2011 NFL Week 5 Remix by Lloyd Vance

Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson was overcome with emotion as his team, “Just Won One” for the late Al Davis.  The Raiders defeated the Houston Texans 25-20 in a bittersweet win

(Philadelphia, Pa) — The 2nd quarter of the NFL season began with a wild weekend filled with upsets, furious finishes, unbelievable comebacks, teams rising, teams falling toward the “parity” packed middle, downtrodden teams (1 or fewer wins) slipping toward preparing for the 2012 NFL Draft and further distinctions between contenders and pretenders.  As hard as it is to believe the NFL season is moving closer to being half over.  But the important thing for everyone is to enjoy the wackiest and quickest league around while it is lasts.  Week 5 of the 2011 NFL Season should have been titled, “Moving Week”.  Because this is the time of an NFL season where teams start to distinguish themselves as they move towards season-defining November and December games.

I love this time of the year, because separation starts between the good teams, middle of the road teams, bad teams, and wretched teams, that are “Believing in Later”, looking towards the draft in April.  As we get closer to the mid-point of the NFL season boundaries will become clearly defined between these different levels of teams.  That is not to say though that there will be some games where a surprise upset unfolds.  One of the bigger parts of this time in the NFL schedule is that byes (weeks 4-10) are crucial for resting injured players, making personnel moves, and overall reflection for teams to see where they stand post training camp/early season as they prepare for a playoff run or the draft.

The current standings show that there is little separation in the parity-laden league as there are only two undefeated teams (Packers and Lions, both 5-0 and headed for a Thanksgiving Day Collision Course), five (4-1) teams  – Bills, Patriots, Niners, Saints, and  Chargers – plus the (3-1) Ravens and Redskins that have truly distinguished themselves as elite teams at this time.  But even these elite teams can stumble to lower ranked teams in the “Any Given Sunday” NFL – just ask the Giants, who came into Week 5 with only one loss, but were surprised by the formerly 1-win Seahawks in their own stadium. The rest of the NFL teams worth caring about are all bunched with aspirations of jumping into the league’s upper echelon. 

There are seven (3-2) teams —Buccaneers, NY Giants, Texans, Steelers, Titans, Bengals and Raiders – two (2-2) teams – Browns and Cowboys – and a glut of five (2-3) teams – Falcons, Chiefs, NY Jets, Bears, and Seahawks – who could all very easily move up or down in the coming weeks. The division leaders after 5 weeks features some unexpected leaders — NFC South: Saints (4-1), NFC East: Redskins (3-1), NFC North: Lions and Packers (5-0), NFC West: Niners (4-1), AFC South: Tennessee Titans (3-2), AFC East: Buffalo Bills (4-1), AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2), and AFC West: San Diego Chargers (4-1).

Only time will tell, which teams live up to their early season expectations – can you say, “Detroit Lions” or wilt from not living up to pre-season hype – can you say”Philadelphia Eagles.  One thing for certain is that games are more exciting than ever as scoring is up around the NFL.  To emphasize the point, in Week 5, the New England Patriots scored at least 30 points for the 13th straight regular-season game.  I don’t know if the scoring outbursts are due to the new pass happy NFL, more playmakers on offense, rules that favor offenses, or defenses not performing (i.e.: No Pressure on the quarterback, defensive backs getting beat, etc).  But each week there are several high-scoring pinball machine type games that even make this “Run the ball and Grind it out” kind of guy smile.

The game of the day in my opinion occurred in Houston as the Oakland Raiders won 25-20 in an emotionally-filled game for their departed leader, the late Al Davis.  First the National Football League paid tribute to the man, some say was once former Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s “nemesis”, by having a moment of silence before every league game.  The man in the Silver-and-Black jump suit would have been proud of his team’s heart as they overcame their grief, Davis passed on Saturday, to gain a huge AFC conference win that could have playoff implications later. 

There were plenty of heroes for Mark Davis, new team owner and Al’s son to congratulate after the game.  QB Jason Campbell 915-35, 190 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT ) was firing darts all over the field and even former first-round bust WR Darius Heyward-Bey made some huge plays in the win.  The game was not finally over until the games final play when Raiders safety Michael Huff intercepted Texans QB Matt Schaub to preserve the win.  Another star of the game was volatile kicker Sebastian Janikowski – some Davis for selecting him with a first-round pick – who kicked four field goals including three from 50-yards or more. 

