Week 5 gave us the good, the bad, and the ugly. Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes fought for primetime divisional wins, referees and coaches had a week to forget, while fans of the Broncos, Lions, and Jags saw performances that they wish they could forget. I sat comfortably and witnessed it all, here are my thoughts.
1. How about the Dallas Cowboys?
Everyone was quick to bury the Cowboys after a Week 1 loss at home to Tampa. The NFL is too chaotic to ever truly declare a team dead after one game, but it felt like a reasonable thing to do with Dallas. The Cowboys left that Week 1 loss with multiple injuries along the offensive line, a glaring hole at WR, and with Dak Prescott having a busted thumb. It seemed inconceivable that backup QB Cooper Rush could come in with a poor O-line and pedestrian wide receivers and keep playoff hopes alive in Dallas. Fast forward to the end of Week 5 and the Dallas Cowboys are 4-1 after a 22-10 road win against the Rams. How exactly did this happen? Everyone has stepped up. Tyler Smith, a rookie, has performed admirably at LT in the absence of Tyron Smith. Michael Gallup returned from injury and has given the offense some juice on the outside, Noah Brown has made big plays at wide receiver, Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott have done enough in the run game, and the coaches have schemed some fantastic game plans. The coaching staff and the other 10 dudes on the offense have supported Cooper Rush in a way that we have not seen them do with Dak Prescott. The offense has been able to stay afloat, setting the stage for the real reason the Cowboys are 4-1. Their 60-minutes-of-hell defense. The Cowboys’ defense is fast, physical, well-coached, and has wrecked drive after drive for over a month now. Dan Quinn has this group firing on all cylinders and Micah Parsons has established himself as the second-best defensive player in the sport. Regardless of if they blitz or not, the Cowboys are generating a strong pass rush on every play and opposing QBs have been unable to establish any sort of rhythm. The defense is the unit that makes this team an actual contender upon the return of Dak. Cooper Rush, Tyler Smith, and the entire coaching staff deserves credit for making the offense functional. But make no mistake about it, the defense in Dallas has become a problem for the rest of the NFC.
2. Brian Daboll might be special
After doing an incredible job as the offensive coordinator in Buffalo, Brian Daboll has finally gotten his shot at being a head coach. Throughout the past few years, Daboll’s name had been thrown around as a potential head coach. While many believed in Daboll, there were some doubters. Did Daboll create this juggernaut of an offense in Buffalo or was the Josh Allen emergence just a matter of time and Daboll got the reap the benefits? So far with the Giants, Daboll looks like he might in fact be one of the next great coaches in the NFL. Daboll has Daniel Jones and the New York Giants sitting at 4-1 after an upset win over the Packers in London — uncharted territory for this franchise in recent years. The Giants entered the season with low expectations, and for good reason. This team doesn’t have many good football players. But Daboll has taken the rotten lemons and has made fine wine. Daniel Jones is finally playing in an offense that is tailored to his strengths and the Giants have been able to put up points despite injury after injury at the wide receiver position. Are the Giants a legitimate contender in the NFC? No. Is Daniel Jones actually the long term solution at QB? Also no. But those are not the important questions for the Giants in 2022. Brian Daboll is squeezing everything that he can out of this group just as he did in Buffalo and THAT is what matters. For the first time in a long time, the Giants feel like they are headed in the right direction. Credit to Brian Daboll.
3. Russ looks cooked
Thursday night football was a slap in the face to televisions across the world. There are many people to blame for that debacle that unfolded in primetime. Matt Ryan has dropped off a cliff faster than any QB in recent memory, the Colts’ O-line has been reduced to dust and Nathaniel Hackett continues to look like polite Urban Meyer on the sideline in Denver. However, there’s only one major story coming out of that game and it’s Russell Wilson. Not only did Denver trade the house for Russ, they then doubled down and gave him a five-year contract worth more than $240 million. It’s still a little early. But through the first five games of Wilson’s tenure in Denver, we could be looking at an all-time blunder by the Broncos. I had my doubts about Russ entering the year. I worried that as he aged he would lose his ability to scramble around and make big plays outside of the pocket. This would force Russ into being a pocket passer and that is just not who he is as a short quarterback.
I never thought it would look this bad this fast.
Use any fancy QB metric you want and you will find Russell Wilson surrounded by the names Davis Mills, Mitch Trubisky, and Baker Mayfield. While that is stunning to consider, it absolutely matches the eye test. It has not helped Wilson and Broncos that the NFL gave Denver and inexplicable four primetime games in the first six weeks. Yes, get ready for more Russ and Hackett on Monday night this week. Blunders and flaws are magnified in primetime slots and Wilson continues to make the biggest of blunders in the biggest of spots on the big stage. If this is just new team rust, it’s a hell of a lot of rust. A brand new $240 million QB had the exits of the stadium clogged with fans at the START of overtime in a primetime game. It doesn’t get much worse than that. But oh man what if it does?
