23 thoughts on “2019-2020 NFL: Week 5

  1. Thu
    Rams-Seahawks

    Sun
    Jets-Eagles
    Jaguars-Panthers
    Vikings-Giants
    Falcons-Texans
    Buccaneers-Saints
    Bills-Titans
    Cardinals-Bengals
    Patriots-Redskins
    Ravens-Steelers
    Bears-Raiders
    Broncos-Chargers
    Packers-Cowboys
    Colts-Chiefs

    Mon
    Browns-49ers

  2. Reid,

    Your 1st tier teams still the same as you had before the Week 3 games? You didn’t have the Saints in either the 1st tier or 2nd tier. Was that on purpose?

    1. I’m pretty sure leaving out the Saints was an oversight on my part.

      Here’s my current power rankings:

      1st Tier

      I’m going to leave this blank, as a signal that I don’t think there are any great teams.

      2nd Tier
      Patriots, Packers, Eagles, Browns
      Cowboys, Chiefs, Rams, Vikings, 49ers, Saints, Chargers

      All these teams are about the same. Eagles, Packers, Browns seemed to play better this week, so I’m putting them above the others. I didn’t watch the entire game, but the Patriots didn’t seem to play well–but I still put them up there because they’re the Patriots (and their defense seems solid).

      I’m including the Saints because I assume they can stay afloat until Bridgewater comes back.

      3rd Tier
      Seahawks, Texans, Lions, Bears

      I think Bears defense will have to be dominant for them to have relevance in the playoffs. I have little faith in their QBs.

      4th
      Falcons, Colts, Bills, Titans, Raiders

      These teams have outside chances if they can really improve in key areas.

      Gap between 2nd and 3r tiers seem pretty close. I almost put Seahawks in the next category. Ravens could have been in hear, but their defense has looked bad (although I’d guess they will improve in that area).

      1. You can make your lists any way you want, of course, but not having a top tier means the teams in your second tier are your first tier. That’s how I see it!

        Tony Kornheiser had an interesting conversation Monday about who the best team in the NFC is — there were five people on the program and they each had a different answer. It pains me to say it but I think it’s the Seahawks, with the Cowboys not far behind. Both teams flawed for sure, but in a one-game playoff, I’d feel decent picking either team to beat any of the others.

        I’m still not feeling bad about my picking the Buccaneers to win the NFC South OR the Raiders to win the AFC West.

      2. I cannot put the Browns, Vikings, and Chargers in with the other group. These teams all seem to have talent, but something seems off with these guys. With the Browns and Chargers, it’s probably their o-line. But what’s up with the Charger’s d-line, are they playing well? They don’t seem to be dominating teams like they should. The two big things with the Vikings is their defense doesn’t seem as tough as they once were. Are the Vikings a better defense than the Cowboys? Probably not, which says a lot. The Vikings got some good skill position players, so should be a little better on offense, than they shown thus far.

        I had the Ravens pretty high and you don’t even have them. But their defense doesn’t seem great as you stated. Has Earl lost a lot. I would have thought he would have made a bigger difference on this team.

      3. I cannot put the Browns, Vikings, and Chargers in with the other group.

        I wouldn’t really dispute this. I originally had the Chargers in the third tier. The Browns have a lot of talent. Their OL isn’t great, but I would say they’re similar to the Vikings, Chargers, Seahawks, at least right now.

        But what’s up with the Charger’s d-line, are they playing well? They don’t seem to be dominating teams like they should.

        I think this is a fair point, but I think they may have injury issues. I believe Ingram will now miss a few games. Of course Derwin James isn’t playing as well.

        The two big things with the Vikings is their defense doesn’t seem as tough as they once were.

        They seem to have slipped. I think they need another good player in the secondary. But I think their defense can get a lot better if they run the ball. (More on that later.)

        One thing to remember is that the season is young. The Vikings, Cowboys, even the Seahawks–all the defense on these teams could get a lot better as they season goes on. (Or maybe not.)

