quarterback with 23. Slowing down Sean McVay's offense would be a tough-enough task even at full strength. It's hard to imagine the Seahawks doing that now that their defense is missing its eraser on the back end in Earl Thomas, in addition to Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright. Rams 28, Seahawks 21

FPI win projection: LAR, 65 percent. Expect the Rams to control the trenches in this one. Los Angeles ranks first in Pass Rush Win Rate and Pass Block Win Rate, our new metrics derived from NFL Next Gen Stats.

What to watch for in fantasy: It was surprising to see Mike Davis -- not Rashaad Penny -- emerge as the go-to Seattle back with Chris Carson out. Davis' 21 rushing attempts in Week 4 for 101 yards and two touchdowns make him a worthwhile fill-in for perhaps one more week. Read more.

In case you missed it: McVay's culture resonates with Rams players ... After slow start Donald, Suh & Co. turning up the pressure on QBs ... With Thomas' injury, the end comes for the Legion of Boom ... NFL world reacts to Thomas injury and his middle finger-waving cart ride

Vikings (1-2-1) at Eagles (2-2): 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Point spread: PHI -3 | Matchup quality: 64.1 (of 100)

Courtney Cronin's pick: Doug Pederson and Mike Zimmer believe their team's early-season struggles won't doom them for the rest of the season, so let's consider Week 5 a turning point for both the Eagles and Vikings. With the running game reeling, generating a ground attack with a not-fully-healthy Dalvin Cook against the No. 1 rushing defense is a tall task. In order for Kirk Cousins to continue orchestrating a prolific passing attack, he needs his defense to carry its weight. The Vikings have lived with the nightmare of the NFC title game for far too long and had 10 days to prepare for the Eagles. An upset gets them back on track. Vikings 26, Eagles 25

Tim McManus' pick: The Eagles' defense is a totally different beast at home, holding opponents to an average of 14 points per game compared to nearly double that when away -- a trend that dates back to last season. Jim Schwartz's unit is itching to get back on track after a disappointing showing in OT against Tennessee. The offense, meanwhile, just welcomed back Alshon Jeffery, who stepped in last week and posted 100-plus receiving yards for the first time in an Eagles uniform. Eagles 26, Vikings 20

FPI win projection: PHI, 60 percent. FPI gave the Eagles a 19 percent chance and the Vikings a 13 percent chance to get to the Super Bowl before the season. Those numbers have dropped considerably after slow starts. Philly is down to a 4 percent chance, and the Vikings a shade under 3 percent. A run for either team needs to start soon.

What to watch for in fantasy: We have to be concerned about Cook's health and performance, but the matchup is not good for running backs, regardless. Read more.

In case you missed it: What has happened to Vikings' vaunted defense since NFC title game? ... Jeffery provides instant 'spark' to Eagles offense

Cardinals (0-4) at 49ers (1-3): 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Point spread: SF -4.5 | Matchup quality: 26.7 (of 100)

Josh Weinfuss' pick: The Cardinals are in desperate need of a win Sunday against Niners, who might be their best bet before the bye. Arizona has hope with rookie Josh Rosen. However, Arizona is still ranked 32nd in 21 offensive categories, and it'll be asking a rookie to win in his first road game. But Rosen isn't your average rookie, and Arizona is facing a Niners squad that's beat up and coming off a bad loss at the Chargers. Cardinals 24, Niners 21

Nick Wagoner's pick: The number of injuries the 49ers are dealing with make this one tough to call, but there should be an opportunity for the Niners to establish their sixth-ranked rushing attack against Arizona's 31st-ranked run defense. A break from facing top quarterbacks and the return of strong safety Jaquiski Tartt should also benefit the 49ers' ailing pass defense. 49ers 24, Cardinals 17

FPI win projection: SF, 76 percent. FPI sees this as the 49ers' best chance at a win for the rest of the season. They are favored five more times this season, but not nearly as heavily as they are against the Cardinals. Arizona had its best offensive efficiency of the season with Rosen at the helm in Week 4, but even that effort was below league average.

What to watch for in fantasy: C.J. Beathard is far from the fantasy radar, but it seems relevant that his first start resulted in more fantasy points than Jimmy Garoppolo was averaging. Read more.

In case you missed it: Rosen: The QB with the big arm, bigger opinions and smart mouth ... Drops don't faze Rosen during impressive first start ... Beathard seeks balance in battle of discretion and valor

Cowboys (2-2) at Texans (1-3): 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Point spread: HOU -3.5 | Matchup quality: 53.1 (of 100)

Todd Archer's pick: Through two road games, the Cowboys are averaging 130 yards per game on the ground. The Cowboys' problem, dating back to the end of last year, is the passing game. They've thrown for more than 212 yards in a game away from home just once in their past six road games. They have converted more than 40 percent of their third-down chances just twice, and scored more than 20 points just once. This time, the passing game does just enough. Cowboys 27, Texans 20

Sarah Barshop's pick: Through the first quarter of the season, the Cowboys have allowed 14 sacks, tied for sixth in the NFL. The Texans' front seven will provide another tough task on Sunday night if last week was any indication. Behind another strong defensive performance by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney -- who combined for four sacks against the Colts -- the Texans will win back-to-back games for the first time since 2016. Texans 21, Cowboys 17

FPI win projection: HOU, 58 percent. Though it hasn't been as smooth as it was in his rookie season, Deshaun Watson has still played well, and FPI is extremely optimistic about the young quarterback going forward -- a big reason why it favors Houston in this one.

What to watch for in fantasy: Geoff Swaim has run a route on 73 percent of the Cowboys' pass plays and is handling a solid 12 percent target share through Week 4. He makes for a good streamer this week. Read more.

In case you missed it: How Ezekiel Elliott's stepped out of his comfort zone, dominated ... Texans use motion, creativity to jump-start struggling offense


Redskins (2-1) at Saints (3-1): 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN

Point spread: NO -6.5 | Matchup quality: 59.9 (of 100)

John Keim's pick: The Redskins are 1-6 in Monday night games under Jay Gruden. But if they can win this game, it would provide a massive boost. The key will be how well Washington can run the ball. The Saints love to blitz and clog lanes, one reason why they rank third in rushing yards allowed. But it'll be hard for Washington to slow the Saints' offense and Drew Brees. Saints 27, Redskins 24

Mike Triplett's pick: This feels like a setup for a Saints victory -- a Monday night prime-time home game with Brees just 201 yards away from becoming the NFL's all-time passing yardage leader. Mark Ingram is returning from suspension to join two of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. However, you can't sleep on a Redskins defense that has allowed less than 200 passing yards per game this year. Saints 26, Redskins 23

FPI win projection: NO, 62 percent. Brees has dropped back to pass 66 percent of the time, his highest rate since 2013. And it has been working, so it's hard to imagine the Saints changing anything up despite Ingram's return.

What to watch for in fantasy: It's fair to expect Kamara's role to be reduced a bit with Ingram back, but it should still be larger than what he saw as a rookie. Read more.

In case you missed it: Adrian Peterson's plans changed when Kamara arrived in New Orleans ... Unexpected heights ... Three wild alternate Brees timelines, and how NFL changed