One week can change a lot of perspective in the NFL. For example, coming into week 5 the New York Jets were looking like a 5 win team at best. The Arizona Cardinals looked like they had a shot to win the west and the Ravens looked Superbowl bound.
Now lets talk about how teams around the NFL are looking after week 5.
Starting with New York teams first, we will start fresh with the Monday night game.
Texans @ Jets – After an embarrassing home loss to the Niners the Jets needed to look at least competitive against the Texans. Most fans or fans of football would’ve told you the Jets didn’t have a shot. I would’ve told you the same.
The Jets played this game without Santonio Holmes, Darrell Revis, Stephen Hill, Dustin Keller, Sione Pouha. Nick Mangold also left the game temporarily with an injury. No team in the NFL has that many injuries with that many star players.
That being said the Texans should walked out with a convincing win at MetLife.
The Jets actually played their second best game of the season despite the loss. The opening drives offensively and defensively looked atrocious for the Jets, giving up an opening drive touchdown for the Texans in only 3 minutes and 55 seconds. Then the Jets went 3 and out on their first offensive series.
But, once the dust settled Mark Sanchez threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland who made a nice catch. Joe McKnight had a 100 hard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Jets defense looked stout.
The Jets also pulled out all their tricks. Tim Tebow came in and threw a perfect pass deep downfield to newly acquired wide receiver who dropped the pass which could’ve been a touchdown. Antonio Cromartie who looked “Revis-esque” on defense for the second straight week played wide receiver and made an athletic catch on a 40 yard pass from Sanchez, but couldn’t keep his feet in bounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more from him at receiver as he truly looked like he could’ve been the Jets second best receiver. Also the Jets pulled a play out of Sean Payton’s Superbowl playbook and tried and onside kick in the 3rd quarter, but Chaz Schilins dropped the ball. Also Mark Sanchez, who threw for 230 yards but only completed 45% of his passes, threw two interceptions (one which was more Cumberlands fault then Sanchez’s) in hurry up offense mode. The Jets need to tighten all of those things up to be the playoff team the aspire to be, but tonight with those mistakes, they were still good enough to hang with the undefeated Houston Texans. Regardless, the Jets changed some perspectives tonight…at least for the moment.
Browns @ Giants – Not too much to say about this game. The Giants seemed to want to make it interesting in the beginning, spotting the Browns 14 points, but that didn’t last long as Eli found Victor Cruz 3 times in the end zone. Ahmad Bradshaw seemed to find every hole the Browns had in their run defense, rushing for 200 yards and a touchdown.
The Giants have played 5 games this year. They’ve won the 3 games they were supposed to win, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Cleveland. They have lost their two division games to the Cowboys and Eagles, so the jury is still out on them. If they go on the road and beat the Niners next week then they’re legit contenders. It should certainly be a good game to watch.
Bills @ 49ers – In the last two weeks the 49ers have won two games against AFC East teams by a combined total of 79-3. This team is legit. They had a brief hiccup in Minnesota, but have since moved in the right direction. Right now I still think they are the best NFC team.
The Buffalo Bills on the other hand are a mess. The new found defense they were supposed to have in non-existent. They’re currently tied for 2nd in their division and only a game out of first, but with a point differential of minus 58 right now. They may soon be cellar dwellers in the division.
Green Bay @ Indianapolis – I do not want to take anything away from the Colts after this win. They earned it, trailing by 18 points in the second half and coming back for the win, but this Green Bay team is not as good as we thought the were. The offense without Joe Philbin doesn’t look as good and the defense seems all out of sorts. With three other playoff caliber teams in their division, they need to figure out their problems soon.
For the Colts, it is great to watch a team who really has something to play for. Head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this week. Players and fans rallied with shirts that read “#chuckstrong”, and they made their coach proud after this performance. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck is making big time throws, outplaying Aaron Rogers in this game. They will have their growing pains throughout this season, but they’ll be back in the playoff conversation in the next few years.
Broncos @ Patriots – No team will ever come out and blame a loss on a single player, and they shouldn’t, but I bet the Broncos wish Willis McGahee got a second chance on a few plays. One was a dropped pass from Peyton Manning that would’ve been a first down and extended a drive. The other was a fumble late in the game when the Broncos were making a comeback attempt. The fumbled essentially sealed the Broncos fate at the Patriots won. The Broncos are a good team and they’ll get better. Peyton looks better each week but they do have a very tough schedule this season and you cannot make mistakes against good teams. They’ll cost you every time.
The Patriots on the other hand are in first place for the first time this season. Most likely they’ll remain there for the rest of the season, but they can’t feel too comfortable. A few of their wins this season have come off the mistakes of their opponents. They’ve yet to look as dominant as the did last season.
Baltimore @ Kansas City – Everyone always hears about how tough it is to go into Kansas City and win, so I’ll give the Ravens a pass here on an otherwise awful performance. Joe Flacco went back to looking like a game manager. Jamal Charles ran for 4.7 yards per carry against the Ravens defense, and the Ravens couldn’t find the end zone on offense. Kansas City is a team that will be in the conversation for #1 overall pick at the end of the season. The Ravens need to look at this game as a wake up call. To be considered the best you have to blow out inferior opponents. The perspective this week has dropped a little on the Ravens after this week.
Cardinals @ Rams – What happened to the Cardinals? They go into Foxboro and beat the Pats, but can’t go into Saint Louis and beat the Rams? Something doesn’t make sense. Here’s the problem…everyone knows the Cardinals lack at the quarterback position, and though they have four running backs, none of them are real threats around the league.
The Cardinals defense played great and kept them into the game late into the fourth. They need to figure out their issues on offense and should consider themselves lucky that Larry Fitzgerald has committed long term. He’s one of the best receivers in the game and he deserves better at the QB position.
Brian C. Smith