Some surprises highlight the NFL season (Denver at 5-0), while others are to be expected (Kansas City 0-5). Let’s look at what another week in the NFL brought us.
The Student Is The Teacher
The Denver Broncos had been having a season few thought possible: undefeated at 4-0.
Many expected the run to end when coach Josh McDaniels took on his old boss and mentor, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
Instead, thanks to new quarterback Kyle Orton, who is surpassing his own expectations, the Broncos beat the Patriots 20-17, putting them at 5-0 for the first time since 1998, the last time they won the Super Bowl.
In the case of New England, who fell to 3-2, many are questioning whether quarterback Tom Brady can return to his 2007 form. The age of the offensive line and a lack of a potent running game is also affecting this team. It’s hard to maintain success for so long, but if it is possible, Brady and company can do it.
A Hard Knocks Victory
Three straight weeks, three straight fourth-quarter drives, three straight wins…by three points.
Three must be the magic number for the Cincinnati Bengals, who downed the Baltimore Ravens 17-14 to take control of the AFC North.
Running back Cedric Benson rushed for 120 yards, becoming the first player to rush for over 100 yards against Baltimore since 2006. The defense also stepped up, holding the Ravens offense to only one touchdown.
The game was an emotional one for the Bengals. They played their hearts out in honor of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, whose wife passed away on Thursday.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Zimmer family and friends.
The Coaching Seat Is Getting Warmer
Five weeks in, and it seems like some coaches already need to concern themselves with a possible firing at the end of the season.
Buffalo Bills head coach Dick Jauron just watched his team, behind offensive powers Marshawn Lynch and Terrell Owens, muster only three points in a 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
The Bills are now 1-4 and look nothing like the team that almost beat New England in Week 1.
Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn also should be reading the classified section.
After taking a 17-2 lead into the third quarter, 18 unanswered points by the Carolina Panthers doomed the Redskins, who lost 20-17.
Zorn has now lost three games against previously winless teams and has to be feeling the heat.
Dallas head coach Wade Phillips was able to squeak a victory out against Kansas City, but has to develop a stronger offensive presence if he doesn’t want to be on the streets in 2010.
Contenders and Pretenders
Five weeks in, and some teams still want to win more than others.
Despite a hobbled Eli Manning, the New York Giants crushed the hapless Raiders, winning 44-7 and setting up an undefeated showdown next week against New Orleans. This is the Giants' best start since 1990, when they won the Super Bowl.
He may be 40, but he’s playing like he’s 38. Brett Favre led the Minnesota Vikings to their fifth straight victory over the St. Louis Rams 38-10. Adrian Peterson scored two touchdowns and Jared Allen had his second-straight dominant performance, running a fumble back 52 yards for a score. This is the first time Brett Favre has ever been 5-0.
With a New England loss, the New York Jets can take a one-game lead (two if you count the victory over the Patriots) in the AFC East. First, they need to get through the Miami Dolphins and their trick-sleeved offense.
While some teams are perfect, others are perfectly inept:
The St. Louis Rams thought a new coach would be the trick. Maybe they need a new offense. They have amassed only 34 points this season, less than seven points per game.
The Kansas City Chiefs tried a new coach and a new quarterback. Though they got close Sunday, they too dwell in the basement at 0-5.
The Tennessee Titans were supposed to challenge for the AFC South title. Instead, they’re challenging for the worst record. Another loss dropped them to 0-5, a far cry from last year’s squad.