NFL Week 5: How to survive and advance in your knockout pool

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Why is this week different than all others?

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This week marks a rarity in knockout pools. A chance to play a team that has one win through the first four weeks of the season, and is a legitimate play. Sounds daunting, right? Follow along…

Don't think about it

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There is zero chance you should try either of the NFC West matchups. The Los Angeles Rams visit the Seattle Seahawks to open Week 5. Could Matthew Stafford & Co. lose twice in four days? Yes, they could. Could Russell Wilson and Seattle fall to 2-3? Yes, they could. Moving on.

The San Francisco 49ers are also looking at a 2-3 start, and this could be three losses in a row. They go to Arizona, where the Cardinals are looking to remain the league’s only unbeaten team. There’s way too much uncertainty at QB for SF, and the idea of Arizona being 5-0 remains difficult to comprehend or digest.

The New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons get together in London. Another reason the NFL will never threaten fútbol across the pond.

The Los Angeles Chargers are lucky enough to remain home after a Monday night game. They welcome the Cleveland Browns in what should be a great matchup. That means things are even, which also means you want no part of your season riding on this one.

Speaking of no part of your season riding on a game, the AFC Championship rematch between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs will see plenty of offense, and you will have to sweat the team that wins. No thanks.

New Orleans at Washington: Coin toss. Toss the game.

Another NFC South-NFC North matchup is the Philadelphia Eagles at the Carolina Panthers. Until Christian McCaffrey returns, Matt Rhule’s bunch is a risky proposition. And the Eagles can score, so that means they could soar.

Let the bettor beware

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The New England Patriots travel to the Houston Texans. David Culley’s team was dismantled in Week 4 by Buffalo. The Patriots hung tough but lost the Tom Brady Homecoming Bowl. This is the perfect spot for a letdown, isn’t it?

Speaking of letdowns, beware of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Sunshine State squabble with the Miami Dolphins. Easy to think Brady & Co. will squish the Fish, but remember this is coming off an emotional game against a weaker foe. Asking for trouble.

The Chicago Bears visit the Las Vegas Raiders. LV comes off an AFC West loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders were 3-0 and now have tasted losing. Don’t be stunned if they somehow do it again.

After losing to the New York Jets, it is impossible to take the Tennessee Titans seriously on the road against anyone. Despite the circus Urban Meyer is running, the Jacksonville Jaguars displayed some life against Cincy in Week 4. Losing in back-to-back weeks to the Jets and Jags should be cause for relegation.

Tempting fate

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The New York Giants finally won a game in the most unlikely fashion. They scored 17 points in a row in the fourth quarter and OT to sink the Saints. Now they go on the road to face NFC North foe, the Dallas Cowboys. Instinct says the Giants should not be a test for America’s Team. It also said New Orleans should have ruined Big Blue.

Not getting involved with a game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. Hard to believe Mike Tomlin will drop to 1-4, but Ben Roethlisberger needs the Fountain of Youth to prove himself.

The Green Bay Packers at the Cincinnati Bengals. No-brainer, right? Take Aaron Rodgers and roll into Week 6. Be careful. Be very, very careful of Joe Burrow and his offense.

Go for it

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That brings us to the Pick of the Week. Imagine offering a 1-3 team to you on a platter. Yes, the Minnesota Vikings are the choice in Week 5. The Detroit Lions are winless and hit the road. There is nothing to suggest Dan Campbell’s team will compete with Mike Zimmer’s Purple People. There will not be many chances to play the Vikings. The only caution is they have found ways to lose … against strong teams.

I want to love the Baltimore Ravens against the Indianapolis Colts. But the fear is Frank Reich has gotten things right, and the Colts could pick up their second straight win, as opposed to dropping to 1-4.

Related:

NFL Power Rankings entering Week 5.

10 facts about Steve Belichick.

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