With Week 5 of the 2015 NFL season wrapping-up tonight, we’re officially past the season’s quarter-pole, which means division races are starting to take shape around the league. The AFC North is looking like a runaway (more about that later) and the AFC South is, well, continuing to be the AFC South. Without further ado, here are the top ten Week 5 takeaways.
1. The Cincinnati Bengals are the real deal.
After the Bengals went 1-0, we thought, “Well, someone had to win.” After 2-0, 3-0, and 4-0, we thought the team looked good, but had some lucky breaks schedule-wise. Now, as Andy Dalton and Co. are sitting at 5-0 for only the third time in franchise history, we are all forced to admit that they’re the real deal. This team went-up a great Seattle Seahawks defense and got the job done in a Week 5 thriller. Dalton, Giovani Bernard, and Adam Jones led a 17-point comeback that nobody can downplay. At this point, they’re already almost a lock for the playoffs.
2. Dion Lewis is ridiculously talented.
Lewis, who was previously on the rosters of both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts, never had much success until he arrived in New England. In Bill Belichick’s system, the running back is lighting it up. In yesterday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, Lewis had 93 yards, a touchdown, and some absolutely fantastic plays, forcing a few hilarious missed tackles. Watch this man’s footwork next week. You’ll be impressed.
3. The Green Bay Packers’ injuries could become a problem.
If there’s one thing Aaron Rodgers does, it’s get the job done. Case in point: yesterday’s 24-10 win over the St. Louis Rams. The score, however, doesn’t reflect the issues the 5-0 Packers faced on the field. In addition to the myriad of injuries the team is already dealing with (notably wide receiver Jordy Nelson’s torn ACL), they lost four starters, including BJ Raji and TJ Lang, to the sidelines yesterday. With Raji’s exit, Rams running back Todd Gurley was able to really start moving, ending with 159 rushing yards. If any of these injuries are serious, the Pack could find themselves with a loss sooner rather than later.
4. The Washington Redskins’ secondary is gritty and good.
Even though the 'Skins lost yesterday’s game, their secondary looked impressive throughout. During the first half, the team shutout Julio Jones, who is arguably the league’s top wideout right now. They also forced Matt Ryan into two early turnovers and kept the Falcons out of the end zone until late in the game. Despite the flak Jay Gruden’s team often takes, I like the gritty way this defense is playing.
5. The Cleveland Browns’ offense has playmakers.
This isn’t a sentence I get to type very often. Or really ever. Let’s be honest. In yesterday’s OT win over the Baltimore Ravens, Josh McCown became the first Browns quarterback to ever pass for 300+ yards in three consecutive games (take that, Bernie Kosar and Otto Graham). He also set a franchise record with 457 passing yards in a single game. In addition, veteran tight end Gary Barnidge continued his quest to finally make a name for himself with 139 yards and a touchdown. Before you get too excited, though, Dawg Pound, let’s remember that the Ravens aren’t 1-4 for no reason.
6. Jamaal Charles’s injury is going to hurt the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Duh,” you’re probably saying right about now. When Charles went down during yesterday’s game, Chiefs Nation held its breath…and still is. Y’all should really start breathing again or you won’t make it to the team’s Charles-centric press conference. In all likelihood, Charles tore his ACL and is done for the year. As the cornerstone of the Chiefs’ middling offense, the team will be lost without Charles. I can’t see Charcandrick West and Knile Davis equaling the player #25 is.
7. The Arizona Cardinals are the league’s most dominant team.
In the realm of bold predictions, I still think Bruce Arians’s team will go to Super Bowl 50 (against the New England Patriots, if you were wondering). Last week’s uncharacteristic performance against the St. Louis Rams aside, the Cards looked positively dominant at Ford Field yesterday. Carson Palmer had the second-best passer rating of his career at 154.2 and running back David Johnson became the first rookie since the great Gale Sayers to score two rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns, and a kickoff return touchdown in five games.
8. The Denver Broncos’ defense could go down in history.
I never thought I would type that the defense of a Peyton Manning-helmed team could go down as one of the league’s all-time great squads. Goes to show there’s a first time for everything. This Broncos D, featuring Von Miller, TJ Ward, and DeMarcus Ware, are the epitome of playmakers. They’ve managed to score (or put Manning in prime position to score) 36% of the team’s points so far in 2015. That’s unbelievable. If anyone can stop Tom Brady this year, it’s them.
9. The Detroit Lions remain winless.
On the other side of the 4-1 Cardinals’ dominance were the 0-5 Detroit Lions. This Week 5 takeaway is short and not-so-sweet for fans in the Motor City. In the third quarter, after his third interception, starting quarterback Matt Stafford was sidelined in favor of back-up Dan Orlovsky, who proceeded to throw his own interception. And just when you thought this year’s Lions couldn’t get any more depressing. There’s always that No. 1 draft pick to aim for. It’s good to have goals, folks.
10. Doug Martin had himself a day.
Just when everyone was beginning to think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense was never going to get it together this year, Martin put on a show for his home crowd. The running back racked-up 39-yard, 20-yard, 19-yard, 14-yard, and 13-yard runs for a total of 123 rushing yards, 35 receiving yards, and three trips to the end zone. All things considered, the Bucs were facing the woefully bad Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday, but if Jameis Winston can continue to turn to Martin while he gains more experience, this offense just might get some Ws yet. You might have reached a turning point, Buccaneers Nation.