NFL Week 5 takeaways – What we realized, huge questions for each recreation and future workforce outlooks

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Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season featured a number of wild endings Sunday, together with an exhilarating time beyond regulation recreation between the Packers and Bengals. After 5 missed discipline targets between the 2 groups, Inexperienced Bay kicker Mason Crosby lastly hit a recreation winner. And after the Lions had thought they pulled off an inconceivable victory towards Minnesota, the Vikings’ Greg Joseph hit a 54-yard discipline purpose to get the win.

Elsewhere, the Buccaneers’ and Saints’ offenses had been on full show, the Steelers’ protection confirmed up in a giant method towards the Broncos, the Eagles engineered a comeback in Carolina, the Patriots held on for a closer-than-expected win towards the Texans and the Jaguars’ tough begin to the season continued. Falcons tight finish Kyle Pitts had a giant day in London, and the Rams slid previous the Seahawks on Thursday evening — after Seattle misplaced quarterback Russell Wilson to an harm.

Within the late video games, the Giants misplaced QB Daniel Jones, operating again Saquon Barkley and large receiver Kenny Golladay in a loss to the Cowboys. The Chargers beat the Browns in a shootout, the Bears beat the Raiders, the Cardinals stayed undefeated and the Payments knocked off the Chiefs.

Our NFL Nation reporters react with the key takeaways and lingering questions from this week’s motion. Plus, they every take a look at the larger image with their present workforce confidence score — a 0-10 grade of how they really feel in regards to the workforce’s outlook popping out of the week. Let’s get to it.

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What to know: This was the all-around assertion win that the Payments wanted — with an exclamation level. The Payments bested the Chiefs in all three phases. The offense had success downfield, with quarterback Josh Allen finishing 5 of 6 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns on throws of 15 yards or extra. The Payments have scored 35 factors in 4 straight video games for the second time in workforce historical past (2004).

After coming into the sport by no means having intercepted Patrick Mahomes, the protection picked him off twice in a half, together with a pick-six by security Micah Hyde. The particular groups even recovered a fumble on a kickoff within the first half.

It wasn’t at all times fairly — the offense struggled at instances and there have been loads of errors (10 penalties) — however getting previous the Chiefs was a hurdle the Payments must clear in some unspecified time in the future. Within the workforce’s first main take a look at of the season, Buffalo dominated, placing the remainder of the NFL on discover. — Alaina Getzenberg

Is the inconsistency of the Payments’ dashing assault a long-term concern? Sure, to an extent. The Payments had been at all times going to stay a pass-first workforce — that is a part of the best way this unit was constructed. However the incapability to get issues going constantly on the bottom has been a recurring theme, extending to final season.

Zack Moss has performed higher than Devin Singletary as of late, however each struggled towards Kansas Metropolis. The Chiefs got here into the sport permitting the second-most dashing yards per recreation within the NFL (146.0 yards per recreation). Buffalo completed with 121, together with 59 by Allen, who completed because the workforce’s main rusher, whereas Moss and Singletary mixed for 62 yards on 17 carries. The offensive line has been adjusted considerably with rookie Spencer Brown beginning the previous two video games at proper sort out, however troubles stay.

In opposition to a mediocre Chiefs protection, it was much less of a priority. The massive passing performs had been there. However the offense has been extra profitable when the Payments are nearer to balanced. — Getzenberg

Getzenberg’s confidence score (0-10): 7.9, up from 7.7. The Payments visited the location of the workforce’s AFC Championship loss and got here away as arguably the most important menace within the convention, changing into the ninth workforce to have a +100 rating differential by way of 5 video games previously 50 seasons (+108), with half of the earlier eight successful the Tremendous Bowl that yr.

Subsequent recreation: at Titans (Monday, Oct. 18, 8:15 p.m. ET)


What to know: If it wasn’t evident already, merely making the playoffs might be a battle for the Chiefs. They bumped into the most effective defensive groups within the NFL within the Payments and located they will not at all times rating on nearly each possession as they did the week earlier than towards the Eagles. And with out scoring on nearly each possession, the Chiefs will not typically be capable of overcome their dismal protection. — Adam Teicher

Why are the Chiefs struggling a lot on protection? So much performs into it. For starters, they are not overly gifted, with simply two former first-round picks on protection. So they should get manufacturing from their higher-priced gamers equivalent to Frank Clark, Chris Jones and Jarran Reed, and that hasn’t occurred. The Chiefs have additionally missed on some defensive gamers they’ve drafted lately with early- and middle-round picks. — Teicher

Teicher’s confidence score (0-10): 4, down from 6.7. A fourth straight look within the AFC Championship Sport is unrealistic. Even a wild-card playoff spot appears far-fetched.

Subsequent recreation: at Washington (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


What to know: With their 24-point win towards the New York Giants, the Cowboys preserve elevating the probabilities of what they are often in 2021. Sure, the Giants had been decimated by accidents to Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones and Kenny Golladay, however the Cowboys had been in a position to put away their NFC East rivals thanks to 3 Dak Prescott landing passes, a 3rd straight recreation of no less than 95 yards dashing from Ezekiel Elliott and a fifth straight recreation with a decide by Trevon Diggs. It is their fourth straight win. The Cowboys didn’t attain their fourth win a yr in the past till Week 14. What does a four-game win streak imply? Since Jerry Jones grew to become proprietor in 1989, they’ve had 15 seasons through which they’ve had win streaks of 4 or extra video games. Solely twice did they not make the postseason — 1990 and 2011. — Todd Archer

Do the Cowboys have a difficulty with middle Tyler Biadasz? He has hassle with greater defensive tackles, and on Sunday he had points along with his shotgun snaps. He additionally was late with a snap that led to a false begin credited to everyone else on the offensive line however him. Prescott dropped one shotgun snap, but it surely was not that unhealthy a supply from Biadasz; nevertheless, earlier Prescott was in a position to corral an off-kilter snap. The difficulty the Cowboys have is their backups — Connor Williams, Connor McGovern and Matt Farniok — don’t have any recreation expertise. Williams took snaps within the preseason, however he had difficulties with shotgun snaps. McGovern performed middle for a yr at Penn State however has labored on the place solely for the reason that common season began. — Archer

Archer’s confidence score (0-10): 8.9, no change from 8.9. There are simply too some ways the Cowboys can beat a workforce offensively and the protection continues to be opportunistic. They’ve discovered their system for fulfillment.

