NFL Week 5: Winners and Losers
By Max Saito.
Follow Max on Twitter: @deerfearer
Before we get into the winners and losers from around the league in Week 5: I’m not putting Dak Prescott on this list, since it doesn’t feel right comparing it to some of the relatively trivial things on this list. Dak was so easy to root for, having been through tragedy this year and having the courage to speak up and support others going through the same thing. Seeing him go through such a crushing injury in a season in which he was in terrific form was heartbreaking, and the outpouring of support across the league reflected that.
With all that said, here’s a look at who’s riding into Week 6 on a cloud, and who’s feeling the full brunt of 2020 after Week 5:
Russell Wilson’s MVP Campaign
Russ didn’t post gaudy numbers in the Seahawks’ 27-26 victory over the Vikings, throwing for 217 yards on 32 attempts, but all anyone will remember from this game is Wilson leading the Hawks 94 yards downfield to give them the lead with 15 seconds to go. Fun fact: including the failed two-point attempt, Wilson went 4-13 on passing on that game-winning drive, and yet it somehow never seemed that the drive would end with anything but a Seahawks touchdown. With Rodgers on bye and Mahomes and Jackson playing below their own lofty expectations, Wilson is likely leading the pack for the MVP race heading into Seattle’s bye week.
Derek Carr slayed some serious demons on Sunday. Being 0-4 against Patrick Mahomes? Post a QB rating of 126.7 to Mahomes’ 83.5. Being 2-10 all-time against the Chiefs? Walk into Arrowhead and drop 40 points on the defending Super Bowl champs. Criticised for being too reliant on the checkdown? Unfurl touchdowns of 59 yards to Nelson Agholor and 72 yards to the offence-transforming Henry Ruggs. Carr silenced some critics with a terrific performance on Sunday and injected some juice into the AFC West, setting Vegas up at 3-2 with KC at 4-1.
The Cleveland Freakin’ Browns
Cleveland is 4-1! And they’ve looked extremely good value for that record. The last time Cleveland was 4-1, Bill Belichick was head coach, Nick Saban was defensive coordinator, and there were less than 10,000 websites on the entire World Wide Web. After running over the Cowboys in Week 4, the Browns leaned on their defense and an efficient performance from Baker Mayfield to put Indy to the sword. The Browns look well coached, and next week’s clash at Heinz Field with the division-leading Steelers (in the first meeting of the two since Myles Garrett’s clubbing of Mason Rudolph) promises to reignite one of the NFL’s best dormant rivalries. It’s been 17 years since the Browns won in Pittsburgh, but coming off the back of a four-game win streak there’s no doubt they’ll be feeling dangerous come Sunday.
You might ask why I’ve listed Adam Gase as a winner here. The best metaphor I can give you is this: I am terrible at Fall Guys. Like, genuinely just not good. When I find myself in the final round, I’m just happy to be there, even though I know I stand no chance of getting a crown. Adam Gase is one of the 30 unfired head coaches in the National Football League.
San Francisco 49ers
Yes, the 49ers lost literally, but I wanted to look at exactly how much this loss hurts. At this exact point in the 2019 season, the 49ers had just choked out the Browns 31-3 on Monday Night Football, were 4-0 and had a point differential of 70 through on their way to a Super Bowl appearance. Meanwhile, there were genuine discussions as to whether the Dolphins were the worst ever NFL team. And these discussions were not without due cause, as Miami were 0-4 and had been outscored by a total of 26-163. 163! These 49ers are an injury-ravaged shell of last year’s team, and yet not even the most optimistic Dolphins fan could have expected Miami to pull out a 43-17 win. Both teams are now 2-3.
The criticism of Philip Rivers has been ramping up consistently over the last few years, and his mistake-ridden performance against Cleveland with two picks (one returned for a score) and an intentional grounding safety on Sunday will have done nothing to quiet down the doubters. The Colts are still 3-2, but their offense has had to play around Rivers rather than being led by him. Head coach Frank Reich confirmed on Monday that Rivers will remain the starting quarterback, but the fact that he has had to answer these questions in Week 6 tells you how the Rivers experiment is going in Indy. I’ve always been a Rivers defender, but even I’m not sure that we won’t be seeing Jacoby Brissett before the end of the year.
Joe Burrow’s Physical Being
The number one overall pick won plenty of plaudits in his first four weeks as a pro, but Burrow ran into a buzzsaw in Week 5. You have to feel for Burrow, who is playing behind an offensive line devoid of chemistry, in a division where he will have to face Myles Garrett, TJ Watt, and friends. Neither of those All-Pros were on the field on Sunday, and the Bengals still surrendered seven sacks to seven different players, with Joe Mixon being held to 59 yards on 24 carries. The Ravens tallied 15 QB hits on Burrow, who only had 19 completions on the day, and also forced 3 turnovers, with Burrow’s LSU teammate Patrick Queen recovering 2 fumbles and returning one for a touchdown. Even for a prospect with as much talent as Burrow, this pinata-tier level of punishment will severely stunt development. Burrow vowed to get the ball out faster in the future, but he needs some help if he is to achieve his potential.
Honourable mentions: Anyone who has a job that involves keeping track of the NFL schedule, Michael Badgley’s “Money Badger” trademark, the heart-rate of anyone watching Aaron Donald riding on Alex Smith’s back, me (for having Josh Allen, Derrick Henry, Stephen Gostkowski, Julian Edelman and the Broncos D/ST on my fantasy team and being too scared to risk the Bills/Titans players).