by Ryan Meehan
Week five began on Thursday night when the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals got arched in St. Louis, only managing a field goal. Luckily for them, there were a couple of other teams that weren’t able to manage any more than that. Overall week five had a couple of blowouts, a couple of games that went down to the wire, and one upset that sent shockwaves through a franchise that could have used a break. Let’s take a look.
Rams 17, Cardinals 3
A lot of people were calling this an upset Friday Morning but it really wasn’t. The Cardinals aren’t really an elite team yet, and they probably weren’t good enough to be undefeated before this game. Either way, they came out and dropped a three spot against a very scrappy and angry Rams team that gave them no quarter. St. Louis may not be a powerhouse from a standings perspective, but they play with a huge chip on their shoulders, and for whatever it’s worth it’s working. It may just be their reaction to bulletin board material from all of these writers who said they didn’t deserve to be in the mix, but like I said as long as they are getting wins that’s what is really important. On the downside, the Rams will be without the services of WR Danny Amendola (who is having a great year so far) for 4 to 6 weeks as he suffered a sternoclavicular joint separation.
Bears 41, Jaguars 3
Not surprising, but impressive nonetheless. Cutler and Marshall are on the same wavelength, and the Bears are continuing to prove they call still run the football. Devin Hester is still struggling a bit at the wide receiver position, but for right now he’s good enough. (and the teams that Chicago has ended up playing recently have all been shit, so that helps) The Bears are using the turnovers they force to create points, and on Sunday Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman became the first teammates ever to return interceptions for touchdowns in back to back weeks. Chicago’s performance against Dallas was no fluke, they can put it down.
Colts 30, Packers 27
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Green Bay, they lose to the Colts. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than that, you look at next week’s schedule and they play the Houston Texans. The Packers are starting to implode. Opposing offensive coordinators aren’t taking their defense seriously at all, and I know that for a fact because otherwise Andrew Luck wouldn’t be asked to throw the football 55 times in only the fifth game of his career. Something there isn’t right, and there are some major internal issues that the Packers are having. What complicates matters is by losing a game like this is that whereas in the previous two losses that the Packers had, there was a justifiable explanation for both of them: The 49ers are a great team, and they got screwed in the Seahawks game. Here, they were left with no excuse. As for Andrew Luck, he had a good game but they aren’t all going to be that easy.
Steelers 16, Eagles 14
The Pittsburgh Steelers were lucky here, not because the Eagles are great but because PIT didn’t have a very good game overall. To add to the bittersweet taste of victory that they are currently experiencing, Troy Polamalu got hurt and won’t be playing next week against the Titans. The game ended on a 34 yard field goal from Shawn Suisham as time expired, which is awesome because I couldn’t have possibly stomached another one or two point Eagles win. You know what perfectly well I’m talking about, and you know it’s getting out of hand. The Steelers are now back at .500, but you have to wonder which Ben Roethlisberger is going to show up the rest of the year: The dude who looked shaky the first 53 minutes or the dude who led the Steelers down the field for the game-winning score. If it’s the first one, it could end up being a long year for the the Terrible Towelholders.
Dolphins 17, Bengals 13
I have to hand it to Reggie Bush, and that’s not something I am proud to type. However, I have to do so because Bush talked a lot of shit about how he was going to be so much better this year and he backed it up. Miami’s defense is also improved, doing a much better job at stopping the run than last year. The Bengals didn’t look like a playoff team, and despite the fact that I’m still a fan they might not be. Playoff teams don’t lose games like this at home, and on a day where the other two power teams in the AFC North won this certainly doesn’t help their cause. I can’t decide if the Dolphins are just looking good as of late, or whether they can legitimately place second in that division.