After the win, head coach Hue Jackson dropped to his knees and cried while Mark Davis did the same from his owner’s box. The game was tough, gritty, and an instant classic, just like Al Davis.  Love’em or hate’em, everyone in the NFL owes a debt of gratitude to the 3-time Super Bowl Champion for helping to be one of the founding Fathers of modern day professional football.  In commemoration of their leader, the Raiders wore an “AL” decal on their helmets in Week 5 as they will for the rest of the season.

One quick note before we move on to our game notes and awards.  You can blame the lockout all you want, but I think this season more than any other has shown that the NFL is league of “Survival of the Fittest”.  Each week the injuries mount and Week 5 was not different as several key players went down, including Texans star pass rusher Mario Williams (torn pectoral – out for season) in the “Next Man Up” NFL.  Other notable injuries were:

Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount (knee)
Colts RB Joseph Addai (hamstring)
Chargers RB Ryan Matthews (calf)
Chargers RB Mike Tolbert (concussion)
Titans RB Chris Johnson (hamstring)
Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson (torn pectoral)
Niners WR Josh Morgan (broken leg)
Packer OT Chad Clifton (hamstring)
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring)
Bills WR Donald Jones (high ankle)
Bears Julius Peppers (MCL)

 

Week 5 Games

Sunday October 9

49ers (4-1) over Buccaneers (3-2), 48-3 … One week after dominating on MNF, the “youngry” Bucs threw-up a stinker in SF…. The Niners continue to play with heart for HC Jim Harbaugh… QB Alex Smith is efficient and RB Frank Gore runs hard for the NFC West leading Niners

Bengals (3-2) over Jaguars (1-4), 30-20 … This was supposed to be a “Who Cares” game, but CIN strangley enough is looking like a contender behind rookie quarterback Andy Dalton….CIN is tied with the PIT for 2nd place in AFC North behind BAL…. JAX had a chance to tie, but rookie QB Blaine Gabbert fumbled a bad snap and the Bengals ended up with the ball… Bad punting by Jags punter Matt Turk gets him cut… Good game fro backup RB Benard Scott in Benson’s absence.

Bills (4-1) over Eagles (1-4), 31-24…. In an up-and-down sloppy game, the Bills moved to 4-1 for the first time since 2008… Ftizpatrick and the Bills make PHI look like a nightmare…RB Fred Jackson runs all over Eagles’ underachieving “Wide-9” defense…. Vick has career-high 4 INTs (many tipped due to his height)…veteran LB Nick Barnett has a career game with 2 INTs including a Pick-6… Eagles DE Juqua Parker scanders any last chance for Birds when he jumps offsides on an obvious 4th-down should non-play…Eagles HC Andy Reid on “Hot Seat” after first 4-game losing streak since 1999…Eagles are now -10 in turnovers…Must-win game for Eagles to save their season vs. WAS in Week 6

Chargers (4-1) over Broncos (1-4), 29-24… Norv Turner is off to a very good start as SD is finding ways to ‘win”…SD overcomes injuries to RB’s Matthews (career-best 125 rushing yards) and Tolbert… Rivers overcomes an interception and a fourth-quarter fumble to lead SD to win… DEN QB Tim Tebow finally gets his chance to play as he tries to rally DEN from a 16-point deficit…. Tebow final desperation throw was incomplete in the end zone on the final play… Chargers K Nick Novak kicks five field goals… Chargers go into bye week with win.

