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Brady's back baby! It's your NFL week 5 preview

The Patriots didn’t miss their star quarterback too much, but the Cleveland Browns could be in for a hiding this weekend.
Oct 6th 2016, 11:51 AM 4,567 0

Arizona Cardinal (-3) @ San Francisco 49ers – 1.25am, Friday

Cowboys 49ers Football This could be the week we finally see Kaepernick in action. Source: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/Press Association Images

IT TELLS YOU quite a bit about the quality of this match-up that the NFL’s own network — the imaginatively titled NFL Network — is selling it using the fact the Golden Gate Bridge also opened on a Thursday. To be fair, marketing it as Blaine Gabbert v Drew Stanton is hardly going to win any viewers so you’ve got to give them points for imagination.

It’s been a tough season for the Cardinals. Most pundits — this guy included — had them going back to the NFC Championship Game and perhaps even going one better and reaching the Super Bowl. However, through the first month of the season, Arizona have been well below expectations in all facets of the game and Bruce Arians now faces the toughest coaching task of his career.

The 49ers present a great chance to turn things around as, since their now-annual opening weekend shock win, they have been as bad as a team with the worst roster in the NFL should be. With Gabbert struggling all year, could this be the game where we finally see Colin Kaepernick on the field?

Verdict: The 49ers are definitely a feistier team at home than on the road but this should be the game where Arizona gets back on track. Cardinals by 3+.

New England Patriots (-10.5) @ Cleveland Browns - 6pm, Sunday

Patriots Football This lad looks handy with a football. Source: Steven Senne/AP/Press Association Images

Of course, the big story-line in this game is the fact that Bill Belichick is returning to face the team where he spent five years as head coach before moving on to the New England Patriots.

Wait, what do you mean it’s not? Oh the Tom Brady thing. Sure, I suppose it’s a big deal that the player many regard as the greatest quarterback of all time is coming back from his deflategate-enforced holiday.

The Browns have been much, much better than their status as the last winless team in the NFL would indicate and genuinely do appear to be taking forward strides under Hue Jackson but that’s not going to help them in this match-up.

Verdict: Were this game in New England, you could expect the home team to really put the hammer down. Still, Patriots by at least 14.

Atlanta Falcons @ Denver Broncos (-5.5) – 9.05pm, Sunday

Broncos Buccaneers Football #58 is probably the best defensive player in football. Source: Phelan M. Ebenhack

The league’s best offence travels to Denver to face the league’s best defence which is somehow even better than last year’s Super Bowl winning version despite losing some key pieces.

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25% of the way through the season the Broncos are sitting atop the AFC with the only undefeated record in conference and looking much more like the team Gary Kubiak wanted them to be last year but couldn’t while the ghost of Peyton Manning was still playing quarterback.

The Falcons have had an explosive start to the season and their 3-1 record has them leading the NFC South. There are still some question marks over the defence — despite that being the reason Dan Quinn got the head coaching job — but they’ve proven over the past two weeks they can win through the air or on the ground.

Verdict: As tempting as it might be to get blown away by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’s numbers this year, you should always back a great defence. Broncos by 5.

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers (-7.5) – 1.25am, Monday

Lions Packers Football Jordy Nelson's injury recovery has coincided with an improvement in the Packers' attack. Source: Morry Gash/AP/Press Association Images

Why are the Giants on prime time TV again? That’s the big question going into Sunday Night Football as they take on the Green Bay Packers.

It’s been a season to forget so far for New York’s brightest star Odell Beckham Jr., as opposing cornerbacks have finally figured out the wide receiver is much easier to defend in his head than on the field.

The Packers — thanks to a 100% healthy Jordy Nelson — seem to have finally worked out the kinks on offence that plagued them last season and in the opening two games of this. They’re also coming off a ridiculously early bye week which should help as the Giants are on a short week.

Verdict: As much as Eli Manning is capable of laying a duck he’s also capable to pulling out surprise big wins. Without a pass rush to back him up, however, this won’t be one of those games. Packers by 6+

And the rest (picks against the spread in bold)

Washington @ Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Chicago Bears (+4.5) @ Indianapolis Colts
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Detroit Lions
Tennessee Titans (+3.5) @ Miami Dolphins
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5)
Houston Texans @ Minnesota Vikings (-6)
Buffalo Bills @ LA Rams (-2)
San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders (-3.5)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys (+1)

*At time of publication, there is no line on the Panthers/Bucs game.

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