This column addresses some of the fallout from Sunday’s games and provides some notes into the Monday night action.
- LeGarrette Blount’s left knee injury will likely keep him out of the Week 6 matchup against New Orleans. The Bucs are really in trouble right now; they looked impotent against the 49ers and don’t have any one part of their offense clicking right now. Giving up 48 points to the Niners without the benefit of one San Francisco defensive TD? You can’t play this D/ST any more this season, folks.
- A day after the Bills dispatched the reeling Philadelphia Eagles, Michael Vick took full responsibility for the loss and admitted he’d need to protect the football better in order for Philly to start picking up wins. The turnovers are a problem, for sure, but the supposedly bolstered defense is not doing much to stop opposing offenses from running roughshod. The latest word is that the Eagles will get some defensive “consulting” from an outside source.
- The Colts blew yet another game – this time to the lowly Chiefs – and Jim Irsay is now putting the odds on Peyton Manning’s 2011 return at slightly below 50 percent. It doesn’t make much sense that they’d rush him back if the team is out of the playoff picture, which we all assume they will be by Week 8 or 9. Andrew Luck, anyone?
- It was confirmed Monday that Mario Williams has yet another season-ending injury (torn pectoral), which doesn’t bode well for the Texans chances of running away with the AFC South. They’re still the frontrunners, but the loss to Oakland (albeit in the wake of Al Davis’ death) proves this is a team that needs its superstars healthy. They really miss Andre Johnson, and Matt Schaub looked absolutely terrible in Week 5.
- A quick note on the late Al Davis. He may have looked like a sea monster, but he was one hell of a ruthless executive with a vision for his organization. Granted, the once-revered, multi-sloganed franchise had descended into one of chaos, poor behavior and outright indiscretion at times, but it defined a couple different generations, from popularizing the bad boy image during gritty 1970s with John Madden’s crew of Jack Tatum, Ken Stabler and Lester Hayes to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the gangsta rap culture adopted the Silver & Black as their colors.
- The J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets don’t have much to be excited about either, dropping their third straight. On Monday, Rex Ryan seemed downright calm about his team’s losing streak, opting for a measured approach in dealing with their current adversity. He said he believes ion his team, but my feeling is that things have gone right for the Jets for far too long. This isn’t a team built for speed, and in the new NFL, they’re going to take their lumps a little more than in previous seasons, when they won WAY too many close games. And folks seem to be waking up to Brian Schottenheimer’s offense.
- The team that benefited most from the bye week? The Cowboys, hands down. They should have Miles Austin back this week, Dez Bryant should be healthy, and the cornerbacks are getting close to 100 percent as well. Just in time to face the juggernaut Pats.
- The Packers might have some problems down the line protecting Aaron Rodgers, but haven’t they always? I’ve never seen an organization more prepared to replace starting offensive lineman with capable bodies, even though an occasional guy gets through to pester their QB. The thing is, Rodgers knows how to avoid the pass rush, and does an excellent job of moving around in (or out of) the pocket to get the play off. He knows when to dump it off, when to take a sack, and when to throw it away. No major gaffes here, and that’s a lesson that dozens of NFL QBs should be learning.
- Have you picked up James Jones yet? He’s available in tons of leagues, and after Sunday night, he’s going to be a big part of the Pack’s game plan.
- Heading into Monday night, I needed about a dozen points from Jahvid Best in one standard-scoring league to pull out a victory. I was worried – not because Best isn’t up to the challenge, but because the Lions never run a standard pro set . But after Monday night, I don’t know if there’s a better low-key running back to use on inside draws and counters out of the shotgun than Best. He flies under the radar and can take just about any ball to the house once he hits the corner. He doesn’t have Adrian Peterson speed, but when defenses are faced with the glaring problem of covering Calvin Johnson, it’s easy to forget a playmaker like Best, who finished the game with 163 rushing yards (which included an 88-yard TD scamper) on 12 carries – as well as four receptions for 9 yards.
- Calvin Johnson, on the other hand, now has nine TDs on the season, the most in NFL history through five games. Well done. I’d say 25 TD receptions is not out of reach for this almost-alien life form. Matthew Stafford can make all the throws, and if he hits Megatron in stride even once or twice per game, it’s a big problem for the opposing defense.
- It’s possible that Ford Field is the toughest place to play in the league right now. When the crowds gets behind this team, they’re capable of just about anything, defensively or offensively. The secondary is easily the weakest link on D, but the dynamic defensive line and capable LBs help to diffuse some of that risk by putting constant pressure on the QB and backfield. If they do anything wrong, it’s over-pursuit on standard running plays, where a tailback with excellent vision and patience (like Matt Forte) can hurt them. Then again, it’s a risk/reward unit that will create plenty of turnovers this season against pass-based offenses.
Antonio D’Arcangelis is a fantasy baseball and football writer from Upstate New York. He’s written for Fanhouse.com and Rotoexperts.com, among several other sites, with columns syndicated on SI.com and Yahoo.com. Antonio specializes in IDP content, has 10 years experience as a fantasy writer and currently provides content for FFToday.com, FanDuel.com and DraftBuddy.com. He can be reached via e-mail and on Twitter.