Chiefs (2-3) over Colts (0-5), 28-24 … In a game of two of the AFC’s lower tier teams, KC keeps IND winless with a tough road win…. Matt Cassel throws for 257 yards and 4 TDs… KC scores final 21 points after IND started fast…Big game for KC receivers Bowe and Breaston (both had 2 TDs)…KC has a 17-point comeback, matching the biggest in team history…. Painter has a big first half (12 of 17 for 237 yards and 2 TDs

Packers (5-0) over Falcons (2-3), 25-14… After falling into a 14-0 hole early, the SB Champs woke –up for a big win…Rodgers throws for over 300 yards again and spreads the ball around to over 10 receivers…WR James Jones breaks-out with a huge game going deep for the Pack… A. Rodgers 26-39, 396 yds, 2 TDs three field goals by GB kicker…Mason Crosby GB and DET undefeated Thanksgiving Dinner still looks good at this point in the season

Patriots (4-1) over Jets (2-3), 30-21… In a business like fashion, Tom Brady (24 of 33 passes for 321 yards and one touchdown) won his 30th straight regular season game at home…Belichick enjoyed further shutting up the mouthy Rex Ryan led NY Jets….RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis had a career day…WR Wes Welker continued to make plays…  NE scored at least 30 points for the 13th straight regular-season game…Sanchez only puts up 166 yds

Raiders (3-2) over Texans (3-2), 25-20… ‘Just Win Baby’ is exactly what Oakland did for their former iconic leader Al Davis, who passed away on Saturday… QB Jason Campbell was firing darts to players like Darius Heyward-Bey… Raiders’ defense held when it mattered most as safety Michael Huff intercepted Texans QB Matt Schaub late in the 4th Qtr to preserve the win… OAK HC Hue Jackson dropped to his knees and cried after the win…new team owner Mark Davis (AL’s Son) was emotional too…Raiders wore a “AL” decal on their helmets

Saints (4-1) over Panthers (1-4), 30-27…. Another shoot-out win for the NFC South leading Saints as Brees hits the 300-yard mark again… Ugly fight in endzone after Saints safety Roman Harper “cheap-shotted” Carolina WR Steve Smith after his TD catch… Brees’ line of 32-45, 359 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT was exceptional again as he spread the ball around including to breakout player, TE Jimmy Graham… R.O.Y candidate QB Cam Newton looks like a rookie for most of game

Seahawks (2-3) over Giants (3-2), 36-25…. A “Survivor Pool Killer” as the Seahawks fly east and win a nail-biter… Game wasn’t decided until WR Victor Cruz bobbled a Manning pass that turned into a Game-Clinching Pick-6 for SEA (Brandon Browner)….Charlie Whitehurst played heroic in relief of injured starter Tavaris Jackson…Giants and Bradshaw not the same without Jacobs… Breakout game for SEA unknown receiver Doug Baldwin

Steelers (3-2) over Titans (3-2), 38-17…. Don’t bury the SB runner-ups just yet…Big Ben is spectacular as he throws for 5 TDs in a laugher over the Titans… Steelers D looks much better as Hasselbeck is harrassed and CJ2K held to 51 yards rushing… Steelers gain ground on the idle Ravens…PIT ended Tennessee’s three-game winning streak.

Vikings (1-4) over Cardinals (1-4), 34-10… The battle of former Eagles QBs goes to Donovan McNabb… This time Adrian Peterson made sure he gave his defense a big enough lead…AD runs for 3-first half TDs… McNabb only marginally better than Kolb… Frazier gets his first win of 2011…Vikings were up 28-0 early in 4th quarter…Cardinals struggled without Beanie Wells…Next up for McNabb & Co. is a SNF battle with the Bears

Monday October 10

Lions (5-0) over Bears (2-3), 24-13…. Lions are back on Monday Night Football with a big win… Detroit is 5-0 for the first time since 1956…. Megatron sets NFL record with 9 receiving TDs in 5 games… Best sprints all over Bears’ Defense … Bears O-line’s woes continue (9 false start penalties)…Stafford, C. Johnson, and Best shine on offense….Martz has to figure out a way to protect Cutler better…Lions on a collision course for Week 12 Thanksgiving Match-up with undefeated Green Bay Packers

Byes: Browns (2-2), Cowboys (2-2), Dolphins (0-4), Rams (0-4), Ravens (3-1), Redskins (3-1)
Game Balls

Oakland Raiders – Only a day removed from team patriarch Al Davis, “Just Win One, Baby” was the battle cry as everyone on Oakland’s roster fought hard in a emotionally draining win over Texans.

