NFL Week 5 Games: Ranking the Games, From Worst To First
The big story this week is Randy Moss and for good reason. He is an explosive playmaker, he's returning to the city where he made the name Moss synonymous with touchdowns and he has this guy, not sure if you've heard of him, named Brett Favre throwing to him.
The storylines on Monday Night Football are paint-by-number, no research needed. Anyone who has watched football for the past decade is familiar with Moss' trials and tribulations, failures and triumphs, not so humble beginnings and ugly endings in Minnesota. Oh yeah and Brett Favre was a Jet for a year.
Ron Jaworski, Mike Tirico, and John Gruden, well maybe not Gruden but surely Jaworski, will try to convince you that Favre returning to New York (I mean New Jersey) is a huge deal. I'm here to suggest it's not.
Number one, Favre was a Jet for a year and has no real cemented connection to the city or team. Number two, Moss' addition and presence will overshadow any Jets-Favre reunion feel and thirdly, the only two reasons this is a huge game is because the Jets and Vikings are both supposed to be contenders and the Vikings are 1-2 and need a win more than Donald Trump needs a haircut.
This week seems to provide less noteworthy match-ups compared to weeks past but nothing spells parity like the N-F-L.
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions
I'm a Lions' fan (make your jokes now). This game will mean a heck of a lot more to me than it will anyone else outside of Detroit (which might not see the game at all if the Lions can't sell 2,500 tickets in the next 24 hours).
This should further solidify my point that I show no biased when making my analysis every week, I simply decide which match-ups will be the most compelling and which would leave a viewer fast asleep on his/her recliner.
Jahvid Best is the real deal and just another addition to a couple of great draft classes by Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz. Despite a toe injury, he has taken the physical nature of the game (so far, knock on wood) in stride. He only has a 3.5 average but a lot of that has to do with the injury of Matthew Stafford and the Lions' conservative approach with Shaun Hill under center.
He is on-pace to rush for 16 touchdowns (he won't) and catch 84 passes this season for 868 yards and four touchdowns (he will). With Calvin Johnson blanketed and Nate Burelson hobbled, Best, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler have been Shaun Hill's go-to-targets.
The Rams are out to a 2-2 start and are tied for first in the division and with the rest of the division's struggles, I could see the Rams finish in second place in the NFC West. Despite their .500 start, I see a game finally ending in Detroit's favor.
The Lions are a much better team than their record indicates but in order to be a winning football team, they have to learn how to finish games the right way. That hopefully will start on Sunday.
Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers
You probably remember Todd Collins from his epic late season run with the Washington Redskins a few years ago or his days at Michigan but after some of the abuse he took against the Giants last week, I just hope he remembers his name.
The duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart should provide enough fire-power to lead the Panthers to an upset win against the Cutler-less Bears.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills
A 59-yard field goal by Josh Scobee as time expired gave the Jaguars a much needed AFC South victory over the Colts in week four. I doubt the Jags will need a last minute drive to win this one, all they have to do is hand the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew and let him work the Bills' defense into submission.
But the Jaguars better be weary of the Bills' passing attack, as Ryan Fitzpatrick has provided a spark that did not exist with Trent Edwards. I think this one will be closer than most expect but the Jags will win another game and stay in the early race for the AFC South crown.
Atlanta Falcons At Cleveland Browns
Peyton Hillis for the second consecutive week ran for over 100 yards in the Browns' first win of the season against the Bengals, 23-20. Hillis is the jab but the Browns still lack a knockout punch and lack explosive plays on a consistent basis. Hillis provides part of the offense but the Browns' offense needs what they had a few years ago in Braylon Edwards (when he was catching the ball of course).
The Falcons look like the 2008 version in 2010 and have had a couple of big wins already this year. I think Michael Turner will outperform Peyton Hillis this week and help guide the Falcons to another win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals
Carson Palmer looked like the old Carson Palmer and so did Mr. Terrell Owens in a loss to the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. Owens caught 12 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown and provided a much-needed lift to Palmer and the passing game.
