Like nearly every week in the NFL, week 5 was filled with upsets, blowouts, comebacks, and more. In case you weren't able to catch every game, I'll give you a brief recap of each of them as well as an outlook for every team. Here we go.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 19, Chicago Bears - 20
Somehow, despite questionable quarterback play for the majority of each of their games, Chicago keeps winning. Bears coach Matt Nagy has insisted Nick Foles will be their guy going forward, and he played just well enough for his team to win on Thursday night. Bears fans should be thrilled to be 4-1 on the season with the inconsistency at the quarterback position, which demonstrates that Chicago's defense could lead them to a multitude of wins as long as the offense continues to limit mistakes.
On the other hand, the Buccaneers continue to look discombobulated, as evidenced by Tom Brady's shocking game management error in crunch time after thinking a fourth down play was only third down. Apart from a really good 35 minutes last week to complete a comeback against the Chargers, I haven't really been impressed at all with Tampa's offense. Granted, they've been missing key players basically all season, as Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Leonard Fournette, to name a few, have been battling injuries. I, personally, have always felt that Brady's success was derived primarily from Bill Belichick's scheme and personnel, and that may be proved true this season if Brady continues to struggle even when his supporting cast gets healthy. I'll hold my judgement for now, but the Bucs have another test next week against the undefeated Packers.
Carolina Panthers - 23, Atlanta Falcons - 16
I hope you all took my advice to bet on the Panthers (who were underdogs) to win this game, as they were in control from the second quarter on. Despite missing Christian McCaffrey, Carolina's offense is managing to perform relatively well behind Teddy Bridgewater. However, they still struggle to score touchdowns at times, as kicker Joey Slye has attempted three or more field goals in three of their five games. Surprisingly, Carolina is actually in a tie for first place in the NFC South after winning three in a row, and if they can pull off a few more wins while McCaffrey is out, they could potentially cause some chaos within their division when he returns.
The Falcons are just really bad, and there's no other way to put it. Todd Gurley found major success on the ground, rushing for 121 yards and a score on only 14 carries. But with Julio Jones out, Atlanta's only real threat through the air is Calvin Ridley, who, with no one else to distract the defenders, can only do so much through double teams. Here's a wild stat: while Ridley caught eight of his ten targets for 136 yards against Carolina, the other pass catchers (excluding Gurley) caught only nine of 20 targets for a measly 61 yards. The Falcons aren't going to be able to win games with such putrid contributions from guys not named Gurley, Jones, or Ridley, especially with an injury-ravaged defense that wasn't particularly good to begin with. The Falcons shouldn't be favored against anyone remaining on their schedule.
Las Vegas Raiders - 40, Kansas City Chiefs - 32
Derek Carr impressed in this one, as the return of Henry Ruggs from injury provided much needed speed to an otherwise boring offense, and the Raiders were surprisingly able to handle the Chiefs with relative ease. Carr threw for nearly 350 yards and three touchdowns, two of which over 50 yards. Ruggs' ability to take the top off of a defense will definitely benefit both the pass and run game for Las Vegas, as workhorse running back Josh Jacobs will have an easier time running when the defense can't load the box. I was certainly impressed with Carr's arm, but I question whether he will be able to perform consistently as well as he did against Kansas City. If he can, the Raiders can potentially challenge the Chiefs for the AFC West division crown.
As for the Chiefs, I'm not going to overreact and say their dynasty is over, but their defense must play better. While Patrick Mahomes and the offense has been able to bail out the defense and score pretty much at will in the past, Sunday's contest proved that Mahomes will struggle some days (the term "struggle" is used loosely here, as scoring 32 points would be enough to win most days). Regardless, the Raiders showed that the mighty Chiefs are beatable, and maybe Kansas City needed to be beaten so they know they must take every game seriously. I would still bet a lot of money on the Chiefs to make it back to the Super Bowl at the end of the season.