Honorable Mention: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, Lions RB Jahvid Best, Saints QB Drew Brees, Patriots RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Bills RB Fred Jackson, Bills LB Nick Barnett (2 INTs including a Pick-6), Raider WR Darius Heyward-Bey
Lloyd’s Lackey

Eagles head coach Andy Reid – Time may be finally running out on the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia Eagles history.  After over 115 career regular season wins and a Super Bowl appearance, Reid is hitting on all the wrong notes and doesn’t appear to have an answer to the Birds’ recent four consecutive game slide.  After a stumbling loss to the Bills that included penalties, turnovers in bunches, coaches that looked lost, and players that opponents are calling “soft”, you have how much longer Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie will turn a deaf ear to Eagles fans asking for a new coach.

Dishonorable Mention: NY Giants, Chicago Bears O-line, Eagles WR Jason Avant, Tampa Bay Bucs, NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez, and Saints safety Roman Harper
Standings Breakdown

2 Teams ….5-0 —  Lions, Packers
5 Teams…. 4-1 — Bills, Patriots, Niners, Saints, Chargers,
2 Teams…. 3-1 — Redskins, Ravens
7 Teams…. 3-2 — Texans, Titans, Bucs, NY Giants, Bengals, Steelers, Raiders
2 Teams…. 2-2 — Browns, Cowboys
5 Teams …..2-3 —  NY Jets, Falcons, Bears, Seahawks, Chiefs
6 Teams …. 1-4 — Eagles, Cardinals, Broncos, Panthers, Jaguars, Vikings
2 Teams…. 0-4 — Dolphins,  Rams
1 Team…..0-5 (AKA… Andrew Luck Sweepstakes) —  Colts

  • 16 Teams with winnning records including two undefeated teams (Lions and Packers, both 4-0) and some surprises [Bills (4-1), Bucs (3-2), Raiders (3-2) and Niners (4-1)]
  • 14 Teams with losing including surprises [Eagles (1-4) , Cardinals (1-4), and Colts (0-5)]
  • Remember 11-5 (2008 New Patriots) or 10-6 (Bucs and NY Giants in 2010) does not a guarantee to make the playoffs

Division Leaders

AFC North — Ravens (3-1)….Rest of division (PIT, and CIN are at 3-2)

AFC South — Texans and Titans are tied at (3-2)… Then the very bad Colts (0-5) and Jags (1-4)

AFC West — SD continues regular season dominance at (4-1), but don’t forget about the heavy-hearted Raiders (3-2)

AFC East — Bills and Patriots tied at top (4-1) with BUF holding the head-to-head tiebreaker

NFC North — NFL last two undefeated teams, Lions and Packers, are tied at (5-0)… Up-and-Down Bears (2-3)…Bad Vikings (1-4)

NFC South — High-Flying Saints (4-1) are at the top … TB and ATL (2-3) and the young CAR are (1-4)

NFC West — Niners  (4-1)…. Harbaugh has these guys believing… Seahawks (2-3), Cardinals (1-4) and then the hapless Rams (0-4)

NFC East — After a good bye week where all the other divisional teams lost the Redskins (3-1) are at the top… then NYG (3-2), Cowboys (2-2), and the “Nightmare” Eagles (1-4)
How 2010 NFL Playoff Teams are Faring
**Remember for 15 straight seasons there have been at least 5 new playoff teams**

AFC
Patriots (4-1)
Ravens (3-1)
Steelers (3-2)
NY Jets (2-3)
Chiefs (2-3)
Colts (0-5)

NFC
Packers (5-0)
Saints (4-1)
Falcons (2-3)
Bears (2-3)
Seahawks (2-3)
Eagles (1-4)
Upcoming schedules

NFC

ARZ (1-4) —  BYE, PIT, @BAL
ATL (2-3) —  CAR, @DET, BYE
CAR (1-4) — @ATL, WAS, @MIN, BYE
CHI (2-3) —   MIN (SNF), @TB, BYE
DAL (2-2) —   @NE, STL, @PHI (SNF), SEA
DET (5-0) —  SF, ATL, @DEN, BYE
GB (5-0) —   STL, @MIN, BYE
MIN (1-4) —  @CHI (SNF), GB, @CAR, BYE
NO (4-1) —  @TB, IND (SNF), @STL, TB, ATL, BYE
NYG (3-2) — BUF, BYE, MIA, @NE
PHI (1-4) —  @WAS, BYE
SF (4-1) —     @DET, BYE, CLE, @WAS, NYG
SEA (2-3) —  BYE, @CLE, CIN, @DAL
STL (0-4) —   @GB, @DAL, NO
TB (3-2) —   @SF, NO, CHI, BYE
WAS (3-1) —  PHI, @CAR
AFC

