Week 5 Weekend Wrap-Up: Will the real contender please stand up?

After another crazy week in the NFL where upsets seem to be commonplace, it’s hard to point at any team and say that they are the team to beat (besides maybe the Giants and Titans…but even they have their issues.) Last year it was easy with the Patriots and Cowboys clearly the top teams throughout the regular season, but this year is another story. When Tom Brady went down in week one, it seems to have given every other team in the league the idea that they can beat any team on any given Sunday. Anyways, on the day after the Dolphins beat the Chargers, the Colts should have lost to the Texans, and the Cowboys nearly lost to the Bengals, here are some quick thoughts on what took place this weekend:

  • Dolphins 17, Chargers 10: Are the Dolphins the team to beat in the AFC East now? After beating the Patriots and Chargers in their past two games, opponents better figure out how to stop the Wildcat offense. Those of you who gambled on Ronnie Brown (125 rushing yards, TD) in your draft are pretty proud of yourselves right now, while those of you who went for the “sure bet” in LT (55 combined yards) though…not so much. In one of my leagues (with pretty much basic Yahoo league scoring) Brown now has 10 more fantasy points than LT through the first five games of the season.
  • Cardinals 41, Bills 17: So much for the Bills being the team to beat in the AFC East…if the Cardinals can hang 41 on them, other teams shouldn’t have all that much trouble either. Lee Evans (two catches for 100 yards, TD) made the most of his minimal contributions to the team, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Larry Fitzgerald (52 yards, 2 TD) and the vicious Arizona rushing game. Although I still lost this week, I can’t complain about my decision to plug Cardinals running back Tim Hightower into my flex position this week (only 37 rushing yards, but 2 TD!)
  • Titans 13, Ravens 10: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an unstoppable force? Apparently Tennessee comes out on top by a field goal. In a game where not a whole lot of offensive fireworks were expected, the Titans proved that they are the most dominant defense in the league. One thing opposing teams should take from this game is that you can NOT run on the Ravens. The Titans came into the game with one of the better running back combos in the league with Chris Johnson and LenDale White…and left with 47 yards on 22 carries (2.1 ypc!)
  • Cowboys 31, Bengals 22: How much did everyone want the Bengals to beat the Cowboys and whiny-ass T.O.? I find it amusing that the game after T.O. starts complaining about not getting the ball enough, he catches an amazing TWO balls for 67 yards (he did get a score though.) It should definitely be interesting to watch the one-two punch of Marion Barber and Felix Jones for the rest of the season though…talk about a stacked backfield. Oh yeah…and it appears that T.J. Houshmandzadeh (seven catches for 85 yards, 2 TD) is back…wish I could say the same for Ocho Cinco.
  • Falcons 27, Packers 24: Aaron Rodgers played…and played well (313 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT), but it wasn’t good enough to beat an Atlanta team that has finally found an identity after years of Mike Vick ruining them.  Michael Turner leads the NFL in rushing yards and is tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns (6, with Ronnie Brown), while Roddy White (132 yards, TD) is proving that he was no one-hit-wonder last season as he ranks third in receiving yards this season. Greg Jennings hauled in four catches for 87 yards and a score for the Packers, which was enough to put him at the top of the league’s receiving yards list, but not enough to pull out a “W”.
  • Colts 31, Texans 27: I would have liked to see the Colts lose this game even more than the Cowboys in theirs, but Houston quarterback Sage Rosenfels apparently felt differently. Andre Johson made his big return to fantasy football relevance this week with 131 yards and a score on nine receptions, but it wasn’t enough to cover up Rosenfels’ three unlucky turnovers in the fourth quarter. I’m pretty happy I didn’t waste any of my top picks on Peyton Manning (247 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) this season though…having to settle for Jay Cutler about five rounds later is a decent consilation prize.
  • Giants 44, Seahawks 6: I guess the glorious return of Deion Branch and Bobby Engram wasn’t enough to make up for jet-lag and a non-stop assult by the G-Men on both sides of the ball. Brandon Jacobs was a man among boys, rushing for 136 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries (a whopping 9.1 ypc!)
  • Patriots 30, 49er’s 21: A big day from Randy Moss (111 yards, TD) must have made a fantasy manager or two happy…but that’s about there is to write about as New England battled its’ way through this one (unless for some crazy reason you started Kevin Faulk and are celebrating his two touchdown performance!) For San Francisco, J.T. O’Sullivan had one of the stranger statistical games you’ll see from a quarterback, throwing for just 130 yards, but figuring out a way to end up with 3 TD and 3 INT as well.
  • Steelers 26, Jaguars: 21: The combined production out of the Jacksonville backfield (Freddy T, MJD) has to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far. While the score of this one was close, the Steelers outgained the Jags by about 200 yards as Big Ben had a great game through the air (309 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) and Mewelde Moore, filling in for Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall, went for a combined 116 yards (not a bad fill-in for your fantasy team, especially if your league has bonuses for 100 yards!) By the way, who is Mike Walker (6 catches for 107 yards)? Apparently he played with Brandon Marshall at UCF…but don’t expect quite the same production.
  • Broncos 16, Buccaneers 13: Lucky for Denver that the week their offense sputters, the defense steps it up a notch and they squeak out the win. Nothing all that exciting to note in this one, except that Warrick Dunn got more carries than Earnest Graham…which isn’t all that exciting I guess if you spent a high draft pick on Graham! Personally, I’m hoping the Cutler-to-Marshall connection (three catches for 25 yards) picks back up next week after a disappointing game this Sunday.
  • Panthers 34, Chiefs 0: Wow, the Chiefs are bad! How the hell did they beat the Broncos last week?! DeAngelo Williams (158 combined yards, 3 TD) led the way for Carolina, while the Delhomme-Smith-Muhammad connection was back at it. The good news for the Chiefs is that running back Larry Johnson is averaging 100 yards and a touchdown over his past two games. The bad part…he had 198 yards and two scores last week (read: 2 yards, 0 TD this week!)
  • Redskins 23, Eagles 17: Big day for Clinton Portis (145 rushing yards, TD) and Chris Cooley (eight catches for 109 yards, TD) as the Redskins to continue to make the case that they’re one of the teams to beat in the NFC. The loss for Philly means that there is finally a team with a losing record in the division.
  • Bears 34, Lions 7: I guess I missed the mark a bit on my prediction that the Lions would come out swinging in this one after their bye week (“flailing” might have been a better word.) Detroit made Kyle Orton (334 yards, 2 TD) look like top ten quarterback, while the Lions had to pull Jon Kitna due to apparent back spasms. While Roy Williams managed 96 yards, there wasn’t a whole lot to be happy about if you’re a Detroit fan…and I have a feeling you’re in for a very long season.