This Week In: The NFL Week 5, 2013

Peyton Manning got to sit out the final quarter of the Broncos' rout of the Eagles.
Peyton Manning got to sit out the final quarter of the Broncos’ rout of the Eagles.

Merely a quarter of the way through the NFL season, almost everybody seems ready to pencil in the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks as the teams who will be competing in next February’s Super Bowl, with Peyton Manning’s team being hailed as an offensive juggernaut that looks unstoppable.  Last weekend, Denver racked up a franchise record 52 points in a fast-paced meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles, as Manning threw four touchdown passes and got to sit out the entire fourth quarter with the game already well beyond doubt.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks had a much tougher time claiming the win in Houston, as they had to come from 20-3 down at the half to win 23-20 in overtime.  The biggest play for the Seahawks – who moved to 4-0 for the first time in their history – was a 58 yard interception return by Richard Sherman in the final three minutes to tie the game and that helped cover up a poor throwing day for Russell Wilson, who had only 123 passing yards, no touchdowns and an interception.  Although both Denver and the Seahawks appear to be the class of the league at the moment, history shows that early season form does not necessarily mean that a team will be going all the way in the playoffs.  In 2007, the Patriots aced the regular season, going 16-0, but then lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants; and, at this stage last year, the Cardinals were 4-0 and only gained one more win all season, while the best teams in the league appeared to be Atlanta and Houston, both of whom crashed out in the playoffs.  My guess is that neither the Broncos or Seattle ends up playing in the big game in New Jersey next February and it probably is worth playing the rest of the fixtures before then rather than just picking the Super Bowl teams after only four weeks.

There are three other teams who are currently unbeaten: the Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the hapless New York Giants, 31-7 last weekend; the New England Patriots, who had an impressive 30-23 victory in Atlanta; and the New Orleans Saints, as they beat the Dolphins, who also went into the game with a 3-0 record, 38-17 on Monday Night.  Alongside the Giants, there are three other franchises who have lost all four of their opening games; the Pittsburgh Steelers, who lost the first of two games to be played at Wembley this season against the previously winless Vikings, 34-27; Tampa Bay, who have benched their starting quarterback, Josh Freeman, led 10-0 going into the fourth quarter against Arizona, but gave up 13 unanswered points to the Cardinals; and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who continued to look like an all-time terrible team with a 37-3 home loss against the Colts.

In the wretched NFC East, the Cowboys joined the Eagles and Giants in losing in Week 4, as they were kept off the scoreboard in the second half by San Diego, who came from behind to win 30-21; but Washington finally got a win, beating the Raiders in Oakland, 24-14, though the home team was forced to play Matt Flynn at quarterback, as their first-choice, Terrell Pryor, was out after suffering a concussion in their previous game against Denver.  In the AFC North, the Browns took a share of first place by beating the Bengals in Cleveland, 17-6; while the Ravens fell 23-20 in Buffalo, as the Bills intercepted last year’s Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco, five times.  On Thursday night, the 49ers overpowered the Rams, 38-11; while the other two games last weekend saw the Bears lose for the first time in 2013, 40-32 against their divisional rivals, the Lions, though that scoreline flattered Chicago, who scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes with two point conversions to make it look closer than it was; and the Titans beat the Jets, 38-13, but lost their starting quarterback, Jake Locker, to injury and will have to start Ryan Fitzpatrick until he is healthy again.

The Week 5 slate starts on Thursday night with Cleveland having the chance to move clear at the top of their division as they host the Bills; then on Sunday, the Packers and Panthers come off their bye weeks to play the Lions and Cardinals respectively; Chicago host the perfect Saints; Fitzpatrick’s first start for Tennessee will be against the 4-0 Chiefs; and the Seahawks are in Indianapolis.  Baltimore has a road game against the Dolphins; Dallas have the task of attempting to tame the Broncos; Houston travel to San Francisco; Oakland host their AFC West rivals San Diego; one team in the NFC East is likely to get a win as the Eagles play the Giants; St. Louis gets the chance to rack up some points as they entertain the Jaguars; and the Bengals and Patriots meet in Cincinnati.  On Monday night, the New York Jets are in Atlanta to play the Falcons, who have started the season 1-3 and badly need to win if they are to have any chance of contending to make their fourth consecutive playoff appearance.  The teams who have a bye week are Tampa Bay, Washington, and the two teams who played in London last Sunday, Minnesota and Pittsburgh.


Last week, 7-8; Season, 33-30

Home team in bold

Bills +4.5 over Browns

Saints +0.5 over Bears

Patriots +1.5 over Bengals

Packers -6.5 over Lions

Chiefs -2.5 over Titans

Colts +2.5 over Seahawks

Rams -11.5 over Jaguars

Dolphins -2.5 over Ravens

Eagles +2.5 over Giants

Cardinals +2.5 over Panthers

Broncos -7.5 over Cowboys

49ers -6.5 over Texans

Raiders +4.5 over Chargers

Falcons -9.5 over Jets




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