Pittsburgh @ Kansas City – Chiefs roll on
NY Giants @ Denver– hoo boy, this is gonna be ugly
LA Chargers @ Oakland – Chargers win two straight
The NFL’s highest-rated passer on the league’s only undefeated team? Yeah, Alex Smith would undoubtedly win the NFL MVP if the season ended today. It takes an act of Congress, if not the Almighty himself, to have the AP vote for a non-QB to win the MVP. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Carson Wentz are other QBs in the hunt for the award. Maybe the best non-QB in the league is Smith’s rookie teammate Kareem Hunt; Hunt has a league-leading 609 rushing yards on 6.3 yards per carry. He’s second in the league with 6 rushing plus receiving TDs, and he also leads the league in total yards from scrimmage. Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette are also playing at an All-Pro level at RB.
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City
Chicago @ Baltimore – Ravens take the home game
Cleveland @ Houston – Houston, narrowly
Cincinnati – Bye
We’ve already discussed the top QBs and RBs in the game so far this season; wide receiver is always harder to evaluate. Some seasons, a safety valve RB or TE finishes high on the receptions list, but is 95 catches for 850 yards more valuable than 80 catches for 1100? Is 1400 yards with 6 TDs better than 1200 yards and 10 TDs? Is yards per reception as meaningful as yards per carry for running back? It seems not; in a typical season, most of the YPR leaders aren’t making the All-Pro teams. (For example: the four All-Pro WR in 2016 were Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham; only Jones was in the top ten in YPR) All that said, it looks like Antonio Brown is the man at WR, leading the league in receptions and yards. (OTOH, he only has one TD on the season). After a banged-up 2016, AJ Green is back in form and back among the elite. DeAndre Hopkins is also putting up big numbers.
Cleveland @ Houston
LA Rams @ Jacksonville – Rams fall to second straight tough D
Indianapolis @ Tennessee – This weeks upset special
Granted, DeShaun Watson has barely started his career, but he is one of only seven QBs with a passer rating (100.7) of 100+. The others: Alex Smith, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, andDerek Carr.
New England @ NY Jets – All good things, Jets…all good things
Miami @ Atlanta – No problem for Falcons
Buffalo – Bye
Time to give Tom Brady the credit he deserves. I say it that way because I don’t think he deserves to be known as the best QB ever. Super Bowls are a function of team success, and if we’re going to hand out individual accolades for team success, then why would Brady’s 5-2 SB record beat Joe Montana’s 4-0? Montana’s four appearances came in an era where there was no salary cap and the competition in his conference was extremely strong. Bill Parcells’ Giants, Joe Gibbs’ Redskins, Mike Ditka’s Bears…it was a fantastic accomplishment just to get out of conference in those years. And if Tom Brady is the best, what does that make Eli Manning? Eli is 2-0 against Brady in SB play.
But here’s what Brady does deserve credit for: competitive poise. One of the reasons the Patriots have been so hard to beat for so long is that Tom Brady really, truly, absolutely keeps playing until the end. A lot of players in sports talk about not quitting, about playing hard for 60 minutes, but Brady really does. One game that stands out in my memory is the AFC Championship a couple of years ago, Patriots at Broncos. The Broncos won the SB that year with a punishing defense, and they made Brady look bad in that game. (27-56 310 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT, 4 times sacked) However, in the end, Brady drove the Patriots down the field needing a touchdown and 2-point conversion to tie the game. He managed the TD, but not the conversion. The Pats lost by two points. On the road, on a day when things aren’t going your way against a fierce defense, Brady gave his team a chance. He may not be the best QB of all time, but damn if that bastard doesn’t give his team a chance in every game he plays. There’s not an ounce of quit in the guy.
Tampa Bay @ Arizona – Arizona continues slide despite addition of has-been
LA Rams @ Jacksonville
San Francisco @ Washington – The Skins are at home and they’re good
Seattle – Bye
This is the most difficult division to write about, so I won’t.
Detroit @ New Orleans – New Orleans seems to be gaining strength week-to-week
Chicago @ Baltimore
Green Bay @ Minnesota – Pack rolls on
The best teams in the NFL, by winning percentage:
Kansas City 5-0 (1.000)
Philadelphia 5-1 (.833)
Green Bay 4-1 (.800)
Atlanta 3-1 (.750)
Denver 3-1 (.750)
When the dust settles on the 2017 season, Green Bay might end up with a record as good as, or better than, anyone on this list. Kansas City and Denver have to square off twice. Philadelphia has Dallas and Washington in their division. And Atlanta has yet to play the kind of football they showed a year ago – Matt Ryan in particular is off to a bad start. Green Bay’s toughest division opponent is the plucky but second-tier Detroit Lions. If half their team wasn’t getting hurt every week, I’d be tempted to pencil Green Bay in at one of the top two NFC playoff seeds right now.
Philadelphia 28 @ Carolina 23 (F – 10/12)
Detroit @ New Orleans
Miami @ Atlanta
Tampa Bay @ Arizona
Just when Carolina puts up solid back-to-back wins and starts to look more like their 2015 selves, they drop a home game. Granted, the Eagles are a very good squad – they may even reach the Super Bowl. Carson Wentz is ahead of schedule in his development. But why is Cam Newton the only man in Carolina’s backfield averaging over three yards per carry? Why was Christian McCaffery so highly regarded when it seems all he can do is catch little four-and-five yard dumpoffs? How can their defense be so dependent on Luke Kuechly? This really is Judge Napolitano, isn’t it?
Cam Newton’s career so far feels a bit like John Elway‘s up to this point. Which is good news for Newton if he gets a Terrell Davis sometime in the future.
Philadelphia 28 @ Carolina 23 (F – 10/12)
NY Giants @ Denver
San Francisco @ Washington
Dallas – Bye
The Cowboys have already lost as many games this season as they did all last season. Between their secondary issues and the Zeke Elliott news, this is quite a good bye. I can’t imagine a better time for one. At least one man disagrees.
Week 5 – 7-6
Total – 22-21