Subsequent recreation: at Patriots (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Who’s left standing? The Giants misplaced quarterback Daniel Jones (concussion), operating again Saquon Barkley (ankle) and large receiver Kenny Golladay (knee). Add in that beginning left sort out Andrew Thomas (foot) was energetic however did not play, and the Giants had been down seven of their 11 Week 1 offensive starters by the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. That is wild. The Giants completed the sport with Mike Glennon at quarterback handing off to Devontae Booker and throwing to John Ross. Not how the entrance workplace drew it up in the summertime. — Jordan Raanan

How unhealthy are the accidents to Barkley, Jones and Golladay? The Giants cannot survive with out their most essential offensive gamers. They’ve the Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on deck. The Chiefs and Bucs are Monday evening contests on the street. They in all probability want two of the three again to have any likelihood in any of these video games. — Raanan

Raanan’s confidence score (0-10): 2.6, down from 4.4. This workforce is in hassle. The Giants are three video games again of Dallas within the NFC East with a head-to-head loss and no one is wholesome. Sound the alarm!

Subsequent recreation: vs. Rams (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Chargers coach Brandon Staley says he isn’t a playing man. That he simply bets on the odds, which have handled him properly. Thrice within the second half on Sunday towards the Browns, he went for it on fourth down and made it — together with at his personal 24 when the Chargers had been down 27-13 within the third quarter — and he is 7-of-8 on the season. His daring decision-making together with the play of Justin Herbert (398 passing yards, 5 touchdowns mixed) and Mike Williams (eight catches, 165 yards, two touchdowns) led the Chargers to a shootout win and a 4-1 begin. The gamers say they recognize the belief Staley reveals in them to transform. It definitely confirmed Sunday. — Shelley Smith

How huge of an issue is the Chargers’ run protection? Whereas the Browns have the highest dashing offense within the NFL, permitting them 230 yards on the bottom is unacceptable and magnifies a bigger downside, because the Chargers have had issues this yr stopping the run. And what in regards to the continued kicker woes? How lengthy will they grasp on to Tristan Vizcaino, who missed two PATs that may have made for a far much less aggravating ending? — Smith

Smith’s confidence score (0-10): 6.2, down from 6.9. The Chargers should be stronger within the rush protection and discover a dependable kicker.

Subsequent recreation: at Ravens (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Cleveland saved exchanging haymakers with the Chargers. However in a wild fourth quarter, the Browns could not give you a game-clinching play, offensively or defensively. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was otherworldly. However the Browns had alternatives on either side of the ball to place the sport away late. And so they simply could not do it. — Jake Trotter

What did quarterback Baker Mayfield show? After taking warmth all week for his poor displaying in Minnesota, Mayfield responded with a crisp efficiency towards the Chargers, finishing 23 of 32 passes for 305 yards and two landing passes. He merely received outdueled by Herbert, then ran out of time on a possible game-winning drive. Regardless of the prolific operating recreation, Cleveland wants Mayfield to play at a excessive stage to be a legit contender within the AFC. Sunday’s efficiency was undoubtedly encouraging. — Trotter

Trotter’s confidence score (0-10): 8.3, up from 8.1. The Chargers are a superb workforce, and regardless of so many key accidents, Cleveland may’ve received.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Cardinals (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: David Montgomery, who? The Bears desperately need their operating again to return from a knee harm, however veteran Damien Williams and rookie Khalil Herbert greater than crammed the void in Vegas. Each had been excellent because the Bears dominated the Raiders on the bottom. Williams and Herbert mixed to hurry for properly over 125 yards and one landing, and every picked up essential first downs at numerous factors within the recreation. What’s the easiest way to assist your sturdy protection? Run the ball and take day without work the clock. That is precisely what the Bears did in Week 5. — Jeff Dickerson

Has the Bears’ offense lastly turned the nook with coordinator Invoice Lazor calling performs? It might need. The Bears’ offense has been rather more environment friendly the previous two weeks with Lazor in cost. The weekly recreation plan nonetheless runs by way of head coach Matt Nagy, however the offense was extra balanced in Chicago’s wins over Detroit and Las Vegas. Lazor requested quarterback Justin Fields to handle the sport on Sunday, extra so than to exit and win it, and the strategy labored. Fields is just not placing up gaudy statistics, however he is enjoying with good tempo and confidence. No matter Lazor is doing, it’s clearly working. — Dickerson

Dickerson’s confidence score (0-10): 6, up from 5. The following couple of weeks (vs. Inexperienced Bay and at Tampa Bay) could possibly be bumpy, however the Bears deserve credit score for knocking off a great workforce on the street.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Packers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Electronic mail controversy or not, the Raiders’ offense has been an absolute mess the previous two weeks — or earlier than coach Jon Gruden grew to become the focus on Friday afternoon. Actually, after the best way Las Vegas’ offense was piling up yards in a 3-0 begin, that’s the largest query within the Raiders’ locker room, as they dropped their second straight recreation Sunday to the Bears. Think about: Getting into the fourth quarter, the Raiders had compiled 410 yards of offense over their previous seven quarters. They averaged 471 yards of offense per recreation of their first three video games. Uncharacteristic drops ( you, Bryan Edwards and Darren Waller), premature penalties (Yannick Ngakoue’s early roughing penalty ignited the Bears) and one other unproductive reshuffling of the offensive line doomed Las Vegas. — Paul Gutierrez

Has Jon Gruden misplaced the locker room? Powerful to inform, although this felt uncannily much like Week 4 of the 2017 season at Washington, when, after a high-flying 3-0 begin, the wheels merely fell off following a nationwide anthem controversy within the nation’s capital. Gruden’s leaked 10-year-old emails, which included a racial trope about NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith and a vulgar description of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, can both bond or fracture a workforce. Keep tuned. — Gutierrez

Gutierrez’s confidence score (0-10): 5.5, down from 7.5. With self-discipline potential for Gruden and questions remaining within the locker room, issues don’t look good. The offense is a multitude (Las Vegas moved first-rounder Alex Leatherwood from proper sort out to proper guard, to no avail), the protection is attempting however tiring and the locker room is a large query. Yikes.

