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Vilardo: Week 5 NFL West Power Rankings and Previews

Last weekend was easily the best so far of the 2023 season for the AFC and NFC West at At 6-2

Posted on October 4, 2023


  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

This week the western portion of the NFL went a combined 6-2.

The two losses were inside divisional play, which led to a perfect 4-0 mark for the teams playing opponents outside of the west. Easily the best weekend yet for the AFC and NFC West.

For me personally, last week was also one of my better weeks of the season. Across the entire NFL, I went 13-3 with an 11-5 mark against the spread and a 12-3-1 on over/under totals. That’s much more like it!

On the season, I’m 41-23 straight-up, 38-24-1 ATS, and 31-31-2 O/U.

Below are my Week 5 Power Rankings for the eight teams in the AFC and NFC West along with a quick look at the upcoming week’s matchups and my game picks.

1. San Francisco 49ers (4-0) ◄►

Cardinals Review

And then there were two. San Francisco and Philadelphia are the last two teams with unblemished records in the NFL.

The 35-16 win gives the Niners at least 30 points in every game of the season so far—and that extends the Niners’ streak to seven straight regular-season games dating to last season.

San Francisco’s offense continues to shine, scoring on all three of their first-half drives. Christian McCaffrey is making his early-season case for NFL MVP considerations, and Brock Purdy just keeps on winning.

The SF QB is now 9-0 in his career in the regular season. Purdy was nearly perfect in the most recent win, going 20 of 21 passing for the day. He went 2 for 2 on passes traveling 30+ yards in this one as well.

San Francisco has only allowed 66 yards rushing per game but has faced the fewest rush attempts through three weeks.

In week 4, Joshua Dobbs was able to make some plays with his legs. Letting the QB get loose in this one did not hurt, but in potential matchups this season—say with the Eagles and Jalen Hurts—that could be a recipe for trouble.

Dallas Cowboys Preview

Sunday, October 8
5:20 pm PT, NBC

San Francisco gets a visit from the Cowboys this week. Dallas has looked great in three of their four games this season with big wins over the Giants, Jets, and Patriots.

Then came the Arizona game in which Dallas gave up 200+ yards on the ground. I think the 3-1 mark is a bit deceiving in this case as the wins were not over great opponents—neither was the loss for that matter.

San Francisco should be able to run the ball on Dallas. The Cowboys are 27th in the NFL allowing 4.61 yards per carry this season.

Dallas is second against the pass allowing just 148 per game. Christian McCaffrey should be able to once again have a field day and Purdy will be able to pick his spots. The Niners don’t lose this one at home.

My Picks: 49ers 31, Cowboys 26

[Advice: San Francisco will score 30+ once again and cover the 3.5 points at home. The over/under total is set at 45, I see this one pushing past that but it will be close.]

2. Seattle Seahawks (3-1) ▲1

Giants Review

Seattle went to New York and flat-out throttled the Giants on Monday Night. Granted, the Giants are a struggling team, to say the least.

But the Seahawks came away with 11 sacks on the night after averaging just 1.7 per game for the first three weeks of the season. Those 11 sacks tied a Seattle single-game record.

The defense was dominant—a good thing, since the Seahawks struggled once again on third downs. Against New York, they converted only three of 12 tries.

On the season they have converted just 13 of 45 attempts on third downs, ranking 31st in the NFL with a conversion rate of 28.9%.

BYE Week

The Seahawks have a bye in week five. A bye week this early is normally not a good thing, but for Seattle, it comes at a good time. The Seahawks have a number of players that can use the week off to get healthy.

Starters Charles Cross and Jamal Adams should be back for week six. Geno Smith came out of New York with a knee injury but should be fine given the week off.

Seattle is one bad half away from sitting at 4-0 this season; they must like where they are heading into their bye week.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (3-1) ▼1

Jets Review

The Chiefs jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the Jets and then struggled to hang on and get the 23-20 win on Sunday Night.

The defense was concerning in the Meadowlands as Zach Wilson and a Jets offense, which had struggled all year, came to life against KC. Isaiah Pacheco was a bright spot on the offense as the second-year back ran for 120 yards and looked electric at times.

