For Odell Beckham Jr., the stakes and circumstances are clear.
The New York Giants wide receiver will again be the center of attention, this time in Sunday night's game against the Green Bay Packers, and he can't afford to lose his composure.
Beckham has pivoted from dismissive to apologetic after his second straight week with an emotional outburst. With coach Ben McAdoo making it clear he expects more of his star, this is Beckham's best opportunity to demonstrate he can face physical play and trash talk without unraveling.
“I definitely know I can do a better job at that,” Beckham told reporters Thursday. “The thing that kills me is I remember when I was a kid and I looked up to somebody and watched them and emulated them and did things like that. What I’m doing is not something I would want a 6-year-old boy to be out there and learn from."
Beckham has yet to catch a touchdown pass this year, and he grumbled this week about his involvement in the offense. Against the Packers, he should have an opportunity for a breakout game.
With Sam Shields still sidelined by a concussion, Demetrious Randall has been forced into an uncomfortable position as the team's top cornerback. Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones hauled in six catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3, and the Minnesota Vikings' Stefon Diggs recorded nine catches for 182 yards the previous week. Randall also is listed as questionable with a groin injury.
The Packers, who are coming off a bye, likely won't let Beckham off easy. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels already said he plans to get under his opponent's skin.
For a Giants team playing at Lambeau Field on a short week, Beckham needs to deliver without significant distractions.
Here are four other matchups that will define Week 5 in the NFL:
Falcons WR Julio Jones vs. Broncos secondary
This is a proving ground for Jones and a Falcons aerial attack that ranks first in almost every category. With rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch set to get his first start for Denver, the Broncos have no intention of getting into a shootout.
Jones likely won't be able to run free through the Broncos' "No Fly Zone" secondary in the same manner he did last week, when he posted a franchise-record 300 receiving yards on the Carolina Panthers. Cornerback Aqib Talib should be the primary cover man when Jones lines up outside, though he should have help.
Denver's best asset against Jones and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, however, might be its pass rush. The Broncos might look to reuse elements of their Week 3 plan against the Cincinnati Bengals, in which they limited A.J. Green to a relatively modest 77 yards by keeping Andy Dalton under constant pressure.
Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes
The results for Brock Osweiler when targeting Hopkins last week were not pretty: The Texans quarterback had more interceptions (two) than completions (one) on throws to his top receiver. Now, he'll have to figure out a way to rediscover his star against a Vikings defense that has erased the opposition's top threat.
Osweiler said he has to be more accurate on throws to Hopkins, even though the Pro Bowl wide receiver has proven to be one of the game's best at adjusting to errant passes. Rookie Will Fuller's emergence has helped diversify the Texans' passing game, but Houston's aerial attack ranks just tied for 25th in yards per game this season.
Rhodes showed last week why he's so frustrating to match up against, as his physical play helped limit Beckham Jr. to a career-low 23 yards. Shutting down Hopkins would help him earn more recognition on one of the NFL's best defenses.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott vs. Bengals' front seven
Even with rookie Dak Prescott at the helm instead of Tony Romo, this iteration of the Cowboys' offense is something close to a best-case scenario. Elliott has the most rushing yards (412) of any player through four games, and the second-ranked attack has protected a vulnerable defense.
Cincinnati will try to stack its defense against Elliott, but winning up front against Dallas won't be easy. Bengals cornerback Adam Jones told ESPN this week the Cowboys' offensive line was creating holes "so wide open that my little girl could run through there."
Stopping Elliott also likely would force Prescott out of his comfort zone. With wide receiver Dez Bryant's ability to contribute uncertain, the Cowboys likely want to limit Prescott to around 30 throws he has been averaging, rather than the 45 attempts he was forced to make in the season's lone loss to the New York Giants.
Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Steelers' secondary
Perhaps no player in the NFL has more to answer for this week than Fitzpatrick, who has thrown nine interceptions in his past two games. Now he and the Jets might have to keep pace with one of the NFL's most explosive offenses.
If Fitzpatrick can't find opportunities against the Steelers, it could provide some serious concerns. Pittsburgh has just five sacks in four games, and it ranks 30th in passing yards allowed per game with 317.
With wide receiver Eric Decker out again, running back Matt Forte might be Gang Green's best weapon for pacing the Jets' offense and keeping Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the sideline. But Fitzpatrick is the player to watch, as further struggles could be a harbinger for serious distress.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.
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