4. Where are all the good teams at?
After five weeks it’s becoming easy to spot the bad teams. But where the hell are the good teams? The stacked AFC? Not so much. The AFC West being the best division ever? Try again. Teams often come out of the gate slow but it’s now Week 6. GET OUT OF THE GATE. The Bills are a wagon, the Chiefs still know how to win, and the Eagles are playing some good ball. But everyone else just seems to be lumped into a deep pit of mediocrity. I thought it would be useful to point out the flaws of some of these underwhelming teams.
Baltimore Ravens — Good team, but can we please take some pressure off of Lamar Jackson? If Lamar isn’t superman for 60 snaps a game this offense completely turtles.
LA Chargers — Typical injury shenanigans, and bad coaching. The losses of Bosa, Slater, and Keenan Allen are real. But Brandon Staley and Joe Lombardi are looking more and more like coaches that are not capable of leading this team where it wants to go.
Jacksonville Jaguars — Not so fast. Trevor Lawrence and this offense still have a ways to go.
Cincinnati Bengals — Zac Taylor is a complete fraud. We will look back in ten years and laugh at the fact that Taylor led a team to the Super Bowl. His offense is wildly uncreative and is reliant on defensive miscommunication and luck.
Green Bay Packers — The chemistry is in fact not there with the young wide receivers, the running game hasn’t been a factor, and the defense has been one of the most disappointing groups in the league.
LA Rams — Just a horrible offensive line and no threat at WR after Cooper Kupp.
Some of these teams should be able to improve throughout the year, and hopefully they do. Because right now it really does feel like it’s the Bills, the Chiefs, and then quite a drop to everyone else.
5. Rapid Fire Fantasy Football Takes
The running backs are fighting back. Ekeler, Kamara, Dalvin, and Lenny all looked healthy this week.
Joshua Kelley is taking over as RB2 for the Chargers and is as good a handcuff as any in deeper leagues.
Things can’t get worse for the guys on the Colts, but I’m not really seeing how things are going to get much better.
Breece Hall has officially arrived. 20 opportunities and nearly 200 yards will do.
Taysom Hill is on the Mount Rushmore with Arthur Smith as the top fantasy football villains.
Matt Rhule fired, Baker Mayfield injured, and Panthers are on the trade block?? Life for D.J. Moore!?!
If Damien Harris misses time with this injury, Rhamondre Stevenson is going to smash. Browns, Bears, Jets coming up for New England.
Raheem Mostert is suddenly the most reliable Dolphin? Life comes at you fast in the NFL.
This is just how the Gabe Davis experience is probably going to be. I’d rather live and die with him in the lineup than regret leaving him on the bench.
Nick Chubb’s upcoming schedule is pretty rough and Kareem Hunt is going to start to steal some of those touchdowns eventually. I’m not recommending a sell high on Chubb, but if you have the stones to do it… I don’t hate it.
Buy low on Kyler Murray. Fantasy points should be coming when Hopkins returns from his suspension.
6. Updated SB Pick and MVP Ladder
SUPER BOWL PICK
Preseason – Bills over GB
Week 1 – Bills over GB
Week 2 – Bills over GB
Week 3 – Bills over GB
Week 4 – Bills over Tampa
Week 5 – Bills over Tampa
The Eagles are right there, I promise I do like the Eagles. I just want to see them pick up some big wins against good teams, or blow out the bad teams. The Eagles have been taking the foot off the gas in the second half and that’s a concerning trend to me. I still have more trust in the Bucs.
Preseason Pick – Justin Herbert
Week 1 Ladder – Allen, Mahomes, Herbert
Week 2 Ladder – Allen, Mahomes, Hurts
Week 3 Ladder – Allen, Hurts, Lamar
Week 4 Ladder – Allen, Mahomes, Hurts
Week 5 Ladder – Allen, Mahomes, Hurts
20 MPH wind is no match for Josh Allen. If Allen goes into KC this week and grabs the win while putting up 4 TDs… he might have this thing on lock.
7. We’re onto Week 6
Two games stand head and shoulders above the rest in Week 6. The Bills are headed to KC in a rematch of the incredible divisional round game from last year. Buffalo is going to hang points on this Chiefs’ defense. But can the Bills’ defense slow down Mahomes enough to get the win? I think so. A win here could go a long way in securing the one-seed in the AFC.
The other great game is a Sunday night showdown between the 5-0 Eagles and the 4-1 Cowboys in Philly. Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ O-line have been bullies all year. Micah Parsons and the Cowboys’ defensive front have taken over game after game. That is the matchup I can’t wait to see and is the matchup that will decide this game.
Be sure to check out all the great NFL content at Apollo, including the YouTube channel. Follow @ApolloTexans and @AaronLittleOB on Twitter for more and enjoy the week.
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