Getting the run game going will help a dynamic offense. The offense was not without its struggles against the Jets either as Patrick Mahomes threw a pair of interceptions and there were some costly penalties.

Again, Jawaan Taylor had his issues on the line with a facemask in the endzone leading to a safety and another costly holding in the fourth quarter. A winning effort on the road for the Chiefs, but far from an optimal performance.

Minnesota Vikings Preview

Sunday, October 8
1:25 pm PT, CBS

Against the Jets, KC faced a team that had struggled on offense but a good defensive unit. This week at Minnesota, the Chiefs will face a potent offense that has had some issues on defense this season.

The Vikings picked up their first win of the season against Carolina last week and the script was flipped a bit. Kirk Cousins turned the ball over, but the defense bailed them out. Minnesota turned up the pressure and got to Bryce Young.

Mahomes will be much more difficult to get to. Cousins and the Vikings offense will not have the red zone mistakes they had last week so the Chiefs offense will have to deliver.

My Picks: Chiefs 27, Vikings 21

[Advice: The Chiefs are a five-point favorite on the road, that seems like a lot, but the Vikings are not a good team right now. I think KC leaves with the cover.

The total of 53 is very high. I get the number for two good offenses, but it seems like both teams are struggling to get everything going on that side of the ball. This one stays below in the end.]

4. Los Angeles Rams (2-2) ◄►

Colts Review

The Rams collected a road win over Indianapolis in overtime. Los Angeles built a big lead and let the Colts get back in it.

The second half was not ideal for the Rams, but this is a better Indianapolis team than people may be giving credit, and the Rams found a way to get the win on the road.

Puka Nacua continued the hot start to his career with nine catches for 163 and the game-winner. The former BYU star now has 39 receptions for 501 yards, both of which are the most in NFL history for a player in the first four career games.

The ground game also got rolling in Indy as Kyren Williams had his first career 100-yard game.

Philadelphia Eagles Preview

Sunday, October 8
1:05 pm PT, FOX

The Rams will get Cooper Kupp back for the week five meeting with Philadelphia. You have to think that can only improve an offense that is finding its stride. Last season Kupp was targeted on 31% of Matthew Stafford’s passes prior to getting hurt.

The production should still be there but with the emergence of Nacua the Rams should have a solid second option. This could be huge against the Eagles. For as good as Philly is, the secondary is a vulnerable spot, especially the safeties.

If LA can get multiple guys in space, the offense could do some damage. The issues in this one could come from the Eagles’ front seven and their offensive playmakers.

Similar to the Rams trip to San Francisco a few weeks ago, I look for this one to remain tight early before the Eagles pull away.

My Picks: Eagles 34, Rams 26

[Advice: Philadelphia is a 4.5-point road favorite in this one, the Rams keep things tight, but the Eagles pull away for the cover. Do both offenses have enough to push this one over 51? Close but just short.]

5. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) ◄►

Raiders Review

The Chargers have worked their way back to .500 with two straight wins. Khalil Mack had been almost non-existent for the first three weeks, against the Raiders he was a menace.

Mack registered six sacks and two forced fumbles against the team that drafted him. Those six sacks tied for the second most ever in a single game in the NFL.

The Chargers still had some issues in the win. They opened up a 24-7 lead and let Vegas climb back in it. Justin Herbert made some plays late and did some damage with his legs, but the passing game was not there this week for LA.

Just 167 yards passing on 13 completions for Herbert, both career lows for the QB.

BYE Week

The Chargers are riding a two-game winning streak into their bye week but still have some work to get done. The wins have been over the Vikings and Raiders. It took a comeback in Minnesota and the Raiders were riding a backup QB.

Still, the pair of wins offer momentum to build on during the week off. The defense looked much better in Week Four than in the opening three games and that was even with Joe Bosa out.

6. Arizona Cardinals (1-3) ▲1

49ers Review

After the first month of the season this is an Arizona team that is much better than I thought they would be. The Cardinals played the 49ers tough for much of the game last week.

They beat Dallas and should have gotten one if not both the first two games against Washington and the Giants. The defense has done a good job this season creating pressure. Joshua Dobbs is finding ways to get the offense moving both with his arm and his legs.

