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NFL Week 5 in review: Patriots are back, Dolphins stink, and Browns ... keep finding a way to win?

WEEI
October 08, 2018 - 12:09 pm
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By John Andersen

Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff EXPOSED, Sterling Shepard fights a trash can, and SNF was an actual trash can. Here's everything you need to know about Week 5 in the NFL:

Patriots 38, Colts 24: 2018 Week 5 TNF Finalist

Bill Belichick certainly took notice of how effective the Texans' use of defensive line stunts were against the Colts in their game last week. One play in particular toward the end of that game saw Jadeveon Clowney blow up sixth overall pick Quenton Nelson and sack Andrew Luck. Well Thursday night, Bill Belichick decided to play the Barenaked Ladies' fourth album on repeat (it's called "Stunt," folks). The Patriots shut down the Colts' run game and forced Indy into a one-dimensional offense that relied heavily on both Luck the quarterback and luck the abstract concept. Andrew showed up as he always has, but Gillette Stadium was no field of four-leaf clovers for the Colts' offense as they dealt with dropped passes and mental mistakes for the duration of the game. On the flipside, Tom Brady was surgical at all levels of the field, but had a bit of a homecoming targeting Julian Edelman in the 0-5 yard range. The Pats' offensive line allowed zero sacks and parted the Colts' front seven like the Red Sea as Sony Michel went for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Bills 13, Titans 12: Josh Allen declares his favorite letter is "W"

Allen made the controversial statement to Buffalo media during his postgame presser. While it might be easy to assume Allen is referring to the word "win," let's be adventurous and say he's referring to Matt Milano, Buffalo's weakside linebacker who, along with his second-level partners Tremaine Edmunds and Lorenzo Alexander, led a crusade against the Titans' playmakers. Buffalo's pass rush kept Marcus Mariota off balance and forced him to make some very uncharacteristic throws, including a bad interception. Buffalo's offense relied on broken plays (and LeSean McCoy's evasiveness) to move the chains, as is the case with teams lacking receiving talent and competent offensive lines. The difference between Nate Peterman and Josh Allen, aside from that rocket attached to Allen's upper torso, is that Allen has a hint of Houdini to his play. Earlier this season the stalled drives and turnovers had a sort of ripple effect to the defense, but an offense that can someway, any way manage to stay on the field and get at least some points is conducive to Buffalo having one of the more talented defenses in the league.

Steelers 41, Falcons 17: Atlanta's offense joins their defense in the boneyard

Despite falling short the past two weeks, the Falcons offense was able to keep up with the Saints and Bengals offenses as the Atlanta defense was dismantled. This week was not the case, as the Falcons' offense struggled as well. I would say I feel like a broken keyboard when I write about the Falcons: "Their defense is injury plagued," or, "They have no pass rush." But out of place this week is how horrible their usually solid offensive line played. LG Andy Levitre is out on IR so former RG Wes Schweitzer is starting in his place, with Schweitzer losing out to former 49ers guard Brandon Fusco for the starting RG job in camp. Those two are the usual guilty parties on the Falcons offensive line, but 5-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack was caught red-handed when Cam Heyward bull-rushed Mack en route to a sack, while RT Ryan Schraeder proved a poor conductor in his efforts to block TJ Watt all afternoon. Ben Roethlisberger didn't even have a great first half, but James Conner padded the idea that the Steelers believe they have their next running back and there's no reason to pay Sultan of Dubai money for Le'Veon Bell.

Jets 34, Broncos 16: Isaiah Crowell respectfully washes hands, rushes for 219 yards

It's like when a friend, which I definitely have, asks me to go to a karaoke bar on a Wednesday night. The answer is always yes. The same answer universally applies to the question, "Could Case Keenum have played better?" Case Keenum can always have played better. But in this game he played about as well as he could have; the outcome of this game was just not up to him. Isaiah Crowell rushing for 219 yards impacted the rest of the game rather directly: Crowell's rushing set up quick passes for the Jets' offense, which limited the Broncos' pass rushers from even having the opportunity to get pressure on Sam Darnold, who is still struggling from a clean pocket anyway but made two jaw-through-the-floor throws to Robby Anderson and forced the Broncos to play from behind for much of the game. Denver's offensive line has actually played much better as a unit this season compared to last but RT Jared Veldheer was out with an injury and Keenum played frogger with New York's pass rushers much of the game. Keenum threw the ball 51 times in an attempt to get back in the game, despite Denver's run game averaging a between five and six yards per attempt.

