Necessary Roughness, Week 5: No More Undefeated Teams
It’s Week 5 in the NFL and we officially have no more unbeaten teams in the league, proof that the NFL is the most competitively balanced major professional sport out there. That’s not to say that there aren’t the perennial cellar dwellers (Raiders), but for the vast majority of fans there is always hope that their favorite team has a chance to make some noise. Five games into the season and it’s impossible to say with any degree of certainty which teams are clear-cut favorites to win their division. They are all up for grabs. Every single game is important and as the weeks go on, the stakes get higher and the intensity increases exponentially… for the players, the coaches, and perhaps most of all, the fans!
Week 5 was a bit of an emotional conundrum for me. The Panthers overcame a large first half deficit and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against the Bears, which had me literally jumping for joy… only to be brought down to unknowable depths of sorrow when I learned that my arch nemesis Dallas Cowboys had won in overtime over the Texans. The highs and lows of football fandom are almost too much for a man like me to handle sometimes, but I’m a mature adult and I did the only acceptable thing to do in a time of such emotional conflict: I microwaved an Amy’s burrito, sat my ass back down and watched some more doggone football. And it really was a great day of football. Here’s a few games that had me pumping my fist and inadvertently spitting chunks of burrito onto my Panthers jersey.
Packers/Vikings: No surprise that the Packers won this game. But what’s important is that the Packers have seemingly righted the ship and are sitting back atop the NFC North at 3-2. The offense looked dominant and the defense stifled an undermanned and fairly incompetent Christian Ponder-led Vikings team. Again, it was by no means a signature win against a worthy opponent, but the fact that they put up 42 points and only gave up 10 is encouraging for Packers’ fans and sets them up for a showdown with the Dolphins in Miami next week.
Browns/Titans: Browns’ fans are troopers, man. Every week they have to watch their team either win or lose an incredibly close game. And this game was even a couple more rungs up on the stress ladder. The Browns were down 25 points. Game over, right? Wrong. What a comeback!! I think the Browns are just designed to play teams close, no matter who the opponent. I have no doubt that the Browns could beat my cousin’s Pee Wee League team, but they’d only win by a field goal.
Giants/Falcons: Don’t look now, but the Giants are 3-2. Eli Manning is finally hitting his stride, and Odell Beckham Jr. gives him yet another weapon to throw the ball to. I’m a little concerned about Rashad Jennings’ knee sprain, but other than that the Giants are looking good for the long haul. Atlanta on the other hand, has some issues. Over the last couple weeks, their offensive line has taken a huge hit with injuries. The replacements did a decent job yesterday of protecting Matt Ryan, but this is still a big concern moving forward.
Texans/Cowboys: Man, this is tough, but I’m a man of integrity and I have to do it. The Cowboys seem, as of now, to be the real deal. They are winning games. They are winning close games, they are blowing teams out, they are winning with offense, they are winning with defense. For the last few weeks, they’ve been looking like a complete team. And with the Eagles’ offense starting to sputter a little bit, one could easily make the argument that the Dallas Cowboys are the team to beat in the East. This is such a difficult pill to swallow for me, but it’s the truth. The Cowboys are playing great football. And that catch by Dez Bryant was absolutely ridiculous:
Bills/Lions: I don’t love the idea of benching EJ Manuel in favor of Kyle Orton. To me this is a team that is building for the future and in that regard, Manuel has more of a chance of being a part of that future than Orton. But the Bills find themselves in a position to legitimately challenge for the top spot in the AFC East, so their focus has shifted a bit and they want to win NOW. So I get it… EJ has been struggling and Kyle may give them the best chance of winning football games in the immediate future. I hope this team hasn’t given up on Manuel though. I still think that kid has potential. At any rate, this was a huge win for Buffalo. To go on the road against a Lions team that has been clicking on all cylinders, and win a tough game like that is very impressive. On the Detroit side, Golden Tate had another big game. But Megatron’s health is a major concern. Detroit is going nowhere fast if their star receiver doesn’t return to form soon.
Cardinals/Broncos: Landmark day for Peyton Manning as he joined an exclusive club by throwing his 500th career touchdown. Love him or hate him, that guy can play some quarterback. At his age he is still at the top of his game and making his wide receivers very happy. And it only gets better for the Broncos. Next week they head to New Jersey to take on the god-awful NY Jets. So pencil in a win there followed by a night of celebratory Papa John’s as the Broncos move to 4-1. For the Cardinals, their unbeaten season ended rather undramatically. The injury bug has finally caught up with them and they were pretty much manhandled by the Broncos. Hopefully Drew Stanton is okay and Arizona can come back next week and take care of the Redskins.
Jets/Chargers: The Jets looked absolutely terrible. Probably the most ineffective offense in the league right now. Not much else to be said. The Chargers are really good, by the way. And Branden Oliver is a fun player to watch. He’s small and crafty, and reminds me of Darren Sproles. I really think he could be a special player in this league.
Bengals/Patriots: The lone unbeaten team remaining went down in a blaze of Tom Brady glory last night, as the most envied man in the league became only the 6th dude ever to tally up 50,000 passing yards in a career. Let’s face it, nobody was beating the Patriots yesterday. You had to know that Bill and Tom were going to come up with something to avoid going 2-3 through the first 5 games. New England looked like the team we all expected them to be, and Cincinnati laid an egg, like they often do in big games. No need to fret just yet, Bengals fans. This is still a good
￼team. You just ran into the wrong team at the wrong time.
That’s all I got this week, y’all. I must admit, I was a little distracted from football this week due to the unbelievable MLB playoffs. How about those Kansas City Royals!!! And those Baltimore Orioles!! Okay, I hope everybody had a great sports weekend and if you haven’t seen it, YouTube Philly Brown’s TD return for the Panthers. One of the more bizarre plays you’ll see from yesterday’s action. Monday Night Football gives us the Seahawks/Redskins. And if this plays out like all the primetime games thus far, the Seahawks will probably win big. I’m gonna roll the dice with this one: Seahawks 103, Redskins 5.