Sunday’s NFL action was headlined by a whopping 10 early-afternoon games. Across the pond in London, the Oakland Raiders pulled off a gutsy upset win over the Chicago Bears.
Stateside, the New England Patriots remained undefeated in a game that saw Tom Brady inch closer to a record. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers went into Big D and controlled the Cowboys.
The day’s action concluded with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs laying a complete egg against an Indianapolis Colts squad that came to play.
These are among your top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 5 NFL action.
These aren’t your parent’s Packers
Last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles notwithstanding, it sure looks like this year’s version of the Packers is much different than anything we’ve seen over the past quarter century. It starts with a newfound rushing attack and a ball-hawking defense.
That was all on full display Sunday against the Cowboys in Big D. Green Bay forced three Dak Prescott interceptions. Running back Aaron Jones tallied 182 total yards on 26 touches to tie the franchise record with four rushing touches. It was a great performance from the get in a 34-23 win. Now at 4-1 on the season, these Packers have proven themselves to be real threats in the NFC. A double-digit win against another first-place squad on the road magnified this further.
Deshaun Watson, Texans clicking on all cylinders
The Houston Texans entered Week 5 in a four-way tie in the AFC South with a 2-2 record. So far this season, not a single team in the division has stood out in a good way. That changed big time as Deshaun Watson and the Texans absolutely took it to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Watson put up one of the best performances of the season, completing 28-of-33 passes for 426 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. That included connecting with Will Fuller to the tune of 14 receptions for 217 yards and three scores. Atlanta might not be a great barometer (more on them later), but Houston proved Sunday that its talented offense can do a whole lot of damage in a 53-32 win.
Colts solve Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for one night
This is not going to be a continuing theme for the remainder of the season. We know just how good Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense is. But for at least one night, an NFL defense was able to solve this high-flying attack. It came in the form of a Colts team that just lost at home to the Oakland Raiders.
Indy’s game plan was rather simple. Play the pass and pressure Mahomes. Due to limited mobility in the second half (likely ankle injury), Mahomes was in no way himself. He ended the evening completing 22-of-39 passes for 321 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions. However, Mahomes completed less than 40% of his passes in the second half. He was under pressure the entire game. Kansas City’s rushing attack went for 36 yards on 14 attempts. And in the end, the Chiefs proved vulnerable in a 19-13 home loss to Indianapolis on Sunday night.
Raiders make a statement in London
Coined as the Khalil Mack revenge game, Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders headed across the pond to christen Tottenham Stadium against the Chicago Bears. Even without an injured Mitchell Trubisky on the field, most expected the defending NFC North champs to have an easy go of it against the Raiders.
In no way did that come to fruition. Oakland opened up a 17-0 halftime lead before it looked like the long-downtrodden team was about to kick itself in the back end once again. Chicago ran off 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a four-point lead. What followed was a shocking sequence in the final stanza that saw Derek Carr lead the Raiders on a 13-play, 97-yard game-winning drive. By virtue of this 24-21 win, Oakland heads back to the states with a 3-2 record. Incredible.
Bills ride defense to 4-1 start
It’s been a continuing theme for the Bills this season. Overcome lackluster play on offense with what has been an elite defense. We saw this firsthand in Nashville against the Titans on Sunday. Josh Allen did not have his best game. Buffalo’s offensive line yielded four sacks of the young quarterback. The Bills converted on just 4-of-13 third-down attempts.
In the end, none of that mattered. Sean McDermott’s defense rattled Marcus Mariota to the tune of five sacks. Tennessee picked up 14 first downs and 252 total yards of offense. The Bills might have been aided by Cairo Santos missing all four of his field goal attempts. Even then, this defense proved to be championship-worthy in a 14-7 win. A 4-1 mark through five weeks with a limited offense magnifies this big time.
Adam Gase already appears to be on the hot seat
The objective observer pretty much had to see this coming. How in the world did the Jets think head coach Adam Gase would work after a disastrous tenure in that role with the Miami Dolphins? Through the first four games of the season, those skeptics have plenty of evidence on their side.
After seeing Sam Darnold get all the first-team reps in practice in an attempt to return from mono, the Jets were forced to go with Luke Falk against Philadelphia on Sunday. The results were disastrous. Falk was sacked 10 times. The Jets put up 128 total yards of offense in a 31-6 loss. They have now been outscored 90-36 through four games. And it already has Gase feeling the pressure in New York City. Ouch!
Chargers are a shell of their former selves
Fresh off a blowout win over the hapless Miami Dolphins, it seemed that Philip Rivers and the Chargers were on the verge of going on a run much like we saw last season. They were happy to host the winless Denver Broncos on Sunday. Everything seemed to be aligning for this squad.
That’s until Philip Rivers decided to put up the worst performance we’ve seen from the veteran quarterback since all the way back in December of 2017. Rivers threw two interceptions, including one in the end zone, in what was ultimately a 20-13 loss. Los Angeles also lost a fumble inside Denver’s one-yard line late in the second quarter. It all resulted in yet another bad loss for the Chargers and a 2-3 record on the season.