Chiefs 30, Jaguars 14: Mahomes crashes to Earth like fraud we (Glenn Ordway) knew he was

A tale older than time: a seemingly flawless hero faces turbulence and needs his friends to help save the day. Unfortunately this isn't quite the way things went. Don't be fooled by the stat-citing robots this week who will say Mahomes' zero touchdowns and two picks could've cost the Chiefs had it not been for their defense. What actually happened was Mahomes made use of his feet in the red zone (and everywhere else, for that matter) but was his normal self for 99 percent of the game. Kansas City's defense certainly did not bail out Mahomes either, as the Jaguars consistently sustained drives that all ended with Blake Bortles doing something stupid, including throwing an interception off his own lineman's helmet. Sure, Mahomes showed he doesn't necessarily have an "S" under his jersey and sometimes is more AMC Mahomes than Showtime Mahomes, but he's still the primary reason the Chiefs are 5-0.

Lions 31, Packers 23: Mason Crosby misses 4 FGs, PAT as Packers eat "L" vs. Lions

Of the grab-bag of receivers playing for the Packers, two may have stuck out: rookie 5th-rounders Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanemious St. Brown. Those are the two who every time they caught a pass, you probably wondered who the heck they were. Aaron Rodgers probably did too, as he seemingly couldn't find them in the first half. Rodgers was able to mount a comeback in the second half but Matthew Stafford and his three No. 1 WRs (and Mason Crosby) consistently did enough to keep the game just out of reach for Green Bay. Kerryon Johnson continued Kerrying On, but his fantasy owners will note the touchdown vulture and Mike Tolbert's heir apparent LeGarrette Blount came away with two rushing scores. Detroit's win keeps the NFC North close, with every team having some form of two wins and various numbers in the other columns.

Browns 12, Ravens 9: Taylor expelled to Russian gulag as Mayfield's takeover continues

It's odd that Tyrod Taylor is nowhere to be found in Browns broadcasts. Before, Taylor could at least be seen during plays before the broadcast inevitably cut to Baker Mayfield on the sideline. Now Taylor is just gone, ousted and erased from Browns history. It was only inevitable, now that Baker Mayfield has won more games in three weeks than the entire organization has in the past two years. Cleveland's kicker Greg Joseph did his best to set the Browns up on a blind date with another tie, as Joseph is the poster boy for what may be the worst special teams unit in the NFL. It's hard to tell, especially since we so rarely see special teams on platforms like NFL RedZone, but the Browns' kick and punt coverage is so bad that other teams often have great field position while the Browns typically have longer fields. Last season, the Browns lost a game eerily similar to this to the Titans, but this year the Browns are finding ways to...win? The ground moved as I typed that.

Panthers 33, Giants 31: Sterling Shepard bends like Beckham, throws hissy fit on sideline

It's a shame that this and OBJ calling out anyone with a pulse to the media are the storylines that will take precedence over Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey and Norv Turner actually creating a sustainable offense in Carolina. The Panthers aren't blowing up the league as far as points and yards go, but there's an undeniable improvement in the scheme and execution compared to the past two seasons, and it's remarkable considering the lacking offensive line and its injury problems. So there's your credit, Carolina. Going back to the sensationalized side, Odell Beckham ripped his teammates and coaches in the media then went out and proved he might be the best QB on the Giants, throwing a 57-yard TD pass to Saquon Barkley on a trick play. Odell claims his comments "galvanized" the Giants, but the shock of Graham Gano tying the NFL record for the longest game-winning field goal ever to secure the win for the Panthers lead to a brusque Pat Shurmur calling out Beckham to the media for calling out the Giants to the media.

