FOX Sports South walks the plank of potential embarrassment by chronicling seven bold predictions for NFL Week 5 -- an ambitious gallery that could be way off the mark come Monday night. There's no fear of failure here, though. Just educated guesses. (Photos: Andrew Weber/Jeremy Brevard/Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)
Break On Through
BOLD PREDICTION #1: Andre Johnson, Matt Forte and T.Y. Hilton will uniformly break their seasonal TD droughts ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Of his last seven games against the NFC South, Forte (left) boasts absurd averages of 159 total yards and 0.9 TDs -- including a 228-yard, 1-TD desolation of the Panthers, circa 2011. 2) Johnson (middle) has averaged 10.3 targets in his last 13 outings. 3) Johnson's 11-game TD cold snap is easily the longest of his Hall of Fame-worthy career. His last drought was broken with a three-TD explosion against the Colts (2013). 4) Hilton (right) has already collected double-digit targets three times this season. 5) For Hilton's sake, A.J. Green (Bengals) and Kelvin Benjamin (Panthers) have already scored against the Ravens. (Photos: Kyle Terada/Dennis Wierzbicki/Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
Can You Top This?
BOLD PREDICTION #2: Rashad Jennings will break his single-game career-high in rushing yards (176) on Sunday ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) The Falcons (Jennings' Week 5 opponent) surrendered 241 rushing yards to the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings last week (along with three TDs to Matt Asiata). 2) Of its last 17 games (dating back to last season), Atlanta's defense has allowed 100-plus team rushing yards 16 times. 3) For Weeks 1-3 with the Giants, Jennings averaged 25.1 touches, 127 total yards and 0.7 TDs per game. 4) Jennings, who was never The Man with the Jaguars (2009-12) or Raiders (2013), is essentially making up for lost NFL time. As such, he should be plenty motivated to break his all-time rushing high ... from just two weeks ago (against Houston).
The Pursuit Of Imperfection
BOLD PREDICTION #3: The NFL will have no unbeaten clubs come Tuesday morning ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) The 3-0 Cardinals and 3-0 Bengals face daunting road trips to Denver and New England this week. 2) Demaryius Thomas (left) and the home-standing Broncos are 7 1/2-point favorites against the Cardinals ... which hardly makes this a bold prediction. That burden falls onto the Patriots, whose 2-2 mark includes two blowout losses to the Dolphins and Chiefs. 3) Of his last 10 regular-season outings against the AFC North, Pats QB Tom Brady holds rock-solid averages of 288 yards passing and 1.9 TDs. 4) It's time for tight end Rob Gronkowski (three TDs on 13 catches) to land an expanded role in the Patriots offense. He looks fully recovered from last year's knee injury. (Photos: Chris Humphreys/Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)
Catch It, If You Can
BOLD PREDICTION #4: For his Bay Area homecoming, Chiefs QB Alex Smith (left) will catch a TD pass against the 49ers ... QUICK PREFACE: We have no insight into the Kansas City playbook or game plan for this week. Instead, we're merely taking a sizable hunch that Smith will be rewarded -- in highly unusual fashion -- against his old club of eight seasons (right -- 2005-12). REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Smith has two receptions (on two targets) on his NFL resume, including a minus-4 reception against the Texans last year. 2) The Chiefs' dynamic backfield of Jamaal Charles (three TDs vs. the Pats) and Knile Davis will command extra-special attention from the Niners defense, allowing Smith a slim, one-time chance to earn his first pro TD reception. (Photos: John Rieger/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
At Home On The Road
BOLD PREDICTION #5: Geno Smith will finally end his 300-yard passing drought on the road ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Smith has eclipsed the 300-yard mark twice in his young career (both at home), including Week 3 against the Bears. 2) Smith has averaged 36 passes in his last three games. 3) San Diego won't have LB Manti Te'o (foot) for some time, and pass-rushing rookie Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) might sit on Sunday. 4) Cards QB Carson Palmer broke the 300 mark against the Bolts in Week 1, without any Arizona wideout collecting six catches. Also, Michael Floyd was the only Cardinals playmaker with more than 30 receiving yards. 5) Jets WR Eric Decker appears fully recovered from a hamstring injury. 6) The Jets might have to play catch-up against the Chargers -- calling for a lot of second-half passes.
No Doubting Thomas
BOLD PREDICTION #6: Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas will score a touchdown against the Redskins -- as a punt returner ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) The frenetic Seahawks are due for an explosive scoring play on defense or special teams, and Thomas has the capacity to handle both hypotheticals. 2) Thomas's 59-yard return TD during the preseason (vs. the Bears) was a thing of beauty. He certainly has the instincts to be a stellar return guy. He just needs more reps. 3) The Seahawks-Redskins game could get out of hand early on Monday ... leaving Washington susceptible to a number of special-teams miscues.
BOLD PREDICTION #7: The Cardinals and Broncos will post the most combined points of Week 5 ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Since 2005, Peyton Manning (far left) is a perfect 8-0 immediately after a bye. 2) The Broncos' dazzling array of playmakers -- including Montee Ball (second from left) -- are healthy and ready for the post-bye stretch. 3) Of their last 10 regular-season outings, the Broncos have tallied 37 or more points six times. 4) Cards receivers Michael Floyd (far right) and Larry Fitzgerald (zero TDs apiece) are way overdue for an end-zone visit. 5) Tailback Andre Ellington (second from righ) has quickly evolved into a weekly threat for 90-plus total yards/one TD. (Photos: USA TODAY Sports)