Each week this season, OutKick will get you primed for an NFL Sunday on the couch by telling you which games deserve the most attention. For Week 5, here we go…
NFL Games Worth Watching From Opening Kick Until Final Whistle
- New York Giants (3-1) vs. Green Bay Packers (3-1) in London, 9:30am (NFL Network)
Main storyline: If you’ve been reading these posts throughout the season — which I am positive you have been — then you know that certain games make this category by default. If you’re planning to watch live NFL football at 9:30am (or 6:30am on the West Coast), then you’re going to have to watch this game. In fairness, this one isn’t too bad.
You get two teams that are each 3-1 — though the Giants 3-1 is … misleading. The good (?) news is that they get Daniel Jones back. The bad news is that they’ll be without just about everyone else on offense. No Kadarius Toney, no Wan’Dale Robinson, no Kenny Golladay. Hope you’re ready for 40 touches, Saquon! The good news for fans is that Barkley is the only real draw the Giants possess, so the more he sees the ball, the better.
- Miami Dolphins (3-1) at New York Jets (2-2), 1:00pm (CBS)
Main storyline: I try to put at least one game from each time slot into the top tier so that you have at least one game you can sit down and watch from beginning to end. To be perfectly honest, there aren’t a lot of great choices in the early afternoon window. Because of that, the best game during that features Teddy Bridgewater vs. Zach Wilson. Not ideal. Also not ideal? Both Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill are questionable. If either or both of them miss this game, it vaults down hear the bottom.
At least with Hill and Waddle, the Miami offense will be exciting regardless of who’s under center. And the Jets also possess some fun offensive weapons with rookies Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall and second-year players Elijah Moore and Michael Carter. This game could be fun. But without Hill and/or Waddle, it’s a pass for me, dawg.
- Dallas Cowboys (3-1) at Los Angeles Rams (2-2), 4:25pm (FOX)
Main storyline: As I’m listing these games, I start coming to a realization that the NFL has a quarterback crisis on its hands. How is it possible that three of the first four games on my list includes starting quarterbacks Daniel Jones, Teddy Bridgewater and now Cooper Rush? I’ll give Zach Wilson a pass for now since we don’t quite know what he could be. But, it’s true: this is the best game of the late afternoon window and it’s not particularly close. It would be hilarious if Cooper Rush and the Cowboys won again and went to 4-0 in games that he starts. Quarterback controversy in Big D anyone???
Matthew Stafford looks like he’s still massively hungover from the Super Bowl victory, but his offense isn’t giving him much help. He sure misses Robert Woods and Odell Beckham right about now. But, he still has Cooper Kupp who could realistically see 20+ targets in this game. The NFL record for catches in a game is 21 by Brandon Marshall. Kupp might shatter that at some point this season if no one else in this offense can ever get open.
- Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (2-2), 8:20pm (NBC)
Main storyline: Finally! A quarterback matchup worth watching! Lamar Jackson is almost always must-see TV and Joe Burrow is spectacular in his own right. Although, if his offensive line doesn’t start blocking at some point in his career, he may not survive. The good news for Burrow is that the Ravens only have eight sacks in four games this season. Burrow has been dumped twice as many times (16).
If he’s got some time to throw, we could see some fireworks with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins who might actually be able to run some deep routes. Last season, Cincinnati scored 82 points in two games against the Ravens. I’m not sure we’ll see that kind of scoring, but after the games above it, we’ll take what we can get.
Games To Flip To During Commercials Of Better Games
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1), 1pm (CBS)
Main Storyline: Having a game in the second tier that features a two-touchdown spread helps illustrate how rough the early afternoon slate appears on paper. However, you get Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs on one side facing a rookie quarterback, Kenny Pickett — making his first NFL start — on the other. That’s enough for me to flip to during commercials. Although, more realistically, to have one of the four smaller TVs surrounding my main TV.
It will be interesting to see how Pickett does in his first NFL start, especially coming against the AFC’s best defense. Buffalo has allowed an AFC-best 58 points this season — only the San Francisco 49ers have allowed fewer in the NFL (46). The Bills defense is often overlooked because of how powerful their offense is, but that unit can flat-out play. Good luck, Kenny.
- Atlanta Falcons (2-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2), 1pm (FOX)
Main Storyline: This is basically a nod to Tom Brady, who’s unfortunately having some marital problems. I didn’t want to pile on by ranking his game below the second tier. I don’t think his heart could take it. Plus, it was Brady himself who noted how poor the play in the NFL has been this season.
You’re telling us, Tom. Try ranking these games by watachability. You think your job is hard? Try trading with me, why don’t you?!
- Philadelphia Eagles (4-0) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2), 4:25pm (FOX)
Main Storyline: Is Jalen Hurts for real? Despite a 4-0 record, it seems like opinions are mixed on that topic. Did the Cardinals make a mistake paying Kyler Murray? Opinions don’t seem mixed about that (they did), although he has made some magic this season.
Either way, with all the poor quarterback matchups on the slate, this one ranks second behind Jackson-Burrow. These guys are both fun to watch; they have strong arms, are athletic, and make highlight reel plays. Sign me up.