Subsequent recreation: at Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: There have been so many — too many — causes the Cardinals may’ve misplaced to the 49ers: the emotional letdown after final week’s huge win over the Rams, the problem of enjoying one other NFC West opponent, accidents. However the Cardinals did not let any of that affect the underside line, within the course of displaying that they are actually a special workforce from previous years — with their protection main the best way — whereas bettering to 5-0. They’ve the psychological fortitude to resist a bevy of out of doors influences and nonetheless win. That could possibly be the distinction between sitting at house in the course of the playoffs and enjoying in them. — Josh Weinfuss

How will all of the Cardinals’ accidents affect them within the subsequent few weeks? Arizona misplaced some key gamers Sunday in middle Rodney Hudson and tight finish Maxx Williams, along with not having two of its beginning cornerbacks in Byron Murphy Jr. and Marco Wilson. Williams was having a profession season, however Hudson is likely to be the most important loss contemplating he has been the glue for the offense since he arrived this offseason. The Cardinals cannot afford any extra accidents to starters in the event that they need to preserve contemplating the playoffs. QB Kyler Murray could possibly be the distinction within the accidents curbing a hopeful season and them simply being a velocity bump. — Weinfuss

Weinfuss’ confidence score (0-10): 8.8, down from 9.2. They’re 5-0 and a win is a win is a win, however accidents are regarding for the upcoming couple of weeks.

Subsequent recreation: at Browns (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Irrespective of who’s at quarterback, the supporting offensive forged should be higher if the 49ers are going to finish this three-game shedding streak and get their season again on monitor. Rookie quarterback Trey Lance (15-of-29 passing for 192 yards with 89 dashing yards) had his share of bumps throughout his first begin, specifically a foul interception, a handful of tipped passes and holding the ball too lengthy. He additionally did some good issues, particularly on off-schedule performs through which he may create along with his legs. However Lance was the least of the Niners’ offensive issues. The 49ers had no less than three drops from their receivers, and so they had been flagged for 5 offensive holding penalties (all within the second half). And whereas they had been aggressive, among the playcalling was puzzling, as they had been 1-of-5 on fourth down. San Francisco’s protection was as much as the duty towards Arizona, however the offense did not ship. — Nick Wagoner

Can the 49ers protection preserve this up? Issues did not begin properly for the Niners’ protection, however to restrict Kyler Murray & Co. to 17 factors must be sufficient to drag off an upset for a workforce with as a lot offensive expertise because the Niners have. Given the 49ers’ offensive struggles, it would require related efforts from the protection each week to proper the ship. The expertise is generally in place to do that each week, however that is a tall order given the workforce’s cornerback points and first-year coordinator. — Wagoner

Wagoner’s confidence score (0-10): 5.8, no change from 5.8. There are not any ethical victories, however the Niners went toe-to-toe with the NFL’s lone undefeated workforce, and lots of of their errors appear fixable, which leaves us holding regular this week.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Colts (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 24)


What to know: They at all times say, do not give Mason Crosby 4 possibilities at a game-winning discipline purpose. Truly, nobody’s ever mentioned that as a result of Crosby has by no means had 4 possibilities to win a recreation within the ultimate minutes of regulation and time beyond regulation. Till Sunday. And the fourth time was the allure — good from 49 yards with 1:55 left in time beyond regulation. Crosby had possibilities to offer the Packers the lead or win it three earlier instances within the ultimate 2:12 of regulation plus OT. He missed a go-ahead 36-yard discipline purpose try with 2:12 left in regulation. That ended a streak of 27 straight made discipline targets within the common season, courting again to Week 17 of 2019. He missed once more from 51 yards on the final play of regulation and once more from 40 on the Packers’ first possession of time beyond regulation. He had not missed a number of discipline targets in a recreation for the reason that 2018 catastrophe in Detroit, when he missed 4 discipline targets and an additional level. Crosby grew to become the primary kicker to overlook three discipline targets within the fourth quarter and/or time beyond regulation for the reason that Giants’ Jay Feely in Week 12 of the 2005 season towards the Seahawks. — Rob Demovsky

2 Associated

What number of groups can win on the street with out three of their 5 offensive line starters — one an All-Professional and one other a Professional Bowler — and with out their two greatest defensive gamers? The Packers confirmed they’re deep sufficient to do it Sunday towards an upstart Bengals workforce in Cincinnati. Or maybe it wasn’t depth, however somewhat simply Aaron Rodgers (27-of-39, 344 yards, two TDs), Davante Adams (11 receptions for a career-high 206 yards and a TD) and Aaron Jones (14 rushes for 103 yards) doing what they usually do. Both method, the Packers are actually 4-1. Elgton Jenkins (ankle) was a game-time scratch for the third week in a row. The Professional Bowl left guard had been filling in for All-Professional left sort out David Bakhtiari (who stays on the PUP listing). Take away rookie middle Josh Myers, who missed his first recreation of the season due to a hand harm, and solely two common starters had been left up entrance. The day earlier than the sport, the Packers put All-Professional cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) on injured reserve, the place he joined Professional Bowl pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith. — Demovsky

Demovsky’s confidence score (0-10): 7.5, no change from final week. It is nonetheless too early to inform precisely how good the Packers are or could be. A lot of which may rely on the protection, and if that unit can determine a technique to keep away from the big-play meltdowns (like Joe Burrow’s 70-yard landing to Ja’Marr Chase late within the first half), the workforce is likely to be on to one thing particular.

