If I was to ask you before the season, “tell me which team had 0 wins and which had 5, the Broncos and the Titans?” Which would you pick? I know, the Titans are thrilled to be 5-0, right? Wrong. The Broncos continue their dream season so far including that miracle win over the Bengals (more on them later). Josh McDaniels has completely redeemed himself in the eyes of Broncos fans and evidently, even Brandon Marshall, being hailed as a god amongst men by some, has bought in. On both sides of the ball, the Broncos are as solid as the Raiders are shaky. In other words, extremely shaky. The Broncos have a big game on Monday with division rivals San Diego and if they come away with that game with a W, they can, for all intensive purposes, punch their tickets for the postseason. Does anyone look smarter than Broncos owner Pat Bowlen? Nope.
The other sleeper is the Cincinnati Bengals who won ANOTHER game late, edging out the Ravens in Baltimore. Gone are the days of the Ravens D striking fear in the hearts of men, as they have been getting by on brand-name recognition this year and were again bullied through the air as Carson Palmer put up 271 yards and Cedric Benson rumbled for 120. All told, Baltimore gave up 400 yards total offense to a Bengals team that is good, but not thought to be elite on offense. If any other team gave up 403, 319, and 474 total yards in three of their last 4 games, their defense would not get any acclaim, but the Ravens have been skating on their brand-name like Michelle Kwan. The Ravens are still good, but the days of their defense being the scariest in the league are over.
Make no mistake, the Bengals won this game. The Ravens certainly helped Cincinnati out with their stupid penalties on the last drive, but the Bengals cashed in and their shockingly stingy defense gave up almost nothing, holding Flacco’s favorite target, Derrick Mason, without a catch and forcing him to dump the ball off, mostly to Ray Rice, a stud in his own right. The Steelers had better get concerned if they are not already with both the Ravens and Bengals looking so good. That division is anything but safe for the defending champs.
The Cowboys did all they could to lose on Sunday, but it just was not enough as the Chiefs, masquerading as the Dallas Texans of the AFL, just wanted that loss more. Miles Austin had 250 yards receiving. Here take a moment and let that sink in. (Waiting…). (Waiting…). Miles Austin. 10 catches. 250 yards receiving. 2 TDs and he dropped a tough one earlier in the game. How bad is the Chiefs defense? And please keep in mind through all of this, this game went to overtime. So for all the gaudy numbers given up by the Chiefs, they were in the game for 60 minutes and then some. My upset pick almost came through, but alas, they just wanted to move to 0-5 and get Todd Haley fired way too much. My hat goes off to the Cowboys for channeling their inner Redskins and beating bad teams by the smallest margins possible; and to the Chiefs for showing the determination to stay in or around the cellar. In all seriousness though, Cassel put together a very impressive drive to get that game tied, it was just a matter of the Chiefs defense not being able to stop anyone.
Let’s go out West where the Atlanta Falcons showed what a week of rest can do and the Arizona Cardinals clung to victory. The Falcons came into San Francisco and absolutely demolished the NFC West leaders putting up 45 points on a previously staunch defense. I am not entirely sure what happened, but Atlanta just came out prepared and took it to the 49ers for a full 60 minutes. Frank Gore’s injury notwithstanding, the Falcons were just the better team and it was not even close. I will gladly admit to getting this one wrong. I knew the Falcons were good and I thought they had a chance in this game, but 45-10 is not a chance, it is a romp, demolition, eradication or any other noun of destruction you want to use. San Francisco has a much needed bye week next week and they should have Gore back for Houston in Week 7. I can only imagine the flashbacks 49ers fans had during this game, but sometimes you just don’t have your A game; you just have to bring it next week, or in this case, in two weeks.
The Cardinals went up 21, then gave it all back before Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off Matt Schaub’s pass and took it to the house. The Texans got the ball back and marched it right back down the field before getting stuffed on 4th and Goal. I cannot decide whether this makes them mentally tough for not losing despite what happened, or mentally weak for letting Houston back into it. I will settle on admitting to not knowing anything about the Cards except that the only thing worse than their defense is Houston’s defense and/or consistency.
The Seahawks beat the Jags 41-0. Somehow this did not register as especially surprising even though any 41-0 shellacking certainly belongs under the category of surprise. The only thing anyone knows about the Jags is that they know nothing. Not even the Jags are sure of how good they are. They are hot and they’re cold, they’re yes and they’re no, they’re in and they’re out, they’re up and they’re down. Oh yeah, and they are 2-3 and completely erratic. And to those of you who thought I would go even further with the song, I symbolically swat your shot like Superman, and not the cartoon version.
Let’s get a quick 1 sentence rundown on the rest of the league.
Cleveland beat Buffalo 6-3 in the “Toilet Bowl” of Week 5. Philly beat down the sorry Bucs thanks to a herculean effort by Jeremy Maclin. Pittsburgh made it look close against the Lions but managed to not play like the ’08 Lions. The Giants beat the Raiders like Tom Cable beats his assistants. Allegedly. The undefeated Vikings routed the Rams despite the best efforts of the St. Louis offense better known as Steven Jackson. Carolina avoided a 0-4 start against the Raider-esque Redskins. Peyton Manning is still the best QB in the NFL and proved it yet again, 31-9 over the Titans. The Jets should bear the Fins tomorrow but that is why they play the games. Great week in the NFL; I can’t wait to do it all over again next week.