These Saints are something else
The only thing that has been missing for the Saints since Drew Brees went down to injury in Week 2 has been above-average quarterback play. The team continues to dominate on the ground offensively and in every possible way on the other side of the ball. This theme changed big time against the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Teddy Bridgewater put up a career-best performance, completing 26-of-34 passes for 314 yards with four touchdowns. He connected on 11-of-13 attempts to Michael Thomas, including two touchdowns. This was seemingly a vintage Brees-like performance from Bridgewater in a 31-24 win. It now has New Orleans at 4-1 on the season and 3-0 since Brees went down. Can you say Super Bowl contention in the Bayou?
Patriots get right after initial struggles
For the first time all season the Pats found themselves down at any point during a game Sunday against the hapless Washington Redskins. That came after the league’s best defense yielded a shocking 65-yard touchdown run. From there, it was pretty easy picking for the Pats in front of what seemed to be a home crowd in the nation’s capital.
New England outscored Washington 21-0 in the second half. Tom Brady completed 28-of-42 passes for 348 yards with three touchdowns en route to surpassing Brett Favre for third all-time on the NFL’s passing list. In the end, these Pats enforced their will in a 33-7 win. The defending champs have now outscored their first five opponents by the score of 155-34. Is that good?
All Kyle Allen does is win
It was not a great performance by any stretch of the imagination. Second-year quarterback Kyle Allen relied on a dominating outing from Christian McCaffrey in disposing of a game Jacksonville Jaguars squad, 34-27, on Sunday. For his part, Allen completed a mere 17-of-30 passes for 181 yards with one touchdown and zero picks.
That’s fine. It wasn’t an eye-opening outing from the former undrafted free agent. However, he’s saved Carolina’s season after taking over for an injured Cam Newton back in Week 3. The Panthers are 3-0 in his three starts and Allen has yet to throw an interception. Compare that to Newton posting an 0-8 record in his past eight starts, and it sure looks like something big is going down in Carolina right now.
Kyler Murray, Cardinals show guts in first win
The Arizona Cardinals found themselves up 23-9 midway through the fourth quarter against the winless Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. It sure looked like Kliff Kingsbury and Co. were set for their first win of the season. That’s when everything seemingly went awry, especially after Andy Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd on a 43-yard game-tying touchdown.
Tied at 23 in the final minutes, Murray led the Cards on a six-play, 62-yard drive that culminated in a game-winning field goal as time expired. The rookie No. 1 pick showed poise with pressure squarely on him on the road. He aced it with flying colors, completing 20-of-32 passes for 253 yards while adding 93 yards and a score on the ground. This kid continues to impress on an offense that lacks a lot of proven NFL-caliber talent.
Get-right game for Kirk Cousins
Let’s not confuse the New York Giants for a winning team. That’s been Cousins’ Achilles heel dating back to his days with the Washington Redskins. Even then, any strep in the right direction has to be seen as a good sign for the struggling quarterback and his suddenly drama-filled Vikings squad.
Cousins tossed the rock around the Meadowlands to the tune of north of 200 yards in the first half. When all was said and done, the high-priced quarterback completed 22-of-27 passes for 306 yards with two scores and zero picks. It was by far his best performance as a member of the Vikings. It also came with Minnesota coming out on top, 28-10, to move to over .500 on the season.
Ravens overcome mistake-filled game from Lamar Jackson
The Baltimore Ravens are going to need more from their second-year quarterback if they want to be considered legitimate playoff contenders in the AFC. Jackson threw three interceptions, was sacked five times and fumbled the ball Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those three picks represented one more than Jackson put up in his previous nine regular-season starts combined.
Fortunately for the Ravens, it was not enough for the team to give this game away against an injury-plagued Steelers squad. Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph exited with an injury and was replaced by Devlin Hodges under center. JuJu Smith-Schuster lost a fumble in overtime. The end result was a 26-23 Ravens win. Even then, Jackson needs to play better moving forward on the season.
Let’s talk about Dan Quinn
Dating back to his days with the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has been considered a genius on the defensive side of the ball. Starting last season and through the first five games of the 2019 campaign, it appears that this can be thrown out the window.
Atlanta now finds itself at 1-4 after a humiliating 53-32 blowout loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday. Led by Quinn, the Falcons’ defense gave up 31 first downs and nearly 600 total yards of offense. It was a downright travesty in every possible way. If Quinn can’t provide anything in terms of a strategy on defense, why is he still the Falcons’ head coach? It’s something owner Arthur Blank has to be asking himself right now.
Cowboys can’t get out of their own way
Quarterback Dak Prescott struggled big time for the third consecutive game after starting the season out strong. Jason Garrett was visibly frustrated on the sideline. Kellen Moore couldn’t get anything going from a play-calling perspective until Dallas was down three scores. The end result was a 34-24 home loss to the Packers.
The Cowboys must be hoping that the past three games are an exception to the rule moving forward. Prescott was picked off three times and found himself under pressure throughout the game. Ezekiel Elliott toted the ball just 12 times for 62 yards. In the end, it resulted in an ugly loss and a 3-2 record. Dallas is now tied with Philadelphia for first place in the NFC East after it looked like the team was going to run away with the division. That hurts.