With one notable exception, all is once again right with the world. The Packers are back in the groove. The Lions blow a game they easily should have won. The Panthers defense has stepped up, and the offense is gelling very quickly. The Bengals once again prove they can't perform on a big stage, and the Patriots again prove that they can. Another up-and-coming contender visits Denver, and are completely dismantled. Oh, and Peyton Manning threw his usual 4 touchdowns, almost a yawn at this point. As tired as that Jets defense looks, it is possible that Manning could break Favre's passing touchdown record as early as this coming weekend.
The exception is the New Orleans Saints. They won their contest, the only divisional match of the weekend. But, playing at home, they still had to come back from an 11 point deficit in the 4th quarter, just to force overtime. This, after 2 interceptions from Drew Brees led directly to Tampa Bay touchdowns. This is not a good looking team, and can hardly be considered a championship contender at this point. The defense is soft. The offense isn't clicking, and Brees was supposed to be leading the NFL in passing yards at this point. I'm uncertain that Sean Payton or Rob Ryan know how to 'right the ship' at this point. I certainly don't.
The man who has got to top the leader board for MVP going into week 6 is Phillip Rivers. Since losing to the Cardinals in week one, the Chargers are simply abusing opponents. I stand by what I wrote in pre-season concerning Antonio Gates, but he is using slow and casual to simply embarrass coverage. That and the So-Cal heat are making San Diego almost unstoppable at home. Yes, they've already defeated the 'Champs', but some of their toughest games are coming in the second half of this season, (at Denver, at Baltimore, at San Fransisco and at KC.) If they can run the board at Quallcom and win even two of those difficult road games, they might just take the West and home field in the AFC. We'll see.
One interesting note on the week. There has been discussion about whether or not Tom Brady is 'jealous' of Peyton Manning's offensive weapons. I've no interest in rehashing the argument of which quarterback is better due to rings or surrounding talent. We've seem great quarterbacks make the teams great and we've seen good quarterbacks look great because of receiving and running skills of others. Save that. What caught my eye was a comment from a Patriots fan claiming that when Aaron Hernandez "beat the rap" he would return to the Pats and Brady would go out with one more Super Bowl. Uhhh, No. In this day of high-priced lawyers, overmatched and over-reaching DAs and a general distrust of government on the part of jurors, it is not only possible but one might suggest probable that Aaron Hernandez will "beat" the murder charge. Still, he will never play in the NFL again. Just like OJ, regardless of Hern's possible acquital next to no one will ever eally believe he didn't shoot a man in cold blood. Any team which makes a play on his contract will take an insurmountable PR hit. That most definately includes the Patriots, who severed his contract having already 'donated' 12 million to the Hernandez legal fund. Robert Kraft will not have taken kindly to risking $40 mil on a potential murderer. Any team that does risk the backlash will soon find that it has squandered money on wasted talent. It is an exceptional and rare thing for a player to sit out a season and come back to excellence. When they do, it's because they have had the benefit of NFL trainers, medical staff, nutritionists and facilities. Rarer by far is the player who leaves the NFL completely and is able to come back and be effective. No professional training, no facilities, no health advisors. Plaxico Burriss couldn't do it. Michael Vick, one of the most athletic players ever, couldn't do it. He came back to the league weaker and fragile after his two years off. By the time of his trial, Hernandez will have been 2 full years out of the league. He isn't coming back from this, at least not to the satisfaction of a team desperate enough to pay for a play-maker. He will play not one more down in the NFL.
I'm not surprised that a fan, any fan, wouldn't be so desperate for wins that they would hope for a miracle in the form of an 'anti-hero'. That's been the mystique of the Raiders for quite some time (and how they doing this year?) Sadly, there's still a long way to go before every fan realizes that there is a significant difference between talented thugs and NFL anti-heroes. DJ Swearanger, Richard Sherman. Those are your mouthy 'bad boys' which keep the drama moving. Killers and abusers, not so very much.
Indianapolis (3-2) at Houston (3-2) - Colts (33-28, Colts)
Pittsburgh (3-2) at Cleveland (2-2) - Browns (10-31, Browns)
New England (3-2) at Buffalo (3-2) - Patriots (37-22, Patriots)
Carolina (3-2) at Cincinnati (3-1) - Bengals (37 all, TIE)
Jacksonville (0-5) at Tennessee (1-4) - Titans (14-16, Titans)
Green Bay (3-2) at Miami (2-2) - Packers (27-24, Packers)
Detroit (3-2) at Minnesota - (2-3) - Lions (17-3, Lions)
Denver (3-1) at New York Jets (1-4) - Broncos (31-17, Broncos)
Baltimore (3-2) at Tampa Bay (1-4) - Ravens (48-17, Ravens)
San Diego (4-1) at Oakland (0-4) - Chargers (31-28, Chargers)
Chicago (2-3) at Atlanta (2-3) - Falcons (27-13, Bears)
Dallas (4-1) at Deattle (3-1) - Seahawks (30-23, Cowboys)
Washington (1-4) at Arizona (3-1) - Cardinals (20-30, Cardinals)
New York Giants (3-2) at Philadelphia (4-1) - Giants (0-27, Eagles)
San Fransisco (3-2) at St. Louis (1-3) - 49ers (31-17, 'Niners)
Bye: Kansas City and New Orleans
Last Week's Score: 12 - 3, 80% Overall: 47 - 29, 62%