Seahawks 16, Panthers 12
Thank God I didn’t have to watch this game. My patience for both of these teams is growing awfully thin, and from what I understand this one was ugly. What I did gather from this matchup is the difference between these two young quarterback. While Russell Wilson threw two third quarter interceptions, he was able to return to form. Cam Newton went 12 for 29 with 141 yards, and never really recovered from a slow start. I am beginning to question his maturity, especially when he drops postgame quotes such as this one: “Let’s call a cat a cat and a dog a dog. They’re a great defense. We knew what they were going to do before the game even started.” Not only does this not have anything to do with what’s going on at your nearest animal shelter, it’s admitting that they knew what looks they were going to face and they still couldn’t figure it out. I like Cam Newton, but my faith in him is beginning to slowly fade. As for Seattle, I’m going to be a little bit hard on them until the season is over and Pete Carroll admits that Golden Tate never made that catch in the Green Bay game. Also, I’m tired of him running around like a little kid every time they win the game. He is, was, and will always be a college coach and does not belong in the NFL.
Falcons 24, Redskins 17
The big news here is that Robert Griffin the Third left the game with a head injury in the third quarter, but the real story now is the fact that when it comes down to stopping the run the Redskins are virtually useless without Brian Orakpo. To add insult to injury, this was their eighth straight home loss. With RG3 or without him, I think that stat proves that Washington can’t close out games they should win when they need to do so. Atlanta improves to 5-0 and although they were having a hard time scoring today, they have the muscle to remain one of the scarier teams in the NFL. Matt Ryan was only sacked once, and when you give him that many opportunities to make big plays a scoring play is always just around the corner.
Vikings 30, Titans 7
As crazy as it is to believe, the Vikings are 4-1 and on their way towards possibly securing a playoff spot? That doesn’t even sound right. Tennessee is a bad football team from almost every angle. They have no clear quarterback choice, so they’re stuck between a guy who got chased out of Seattle and a guy in Jake Locker who is not ready for the speed at which the league operates. My point is, they’re both too slow and that can add up to a team that falls drastically short of expectations. Which is saying a LOT when you consider that they are in the AFC South. Back to Minnesota, I still need to see them beat some better teams even though they knocked off the 49ers. And I need to see Christian Ponder take that next step, which I haven’t seen him get anywhere near close to doing.
Ravens 9, Chiefs 6
During the first set of games here in the Quad Cities our local Fox Affiliate wasn’t showing an NFL game because soccer was on instead. So all we were stuck with was this piece of shit, which turned out to be one of the worst games I’ve sort of watched in a long time. You can say you’re a fan of defense until the cows come home, but when push comes to shove zero touchdowns means zero excitement. The only real excitement from this one came after the game where Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston chastised the home fans for booing Matt Cassel, who had suffered a head injury. I don’t know if that reaction from the fans was just frustration that has been building all year due to their poor performance on the field, but I’m starting to think that a theory I have been developing for years now might be true. All you’ve ever heard about Kansas City and the fans at Arrowhead is how awesome they are and it has the some of the greatest and most dedicated fans in pro football, but I am calling bullshit here. Great based on what? When was the last time they cheered those same Chiefs into a Super Bowl? Wasn’t Len Dawson their quarterback? That sure seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? And “most dedicated” is simply a term used to cover up the word “sucker”…I don’t buy Chicago Cubs merchandise and/or go to games because eventually you have to realize that you’re just being had, and that’s the truth. Now we know that Kansas City’s fans are no different than fans in Buffalo or fans in Oakland. Trust me, as soon as they sell out the name of that stadium to some bank, car company, or social networking website we’ll see just how many football fans are willing to suffer through another 4-12 season.
Giants 41, Browns 27
Although I knew the Browns struggle defending the run, there was no way I could have predicted Ahmad Bradshaw to rush for two hundred yards. That’s a stretch for a guy who has somehow defied the laws of mathematics by being available in 120% of all fantasy leagues. Eli threw three touchdowns, all to Victor Cruz who is proving week in and week out that his rookie season was no fluke. Driving home on Sunday night I heard Mike North mention that he still thinks the Giants are the team to beat in the NFL. While I can’t fully get behind that statement, I do understand where it comes from. In a one game situation where you have to count on your team to win, being a Giants fan gives you a tremendous advantage. Even with everybody hurt they knew they had to come out at home after a disappointing result in the Philadelphia game and dominate Cleveland and that’s exactly what they did. The only team that I can guarantee to beat the Giants right now would be Houston. They can hang with San Francisco, (I hope, we’ll find out next week) and they can hang with the Falcons whom they’ve beat within this calendar year. But they are also about ready to head into the furnace that is their upcoming schedule, so we’ll see how that goes.
