1. Minnesota is as real a Super Bowl contender as there is in the NFC. Sam Bradford has been a perfect fit in the Twin Cities — and has even garnered early consideration for MVP. On the other side of the ball, the Viking defense is the best in the NFL.
2. For years we have seen the Atlanta Falcons get out to fast starts, but doesn’t something feel different this time? The week 5 trip to Denver, going up against a great defense, was the perfect time for a typical Atlanta misstep. Instead, the Falcons won a tight game 23-16 and had to rely on their defense.
3. Tom Brady is back. Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski look like the double tight end threat that Bill Belichick has been searching for. Pats got back on track after the shutout loss a week ago.
4. Oakland’s defense was supposed to be much better. But remember, the Raiders have played some of the best, most explosive offenses in the NFL in the first five weeks — the Saints, Falcons, and Chargers. Don’t give up quite yet on this defense. The next 8 games are favorable for the Raiders — could be very telling for their defense.
5. Romo out, Dez hurt, rookie QB, rookie RB. And here stands Dallas at 4-1, atop the division. This team is for real and shouldn’t have any problem telling Tony Romo, when he’s healthy, to have a seat behind Dak Prescott.
6. The more Pittsburgh plays, the harder it is to believe that Philadelphia took them to task, 34-3, a few weeks ago. The Steelers have so many weapons.
7. The Bronco defense is one of the best, but to beat the league’s best teams, they will need to score points. The quarterback position has a lot to prove.
8. Short week for Arizona with a backup QB stepping in to start. Drew Stanton’s 11-28 for 124 yards wasn’t great, but he knew enough to get the ball to playmakers David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals looked like that game could have gotten them back on track. No one saw them starting out 2-3.
9. Brian Hoyer has looked good for the Bears, filling in for the injured Jay Cutler. But let’s not go crazy — this is the same Brian Hoyer who couldn’t keep his starting job in Cleveland and then threw 4 picks in a 30-0 loss in last season’s playoff game against KC. It may seem better now, but it won’t last.
10. As badly as the Lions tried to give the game away against the Eagles on Sunday, they managed to win despite making no halftime adjustments. This is a game that we will describe as one that Philly lost, not that the Lions won. Have to wonder how Jim Caldwell continues to keep his job.
11. Stop me if this sounds familiar: Houston beats up on teams they’re better than, but gets routed by the league’s legit contenders.
12. Well, the Carson Wentz dream season of 16-0 is over. Road games in the NFL can never be taken for granted. Philly will have work to do on the offensive side of the ball, as word gets out on Wentz. But the defense is really good and has the Eagles with almost as many wins as I expected them to have for the season.
13. A home game against the depleted Bears and the Colts barely squeaked out the victory. Now come the reports that GM Ryan Grigson is unhappy with Andrew Luck’s gargantuan contract — which Grigson, himself, helped broker. Last season, it was head coach Chuck Pagano’s contract that was the in-season distraction, this season we have this. When did the Colts turn into such a soap opera?
14. Three straight wins by Washington may be masking some bigger, deeper problems in D.C. The offense ranks 3rd out of 4 in the division, and the total defense is 27th in the NFL.
15. Don’t be surprised if over the next couple days you are contacted by someone from the Cleveland Browns front office, asking if you have an interest in starting for the Browns at quarterback next week.
16. It’s not just Odell Beckham, Jr.’s fantasy owners who have a problem with the Giants offense — it should be all New York fans. The G-men are 18th in the league in total yards and have only thrown 5 passing TDs through 5 weeks. Very low and disappointing numbers considering all the expectations placed on this offense at the start of the year.
17. The Buffalo Bills have quickly gone from 0-2 and on the brink of a collapse to three straight wins and looking like a team that is serious. While the Bills passing attack is dreadful — last in the NFL, they are third in rushing; and the defense is sixth in scoring (17.4 ppg) and T-5 in interceptions.
18. All the money Miami has spent on their defense over the last 2 offseason sure doesn’t look like it’s paying off. The Fins are a bottom-5 defense in total yards and interceptions — they have 1 pick in 5 games. And the area that everyone expected to be most headache-inducing for opposing offenses — the defensive pass rush — has only 10 sacks, good enough for 16th in the league.
19. No one has ever accused Chip Kelly of being a defensive-minded coach — and I don’t see those accusations coming any time soon. The 49ers look to be able to put points on the board, offensively; however, they can’t stop a soul on the defense — 28.0 ppt given up.
20. Why the Bengals don’t have a stronger commitment to running the football is beyond me. Two very capable RBs make up that Cincy backfield in Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard. They are 25th in the NFL in rushing.
21. The 3-0 start in Baltimore seems like it was ages ago. The offense lacks any and all explosiveness — 26th in first down percentage and 25th in plays resulting in 20-plus yards. The defense has been good, but you have to wonder can it last with such ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball.
22. Tennessee looks to have the right balance between a quarterback who limits mistakes, a running back who is a horse, and a pass-catching tight end who is one of the best at the position. The offense isn’t blowing anybody out, but they don’t have to. The defense is top-10 in total yards and has done a nice job of keeping the offense in striking distance.
23. Green Bay may not been getting all the glamour shots and may not be the sexy pick right now, but they’re managing to hold things together despite hits to their defense, left and right. Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers and the run game is serving the offense well.
24. Who are the LA Rams? One week this club looks like they have a defense that is capable of stopping any offense in football, the next they can’t keep the Buffalo Bills from scoring 30. Offensively, we know the problems that exist, but the bright spot was supposed to be this defense. Too inconsistent for anyone to know what’s going on.
25. Carolina is not the same team they were in ’15. Cam’s not the same — thus the offense isn’t the same. And the defense, you ask? They gave up 101 yards rushing to Jacquizz Rodgers last night on MNF. Not the same team by any means.
26. I’m going to keep saying it: the Jets first 6 games are brutal. It won’t get easier in week 6 against the Cardinals, who appear to have found their groove. But the schedule gets considerably easier after that game. If the Jets can keep their heads above water, they have a lot that could go right from them in their final 10 games.
27. I think through five weeks, it’s safe to say that the Chargers are going to have to rely, heavily, on their offense this year. They’ve been involved high scoring, shootouts in 4 of 5 games this season and have allowed 33, 34, and 34 points in 3 of their 4 losses. This may be bad news for San Diego fans, but fantasy owners should look to pick up Phillip Rivers and his offensive weapons.
28. If Tampa can more consistent pay from all areas, they’d the team that some predicted would make a big jump this year. Instead, he the offense is lighting it up, the defense can’t stop anyone. And when the defense is shutting down offenses, James Winston and company fall asleep. Last night, the Bucs had it going on both sides (they weren’t totally efficient on offense, but good enough) so, of course, leave it up to special teams to let them down for most of the game.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.