The NFL loves to tout its parity, but I don’t think we’ll be getting a press release about it this week.
That said, the Browns’ terrible string of luck continued, we found a new worst team in the NFL, we had a great chance of finding out if the Ravens were any good, and the Chargers blew a second-half lead. So… business as usual.
It was a weird one, and hopefully a forgettable one, but here’s everything we learned in Week 5 of the NFL season:
Scott GalvinScott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Cardinals 33, 49ers 21
The 49ers should probably play Colin Kaepernick, but they need to figure out his contract first. Isn’t professional football fun?
The Cardinals might think they have their mojo back, but they’ll need to turn in that kind of offensive performance against a team with a competent defense in order to claim their early-season woes no longer ail them.
Despite everything, David Johnson might be the best running back in the NFL, though. The fact that he — a wildly successful college player, by the way — was able to fall into the third round of the NFL Draft shows how little everyone knows about the process.
Patriots 33, Browns 13
Tom Brady’s Vengeance Tour 2017 is off to a great start. “Thank you, Cleveland!!!”
The Browns showed something, again, when Cody Kessler was in at quarterback. Then he got injured and the last bit of optimism along Lake Erie in regards to pigskin went with him to the locker room.
Clipboard Jesus didn’t do much in his time on the field, leaving the Browns with the most Browns dilemma there’s ever been: Do you move Terrelle Pryor to quarterback and have him play without the team’s best wide receiver?
Man, that’s depressing to think about. But not as depressing as the Browns’ defense.
It was too easy for New England now that the Pats are truly utilizing their two tight-end set — the Browns kept double-teaming Gronk, leaving Martellus Bennett, who is ProtoGronk, with single coverage. He’s 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds — he won those battles.
Word to the wise, put as many strong safety types as you can on the field when playing New England, or you can get smoked like Cleveland did Sunday.
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Lions 24, Eagles 23
Don’t let the score fool you, the Lions are still oh so bad.
No, this score came about because the Eagles got a little too big for their shiny green britches and decided to take the first half of Sunday’s game off.
You’d be hard pressed to play more disjointed.
Carson Wentz was fine, though — until he made his first real rookie mistake of the season in the final seconds, handing Detroit the win.
Philadelphia has no reason to panic, but don’t expect this game to be a springboard for Detroit. Again, they’re still really bad.
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Redskins 16, Ravens 10
We were finally going to know the answer. We were finally going to figure it out. There was no better barometer than the surest 8-8 team in the league — Washington is the NFL’s control experiment.
So the answer to the question everyone’s been asking “Are the Ravens good?” is… We still have no idea.
The defense looked good, but the Washington offense didn’t do much to challenge them. On the flip side, the Baltimore offense was a joke outside of a few decent spurts — how did they end up with only 10 points, again?
The enigma lives.
Congratulations to Washington for getting to 3-2, one game over .500. Enjoy being over .500 for the next few days, gentlemen, it’ll be a rare sensation. You can’t fight your 8-8 destiny.
Mitch StringerUSA TODAY Sports
Colts 29, Bears 23
My favorite stat of the week: During the Jay Cutler era in Chicago two Bears quarterbacks have thrown for more than 300 yards in three-straight games. Neither is Jay Cutler.
Oh man, I want to slow sip that stat. It’s thick and rich like a delightful holiday egg nog.
While the Bears’ satisfying and hilarious quarterback controversy took an impressive step towards continuing Sunday, we do need to have a moment of silence for everyone who paid good money to see this game in person.
Even Mike Pence, who was in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium, thought this game lacked discipline.
The Bears were a special kind of bad on the defensive side of the ball Sunday, but the Colts’ general ineptitude gave them a run for their money.
I texted a Colts fan friend after the game and he was rightfully upset that 1. he had watched the game and 2. that the Colts didn’t lose.
GM Ryan “We spent too much on Andrew Luck to have a good football team” Grigson and Chuck Pagano will remain in Indianapolis for another week (they’ll probably make it through the year) and so America needs to continue to pretend like the Colts don’t exist for the sake of our own national sanity.
Thomas J. RussoUSA TODAY Sports
Titans 30, Dolphins 17
First-year Miami coach Adam Gase, known throughout the league as one of the best offensive minds in the game, had to simplify the offense for Ryan Tannehill. Seriously. Jim Tomsula (not a great offensive mind) did the same thing for Colin Kaepernick last year in San Francisco, by the way. (It didn’t work.)
This was the first week with the simplified look and let’s take a look at how it w— ohhhh no…
Tannehill continued to be trash again, but this week the rest of his team joined him, en masse, in the heap. What a leader.
