Week 5 of the NFL season is nearly complete (pending Monday Night Football) and, as expected, we saw the unexpected. The Packers look unbeatable, the Eagles lose again, Al Davis' memory shines for Oakland and we may have seen the start of the Tim Tebow era in Denver.
Here's what you need to know from Week 5 in our weekly NFL Debrief:
OK, seriously: Who's going to beat the Packers? Falcons, in Atlanta, Sunday night, down 14 points....and Green Bay still wins. That's awfully impressive, and a little scary once you realize the Packers are actually getting better. I don't see a lot of challenging games left. At San Diego won't be easy, nor will at Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Bears are always tough and playing the Giants in New York is potentially a challenge. But this is a team that already beat the Saints and Falcons, tougher games than any of the ones previously mentioned. It's too early to be having a legitimate conversation about the Packers going undefeated because every team slips up eventually, but through five weeks we can say with certainty that the Pack are the best team in football.
Forget the Dream Team. The Eagles just need to win a game. 1-4 on the season for the Eagles. It was clear as day entering this season that Philly was stock piling talent with the idea of making a Super Bowl run -- big name after big name entered Philly. The problem? Football isn't like other sports where you can add a few players one season and automatically see them fit in. At least not all the time. It's the ultimate team game and something's up with the Eagles in that regard. Andy Reid, the head coach for over a decade, deserves the criticism out there on the Eagles because he was the leading hand in assembling this team. The Eagles biggest problem might be that Vick looks an awful lot like the Falcons' Vick, and not the 2010 Eagles' Vick that protected the ball significantly better. Panic in Philly or is a turnaround possible?
The Tim Tebow era may have started. Tebow entered the game for a struggling Kyle Orton who was receiving a full plate of boos from the Denver faithful. After quieting the crowd, Tebow nearly lead the Broncos to a comeback win over the Chargers. No, it wasn't pretty by any means but the NFL is a results-oriented business and the Broncos almost got that second win of the season. Wins or losses, it's going to be fun to watch the Tebow era in Denver.
Al Davis day for Oakland. The Raiders held on to beat the Texans and the story line (as I'm sure you've heard already) is that they did it with Al Davis' draft picks, one day after he passed away. Sebastian Janikowski, an Al Davis first round pick, connected on four field goals, including three from beyond 50 yards. Darrius Heyward-Bey, an Al Davis first round pick, caught seven balls for 99 yards and a score. Michael Huff, an Al Davis first round pick, sealed the game with a last second interception. This is a game they won't forget anytime soon.
Is it time to start taking the 49ers seriously? It's the NFC West so we have a tendency to just assume whoever's winning the division isn't very good, but I think it's time to start taking the 49ers seriously. They're an OT loss away from being undefeated and Alex Smith is playing terrific. In the last six quarters, they've outscored their opponents 69-6. Say what you want about the NFC West, but the 49ers look for real.
Good start for the Texans but it's getting tough to overcome injuries. First, it was Arian Foster missing time due to a hamstring injury. Second, it was Andre Johnson's injury costing him three weeks. Third, it's Mario Williams. The Texans linebacker is out indefinitely with a torn pectoral muscle. The Texans are battling the Titans -- both teams are 3-2 -- in the AFC South and Houston looked like the team most likely to take the division. But you take away their top receiver for a few weeks, and their top linebacker for possibly the entire season, and the road to the division title looks much, much tougher.
The Steelers look like the Steelers again. One week, the story line is that Pittsburgh is stumbling and may not make the playoffs. The next week the story line is that the Steelers look like their old, dominant selves. So which one is the real Pittsburgh? Sunday's team was good enough as the defense held Tennessee to 17 points and Ben Roethlisberger, playing injured, threw for five touchdown passes.
Colts blow a big lead in Indy. (Full disclosure: I'm a Chiefs fan) The Colts held a 17-0 and 24-7 lead against the Chiefs on Sunday but somehow, someway blew it and allowed KC to comeback from 17 points down and win the game. Matt Cassel, who has hardly played his best football this season, had what might have been his best day in a Chiefs uniform. Jackie Battle -- I'll wait so you can look up to figure out who he is -- rushed for 119 yards against Indy's defense. The Colts 0-5 record says they're in the Suck For Luck hunt but they've been competitive the last three weeks. They just can't put it all together and find a victory.
Suck For Luck update. The Colts, as we mentioned, are right in the thick of the hunt for the Stanford QB. The Dolphins were on a bye this week so their 0-4 record stays intact. The Rams are also on a bye so their 0-4 record keeps them tied atop the Suck For Luck standings. The Broncos played the Chargers strong but couldn't get it done, moving their record to 1-4. There's also another team to consider: Jacksonville. The Jaguars are now 1-4 after losing to the Bengals in Week 5.
Um...the Bengals? Yeah, they're right in the thick of the AFC North race. That's not something I thought I'd be writing in Week 5 but, at 3-2, there they are and they're doing it behind some fourth quarter comebacks. The Bengals trailed the Browns in Week 1 and the Bills in Week 4, 17-13, entering the fourth quarter and came back to win. They were tied with the Jaguars on Sunday entering the fourth quarter and came back to win. Andy Dalton isn't putting up all-world performances but he's doing just enough to win -- completing nearly 60 percent of his passes, throwing for more touchdowns than interceptions and finding A.J. Green. I hopped aboard the Bengals bandwagon in Week 1, calling them a sleeper team and, despite falling off the bandwagon a couple times, I still think they'll keep things interesting this year.