The NFL football season heads into Week 5 with a handful of games which will shake up the conference races on the road to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles this upcoming February. Some of these matchups were always expected to be very important, but some of these games have become surprisingly intriguing.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Odds: Cardinals -5
The San Francisco 49ers played multiple “home” games in Arizona last season. They are used to playing games in Glendale, Az, since they were kicked out of their home county during the pandemic in 2020. They will need to feel at home in this game because they desperately need to win it. The 49ers trail the Cardinals by two games in the NFC West after losing to the Seattle Seahawks and watching the Cardinals handle the Los Angeles Rams on the road.
The Cardinals have been the story of the NFL so far this season, roaring to a 4-0 start behind star quarterback Kyler Murray. While the Cardinals did struggle against the Vikings in Week 2 and the Jaguars in Week 3, they looked untouchable in Week 4 against the Rams and in Week 1 versus the Tennessee Titans.
Murray was brilliant in the Titans and Rams victories. The 49ers have questions about their own quarterback situation with Jimmy Garoppolo injured and Trey Lance getting the start against the Cardinals, but if San Francisco can’t slow Murray, it won’t matter which quarterback the Niners have. Containing the Arizona offense is the first priority for the 49ers in this crucial early-season game.
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals
Odds: Packers -3
This is a fascinating matchup for NFL game betting purposes in light of what we have already seen.
The Bengals are not a terrible team. They beat the Minnesota Vikings at home, which surely got the Packers’ attention. The Bengals are 3-1 and were able to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They have gotten better, but it’s unclear how much better they truly are. Moreover, the Vikings are 1-3, the Steelers are 1-3, and the Bengals also have a victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bengals have therefore not proved themselves against the best of the best in the NFL. Enter the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, who have won three straight games after a weird Week 1 no-show against the New Orleans Saints. The Packers look like a top-tier NFC contender once again. Their win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 carried into Week 4. Green Bay handled the Pittsburgh Steelers with ease and is displaying the offense-defense balance which marks a very good NFL team.
Are the Bengals ready to show they need to be taken seriously? Will the Packers keep their momentum going? The Packers certainly deserve to be seen as favorites, but maybe Joe Burrow has a surprise in store for Aaron Rodgers.
New Orleans Saints at Washington Football Team
Odds: Saints -2
This is an interesting game for multiple reasons. First, we don’t know what kind of team the Saints have. They crushed the Packers but lost to the Giants. They were pounded by the Panthers but smoked the Patriots on the road. They’re an up-and-down team with an erratic quarterback, Jameis Winston. The Saints are no longer the consistent team they were with Drew Brees. Maybe they can develop that consistency again, but they have to prove it first.
This game is also interesting because Washington is trying to find its way through the season with backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who played well in its wild card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady in January. Heinicke led a comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons this past weekend. That’s a big lift for Washington, but a lot of NFL teams have scored comeback wins against the Falcons in recent years. Does that mean Heinicke is ready to beat a New Orleans defense which is clearly a lot better than Atlanta’s defense? It’s unclear to those who bet online.
This game is also important because both teams are trying to position themselves well in their respective divisions. The Saints are trying to catch the Panthers for second place behind the Buccaneers in the NFC South. The Washington Football Team is trying to retain second place and keep the pressure on the first-place Cowboys in the NFC East.
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers
Odds: Chargers -2.5
The Browns have won three straight games and look like a good team that will contend in the AFC, and yet they are an outright underdog. That says a lot about how well Justin Herbert is playing for the Chargers, and how much the Bolts are making themselves into a contender in the AFC.
The Chargers beat the Chiefs in Kansas City and are playing with a lot of confidence right now. The Browns did beat the Minnesota Vikings last week but scored only one touchdown. Baker Mayfield didn’t play well, so it’s clear that Justin Herbert is the hotter quarterback right now. This is a game in which Mayfield needs to make a statement. The Browns lost to the Chiefs. They don’t want to lose to a second team from the AFC West in case there are playoff tiebreakers at the end of the regular season.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Odds: Chiefs -2.5
This is a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game, won by the Chiefs in front of a small crowd (due to the pandemic) in Kansas City. There will be a full house for this game, with the Bills trying to avenge their loss. The Chiefs have a great offense, but they have what is statistically the worst defense in the NFL.
The Chiefs have to make improvements on defense if they want to get back to the Super Bowl. The Bills have to like their chances in this game, given how poorly Kansas City is performing on defense. This has the makings of a 41-38 game in favor of Buffalo, which makes it tough for NFL predictions.