Arizona Cardinals - 30, New York Jets - 10
There isn't much to say about this game, as the Jets continue their streak of misery (this time behind Joe Flacco) and the Cardinals took care of business in a much needed rebound game for Kyler Murray after suffering back-to-back losses. For Arizona, they remain in contention for the tough NFC West, and seem to have edged out San Francisco for now for the third spot in the division. However, it is difficult to tell how good a team really is when they are beating up on the lowly Jets.
New York appears increasingly likely to enter the "Tank for Trevor" sweepstakes, especially as Sam Darnold has recently been involved in some trade rumors. They certainly have a great chance of obtaining that top spot in the draft, and it'll be interesting to see what they decide to do if they get it.
Philadelphia Eagles - 29, Pittsburgh Steelers - 38
The biggest takeaway for me in this game is that the Steelers have a newfound stud receiver in rookie Chase Claypool, who amassed four total touchdowns in the game. Claypool, along with fellow pass catchers Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Eric Ebron provide numerous targets for Ben Roethlisberger, and Claypool's emergence will force defenses away from focusing solely on Smith-Schuster in the passing game. The reliable James Connor has been able to find success behind a good offensive line, and the defense typically holds up better than it did against the Eagles. I'm looking forward to seeing how they perform against the Ravens in a couple weeks, but Pittsburgh can't overlook the surging Browns next week.
Carson Wentz turned the ball over twice on Sunday, but he performed pretty well excluding those mistakes. Newcomer Travis Fulgham (99.9% of NFL fans had no idea who this was before Sunday, including me) exploded for 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown, providing much needed receiving support for Wentz in an offense still missing Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson. Next week's matchup against Baltimore won't be easy, but Philly could string some wins together over the three following weeks when they face off against the pitiful Giants (twice) and the Dak Prescott-less Cowboys.
Los Angeles Rams - 30, Washington Football Team - 10
This game went about as I expected, as the Rams dominated pretty much for its entirety. The biggest story from this one is that Alex Smith, who had possibly the nastiest leg injury (except for maybe Louisville's Kevin Ware) of my lifetime two years ago, entered the game in the second quarter and played for the remainder of it. Unfortunately, he was not able to get anything going as he was sacked SIX times in a little over one half of play behind an atrocious offensive line. Washington looked decent out of the gate this season, but they've looked really bad lately. The lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball places the ceiling very low for Washington.
The Rams handled their business and performed as they should have. Jared Goff compiled over 300 yards in a blowout and continued to spread the ball around to a plethora of receivers. I think they have one of the best defenses in the league, especially with the pass rushing led by Aaron Donald. I'm going to hammer the Rams at -3.5 against the 49ers on Sunday night, because I can't believe they aren't favored by more.
Cincinnati Bengals - 3, Baltimore Ravens - 27
I feel so bad for Joe Burrow. It seemed like he was getting sacked as soon as he got the ball every play against the tenacious Baltimore defense. While the Bengals have several talented skill players on offense, they're unable to produce due to the limitations of their pathetic offensive line. Joe Mixon, who is considered one of the best backs in the league, averaged less than 2.5 yards per carry. It looked like the Ravens had 11 defenders in the box while somehow simultaneously smothering every receiver. Sadly, this won't be the last game of the sorts for Burrow and the Bengals, as they face off against the elite Colts defense next week.
Baltimore looked as good as any week, and completely dismantled the Bengals in all facets of the game. Their defense pitched a shutout until Randy Bullock kicked a field goal in the last minute of the game. Lamar Jackson didn't play his best game, but he was elusive in the pocket and continuously made something out of nothing by extending the play behind the line of scrimmage. The Ravens will definitely secure a playoff spot, whether that be as division champs or as a wild card team if the Steelers or Browns (yes, those Browns) continue to thrive.
Jacksonville Jaguars - 14, Houston Texans - 30
Jacksonville has fallen back to Earth after their stunning week 1 victory over the Colts, but their recent performance has confirmed that that game was merely a fluke. Poor Gardner Minshew just has no help on offense, and his favorite target, D.J. Chark, exited this one early with an ankle injury. I think the Jags will collect a few more wins this season when Minshew is able to carry his team to victory, but those wins will likely be few and far between.