Despite the loss, this offensive outburst gives this Bengal's offense something to build-on. Mainly a rush-first offense in 2009, the Bengals might look to air it out a bit more if performances like last week's can be provided more consistently. I still think it's a fair bet that the Bengals will be a run-first type team but a productive passing attack never hurt anyone, except for opposing defenses of course.
The Bengals beat the Bucs and get back on track in the AFC South.
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals
Max Hall will make his first career start for the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He completed eight of 14 passing attempts last week in mop up duty and received complete support from Larry Fitzgerald.
Hall will need all the support he can get when trying to match touchdowns with Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees this week. Although the Saints' offense has been inconsistent this year, I can't believe that will continue especially against a team that allowed 41 points last week. I like Hall's upside but not in this game.
The Saints' offense puts up big numbers in a hurry and win this one by a comfortable margin.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
One week the Chargers look like they need Vincent Jackson back, the next they look like the greatest show on turf or grass or even that crazy stuff with the pieces of tire mixed in it. The point is, the Chargers are almost impossible to predict on a weekly basis.
The one thing I can tell you about the Chargers with absolute certainty is that Phillip Rivers will have another big day. He has thrown for 1,328 yards (third in the league) and nine touchdowns (tied for second).
Despite the Chargers' unpredictable nature at the end of games in two contests this season, I see this as the third blowout win for the Chargers, that is unless Oakland's defense can lock down Antonio Gates (24 catches, 386 yards and six touchdowns) and Malcolm Floyd (14 catches, 285 yards and two touchdowns), then it could be an entirely different ball game.
Like I said, unpredictable.
Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers
Kevin Kolb is back, for now. Kolb hasn't looked like the 2009 version who became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 300 yards in his first two career starts. Michael Vick is out with a rib cartilage issue and unless Kolb can produce like the 2009 version, I can't see Mike Singletary's bunch losing their fifth game of the season.
Frank Gore will run all over the 27th ranked rush defense in the league and coupled with a much more Singletary-like performance from the defense, the 49ers will take the first step of trying to get out of this hole and attempt a 2009 Tennessee-like revival.
New York Giants at Houston Texans
The New York Giants' pass protection is sort of like a rent-a-cop to criminals, they may have a badge but no one respects their authority (insert South Park joke here). Eli Manning, much like his brother, has a problem keeping multiple grass stains off his jersey. Peyton has avoided more sacks then Eli because of his quick release and stable of weapons.
If I were Eli I would wear extra padding this week because Peyton was hit 10 times in the Colts' week one loss to Houston and this defensive line is salivating at the thought of the G-Men's less than intimidating front five.WIth the combination of the Texans' explosive offense and equally as explosive pass rush, I can't see a way the Giants win unless they have a terrific day on the ground and somehow keep Eli on his feet for the majority of the game.
Texans win in blowout fashion and the Giants leave Texas with their third loss of the season.
Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have just as much talent as any team in the NFL but for some reason, they never quite seem to be able to put it all together. Whether it's a star-laden offense that struggles to put the ball in the end zone (a mere 18 points per game) or a rushing attack that barely has a pulse (80 yards per game), the Cowboys' offense wasn't clicking, until week three against the Houston Texans when they racked up 27 points in their first win of the season.
The defense has made good on their end of the bargain, ranking up in the top 10 in multiple areas (points against, yards and rushing yards), so if this offense comes around with repeat performances like last week's, they could be a definite threat in an unusually mediocre NFC East.
Tennessee is 2-2 but has been involved in a lot of close ball games, I suspect that won't change this week. Chris Johnson hasn't been "as explosive" as he was a year ago but that can be expected when facing a defense like Pittsburgh but his poor performance against the Broncos (53 yards) is a bit of a head-scratcher.
If he can bounce back against the Cowboys, the Titans have a great chance to keep pace in the AFC South for another week.
