By: Shawn Davis
I want to start this off by sending my respect and condolences to the family of Al Davis. He was a pioneer, maverick and a Brooklyn boy; rest in peace, sir.
There are some things in life that leave you mystified or to put it simply, you just don’t understand them or why they happen. Here’s some: Checking out the sister of the girl you dated (it’s not my fault she lost weight and turned into a stunner), vegans who get pissed about the food choices their friends make (the power of choice) and the fact that Buffalo and San Francisco are both 4-1.
Five weeks have passed in the season so far and it’s time to look seriously at the aforementioned teams from here on out. Things can change from here through week 17, but I now believe that they’re going to garner the respect they’ve played for. Let’s go into the game breakdowns:
Philadelphia 24 @ Buffalo 31:
What else can be said about either team? The Bills are ball hawks, racking up 4 interceptions (returning one for a td) and bringing pressure in the face of Michael Vick. Jason Avant’s fumble was crushing as the Eagles were making a move to put pressure on the Bills to respond. That wasn’t needed because the defense stepped up to slow down the Philadelphia attack.
I don’t care what anyone says but Fred Jackson has to be one of the best running backs in the league. He doesn’t get the publicity of his peers at the position, but I doubt he really cares about that.
Next week: Philly (1-4) @ Washington (3-1), Bills (4-1) @ Giants (3-2)
New Orleans 30 @ Carolina 27:
Cam Newton is a liar? Yeah I said it because he cannot be a rookie quarterback in the league. He’s poised, confident and isn’t afraid of the spotlight. Under his leadership, the Panthers came back to make this a contest when the Saints attempted to wrap this up early. They lost the game but they are moving in the right direction with Newton as the franchise quarterback. The Panthers will fight in every game this season!
The Saints really need to tighten up their pass defense before it bites them, like it did in their sole loss versus the Packers. Drew Brees? What else can be said about the guy? It’s too bad that he’s been overshadowed by Rodgers and Brady, but not by too much. Also, the season is really young and I think he’ll challenge for the best quarterback title before the season is done.
Next week: NO (4-1) @ Tampa Bay (3-2), Car (1-4) @ Atlanta (2-3)
Oakland 25 @ Houston 20:
The most emotional game of the day had the Raiders on the field with heavy hearts in the wake of Al Davis’ passing. They won just as he would have wanted them to and I was rooting for them, honestly.
The Texans will remain a baffling team because, on numbers alone, they should have run away with this contest. They had the edge in total yards, 473-278, and still managed to lose. Schaub’s interception to end the game was a terrible read and maybe he should have tried to run it in for the touchdown. It would have been a close play but I think he makes it. Oh well…
For the second week in a row they lose one of their best players, Mario Williams, with a torn pectoral muscle. Unfortunately, it’s been reported by ESPN and Sports Illustrated that’s he going to miss the rest of the season. The Jekyll and Hyde season for the Texans will continue.
Next week: Oak (3-2) hosts Cleveland (2-2), Houston (3-2) @ Baltimore (3-1)
Kansas City 28 @ Indianapolis 24:
This seemed like the week the Colts could play themselves out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes (and one of the most intriguing storylines, EVER, if they get the first pick) but it was not to be. Curtis Painter looked good under center but the Chiefs had more in the end.
The Colts raced out to an early lead but surrendered 21 unanswered points; the defense has to feel like they let this one go – and that would be valid. I’m not going to mention the obvious but you have to see Dwayne Bowe’s juggling touchdown grab…sick!
I’m in a weekly pick league where you just choose the winners and losers of each game and I’m finding it difficult to see the Colts winning three games. This is going to continue to be a tough season in Indy.
Next week: KC (2-3) on bye, Indy (0-5) @ Cincinnati (3-2)
Cincinnati 30 @ Jacksonville 20:
Two other rookie quarterbacks dueled and Andy Dalton takes the prize in this match against Blaine Gabbert. The Bengals rallied back with two touchdowns to secure the contest. The Jaguars are a mess this year – it’s that simple. Cincinnati is 3-2 and they find themselves in good shape to compete with the Ravens and Steelers in the AFC North. Another good sign: their two losses are by a combined seven points and they play Indy next week.
Next week: Cin (3-2) hosts Indy (0-5), Jac (1-4) @ Pittsburgh (3-2)
Arizona 10 @ Minnesota 34:
The Vikings remembered that a football game is 60 minutes this week and put on a full game, finally. Adrian Peterson ran the ball like a man possessed, totaling 122 yards on 29 carries, with two touchdowns. Cardinal defenders looked scared to tackle him and it showed as he pushed would-be tacklers away from him.
Kevin Kolb looked flummoxed as he turned the ball over three times, much to the delight of the Vikings. I thought the Cards would progress as the season went along – and they have time – but Kolb looks too shaky against the blitz; elite quarterbacks welcome the extra rushers. Remember this is his first time as the unquestioned starter, and in a lot of ways he is a rookie, even though this is his fifth year in the league.
Next week: Ari (1-4) on bye, Minn(1-4) @ Chicago (2-3)
Seattle 36 @ NY Giants 25:
Weren’t the Seahawks doomed to drop this game? I mean they’re the west coast team flying east to play the 1pm game, right? Wrong! They should have scored in the 40’s with the way the Giants approached this one. New York played as if this game wasn’t important and Seattle was more than ready to put it to them. This was one of the most confusing games of the weekend because it sheds some doubt on who the Giants really are. In the same breath, maybe the Seahawks aren’t the doormat that they’ve led us to believe.
I was pissed that I sat through the first half because I was tired from the night before so turning on my laptop wasn’t in the cards – but I’m glad that I got up and did just that. To watch this whole game was something I could not do, therefore I will not write any more about it.
