Join Date: Sep 2012
Week 5 Power Ten + Storyline + Game Balls
Week 5 Synopsis
1. San Francisco 49ers, 4-1 (4) - The way the 49ers have responded to their loss in Minnesota says a lot more about this team than the letdown itself. Over the past 2 weeks, they haven’t stopped playing hard for a single snap, and have outscored their opponents 79-3. And as it turns out, the Viking team they lost to wasn’t so bad after all. The 49ers will need to bring their best again this week as they host the Giants in an NFC Championship rematch.
2. Atlanta Falcons, 5-0 (2) - The Falcons should be a little concerned with how tightly the Panthers and Redskins played them. They should be encouraged by the confidence and poise QB Matt Ryan showed late in these close games.
3. Baltimore Ravens, 4-1 (1) - The Ravens have the ability to be elite on both offense and defense, but need to start doing it on a regular basis. There’s no reason they should be playing such close games with the Chiefs and Browns - they need to look at these games against weaker teams as opportunities to practice their execution and show their dominance.
4. Houston Texans, 5-0 (3) - The Texans weren’t nearly as dominant against a hobbled Jets team as expected and lost one of their best players in the process. The Texans will host the Packers and Ravens the next 2 weeks, so we should know a lot more about this team when they head into their bye.
5. New England Patriots, 3-2 (7) - No great surprise, but the Patriots have bounced back marvelously from their back-to-back losses. Their running game is looking as good as it ever has under Bill Bellichick, and once his TE duo is healthy again, this is going to be a scary offense.
6. Chicago Bears, 4-1 (9) - The Bears have been executing exactly how their coach must have envisioned. Their defense is attacked and forcing turnovers, and Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall is looking like an unstoppable combo.
7. New York Giants, 3-2 (10) - There’s no doubt about it, the Giants are the league’s most resilient and mentally tough team in the league. Other teams would have panicked after falling behind 14-0 early, but the Giants simply kept their cool, quickly came back, and ended up running away with the game.
8. Green Bay Packers, 2-3 (5) - It’s time for the Packers to start getting seriously concerned about the prospect of not making the playoffs. Yes, they were robbed of a win by the refs, but they also robbed themselves of a win this week by trying to kick it into cruise control after building up a 21-3 halftime lead. HB Cedric Benson just sustained an injury that could sideline him for the year, and the Packers have to face off with the Texans this week.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers, 2-2 (UR) - It hasn’t been a pretty start for the Steelers, and they are still dealing with injury issues, but this is a clearly a team that is going to come out every week and compete. With Ben Roethlisberger behind center, they will always have a chance to win. When it comes to finding a way to create plays when the game is on the line, he is as good as anyone.
10. Philadelphia Eagles, 3-2 (8) - Michael Vick absolutely has to start taking better care of the ball. The fact that they are 3-2 despite a tough opening schedule and 14 takeaways says a lot about how good this team can be. But they’re not going to be able to keep winning games if the sloppy play continues.
Week 5 Storylines
1. CHUCKSTRONG - The Colts supplied the inspirational moment of week 5 as they battled back from a 21-3 halftime deficit while their coach watched from a nearby hospital. Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia last week and is undergoing treatment. It may have seemed that the team was going to falter without him, but they made a furious second-half rally, capped by a game-winning Andrew Luck TD pass with 35 seconds to go. A game ball was sent to Pagano in the hospital and CHUCKSTRONG tee shirts are selling like hot cakes in Indianapolis.
2. Vikings Rolling - The only thing more surprising than the Vikings’ 4-1 record is the ease at which they have dispatched their past three opponents. It might have seemed like a fluke after they beat the Niners, but after convincing wins over the Lions and Titans, it’s time to start taking this team seriously. Ultimately, their season will likely come down to how well they play against the Bears and Packers.
3. Rams knot up NFC West - A couple weeks ago, it seemed like the Rams were the weak link of their division. After beating the Seahawks and Cardinals, the Rams have made the NFC West the only division in football whose members all have winning records. In fact, there isn’t another division in football with more than 2 winning teams. The Rams are playing tough under Jeff Fisher, who has turned things around way faster than anticipated. Still, it’s hard to believe that all 4 teams in the division can keep up their success.
4. Comebacks no problem for the Giants
Never count the Giants out of a game. The defending Super Bowl champs could easily be sitting at 1-4 right now, but their ability to dig themselves out of holes has them at 3-2 and tied for the lead of their division. While it seems they have different heroes every week, this offense has no problem piling up points when they need to.
5. Saints get over the hump
No team came into week 5 needing a win more than the Saints, and they had to overcome a late 10-point deficit to get that elusive first W. The Saints struggled to stop the Chargers early in the game, but looked dominant down the stretch as they finished the game on a 17-0 run. The Saints will go into their bye week on a positive note, and while they still have a big hole to dig themselves out of, they at least have some cause for hope now.
6. Robert Griffin’s “Welcome to the NFL” Moment
The young QB has been a winner and superior athlete his whole life, and came into the NFL with a fearless attitude. Falcons’ LB Sean Weatherspoon may have put an end to that. Griffin should have probably just ducked out of bounds, but instead decided to fight for extra yards and ended up taking a big hit on the chin. You have to credit him for his toughness, but he may not have a long career if he keeps getting hit like that. Griffin was diagnosed with a concussion, but has passed the mandatory tests and is expected to start this week. Shanahan will probably tell him to play with a little less reckless abandon.
7. Dolphins show resiliency
Coming off a heart-breaking overtime loss and traveling to Cincinnati to play a Bengal team on a 3-game win streak, many expected the Dolphins to unravel. Instead, the team put together a stellar defensive effort and pulled off a tough road win. It’s hard to know what to make of the Dolphins right now, but it seems clear that Ryan Tannehill is coming along faster than expected and the defense can keep them in games.
