Off to a 4-1 start Buffalo enters the bye week still alone in first place in the AFC East. Offensively, the Bills need to be a little more consistent in their ground game than they have leading up to week 6. Coming off a 41-17 loss to the Cardinals, Buffalo is going to use the bye week to prepare for the meat of the 2008 schedule and will try to improve their performance.
New England has begun the 2008 season with a 3-1 record, marking the third straight season in which the Patriots have won at least three of their first four games., Although they’re off to a good start, they’ve already lost one game more than last regular season, and with the loss of QB Tom Brady, they will have more obstacles to overcome even to win the AFC East. New England will place its mark of 12 straight road victories on the line as the Patriots and Chargers tangle for the fourth time in 22 months.
New York Jets: B+
Coming off one of the best games of his storied career, Favre tries to get the Jets back over .500 as they come off a bye week hosting the winless Bengals on Sunday. Favre has found a comfort zone with his receivers; mainly WR Laveranues Coles who has 14 catches for 180 yards and four TDs. The Jets have won six straight at home over the Bengals and Favre is 3-1 against the orange and black.
Already winning one more game than they did last year, the Dolphins are off to a decent start, with the record of 2-2 look to keep the Texans winless Sunday. The Dolphins could be surprise contenders in the AFC this season, going into week 6 they’ve out gained the Patriots by 235 yards and the Chargers by 188.
Pittsburgh enters the bye week with a 4-1 start. The timing couldn’t be any better for Terrible Towel Fans as many of the Steel Men’s key players have been plagued by injury, four of them being starters. They are leading the AFC North and ahead of the Ravens by 2 games.
Baltimore might be undefeated if not for a few frustrating penalties and are off to a 2-2 start. Slowed by back-to-back 3-point losses, QB Joe Flacco will be starting as they face the Colts who are also off to a 2-2 start. Baltimore currently sits in 2nd place behind division rival the Steelers. Baltimore needs 2 wins to reach 100 regular season victories and TE Todd Heap is 25 receiving yards away from reaching the 4,000-yard milestone.
The Browns, who have started their season at 1-3, come off their bye week in hopes of turning their fate around. It wont be an easy task as they’re are quite a few components stacked up against them. They will be facing the undefeated defending Super Bowl champs the New York Giants, on Monday Night Football. Normally I’d give them a D at the least, but with Cleveland being my hometown I had to throw in my own personal extra credit.
Cincinnati is of to a 0-5 start. The only thing anyone really even knows about the Bengals is the Ocho Cinco name change. I would of given them an F, but there’s still another 12 weeks to possibly bring them up to a D- but something tells me the extra credit wont begin this week as they are facing Brett Favre and the Jets.
Tennessee is off to a momentous 5-0 start; they’re the only undefeated team in the AFC and are 1 game up on the Giants who have a 4-0 start. The Titans are approaching a bye week and will spend it resting, healing and most importantly studying the first five weeks and see what areas they need to fix, change or work on.
Indianapolis knows they could be winless if not for some quick work by QB Peyton Manning, Indy who is off to a 2-2 start is hoping for their first win at the new Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts, who were 28-4 at the RCA Dome over the previous four seasons, haven’t lost three consecutive home games since dropping four in a row in 2001, and haven’t lost their first three home games since 1997 en route to a 3-13 finish. The Colts have had to rally in both of their wins coming back from 15 and 17-point deficits.
Jacksonville is off to a 2-3 start and are certainly used to playing close games, leading up to week 6, all five of the Jags’ match-ups have been decided by a touchdown or less. Jacksonville looks to add another loss to Denver’s’ 6 game home losing streak and become just the sixth team ever outside the AFC West to post back-to-back wins in Denver.
Houston who is headed into week 6 winless with a 0-4 record and has improved in each of the last two seasons with the team going 6-10 in 2006 and 8-8 last year. The Texans are still seeking their first win against the 2-2 dolphins and are coming off two particularly disheartening defeats. Houston is coming off its best rushing game of the season, gaining 156 yards against Indianapolis last Sunday and QB Matt Schaub is said to return for week 6.
