NFL Week 5 Breakdown
Sunday, October 10, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
This week's post is a little shorter (and probably more incoherent) than usual, because I am very tired this morning.

Say goodbye to perfection. Last year we were biting our nails late into the season, with both the Saints and the Colts looking like they might make a run at 16-0. Well, we won't have that problem this year, since the Colts defeated the only remaining undefeated team left this week. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - I must admit that last year and in 2007 when the Patriots did go 16-0 in the regular season, it was a bit annoying to have the topic brought up on every single pregame show each week. I imagine it might the sort of thing that actually distracts a team.

Buffalo... There are no words to describe how lousy you are. However, on the flip side it is also massively distracting for a team when the opposite happens and they continue to be winless as the season progresses. While it's annoying to field "Do you think you can go 16-0?" when being interviewed, it's likely 100 times worse to hear "Is it possible that you'll go 0-16?". Right now, I see one team playing as poorly as the legendary 2007 Detroit Lions squad: the Buffalo Bills. I am fairly sure that the other 0-5 teams, the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers, will figure out a way to win somehow. However, there's just SO many things wrong in Buffalo right now that I can't see a light at the end of the tunnel:

1) They cut their starting QB, even though he played well enough to win the job in training camp.

2) They don't seem to have any building block players in place. Other teams may be losing, but there are players secured on the roster for the future. For example, St Louis only won 1 game last year, but they had young defensive players from the 2008 and 2009 draft that were still learning their craft. Those players are now starting to blossom and the team has already doubled the number of wins from last year (hanging in there at 2-3). In addition, St Louis used this year's draft to select their QB of the future, and it seems like Sam Bradford (though he may have times he struggles this year), will be in St Louis for a long time. In other words, there's promise there on that roster. Contrast that with Buffalo. For every promising player, such as CJ Spiller, that they add, they lose 2-3 others: former 1st round draft pick Marshawn Lynch was the latest loss, they cut 2008's 2nd round pick WR James Hardy at the beginning of the year, not to mention that the WR corps was futher diminished because they wasted money and a roster slot on a guy (Terrell Owens) that they knew they weren't going to keep around for more than a year.

3) They have poor management in place. It's fine to give up on Lynch, because you've got two other good RBs. However, with several teams in the league desperate for a starting RB (Green Bay pops to mind immediately), you'd think the Bills would get good value. But instead they trade him for a 4th round pick in 2011 and a conditional pick (5th or 6th round) in 2012. That surprised me, because I assumed that some other team would have topped that. Well, per Jay Glazer, other teams DID want Lynch and would have traded a higher set of picks for him - but the Bills never bothered to call anyone to ask.

4) The team is in chaos. Safety Donte Whitner described his team as "the laughingstock of the NFL". I can't imagine that the locker room is a fun place to be right now. This is the sort of team that quality players run screaming away from (see: the Oakland Raiders of past years), and also the kind of team that quality players won't easily be persuaded to join and help turn around.

Medic! Two weeks ago the Packers were done in by penalties. This week injuries played a major role in their loss to the Redskins. The most significant injury was to TE Jermichael Finley, because it completely changed the way the Packers had to approached the game. Finley is a major component of their passing attack Their second TE Donald Lee went out shortly afterwards, which really limited what Rodgers could do. Meanwhile, the defense could have taken advantage of the fact that the Redskins offensive line is terrible, but they were without sack master Clay Matthews for most of the game after he pulled a hamstring (not to mention the fact that they were already without starting LB Nick Barnett, who is out for the season with a wrist injury). Finally, one more key injury may impact the team moving forward - QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion late in the game, as given how that's affected other starting QBs around the league, it's possible that the Packers may be without their star QB for at least a game. This team had a ton of promise at the beginning of the season, but at this point, I don't think this battered and mistake-prone squad has a Super Bowl in their future this season.

Studs of the week. Hakeem Nicks (12 catches, 130 yds, 2 TDs) had a stellar game in the Giants victory. Ray Rice finally broke through this week with 159 total yards from scrimmage and 2 TDs. QB Josh Freeman might not be putting up huge numbers, but he is the real deal - when the game has been on the line, when a first down HAS to be made, Freeman has been clutch the whole way. Matt Forte continues to baffle, as this week he puts up great numbers (166 yds, 2 TDs) and will probably suck again next week.

Duds of the week. Drew Brees absolutely killed his team with his interceptions. Alex Smith continues to be maddeningly inconsistent, and worse, appears too mentally weak to fire himself up to be a real leader. Dwayne Bowe, long criticized for his inability to catch the ball, dropped what might have been a game changing TD.

Teams I like this week. The Baltimore Ravens look better every week I see them, and very soon they'll get back superstar Ed Reed. While everyone was busy praising the Rams for their improvement and rookie QB Sam Bradford was getting featured on Fox's NFL pregame show, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were quietly working their way towards a 3-1 start. Congrats to the plucky Oakland Raiders this week for their upset win over San Diego (and congrats to Jason Campbell, who really deserves a break one of these days, God).

Teams I don't like this week. Undisciplined. Lacking in leadership. A collection of individuals versus a coherent single team. These are all things that describe the Dallas Cowboys this year. Joining them on the "Way too packed with talent to be this bad" list are the San Francisco 49ers, who find new and terrible ways to lose games they should probably win. I also don't like the San Diego Chargers, who make too many mental mistakes.

Teams I can't figure out this week. The following teams are so wildly inconsistent with how they win and lose so far this season that I've officially decided that I have no idea how to predict their play from week to week: N.Y. Giants, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals.
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