So every week I get on a plane and somebody asks me: "What do you think?" And I'm
stupid enough to answer. For the time being, it's obvious that nobody should fall into the
trap of overanalyzing on any NFL weekend. It's probably going to take another five weeks to
Super Bowl picks as of now: Eagles vs. Raiders. The good news for Oakland fans
is that both Philly losses have come on the road to AFC teams (Titans and Jaguars). This
season's Super Bowl is in San Diego, an AFC city. Now that's overanalysis. Here's what I saw in Week 5:
Most Impressive in Victory
|Brett Favre won three straight MVP awards from 1995-97, and he's still at the top of his game -- and at the top of the Week 5 quarterback list.|
1. Dolphins 26, Patriots 13 -- The Dolphins' defense was as dominating as it has
ever been, and it didn't have to play much because the offense had the ball for 40 of 60
2. Raiders 49, Bills 31 -- Here we go again: The old (Rich Gannon) and the young
(Phillip Buchanon) make this a very explosive team right now.
3. Broncos 26, Chargers 9 -- As coach Mike Shanahan keeps saying, this Broncos'
defense is the best he's had, and QB Brian Griese was sharp.
4. Jaguars 28, Eagles 25 -- Stats don't bear it out, but the Jags took on the NFC's best
and now look like a contender.
5a. 49ers 37, Rams 13 -- In the NFL, there's something to be said for kicking an
opponent when it's down, especially when it's your rival.
5b. Ravens 26, Browns 21 -- On the road after a big Monday night upset, and the
Ravens suddenly look like the Yankees, not the Marlins.
Best Performance: Quarterbacks
1. Brett Favre, Packers -- On nights like Monday, do you ever stop going "wow" when No. 4 cranks it up?
2. Rich Gannon, Raiders -- On Drew Bledsoe's turf, he was a picture of
near-perfection. Never beats himself, but doesn't play scared.
3. Donovan McNabb, Eagles -- True, he didn't win, but he threw for 230 and ran
for 100, and left it all (literally) on the field.
4. Brian Griese, Broncos -- Hit a big pass early to Ed McCaffrey, then carved up
the Chargers with a precision 26-of-35 day for 316 yards.
5a. Jay Fiedler, Dolphins -- Under 200 yards (190), but was absolutely masterful
in managing the game and making big plays against Patriots.
5b. Patrick Ramsey, Redskins -- I saw a pitcher with a 95-mph fastball who can
throw strikes for that ol' ball coach we all love.
5c. Chad Pennington, Jets -- He played with passion and made the clutch throws, even in defeat.
5d. Peyton Manning, Colts -- He's gotten so good that you just take him for
Best Performance: Running Backs
1. Priest Holmes, Chiefs -- Aside from 23-for-152, he took a dump pass as Trent
Green's fifth option and turned it into a game-winning 19-yard touchdown against the
2. Corey Dillon, Bengals -- Went for 164 on 23 carries and two TDs behind the
ferocious blocking of unsung FB Lorenzo Neal.
3. Jamal Lewis, Ravens -- On a night when the Browns knew they had
to stop Lewis (26 for 187 yards), they couldn't.
4. Charlie Garner, Raiders -- Touched the ball 12 times catching and receiving
and came up with 177 yards (almost 15 per touch) and two TDs.
5a. Deuce McAllister, Saints -- Steelers S Lee Flowers knows that "nothing but
air" is only good in the NBA; McAllister's 52-yard scoring run punctuated a 23-for-123,
5b. Garrison Hearst, 49ers -- Just goes to show that you run with your heart as
much as your legs.
Best Performance: Wide Receivers
1. Dennis Northcutt, Browns -- Ex-GM Dwight Clark looks like he knew
something about WRs, after all, as Northcutt enjoyed another big game (8-for-165, two
2. Jerry Porter, Raiders -- Jerry Rice and Tim Brown are still having their day in the
sun, but Porter (7-for-117, one TD) might be shining even more brightly with terrific
3. Marvin Harrison, Colts -- Like Manning, we have a tendency to take him for
granted after another day at the office (9-for-145, one TD).
4. Keyshawn Johnson, Bucs -- Annual TD drive is complete, or so his skeptics
say. He'll get more.
5a & 5b. Eric Moulds and Peerless Price, Bills -- Raiders still haven't covered
them, as league's top duo go for 238 yards on 15 catches.
5c. Terry Glenn, Packers -- An 8-for-154-yard night, including a gut-check
26-yard catch to set up a TD, gave headaches to the Bears' defense.
Best Performance: Defensive Vet
1. Jason Taylor, Dolphins DE -- In the day's most important game, Taylor
harassed Patriots QB Tom Brady with two sacks and plenty of pressures.
2. Darrin Smith, Saints LB -- A vet who never goes away, he finished with eight
tackles and three sacks vs. Steelers.
3. Patrick Surtain, Dolphins CB -- All I know is that he was back in the lineup,
and everybody in the secondary was better, including fellow CB Sam Madison.