        The Vikings got some good skill position players, so should be a little better on offense, than they shown thus far.

        Besides last week’s game against the Bears, their offense looked good to me–except Cousins’s turnovers. If they get back to running and Cousins protects the football they will be tough team to beat.

    2. You can make your lists any way you want, of course, but not having a top tier means the teams in your second tier are your first tier. That’s how I see it!

      No you’re right, but, as I mentioned, I’m leaving the first tier blank as a way to signal that I don’t think they are any great teams. I kinda like it because a handful of teams may be the best relative to other teams in a given season, but none of those teams may actually be great. Do you know what I mean? It’s like the movies of a given year may not actually be great. They’re the best relative to the other movies of that year. If most of the movies are mediocre, than the best movies of that year could actually just be good, but not great.

      Tony Kornheiser had an interesting conversation Monday about who the best team in the NFC is — there were five people on the program and they each had a different answer.

      Kevin Clark mentioned this on the Ringer (or was it the other guy?), saying that this is indicative of the NFC. I agree. There’s no team(s) that’s head and shoulders above the rest.

      It pains me to say it but I think it’s the Seahawks, with the Cowboys not far behind. Both teams flawed for sure, but in a one-game playoff, I’d feel decent picking either team to beat any of the others.

      I guess that line of thinking makes sense. But I was initially surprised you mentioned the Seahawks. Their performance has been kinda shoddy, if you ask me, although they made improvements every week.

      I’m still not feeling bad about my picking the Buccaneers to win the NFC South OR the Raiders to win the AFC West.

      If the Winston cuts down on his turnovers, they could be a very dangerous team this year. That might be a big “if” though.

      I have a hard time seeing the Raiders beating the Chiefs. If they play like they did against the Colts, though, they have a chance. (Brissett didn’t play well, though, and I think that’s a significant reason the Raiders won.)

  3. Rams-Seahawks

    The game is a blur now, but the Seahawks are fortunate to pull out the win. Some thoughts off the top of my head:

    I think Russ was great tonight. That one throw to the back of the end zone was incredible, and an incredible catch by Lockett;

    As someone who likes good defense, this game was kinda tough to watch from that perspective. It’s disconcerting to see the Rams just get those chunk pass plays, seemingly so easily. The Seahawks defense is far from being great.

    The Seahawk OL looked overwhelmed at the start of the game, and I worried it was going to be a long day. They settled down a bit, but still kinda leaky. Russ made it work, though, and the OL did fairly well in run blocking, I thought.

    I agree with Aikman on not liking the call on Matthews. Honestly, I felt relieved, but those type of calls are lame.

    1. I’m sure Reid is going to disagree, but with about nine minutes left in the game, down five, Seattle is burning clock on their “final” drive. That strategy makes no sense to me. Aikman even says like, “Russell is trying to burn some clock, here (referring to a time Seattle is letting the clock run down before hiking the ball)”. I’m not saying they should be in hurry-up mode, but why deliberately burn clock? It put so much pressure on Seattle to get that TD. So much so that Seattle had to go for it on fourth down and goal at the five. For example, on that fourth down play, if there was four to five minutes left in the game instead of two, they could have kicked the field goal. Not ideal, but much better than having to go for it on fourth down and five, imo. The only way that strategy would make sense to me would be if Seattle could burn enough clock to score a TD and leave the Rams with less than a minute left to win the game with no timeouts, and even then I wouldn’t completely for it. But that seems improbable with the two-minute warning and the Rams having two timeouts. Basically with the score and nine minutes left, Seattle had to strategize that their defense would need at least one stop to win the game, no matter if they scored a TD or not on that drive. Giving themselves an option to kick two field goals instead of having to score a TD, would be the smarter move. It all worked out for Seattle, but I didn’t think the coaches gave them the best chance to win.

    2. but why deliberately burn clock? It put so much pressure on Seattle to get that TD.

