The last time the Cubs began postseason play, it ended with them snapping the greatest drought in professional sports. So with Joe Maddon's club beginning its 2017 postseason Friday night, we'll dedicate our second Week 5 six-pack to droughts we foresee ending this weekend.
1. The Dolphins haven't scored a rushing touchdown in four consecutive games dating back to last season, and Adam Gase's offense has totaled two touchdowns in the first three games in 2017. Woof.
Tennessee hasn't surrendered less than two offensive touchdowns in any of its four games, and over the past two weeks, Dick LeBeau's 'D' has allowed 10 combined. Woof woof.
Which streak ends Sunday? We're going with the Dolphins offense, not the Titans 'D,' getting off the scneid. With Matt Cassel preparing to make his first start of 2017, the Dolphins offense best be prepared for a few short fields. Although the Titans have been much stouter on the ground than through the air, it'll be Jay Ajayi (RB10) falling into the end zone at least once, with DeVante Parker (WR20) the latest downfield playmaker to continue Adoree' Jackson's rough welcome to the NFL.
Bonus, since I'm in Chicago and counting down the hours until my Cubs take the field: Jay Cutler (QB20) will throw multiple touchdowns for the first time since Week 17 of the 2015 season, snapping a streak of eight starts.
2. Chiefs rookie revelation Kareem Hunt (RB2), like the Texans offense, is so hot right now Hansel is jealous. But fantasy's premier point scorer saw his three-game TD surge end on Monday night vs. Washington, and his four-game streak of amassing at least 100 scrimmage yards will go down in Houston.
The Texans have the third-toughest 'D' for backs to run against this season and have ceded the fewest receiving yards (86) to the position in the league. It's a pleasant development, as one of the few blips on the NFL's No. 1 scoring 'D' in 2016 was an inability to tame receiving backs.
Hunt is on pace not only to break but shatter Chris Johnson's single-season scrimmage yard mark of 2,509. He can afford the setback we're predicting against a Texans 'D' that's been increasingly tough on lead runners since allowing Leonard Fournette to crank out 124 all-purpose yards in his NFL debut.
3. The last time Ben Roethlisberger (QB9) failed to throw at least two touchdowns in a game at Heinz Field was Nov. 2015, a 16-10 Bengals triumph. That streak of 12 consecutive games will be ended by the Jaguars, who boast the NFL's No. 1 pass 'D,' having allowed a combined three touchdowns through the air — fewer than all but Buffalo and, fittingly, Pittsburgh.
Just don't mistake this for an upset prediction; conversely, Roethlisberger will barely need to break a sweat as Jacksonville's run 'D' and Pittsburgh's ground game are clearly going in opposite directions. The Jaguars surrendered 256 rushing yards last week, their highest total since 2009, at 8.0 (!) yards a pop. Bell tolled the Ravens for 144 of Pittsburgh's 173 total rushing yards — its highest mark since Week 14 last season.
A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey are balling in Jacksonville's secondary, more so right now than Antonio Brown (WR4) and Martavis Bryant (WR27) are in the Steelers' WR corps. The Steelers are 8 1/2-point favorites and coming off back-to-back games forcing multiple turnovers. This one could get ugly early for Blake Bortles ... and pretty, pretty easy for Big Ben.
4. The Bears have arguably the worst receiving corps in the NFL and TE depth unrivaled by most NFL clubs. Conventional wisdom suggested the tight ends would be the focal point of the offense this season, but even with a QB allergic to targeting his receivers in Mike Glennon, Bears TEs have combined for 17 catches and 185 yards — with Zach Miller (TE17) accounting for more than 76 percent of the production.
The Bears' leading pass catcher in a game hasn't been a tight end since Miller secured seven grabs for 88 yards last Halloween, a ghastly Monday night showing at Soldier Field for the Vikings defense.
With Mitchell Trubisky set to make his NFL debut, it says here the Bears passing offense finally starts running through its tight ends again. For the first time since last Halloween, a tight end — Miller once again — leads the club in receiving en route to a TE1 finish.
5. Carson Wentz has gone consecutive games without throwing an interception or losing a fumble for the first time in more than a calendar year. But the likely absence of Wendell Smallwood from the Eagles' upstart ground game, paired with a dangerous Arizona downfield passing attack vs. Philly's susceptible secondary, could signal the end of two mini streaks.
Wentz, our QB7 this week, will have a nice game — just not a fully clean one. And the Eagles will hold off Arizona at home, but they'll struggle to break 100 yards on the ground, never mind their excellent 143-yard average (third in the NFL), including three straight games with 100-plus yards, 4.8 YPC.
6. EJ Manuel was last victorious as a starter in Week 2 of the 2014 season, a span of more than three years, five starts and eight appearances. He was hardly flashy that day vs. Miami, but he protected the football and threw for 202 yards and a score while leaning on his defense and special teams.
We already mentioned the Raiders' 'D' in our Thursday six-pack — it's our No. 3 option this week — and the weird suspicion we have that Marshawn Lynch (RB28) may go off on the Ravens. So let's go a step further: despite Derek Carr being listed as questionable just days after fracturing his back, Manuel not only earns the starting nod and victory, he'll help Amari Cooper (WR21) snap a 13-game drought without clearing five catches and 100 yards.
There are plenty of bold predictions in year regarding streaks that will be snapped in Week 5. Here's the boldest of them all, unrelated to football, about the start of a new streak: back-to-back World Series champs. Let's go, Cubs!