We’ve officially passed the quarter pole of the 2018 NFL season and week 5 is upon us. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the storylines of the season so far:
- DOMINANCE DOMINOED: The Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings came into the season looking like two of the darlings of the NFL, but that is hardly the case. They have struggled in some spots and lost games they should have won. These are not the NFC Championship caliber teams that we got to see at the beginning of this calendar year – at least, not yet. We’ll see what happens, and yeah, it can take time for a team to gel and get to the point they’re a finely-tuned machine. It’s not just these two teams though – the Atlanta Falcons are looking like garbage, and it’s not all Sark’s fault this time. Atlanta’s chances of heading to a game in February on their home turf lessen by the week. New England made a trade for a receiver that may be on his way out of the league, and get a receiver back from suspension this week, but is it enough? They certainly beat the pants off of Miami, but the Pats look far from the scary, consistently dominant team they have been in the past. And lastly, the Pittsburgh Steelers are just looking sad. They seem to have let the Le’Veon Bell thing get away from them, and they did absolutely nothing to bolster their defense in the offseason, and it’s starting to show big-time. Will the Steelers tank, or keep playing the middling football they have so far? We’ll see.
SURPRISE QUARTERBACKS: Patrick Mahomes has come out of nowhere to be the new darling of the NFL. Good for him, and it appears not immediately starting was beneficial to his ability to play. Sam Darnold looks pretty good so far, and Josh Allen as well looks fine as they take over their new teams and head into week five in very different matchups. Jared Goff is showing that last season was not a fluke, and keeps the Rams in games as he should. Finally, yes, Blake Bortles is showing he was worth the investment by the Jaguars this past offseason and has continued, largely, his good play and not making many mistakes, and also making plays with his legs. If he stays smart and doesn’t make any major goofs, the Jaguars are suddenly not just a run-first team.
INJURIES ABOUND: I’m not sure if players are wearing their bodies out sooner or what, but man, there just seems to be a glut of crappy injuries in the beginning of the year, including some ACLs that just make you hurt for guys. I don’t know what the solution is here, because it seems like in some of these cases you just can’t help it, but I am thankful for these guys that the ACL is not as horrible of an injury as it used to be, and that recovery for most things is possible.
MATCHUP OF THE YEAR?: The Jaguars-Chiefs game this Sunday is going to be one of the best games you will see this year. Watch it, DVR it, whatever you need to do – enjoy it. The prolific and super fast Chiefs offense is going to go up against a stout and mean Jaguars defense, and it’s going to be fun to watch. The Broncos were able to limit Mahomes, Hill, and the gang for about three quarters this past week. The Jaguars’ defense is at least a couple of levels better than Denver’s. The Jaguars offense is still searching for an identity but is doing a great job of exploiting opponents’ weaknesses, and the Chiefs’ defense is one giant weakness. Provided the Jaguars do their job, they will win, but it won’t be easy by any stretch. I look forward to this game and you should too. It will feature two of the best teams in the AFC and may be a playoff preview.
TRADE FOR LE’VEON?: With the injury to Leonard Fournette, and him now being out indefinitely, should the Jaguars trade with the Steelers for Le’Veon Bell? The short answer is yes. If you can give them a third-round pick or less, absolutely. A running back that can give the juice that Bell does is worth it, when you’re thinking Super Bowl. The Jags brought in Orleans Darkwa for a workout as well and he is about their best free agent target they could get. But put me on the list of everyone else who thinks the Jags should take a shot and get a one-year rental for Bell.
AIO TOP FIVE
PICKS AND PREVIEWS
Colts @ Patriots – Neither the Colts nor the Patriots are what we thought they would be at the beginning of the year. However, anytime these teams get together, it’s compelling football. The injuries on the Colts’ defense will make things interesting for the Pats, but let’s see how well they integrate the returning Edelman and Josh Gordon into the lineup this week. Andrew Luck will keep Indianapolis in the game no matter what. Despite the dominance of New England over Miami this past Sunday, I expect to see a Colts win.
