by Ryan Meehan
Week Five of the 2014 NFL season is now complete, and as much as I’d love to talk about a bunch of great storylines coming to fruition this week’s games showcased a lot of poor play. Thankfully the games on Sunday were much interesting than the way the week opened on Thursday in Green Bay, but overall this was a down week. But it was a week nevertheless, so let’s take a look at how certain teams fumbled their way out of relevance or had their dreams of becoming elite intercepted repeatedly in this week’s wrap-up.
Packers 42, Vikings 10
Thursday Night Football is really getting out of hand. None of the five games that have been played on Thursday night have been decided by less than 20 points. This should tell you something – this Thursday Night football thing is getting way out of hand. And I’m not buying any of the NFL’s argument about how it’s fair to everybody because every team has to play it at least once because not all 32 teams have to leave the country to play either. But even though that’s a rant for another time, this game was still terrible. Rodgers looked good, but for every great drive he put together the Vikings looked equally as lost.
Bills 17, Lions 14
I understand that Jim Schwartz used to coach in Detroit, so this was a tough homecoming for him in a stadium full of fans that had been critical of his work. However, getting carried off of the field in week five after winning on a last second field goal is a bit unnecessary. And I know the numbers will show that Kyle Orton threw for 308 yards, but if that’s the case how did he only end up with one TD pass and 17 measly points? That tells me more about the Lions than the Bills, and what it tells me is Detroit could have a rough rest of the 2014 NFL season. And if they can’t beat Buffalo at home, they are going to have a real problem in November when they have to hit the road and play Arizona and New England away from Ford Field in an eight day stretch.
Colts 20, Ravens 13
It’s a good thing that Andrew Luck can get away with dropping back almost 50 times a game, because the Colts can’t run the football at all. On the positive side of things, he has seemed to have found a real plan for the future in TY Hilton. That kid is super sharp, and had 90 on nine receptions. Nothing in this one was really surprising, I don’t buy the Ravens and their little three game winning streak so I’m glad it’s over. Indy has a short week and will have to face Houston to ensure they are the true number one in the AFC South.
Browns 29, Titans 28
Cleveland Showed a lot of muscle winning this game at the last minute, but they still shouldn’t have let it end up this close. Tennessee is a far more inferior team at the moment, and how they scored 28 points to begin with is so depressing I don’t even want to look it up. I don’t follow the Browns much, but I will say this: I think even if you lose the next few games, Brian Hoyer is still your quarterback. You let him get through most of the season to see what he’s made of, and maybe start Manziel week sixteen if you’re out of the race by then. Hoyer’s done a lot when you consider the roster they have as well as the trouble Josh Gordon has stuck them with.
Panthers 31, Bears 24
If you’re a Bears fan, you might want to skip over this paragraph. After going up 21-7 in the first half the usually reliable Robbie Gould missed a field goal that would change the landscape of this game entirely. From that point forward, Carolina outscored the Bears 24-3 and several questions about Marc Trestman began to arise at the bar I was watching Sunday’s matchups. The most common was “What the hell is he saying to these guys at halftime?”, and I’m starting to understand why. As a former CFL head coach, although Trestman can be a great play caller at times today was not one of those days. I know that the players have to go out there and execute the vision the coaches set into motion, but at some point the blame has to fall on the coaching staff for a second half collapse that severe. The Panthers are to be commended for hanging in there and not giving up, but at the same time this was a home game and it’s pretty hard to not win when you’re being handed the ball by the opposing team’s quarterback.
Cowboys 20, Texans 17 (OT)
After barely not letting this game slip away in regulation, the Cowboys barely won it in overtime. Dallas can run the football, and Romo did a much better job as game manager instead of playing the rock star role that he did against New Orleans. My only concern for their sake would be the fact that the Saints game produced better results, so he may very well go back to airing it out and going for broke. As long as Dez Bryant is making catches similar to he one he made in overtime, maybe both scenarios might prove to be productive. Houston needed to come up with some kind of offensive plan in order to win this football game, and I’m starting to think that Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the man that is going to be able to make that happen. Their main competition in the AFC South is obviously Indianapolis, who has already made it clear that they are going air it out and put everything in the hands of their first round and franchise QB. It would be hard for me to believe that there’s any way they can compete at that level with Fitzpatrick under center.