      Here’s what I would worry about. The Seahawks don’t use up as much time and score, putting their defense back on the field, not giving them as much time off as possible. How confident are you that the Seahawks defense could keep the Rams from scoring? I gotta go back and watch the game, but my impression is that the Seahawks defense struggled to stop the Rams in the second half. It’s something that left a bad taste in my mouth after the game, even though I was happy they won. (The other two Rams games last year were the same way.) For a fan of great defense, when your favorite team performs like this, it doesn’t feel good.

      What do you think? I don’t feel strongly there’s a right or wrong answer here.

  4. Bears-Raiders

    I can’t remember if or when I’ve ever seen a QB pitch the ball on a toss sweep and the RB was not there–but that’s what the Raiders did. Besides it being an infuriatingly comical play, the play was a big momentum shifter. Up to that point, the Raiders were dominating, on both sides. I want to make special note of the Raiders OL. This is the second week where they’ve looked like one of the best, most physical run-blocking teams. Joshua Jacobs also looks solid as well. I’m not sure if Akiem Hicks played, but the Raiders OL dominated, especially up to that point. (They did well for most of the game.)

    The Raiders also had a frustrating fumble right at the Bears goal line. If it weren’t for Bears turnovers, the Raiders could have easily lost.

    One more thing. I don’t know if Carr threw a ball over 20 yards. Shoot maybe he didn’t throw a ball over 15. It was all super quick, easy passes. What it said to me was that the Raiders were really concerned about the Bears pass rush. A big reason this worked is because they ran so well.

    I’ve been critical of Gruden, but I’m loving their running and run-blocking.

    Bills-Titans

    This was a closely fought battle, but all that stands out is that the Titans kicker missed four FGs.

    Giants-Vikings

    Vikings OL looks brittle. Dalvin Cook is good.

    Packers-Cowboys

    Turnovers. Too many for the Cowboys. Some other random thoughts:

    1. I thought Cowboys pass rush got good pressure, but Packers OL and Rodgers mobility allowed their offense to function in spite of that. However, I feel like the Packers didn’t do a good job of controlling the ball in the second half, and that kept the Cowboys somewhat in the game (although their lead was probably too big, it didn’t matter). I would guess the Packers rushing numbers were pretty good, but they couldn’t run consistently in the 4th. (In contrast, see the Colts versus the Chiefs.)

    2. This is just one game, but it wasn’t a good sign for Prescott and the way the Cowboys seemed to have built around him. The Packers seem to have a solid secondary, and reduced the amount of wide open targets. (Maybe they also created more difficult reads for the QB as well.) If you’re going to build around the QB, you have to have a QB that can make difficult throws and reads, because at some point, you’re going to face a tough defense that will force the QB to do this. (This is a similar issue with Lamar Jackson, although they’re more built on the run. They don’t seem to tie the passing game with play action passes, though, which is a shame.) It’s just one game, though. Don, did you feel like the Cowboys should have ran more? I feel like they were having success, but I guess they didn’t run more because their offense is built differently. I prefer their 2014 and 2016 offenses, myself.)

    Colts-Chiefs

    I loved the way the Colts ran the ball, especially in the 4th. They almost reminded me of a high school team with a good rushing offense.

    The Chiefs offense didn’t look so good. I’m sure not having Hill is a big reason for this. Also, did Watkins play? And at some point Mahomes got hurt, but I’m not sure how much that was a factor. Their defense doesn’t look so good, either.

    Jaguars-Panthers

    Minshew looks solid. I should feel more excited about him, given that he’s a rookie, but I’m not for some reason.

  5. I watched some of the Rams-Seahawks game. That running-to-his-left throw to Lockett was amazing. Does Wilson throw better on the run than Rodgers?

    Another thought that went through my brain a few times: why does Reid continue not to be impressed by Cooper Kupp? That guy gets open and he has sticky hands.

    Speaking of sticky hands, I think Brandon Cooks has them too, but he comes down with the ball when a defender’s hands are right in his face or when he’s clearly overthrown. He catches balls at weird angles, too.

    I dislike the Rams as a franchise but every time I watch them play lately, I like them more and more.