Bengals 27, Dolphins 17: Aaaaaaaand the Dolphins are the Dolphins again

It's amazing how much perception of a team can change when their record changes from 3-1 to 3-2. Ryan Tannehill has actually been decent under pressure, which he's under most of the time. But a man can only take so much. A man betrayed by his own offensive line time and time again eventually breaks. This happened in the second half, as Tannehill threw two picks and lost a fumble under the pressure of the relentless Cincinnati pass rush. The only reason the game was as close as it was is because there's still the Andy Dalton factor at play for the Bengals; the other team can have no pass rush and the Bengals' offensive line can play great, but Andy Dalton will still make mistakes.

Chargers 26, Raiders 10: The Raiders really should've drafted Derwin James

Jon Gruden publicly saying he wanted to draft Derwin James this week clearly didn't positively impact the play of the player they did draft and who has to play for the Raiders every week: LT Kolton Miller. Miller allowed three sacks, and only one of them came to a player (Melvin Ingram) who's actually a known pass rusher. The parts of the Raiders that are bad played like the way they're often labeled. The once-great Raiders offensive line was more open to travelers than the European Union and Oakland's secondary had an open door policy.

Cardinals 28, 49ers 18: No one cared about this game

Notable happenings from this game include Josh Rosen going 10-for-25, CJ Beathard throwing the ball 54 times, David Johnson owners being happy with his two rushing TDs, and 49ers RB Matt Breida going down with an ankle injury that turned out to be just a "little tweak," according to Breida. Unlike last week, this wasn't a deceptively poor completion percentage for Rosen; Rosen was inaccurate and struggled under pressure, pressure he's going to have to get used to for the entire season behind this Cardinals offensive line.

Vikings 23, Eagles 21: Cousins, Wentz give us NFC Championship Game we wanted

From last week to this week, the Vikings' offensive line is still pretty atrocious. Some plays the entire line was pushed five yards into the backfield almost immediately. Cousins has struggled under pressure most of his career, but even with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham in his face all day, Cousins managed to go 30-for-37. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs had monster games, with Thielen setting the record for most consecutive 100-yard receiving games to start a season. For the Eagles, Carson Wentz' numbers are slightly inflated by the end of the game but Wentz is definitely still not back to his 100 percent self. Wentz helped to keep the Eagles in this game and made some big-time throws, especially the 3rd-and-20 at the end of the game that Alshon Jeffery dropped.

Rams 33, Seahawks 30: Seattle's OL played...well?

Only so much can be predicted by past performances, and sometimes past performances just have no correlation with how a future game plays out. Example: the Rams beat the Seahawks by 35 last season. Sean McVay had 10 days to prepare for this game. This time, the Seahawks showed up and somehow controlled LA's defensive line for most of the game. But then reality struck as Aaron Donald blazed by JR Sweezy late in the game for an easy sack on Russell Wilson. Regardless, This game showed that Goff can still make mistakes and that teams with clear deficiencies can overcome those deficiencies even against the best of the enemies. Anything can happen in this league, including Brandin Cooks leaving with a concussion.

Texans 19, Cowboys 16: Who's idea was it to put this on SNF?

The two teams are in the same state? Was that the only reasoning? What if Texas had been drawn up different and Dallas and Houston were in different states, would this game still have been scheduled for SNF? I type this after watching Dak Prescott and DeShaun Watson trying their best to lose the game for their team, as much as both are expected to have a toughness level somewhere between nails and a rusty bench press from the '70s still sitting in your father's garage given the offensive lines they play behind. If the schedule makers are trying to be predictive, it wasn't hard to figure out DeShaun Watson had astronomically high interception luck and was still going to have a horrible offensive line. If only there was a rematch of a championship game from last season everyone would've loved to watch on SNF...

OT UPDATE: There should be a live poll that goes up before OT on primetime games in which the audience gets to vote if they actually want OT. It would be a struggle to find a human outside the state of Texas that cares about this game and actually wants it to go on.

OT UPDATE No. 2: Mike Lombardi calls Jason Garrett "The Clapper" because Garrett's coaching style heavily involves clapping at his players on the sideline no matter the situation. In this situation, Jason Garrett unshockingly played for a tie despite a 4th-and -1 from Houston's 42. Garrett is boring and probably has two tabby cats, both named Norman.

John Andersen is an award-winning NFL journalist and has written books on Felix Jones and Davone Bess, maybe. You can follow John on Twitter @_JohnAndersen.

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