With the 2012 NFL season already a quarter of the way behind us, Week 5 figures to be a turning point for several teams and many players.
Some teams need this week to save their seasons. Some players need this week to save their starting status or simply to prove their worth.
Regardless of the various reasons, Week 5 figures to be a very important week for several players. Here are the players who need to have a big game this week and who have the most to prove.
Mario Williams has yet to make the impact that a $100-million player should be making in Buffalo. Through four games, Williams has nine tackles and 1.5 sacks. He has made little impact during the games and has yet to be the beast he was expected (and paid) to be.
To make it worse, Williams has annoyed some with his excuses. From replacement officials to milking an injury, Bills fans have heard it all. The bottom line is that the fans in Buffalo are losing patience with Williams and he is running out of time to win their affection back.
He needs to drop Alex Smith this week, or at least get constant pressure on him, in order to stay on the good side of those passionate Bills fans.
Cam Newton is having a crazy season, for all the wrong reasons. As a rookie, he was seen as the future of the NFL and as the next big thing in sports. In 2012, his season has been labeled as a sophomore slump and his character has come into question.
Steve Smith had a few words for Newton after sulking in a blowout loss, essentially questioning his character. Newton's fumble last week against Atlanta paved the way for the Falcons to steal a victory in Atlanta, essentially putting his performance in question.
Newton has taken a lot of heat on and off the field through four games this season. He needs a big week against Seattle on Sunday to redeem himself before things get totally out of hand. If he can stay composed and settle down and just be Cam Newton, things will work themselves out.
However, if Newton caves in to the pressure around him, things will get messy in Carolina. This week will be crucial in the development of Newton as a mentally tough quarterback and could get the Panthers back on track for playoff contention.
Though Tim Tebow is the backup in New York, Mark Sanchez had a Tebow-like performance last week. He completed 13 of 29 passes for 103 yards and a pick against San Francisco. Ah, but how often does Tebow lose a game 34-0?
Sanchez's miserable performance simply added fuel to the New York quarterback controversy that will never end as long as Tebow is in the Big Apple. Regardless of how many times Rex Ryan, Sanchez and Tebow will continue to defend each other and publicly support each other, both quarterbacks are unhappy.
If Sanchez lays another egg on the field at home against Houston, the quarterback situation will get out of hand. He needs to settle down and play smart football if he wants to be the quarterback in New York.
And if he does slip, everybody knows what Tebow can make of an opportunity.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is finally the featured running back after four seasons of sharing in New England, but he still has some questions to answer.
After being praised for his ability to protect the football (he had never fumbled the ball in the NFL), he has fumbled three times the last two weeks. His lack of ball security doesn't help as he has struggled to get much going on the ground this season.
The past two games, he has run the ball 43 times for 120 yards, a 2.8 yards per carry average. He needs to explode against the Dolphins this weekend to prove he deserves a major role in the Bengal's offense.
They can easily become a strong passing team, so Green-Ellis needs to make the most of his carries.
As long as he can protect the football and get yards after contact, Green-Ellis should be in good shape. But he has proven little in Cincinnati thus far.
Though the San Diego Chargers are downplaying the benching of Ryan Mathews, the fact of the matter is that this is a significant move.
Mathews was a first-round draft pick that drove LaDainian Tomlinson out of town, but he has lost carries to free agent pickup Jackie Battle.
Battle is averaging over five yards per carry and has four touchdowns on the season. Mathews has struggled with injuries in the NFL and appears to be more of an afterthought in San Diego.
Mathews has an opportunity on national television to earn back some carries and possibly his job. He is playing a Saints' defense that has looked soft so far and has a chance to show how he can respond to the adversity.
If he fails to make an impact, he will simply be a question mark for the Chargers until he can prove his worth.