    1. Does Wilson throw better on the run than Rodgers?

      Maybe to his left, but overall I’d say no, which doesn’t Wilson isn’t really good at throwing on the run. The accuracy of Rodgers’s throws, on the run, are just unreal–I’d guess he was the best at it, especially if you factor his ability to protect the football as well.

      Another thought that went through my brain a few times: why does Reid continue not to be impressed by Cooper Kupp?

      I just don’t know how to evaluate their receivers, or many of their offensive players, because I have the strong sense McVay’s scheme/coaching is really elevating the players. Remember when Chip Kelly first started? He had success with WRs that turned out to be not that good (e.g., Jordan Matthews). Was Robert Woods or Brandin Cooks great prior to the Rams? I think they were solid, but not much more than that. It’s hard for me to know if Kupp is solid or much more than that.

  6. Cowboys, Packers:
    I didn’t see a whole lot of the second half because my DVR stopped working, but I’m going to guess it wouldn’t matter because this game was won and lost in the first half. Dallas’ first four drives, three of which were descent, stopped because of two interceptions and two sacks. For me the interceptions I had less of an issue with, but those two sacks are what made Dak (and maybe the o-line) an average offense last year. Yes, Dallas seems to be trying to pass more on first down, although I didn’t get that sense against the Saints as much. I think it has more to do with “trying” to take what the defense gives them, because the Packers did seem to have a lot more guys in the box on some of those running plays. I would agree though if Dallas could run like they did in 2016, they should run more.

    The biggest factor to me was consistently getting gashed up the middle in the same vein of the Rams and Indy last year. I didn’t think Rodgers played particularly great, but that guy is playing with a bunch of nobody receivers. Aaron Jones may have help my fantasy team win (I never win yet), but the number he did on the Cowboys, should be embarrassing. All that said, I have faith this Cowboy team will be much improved in the end of the season.

    The Raiders beating the Bears is a complete surprise. The Raiders being able to run on this Bears team is the biggest of that surprise. I wonder what this Raider team will be like if they had Amari. Is there just no consistent connection between Carr and Amari? The Raiders need a true number one to make a big splash, I think. And maybe another QB, but at the very least a number one guy.

    1. …but I’m going to guess it wouldn’t matter because this game was won and lost in the first half.

      It doesn’t matter now, but if you watched the game, you might not have felt this. To me, the Packers allowed the Cowboys to hang around.

      I would agree though if Dallas could run like they did in 2016, they should run more.

      My sense is that they don’t want to run like they did in ’16 (or ’14 with Murray)–and may contribute to them not running as effectively (although we may never know). Maybe you disagree, but the issue for me is a change in the offense and offensive philosophy, not just running more on first or giving Zeke more carries. To oversimplify, I would say they operate more out out of a shotgun than from under center. The former is their bread-and-butter, with Prescott at the center of the offense, while Zeke is complementary piece. This is the difference between ’14 and ’16 to me. I prefer the older versions.

      The biggest factor to me was consistently getting gashed up the middle in the same vein of the Rams and Indy last year.I didn’t think Rodgers played particularly great, but that guy is playing with a bunch of nobody receivers.

      I didn’t think the Packers ran much, but when they did, they had some nice runs. But it’s not just getting gashed that bugged me, but their defense overall, especially facing the Packers without Davante Adams. I totally agree that Rodgers is playing with a bunch of nobody receivers. It’s why I think his numbers haven’t been as good these past few years. However, against the Vikings, Adams looked good. He and their passing offense reminded me of the days before Jordy got hurt. It’s not like the Packers offense shredded the Cowboys–without the turnovers, the game would have been a lot closer. But the Cowboys didn’t look like a great defense, or at least I thought they would be better.

      The Raiders beating the Bears is a complete surprise. The Raiders being able to run on this Bears team is the biggest of that surprise.

      Yeah, the way the Bears defense looked surprised me. They did not look like good or very good defense. I think they got punched in the mouth, and in the passing game, the Raiders were getting rid of the ball quickly, so the Bears pass rush was a non-factor.