Denver ranks 1st in the AFC in total offense starting off with a 4-1 record and will try to improve to 4-0 at home when they face the Jaguars on Sunday. Denver has surged to a two-game lead in the AFC West thanks to an offense that’s averaging 415.0 yards through its first five games. The B+ is for the defense, there’s always room for improvement and Denver is 29th in the league in total defense….Shall I remind you “Offense wins games, defense wins championships”
Inconsistency continues to haunt San Diego holding a 2-3 record. The Chargers are averaging 29.6 points, ranking 4th in the NFL but have lost three games by a total of 10 points. Over the past two games, QB Rivers has completed less than 51 percent of his throws for a total of 339 yards with two TDs and two interceptions while getting sacked six times. San Diego recovered from a 2-3 start last season to win its second straight AFC West title, but the road appears tougher in 2008.
Oakland owner Al Davis fired coach Lane Kiffin last month and it is still in the air if the change will help turn the struggling team around. Following a bye week, the Raiders play their first game under interim coach Tom Cable, who is the 5th coach in 6 years, when they face New Orleans Sunday. Raiders hold the third-best rushing game in the NFL but have a 1-3 record.
Kansas City heads into a bye week with a record of 1-4. Quarterback Brodie Croyle is back after a four-week absence and will start for Kansas City in its next game against Tennessee on Oct. 19th. The one win comes from taking down previously unbeaten Denver at home and snapping a 12-game losing streak. The following week was not so great, the Cheifs fell to the Panthers because of mental mistakes and physical breakdowns losing 34-0.
The Super Bowl Champs are holding true to form in upholding a 4-0 record. New York is off to its best start since winning 10 in a row to open the 1990 season. They’re one of only two undefeated teams and have won eight straight contests dating to last season’s playoffs and have gone from almost missing the postseason to being regarded as the league’s best team in the same calendar year.
After getting through a tough early schedule, the surprising Washington heads into week 6 with a 4-1 record. After losing to the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in Week 1, the Redskins have responded with four consecutive wins, including two in a row within their rugged division. Washington running back Clinton Portis has posted back-to-back 100-yard efforts.
Dallas, also often referred to as America’s team is off to a 4-1 record heading into week 6 and is surely a candidate to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Dallas is still on track thanks to their conference-leading 151 points, but they’re not alone in their division with four wins.
Recent struggles have put the Eagles in an early hole in the NFC East with a 2-3 record. They’re in last place with two fewer wins than each of their division rivals. QB McNabb has made a career comeback this season, but if Westbrook can’t play, the Eagles could have a hard time bouncing back from consecutive disheartening defeats that derailed their strong start.
Chicago had anticipated a rebuilding year but is off to a 3-2 start. Four-year veteran QB Kyle Orton beat out Rex Grossman for the starting quarterback job and rookie Matt Forte was named the starting running back after Cedric Benson was released in June following his second alcohol-related arrest in a month and are leading the NFC North.
Green Bay struggles with defense and a banged-up and will try to avoid losing four straight games for the first time in three years on Sunday when they visit a Seahawks team trying to bounce back from a humiliating defeat. Green Bay with a 2-3 record has a shaky defense allowing 370 yards of total offense last week. The Packers rank 23rd in the league in scoring defense and 26th in total defense.
Minnesota is off to a 2-3 start and face the 0-4 Lions this Sunday. The Vikings have a +2 turnover ratio while the Lions are -6 in the department. The Vikings return to Minnesota after overcoming two second-half punt returns for touchdowns. Offensive rookie of the year Adrian Peterson had his worst game rushing for only 32 yards on 21 carries. He still remains 3rd in the NFL with 452 rushing yards this season, and had 116 yards with two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 42-10 victory over the Lions. Minnesota’s defense has been one of the highlights of its decade-long domination of Detroit at the Metrodome. The Vikings have allowed 19 points or fewer while averaging four sacks the last five times the teams have met there.
