Week 5 promises the best quarterback battles of the year so far. Watching a QB tear a defense to pieces is always entertaining, but it’s even better when there’s an equal threat from both offenses.
Even though the two players never see the field at the same time, the duel between two quarterbacks is one of the NFL’s biggest draws.
Whether it’s in a final-minute drive, a high-scoring shootout or a hard-fought, low-scoring battle, there is no shortage of excitement when two worthy opponents try to outdo each other.
This week we are treated to no less than three top-quality matchups, which are outlined below.
Matt Ryan vs. Robert Griffin III
The 4-0 Atlanta Falcons travel to FedEx Field on Sunday to take on the 2-2 Washington Redskins. Given the Redskins’ struggles against the pass and Matt Ryan’s ability through the air, it should be no contest, right?
The Falcons’ last game against the Carolina Panthers showed that they can be beaten on the ground, which the Redskins have done particularly well this year. Griffin’s threat as a rusher, combined with Alfred Morris in the backfield, has been effective over the course of the first four games.
The Falcons gave up 5.7 yards per carry against the Panthers, which will be more than enough for the ‘Skins to establish their ground game.
Morris is notoriously difficult to bring down, so expect him to eke out some extra yards after the tackle here.
Of course, it will all come down to Ryan vs. Griffin in the end. Both players led their teams to final-minute victories last week with exemplary, no-timeout drives that enabled them to come from behind.
Ryan has the best passer rating in the NFL right now, completing 102 of 147 passes for 1,162 yards and 11 touchdowns. That will worry a Redskins defense that ranks 31st against the pass and allows an average of 326.2 yards per game (via TeamRankings.com)
The Falcons defense is a cut above the Redskins’, but the variety that Washington has shown these last four weeks makes the offense difficult to plan against.
The Falcons had some problems with Cam Newton last week, so the Redskins will take heart from that and look for things that a mobile quarterback can exploit.
If the Falcons start well it could be a very long day in Washington, but the presence of RGIII has given the Redskins a potent offense and it’s impossible to count them out.
Ultimately the Falcons will prove too strong, but Griffin will continue to state his case for Rookie of the Year.
The rivalry is resumed. After a year out, Manning and the Denver Broncos battle Peyton’s old enemies in Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
It’s routinely debated whether Manning or Brady is the best quarterback of their generation, and their previous battles have been fascinating to watch.
ESPN notes that the two players have met 12 times in their careers, with Brady having an 8-4 advantage. However, Manning has won four out of their last six encounters, so it will be interesting to see how he fares with a new team.
Despite fears about his arm strength, amplified by the three-interception game against the Falcons, Manning looked to be back to something resembling his old self as he ripped the Oakland Raiders to pieces last week.
His 2012 passer rating of 96.9 is higher than his career average of 94.9, and playing the Patriots will be sure to bring out some extra fire in him.
Brady, on the other hand, is fresh from being named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Patriots to a 52-28 rout of the Buffalo Bills.
Boston.com reported that Brady now needs one more 300-yard game to draw level with Warren Moon for seventh place in the all-time list. Manning’s place on that list? No. 1, displacing Dan Marino by throwing for 330 yards in the Falcons game.
Nevertheless, the advantage has to go to the Patriots here. Manning is not as connected with his offense as Brady, with Brady also having the home advantage. Despite Manning’s best efforts, the Broncos will come up short.
Michael Vick has been somewhat of a loose cannon so far this year. Throwing 12 interceptions in his first three games, he seemed determined to hand the starting job to Nick Foles.
However, he followed it up with a decent performance in Week 4 and the Eagles overcame the New York Giants in a crucial divisional game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers skulked into a bye week following a loss to the Raiders in Week 3, so Ben Roethlisberger will need to get his team back to winning ways.
The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are both 3-1, so a loss here would be devastating to the Steelers. Pittsburgh is 2-6 against the Eagles since 1975, but 8-1 overall at Heinz field over the last two seasons (via TribLive.com).
The Steelers could see the return of James Harrison, which would help them immensely, but it will be down to Roethlisberger to lift them to a win.
In comparison, the Eagles have mostly won in spite of Vick this year. The worry for the Steelers is that they have blown second-half leads this year, while Philadelphia has a 3-1 record despite conceding more points than it has scored.
Home field advantage takes this one, with Big Ben passing for 300 yards while Harrison takes Vick to the ground on the other side of the ball.