Week 5 Column

It’s only Week 5 and there’s a lot of fans already in panic mode with their teams. There’s been so many disappointing teams this season and it’s definitely frustrating for fans to see but is it the end of the world? Not for 49ers owner Ted York, whose team is 0-5. He came out to the media and said that “this team will win the NFC West.”

As laughable as that was when I first read it, there might be a chance it happens. All of the teams in that division are sketchy as hell and the 49ers might make a jump for the top if they can turn things around. The Niners are a team that under performs to a ridiculous extent and it all starts with Alex Smith. He earned the starting job last year and has been “just good enough” to keep it. By “good enough” I mean better than QBs like Shaun Hill and David Carr, which isn’t saying much. Last night’s game against the Eagles was a perfect example. He had a few really nice plays but turned the ball over three times before Mike Singletery was ready to pull the plug on him. Then he led SF to two touchdown drives but failed on the last one which ended in another interception. I guess he’s “just good enough” to not lose his job again. Putting Carr in won’t solve anything but they may have another option in Troy Smith. I always thought he would be a legit starting QB in the NFL but a case of tonsillitis and the emergence of Joe Flacco kept him from being one in Baltimore.  Could he get his chance in SF? It’s worth a shot if they want to go to the playoffs like York hopes. As a whole, the team has been very disappointing and terrible but the rest of the division isn’t exactly out of reach. Let’s look at the rest of the competition;

Arizona Cardinals lead the division at 3-2, Seahawks are at 2-2 and the Rams are 2-3. An interesting thing is all of their victories came at home, with the exception of Arizona’s win over St Louis. The Cardinals D won that game for them against the Saints. They picked off Drew Brees 3 times and forced a fumble which was returned by Kerry Rhodes for a TD. The fact that their other TD’s came on a pick 6 and a fumble recovery in the end zone doesn’t give me that much confidence in their offense, either. New QB Max Hall wasn’t bad on Sunday but he wasn’t terribly impressive and Beanie Wells only had 35 yards on 20 carries. They were picked apart by the Falcons and Chargers so I’m not going to crown them as the favorites in the West just yet because of a win over the Saints. Seahawks are a completely different team at home than on the road. Wins over the Chargers and Niners at home and big losses to the Broncos and Rams on the road. Getting Marshawn Lynch will give a spark to their running game so that might be what they need to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. They could probably go 8-8 with all of their wins being at home at this rate. Rams have been somewhat impressive aside from getting blown out by the Lions on Sunday. WR Mark Clayton being out for the year with a torn ACL isn’t going to help them, though. Even if guys like Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson are really stepping up. What I’m saying is, the division isn’t out of reach. Even for an 0-5 team.

Speaking of teams in panic mode, I’m guessing the Cowboys and Vikings are close to being in that zone now. Both have gotten off to disappointing 1-3 starts but it’s definitely not over for them yet. Why? It’s only week 5 and the NFC hasn’t been terribly impressive this year. Look at the NFC East, the only team I’ve been impressed with is the Giants and even they have a fair amount of questions. Their passing game is good but they’re still turning the ball over a lot. Their defense can either look amazing or terrible depending on the week. Eagles have way too many injuries and their record is only good because of a weak schedule. Redskins I’m still iffy on. They’ve had their fair share of luck and the defense seems to be playing well enough to win games. Keep in mind, a couple of their wins have come when key players for the other teams got hurt during the game. Just saying. I think the Cowboys can find their way back to the top of the division if they can cut down on the stupid mistakes and penalties. I feel that’s always going to be a problem with them, though.

Then there’s the Vikings who also fell to 1-3 after an ugly game at the new Meadowlands stadium. Brett Favre threw his 500th TD and his 324th INT which ended the game for the Vikes. It’s a tough place to be into with how competitive the NFC North can be but I don’t think they’re out of the race yet, either. Favre has been a disappointment and Cedric Griffin going down cripples their already weak secondary but like the East, the rest of the North isn’t that far out of reach. Bears won’t get to play Carolina every week and the Packers are having the worst luck when it comes to injuries so anything can happen in that division now. Especially if Jay Cutler will miss a considerable amount of time.

Best Team Performance: Lions

Shocker, eh? Granted it was against St Louis, but the Lions clearly had the most dominant performance out of anyone else on Sunday. Great game from almost everyone on the team and their #2 pick Ndamukong Suh even got a pick. It’s good to see the Lions finally get in the win column this year after coming so close a few times.