Detroit still thinks there’s hope for a playoff run, even after heading into week 6 with a 0-4 record. The Lions will try to snap a 10-game slide as they face the Vikings. Detroit currently ranks in the bottom with the 5th worst offense in the NFL, averaging 16.5 points and 263.0 yards per game. They also have the 2nd worst rushing offense as rookie Kevin Smith and former Bengal Rudi Johnson have combined for 72.3 yards.
Carolina is sitting at 4-1 in start the second quarter of the season thanks to one of the NFL’s best defenses as they face division rival Tampa to fight for the lead in the NFC South. Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme will make his first appearance against the Buccaneers since 2006 after missing both contests last year. The Panthers have two running backs in the top 20 with DeAngelo Williams with 324 yards and RB Jonathan Stewart with 269 yards leading the Panthers, and don’t forget about WRs Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad who always bring the amazingness.
Tampa Bay who is sitting on a 3-2 record and have two rushers in the top 20 Earnest Graham with 393 yards and Warrick Dunn with 271 yards pacing the Buccaneers as they head into Sunday facing division rival the Carolina Panthers. QB Brian Griese was knocked out of Tampa Bay’s 16-13 loss to Denver in the third quarter last Sunday with a swollen right elbow and coach Gruden has not yet confirmed if he will be starting this Sunday.
Atlanta was expected to be facing a rebuilding year this season but thanks to strong play from the quarterback and running backs they dirty birds are off to a 3-2 start. QB Matt Ryan, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, and RB Michael Turner, RB Jerious Norwood and WR Roddy White helped Atlanta rebound from a disappointing 2007.
New Orleans’ defense has allowed the eighth-most total yards in the league. New Orleans who is off to a 2-3 start, held the Vikings to a season-low 270 yards, but couldn’t keep hold of the 4th quarter lead falling 30-27. Mistakes plagued the Saints, with four turnovers, numerous dropped passes and losing 102 yards because of 11 penalties.
Arizona didn’t come into the 2008 season with high expectations, yet they’ve emerged as a leading contender in the NFC West and are currently seated in first place in their division. They’re ranked as one of the conferences highest scoring teams holding a 3-2 record.
San Francisco is off to a 2-3 start and hopes to avoid a 3rd straight defeat when facing the Eagles this Sunday, who are also coming off a two game losing streak. San Francisco committed three turnovers last week and has totaled 11 in three losses, compared to one in two wins. The 49ers were held to a season-low 199 total yards and outscored 23-7 in the final three quarters of their 30-21 loss to New England last Sunday. Niners QB O’Sullivan has contributed with his inconsistency and has completed less than half of his pass attempts in that span while throwing five interceptions.
As if a 1-3 opening season wasn’t enough, QB Hasselbeck is listed as questionable and has been a spectator at practices; Seattle will most likely also be missing WR Deion Branch, which doesn’t even include the other five receivers they didn’t start the season with. On the offensive line guard Chris Gray was forced to retire with a spinal injury, fellow guard Rob Sims’ season ended after the first game with a torn pectoral muscle and three-year starter RT Sean Locklear didn’t take his spot until the fourth game with a knee injury. Starting halfback Maurice Morris also has been out since the first series of the season opener with a knee injury. It almost seems as if if was over before it started.
St Louis is coming off a bye week but and has hopefully done some serious studying and restructuring to get away from their 0-4 start. The Rams replaced coach Scott Linehan with Haslett after a fourth straight loss, 31-14 to Buffalo two weeks ago before their bye. Haslett, who compiled a 45-51 record in six seasons coaching New Orleans from 2000-05, knows he has a lot of work to do. Rams are struggling in all facets of the game and have scored the fewest points in the NFL.