Tuesday, October 04, 2016
For NFL Teams Week Five Is To Thrive
Julio Jones and Matt Ryan suddenly have firepower, and they'll need it to try and knock down the unbeaten Broncos
Often over the years Week Five is gut-check week for NFL teams. A rally to make the playoffs usually has to start now. But for fourteen teams entering Week Five with just one win - or winless as the Cleveland Browns are - the task seems unrealistic, so focusing on just winning the next game and trying to build something would seem the more prudent course.
Not that a rally for a 1-3 team can't happen, but maybe fifteen of the eighteen teams with two or more wins coming in appear ready to start a springboard with a Week Five win. So we try again with picks -
Cardinals over 49ers - Two 1-3 teams clash on Thursday Night and injury to Carson Palmer throws a wrench into the works for the Cardinals. I'm not confident as of Tuesday that Carson Palmer will play, which leaves things in the hands of the unimpressive Drew Stanton. Working for the Cardinals is the Niners have plummeted after their Week One win and Blaine Gabbert has fallen to earth. Inevitably the talk of starting Colin Kaepernick will start; having proven he is not a leader or a competent quarterback (doing so with his publically poor work ethic) Kaepernick is not the answer.
Vikings over Texans - The Vikings continue to prove they're for real with another dismantling of an opponent, and now they get a Texans team that got the win after getting embarrassed at Foxboro; however the Texans didn't show much in the way of closing power, blew a 14-point lead before a punt-return score put the game just out of Tennessee's reach, and are in the bottom-five in points scored with six INTs by Brock Osweiler - suddenly we may be relearning why the Broncos didn't fight to keep him. Contrast this with Sam Bradford, with a passer rating over 100 and this gives a defense better than the vaunted Broncos defense (the Vikings are second in fewest points allowed) what it needs to work with.
Falcons over Broncos - Yes it's a rash prediction given the Broncos are defending champs, fifth in both points and points allowed, and unbeaten going against a Falcons team 29th in points allowed. The Falcons, though, do not turn the ball over and have forced five turnovers, the same number the Broncos have given up so far - with both teams at plus-three in turnover differential. Assuming Trevor Siemian is out after getting carted off on the meat wagon at Tampa Bay, Paxton Lynch showed he can pick right up where Siemian left off, so there should be no worry at quarterback. Keep in mind when the Broncos faced the Panthers, a better offense than what the Bucs, Bengals, and Colts delivered - the Broncos escaped with a win as opposed to decisively defeating them. If Matt Ryan pulls it off he will finally have taken that true next step.
Redskins over Ravens - Joe Flacco got it done - barely - the first three games but failed when he had to get it going against the resurgent Raiders. Now he, his below-80 passer rating, and the Ravens' minus-one turnover differential face a Deadskins team that's plus-three in turnover differential and has won its last two.
Titans over Dolphins - The 1-3 Dolphins are minus-five in turnover differential; the 1-3 Titans are minus-four. The shocker stat is Ryan Tannehill has a better passer rating than Marcus Mariota - while Mariota is just 73.9, Tannehill is at 87.3. Yet every week the Titans fight to the very end where the Dolphins have shown little fight outside of a surprising and ultimately futile rally at Foxboro. The Titans also have an edge in rushing the ball with over 500 yards and a very healthy 4.7 yards per carry against a Dolphins run defense that's already allowed over 500 yards.
Colts over Bears - This battle of 1-3 teams may be tougher than it looks after the Bears pulled off the win last week. Brian Hoyer is now quarterback and has surged past 100 in passer rating with four touchdowns and no picks, outclassing the incompetent Jay Cutler. Hoyer gets the chance to continue his redemption facing a Colts team that failed to finish a rally against the Jaguars.
Steelers over NY Jets - The Steelers exploded last week and now get fresh meat in a falling Jets team. Ryan Fitzpatrick's collapse was expected, but not necessarily this quickly or this graphically at nine INTs the last two games.
Eagles over Lions - Carson Wentz has yet to show any weakness with five touchdowns and no picks, and he faces a Lions team off to yet another dismal start. Matthew Stafford's passer rating has been good - 93.9 - and he's cut down on turnovers, yet he's not getting the job done, and he faces an Eagles team that leads the league in fewest points allowed and is second in points scored.
Patriots over Browns - The wildcard aspect of this game is the Browns won the last meeting in Cleveland (in 2010) and the Patriots needed to rally in preposterous fashion against them in 2013. The Browns also are seeing some legitimate quarterbacking out of Cody Kessler. Getting Tom Brady back is just in time for a Patriots team angry at getting embarrassed by loudmouth Rex Ryan and after he sent his players to disrupt Patriots pregame warmups; that indignity usually leads to a Patriots win the next game.
Raiders over Chargers - Derek Carr is getting it done and Philip Rivers is not, and it's more and more looking like he can't anymore. This should be a high-scoring affair.
Rams over Bills - The Rams are 3-1 and Case Keenum, despite some subpar numbers, is overall getting it done. The Bills have rallied for two straight wins but Rex Ryan's culture inevitably flames out, and usually in rather spectacular fashion.
Cowboys over Bengals - The Cowboys behind Dakota Prescott look more and more like the real deal, and they face a Bengals squad that is still good, but not up to being great.
Packers over NY Giants - Eli Manning's encouraging start is history and while the Packers are still frontrunning phonies the Giants do not look good enough to make them pay.
Panthers over Buccaneers - The Panthers are now a mess, with injury to Cam Newton, but the Bucs have faltered with eight INTs by Jameis Winston and a disasterous minus-nine turnover differential. The promise of Winston's rookie season hasn't translated to anything, and that's a shame. With both teams 1-3 playoff promise likewise appears gone.
The season thus proceeds.