What We Learned From Week 5
The Packers...aren’t very good anymore?
Football is a strange game. Somehow a team that went 15-1 a year ago and improved their defense in the offseason got substantially worse. Makes sense.
What happened? It’s not their D, which has gone from gaping sieve to mildly effective. No way is it Aaron Rodgers, who is still the most talented QB in the league. Their nonexistent running game from seasons past is now slightly useful.
What’s left? The abysmal, embarrassing, dangerously inept offensive line. I don’t throw out “dangerously” just for effect. Their (lack of) offensive line is going to cause serious injury to Rodgers any game now.
It’s simple logic: If every drop-back becomes a sort of Russian roulette whether your ribs remain intact, it might cause a little uneasiness in the pocket and affect your vision down the field. Even simpler, if you do not get time to throw, you can not then make a throw. How about that analysis? It’s a testament to Rodgers’ character that he hasn’t throat punched his left tackle yet.
I’m not ready to write the Packers off just yet, but barring some sort of Anthony Munoz-size miracle at tackle, not even the almighty Rodgers can carry them to the playoffs.
The Patriots are the Best Team in the AFC
[UPDATE: They didn't, and I won't.]
The score was not indicative of how much better New England was than Peyton’s Broncos. The Pats were up 31-7 before they went into the never-effective “let’s-just kinda jog around and make Coach think we’re trying, but all we want is to not get hurt” defensive scheme. Even the computer scores on me in Madden when I run that D.
After barely surviving their brutal back-to-back showdowns with the Browns and Chiefs (combined 1-9 record), the Ravens reminded us how un-elite and undependable Joe Flacco is. Baltimore was legitimately one play away from losing both those games.
They also stole a win from New England thanks to a couple bogus interference calls from the refauxrees in the final few minutes, and a “game-winning” field goal that may or may not have been good. Baltimore is thisclose to 1-4 and it’s impossible for me to imagine a world in which Joe Flacco leads his team to the top.
The 49ers are the Best Team in the NFC
It’s not fun to say, since the Niners are one of the more boring teams in the league, relying on suffocating defense and a “game-manager” QB, but it’s undeniable.
I didn’t think it was possible for a final score of 45-3 to make a game sound closer than it was. But in case you hadn’t learned yet, all things are possible with the Bills. Giving up 45 to a mediocre offense? Piece of cake. Not managing more than a field goal, even though you were averaging 28 ppg over the first four weeks? Please. Your quarterback being exposed as worse than we already knew he was? That’s actually difficult, but they pulled it off. Back to the Niners...
Now that we know their only loss (at Minnesota) isn’t as bad as we thought, it’s clear the 49ers are even better than last year. Teams are legitimately intimidated by them (well, maybe that was just Buffalo).
Add that to the decline of last year’s NFC leaders (Green Bay, New Orleans) and San Fran is looking miiighty nice right now as heavy favorites to make the Super Bowl.
My only complaint with the Niners is I need more Randy Moss in my life. Come on Harbaugh, free Randy!
The Vikings are officially on the Radar
Again, it just goes to show how much sense can be made of the NFL, year-to-year and week-to-week.
The Vikings were 3-13 last year, lost their franchise RB to a blown ACL (minor injury, apparently), drafted a left tackle, and are now 4-1 and tied for first in a division that was expected to be one of the toughest in the league. Why not?
I guess their improvement can be largely attributed to second-year QB Christian Ponder, who has shown major growth since struggling his rookie year. Until yesterday, he had zero interceptions in close to 200 attempts. Add that to a solid running game and decent defense and apparently you get 4-1.
And anyone who takes three years to return to form after ACL surgery has just been cuckolded by Adrian Peterson.