Patriots 31, Broncos 21
As he usually does, Tom Brady got the upper hand over Peyton Manning in what may end up being the last game of an era that will likely be named after the both of them. I find it a little disheartening that the Broncos gave up 31 points, but I have to remember that Brady is still in Joe Montana’s neighborhood. He even had a rushing touchdown. What’s even weirder than that is Peyton Manning threw for over 300 yards and three TDs but not one interception. The way that defenses are laying off these days because they are so terrified of being penalized or fined, those types of stats don’t guarantee you a win anymore. (If you don’t believe me, ask Drew Brees) I still stand by my AFC Championship game pick of Patriots/Texans. They lost a couple of games that they’d probably like to have back (Arizona and Baltimore) but other than that they are still the powerhouse of that conference. The true definition of a first ballot Hall of Famer is someone who can pull off a victory in the clutch, and the Patriots know they have that man in charge.
49ers 45, Bills 3
Just so we’re clear, get used to this because there’s a whole lot more of it coming. The San Francisco 49ers are going to continue to abuse the living hell out of teams like the Bills. They had 300 yards in the air AND 300 yards on the ground, which is absolutely insane and it is an NFL record. The 49ers are the real deal, make no bones about it. Even during the Steve Young and Joe Montana years, neither of those quarterbacks put up over six hundred yards of offense in one game. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis each had a century spot, and if anybody had doubts before this is living proof that the Niners mean business. I warned you this one could develop into a mess, and I was right.
Saints 31, Chargers 24
For a moment there, it looked like the year’s most depressing storyline in the NFL was about to continue. The Saints came out flat on defense once again, and although they were able to mount a comeback they still gave up a ton of first downs on first down. There’s still a lot of work to be done with New Orleans but getting the first win of the season is a huge step in the right direction. I just can’t possibly help but think that it may be too little, too late. As was the case in the last minutes of the Philadelphia / New York game last Sunday night, there were a lot of questionable pass interference calls on the Chargers’ last drive. This worries me once again because as I’ve previously stated, I don’t want to see any of these games come down to situations where the quarterbacks are simply throwing the ball in a particular receiver’s direction
Texans 23, Jets 17
I’ll tell you who won’t be losing their job to Mark Sanchez: Arian Foster. And as Hurley had specifically predicted for this game, J.J. Watt came up beast, batting down balls and adding to his total of eight and a half sacks for the year. To be perfectly honest, the Jets showed some resilience and kept this closer than I thought. It ended up a one possession game and I certainly didn’t predict that. Houston has the Packers and Baltimore coming up but so what? They can beat anybody right now. Returning to Foster, if you saw the postgame interview, it’s not difficult to figure out why so many people dig him and his personality. Not only is he a monster when he carries the football, he’s also really smart and that can be a dangerous combination. If you’re into really studying running backs, don’t forget that the Texans play the Vikings later this year.
Summary: I thought the whole “Sean Payton attending the Saints game” thing was a little strange because it showed how much power that the NFL really has. They have instilled so much fear into Sean’s heart that he seemed scared to even cheer for his team when on camera. It really speaks volumes about how much control this league has over a guy that isn’t even allowed to coach, and it shows us that Komissar Goddell has sort of a mob mentality. If he can’t talk to the players or have any say whatsoever in the calling of the plays, why should they care where he is? And don’t give me any of that shit about how “they can’t trust him anymore”…Oh really? You mean like how retired NFL players can’t trust the league to give them financial assistance to get their lives back on track after all of the concussions they suffered building the NFL’s brand equity? The NFL is hardly the world’s leading authority when it comes to issuing or managing trust. We couldn’t even trust them to give us the A Team when it came to the officials, so why would we trust them to decide whether or not to trust Sean Payton? Your kids should be trusting of their teachers, mentors, and people in position of authority – They have no business seeking that value from a bunch of billionaires.
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