Sunday's slate of games included four games where a single score would have made the difference and three games that ended unbeaten streaks. What does this all mean? Lets head around the league to look at our takeaways from week five in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints 26, Chicago Bears 18
- The Saints don't have a run game, but that doesn't matter. This team is eerily similar to the unit that won Super Bowl XLIV. The big difference is that this team doesn't need defensive touchdowns -- a scary prospect for opponents.
- Julius Peppers has to step up for Chicago as he's too talented to have this many ineffective games. Another zero-impact day from Peppers, who has one sack on the season.
Cincinnati Bengals 13, New England Patriots 6
- Cincinnati has enough talent that Andy Dalton can become a game manager and it will be enough. He made some good throws on Sunday, but when he pushes his arm, bad things happen. It's hard to imagine that head coach Marvin Lewis will have too much faith in him to makes plays downfield.
- Rob Gronkowski has to get back on the field right now. It wont help the Patriots' protection, which is spotty, but at least it will give Tom Brady an outlet. Right now the Patriots don't have anybody Brady trusts in crunch situations, especially with Wes Welker gone.
Green Bay Packers 22, Detroit Lions 9
- The emergence of Nick Perry couldn't have happened at a better time with Clay Matthews injuring his thumb on Sunday. It remains to be seen how serious the injury was, but Perry finished with two sacks and a forced fumble against the Lions.
- This loss could have been foreshadowed when Calvin Johnson was named inactive, but Matthew Stafford needs to be better about finding Reggie Bush in these situations. Drives stalled, but only 17 touches for Bush isn't enough with Johnson out. The running back has averaged over 20 touches with Johnson in the lineup.
Kansas City Chiefs 26, Tennessee Titans 17
- Jamaal Charles had a breakout game with 145 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. If head coach Andy Reid has mastered how to use the elusive running back, it changes the entire outlook of the 5-0 Chiefs. Kansas City has had some scheduling luck, but they're winning where it matters. A few more victories should be enough to seal a wild card spot.
- Chris Johnson needs to be held accountable for his lack of production in these situations. Given the money he's paid, he should be able to transcend struggles at the quarterback position. Adrian Peterson has done this for years in Minnesota, now Johnson needs to raise his game. He ran for a touchdown on a busted-play shovel pass, but 17 total rushing yards outweighs the touchdown.
Indianapolis Colts 34, Seattle Seahawks 28
- Hopefully this game makes the Colts' coaching staff realize that the Darius Heyward-Bey experiment should be stopped. T.Y. Hilton is vastly better and should have been starting far earlier. His 140 receiving yards and two touchdowns prove that he and Luck have the same rapport Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne had on Colts' teams past.
- Looking at the statistics, it's still difficult to ascertain how Seattle lost. They had 423 yards of total offense, two 100-yard rushers and just two turnovers -- that should be enough. The difference was on defense, however, where the Seahawks were unable to get enough pressures. Two sacks isn't enough with the talent this defensive front has. (Danny Kelly put the Colts' offensive line under the microscope last week).
St. Louis Rams 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 20
- Sam Bradford made plenty of plays against a woeful Jaguars' defense, but at some point the offense needs to trust Bradford to throw deep. He's missing open targets down the field and averaging less than seven yards per attempt, which is the magic number that sees most quarterback succeed in running vertical offenses. Part of this is the use (or more aptly mis-use) of Tavon Austin, whose impact has been non-existent.
- It's important for a team to have an identity and the Jaguars have settled on "terrible" being theirs for 2013. This isn't a designed knock on Jacksonville, but an appreciation for knowing who they are. Blaine Gabbert will continue to start this year, depending on his injury status, with backup offensive tackles on both sides. Eugene Monroe was traded, Luke Joeckel is lost for the season and this could get uglier before it gets better in 2014.
Baltimore Ravens 26, Miami Dolphins 23
- Nobody will complain if the team's winning, but Joe Flacco has fallen to earth hard in 2013. Losing Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta has decimated the team's offensive flow, and we're starting to see teams key on Ray Rice while being unafraid of the receiving corps. This works when Torrey Smith can get over 100 yards, but it's not enough to run a reliable offense.
- The Miami Dolphins went into win-now mode in the offseason, but they desperately need a running back if they want to threaten the AFC East. Lamar Miller has shown flashes, but he's far too inconsistent and it's letting down Ryan Tannehill. Miami's offensive line is bad, that much is true -- but 15 yards on seven carries is bad with any line.
Philadelphia Eagles 36, New York Giants 21
- Nick Foles was sensational in a rough situation. Michael Vick left the game with an injury and Foles stepped up, throwing for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Having DeSean Jackson's ability to run after the catch helps, making him a huge asset in the fast-paced Eagles offense.
- What's left to say about the New York Giants? This team is regressing on the field and it's a shame to see. Eli Manning is giving it his all, but now David Wilson is injured. No team other than Jacksonville is looking forward to the season ending more than the Giants.
Arizona Cardinals 22, Carolina Panthers 6
- Daryl Washington makes an already impressive Cardinals defense downright scary. He returned from suspension with nine tackles, two sacks and an interception. Washington's ability to roam around the field accentuated the rest of the Cardinals' defensive players, allowing them to make plays.
- Cam Newton did a lot wrong, but he has continually been let down by by a lackluster offensive line and non-existent weapons. New will be blamed for the team's woes because that's the narrative, but the reality is that he needs to get a new coaching staff and start again.
Denver Broncos 51, Dallas Cowboys 48
- Peyton Manning is other-worldly, there is nothing more to say. Instead, let's focus on Julius Thomas, who has changed the face of the Broncos offense in concert with Manning. The undrafted free agent finished with 122 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His addition changes the way the passing game operates, opening holes for the teams weapons and makes the Broncos unstoppable.
- Tony Romo threw another late interception which will unfortunately overshadow his play. It wasn't just that Romo threw for over 500 yards, it's that he found every one of the team's receivers. The difference in his play is noticeable, even with the turnover. If Manning is the NFL's best quarterback in 2013, Romo is the second best -- and it's not close.
Houston Texans 3, San Francisco 49ers 34
- San Francisco's defense rounded back into form Sunday night. The unit made life miserable for the Texans, and Matt Schaub in particular. Tramaine Brock had two picks, including one returned for a touchdown early in the game. On the other side of the ball, Frank Gore was back in fine form, but Colin Kaepernick had a so-so night passing the ball.
- Houston, we have a problem. Matt Schaub was benched for T.J. Yates in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late after the quarterback set a new NFL record with his fourth consecutive game with a pick six. After the game, Gary Kubiak stood by his regular starter, saying Schaub would return to that role. That could be a problem for a Texans team that has now lost three in a row.
San Diego Chargers 17, Oakland Raiders 27
- Terrelle Pryor did it with his arm in the first quarter of a late show against the Chargers. Back from a concussion, Pryor threw two touchdowns in the opening frame to stake his team to a lead. Oakland was said to be in the running for Josh Freeman and it's a good thing they didn't land him, at least not if they had intended to replace Pryor. With 11 more games to play this season, all eyes are on the Ohio State product to gauge whether or not he's a cornerstone of the Raiders' future.
- The revival of Philip Rivers had mixed results Sunday night/Monday morning. Rivers threw a pair of touchdown passes and topped 400 yards for the third time this season. He also threw three interceptions, three of many mistakes that doomed the Chargers. On defense, the front seven failed to get a pass rush going without Dwight Freeney.
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