32 Thoughts after Week 5
1. Washington Redskins: After watching the Skins get destroyed in New Orleans, is it fair to say maybe they shouldn't have driven Cousins away? Look, I know it isn't all about the offense, and Alex Smith has only played 4 games in a Redskins uniform, but they just look blah through the first quarter of their season.
2. Dallas Cowboys: In the span of a few seasons Dallas has transformed into the Tennessee Titans of the NFC East. Their attack is centered around the run game, and their defense is now the only thing keeping them in games. Funny how I haven't heard anyone else make that comparison.
3. Philadelphia Eagles: I think we all expected the Eagles to suffer a little Super Bowl hangover. But holy crap. Maybe Frank Reich (now head coach of Indy) was the most important piece of that offense last year.
4. New York Giants: At 1-4 the Giants are somehow still in the divisional race. That's how bad the NFC East is this year. Will they win it? Probably not. But who knows, but OBJ really did light a fire under their asses, since it took a 63 yard FG in Carolina for the Panthers to win.
1. Chicago Bears: While I, and most people, am skeptical of their dominant win over the Bucs a few weeks ago, can you imagine how terrifying the Bears would be with a strong offense? Also who would've thought 5 weeks in the Bears would be tops in the division?
2. Green Bay Packers: Talk about a frustrating opening to their season. A tie to Minnesota (because of a bs penalty), a loss to Detroit (because of a thousand missed kicks), with ugly affairs against the Bills, Bears, and Redskins sprinkled in. Who is sold on this team right now? Not me.
3. Minnesota Vikings: In fairness to the Vikings, they have played the Packers, Rams, and Eagles on the road 3 of the past 4 weeks. But if you want to establish that you're the team to beat in the NFC, you have to win those games. And luckily they did against the Eagles, because their season may have been sunk otherwise.
4. Detroit Lions: Don't sleep in the Lions. Since their opening week blowout loss to the Jets, they've beaten the Patriots and Packers. Yes, they lost to the Jimmy G 49ers and the Cowboys (by 2), but the Lions are far from a doormat.
1. New Orleans Saints: So two things. Drew Brees is somehow the most underrated QB ever. Also, the defense has been showing up lately. If the Rams drop a few games and the Saints lock up the #1 seed in a few months, the Saints would be my favorite to win the Super Bowl.
2. Carolina Panthers: Giving up 31 points to the New York Giants is concerning, especially since you were at home and had two weeks to prepare. Still, a W is a W, and the Panthers are keeping pace with the Saints.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doesn't it feel like the Fitzmagic Era was years ago? With a bye week and a QB switch, it's like a new season for the 2-2 Bucs.
4. Atlanta Falcons: This is such a Jekyll and Hyde team when it comes to outdoor vs indoor games. Their defense is awful, we know that, but if the offense has to play outside they're awful too.
1. Los Angeles Rams: How in god's name does a team with Suh and Donald allow so many yards up the middle? Their porous run defense will be their undoing if they don't shore it up before the playoffs.
2. Seattle Seahawks: They're probably not going anywhere this year, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Seahawks play spoiler down the stretch.
3. Arizona Cardinals: The last team in the NFL to secure a win, granted it was at the expense of the equally dreadful 49ers. But hey, at least Josh Rosen is going to have plenty of low-pressure games to get used to the speed and flow of the NFL.
4. San Francisco 49ers: There isn't much to say about San Fran now, other than we can see who the real Niners fans are.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Most people are saying the Rams are the best team in the NFL, but I think with that win over the Jags, the Chiefs are now the #1 team. But, we've seen this before with KC. Let's see if they crash with Mahomes like they have with Smith in the past.
2. LA Chargers: A quick look over next 11 games reveals the Chargers have a pretty mediocre schedule remaining. They're able to beat the .500 teams of the world, but we'll see how good they really are when the play the Chiefs again and the Bengals.
3. Denver Broncos: I still think the Broncos are doomed as long as Vance Joseph is their coach. HE WASN'T EVEN A GOOD COORDINATOR! Oh well, way to waste the last years of the Sanders-Thomas duo and what's left of the Super Bowl defense.
4. Oakland Raiders: Hey look at the bright side: at least you didn't blow a 4th quarter lead!
1. Tennessee Titans: Very much like Dallas, the Titans are one of those teams that can beat good teams but also lose to bad teams. And they did. Why? Because they aren't consistent on offense. Defense is solid, but the lack of offense will kill them if they make the postseason.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: What's the chances the Jaguars upgrade their QB next offseason? They've (more or less) followed the Baltimore/NY Giants/Tampa Bay Super Bowl blueprint of strong defense and mediocre QB play, which is fine unless your QB throws 4 picks. Look, they don't even need an elite QB. Alex Smith could probably win a Super Bowl with this roster.
3. Houston Texans: Maybe Houston is turning things around, maybe they're just marginally better than the other .500 level teams. Either way, DeAndre Hopkins is the best WR in the game. Not one of the best. THE BEST.
4. Indianapolis Colts: For a minute it looked like the Colts were going to make a game of it...and they didn't. Look, the Colts were missing TY Hilton and most of their defense, on a short week, in New England. They should have lost. But what you have to like about this team so far is that they don't give up and seem to love their coach.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: At 4-1 people are asking if the Bengals are for real. And...I don't think they are. Andy Dalton is playing well, yes, but their defense is getting wins for the Bengals because of pick sixes and scoop and scores. And that isn't sustainable. But still, it's fun.
2. Baltimore Ravens: If you told someone 5 weeks ago the Ravens would be 1-2 in the division and that 1 win was against Pittsburgh, I think they would laugh at you. But that's what's happened. They'll rebound and either win the division or secure a wildcard.
3. Cleveland Browns: With 2 wins on the season (and a tie) this already feels like a successful season for the Browns. The craziest thing (other than the 3 overtime games) is that they could easily be 5-0 right now. But ya know, missed kicks and bad officiating kept us from that. Look out for the Browns, they may actually make the postseason OR win the division.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers: There's something funny about the Steelers being in last place in the division. A win over Atlanta made them look more functional than in past weeks, but Atlanta is awful outside so I'm still a little reserved. Look, the Steelers can beat anyone with that offense, but it's a matter of consistently doing that from game to game (or even drive to drive).
1. New England Patriots: The Patriots are back! So many people have called. But pump your damn brakes. Two wins in 4 days over two extremely injured, mediocre at best teams does not warrant a crowning. We will see just how good the Pats are when they play the Chiefs, Bears, and Packers in the next few weeks.
2. Miami Dolphins: Want to understand what's wrong with the Dolphins? Adam Gase needs to give up playcalling duties. Calling a 50 yard deep ball on 3rd and 1 when you're ahead by 7 in the 4th is baffling. Calling a QB sneak on 2nd and 20 when you're tied is also stupid. And this is what happens week in and week out with Miami.
3. Buffalo Bills: Beating the Titans doesn't surprise me as much as beating the Vikings did, but the Bills have established they're a tougher out than we believe them to be. Or maybe they just play to their opponents level. I don't know. If they beat the Patriots then I'll be really surprised.
4. New York Jets: The offense looked better, but the truth is Sam Darnold is the prototypical rookie. He still makes some really awful decisions (like throwing into triple coverage) that will sink this team. If he can get rid of those collegiate habits, then he will be a good QB someday. If he can't, he'll join Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith (remember him?), Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, et al.