Greetings, readers. Week 5 went much as I expected it would. Not a lot of surprises, though we're now down to two undefeated teams. Also, there are no longer ten good teams; there are a couple 3-2 teams included this week. It's not something I like to do, but it's what has to be done for this week unless I want to cut it to a top 5. A top 5 would probably be pointless.
Anyway, on to the stories from this week.
First off, Arizona fell to 4-1. They went to St. Louis on Thursday and didn't play very well, only managing three points. Part of that has to do with the Rams' defense, which played quite well. But for Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals offense, there's really not much of an excuse; they knew before the season that they'd have to handle this hurdle and they didn't look prepared to do so. A disappointing loss for the Cardinals, but they have plenty of opportunities to bounce back.
I think the most memorable win has to belong to the Indianapolis Colts. I'm sure everyone knows the story by now; their head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, so the Colts really wanted to win this one. I'm glad they got the win, yet there's something I feel most people ignored that I feel obligated to point out: Aaron Rodgers did not play well down the stretch. Actually, he looked jumpy even when the pressure wasn't getting into his face. I guess he got unsettled early in the game and that carried over to the last couple drives. Rodgers is far from the only "elite" QB to struggle in the first five weeks of the season, but his struggles have to be seen as the most surprising. Congratulations to the Colts for taking advantage, and get well soon, Coach Pagano!
As mentioned above, there are only two undefeated teams left after five weeks. They are Atlanta and Houston. Of the two, I would guess that Atlanta is the more surprising one. Houston, for all the plaudits they receive from the national media, has beaten no one of note. Outside of the AFC West, the AFC South has to be the weakest of the eight divisions. Both teams look mostly convincing on offense, but defense really looks to be their calling card.
The NFC North, on the other hand, looks like one of the stronger divisions. Now, don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean I'm entirely sold on Chicago. But they're 4-1 and so are the Vikings, which puts the NFC North ahead of the pack, alongside the surprising NFC West. The Bears have a bye in Week 6, while the Vikings head to Washington. Detroit comes off the bye to face Philadelphia while the Packers head down to Houston in what has to be the first Sunday night game for the Texans since NBC took over that time slot. So while the division is looking fairly strong this week, it could turn by 11PM CDT on Sunday.
Another week, another win for New England. It got close enough to not be considered a beatdown in garbage time, but for the majority of the game, Denver wasn't in sight. I'm sure people were worried after they lost to Arizona and Baltimore, but at 3-2 they look to be rising. Still, it's not what most of us would expect after five weeks.
The most impressive win goes to San Francisco for the second week in a row. I guess if they're playing an AFC East team other than New England, the forecast is straight up beatdown. Putting 34 on the Jets wasn't enough for Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith, so they put 45 on Buffalo and made them look pitiful. Speaking of which, how bad is Buffalo's defense? They've let up 48 to the Jets, 52 to the Pats, and 45 to the 49ers. Has to be the worst scoring defense, at least.
A weird ending to the San Diego/New Orleans game. There were consecutive penalties against the Chargers and then a freak injury to the left tackle that ended the game with Rivers getting taken down on a sack/fumble. The penalties took the Chargers out of range for a TD that would have tied the game up. And for the coaching staff to fail to notice that the left tackle was injured...well, that's on them. But the penalties made it look a little fishy. And let's not go crazy about the Saints; when they started 0-4, they essentially ended the season after Week 4.
Here are the Rankings for Week 5:
1.) Atlanta (5-0) [no change]
Another close game, but still undefeated, thus still the best.
2.) Houston (5-0) [no change]
Taking advantage of a weak early season schedule. Will Cushing injury derail them?
3.) Baltimore (4-1) [+1]
A field goal festival leads the Ravens to the top of the AFC North. Back home for the Cowboys this week.
4.) San Francisco (4-1) [+1]
Two beatdowns in a row and now the Giants come in. Can they make it three in a row?
5.) Chicago (4-1) [+2]
Bye week coming up; not sure if it's a good time since they've won three in a row.
6.) Arizona (4-1) [-3]
While losing in that fashion might cast doubt on the Cards' legitimacy, let's remember it was a short week.
7.) Minnesota (4-1) [+3]
A pretty spectacular beatdown by the Vikings. Now they head to Washington, who might be without RGIII.
8.) New England (3-2) [-]
It's a long trip to Seattle, but it helps to have a couple wins under the belt.
9.) St. Louis (3-2) [-]
Over .500 for the first time in 5+ years? It's a good time to be the Rams. They head to Miami next.
10.) Cincinnati (3-2) [-4]
A bad loss for the Bengals, but they head to Cleveland for what should be an easy win.
That's all for this week. See you next week.
Three Games to Watch (Week 6):
New England @ Seattle (Sunday, CBS)
NY Giants @ San Francisco (Sunday, FOX)
Denver @ San Diego (Monday, ESPN)