Broncos @ Jets – The Broncos have the defense to keep Sam Darnold a little rattled and the offense to match what New York does. The Jets have a few questions still, and are finding ways to lose games. The Broncos hung in with one of the AFC’s best teams last week. I see this as a Broncos win.
Packers @ Lions – I think I’m done thinking the Lions are a thing. The Packers beat a Bills team last week 22-0 that they should have beat 50-0 at least. There are seeds of discord being sown in Green Bay, and while it makes for good entertainment, it does not make for a good football team. I think that Detroit will have one of those games that surprises us like they did against New England. Lions win.
Giants @ Panthers – Uhhhh… the Panthers have Cam and Christian, and the Giants have Saquon and Odell. This game should be really fun, back and forth, and high scoring. What this game will be instead of low-scoring or something similarly crazy. Panthers win.
Titans @ Bills – The Titans play down to their opponents, such as they are. They do the bare minimum to get by when they win (yes, I know, only one loss). Each of their wins has come by three points. The Bills have played up and down football, and they aren’t sure who they are. The one game they can be noted for is their beatdown of Minnesota but the Vikings still don’t have it all together. However, I think that Buffalo figures something out this week, and they keep the game in hand. Bills win.
Falcons @ Steelers – Oh, man. Neither one of these teams, heavily expected to do well in the preseason, are good. Both of their defenses stink. Fortunately, they have lots of personnel on offense to make up for it here. In a shootout, I see Antonio Brown able to capitalize better than Julio Jones. Don’t know why, I just do. Steelers win.
Ravens @ Browns – The Ravens are starting to look legit. The Browns aren’t great, but don’t outright suck like they have in past year. This may be a fun game to watch. AFC North teams always seem to give each other a tough time so here’s my upset pick of the week: Browns win.
Dolphins @ Bengals – The clash of Guys Who Wear Orange will be a good one. Cincy’s getting Vontaze “Model of a Dirty Player, Oh Yeah And Do the Bengals Really Need Me” Burfict back this week but I don’t think it will have an impact. I look for Miami to bounce back from last week’s embarassing turn in New England and to give us a Dolphins win.
Jaguars @ Chiefs – I went over this game up top and not much has changed except I predict a Jaguars win.
Raiders @ Chargers – Seriously, the Chargers play in a (relatively) tiny soccer stadium while they’re waiting on the place they’ll be subletting from the Rams to be built. That stadium had tarps over seats. Can they not sell out their own teensy weensy stadium? Who knows. The Raiders are Bad and I would not be surprised if they jettisoned Amari Cooper and David Carr after this season. Chargers win, I guess.
Vikings @ Eagles – Neither of the teams that made it to the NFC Championship game are that good right now. Go figure. This looked to be a big, fun game at the beginning of the year. Now… not so much. Maybe one of these defenses can step up. Maybe they’re saving some juice for the postseason. But if I’m Minnesota, I’m looking over my shoulder for the Bears, who are off this week but definitely making waves. Anyway, I’ll say Vikings win.
Rams @ Seahawks – Hahahahahaha… Rams win. Big-time.
Cardinals @ Niners – This game will end in a tie.
Cowboys @ Texans – Ok offenses with not many stars vs. ok defenses with a couple of stars but not playing up to expectations quite yet square off in this Sunday Night Football matchup that should’ve been flexed. Houston stole a win from Indy last week and Dallas looks… ok. That’s about all I can say. I think Deshaun is the better QB of the two choices here, but I don’t think it’s enough to get them over the hump. Cowboys win.
Redskins @ Saints – The Redskins are doing enough to stay mostly competitive in games so far this year, but the Saints are exuding early-season dominance. This will be a good Monday nighter to flip to between your normal sitcoms and medical dramas. Ultimately, I don’t think Washington can get over the hump here. Saints win.