Subsequent recreation: at Bears (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: The Cincinnati Bengals realized simply how troublesome making the playoffs might be. In opposition to their hardest opponent to this point this season, the Bengals could not pull off the comeback in a 25-22 time beyond regulation loss to the Inexperienced Bay Packers. Cincinnati erased an eight-point deficit and was in place to attain the successful discipline purpose. However rookie kicker Evan McPherson, who has hit two winners already this season, had his 57-yard try clank off the correct upright. In the end, the Bengals wanted to be extra constant offensively and have a greater defensive displaying to win. And Sunday’s recreation would be the kind Cincinnati should win if it desires to finish a postseason drought that dates again to 2015. — Ben Child

Is Ja’Marr Chase changing into Cincinnati’s true No. 1 receiver? It is definitely trying that method. When the Bengals wanted a giant play, Burrow turned to the rookie large receiver. Chase had six catches for a career-high 159 yards and a landing. Chase’s sturdy begin to the season continued when the Bengals wanted it most. — Child

Child’s confidence score (0-10): 6.5, down from 7. Cincinnati is enjoying too erratically to beat high quality groups and should enhance its consistency.

Subsequent recreation: at Lions (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: The protection and particular groups might need saved the season. Cornerback Darius Slay had his greatest day in an Eagles uniform, intercepting Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold twice whereas shadowing the most effective receivers within the league, DJ Moore. T.J. Edwards’ fourth-quarter punt block arrange quarterback Jalen Hurts’ second dashing landing of the day, serving to the Eagles (2-3) to a win that retains them related in entrance of Thursday evening’s house tilt towards Tom Brady and the Bucs. Philadelphia’s protection was below hearth after yielding greater than 850 yards and 76 factors over the earlier two weeks towards the Cowboys and Chiefs, but it surely rebounded in a giant method. — Tim McManus

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What’s with the Eagles’ unbalanced assault? Coach Nick Sirianni’s playcalling continues to be off-kilter. In a defensive battle that was tight many of the method, he dialed up 37 passes to 21 runs — eight of which had been by Hurts. The operating backs obtained 13 carries complete. Their lack of utilization is a pattern that spans three weeks. Hurts is just not constant sufficient at this level of his profession to hold that a lot of the offensive weight. — McManus

McManus’ confidence score (0-10): 4.5, up from 3.7. There have been some encouraging indicators, significantly on protection, however with the Bucs and Raiders up subsequent, it is just a little early to get excited.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Buccaneers (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)


What to know: Quarterback Sam Darnold is simply pretty much as good as these round him. These round him had been unhealthy in Sunday’s loss, which made Darnold look unhealthy. He had three picks, as many as he had within the first 4 video games. Dropped passes additionally harm on a day when he was off track solely 4 instances, however stress harm him worse. As in 18 pressures on 37 dropbacks (49%). The excellent news is operating again Christian McCaffrey possible might be again subsequent week. — David Newton

What can the Panthers do to shore up the offensive line that is been horrible in cross safety the previous two video games? Carolina tried to cowl the lack of left sort out Cam Erving (neck) by shifting proper sort out Taylor Moton to the left facet and beginning rookie Brady Christensen on the correct. That group gave up stress on 43% of Darnold’s dropbacks within the first half, second solely to 50% towards Dallas final week. It continued within the second half, and Darnold’s completion share was 56.8%, considerably lower than his 67.8% for the season. The Panthers do not have many different choices. — Newton

Newton’s confidence score (0-10): 5.8, down from 6.2. Except the offensive line could be mounted, these struggles will proceed, however the protection will get higher after Week 7, when Professional Bowl nook Stephon Gilmore is eligible to play.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Let’s be sincere: A win over the Lions wasn’t going to affirm the Vikings as a great soccer workforce, however the best way Minnesota allowed its NFC North rival to remain within the recreation right down to the ultimate minute was atrocious. It ought to by no means have taken a 54-yard discipline purpose as time expired for the Vikings to beat Detroit, however that is what occurred. Minnesota’s offense has seemed horrible since discovering its method round Arizona’s stout cross rush and whipping a horrible Seattle protection. Because the Vikings’ offense tendencies downward, the protection confirmed indicators of enchancment by holding the Lions to 3-of-11 on third down and 288 complete web yards. However once more, it is the Lions. Take that progress with a grain of salt. — Courtney Cronin

What occurred to the Vikings’ offense? Minnesota’s strategy is usually too conservative and predictable, however the playcalling towards Detroit was inexcusable and the rationale this recreation was so shut. Justin Jefferson had 104 yards receiving on 5 catches within the first half, but on the finish of the second quarter with 41 seconds remaining and two timeouts, the Vikings referred to as back-to-back runs as an alternative of taking a shot to Jefferson to no less than get themselves in discipline purpose vary to increase their lead. One other instance of this rotten strategy occurred with 12:53 left within the fourth quarter, when the Vikings opted to run the ball on third-and-3 as an alternative of taking a shot down the sector. — Cronin

Cronin’s confidence score (0-10): 5, down from 6. The Vikings aren’t making anybody believers after the best way Week 5 performed out.

Subsequent recreation: at Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)



Greg Joseph drains a 54-yard discipline purpose with no time left because the Vikings beat the Lions 19-17.


