This week in: The NFL – Week 5 2012

James Jones gets the Packers on the board early against the Saints

After their lockout was resolved by the league, the regular referees returned to officiate the NFL games last weekend, though Green Bay may have struggled to notice the difference.  The loss in Seattle the previous Monday – on the back of a dubious touchdown call by the replacements on the final play – had left the Packers at 1-2 going in to their game against the Saints at Lambeau Field.  They had built an early 21-7 lead thanks to three touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers, but in the third quarter – after Brees had gotten New Orleans back to within four points, the Green Bay QB was forced to exit the game after getting poked in the eye by Malcolm Jenkins.  Backup Graham Harrell came in to try to finish the drive off from inside the 5 yard line, but tripped on his very first play and fumbled the ball for the Saints to recover.  Within minutes, Drew Brees completed an 80-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Morgan and then a field goal but New Orleans up 27-21.  Rodgers had been able to return to the game and drove the Packers up the field, putting them into a 1 point lead when he found Jordy Nelson for a touchdown but, from the kickoff, officiating nearly cost Green Bay once again.  Darren Sproles fumbled the ball on his return, but the referees incorrectly ruled that he had been down before doing so and gave New Orleans possession.  The Packers held strong and forced their opponents to go for 43-yard field goal with more than 2 minutes remaining, which was good but the luckless Saints were called back for holding and ultimately missed a 48-yard attempt, which allowed Green Bay to run down the clock and level their record at 2-2.

Five minutes into the second half in Buffalo last Sunday, New England found themselves 21-7 down to the Bills and staring at a 1-3 for the season.  However, Tom Brady took control and racked up 45 points in the second half to give the Patriots a 52-28 win and restore faith their fans will have in the offense, which had looked shaky so far this year.  Atlanta also had to come from behind to secure a victory over the Panthers, scoring two field goals in the last five minutes to take it, 30-28.  The Falcons would not have got the ball back for their final drive had in not been for a fumble by Carolina’s QB, Cam Newton, who had played exceptionally well prior to that, but Matt Ryan made the most of the opportunity and set up the win with a 59 yard pass to Roddy White from his own endzone.  Atlanta are now 4-0 this season, alongside the Arizona Cardinals, who were taken to overtime by the Dolphins on Sunday, and the Houston Texans, who had an emphatic home win against the Tennessee Titans.  The Browns joined the Saints as the only winless teams after four weeks, as they were beaten in Baltimore on Thursday night.

Elsewhere, Minnesota continued their impressive start to the season with a victory in Detroit; Robert Griffin III led a last-minute game winning drive for the Redskins to overcome the Buccaneers, 24-22; Peyton Manning threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns in the Broncos 37-6 win over the Raiders; St. Louis’ kicker, Greg Zuerlein, made field goals from 58, 48, 60 and 24 yards to help his team beat the Seahawks, 19-13; San Francisco’s defense held the Jets scoreless at MetLife Stadium, winning the game 34-0 and putting Mark Sanchez’s position as starting QB for New York into question; and the Bears defeated the Cowboys 34-18 in Dallas on Monday night.  Philadelphia eked out a 19-17 victory against the Giants, moving the Eagles to 3-1, those three wins have been by a total of four points; San Diego took advantage of 6 turnovers by their opponents to beat the Chiefs 37-20 in Kansas City; and the Jaguars lost at home, 27-10 against the Bengals.

This weekend sees another matchup between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, as the Broncos travel to Boston to play the New England Patriots; there is a Pennsylvania derby in Pittsburgh where the Steelers face the Eagles; the Jets will try to recover from being kept off the scoreboard by the 49ers, but are up against the 4-0 Texans on Monday night; Green Bay are at Indianapolis, who are coming off their bye week; Kansas City host Baltimore; the Saints – still looking for their first win of the season – play San Diego in New Orleans; and the San Francisco 49ers take on the Buffalo Bills.  The Thursday night game sees the Cardinals head to St. Louis to play their NFC West rivals; RG3 and the Redskins have played three of their first four fixtures on the road, but return to Washington to face a difficult encounter against the Falcons; the Bears go from Dallas to Jacksonville as they face the Jaguars; 0-4 Cleveland play the Giants in New York (Jersey); and surprise package Minnesota take on Tennessee.

Predictions

Last week‘s coin flips 7-8; Season 36-27

Home teams in bold

Thursday

Rams +1.5 over Cardinals

Sunday

Dolphins +4.5 over Bengals

Packers -7.5 over Colts

Ravens -4.5 over Chiefs

Browns +9.5 over Giants

Steelers -3.5 over Eagles

Redskins +3.5 over Falcons

Panthers -3.5 over Seahawks

Jaguars +5.5 over Bears

Titans +5.5 over Vikings

Patriots -6.5 over Broncos

Bills +9.5 over 49ers

Chargers +3.5 over Saints

Monday

Jets +7.5 over Texans

 

 

 

 

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