Let’s go Charlie Whitehurst…I had to do it. Great win for Seattle.
Next week: Sea (2-3) on bye, NYG (3-2) host Buffalo (4-1)
Tennessee 17 @ Pittsburgh 38:
Can all the talking heads on television stop jumping out the damn window about the Steelers being old? Last time I checked they played in the Super Bowl a few months ago and have two championships in the last seven years. They’re going to be fine.
Chris Johnson looks completely indecisive as he’s dancing behind his offensive linemen as opposed to just hitting the hole for the small gain; he’s trying to get the 70 yard run each time he touches the ball and it’s hurting their offensive rhythm. The Steelers are still elite and the Titans are still better than average; no sweeping judgments either way.
Next week: Ten (3-2) on bye, Pitt (3-2) hosts Jac (1-4)
Tampa Bay 3 @ San Francisco 48:
What the hell happened here? I saw the crawl on the bottom of the screen as I was viewing some of the other afternoon games and dropped my coffee cake just as it was getting good. I love coffee cakes! Come back, oh ok; I’m going to take the 49ers seriously for the rest of the season.
Coach Harbaugh has his team looking formidable when I thought he’d be creative (as in “bad”) enough to make sure he could draft his college qb, Andrew the Great, but he has Alex Smith playing smart and using all the weapons at his disposal. For years, they’ve had a talented roster but it’s clear former coach Mike Singletary wasn’t the leader they needed; they no longer have that problem. I’m excited to see what they make of the rest of the season. At 4-1, it’s the best start in the Bay Area in the last nine years. Next up? They go into Detroit to take on another surprise team. WOW!
I didn’t expect the Buccaneers to go into this game and wet the carpet as I picked them to win in my league and watched in horror as SF tore them apart.
Next week: TB (3-2) hosts NO (4-1), SF (4-1) @ Detroit (5-0)
San Diego 29 @ Denver 24:
San Diego has continued to play out of character by winning early in the season, which is the opposite of what they usually do. As for the Broncos, the Tebow era has officially begun and I cannot wait to see how this goes. The fans clamored for #15 and now they get to see him produce.
The Chargers have been notorious for their slow starts to the season over the last few years but they stand at 4-1 without really playing a consistent game. This should be alarming to the rest of the league because they’re going to start peaking as the year progresses. Will this be the year that the talent and expectations finally take them to the Super Bowl? Maybe.
Next week: SD (4-1) on bye, Denver (1-4) on bye
NYJ 21 @ New England 30:
The Jets have dropped their last three games and, of course, the New York media is in a state of panic and hysteria. It’s really not that serious as the teams they lost to are solid – and they were road games. I really think the offensive approach the Jets took was cringe worthy.
Why? The Patriots generate no pass rush and their secondary has regressed, terribly, from last year. What does this mean? Air it out! Coach Ryan is still treating Mark Sanchez with kid gloves where he should let him make plays on his own. Opposing teams are torching the Pats’ pass defense and the Jets have the weapons to do the same but Ryan insists on having a ball-control, let-the-defense-hold-the-fort philosophy. They’ll keep getting close to the Super Bowl, but won’t be taken seriously unless they let Sanchez command the offense.
It took New England five games to have a balanced offensive effort and it came in this rivalry game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed the ball to the tune of 136 yds and 2 tds on 27 carries. It was a dominant and scary effort because we’re all aware of the video-game like passing numbers Tom Brady has been producing so if they get their ground game together…scary thought.
Next week: Jets (2-3) @ Miami (0-4), NE (4-1) hosts Dallas (2-2)
Green Bay 25 @ Atlanta 14:
Aaron Rodgers is playing a basic game of catch on the field while the rest of the league is helpless to do anything about it. He completed passes to a dozen receivers en route to scoring 25 unanswered points to erase a 14-point deficit in the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta came out, attacking, and moved the ball effectively to jump out to an early lead. Leading up to the contest, the media was highlighting the playoff meeting between these two last year when the Packers destroyed them 48-21 on the road to the Super Bowl. The Falcons seemed focused to exercise that painful memory but the Packers defense went to another level and Rodgers took the cue, perfectly. Throwing for 396 yards with 2 touchdowns should not look as easy as he makes it.
Next week: GB (5-0) hosts Stl (0-4), Atl (2-3) hosts Carolina (1-4)
Chicago 13 @ Detroit 24:
If the Bears don’t figure out a way to keep Jay Cutler upright, he’s going to get hurt. Soon! It makes my skin crawl when analysts laud a players’ toughness when he takes a pounding. What else did he sign up for? This is a collision sport but Cutler is taking too much punishment. The game log shows that he was sacked three times but he was hit and pressured the whole night and it was remarkable that he didn’t get into his habit of throwing interceptions.
What else can you say about the Lions? They are undefeated at 5-0 and play another upstart, the 49ers, next week. Jahvid Best had a touchdown run of 88 yards and if he can continue to give them something to balance their passing attack they have a chance to keep this season going. Calvin Johnson had another big game with five receptions for 130 yards and a 73-yard touchdown catch. Five games into the season; he has 9 receiving touchdowns and is on pace to break the single season record of 23, set by Randy Moss in 2007. It’s going to be exciting to see if he can keep it up.
Next week: Bears (2-3) host Minn (1-4), Det (5-0) host SF (4-1)
So the season just passed the quarter mark, we’re left with only two undefeated clubs in the Packers and Lions with a host of others contending. Some at the bottom of the standings are already planning for next year while one or two will have a good push for playoff contention. I’ll be back next week.
Photo: Calvin Johnson; Gregory Shamus/Getty Images