What to know: Turnovers proceed to hang-out the Lions, who dramatically dropped to 0-5 for the primary time since 2015. Fumbling has been an issue for quarterback Jared Goff, whose first-half fumble was his sixth this season, tops within the NFL. He has additionally misplaced 4 of these six fumbles. Then he threw an interception within the third quarter for his seventh turnover of the season. Since coming into the league in 2016, Goff now has 81 turnovers, third most of any participant over that span, based on ESPN Stats & Data analysis. He helped the Lions mount one other late rally Sunday, however he might want to play cleaner video games going ahead. — Eric Woodyard

Ought to the Lions be involved with rookie Penei Sewell giving up two early sacks? Detroit needed to change its assault after offensive sort out Penei Sewell gave up two early sacks to Vikings defensive finish Everson Griffen on back-to-back performs within the first quarter, with the second leading to a Goff fumble. Sewell was initially listed as questionable to play after lacking two practices this week due to an ankle harm, however he was in a position to go well with up. The rookie goes by way of the standard first-year rising pains, however the Lions aren’t going to surrender on him. General, the Lions’ offensive line allowed Goff to be sacked 4 instances. — Woodyard

Woodyard’s confidence score (0-10): 3, down from 3.5. This recreation wasn’t all that encouraging, truthfully. Including to that, Detroit suffered one more harm to a key participant with large receiver Quintez Cephus (shoulder) being dominated out after the primary half.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Bengals (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Sunday’s efficiency is strictly what the Steelers envisioned after they drafted operating again Najee Harris within the first spherical. He had 100 dashing yards by early within the third quarter and completed with 122 yards on 23 carries, plus his second profession dashing landing. Practically an entire season had handed for the reason that Steelers final had a 100-yard rusher (James Conner had 101 yards towards the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 of 2020). Harris, although, handled cramps late within the fourth quarter and was on the sideline when the Steelers wanted to chew up clock clinging to a five-point lead. Exterior of some penalties, the offensive line seemed higher, and it paved the best way for runs like Harris’ 20-yard acquire within the opening minutes of the second quarter. After the Steelers’ loss to the Inexperienced Bay Packers, QB Ben Roethlisberger mentioned he wished Harris to play like Jerome Bettis. Harris channeled that vitality Sunday, and the Steelers’ offense was significantly better for it. — Brooke Pryor

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Did Roethlisberger repair the mechanics that led to his inconsistencies towards the Packers? If the outcomes are any indication, it definitely seemed prefer it Sunday. Taking part in with a extra balanced offense, Roethlisberger tried simply 25 passes towards the Broncos — the fewest he has tried all season — and had completions that included two landing passes that traveled no less than 15 air yards. He had one within the first 4 video games of the season, based on analysis by ESPN Stats & Data. Roethlisberger accomplished 15 of 25 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns — together with one on the opening drive that seemed equivalent to the one he and Diontae Johnson had towards the Packers. Although improved, Roethlisberger wasn’t good. He was sacked as soon as — when proper sort out Chukwuma Okorafor let Malik Reed by way of — and Roethlisberger fumbled the ball as he was hit. He additionally had no less than two close to interceptions that had been both dropped or damaged up by Steelers gamers. However even when Roethlisberger nonetheless makes some errors, Sunday’s model of the quarterback can win video games, and that is crucial factor. — Pryor

Pryor’s confidence score (0-10): 4.9, up from 3. The Broncos’ file is inflated due to their simpler power of schedule, however the emergence of the Steelers’ run recreation and balanced offense infuses hope in a season that received off to a really rocky begin.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Seahawks (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: The narrative of the Broncos’ 3-0 begin being attributed extra to the opposition’s mixed 1-11 file somewhat than Denver’s playoff-type enchancment received just a little louder with the Broncos’ second consecutive loss — this time to a Steelers workforce that appeared to battle extra offensively than the Broncos did. However the Broncos’ offense, regardless of a late push from QB Teddy Bridgewater, has too typically been a jumbled, disjointed operation when video games are within the steadiness (they had been simply 1-of-10 on third down halfway by way of the fourth quarter Sunday). The unit hasn’t protected the quarterback properly sufficient and it deserted the run recreation early in every of the previous two losses. That has cranked up opposing cross rushes. And with the Raiders, Browns, Washington and Cowboys coming over the following 4 video games, if the Broncos cannot shield the quarterback any higher, they’ll proceed to punt, kick discipline targets and surprise why the quarterback retains taking so many hits as an alternative of scoring touchdowns. — Jeff Legwold

What’s up with the Broncos’ secondary? The Broncos spent huge within the offseason on the secondary and have had moments after they have been essentially the most dominant unit within the league. However per week after surrendering a 300-yard passing day to Lamar Jackson, the Broncos allowed Ben Roethlisberger — who had averaged fewer than 6 yards an try in three of 4 video games — to constantly discover simply sufficient room to work on third downs and within the pink zone, beginning with a 50-yard landing cross on a third-and-7 early within the recreation. Roethlisberger labored the check-down a lot of the day (he had 13 completions deep into the fourth quarter), however the Steelers had two cross performs of no less than 50 yards within the first half after having one within the earlier 4 video games mixed. Pittsburgh focused Kyle Fuller when it wanted a play and others will observe go well with if Ronald Darby misses extra time. Darby hasn’t performed since injuring a hamstring within the opener, however he practiced this previous week, and his return will assist. However the rush-cover mixture has not labored over the previous two weeks, as two confirmed quarterbacks have constantly discovered the delicate spots. — Legwold

Legwold’s confidence score (0-10): 6, down from 6.5. The offense clearly misses WR Jerry Jeudy. Late heroics on Sunday apart, Denver’s incapability to constantly threaten the opponent’s facet of the 50, not to mention rating a landing or two earlier than they’re in desperation mode, has pulled the Broncos again to 3-2 after a 3-0 begin. It would drag them down much more if they do not discover a resolution.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Raiders (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: The Saints lastly opened up their passing offense after rating final within the NFL in cross makes an attempt by way of 4 weeks. And so they received the complete Jameis Winston expertise because of this. He threw 4 landing passes, together with a career-long 72-yarder within the first quarter, a 49-yard Hail Mary earlier than halftime and a game-clinching 19-yarder to Alvin Kamara within the ultimate 5 minutes. The Saints needed to overcome Winston’s interception on the opening drive, his misplaced fumble within the first quarter and only a 50% completion fee (15 of 30 for 279 yards). However the huge performs made up for the miscues. — Mike Triplett