The Texans unsurprisingly collected their first win of the season after the firing of head coach/General Manager Bill O'Brien following an 0-4 start. I was saying this before, but I'll continue to mention that the Texans had, without a doubt, the hardest first four games of any other team. With their toughest opponents (except for the Packers) already out of the way, Houston should be able to make at least somewhat of a run for the playoffs, and the division isn't technically out of the question either. They'll likely have to be nearly flawless, but there is still a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.
Miami Dolphins - 43, San Francisco 49ers - 17
Ryan FitzMagic and the Dolphins put an absolute beatdown on the 49ers, and they could have put up even more points if they wanted to. I expected Miami to cover the 9 points they were given, and possibly even win, but I never expected them to win like that. I'm not sure if it's a testament to how good the Dolphins are or how bad the 49ers are, but I think it's a combination of both. Miami's offense is rolling now with Fitzpatrick, who has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his last four games. Miami has three really tough games against the Rams, Chiefs, and Bills remaining on the schedule, but I think they have a chance to win all the others. If they get to 10-6, they could be vying for a wild card spot.
San Francisco struggled all day on both sides of the ball. Jimmy Garoppolo was benched in the third quarter for backup C.J. Beathard, who performed better than Jimmy G in his place. I'm not sure what Kyle Shanahan will do at the quarterback position moving forward, but right now the 49ers are sitting at 2-3 and in last place in their division. To make matters worse, these are their next seven opponents (assuming none of them get postponed due to COVID): Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Rams, Bills. It's very possible that San Fran goes 0-7 in those contests if they don't see major improvement on both sides of the ball. The near Super Bowl victory must seem like a very long time ago for Niner fans.
Indianapolis Colts - 23, Cleveland Browns - 32
I'm a Colts fan, and while I try to be impartial in these articles, I'm going to take a moment to vent about a Phillip Rivers. The Colts and Chargers used to meet in the playoffs frequently back in the Manning era, so I have a long-standing disdain for Phillip Rivers. I decided I would look past those days and give him a chance when he signed with Indy, but I somehow hate him even more now. He's awful! As also a Tennessee Volunteers fan, it's like watching an NFL version of Jarrett Guarantano. I'm going to lose my mind if I have to continue watching such horrid quarterback play on Saturday AND Sunday for the rest of the season. I obviously won't get into Guarantano in this article, but Rivers is immobile in the pocket, slow to make decisions, and has a blind spot for anyone wearing the opposing team's uniform. Put Jacoby Brissett in there, please. At least he's a likable guy. We shouldn't be wasting T.Y. Hilton's final years, as well as the strength of the offensive line and defense, on a 40-year old quarterback who has never won anything to begin with.
Anyway, this was Cleveland's first real test since their opening loss against the Ravens, and they proved something in this game. Baker Mayfield made plays when he needed to, and the defense forced two turnovers and contributed to nine points of their own. Even without Nick Chubb, the offense remained relatively productive on the ground behind Kareem Hunt against a stout Colts rush defense. The Browns will have another tough matchup next week against the Steelers, in a game that might contribute greatly to how the AFC playoff picture shapes out.
New York Giants - 34, Dallas Cowboys - 37
I feel so bad for Dak Prescott, who, in hindsight, should have definitely held out for a long-term deal this offseason. Prescott suffered a nasty ankle fracture in the third quarter and will be out for the remainder of the season. Jerry Jones has already said that Prescott is still their quarterback and will be when he is able to return, but I don't know if I buy that. If he was undoubtedly Dallas's QB going forward, why wouldn't Jones pay him and sign him long-term? Now, if he does re-sign with the Cowboys, it will pretty much have to be on a multi-year deal since Dallas can't afford to take a big cap hit of a $30-plus million dollar one-year deal in the short term. Hopefully for Cowboys fans, veteran Andy Dalton can manage to play well in Prescott's absence. He definitely has the talent around him to be capable of doing so.
The Giants looked much better in this game than they did in their first four games, but it still wasn't enough to get the win. Jason Garrett clearly wanted to get revenge on his former team, but his squad came up just short of pulling off the upset. If New York keeps playing competitively, they could potentially win a few of their upcoming games, as they have Washington and Philadelphia twice in the next five weeks, and Cincinnati the following week. Those games should at least be confidence boosters for Daniel Jones, who surely needs some of those badly.
