The Playbook: Previewing Seahawks-Colts, Broncos-Cowboys, other Week 5 games
Only For The Faithful
Jacksonville (0-4) at St. Louis (1-3) — 1 p.m. ET, CBS: Is this the Jaguars’ best chance at a win yet? The 1-3 Rams are reeling with three straight losses (the last two in particularly ugly fashion). St. Louis has scored a grand total of 18 points in its previous two outings combined; Jacksonville put up 20 in Weeks 3 and 4 combined and has scored just 31 points all year. – CB
Carolina (1-2) at Arizona (2-2) — 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX: The Cards traded left tackle Levi Brown to the Steelers after head coach Bruce Arians called his own offense “putrid,” but replacement Bradley Sowell has an odiferous task in his first NFL start — facing a Panthers front that has bedeviled quarterbacks all season. – DF
San Diego (2-2) at Oakland (1-3) — 11:35 p.m. ET, NFL Network: This one’s really for the NFL diehards — at least on the East Coast — because it won’t kick off until 11:35 p.m. ET, due to an Oakland A’s home playoff game. Terrelle Pryor should return to the Raiders lineup after sitting out Week 4 with a concussion. Can he keep pace with a red-hot Philip Rivers? – CB
(Unless otherwise indicated, all stats come from our friends at Pro Football Focus.)
• One hidden aspect to the New England Patriots’ offense this season is the increasing use of play-action and how Brady is just killing defenses with it. He’s completed 28-of-47 passes for 441 yards (9.4 yards per attempt) out of play-action, while just 65-of-111 for 573 yards (5.2 YPA), five touchdowns and two picks without it.
• Yes, Peyton Manning is playing at a ridiculous level this season, but there’s also another AFC West quarterback doing things at an MVP level right now. While Manning has an Accuracy Percentage (completions plus dropped passes minus throwaways and spikes) of 85.1 percent, Rivers’ sits at 84.3. And Rivers has that kind of deadly accuracy with a few more downfield throws — he’s attempted 17 passes of over 20 yards and completed eight of them, while Manning has attempted 14 and completed seven.
• One thing we’re seeing more of these days is elite receivers in the slot — it’s no longer just the domain of the athletically challenged. The Lions, for example, have thrown to Calvin Johnson eight times from the slot, and he’s caught two of his four touchdown passes from there.
• There’s a runaway (sorry) leader in yards gained after contact this season, and it isn’t Adrian Peterson — it’s Ben Tate of the Texans. Tate has averaged 4.47 yards after first contact on his 34 carries, while Peterson ranks second with 3.48 YAC on his 94 carries. Last year, Peterson led the league at 3.93.
• Jamaal Charles is the Chiefs’ leading receiver with 23 catches this season, but he’s been too prolific in one regard — he leads all running backs with five dropped passes on 33 targets. Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin has four drops on just 17 targets. Watch out, Martin — Greg Schiano might trade you to the Estonian Football league if he’s in a particularly bad mood.
• Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Month for September, the first player at his position to grab the award. It’s well-deserved, too — Graham has four catches on passes of 20 yards or more for 155 yards and three touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Baltimore’s Torrey Smith leads all receivers with 18 deep targets. He’s caught five of those passes for 206 yards and no touchdowns. – DF
• Matchup to Watch: Anthony Castonzo/Gosder Cherilus vs. Seattle’s pass-rushers.
Few teams can send the sheer variation of defenders at the QB like the Seahawks. The 3-1 Colts have thus far done an admirable job of keeping Andrew Luck upright (10 sacks), but this is a different animal they’re facing in Week 5.
Seven Seahawks have recorded sacks so far in 2013, and 14 defenders have registered QB hurries. Pete Carroll’s group not only gets into the backfield, it does so from a number of different looks and pressure points. So the Colts’ interior line will be pressured, as well. But it’s Castonzo and Cherilus who have the responsibility to pin down the corners, no matter what sort of unique attack may head their directions.
• This Week’s Sleeper: Brandon Jacobs, Giants.
The veteran running back’s tank may be on empty these days, but the Giants sound as if they’re prepared to test that theory. The New York Daily News speculated this week that Jacobs “is going to get plenty of chances over the next few weeks,” as the No. 2 back behind David Wilson. There may not be a better foe to start against than Philadelphia.
The Eagles’ defense (which has been on the field more than any other defense so far, by the way) has displayed very little resistance through the air or on the ground. The last three of Philadelphia’s opponents have topped 100 yards rushing, and both Kansas City and Denver rolled past 140 yards.
If Wilson and Jacobs are going to kickstart the Giants’ run game, now is as good a time as any.
• Pressure’s On …: Jim Caldwell, Ravens.
Baltimore’s play-caller tossed out an interesting, and ultimately unsuccessful, gameplan in Buffalo last week: 50 passes from Joe Flacco to nine combined rushing attempts by Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Everyone involved with the Ravens’ offense made it clear that such an inability to run the football is unacceptable — and GM Ozzie Newsome hammered that point home by trading for OT Eugene Monroe.
Caldwell has to find a better balance against Miami on Sunday. Otherwise, Rice and Pierce are simply going to waste.
• Rookie Spotlight: Geno Smith, Jets.
Jets coach Rex Ryan sounds closer and closer to sounding the alarm on his rookie QB, who continues to have all sorts of issues with turnovers. Smith’s up to 11 turnovers now (eight interceptions, three fumbles), compared to just four touchdown passes. A Monday night spotlight in Atlanta offers Smith another chance to prove that he is progressing as a starting quarterback.
• Green Bay: The Packers have won 21 straight at home vs. Detroit. If they cannot push that streak to 22, they will find themselves in a world of hurt in the NFC North — 2.5 games back of the Lions. – CB
• Atlanta Falcons: Taking the 0-4 teams out of the equation, who needs a win more than the 1-3 Falcons? This team is far too talented to be desperately seeking answers, and if it can’t beat the Jets — well, it won’t be pretty. – DF