Week 5 of the NFL showed us that the game we love is filled with much emotion, both good and bad.
After an inspirational email from Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who is fighting his personal battle with leukemia, his players responded by upsetting the Green Bay Packers and giving Aaron Rodgers the dubious distinction as the only reigning MVP to lose to two rookie quarterbacks (Russell & Luck).
Sean Payton was allowed back into the Superdome on Sunday night to see his QB Drew Brees throw a touchdown pass in his 48th consecutive game, breaking Johnny Unitas’ half-century-old record. The Saints came back from a halftime deficit by scoring 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and notched their first victory of the season for their suspended head coach.
And in the worst display of humanity in the NFL this weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs fans celebrated Halloween early by impersonating Philadelphians as they booed their own starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, as he lied on the turf after suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter.
Chiefs OL Eric Winston said it best and it puts the game in perspective. Listen here.
Well done Chiefs fans, a little more BBQ and a little less brew would help the decision making skills. You want to trash somebody? Channel your anger towards Scott Pioli, the Patriots prodigy who signed Cassel to his deal.
Enough of the soapbox, here’s the top 10…
Just Missed: St. Louis Rams (3-2)
They may not be the first team that rolls off the tongue when you think best teams, but after handing the Cardinals their first loss of the year, Jeff Fisher has his new team playing like his old Titans.
The Rams defense is top ten in the league, giving up less than 20 points/game and dominated the desert birds Thursday night. Kevin Kolb was sacked nine times (no that’s not a typo Ferris, NINE TIMES) and had his helmet knocked off twice.
Fisher’s message was old & busted in Tennessee, but with fresh ears, Fisher is reminding everyone why his tenure in Houston/Nashville lasted 17 years.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)
Michael Vick once again opened up the bakery on Sunday and cost his team a victory. Fumbling the ball into the endzone was one of three fumbles (two lost) for the aspiring Buddy Valastro in the loss of Pennsylvania supremacy.
The Eagles are baffling and will become even more so after they get healthy with a Motor City beatdown of the Lions in Week 6. (Previous – 6)
9. Arizona Cardinals (4-1)
The undefeated Cardinals were sent into a hornet’s nest on Thursday night and predictably came out on the losing end. After needing overtime to beat the Dolphins at home last week, Arizona got clipped on a shortened work week.
The defense is good, the offense is flatulent and the offensive line is playing Red Rover. Now we know why Peyton Manning said thanks, but no thanks this offseason. (Previous – 5)
8. Minnesota Vikings (4-1)
The Vikings received the NFL version of “semi-bye” as they hosted the Tennessee Titans. Percy Harvin went crazy again with both a receiving and rushing touchdown, while Christian Ponder continues to validate his 12th overall pick from two years ago. His four wins are two less than fellow second-year quarterbacks Dalton, Newton, Gabbert & Locker combined.
Toss in a rookie kicker, Blair Walsh, who ranks in the top 5 in kicking, missing only one attempt thus far and the Vikings appear set to stick around. (Previous – 10)
7. New York Giants (3-2)
The G-Men are back in the top 10 after waking up from spotting the Brownies a 14-point lead Sunday. The Super Bowl Champs are putting plenty of points on the board, second in the league, and Eli Manning is averaging over 300 yards/game through the air.
Archie need to rethink which sons’ game is more relevant; Eli’s stats & two rings have now made Peyton the little brother. (Previous – Unranked)
6. New England Patriots (3-2)
Eli’s brother changed his jersey, but the results were the same – another loss to Tom Brady. Brady is now 9-4 against Peyton Manning and the Patriots are the NFL’s #1 offense. What should really make opponents nervous is they’re getting it done on the ground with 165 yards/game.
Bill Belichick, has brought former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels back into the fold and the offense is clicking. The Hoodie’s defense historically is like good Cabernet, it gets better with time. Expect the second worst pass defense to get better as the weeks go by. (Previous – Unranked)
5. Chicago Bears (4-1)
There should be no plans to begin filming Super Bowl Shuffle II, but this year’s defense is waking up the echoes of the ’85 squad. Both Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs have taken interceptions to the house in back-to-back weeks.
Spotting your QB 14 points will always help and Jay Cutler is leading an offense that is doing just enough. We’ll have to wait and see if Cutler sports a headband with “Goodell” in the coming weeks. (Previous – 9)
4. Baltimore Ravens (4-1)
No NFL team will light up the scoreboard for 16 games, but the good teams find ways to prevail even when the offense is flat. The Ravens defense of old showed up in Kansas City creating four turnovers while rookie Justin Tucker provided all the scoring necessary with three chip shots.
The Ravens showed they can still win single-digit scoring contests when needed. There are no style points for victories earned on the road in the NFL; only wins & losses. (Previous – 4)
3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1)
Alex Smith is now the highest ranked QB in the NFL. Raise your hand if you thought that would ever happen. San Francisco continued its assault on the State of New York by crushing the Bills 45-3. In two consecutive weeks, they’ve trucked The Empire State 79-3.
Is it just me, or do the 49ers look like the school bully collecting milk money from anybody who dares cross his path? We’ll find out next week when they go for the NY trifecta by hosting the Giants at Candlestick. “You lookin’ at me?” (Previous – 3)
2. Atlanta Falcons (5-0)
Ryan Kerrigan was on the receiving end of Matt Ryan’s first touchdown pass on Sunday, but after Ryan stayed true to his “Matty Ice” moniker and threw two more touchdowns to his own team, the Falcons avoided the upset in the Nation’s Capital.
With no other team in their division having more than one win, the Falcons have lengthened their lead in the NFC South Regatta to four boat lengths. Raise a Red Solo Cup if you’re a Dirty Birds fan, they’re still undefeated. (Previous – 2)
1. Houston Texans (5-0)
Did I mention road victories in the NFL aren’t easy? Tebowmania was alive and well last night as the Jets rode a wave of emotion to stay close to the league’s best team on MNF, but in the end Arian Foster and Wade Phillip’s D was too much for Gang Green and the Texans stayed perfect and are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
The Texans rushing attack has helped Matt Schaub perfect the play-action pass and he has now won nine straight games under center and is in complete control of the offense, even when Andre Johnson makes only one catch. (Previous – 1)
Disagree with the list? Let me know.
James Van Etten is a syndicated sports columnist previously featured or linked on forbes.com, mlive.com, usatoday.com & yahoo.com
Follow him on Twitter @jbvanetten