Honorable Mentions: Titans, Giants

Top 5 Offensive Players of the Week:

1. Hakeem Nicks 12 rec. 130 yds, 2 TD

Teams just can’t seem to cover him and he had a monster day against one of the worst passing defenses in the league. Him and Eli have found some serious chemistry this year and it could be what gets the Giants to the top of that division.

2. Josh Freeman 20-33 280 yds TD, INT

He’s really shining in his sophomore season and he had a great game against a tough Bengals defense. He’s shown to have a pretty strong arm and he can scramble really well two. It makes a good combo especially with how his accuracy is improving. Aside from the pick, he looked very sharp against the Bengals.

3. Matt Forte 22 car 166 yds 2 TD

He WAS the Bears offense on Sunday. Carolina couldn’t stop him all first half and that won the game for the Bears.

4. Malcolm Floyd 8 rec. 213 yds TD

Didn’t get to see the full replay of this game but did the Raiders have Asomugha on him? I’m going to guess no with these numbers but if he did then that makes it even more impressive. He’s definitely showing to be a capable replacement for Vincent Jackson until (if) he comes back.

5. Ray Rice 27 car 133 yds 2 TD

There. Now people who own him in fantasy can stop bitching.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Turner, Kyle Orton, Miles Austin, Tony Romo, Chris Johnson, David Garrard, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kevin Kolb, Cedric Benson

Defensive Player of the Week: LaRon Landry 13 tackles, INT, forced fumble

Forced a fumble to start off the game and put the Redskins in field goal range in OT with his interception. He’s been very good this year and the Redskins really need that with how bad he was last year.

Worst Team Performance; Panthers

The offense most specifically, the defense did force 4 turnovers….off Todd Collins but they still put the team in the hole by giving up those huge runs to Forte. It was a pitiful showing by a team that’s displayed hardly any life this season. Clausen looked terrible, receivers looked awful, running game had only one good drive and they could only get 6 points despite having good field position. They solidified their place as the worst team in the NFL after this game. Nowhere to go but up.

Dishonorable Mentions: Rams, Saints, Texans

Worst Offensive Player: Dwayne Bowe 4 dropped passes

That had to be frustrating to watch for Chiefs fans. They kept it a close game with the Colts the whole time but couldn’t get any touchdowns. They almost had one but it was dropped by GUESS WHO. Yep. Watch the highlight package of this game and see his dropped passes. All were potential first downs and in the open field. That’s just inexcusable, especially in a game like that.Oh, and he only caught one pass for 8 yards.

Dishonorable Mentions; Jimmy Clausen, Entire Panthers offense, Todd Collins, Arian Foster, Jake Delhomme

Surprise of the Week: Raiders beating Chargers

Trying to avoid the *losing team* beating Chargers trend that’s been going on with this feature but this is what shocked me the most this week. I get the feeling that the Bolts are just in their regular early season hibernation but they have lost 3 games to teams that had losing records last year so I’d be worried if I was a Chargers fan. The Raiders put together a great game, though and took advantage of every mistake the Chargers made and there were a lot of them. First time they’ve beaten San Diego in 5 years.

Game of the Week: Titans-Cowboys

There were a lot of good games to choose from but I enjoyed this one the most. Cowboys made a great comeback and then there was a lot of back and forth action ending with the Cowboys shooting themselves in the foot again. Nothing like a predicable ending to close things out. Lots of offense in this contest too and that usually makes for a great game.

Honorable Mentions: Bucs-Bengals, Jags-Bills, Packers-Skins, Chargers-Raiders

Worst Game of the Week: Bears-Panthers

Panthers and Bears are frequent to this feature now…. but this was a complete shitfest. After those Forte runs, neither offense did anything and it looked like a contest to see who can lose the game in worse fashion. Todd Collins kept throwing horrible interceptions and the Panthers offense did absolutely nothing. Literally, nothing. It’s scary to think that the Bears are 4-1 after watching that game.

Idiot of the Week: Bob Bratowski

As much as I would love to blame the Bengals loss on Palmer, Bratowski’s playcalling is what really doomed the Bengals in this game. Why is he throwing inside the two minute warning with his team ahead? Does he know that he has Cedric Benson on the team and he was running really well that day? Did he just want to stick it to the Bucs late and run up the score despite Carson Palmer being their QB? Not saying those weren’t bad passes by Palmer, because they were, but Bratowski has to be smarter than that. Bengals starting to look less like contenders by the week.

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