Week 5 The Early Games
When people ask me “what should I watch to get into the NFL?” I will stand up, lock the door and find Week 5 of the 2013 season.
Buffalo Bills 24 Cleveland Browns 34
The Bills have looked impressive all season, with a patchwork secondary looking elite and a Running Back duo that could walk into any team as starters. So let’s start with them. They define how good this team plays, if they play badly, then this team plays badly. That being said, whilst Manuel was in the game they were in control. Manuel made some smart moves, managing to avoid sacks and avoiding making mistakes. The game of course changed when Tuel came in to replace the injured Manuel. Looking like a rabbit in the headlights, having Tuel in took a dimension away from the Offence and meant the Browns could be more effective at stopping the run. Going back to the run game, it appears a hurt CJ Spiller is still pretty good, but Fred Jackson managed to pick up the slack fairly effectively. On Defence they kept the Browns in the game with some really costly penalties that cheapened how good this team is, regularly giving up 15 yard penalties and a fresh set of downs. When the Bills look at the tape of this game, they will realise they handed this one to the Browns.
That being said, it shouldn’t take anything away from how good this Browns team is. The headlines will read that Weeden came in to lead this team to victory, which to an extent is fair. But for a whole half Weeden looked exactly like the QB we saw in the first few games and were kept in the game by some costly Buffalo penalties. However as the game went on, it became more about Weeden leading this team to victory. I think it’s fair to say that he was helped by a decent performance from McGahee, who finally seemed to find his form and could begin to put together his best run for a long time. On Defence this team continued to dominate, with a bend but don’t break style. Haden could easily be the best Corner in the game at the moment and managed to not fall for some exotic play calling. I should of course mention the special teams who were stellar when kicking and receiving, the stand out moment being the unbelievable punt return from Benjamin. This Browns team is good. It is honestly really good, which is what we at Gridiron Gentlemen have been saying all along. But Weeden is a concern. For Cleveland to win in the future, without Hoyer, Weeden is going to need to drop some bad habits. But in a below par AFC North, they could very easily make the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 St Louis Rams 34
So here we have a battle between two of the worst teams in the league, but it was quite an entertaining game. Let’s start with the obvious points. Blaine Gabbert could be the worst starting QB in the league and Henne really isn’t much better. MJD doesn’t seem to be back to his former self and the loss of Joeckel is huge after trading Monroe last week. That being said there is the nucleus of a good team here, but it will take some serious work. The corners are looking pretty good, as is the D-line and in Shorts and Blackmon they have decent Receiving Corp for the future. But the Jags having a winning season is at least a season away. I worry particularly for this season that this might have been the game they could win and next week Jags fans look away as they take on a Broncos team that is on fire. They really are staring down the barrel of 0-16.
Whilst the Jags could get better for next season, I worry the arrow could be pointing in the other direction for the Rams. My main concern is, is it the Rams Receivers who are terrible or its Bradford who has an inability to get them the ball. However against the worst team in the league he did manage 3 touchdowns, with Pettis coming from nowhere to be the standout player. Another plus seems to be in the run game where they look like they might have a no. 1 in Stacey. Whether this is a regular thing, we’ll see but he looked good in this game. The absence of Tayvon Austin from any of these conversations has to be a concern for any Rams fans, after we were promised a dynamic player in the mould of Percy Harvin, we actually got another player who is just a guy so far and couldn’t get production against an ailing Jags team. The Defence looked pedestrian at best and has to be a concern for a team that will be going up against the high powered NFC West and will be facing the likes of Andrew Luck and Drew Brees this season. Rams fans, I think the light at the end of the tunnel might be a train. When the season ends it could be time for a change at QB.
Kansas City Chiefs 26 Tennessee Titans 17
The Chiefs are 5-0. Any question about how good this team is should probably be void. What the Chiefs have is a solid all-round team. Great Defence, Incredible at Running Back, a decent passing game and insane Special Teams. Alex Smith had a typical Alex Smith game and is really beginning to strike up a rapport with Receiver Donnie Avery, who is really the surprise element of this Offence. Charles is looking set to have one of his best seasons yet so long as he can stay healthy and has clearly improved all aspects of his game. On Defence this team remains stout and made sure Fitzpatrick was a non-factor for the first half of this game. One gripe would be that they let them back in the game, which would be an issue if this was the Broncos they were playing. Finally yet another mention to this Special Teams unit which is probably the best in the league, taking advantage of any mistakes the opposition makes. I still question if this team could do anything in the playoffs, but they look set to at least make the post season for the first time in a long time.