Steelers 17, Jaguars 9
It looks like the 0-16 2008 Detroit Lions may be getting a run for their money in the long list of teams that have been so bad they make it look like the 76 and 77 Buccaneers could take them to the cleaners. Jacksonville is now 0-5, and are in the bottom 25% of every single team statistic. Their leading rusher Toby Gerhart (Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know who it was either…) has a whopping 114 yards on the season, but I expected Pittsburgh to cover the spread by more than two points. After a good start to the season, I would have to think that the Steelers were putting some worry into their fans based on the loss to Tampa and their inability to blow this game open early. They relied too much on their defense to make it happen, and seventeen points against the Jaguars might put you over .500 in October but in three months numbers like that aren’t going to do you any good.
Saints 37, Buccaneers 31 (OT)
Tampa stuck around and nearly pulled this game out, controlling the tempo for a majority of the football game. Unfortunately instead of coming up with “too little, too late” they came up with “Too much, too early” here. The real story has to be the Saints…Let’s get real here for a second they got owned during the majority of this one, and shouldn’t have needed overtime to get this done. New Orleans has to be this season’s biggest disappointment….They were supposed to have an improved defense – that hasn’t happened. The rest of that division seems to be handing them first place on a silver platter – they haven’t taken it. They were supposed to be playing as a team instead of as a bunch of guys who pad the stats of your fantasy football team – now Jimmy Graham may be seriously hurt. And even if he isn’t, they used to be the home team to fear before Century Link Field turned into the Terrordome. Now there’s no use fearing the Superdome at all, at least not if Tampa can come in there and play like they own the place. Also, if they want to be intimidating at home, not to sound like Joan Rivers here but don’t you think that they should go back to wearing the black jerseys? It should be scary to face the Saints – like carrying a purse into Mardi Gras or wandering into the ninth ward if you’re white. The truth is, it just isn’t that frightening anymore and you don’t have to be in the NFC South to know that – word gets around.
Giants 30, Falcons 20
This one was interesting. The Falcons were up 20-10 and the Giants were in a mode where everything was going wrong. For a second, it looked like the game was in the bag for Atlanta. But as such is the case for two teams that can flip the switch with lightning speed, things suddenly flip-flopped faster than an unarmed politician who’s just been mugged would with regards to gun control. (sorry, these midterm elections are driving me batty) What I believe happened here is after seeing Larry Donnel eat Washington alive last Thursday, the Falcons spent an ungodly amount of time on making sure the same thing wouldn’t happen to them. And they did, as Donnel was thrown to only twice and did not have a single reception. But that freed up Odell Beckham, who had a monster day and made some great second half catches. Running back Andre Williams got in on the action as well, and he sent some of Atlanta’s pass coverage guys back upon contact. Last year I kept saying how the Falcons were year to year when it came to their potential to succeed. Last week after seeing them lose to Minnesota, I said that they are becoming more of a week-to-week team. After seeing their performance Sunday, I think we could be dealing with a team that is so bipolar and hard to predict that they could be half to half, quarter to quarter, and eventually drive to drive. The Giants got all of the stops they needed to, but unfortunately the only other two teams in that division they need to worry about won and both advanced to 4-1.
Eagles 34, Rams 28
Although the Eagles slipped away with a win, it’s pretty obvious that the Eagles machine is starting to show major sings of malfunction. McCoy rebounded by putting up 81 yards on the ground, but you’d think that he’d be able to do a little bit better against a team that’s 30th against the rush. Philly came out of the box with a vengeance, but slowed as the game progressed. I should hope for their sake Chip Kelly was trying to manage the pace of the game better as this was happening, but I don’t really feel like that’s the case. Foles had a relatively average day in the air (24 for 37, 207) so it’s not like they dominated this one in the manner that a lot of us expected them to.
