The 5 Most Intriguing Stories in the NFL – Week 5

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5 NFL Storylines to Follow This Week

NFL
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

With a quarter of the season in the books, favorites and underdogs have been established all around the NFL. As always there are a few surprise teams and players, and a few teams who are just flat out disappointing.

In today’s NFL, every game is vitally important, arguably more than at any point in the history of the league. One win or loss means a whole lot, as many of the previous Super Bowl winners were teams that just eeked into the playoffs with the wild card spot.

For those teams struggling to keep pace, one more loss could spell the end of playoff hopes. Hardly anyone makes the playoffs after starting 1-4, and certainly not at 0-5. But for those who can scrape to 2-3, a glimmer of hope will still remain.

This week’s key matchups feature many teams and players who should be playing in January. At this point reputation and preseason expectations are out the window. It’s now about who’s getting it done on Sundays.

There just becomes a point in the season where teams are pretenders or contenders and by the end of this week, we’ll have a good idea of who those teams are.

There will be a showdown with two of the game’s best quarterbacks in Foxboro, as well as a legend’s record that could be broken down in New Orleans.

Clear divisional favorites will be established by the end of this week.

So let’s take a look at the most intriguing storylines in week 5…

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#5 - Will the New York Jets Finally Implode?

Jets
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

It's been a long time coming, but I think this is finally the week the New York Jets implode. With their star cornerback and wide receiver done for the season, things aren't looking good heading into a matchup with the Houston Texans.

After getting smoked by 40 points last week, this game couldn't have come at a worse time for New York. Talk about a classic case of two teams headed in different directions.

I, like most, think this will be the game that makes the Jets switch quarterbacks. If they come out flat, there's no reason to not give Tim Tebow a chance.

Taking over teams that are dead in the water is what Tebow does. If this one gets ugly, why not give him his chance?

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#4 - Can Michael Vick Step up to Beat the Steelers?

Vick
Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

The Philadelphia Eagles are arguably the least impressive 3-1 team this season. But regardless of how they've looked on the field, their record is what it is. It certainly hasn't been flashy but Michael Vick has played well enough (despite turnover problems) to get his team into first place in the NFC East.

Vick will again be the key to success for the Eagles come Sunday as they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

All eyes will be on the star quarterback as he tries to establish the Eagles as a legitimate contender this season. When it comes to proving yourself in today's NFL, going into Pittsburgh and beating the Steelers is certainly a good benchmark.

Vick has to play a clean game first and foremost, and it won't hurt if he makes a few more plays with his legs either. Of course at the same time, he must play under control, but Vick needs to find the next gear that has eluded him so far this season.

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#3 - Drew Brees Goes for Johnny Unitas' Record

Brees
Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

While the game itself is basically the season for the New Orleans Saints, all the media attention will focus on Drew Brees and his attempt to break Johnny Unitas' 52 year-old consecutive touchdowns record.

Brees currently sits tied with Unitas at 47 games in a row with at least 1 touchdown pass, which is the equivalent to about three full seasons.

I would be completely shocked if the record is not broken in this game, as the Saints' offense has looked good all season long. It's their defense that has them sitting at 0-4.

If somehow the Saints can get a decisive win, along with Brees breaking the record, maybe this will be the game that gets them on a roll and right back into the mix.

Regardless of the outcome, Drew Brees will be in the record books for one reason or another, and as a football fan, you should want to witness history on Sunday.

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#2 - Who is the NFL's Best Team?

NFL
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

For most the question of league's best comes down to two teams, the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans.

So far both teams are flying high at 4-0, but can we definitively say who's better? I'm leaning towards the Texans as of right now, but a legitimate case can be made for Atlanta.

If you look at both sides of the ball, up and down, the Texans are more elite on defense. They are tops in the league, only allowing an average of 273.0 yards per game.

On offense, you can make a case for both teams. The Texans probably have the edge in the running game, but the Falcons are as good as it gets in the passing game.

I think that the Falcons face a tougher road test this week heading to the nation's capitol, than the Texans who travel to New Jersey to face the failing Jets.

So if both teams come out and dominate, I will give a slight edge to the Falcons, just based on the competition they've played. I don't think the Jets are going anywhere near the playoffs, so I'll need to see another quality road victory from the Texans before I'll call them the best (if both teams win).

Be on the lookout to see who stands out this weekend.

But if one of these teams lose, we'll have a clear No. 1 in the league.

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#1 - Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady: Who's Better?

Brady
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Well here we are again, another Manning vs. Brady showdown. Things are a little different this time around as Manning now sports a Denver Broncos jersey, but it's still the same old matchup.

The debate has gone on for years now, who's better? Who ya got? Who do you want to start your team?

At this point, I really don't think there's much of an argument as far as who's better. Tom Brady is better when we you look at the totality of what he's done in his career. His been to more Super Bowls, he has more rings, and he's arguably better in the clutch.

Manning has the statistical edge, but he's also played two more seasons than Brady.

Both are Hall of Famers, both will go down as legends, but right now Brady is ahead of Manning.

Now it's not saying that Manning can't eventually eclipse Brady, because if he was able to lead a new team to a Super Bowl victory, a solid case could be made that Manning is indeed better.

As it stands now with Brady wearing three rings, and Manning only one, there isn't much of a debate, and that's coming from someone who considers themselves a Peyton fan.

The actual game itself has fairly major implications for each team, as they both sit at 2-2. If I had to pick who needs a win more, I would go with the Broncos because the New England Patriots seem to be in a more winnable division.

So who will come out on top in this one? I'm going to take Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Broncos don't seem to be quite there yet, but there's still a long ways to go in 2012.

Either way, fans should expect another classic showdown between two legends.


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