Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday 8th October, 9:05pm (UK Time)
The Raiders made a promising start to the season, beating the Titans and Jets to move to 2-0. However, they've since fallen off, suffering consecutive losses to the Redskins and Broncos. Even worse, quarterback Derrick Carr suffered a back injury against Denver which could keep him out as long as six weeks. Without Carr under center, Oakland will turn to former Bills and Jets quarterback E.J. Manuel to lead their offence. In addition, Michael Crabtree’s status is still in doubt after he missed Week 4 altogether. With two of their key offensive playmakers on the sidelines, the Raiders will have to rely on Marshawn Lynch and Amari Cooper to put up some points in Week 5.
The Ravens share the same record as the Raiders, and they also won their first two games before dropping the next two. However, they were embarrassed by the lowly Jaguars in London for the first loss, and then fell to rivals the Steelers at home in Week 4. Joe Flacco and company will look to reverse their fortunes on the road against a shorthanded Oakland team in Week 5. The addition of Jeremy Maclin on the outside has given Flacco yet another option in the passing game, and Baltimore’s runningback-by-committee approach has been effective. Terrence West has had the most success, totaling 121 yards and two touchdowns thus far.
The Ravens would normally struggle to defeat Oakland, especially on the road, but E.J. Manuel hasn’t fared well as an NFL quarterback, and losing Michael Crabtree would only make matters worse. This game should be low-scoring, but expect Flacco to pick apart a questionable Raiders’ secondary. As long as the Ravens can contain Marshawn Lynch, they should have no problem dismantling this Oakland team for their third win.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday 8th October, 6pm (UK Time)
|Bengals vs. Bills||
The Bengals currently own a 1-3 record, and their lone win came against the winless Browns on the road in Week 4. Andy Dalton had struggled up until Week 4, when he threw for four touchdowns and zero interceptions. They gave the Packers a run for their money in Week 3, but their offence has been unable to close out games for a long time. Dalton’s accuracy is questionable, and the addition of rookie Joe Mixon to the backfield has only created a confusing timeshare between himself, Giovani Bernard, and the veteran Jeremy Hill. Cincinnati’s defence has held all of its opponents, including the Packers, to 27 points or fewer. They've given their offence opportunities to win, but Dalton and company have been unable to capitalise.
The Bills are without a doubt the most surprising team in the NFL right now. They lead the AFC East with a 3-1 record, which places them above the defending champion Patriots. LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor have produced most of Buffalo’s offence, but it’s proved to be enough so far. Their lone loss came to the Panthers on the road in Week 2, but they've already taken down the previously undefeated Falcons and a strong Broncos team as well. In four games, their opponents have failed to reach 20 points even once.
Neither of these teams was projected to have much success prior to the 2017 season, but the Bills have defied all odds to put themselves in position for a playoff spot and maybe even a division title. The Bengals are returning home after a strong outing in Green Bay and a blowout victory in Cleveland, but they've failed to record a victory in Cincinnati this season. Buffalo has more momentum, and their offence has been much more consistent this season. The Bills should continue their hot streak and take down a weak Bengals team on the road in Week 5.