The run defense was not good against San Francisco and that is an area of concern.

Cincinnati Bengals Preview

Sunday, October 8
1:05 pm PT, FOX

This week the Bengals will come to town and their offense has been a disaster this season. Cincinnati is 31st in rush offense, and the Bengals pass offense is also 31st in the league.

This is a chance for Arizona to get a second win. The Bengals still have a ton of talent on the offensive side of things and are really just one good game away from getting things clicking. I don’t think that comes this week.

Arizona’s defense has not been great this season, but they have performed better than the Cincy offense. Quite frankly the Bengals look broken at the moment. Joe Burrow is still hurt and not himself. I see the Cardinals getting this one.

My Pick: Cardinals 22, Bengals 19

[Advice: The Cardinals are a 3-point underdog at home. I like them to cover that and win it straight up. The point total of 44.5 seems like a stretch for these offenses this week.]

7. Las Vegas Raiders (1-3) ▼1

Chargers Review

The Raider pass protection has to get better. Against the Steelers, Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked four times and had almost no time to pass all game.

Against the Chargers, the Raiders allowed seven sacks with six of them coming from Khalil Mack alone. Despite the pressure, Aidan O’Connell played pretty well in his first career start.

He had some late throws early but improved as the game went on, finishing with 234 through the air. Could the Raiders see a controversy under center?

The big plus in the loss to LA was Josh Jacobs. He entered week four averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. Against LA he ran for 58 but was a force in the passing game.

Green Bay Packers Preview

Monday, October 9
5:15 pm PT, ABC

A Monday Night game with the Packers is on deck, and Jimmy G gets an extra day to recover from his concussion symptoms. While O’Connell did come on in his debut, Garoppolo still gives this team its best chance to win at this moment.

The Packers have been an inconsistent team and have had trouble protecting Jordan Love at times. The Pack played last Thursday and have a little extra time to rest ahead of MNF.

The key to this one will be the offensive line. Whichever line struggling unit plays better will have a clear edge. Whoever is at QB for Vegas will have to have time to throw.

The Raiders will also need to find a way to move the ball on the ground. They are currently last in the NFL in rushing with 261 yards on the season.

My Pick: Raiders 20, Packers 17

[Advice: Las Vegas is a 1.5-point dog at home. I like Vegas to cover that and get the win outright. The point total is at 45 seems like it could be a stretch for either team.

LV went under in 3 of 4 with the sole over against Buffalo and the Bills did all the scoring. GB is over in 3 of 4 but have scored over 25 just once, against the Bears in week 1. This one stays under.]

8. Denver Broncos (1-3) ◄►

Bears Review

The Broncos got a win, beating Chicago, so—at least for now—they are better than the Bears. Still in the win Denver trailed by 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Justin Fields was able to produce the best game of his career.

A resilient effort and comeback by Denver? Or is Chicago just that bad this season? Either way, the one thing that we know is the Bears are not a good offensive team and they torched the Broncos defense.

Vance Joseph’s unit has allowed 78 points in the last two games. This team is flawed beyond coaching though. Fields opened the game 16 of 17 through the air. That is on the players and their effort as well.

Defensively, Denver is missing tackles and has seen far too many blown assignments. The Broncos are not getting any pressure on opposing passers.

A bright spot offensively was the play of Jaleel McLaughlin as the back finished with over 100 yards of offense on ten touches.

New York Jets Preview

Sunday, October 8
1:25 pm PT, CBS

This week, Denver will welcome the Jets to town. New York has a good defense, and the offense came to life against Kansas City last week. Zach Wilson solidified his starting spot after a strong performance.

With some confidence and the Denver defense opposAite him, Wilson may do more than just solidify it this week. The Jets struggled against the run, so McLaughlin could be poised for a big game, he was far more efficient than Samaje Perine against Chicago.

Denver will need to get the ground game going.

My Pick: Jets 24, Broncos 21

[Advice: The Broncos are a 1-point favorite at home this week, I just don’t see how that is possible against the Jets. NY +1 and I’ll call it my lock! The point total is 43 this one hits the over, but barely.]




—More from Stephen Vilardo—