8. AFC West: The Abyss
When saying the AFC West is wide open, it shouldn’t be taken as a positive for any of the teams. The Chiefs have been so dreadful that their fans cheered when their starting QB got injured - a low point of the NFL season thus far. The Raiders look like a mess, but are still a wild card at this point. The Chargers are leading the division, but are still playing with the same lackadaisical attitude that has cast them into mediocrity. The Broncos are probably the best team in the division, but they lost badly when matched against top teams. Don’t be surprised if a team with a losing record ends up winning this division.
9. Panthers and Jaguars limp into bye weeks - Bye weeks couldn’t have come at better times for these two teams, who have both lost three straight. Cam Newton appears to be going through a sophomore slump, while Blaine Gabbert is continuing to struggle. Neither of the young quarterbacks is getting much help from their supporting cast, and both defenses are struggling. Surely, this isn’t the way either team had hoped to start the season. However, neither team has been hit hard by injuries and if they can regroup in their bye week, the season is still salvageable.
10. Injury bug strikes Texans yet again
In 2010, the Texans got off to a strong start, but fell apart after injuries sidelined several of their top players. Last year, they got hit by a similar injury bug, but showed great resiliency and won their division and a playoff game. They were hoping to avoid the injury bug this year, but it bit LB Brian Cushing Monday night, as he tore his ACL in their win against the Jets. Cushing is one of the league’s best linebackers and a key player in the middle of their defense. They traded away DeMeco Ryans and suddenly find themselves very thin at ILB. There is no way they can replace Cushing’s leadership off the field, or his disruptive ability and coverage skills on the field. However, this team still has plenty of talent and play with a “next man up” mentality.
Week 5 Game Balls
1. HB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
When it comes to the Giants making big comebacks, people automatically think of Eli Manning. Manning certainly played a role in the Giants’ comeback win over the Browns, but Bradshaw may have been the real hero of the game. Bradshaw ran in a touchdown late in the second quarter to tie the game, and the Giants rode him the rest of the way to a win. Bradshaw had a rough start to the year, but looked like a workhorse as he ran the ball 30 times for 200 yards.
2. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
This week was a signature win for rookie QB Andrew Luck, as he scored three touchdowns in the second-half of their remarkable comeback win. It wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of his veteran receiver, who caught 13 passes for 212 yards, including the game-winning touchdown.
3. LB Lance Briggs & CB Charles Tillman, Bears
These two long-time Bears have made history by becoming the first set of teammates to both return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive weeks. The Bears’ defense has been scoring more points than a lot of NFL offenses, and these two guys are setting the tone.
4. TE Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
Gonzalez has said this will be his last season, but if he can keep playing at this level, there’s no reason he needs to retire. The Falcons were in a tough game against the Redskins, and Gonzalez was there to help his QB move the chains every time he needed him. Matt Ryan threw to his tight end 14 times and completed 13 of the throws as the Falcons dominated time of possession and wore down the Redskins.
5. WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
Percy Harvin has to be on the short list for the MVP at this point of the year. The Vikings have been a big surprise, and Harvin has been doing it all for them, making major contributions as a receiver, running back and return specialist. Harvin has stepped up as a leader and ranks second in the league in receptions and leads the league in yards after catch. This week, he went over 100 yards and scored a receiving and rushing touchdown.
6. LB Lawrence Timmons, Steelers
As expected, the Steelers-Eagles game was dominated by defense. The Steelers were excited to get OLB James Harrison and SS Troy Polamalu back in the lineup, but Polamalu re-injured himself and the two former DPOYs combined for just 4 tackles. Timmons picked up the slack, racing around the field making plays all game. He finished with 9 tackles (8 solo), 1 FF, 2 TFL and 2 QB hits.
7. DE Bruce Irvin, Seahawks - The Seahawks gambled on Irvin in the first round because they felt he was the best speed rusher available. Going up against the league’s toughest QB to tackle, Irvin came up with 2 sacks in a dominant defensive effort. He dropped Newton for a 13 yard loss in the second quarter that backed the Panthers up to their own 10, and then iced the game by forcing a fumble with less than a minute to go.
8. QB Alex Smith, 49ers
The 49ers dominated the Bills in every aspect of this game, but no one played better than their QB. Smith could get upset that the coaching staff is giving so many snaps to Colin Kaepernick, the young QB who is being groomed to replace him, but not Alex Smith. All he did was come out and play a perfect game, throwing numerous perfect passes downfield on his way to 303 yards and 3 TD. Smith now leads the league in QB rating.
9. DE Robert Quinn, Rams
The Rams absolutely pummeled Kevin Kolb as they took down the Cardinals and got themselves back in the NFC West race. Leading the way was Robert Quinn, who recorded 3 sacks and 2 TFL. The Rams took Quinn in the first round last year to give themselves a speed rusher opposite DE Chris Long, and that pick is paying dividends now, as Quinn already has 6 sacks this year.
10. J.J. Watt, Texans
Watt seems to find a way to put his handprint on each game. The Jets gave the Texans a much closer game than expected, but Watt was there to make big plays when his team needed them. With the Jets in the red zone and threatening to tie the game before the half, Watt tipped a pass into the air, setting up his CB to pick it off and take it 86 yards in the other direction. Clinging to a six point lead in the fourth quarter, Watt sacked Sanchez on a critical third down play that took the Jets out of field goal range. On the last play of the game, the Jets tried to set up a desperation hook and ladder play to win it, but the pass was fittingly knocked down at the line of scrimmage by Watt.