KFSees What to Expect in Week 5
-The four teams that are on a bye this week; the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers; have bye weeks that couldn’t come at a better time. For the Cowboys, it’s a chance to re-discover the offensive chemistry, fluidity, and balance that led to their Week 1 win over the New York Giants. For the Lions, it’s an extra week to find the poise in overcoming deficits and the clutch factor that led to their Week 1 come-from-behind win over the St. Louis Rams and which was a huge factor in the Leos reaching the postseason last year. For the Bucs, it’s an extended preparation period to recover the mental toughness and 60-minute intensity that led to their Week 1 win over the Carolina Panthers and the absence of which in the past three weeks has led to close losses to the Giants, Cowboys, and Washington Redskins. For the Raiders, it’s a golden opportunity to review the tape of their Week 3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and study the process of what led to them beating one of the elite teams in the NFL.
-If the Minnesota Vikings want to be taken seriously, they’ll beat the 1-3 Tennessee Titans at home. The Titans are playing with a 37-year old backup quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck and it’s been a long time since their ground game scared anyone. If the Vikes win, they’ll be 4-1 and all will be rosy in the Twin Cities. If they lose, it will be much easier for me to rationalize their three wins as being against the San Francisco 49ers in a trap game, against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, and against the division rival Lions in a game in which Detroit played atrocious special teams.
-A lot of people are picking the New England Patriots to win Manning-Brady XIII, and in the past, Peyton Manning traveling to Foxborough has generally meant a win for the home team. That being said, Manning is enjoying the best pass-protection and running game he has had since 2006, when his Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl. Furthermore, his current Denver Broncos have a more experienced and battle-tested defense than the Pats, and one key ingredient to beating a Hall of Fame quarterback is experience on defense.
-I won’t even entertain having the Chicago Bears in the conversation of elite, championship-contending teams in the NFC if they don’t get the win in Jacksonville. Too often in the Lovie Smith era, the Bears have followed big-time statement wins with flat, uninspired performances. If this happens again against the Jaguars, then I’ll know nothing has changed.
-I’d hate to be the head coach who loses the game between the Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks. If the Seahawks lose, the heat will be turned up extra high to get Pete Carroll to replace rookie Russell Wilson with offseason free agent acquisition Matt Flynn as the team’s quarterback. If Carolina loses, the heat will be turned up on head coach Ron Rivera, who would then have a 7-14 record as the head honcho in Charlotte.
-The quadrennial Keystone State matchup between the Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles has big implications for the records of each team, but the biggest challenge for both sides will be to escape this bloodbath without any more serious injuries to key contributors.
-If the Redskins can follow up their gutsy, come-from-behind win in Tampa Bay last week with a win over the undefeated Atlanta Falcons this week, they’ll deserve serious consideration as one of the top two teams in the NFC East.
-If I were Cincinnati Bengals‘ head coach Marvin Lewis, I would do whatever it takes to get my team to understand the urgency and importance of their game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. If they win, they’ll be 4-1, headed for a Week 6 showdown in Cleveland, and set up almost ideally for a second-half run. But sneaky teams like the Dolphins who have a knack for hanging around too long if you let them could send the Bengals back to the middle of the pack fast enough to make their heads spin if the Who Deys don’t bring their A game. Cincy, be patient on offense and do whatever you have to do to shut down Reggie Bush and Brian Hartline.