Will this offense lastly discover its identification after the Week 6 bye? This is likely to be a piece in progress all season as coach Sean Payton continues to develop belief in Winston and a depleted forged of pass-catchers. Nonetheless, the Saints’ offense must be rather more polished as soon as it will get high large receivers Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith, high offensive linemen Terron Armstead and Erik McCoy and kicker Wil Lutz again from accidents. All are potentialities as quickly as Week 7. — Triplett

Triplett’s confidence score (0-10): 7, up from 6.8. Only a slight bump from final week since this recreation was nearer than the ultimate rating indicated. However 3-2 is a reasonably good file for a Saints workforce that wanted to remain afloat with eight projected starters lacking most of this season.

Subsequent recreation: at Seahawks (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 25)



Jameis Winston lets an extended cross fly, and Marquez Callaway snags the ball for the landing seize to finish the primary half.


What to know: Washington’s protection has gone from underachieving to unhealthy. The again seven proceed to make protection errors — if security Landon Collins was certainly accountable on the 72-yard landing, it is curious why a protection would have a man who is sweet within the field again deep. Regardless, it was blown. This occurs each week and each week they speak about listening to particulars. Teaching? Security Bobby McCain has missed too many tackles. No one was even near breaking apart a Hail Mary cross on the finish of the half. With Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes up subsequent, it is solely going to worsen. If the identical errors preserve getting made, then teaching should be questioned. It is an all-around unhealthy job. — John Keim

What has quarterback Taylor Heinicke proven? That he isn’t the long-term resolution. He is a terrific story and teammates reply to him. He is able to wonderful moments. However his arm power, or lack thereof, was a difficulty on a number of throws Sunday and it is an issue for some tight-window passes. It did not assist having key gamers lacking with accidents. But when Heinicke does not throw with anticipation, it turns into an even bigger downside. He forces throws that good defenses (Buffalo, New Orleans) decide. He can get the job carried out, however he is restricted. If he is a great backup, that is OK and greater than anybody anticipated from him a yr in the past. Nevertheless it’s why Washington might be out there for quarterback within the offseason. — Keim

Keim’s confidence score (0-10): 4, down from 5. Washington makes too many errors every week, whether or not it is protection or a giant penalty, to beat anybody good, particularly with gamers equivalent to Logan Thomas and Curtis Samuel injured. It has not but taken the step the group, or its followers, hoped for coming into the season.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: This was by no means about type factors for the Patriots. They wanted a win badly, and whereas they performed poorly for lengthy stretches Sunday, they hung robust mentally to remain within the recreation and in the end pulled it out. Can they play, and coach, quite a bit higher? Completely. However coming away with a win to enhance to 2-3 trumps every little thing … for now. — Mike Reiss

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Did we simply watch Mac Jones develop up? The rookie quarterback confirmed he was as much as the stress second in serving to direct a game-winning fourth-quarter drive that started on the Patriots’ 13-yard line, chewed up seven minutes and arrange a 21-yard discipline purpose with 15 seconds left. That was the primary time they held a lead within the recreation. A roughing the passer penalty on third-and-18 helped preserve the drive alive, however when Jones wanted to make the vital throws, he got here by way of. His total poise to direct the offense in that scenario bodes properly for the long run. — Reiss

Reiss’ confidence score (0-10): 3.5, down from 5.2. The Patriots are doing issues that the worst groups within the NFL typically do — shedding fumbles on the purpose line, protection busts on third-and-long and an absence of aggressive protection towards slant patterns on got-to-have-it fourth-down conditions. They deserve credit score for hanging robust mentally into the fourth quarter and making the performs when it counted, however they had been lucky they weren’t enjoying a greater workforce.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Cowboys (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Rookie quarterback Davis Mills had by far his greatest recreation, however he hasn’t proven sufficient but to maintain the beginning job when Tyrod Taylor, who’s eligible to return from injured reserve in Week 6, is wholesome. Within the loss to the Patriots, Mills accomplished 21 of 29 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns, becoming a member of Russell Wilson as the one quarterbacks to throw for 3 touchdowns towards the Patriots as a rookie within the Invoice Belichick period. However his second landing — a 67-yard cross to Chris Moore — had a completion likelihood of 39.7%, the bottom mark of any Texans passing landing this season. His third landing was a flea-flicker. Mills definitely has proven enchancment over his first two begins, however the offense couldn’t preserve the tempo up within the ultimate quarter to carry on to the victory. — Sarah Barshop

Is Ka’imi Fairbairn the Texans’ kicker in Week 6? Fairbairn, who was on injured reserve for the primary three video games of the season and didn’t try a kick in Week 4, missed two further factors and a 56-yard discipline purpose within the loss. The Texans misplaced by three factors. It was the second time in Texans historical past that Houston missed two further factors. Whereas Fairbairn was on IR, the Texans signed kicker Joey Slye, however Slye is not accessible after signing with the 49ers earlier within the week. — Barshop

Barshop’s confidence score (0-10): 1.8, up from 1.5. For 3 quarters, the Texans seemed like they’d turned a nook after a 40-0 loss to the Payments in Week 5. However they could not end it off, and so they now sit at 1-4, with their solely victory coming towards the 0-5 Jaguars.

