While the ’72 Dolphins pop some champagne, here are my quick slants from the early games in Week Five.
1. The Texans have lost to the Cowboys and Giants at home by a combined score of 61-23. That doesn’t feel like progress. The reality is that Houston’s pass defense is worse than ever. Rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson has been overmatched and they have no alternatives to replace him. They have the worst secondary on any true playoff contender.
2. If the Titans can hold on to a lead in Dallas, there will be a four-way tie atop the AFC South at 3-2. Kudos to the Jaguars for coming back out of an early hole in Buffalo to win 36-26. Yes, the Bills defense is truly awful. But that’s the type of game the Jaguars have lost in the past.
3. The NFC West is 0-7 on the road outside of the division after St.
Louis’ 44-6 loss to the Lions. There is an excellent chance an 8-8
record wins that division. All that optimism about the Rams defense took a major hit, they can still win in the division.
4. After Kansas City’s loss to the Colts, no team reached 4-0 this season for the
first time since 1970. Still, a few teams are starting to separate from
At 4-1, the Falcons are nicely set up for a
playoff berth. The schedule stays soft and the team is balanced. They
run well, the offensive line is nasty, and Roddy White breaks off a long touchdown every week. The
defense can carry the team at times. Winning 20-10 in Cleveland
shouldn’t be taken for granted. Nice win.
The Ravens have also
separate. While Tennessee couldn’t beat Denver at home, Baltimore
pounded the Broncos 31-17. It’s impressive the Ravens have gone 4-1
despite a tough schedule and no Ed Reed to start the year. Ray Rice
finally got going with 133 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
5. The Chiefs have a small margin for error this year because of a
lackluster passing game. Dwayne Bowe used up that margin in Sunday’s
With Kansas City’s secondary holding Peyton Manning to only
5.5 yards-per-attempt, the Chiefs just needed one explosive play from
the offense to put the Colts in big trouble. Bowe had a chance to make
that play, but he dropped a potential touchdown bomb midway through the
third quarter that would have given the Chiefs the lead. And then Bowe
had a wide open drop on the next play for good measure.
City has a great defense, special teams, and a strong running game. That
may be good enough for a playoff spot, but Matt Cassel and Bowe are holding this team back.
6. The Colts have to be worried about their running game. The
Chiefs begged the Colts to run all day by keeping defenders out of the
box. Indianapolis couldn’t make them pay, with a few drives stopped
because of short-yardage woes. Joseph Addai left the game with an
injury. Backup Donald Brown was out with a hamstring injury.
7. You couldn’t have created a more devastating loss for the Bengals. They were in position for a game-winning field goal before a Terrell Owens penalty, and Carson Palmer’s third interception. Then outstanding throw by Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman set up a game-winning field goal for Tampa Bay. The 3-1 Bucs!
The Bucs scored 10 points in the final 52 seconds of the game to win 24-21. The Bengals enter their bye 2-3, and their schedule gets tougher the rest of the way. Their offense looks as disjointed in Week Five as it looked in Week One.
8. Jimmy Clausen isn’t close to ready to play. It’s a bad sign when the
Panthers pick off Bears quarterback Todd Collins four times and hold
him to 32 yards on 16 attempts, and yet Carolina wasn’t even
competitive in a 23-6 loss. This is the worst passing attack since the
2005 49ers. (Alex Smith’s rookie year.)
9. People will say the
Bears are a phony 4-1. That’s true to a point, but their defense has
been consistently good all year. This is Lovie Smith’s best group since
their Super Bowl season and that will keep the Bears competitive each week.