4. Tony Parrish, 49ers S -- Ex-Bear had eight tackles and an interception and is
making them forget about free-agent loss of Lance Schulters.
5a. Deltha O'Neal, Broncos CB -- Used to be overrated, but he added two more
interceptions vs. Chargers, including one for a TD.
5b. Walt Harris, Colts' CB -- Two interceptions, including a timely one at the
goal line to kill a Bengals' drive in a one-TD game.
5c. Warren Sapp & Co. -- All the Bucs (Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, John
Lynch, Anthony McFarland, et al) made it a day of misery for Falcons QB Michael Vick
(injured), backup QB Doug Johnson (three interceptions) and ex-Buc Warrick Dunn (nine
rushes, 14 yards).
5d. Ray Lewis, Ravens LB -- When he was on the field, the Browns couldn't
move the ball or score. When he was off it with a shoulder injury, Ravens barely held on.
Best Performance: Defensive Rookie
1. John Henderson, Jaguars DT -- In his starting debut, the 6-foot-8 Henderson
visually clogged McNabb's passing lanes and came up with three sacks in huge Jags'
2. Phillip Buchanon, Raiders CB -- He picked off the league's hottest QB (Bledsoe)
for an 82-yard interception return for a TD when the game was on the line.
3. Charles Grant, Saints DE -- The team's second first-round pick gets eight
tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
4. Wendell Bryant, Cardinals DL -- He signed late, but he showed up vs.
Carolina with 1½ sacks.
5. Julius Peppers, Panthers DE -- He met his match in Cards OT Leonard Davis,
but still made his presence felt and has a knack for doing it when it counts.
1. Packers QB Brett Favre, rolling right and hitting Donald Driver across field with a 65-yard strike that ended as an 85-yard TD. John Elway was smiling somewhere.
2. Chiefs RB Priest Holmes, taking a check-off pass from Trent Green and rambled 19 yards with a Superman-like leap at the goal line with 27 seconds left to give KC a 29-25 win over the
3. Raiders rookie CB Phillip Buchanon baited veteran Drew Bledsoe into a
pick and an 82-yard interception return in fourth quarter.
4. Bobby Shaw of the Jaguars broke the Eagles' back with an 81-yard punt return
in day's biggest upset.
5a. Cardinals QB Jake Plummer was stripped by Panthers DE Julius Peppers at
his own 11 with a little over a minute left, only to get a nice bounce off the grass -- then he
heaved it to his own 37 for a completion to MarTay Jenkins. A few plays later, Bill
Gramatica kicks a winning FG.
5b. Redskins WR Kevin Lockett dropped a lateral-pass from Patrick
Ramsey, picked it up and just chucked it across field to a wide open Steve Davis to pretty
much seal the Redskins' win at Tennessee.
5c. Packers DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila snatched a loose ball in the air
(officially, an interception) off Joe Johnson's hit on Bears QB Jim Miller and then ran
72 yards for a TD.
5d. Bucs All-Pro LB Derrick Brooks took a lateral from Warren Sapp for a
15-yard score, his third TD of the season, which leads all Bucs.
1. Arizona Cardinals -- For playing the way Dave McGinnis coaches ... all heart.
2. Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver -- For never wavering when everybody wanted
to run coach Tom Coughlin out of town.
3. Redskins coach Steve Spurrier -- For just being honest.
4. Ravens coach Brian Billick -- For convincing his team to forget about a big
MNF win over Denver, setting the stage for a SNF win over rival Cleveland.
5. Dolphins RB Robert Edwards -- For his four carries and 13 yards against his
old team, the Patriots, which sort of makes his comeback an official miracle.
1. Cleveland Browns fans -- For cheering when your quarterback (Tim Couch)
was laying on the ground with an injury.
2. Titans owner Bud Adams -- For telling a newspaper reporter what he should
have told Jeff Fisher first in private: "It looks like we're getting out-coached."
3. Cowboys coach Dave Campo -- For ordering his team to punt with only 2:03
left with the ball at midfield while trailing 21-17 to the Giants. Predictably, the Cowboys
never got the ball back.
4. The Rams -- For looking like they finally quit.
5a. Jets' defense -- For failing to seize the moment after quarterback Chad Pennington delivered a potential victory that would have made the bye week a big sigh of relief. To top it off, S Damien Robinson began the finger pointing at defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.
5b. Steelers coach Bill Cowher -- For making us think it was Kordell's fault.
Best Games: Week 6
1. Miami at Denver -- In an ESPN Sunday-night matchup, one of these teams
could be playing in late January. Maybe both.
2. New Orleans at Washington -- It's Patrick Ramsey, Part II, and Jim Haslett
getting a shot at Steve Spurrier.
3. Green Bay at New England -- Patriots should avoid three-game losing streak
against battered Packers, but still enough intrigue with Terry Glenn going back to
Foxboro and Brett Favre slinging it.
4. Kansas City at San Diego -- Moment-of-truth game in surprisingly dominant
5. Baltimore at Indianapolis -- It means something. Who would have thunk it?