The 2018 NFL season has been loaded with drama. Week 5 was no different. The Cleveland Browns survived another overtime game. The Atlanta Falcons fell to 1-4. Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions beat another future Hall of Famer at home in Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Oh, and the Los Angeles Rams remained undefeated on a gutsy 4th-and-1 call to win 33-31 at their division rival Seattle Seahawks. However, the biggest applause goes to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Here are the highs and lows from an exciting Week 5:
3. The Passing Yards King
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees faced several doubts early in his career, which led to him landing in the Big Easy. Years later, a national television audience watched him break Peyton Manning’s NFL passing yards record (71,940 yards) in dramatic fashion. Brees hit wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith on a 62-yard touchdown in the second quarter to surpass Manning. The Saints won, 43-19.
Few quarterbacks have ever performed at an elite level over such a long period of time. Brees deserves every moment of praise that he’s earning right now. He’s been there and done that throughout his career, and one day he will earn a new description: Hall of Famer. By the way, Brees completed 26 of 29 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
2. Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Browns are in contention
The Browns’ inexperience will likely keep them from staying in contention all year, but they have been in every game this season. It could be argued that the Browns would be a minimum 4-0-1 if only for a couple mistakes here and there. A year ago, I predicted the Browns could make the playoffs by 2018. I’m probably wrong, but there is reason to be excited in Cleveland.
Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield’s early performances are symbolic of the hope surrounding the Browns. He makes several rookie mistakes a game, but his overall play shows a poised leader who lifts his team every time he takes the field. That leadership was evident on the Browns’ game-winning drive in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens. For the first time in years, it was no longer clear that the Browns would wilt under pressure. Instead, they took home the 12-9 victory over the contending Ravens.
1. Buffalo is a tough out
The Buffalo Bills entered this season with a roster of mostly unknowns. Several predictions across the league showed the Bills finishing 3-13 or worse. Yet Buffalo plays hard every week and have beaten two playoff contenders in three weeks (Minnesota, Tennessee). If head coach Sean McDermott can weather the storm of the next two years, the Bills could emerge as the heir apparent in the AFC East.
3. Atlanta Falcons are in trouble
Nearly two years ago, the Atlanta Falcons stood on top of the world. They were about to win their first Super Bowl, but then collapsed late against the New England Patriots. Atlanta lost offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the San Francisco 49ers and the scoring has been an issue ever since.
The Falcons made the playoffs last season and improved the roster during the offseason. They were expected to compete for a playoff berth if not more. Yet the inconsistencies on both sides of the ball have never been more evident than they are now. Atlanta’s 41-17 loss in Pittsburgh exposed the truth about the Falcons: they were overrated from the get-go, and injuries have doomed their defense.
2. Kicking woes
Remember when the NFL changed the extra point rule? Remember how the league cited how easy it was to make the extra point? It’s hard to imagine that now with all of the kicking woes facing teams this season. The latest example is Green Bay’s Mason Crosby. He hit on only 1 of 5 field goal attempts and missed his only extra point in the Packers’ 31-23 loss at the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league. Crosby once ranked as one of the league’s best kickers. Now he could be on his way out.
1. Fan support for L.A. Chargers
The Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the AFC, while the Oakland Raiders are rebuilding and relocating. Yet the Raiders basically had a home game at the StubHub Center on Sunday. It’s fair to note that the Raiders still have a large base in Southern California. However, the Chargers have been struggling to draw their own fans in Los Angeles from the beginning.
When will the NFL realize its mistake in allowing the Chargers to move there? This is embarrassing for both the NFL and the Chargers. Send them back to San Diego where they belong.