The Titans look like a great team missing a Running Back and a Quarter Back, which they are with Greene and Locker on the side-lines. Fitzpatrick looked rusty in this game, but eventually seemed to find his form which included an unlikely running touch down. Chris Johnson continues to be a non-factor in the running game, but did pick up an exceptionally short pass from Fitzpatrick for a touchdown. The Defence continues to look good, despite being pushed around by a fast paced Chiefs Offence. The Secondary continues to make plays and we can expect more from this unit in the future when they go up against the likes of Schaub (more on him later). With the Colts finding their form, it would be very difficult for this team to make the playoffs. But not impossible, I guess we’ll see how good this team really is when Locker comes back.
Baltimore Ravens 26 Miami Dolphins 23
The Ravens return from last week’s disappointing display with a win in a game that could have gone either way. I think there are some certainties to this team. Torrey Smith is the no. 1 Receiver as he has another +100 yard game. Ray Rice also seems to be returning to form, after scoring 2 touchdowns in this game. The Defence stepped up too; led by Suggs they stifled a growing Offence and really kept an underpowered Offence in the game. The Ravens probably aren’t looking at a Super bowl season, but in that division it would be hard not to make the playoffs surely? That being said, with a solid win from the Bengals and the Browns, it does look like the AFC North got a little tougher.
I have no idea what to make of the Dolphins. They put together some very impressive plays then always seem to let the other team in the game. Tannehill seems to be looking impressive linking up with all his weapons, including Wallace who I think takes a lot of unfair criticism. The Defence looks epic and incredibly opportunistic, Dion Jordan continues to get better, but they did let a below par Ravens Offence back in the game. If this was the AFC we were promised, they would probably be a no brainer for the playoffs, but with the AFC looking loaded with talent, they might just miss. Dolphins fans, don’t despair though. This team will come good, maybe next season, maybe the season after, but they are set for great things.
New England Patriots 6 Cincinnati Bengals 13
What we have here is the inevitable that I was completely delirious to. The Patriots simply couldn’t carry on playing the way they were, especially without key weapons and now future hall of famer, Vince Wilfork. Brady couldn’t connect with any of his young Receiving Corp, only completing less than 50% of his passes and lead Rusher LaGarrette Blount was pretty much benched after he lost a fumble. All of this left the Patriots Offence toothless against an incredible Bengals Defence. The Patriots on Defence didn’t do a bad job, considering they were without big Vince. Talib had a decent battle with AJ Green and is shaping up to be one of the top corners in the league. But it’s hard for a Defence that is used to seeing its Offence put 30 odd points on most teams, struggle like they did. The Patriots will be hoping Gronk comes back soon, before the season runs away from them. Do I still think they win the Super bowl? I think if any team can turn round an average season, it’s the Brady and the Patriots, but it might be harder than I first thought.
The Bengals Defence is every bit as dominant as we all expected, now they’ve got over their silly mistakes in game one. The worry for this team is the Offence, who struggle to put up decent points against decent Defences. So who is to blame? I have always said I think this team is possibly a decent QB away from a super bowl, much like the Texans (more on them later), but that being said they did win this game, which is the important thing. So where does this team go now? I think they’re obviously in the running for the playoffs, but don’t think they come close to winning the Super bowl. In short, exactly where they always are.
Detroit Lions 9 Green Bay Packers 22
Whilst the Lions dominated the Bears last week, this week they came up against a rejuvenated Green Bay Packers. Reggie Bush was brought back down to earth with a combined yardage of fewer than 100 and Stafford played a decent game but without setting the world on fire. I think it is fair to say this Offence misses Megatron, even if it is just to draw the attention away from the other pieces. The Defence started strong, but quickly began to tire against an in form Aaron Rodgers, who looked fantastic. The Lions will struggle to make the playoffs in what is looking more and more like a weak NFC North, but they look like they probably make steps forward and continue to improve.
The Green Bay Packers came out of a Bye week looking like the Packers we have come to know over the last few years. Rodgers took the bull by the horns and used his legs to make up for a terrible O-line. James Jones made strides forward to become the no. 1 Receiver and Eddie Lacy looks like he will provide the much needed run game they have been lacking for a long time. The Defence looked solid and took full advantage of a team missing the no. 1 Wide Receiver in the game at the moment, keeping the Packers in the game throughout. I worry what happens however when they go up against a high powered team like the Seahawks or Saints, but for the time being they made some very necessary steps to get to the playoffs.
Philadelphia Eagles 36 New York Giants 21
So despite the success this Eagles team has had on Offence, I think they need to make Foles the starter on Defence. Why? Well Foles makes shorter plays than Vick, gradually wearing down the opposition. Vick makes big plays that bring their Defence on the field all too regularly. Anyway, Vick played a good game, making some great plays with McCoy running well, but then went down injured. Foles comes in and he changes the style of play. Lots of short yardage passes that regularly get first down, but don’t stretch the field. After Foles comes on the Receivers seemed to come in to their own. The Defence did a solid job of putting pressure on Eli and took advantage of a woeful O-line. There is a good chance this could be a turning point for this teams and if they ask my advice, they start Foles from now on.
