Friday 20 October 2017 / 02:18 PM

Airing it Out: NFL Week 5

The glory of sports is that the most majestic moments simply can’t be scripted.

And what’s better than a last-second, game-winning kick on Monday Night Football?

This:

A huge win for Mike Vick and the Steelers. A loss would have put them three games back of the division-leading Bengals.

All up Le’Veon Bell piled on 111 yards with an average of 5.3 per carry, solidifying the argument that he might just be the best running back in the National Football League.

Following the exhausting road win, Head Coach for Pittsburgh Mike Tomlin quipped, “It’s time to go to the mattresses.”

Things won’t get any easier for the Big Ben-less Steelers with the red hot Arizona Cardinals coming to Heinz Field next Sunday.

Tasty Tidbits from Week 5

For a while there it looked like the mediocre Redskins were going to pull off the upset and knock the Falcons out of the realm of the unbeaten.

Then overtime came around and the thing that happens to mediocre teams happened to Washington.

Watch here as Robert Alford takes a Kirk Cousins pass all the way back to the endzone for the game winning pick-6:

And the streak is finally over – Aaron Rodgers tossed not one, but two INTs at home against the Rams but recovered to secure a 24-10 win for the undefeated (5-0) Packers.

And there’s one more thing I’d like to talk about before we move on to the Offensive Player of the Week.

A very unusual trend is forming as only four non division-leading teams in the NFL enjoy winning records (Bills, Jets, Steelers and Panthers).

This means that, particularly in the NFC, nobody (save for Detroit) is out of the Wild Card chase. Good news for fans disappointed with their sub .500 teams. And there are plenty of these underachieving clubs to go around – 20 NFL clubs have more defeats than victories.

Offensive Player of the Week

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

It’s Josh McCown.

I mean, it’s pretty tough to argue with 36/51 passing for 457 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions with an overtime victory over the division rival Ravens as the icing on the cake.

In fact, McCown is now the first QB in the history of the franchise to rack up three straight 300-yard games. Yup, not even Mr. Cleveland Bernie Kosar did that. Oh, and 457 is now the new club best for all-time yardage, too.

Could Old Man McCown lead this Browns team to the playoffs?

I doubt it.

But here’s an Offensive Player of the Week nod to print out and pin up to the refrigerator.

Defensive Player of the Week

Philadelphia needed a big win this week to boost confidence and restore faith in Chip Kelly and the Eagles.

Fletcher Cox stepped up to help make this happen.

The former first-round pick (2012) flashed Pro Bowl brilliance and in an era of skill position fantasies it’s always exciting to watch a lineman take over a football game in the trenches.

Team on the Rise

In the NFL, “ugly” wins count exactly the same as dominating masterpieces. This isn’t the NCAA where winning by 50 bumps you more in the polls than squeaking by on a last-second field goal.

After all, no teams truly suck in the NFL.

And so let’s give credit where credit is due. Following a surprising (0-2) start the Indianapolis Colts have rattled off three straight wins, the last two with 40-year-old backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck at the helm.

In their 27-20 win on the road versus the Texans, both Andre Johnson and Frank Gore finally showed that yes, they really do have something left in the tank.

Gore rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown and Johnson hauled in 6 catches for 77 yards and a pair of scores in front of his former team’s home crowd.

The Colts have now won an NFL-record 16 straight divisional matchups.

Don’t read too much into these statistics, however – Luck will be back under center just as soon as he’s ready.

For now, mum’s the word on whether or not he’ll be healthy for next week’s Sunday Night Football matchup at home against the undefeated World Champion New England Patriots.

Team on the Decline

How can it not be the Seattle Seahawks?

At (2-3), with every single loss the result of squandering a 4th-quarter lead, it’s safe to say that the Seattle defense has officially lost its air of invincibility. The once-dominating Legion of Boom is allowing an absurd 86% completion rate in the 4th quarter.

Sunday’s collapse, which saw a 17-point lead over the Bengals vanish into thin air, was the largest lead to be relinquished by the Hawks since they also allowed a 17-point comeback in 2004 to the Rams.

Mike Nugent nailed a 42-yard field goal in overtime, sealing the deal for Cincinnati in what could be a season-defining win for the Bengals.

While some are saying the Hawks have fallen from elite to middle-class, it’s probably more accurate to say they’ve dropped from dominant to “very good”. It’s all by design in the NFL, of course; keep the talent churning so nobody stays at the top (or bottom) for too long.

Nevertheless, expect to see a few less 12 flags flying in Seattle if this trend continues and the NFC Champs miss the playoffs.

Just in Case You Missed It

  • Jamaal Charles has torn his ACL and is out for the season. With the Chiefs dropping to (1-4) and now missing their top player, it’s time for the Raiders to finally crawl out of the AFC West cellar. What happened to the club that appeared poised to challenge the Broncos for the division title?
  • An incredible six teams (Patriots, Broncos, Panthers, Falcons, Packers, Bengals) still remain with unblemished records while only the Lions are winless.
  • The Denver defense continues to work hard to disguise the team’s woes on offense. While Peyton Manning certainly can’t be asked to shoulder all of their struggles, all signs point to this being the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback’s last season (if he wants to avoid tarnishing his legacy). Manning is one of four starting QBs with more INTs than TDs. He also ranks 25th in passer rating and 22nd in quarterback rating. The numbers don’t lie. Wins or no wins, #18’s glory days are truly over.

Games to Look Forward to in Week 6

Cardinals at Steelers – Two teams with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations collide in Pittsburgh. Michael Vick is no ordinary back-up quarterback, but he’ll have a tall order ahead of himself facing the league’s 9th-ranked defense.

 

Bengals @ Bills – Fresh off a victory that pushed Buffalo back above .500, they’ll hope to stay at the top of the AFC Wild Card standings at home against the undefeated Bengals.

 

Patriots @ Colts – Forget about Indy’s up and down start. Any time you have a rematch of the previous season’s conference championship you’ve got a game worth watching.

 

Giants @ Eagles – Anything can happen in the always crazy NFC East. The Giants were once (0-2) and are now in first place. The Eagles, who also dropped their first two games, can claim the lead as their own with a win over the G-Men at home on Monday night.

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Michael Airhart

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