Week 5 is in the books and now we are officially done with a quarter of the season. This is also the last time we’ll get the full slate of 16 games as teams start going on bye weeks next week. The week also featured the first of two London games this season. As we enter the next phase of the season, Arizona still remains the only team yet to experience defeat. On the other end of the spectrum, Jacksonville and Detroit are the only teams yet to taste victory. Some teams had good weeks while others suffered from missed opportunities. So, let’s jump into those winners and losers.
Winner #1 Buffalo Bills
At least for this season we might have witnessed a changing of the guard on Sunday night. The Bills marched into Kansas City and absolutely dominated the Chiefs. After suffering at the hands of the Chiefs the last few years, the Bills got a bit of revenge. The win was nice, but the manner in which they won was very impressive. The Bills were the better team in all aspects of the game and have now laid down a marker for the rest of the AFC. Josh Allen was brilliant in this game and is now in the thick of the MVP race. By beating KC, Buffalo has laid claim to being the best team in the AFC. Time will tell if they are the ones in the Super Bowl, but it’s hard to find a better team than Buffalo right now.
Loser #1 Las Vegas Raiders
Perhaps no one had a worst week than the Raiders. After starting the season 3-0 the Raiders lost last week to division rival Chargers. Then in the middle of this week, disturbing emails sent by Jon Gruden 11 years ago surfaced. Emails that were laced with racist, sexist and homophobic comments that were, quite frankly, disgraceful. The emails were nothing short of a distraction for this team heading into Sunday, and it showed. They lost a very winnable game to the Bears and shortly afterwards, Gruden resigned as head coach. It might be a bit dramatic, but it feels like in the span of 7-8 days the Raiders season has died. Whether they can bounce back remains to be seen, but it seems things will get worse before getting better.
Winner #2 Lamar Jackson
Critics often cite Lamar Jackson’s “inability” to perform in big or primetime games. Well, this past Monday, he answered the call, and then some. The Ravens clearly didn’t take this game seriously at first, as they quickly fell behind. In fact, an argument could be made that the Ravens didn’t wake up until late in the 3rd quarter. Down 22-3 with just about 18 minutes left to go in the game, Jackson went to work. He led a touchdown drive to cut the deficit to 13. Then in the 4th quarter he completed the comeback with two long touchdown drives to send the game to OT. In OT, he kept the momentum and threw the winning TD. He finished the game with 442 passing yards, 62 rushing yards, and threw for 4 TDs. This type of performance shows why he’s a special talent.
Loser #2 NFL fans in London
The London games are usually a running gag for us Americans, as we don’t really take them seriously. The reason for this is due to the fact that the NFL rarely sends good teams overseas. The fans in London were treated to watching the Falcons take on the Jets. Even if this game was in America, it wouldn’t have generated a lot of buzz. But the league’s insistence on wanting to grow the game overseas doesn’t match the product they keep sending over there. That rings true even more when you realize that this upcoming week’s London game pits Jacksonville against Miami. Neither one of these teams are particularly exciting to watch, and it’s a shame that the good folks in London get stuck with this matchup.
Winner #3 Los Angeles
Both LA teams won big games this past weekend. The Rams defeated their division rival Seahawks on Thursday night. Meanwhile the Chargers won a high scoring slugfest over the Browns. The wins make both teams 4-1 and even though its still early, both teams seem to be a sure thing to make the playoffs. The Chargers success can be attributed to the stellar play of their QB Justin Herbert. He was outstanding on Sunday, throwing for 398 yards and 4 TDs over a tough Cleveland defense. For the Rams, Matthew Stafford wasn’t at his best, but he got the job done and they were able to grind out a win on the road. Both of these teams are fun to watch, and best of all, they are winning. For now, it’s good times in the city of LA.
Loser #3 New York Giants
The Giants aren’t losers this week because of the result with Dallas. They were always expected to lose that game. What makes them losers this week is the sheer number of injuries they suffered. The Giants lost starting QB Daniel Jones, star RB Saquan Barkley, and their best WR in Kenny Golladay during the game. Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney picked up the slack and had a monster game before getting kicked out for throwing a punch and suffer an injury as well. Losing arguably 3 or 4 of your best offensive weapons in one game is terribly unlucky. Getting their trio of offensive weapons back as soon as possible is imperative to the success of this team. Losing to Dallas hurts, but not nearly as much as losing these key players. The Giants will fight on, but man, does this put a damper on their season.