Subsequent recreation: at Colts (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing had maybe his greatest show of play design on Sunday. He put collectively a collection of performs with bunch formation and different instances stacked large receivers on the line. Downing additionally used layered route combos to simply get numerous large receivers open, particularly on third downs. The Titans transformed on just below half of their third-down alternatives towards Jacksonville. Downing additionally did a superb job attacking reserve CB Chris Claybrooks. Downing dug deep into the playbook, even using some Wildcat. The Titans nonetheless managed to get Derrick Henry 29 carries to the tune of 130 yards and three touchdowns. — Turron Davenport

What is going on on with the run protection? At instances, the Jaguars gashed the Titans’ protection with the dashing assault. James Robinson broke off a 58-yard run when Rashaan Evans was caught within the mistaken hole and created a crease. The Titans’ protection was affected by missed tackles as properly. Robinson completed with 18 carries for 149 yards and a landing. The Titans will catch a break subsequent week after they face the Payments, who do not run the soccer as properly. The run protection nonetheless leaves room for concern. — Davenport

Davenport’s confidence score (0-10): 6.5, up from 5.5. The Titans received a recreation they need to have however did not put the sport away early. Kevin Byard’s landing return of an Elijah Molden compelled fumble opened up the scoring, however the protection returned to the sector and allowed the Jaguars to reply by driving down the sector for a landing. There have been alternatives to finish the sport early, however the Titans allowed Jacksonville to stay round. The protection allowed a 58-yard completion from Trevor Lawrence to Laviska Shenault Jr., making it the sixth time they’ve given up a cross play of 40 yards or extra. The great factor is, Downing had the offense going within the passing recreation and on the bottom.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Payments (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 18)



Derrick Henry scores three touchdowns to assist the Titans defeat the Jaguars.


What to know: The Jaguars now stand alone in second place in NFL historical past with 20 consecutive losses. They’re solely six losses shy of tying the 1976-77 Buccaneers’ file of 26 losses in a row. The Jaguars play the Dolphins in London subsequent Sunday earlier than a bye week after which have a visit to Seattle, so there’s a actual likelihood the workforce can come near tying the file. — Mike DiRocco

What do the Jaguars do at kicker? Matthew Wright got here up brief on a 53-yard discipline purpose try (after developing brief and proper on a 50-yarder in pregame) and in addition bounced a PAT off the correct upright. The Jaguars are 0-for-4 on discipline purpose makes an attempt this season, and with Josh Lambo struggling and Wright not dependable, the Jaguars have to carry a number of different choices in — and rapidly, as a result of they depart for London on Thursday. — DiRocco

DiRocco’s confidence score (0-10): 2.5, down from 3. That is partly due to the kicker scenario and accidents to some key gamers (C Brandon Linder and LBs Myles Jack and Dakota Allen) but additionally as a result of the protection simply cannot drive turnovers or get sufficient stops in key conditions.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Dolphins (9:30 a.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: The Bucs regained their scoring firepower after changing simply as soon as in 4 journeys to the pink zone final week on the street towards New England. Receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Evans every had two touchdowns and topped 100 yards, operating again Giovani Bernard caught a first-quarter TD cross, and operating again Leonard Fournette added a sixth TD on the bottom. However accidents proceed to mount, with inside linebacker Lavonte David leaving the sport within the second quarter with an ankle harm. A supply instructed ESPN that X-rays revealed no fractures. As for the remainder of the protection — it received to Dolphins quarterback Jacoby Brissett however struggled to carry him down, permitting a Dolphins workforce averaging simply 13.8 factors per recreation and enjoying with a backup quarterback to attain 17 earlier than clamping down within the fourth quarter. — Jenna Laine

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Can the Bucs survive this rash of accidents to their cross protection? As if lacking three beginning defensive backs wasn’t sufficient of a problem, the Bucs misplaced David, their greatest linebacker in protection, to an ankle harm. If there is a silver lining to this taking place now versus in a while within the season, it is that the Bucs’ subsequent three opponents — the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints — are all within the backside half of the league in scoring. The unhealthy information is that the Bears and Saints additionally boast top-10 defenses and the Bucs face the Saints on the street. However this affords Tampa Bay a while to get cornerback Richard Sherman extra comfy within the Bucs’ scheme and security Antoine Winfield Jr. healed up from his concussion. The massive query might be David’s standing. — Laine

Laine’s confidence score (0-10): 7.5, up from 6. They improved to 4-1 regardless of lacking three beginning defensive backs, however they let the Dolphins, one other 1-3 squad (though the Patriots had been a special caliber workforce), grasp round method too lengthy.

Subsequent recreation: at Eagles (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)


What to know: Cease the presses — the Dolphins confirmed life on offense! And earlier than the fourth quarter this time! In all seriousness, Miami was aggressive from the beginning, scoring on every of its first two possessions as Brissett accomplished eight of his first 10 passes for 119 yards and a landing to operating again Myles Gaskin. And talking of Gaskin, after being relegated to an afterthought the previous two weeks, he was the focus of the Dolphins’ recreation plan with receiver DeVante Parker out, catching all 10 of his targets for 74 yards and two scores. Brissett powered by way of an early hamstring harm and gave the impression to be extra in sync along with his receivers. It will not look good on paper contemplating the 45-17 ultimate rating, however the Dolphins’ offense was noticeably higher than it had been over the previous few weeks. Their protection, however, was torn aside by an almost flawless Tom Brady, permitting 558 complete yards and 45 factors. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

How rapidly can Tua Tagovailoa proper the ship? The second-year QB reportedly will make his return in Week 6 after a three-game absence with fractured ribs. It is likely to be unreasonable to ask him to single-handedly resuscitate the Dolphins’ season after they misplaced all three video games with out him, however he confirmed indicators of enchancment as a downfield passer in the course of the preseason and the season-opening win at New England. He can have back-to-back alternatives to shine with video games towards the Jaguars (0-5) and Falcons (2-3) up subsequent. — Louis-Jacques