Broncos 41, Cardinals 20
The day’s first undefeated team fell at the hands of a man who just threw his 500th touchdown pass – Peyton Manning. He would throw three more and rack up 479 yards in the contest, but it was the play of one Julius Thomas that would bring Denver’s offense into a much unwanted spotlight and a focal point of justified criticism. During the game, Thomas took a deliberate shot at Cardinals DE Calais Campbell that would knock him out of the game and sideline him for the next month. It drove head coach Bruce Arians to call it the “dirtiest play he’d ever seen in the National Football League”. To complicate matters he was baited into it by Ryan Clady, and this could potentially be a problem. At least it would be if the NFL didn’t have such a rich history of giving Peyton Manning’s teammates the benefit of the doubt every time they do something stupid. Like it or not, that definitely comes into play here and it will be interesting to see if they dive into his wallet given he’s one of PM’s favorite targets. In the end it won’t matter, because these two teams aren’t going to play each other anymore and the Cardinals are running out of quarterbacks. I sincerely hope Arizona can get it together and turn that offense around, because I’d like to see more of them on television.
49ers 22, Chiefs 17
Also, you would think that this would be the perfect scenario for Alex Smith – get back to San Francisco and show Harbaugh what he is made of and what could be. He had the chance – a two minute drive staring him in the face in which he could have proved to an already rattled coach who dumped him at the altar – and he blew it. I still maintain that this is exactly who the Chiefs really are – impotent when push comes to shove, and good for about seventeen points every 60 minutes. An overrated running game, and a defense that isn’t as high quality as advertised except on select home occasions. I’d take the Chargers over the Chiefs to get that 5 seed in the AFC any day of the week, and I can’t wait until those two teams meet week seven so everybody can see how they respond to the meat of their divisional schedule. Speaking of San Diego…
Chargers 31, Jets 0
When I say that a lot more teams lost this week as opposed to winning, this is the exact type of game I was talking about. As a professional football team, if you go out and put zero points on the board it’s an embarrassment. If you go out and put zero points on the board, put a different quarterback out there expecting better results and then that guy doesn’t even score you’ve got yourself a real shit show. Yes, the Chargers are good. They’re really good, and if they can get over on Denver once like they did last year they might be poised to upset the Broncos when it counts – in January. They keep silently doing everything right, and almost nobody is mentioning them as a elite squad which they clearly are. However New York is a sight to behold. Instead of bringing nothing to the table, they brought everything and it still failed. It’s not easy to get it done when you only hold the ball for 21 minutes in regulation.
Patriots 43, Bengals 17
I was wrong to call New England done. I was wrong believing in Cincinnati for a lot of reasons, but losing this game to the degree that I did probably shouldn’t be one of them. After the press spent all week bashing Tom Brady for not being to make it happen in the Miami and Kansas City games, he made them eat their typewriters by laying the wood against the Bengals. Entering this game, Cincinnati had a stifling defense that made it seem like nobody outside of their division would ever get over on them but there isn’t a single NFL defense that would have been ready for the shower of power that New England was about to soak them with. The Patriots seem like they could use another sixty minutes of football against a team that thinks they are better than they really are. Who do they play next week? Buffalo? Oh boy, they’re dead…
Seahawks 27, Redskins 17
Seattle should have been able to win this game by a lot more than ten points, but they did win it and that’s all that’s important…for now. There is the possibility that they won’t have the home cushion they used to get to the Super Bowl, but if they plan on Russell Wilson rushing for 122 yards every game if they aren’t careful they could end up with the same situation the Redskins found themselves in at the end of the playoff game these two teams played a year and a half ago. I don’t have much to say about this, but I’m sure I will Thursday after I’ve watched more game film.
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