      Is there just no consistent connection between Carr and Amari? The Raiders need a true number one to make a big splash, I think. And maybe another QB, but at the very least a number one guy.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “consistent connection between Carr and Amari.” The Raiders didn’t have Tyrell Williams, who has been a surprise this year. I thought he was a solid player, but he’s been way better than I expected. Waller, their TE, has looked good, and even Moreau, the other TE, has flashed. Renfrow, their slot, looks like a guy in the Beasley/Humphries mold. But against the better teams, I think the Raiders will need another pass catcher. Then again, if they can blast people on the ground like they have been, maybe not.

      Yeah, Carr may be limited, but I feel like if he cuts down on boneheaded plays, that would be enough. I’m losing my patience with him.

      1. Ooops I meant, “Was there just no consistent connection between Carr and Amari?”, as in past tense. I get the feeling that Amari can be a number 1, but just didn’t look like it teamed with Carr (not consistently anyway). Tyrell Williams is the former Charger right? With the Chargers he was okay, but I will be surprised if he can be a true number one. Of course the Raiders were relying on AB, which is why they are in their current situation, but I think to be a true contender, they will need a true number one.

      2. Ooops I meant, “Was there just no consistent connection between Carr and Amari?”, as in past tense. I get the feeling that Amari can be a number 1, but just didn’t look like it teamed with Carr (not consistently anyway).

        I don’t know if there was or wasn’t a connection, but I never thought Cooper was a great number 1. A solid #1, yes–although he dropped the ball way too much in my view (similar to Demaryius Thomas)–but definitely not a receiver I’d want to pay big money for. I was disturbed by the Raiders trading Mack, but not Cooper.

        Tyrell Williams is the former Charger right? With the Chargers he was okay, but I will be surprised if he can be a true number one.

        Yes, and I feel the exact same way. I wouldn’t have minded if the Seahawks went after him, but I didn’t think he would significantly address the loss of Doug Baldwin; and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted him to pay significant money. However, he’s playing way better than I thought.

        Of course the Raiders were relying on AB, which is why they are in their current situation, but I think to be a true contender, they will need a true number one.

        Yeah, against better teams, they’re going to need better pass catchers, I think. At the same time, I’m glad they don’t have AB. Even though they need his talent, I think he would have messed up the team.

        1. So I take it by yours comments that even as a Cowboy you don’t think Cooper is a legitimate number one or one of the better number ones. I will say I had the exact same thoughts, probably worse than what you just stated and say that Cooper wasn’t a true number one when he was a Raider (He definitely didn’t do it consistently.). I think he has proven that he is a number one on the Cowboys. I know you said most of the credit has to be the o-line change last year. But Cooper has proven at least to me, to be a guy that can get open pretty consistently.

    2. So I take it by yours comments that even as a Cowboy you don’t think Cooper is a legitimate number one or one of the better number ones.

      Yeah. I wouldn’t want to pay him top dollar.

      But Cooper has proven at least to me, to be a guy that can get open pretty consistently.

      I wouldn’t really dispute this. You could make a case that he’s a solid #1. I think if the Cowboys can give him a good contract, but not make him the highest paid, that would be justifiable.

    1. Reid,

      I’m going to guess you think the 49er’s are for real. You are a fan of the coach and the QB. I only saw very little of the game, but they seem like a viable contender. We will see how they look against the Rams and Seahawks this year.

    2. They’re as real as the the dozen or so teams that I have in the top tiers. I liked what I saw from Garoppolo when he came over, but he’s looked shaky this year. Even last night, while he didn’t play badly, he played in a way makes me uncertain. In a way, they’re like the Cowboys and Patriots–it’s a little difficult to judge the Niners because they haven’t had real tough competition, yet. Last night, the Browns shot themselves in the foot and got into a hole. The Rams game this weekend should be a good test.

      It’s a bummer for them that Juszczyk got hurt. I wish the Seahawks or Raiders had a FB like him (and knew how to use him).

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