Louis-Jacques’ confidence score (0-10): 4, up from 3. Miami’s offense seemed higher regardless of the ultimate rating, however this protection was torn to shreds. It is simple to chalk it up as an outlier towards the most effective offenses within the NFL, however this efficiency was worse than anticipated.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Jaguars (9:30 a.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Down their high two large receivers and high two slot corners, the Atlanta Falcons seemed probably outmanned and bereft of playmakers. As an alternative, the franchise put collectively its greatest recreation of the season. Behind one other 300-yard day from Matt Ryan (342 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions), the Falcons discovered a groove utilizing tight finish Kyle Pitts (9 catches, 119 yards, one TD) and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (114 offensive yards) as their principal playmakers. Even with out Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, that is the kind of offense coach Arthur Smith wished: versatile, troublesome to defend, unpredictable in the place they’ll line up and what they’ll do on a selected play. Sunday towards the Jets, they confirmed precisely what the Falcons’ offense may seem like. And the protection took one other step, registering its first interception of the season and holding the Jets below 200 yards coming into the ultimate drive. — Michael Rothstein

Is Pitts’ breakout recreation sustainable? It could possibly be, as a result of Pitts had been constructing as much as one thing like this. As soon as Ridley was out, Pitts grew to become the apparent focus of the offense. He thrived within the position in each aspect. His 10 targets spanned from brief to deep routes and he was efficient in every spot, from a 2-yard landing catch through which he simply beat the defender to the nook to a 39-yard downfield publish route through which he made the seize in entrance of two defenders. There nonetheless is likely to be some tough days forward for Pitts — that is life for rookie tight ends — however Sunday confirmed what he may evolve into as a participant. — Rothstein

Rothstein’s confidence score (0-10): 5, up from 4.7. Sure, the Falcons beat the lowly Jets, however to take action, as injured as Atlanta was, confirmed one more signal of progress for a workforce figuring itself out.

Subsequent recreation: at Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 24)



The Falcons take a 27-17 lead as Mike Davis pushes forward and forces his technique to a landing.


What to know: Zach Wilson went from NFL Rookie of the Week candidate to Typical Rookie Quarterback in a span of seven days. He by no means discovered a rhythm within the loss to the Falcons, offering no spark for an offense that has managed solely 13 first-half factors in 5 video games. Wilson completed with 192 yards and an interception, however he had 65 yards with 9:30 left within the recreation. The Falcons saved him within the pocket, negating his very best quality — his skill to make off-script performs. To be a successful quarterback, Wilson should study to play in a telephone sales space. One other concern: He missed too many gimme throws. This was a step again for the gifted however nonetheless uncooked quarterback. — Wealthy Cimini

What occurred to their ascending protection? The Jets had been schooled by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and coach Arthur Smith, each of whom had been one step forward of the protection and the Jets’ coaches. They’d no solutions for tight finish Kyle Pitts (9 catches for 119 yards, one TD) and their third-down protection was horrible (9-for-14). What occurred? The protection seemed gassed after 92 performs final week and a cross-Atlantic journey. The cross rush, which generated seven sacks final week, was invisible. — Cimini

Cimini’s confidence score (0-10): 3, down from 4. The Jets’ offense stunk towards the Thirty second-ranked scoring protection — a giant step backward.

Subsequent recreation: at Patriots (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 24)


What to know: Much like a Week 2 win at Indianapolis, Thursday evening wasn’t fairly, however the Rams discovered a technique to grind out a victory on the street inside a hostile setting at Lumen Area. Quarterback Matthew Stafford overcame an uneven begin — and an harm to his proper index finger — to guide 4 second-half scoring drives to offer the Rams the win as they improved to 4-1 and rebounded from a disappointing division loss to the Cardinals solely 4 days earlier. The win retains them firmly in second within the NFC West race and sends them right into a weekend off with an opportunity to recharge earlier than an extended Week 6 journey to New York to play the Giants. — Lindsey Thiry

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What has brought on consecutive sluggish begins on offense? Stafford was 13-of-19 for 131 yards with an interception within the first half. He overthrew receivers and was intercepted on a cross that he supposed to throw away out of the again of the top zone. Nonetheless, within the second half, Stafford discovered large receiver DeSean Jackson for a 68-yard reception that arrange a landing and completed 25-of-37 for 365 yards and a landing, along with his passer score bettering from 65.9 to 97.2. — Thiry

Thiry’s confidence score (0-10): 8, no change from final week. The Rams received on the street towards a division rival and in a difficult ambiance, however the confidence score stays regular due to inconsistencies in all three phases: offense, protection and particular groups.

Subsequent recreation: at Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: The Seahawks are bracing for the chance that quarterback Russell Wilson will miss no less than a month and as much as eight weeks, based on ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, after having surgical procedure on the center finger of his proper hand. He injured the finger in the course of the loss to the Rams. With Wilson sidelined for the primary time in his profession, Seattle should depend on backup Geno Smith to maintain their playoff hopes alive whereas Wilson recovers. However the Seahawks can neglect in regards to the postseason until they’ll repair a protection that is as soon as once more giving up yards at a historic fee. The turnaround final yr began with their cross rush coming alive. They’ve simply as a lot pass-rushing firepower now, which is one purpose to suppose they’ll pull out of their terrible begin. — Brady Henderson

What’s up with Jamal Adams? Adams has but to file a sack in 5 video games and is not having the kind of affect you’d count on of a man who simply received a $70 million extension. It is not all his fault. Per ESPN Stats & Data analysis, Adams has rushed the passer 17 instances after averaging 8.25 per recreation final season. Coach Pete Carroll says that is a operate of the type of offenses they’ve confronted. Both method, Adams does not assist the Seahawks as a lot in protection as he does as a blitzer, particularly with their cross rush needing a spark. — Henderson

Henderson’s confidence score (0-10): 6.2, down from 7.3. Being with out Wilson is a significant concern, however Smith is an effective sufficient backup to offer the Seahawks an actual likelihood to beat a broken-down Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger subsequent week.

Subsequent recreation: at Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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