BAL (3-1) — HOU, @JAX (MNF), ARZ, @PIT (SNF)
BUF (4-1) — @NYG, BYE
CIN (3-2) — IND, BYE, @SEA, @TEN
DEN (1-4) — BYE, @MIA, DET, @OAK
CLE (2-2) — @OAK, SEA, @SEA, @SF, @HOU
HOU (3-2) — @BAL, @TEN, JAX, CLE, @TB, BYE
IND (0-5) — @CIN, @NO, @TEN, ATL, JAX, BYE
JAX (1-4) — @PIT, BAL (MNF), @HOU, BYE
KC (2-3) —   BYE, @OAK, SD (MNF)
MIA (0-4) — @NYJ (MNF), DEN, @NYG
NE (4-1) —  DAL, BYE, @PIT, NYG, @NYJ (SNF)
NYJ (2-3) —  MIA (MNF), SD, BYE
OAK (3-2) — CLE, KC, BYE
PIT (3-2) — JAX, @ARZ, NE, BAL (SNF), @CIN, BYE
SD (4-1) —   BYE, @NYJ, @KC (MNF), GB
TEN (3-2) — BYE, HOU, IND, CIN, @CAR
  

Week 5 Leaders 
 
Passing
1. E. Manning NYG  420 yds (L)
2. M. Schaub HOU  416 yds  (L)
3. A. Rodgers GB  396 yds  (W)
4. D. Brees NO  359 yds  (W)
5. T. Brady NE  321 yds  (W)
 
 
Rushing
1. J. Best DET  163 yds (W)
2. B. Green-Ellis NE  136 yds (W)
3. F. Gore SF  125 yds  (W)
4. W. McGahee DEN  125 yds (L)
5. R. Mathews SD  125 yds  (W)
6. A. Peterson MIN  122 yds  (W)
 
 
Receiving
1. V. Cruz NYG  161 yds (L)
2. J. Jones GB  140 yds  (W)
3. J. Avant PHI  139 yds  (L)
4. D. Baldwin SEA  136 yds (W)
5. C. Johnson DET  130 yds (W)
6. J. Graham NO  129 yds  (W)
 
TDS   
1. B. Roethlisberger PIT  5 TDs
2. M. Cassel KC  4 TDs
3. E. Manning NYG  3 TDs
3. A. Peterson MIN  3 TDs (W) (tied with two other players)

 

Looking Ahead to to Week 6

Sunday October 16

49ers (4-1) at Lions (5-0) 1:00PM ET (FOX)
Bills (4-1) at Giants (3-2) 1:00PM ET  (CBS)
Colts (0-5) at Bengals (3-2) 1:00PM ET  (CBS)
Eagles (1-4) at Redskins (3-1) 1:00PM ET  (FOX)
Jaguars (1-4) at Steelers (3-2) 1:00PM ET  (CBS)
Panthers (1-4) at Falcons (2-3) 1:00PM ET  (FOX)
Rams (0-4) at Packers (5-0) 1:00PM ET   (FOX)
Browns (2-2) at Raiders (3-2) 4:05PM ET  (CBS)
Texans (3-2) at Ravens (3-1) 4:05PM ET  (CBS)
Cowboys (2-2) at Patriots (4-1) 4:15PM ET  (FOX)
Saints (4-1) at Buccaneers (3-2) 4:15PM ET  (FOX)
Vikings (1-4) at Bears (2-3) 8:20PM ET  (NBC)

Monday October 17

Dolphins (0-4) at Jets (2-3) 8:30PM ET  (ESPN)

Byes: Broncos (1-4), Cardinals (1-4), Chargers (4-1), Chiefs (2-3), Seahawks (2-3), Titans (3-2)

 

 

Lloyd Vance is the Editor  for Taking It to the House , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).  Lloyd can be reached on Twitter @lloydvance_nfl

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