So the Giants. They are actually quite bad. 2 or 3 games, they can improve from and still make a run at it. But were now at 0-5 and things are getting worse. But where is it going wrong? We the 1st Quarter looked promising. The Giants looked like they were in control on both side of the ball. Where things started to change was when Wilson went down and they found themselves being a 1 dimensional Offence and the Eagles took full advantage of this. Manning was forced into making some seriously silly mistakes, over thrown passes, under thrown passes, interceptions and endless intentional grounding penalties which constantly left the Giants in terrible field position. But it’s not really Manning’s fault, although intentional grounding penalties are boneheaded mistakes. The Eagles Defence (which haven’t played particularly well), dominated this O-line, which does not look set to improve any time soon. With Wilson out of the game we were left watching Jacobs do his best as a no. 1 back, which he clearly isn’t and before you know it the Giants are behind a ridiculous amount with no answer to what the Eagles are doing. The Defence once again started great but seemed to fall asleep when the Eagles tried some different tactics, which played the Eagles against probably the worst Line-backers in the league at the moment. So where IS it going wrong? The Defence has been found out. This is a problem, teams like the Bengals will have a field day against this team, that cannot stop short yardage passes and are geared up to stop the QB’s with the big arms. The Offence is a complete mess, which stems from problems at Running Back and a weak O-line, making them predictably set for Eli to throw with 2/3 of the Offensive snaps and constantly under pressure. How can they get better? I don’t know. I could sit down and work out a way the Jags go 8-8 this season, albeit at the expense of any kind of future. The Giants seem to be beyond help and will probably just need some time to work out how to use Jacobs and how to keep Eli upright and not making mistakes. It will be a long season Giants fans, but there will be too much pressure in the off-season to improve, that it has to happen.
New Orleans Saints 26 Chicago Bears 18
The Saints are now 5-0 following a season riddled with issues from ‘bounty gate’ and are back on track as one of the best teams in the league. I’ve mentioned the obvious talent that Brees has when he’s throwing to the likes of Graham, but in this game Pierre Thomas took over and proved the Saints can run the ball. But the real talent on this team in this game was the Defence, who picked apart the Bears Offence and for almost a half it seemed impossible for the Bears to score. What we’re seeing Rob Ryan do at the moment is game plan perfectly for each individual team and play on their weaknesses, which is exactly what happened here. The Saints are back in a big bad way and just seem to be getting better.
The Bears have got some issues and it seems to be getting worse. At the start of the season the Bears could not put a pass rush together and it has only got worse with the injuries to Nate Collins and Henry Melton. Also as a result, this team is having some real problems stopping the run. On Offence Cutler had a great game, as did 2nd year Receiver Alshon Jeffery who caught for over 200 yards. If this team is to get any better they may need to look at bringing some D-line help in, otherwise this team could spiral out of control. As I said it would be difficult for the Lions to make the playoffs, it would be just as difficult for this Bears team to make it too.
Seattle Seahawks 28 Indianapolis Colts 34
Seattle fall to their first loss against a Colts team that are proving themselves to be no slouches. The first impression I got from this game is Wilson was inaccurate, but used his speed to make plays and exploit an obvious weakness in the Colts Defence. But judging by the amount of plays that broke down there might be some legitimate worries for the Seahawk Offensive Line. On Defence this Seahawks team almost seemed to go to sleep with the Legion of Boom looking like they lack firepower. If I’m a Seahawks fan am I worried? Wow, no…It’s one game and this team still looks set for a deep playoff run.
Andrew Luck is very much for real and is set to make an impact this season. In general this is a very good Colts team that Andrew Luck is putting on his back and dragging them to victory. What I like about this game, is the Colts proved they can win games by outscoring teams…good teams. The run game continues to struggle, even though they upgraded with Richardson on this team. Before the start of the season, they promised they would get TY Hilton involved more and they were absolutely right, as he begins to take some catches away from proven Wide out Reggie Wayne. On defence the team seems to hold strong, but could possibly struggle against the likes of Peyton Manning. Speaking of which, that has to be the game to be looking out for, when in a few weeks Peyton returns to Lucas Oil Field to take on his old team led by the new Sheriff.
That’s the early games done. The late games will be up soon. Spoilers. The Broncos @ Cowboys game is amazing.
Main Image: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
Featured Image: AP Photo/David Richard