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins could be the hardest team to figure out in the NFL. One week their offense looks productive, the next it's like an episode of Dirty Jobs. Donovan McNabb is a good quarterback but the Redskins' offense lacks explosiveness, due in large part to the inconsistency of the running game and receiving corps.
The last two weeks the Redskins have ran the ball well against the Rams and Eagles but with Clinton Portis likely out for the next four-to-six weeks with a groin injury, it could be the passing game that wins or loses contests. McNabb racked up over 400 yards in a week two loss to the Texans but only produced 125 yards in a win against the Eagles last week on eight of 19 passing.
How is it the 'Skins only win when McNabb throws for less than 200 yards? It isn't with a stout defense, Washington is 31st in pass defense and 14th against the rush. See what I mean? This team has yet to establish an identity and I think now would be a good time to start.
Washington will not beat the Packers scoring only 17 points, it won't happen. Aaron Rodgers is a man and although he's not 40 or going on 41 (see what I did there, you thought I was going Gundy and I went Favre) he's a natural passer who owns a 96.3 quarterback rating and has a slew of weapons at his disposal.
I see this as the start of Green Bay's stamp games, they'll leave their mark and move on.
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens
If you haven't noticed yet, I'm a fan of Kyle Orton. He's not Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Phillip Rivers but he has a top 10 quarterback rating (96.4), a top 10 completion percentage (67.4), and is in the top 10 in touchdown passes (six).
The guy can straight-up ball and if Josh McDaniels knows what's good for him, he'll continue to start him over Tebow for years to come. With that being said, the former Purdue Boilermaker's number one overall aerial assault has a stiff test and will likely receive a plethora of bruises in a variety of shapes and sizes against the Baltimore Raven's number one pass defense.
The Ravens have allowed a mere 119 passing yards per game, which is a little deceiving considering the opponents they faced - the Jets before Rex Ryan took off Mark Sanchez's handcuffs, the Bengals when Carson Palmer couldn't hit an open receiver if he had a 20-foot wing-span, the Browns who run heavy with Peyton Hillis (who gained 144 yards against the Ravens) and the Steelers who had Charlie Batch at the helm—but still, 119 yards a game is impressive nonetheless.
With the Broncos' wide-open pass attack (Orton averages 355 yards per game) those defensive numbers should inflate a bit but with Denver's inability to run the football (32nd in the league) and Baltimore's well-documented struggles on offense, this one should be close.
Surprisingly, I'm going with the Broncos in this match-up despite what my better nature tells me. Orton will get battered and bruised and the Ravens will score points against the Broncos' defense but not enough to earn the W.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
Though I'm not quite yet a firm believer in these Kansas City Chiefs, even I have to admit they have looked damn good over their first three games. This week's contest will be a real test and could enable critics and those unwilling to convince themselves of the Chiefs' superiority just yet (like myself), to gauge the Chiefs' true identity as a contender or pretender.
This Peyton Manning guy is pretty good, no matter how you slice it and provides any defensive coordinator his fair-share of lost hours of slumber. Manning leads the league in quarterback rating (112.2), touchdown passes (11), is second in yards (1,365) and completion percentage (69.8).
Manning doesn't like losing and he's already done that twice this year, so I don't expect him to do it two weeks in a row. He and the Colts will dink-and-dunk their way to a somewhat slim victory in week five.
Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets
I know predictable but the facts are in and this is the most compelling match-up, at least in my mind, in week five of the NFL season. The Vikings running game against the Jets' run defense as well as the type of pressure Bart Scott and company get on Brett Favre will be the keys to the game.
If Minnesota can successfully run the ball against the Jets, the new duo of Favre and Randy Moss could have it a little easier (key word being "little"). More men in the box means less attention deep and even if Moss doesn't have a good game statistically, you can bet he will open things up for the other weapons in this offense.
My prediction for this game is a 10-point win for the Vikings, if they can establish the run early and keep Mark Sanchez bottled up with pressure and L.T. and Shonn Greene from making the big play on the ground.