I Guess It’s OK If This Game Shows Up On NFL RedZone
- Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2), 1pm (CBS)
Main Storyline: Questions are starting to mount around Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, of whom I have been a STAUNCH defender. I think he’s exactly what the NFL needs — a young coach who embraces analytics and push the envelope to take risks. But he’s got an All-Pro level quarterback and spent a ton of money to upgrade the defense, yet they sit at 2-2. The grumblings will most certainly get louder if they lose to Jacoby Brissett and the Cleveland Browns. I don’t want to see that happen, but a less than 100% Justin Herbert, no Keenan Allen this week and Joey Bosa out for a couple months does not bode well. C’mon Brandon, I hate being wrong. Don’t make me wrong about you.
Let’s go, Brandon.
- Chicago Bears (2-2) at Minnesota Vikings (3-1), 1:00 (FOX)
Main Storyline: So here we have back-to-back games where my reputation is one the line. As big a defender of Brandon Staley as I am, I might be a BIGGER Kirk Cousins defender. And by defender, I think he’s a Top 10-15 NFL quarterback. But, is that really a hot take? Look around the league. Are there really 10-15 guys you’d rather have over Cousins? Hell no.
As big a defender of Staley and Cousins as I am … I am that big a HATER of Justin Fields. I don’t get it. The media defends him so staunchly but he stinks. I’ve been on record before and I’ll be on record again. He has zero awareness on a football field. Yes, he has a good arm. Yes, he is athletic. But he lacks the instincts to play quarterback. You give someone like Jalen Hurts — who has all the intangibles — the talent of Justin Fields and you have a top-level NFL quarterback. Even as it stands, I’d take Hurts’ intangibles over Fields’ tangibles. Rant over, but my reputation is kinda on the line in this game, so let’s go Vikings.
If You’re A Fan Of These Teams, I Guess You Might Care. But I Don’t.
- San Francisco 49ers (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-3), 4:05 (CBS)
Main Storyline: OK, I said earlier that I hate to be wrong, so this is a big moment for me. I was wrong.
Take a moment and let that sink in. OK, it’s true: I thought Carolina would be good this season. I thought Baker Mayfield would play well enough to elevate this team to a level that Sam Darnold could never. That was incorrect. Baker Mayfield is absolutely COOKED.
Remember that Sam Darnold had the Panthers at 3-0 last season before Christian McCaffrey got hurt. Then, it all fell apart. Mayfield has had a healthy McCaffrey in all four starts — and they are 1-3. It might be time to go back to Darnold, something I never thought I would write. It’s too bad rookie Matt Corral got hurt in the offseason because he would most certainly have gotten an opportunity this season. Either way, Don’t expect to see Mayfield, Darnold or head coach Matt Rhule in Carolina next season. And, good riddance.
- Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at New Orleans Saints (1-3), 1:00 (FOX)
Main Storyline: I refuse to believe that soon-to-be 32-year-old Geno Smith (his birthday is Monday) is suddenly a good NFL quarterback. He’s in his ninth season, has spent most of those as a backup and has a career record of 15-23 as a starter. Yet, he’s now the best quarterback in the NFL? According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Smith has completed 10% more passes this season than he should have. That’s nearly twice as high as the next-best passer (which, inexplicably, is Jameis Winston, so maybe the stat is the problem).
I can’t buy-in. I’m sorry. It’s a fun story. It’s a great story. I am rooting for Geno because he’s so damn likable. But the football analyst in me says this is nothing more than a small-sample outlier. Plus, he’s faced the only defense worse than his own — Detroit — and another easy matchup with Atlanta. The Seahawks scored 71 points in those two games. When facing Denver and San Francisco, they scored a combined 24. I think New Orleans is closer to the latter, so I like the Geno hype train to slow down a bit this week. But, I probably won’t watch much of it, so you’ll have to tell me.
If These Games Show Up On My TV, I’m Punting It Off My Back Deck
- Detroit Lions (1-3) at New England Patriots (1-3), 1:00 (FOX)
Main Storyline: I’ll be honest, this game ALMOST made it into the above tier. But then I realized that I can’t possibly justify Jared Goff vs. Bailey Zappe in a battle of 1-3 teams as anything but bottom-tier. The Lions are kind of fun and score a lot of points, but remember what happened when Goff faced Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl? Yeah, it didn’t go well. In fact, Goff has never played well against the Patriots in his career. In three games facing Belichick’s defense — including the Super Bowl — he’s completed 52% of his passes for a grand total of 527 yards, just two touchdown passes and four interceptions, and taken nine sacks. The Lions may be a fun team this season, but I don’t think they’re going have as much fun on Sunday.
- Houston Texans (0-3-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2), 1:00 (CBS)
Main Storyline: Sorry, Trevor Lawrence. You’re just not enough of a draw to vault this game out of the basement. Yes, the Jags have been a good story and are very likely to be over .500 after this game. They shutout the Colts, waxed the Chargers, and hung tough against the Eagles before melting down. They are a team I am looking forward to watching this season. But not against the Texans, who are borderline unwatchable. I’ll check out some T-Law highlights after the game, but this isn’t one I’ll be seeing live.
- Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Washington Commanders (1-3), 1:00 (CBS)
Main Storyline: I did bet Tennessee -2.5 in this game, so I actually do care a little bit. But I’ll just periodically check the score. These are not fun teams. And, the Titans just lost rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks for at least four weeks. Outside of Derrick Henry, there is nothing exciting about this team. On the other side, you’ve got Carson Wentz. That’s enough said right there. There is the feel-good story of Brian Robinson making his NFL debut a month after being shot, but it’s just not enough to make this game interesting. Tannehill vs. Wentz is a battle between two below-average NFL quarterbacks who both likely will be backup QBs in the very near future. That’s a pass for me.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