Minnesota Vikings - 26, Seattle Seahawks - 27
This game was a rollercoaster for fans of both teams, as the Vikings opened with a 13-0 run in the first half before the Seahawks scored 21 straight in a matter of two minutes in the second half. Russell Wilson ultimately led a flawless game-winning touchdown drive with less than two minutes to play to seal the comeback. Seattle's offense struggled mightily in the first half, as they could not seem to get anything working. But the momentum swung midway through the third quarter when Dalvin Cook was forced out of the game in what appeared to be a hamstring injury. The Seahawks are about to embark on a tough five-game stretch, where they will play four divisional games and the Bills as the lone non-divisional foe. Seattle is definitely good enough to win all of them as long as they get production from defensively.
This was a rough ending for the Vikings, who completely dominated for the entirety of the first half. The loss of Cook isn't to blame in my opinion, as Alexander Mattison didn't miss a beat in his absence. I would put the blame on Kirk Cousins, who fumbled and threw a pick to set up two of Seattle's third quarter scores, which completely shifted the momentum. Cousins compiled decent stats outside of the turnovers and his connection with Adam Thielen looked as strong as ever, but he must limit turnovers and move the ball consistently to take some pressure off of a young defense. Minnesota draws a friendly matchup with the lowly Falcons next before having to face off against the mighty Packers again.
Los Angeles Chargers - 27, New Orleans Saints - 30
How do the Chargers keep blowing such big leads? Last week, after going up 24-7 in the first half, Tampa Bay mounted a spectacular comeback to win 38-31. This week, the Chargers similarly jumped out to a 20-3 lead in the first half before the Saints accomplished the same feat. I don't know if L.A. just comes out with great game scripts in the first half or if they can't make halftime adjustments. Maybe they keep letting off the gas when they get up big, because they appeared to be in total control Monday night for almost the entirety of the first half. Justin Herbert is the real deal and he established an excellent connection with Mike Williams against the Saints, but the Chargers have to learn to close out games. If they could just double their first half performances in their games, we'd potentially be talking about one of the better teams in the whole league.
Drew Brees did as Drew Brees does, leading an impressive comeback victory in a game where I initially thought he may just not have it anymore. New Orleans struggles in games where Michael Thomas doesn't play, but Emmanuel Sanders filled in for him nicely, amassing 12 catches for 122 yards. I was surprised at Alvin Kamara's lack of involvement on the ground, especially without Thomas, but they fed him the ball through the air as their early deficit called for. The Saints still don't look as sharp as they did last season, but maybe they can get it together with likely a full cast next week against the Panthers.
Buffalo Bills - 16, Tennessee Titans - 42
This was an absolute shellacking by the Titans, as they absolutely dominated the Bills on offense, defense, and special teams. I've been doubting Ryan Tannehill ever since he replaced Marcus Mariota a season ago, but my attitude toward him is beginning to change. Despite a depleted receiving corps, he connected with his favorite targets, A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith, seemingly as often as he wanted to. Derrick Henry only ran for 57 yards, but he scored twice and stiff armed Josh Norman into 2021. Tennessee's defense contained the red hot Josh Allen and picked him off twice as well in what was by far Buffalo's lowest point total on the year. The Titans accomplished all of this despite not practicing for the last two weeks and dealing with all kinds of off-the-field COVID-related issues. Tennessee's play style will make them a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.
The Bills defense was atrocious in this one, as they allowed the Titans to do whatever they wanted. They did a decent job limiting Derrick Henry, but they allowed Tannehill to look like Lamar Jackson on several occasions with scrambles to the outside. Josh Allen made some mistakes, and the offense didn't look as fluid as it has been so far, but I think it was simply the result of a bad day. Young quarterbacks will have more struggle games than their veteran counterparts. The offense could get back on track next week against Kansas City, but their defense will have to play significantly better for them to have a chance to win going forward.
Written by Nick Swatson