Congratulations to the Dolphins, who might be the worst team in the NFL (don’t think we have already forgotten how you almost lost to the Browns at home in overtime. That was a loss…)
Tennessee is one of those mediocre teams that is going to win two or three games against good teams this year and struggle against squads legitimately worse than them, so it was nice to see them beat an inferior opponent this week.
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Vikings 31, Texans 13
If I was a St. Louis Rams fan, abandoned by my team and not keen to become a Chiefs or Bears fan because I have self respect, and I was looking to pick a new NFL squad, regardless of geographical proximity, I’d pick the Vikings. This team is a blast to watch every week.
Sunday was a game between two playoff teams and the contrast couldn’t have been more stark. One team was a Super Bowl contender and the other looked like the best team in the worst division in the league.
I’ve given Jadeveon Clowney a lot of love in his career — his impact on the game was far more significant than the box score would suggest — but he was dominated by Nick Eason on multiple occasions Sunday. That’s totally unacceptable for a player with his talent.
Brock Osweiler cost $72 million because of quarterbacks like Sam Bradford, who has cleared more than $100 million in his career, but those values don’t seem at all proportionate after Sunday’s game.
I’m starting to think that first-round pick for Bradford was a steal.
Brace HemmelgarnBrace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Steelers 31, Jets 13
Todd Bowles’ propensity to punt in illogical situations is going to make him an excellent Big Ten coach one day. It’s good to practice for your next job while you still have your first one. In Bowles’ case, that might not be for long.
Pittsburgh started slow and then took over with a 14-point fourth quarter, aided by Bowles’ punting decisions.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the Jets’ starting quarterback for at least another week, he had a touchdown and no interceptions in the game with a *gaudy* 6.7 yards per attempt Sunday… On second thought, make sure Geno is ready for next Monday night.
Jason BridgeJason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Falcons 23, Broncos 16
Looks like we’re going to have to take the Falcons seriously this year.
That was an impressive performance by the Atlanta defense, particularly Vic Beasley, who has come on strong.
I never thought I’d type these words but Denver really missed Trevor Siemian Sunday.
What is this world?
Atlanta’s offense passed a big test against one of the best defenses in the league — that bodes well. Can the defense keep it up? We’ll see, but if 23 is the low-water mark for the Atlanta offense, they’re going to win a lot of games this year.
Ron ChenoyRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Cowboys 28, Bengals 14
The Bengals are not Super Bowl contenders this year. The Cowboys are.
Dak Prescott remains spectacular, and his buddy in victory, Zeke Elliott, keeps playing lights out. Both owe a lot of credit to that dominant Dallas offensive line, but the Cowboys’ defense, which is playing the Seattle style — “if you commit pass interference every play, you normalize it” — with great success in recent weeks, deserves love too.
I am convinced the Cowboys’ defense might stab someone on the field, just to see what it can get away with next week.
Sorry Jordy Nelson, but you might catch a shank.
I’m totally out on the Bengals. Their schedule is horrific and they haven’t shown an ounce of spark this season. Marvin Lewis might be a dead man walking.
Tim HeitmanUSA TODAY Sports
Bills 30, Rams 19
"The Bills snapped the Rams’ three-game winning streak" might be the most indicative sentence written about how bad the NFL has been in 2016.
I’m sure Rex Ryan will handle beating a paper tiger team with grace and cla— what’s that? He’s already challenged Chip Kelly to a fight? Shirtless?
This guy needs to start losing again.
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Raiders 34, Chargers 31
This was like a Big 12 game — two teams with awesome pass offenses and not much else going up against each other, strength against strength.
Also, like a typical Big 12 game, it was decided by a terrible special teams blunder in the final minutes.
That was just about the most Chargers way to lose a game, though with Joey Bosa’s impressive performance I’m not sure how they’ll be able to spin this loss onto him. “If only he weren’t so selfish with his contract, that hold would have been better.”
How Mike McCoy still has a job is beyond me. He must have a brother in the San Diego mayor’s office or something.
The Raiders are 4-1, but they’ve been so uninspiring this season on defense it’s still really hard to buy any stock. That said, there’s a real chance they’re 7-1 by the time they play the Broncos. You can’t fight results (you can just remember deficiencies and pound the spreads in the playoffs).
Packers 23, Giants 16
Odell Beckham Jr. got in the end zone for the first time this season and didn't melt down on the sideline or on the field ... that's gotta count for something right?
It doesn't count for a win, though, and that's something the Giants could sorely use as they sit in the NFC East cellar.
Green Bay, looking up at the 5-0 Vikings, couldn't afford to lose it either.
Aaron Rodgers had a strong first half and Mason Crosby salted away the win with a couple of fourth quarter field goals.