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Around The NFL: Takeaways From Week 5

What did we learn about the rest of the league?

Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There were a lot of injuries to go around in Week 5, many of them from the New York Giants. But while there was a lot of bad news, there was a lot of football played elsewhere. Like other weeks this season, there were a few crazy results. Let’s take a wrap around the league for a look at a few other things that happened in the league on Sunday.

Who’s No. 2?

It’s pretty clear the Kansas City Chiefs are the best team in the league. They’re 5-0, Alex Smith leads the league in yards per attempt, Kareem Hunt leads all backs in rushing yards by 143 over the next closest rusher, and there’s two Chiefs in the top five of receiving yards. Last week we talked about how the tiers of teams featured the Chiefs then everyone else. That’s still probably true, but a few teams took Week 5 to show they could still be contenders. Let’s look at a few of the prospects for the second best team in the league:

  • Carolina Panthers: After an ugly start to the season on offense, the team has found it’s groove. Over the past two games, against the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions, Cam Newton has completed 48-of-62 passes (77.42 percent), for 671 yards (10.82 yards per attempt), and thrown six touchdowns against one interception. The team has started to figure out how to use the likes of Devin Funchess, Christian McCaffrey, and even Ed Dickson, who had 175 receiving yards against Detroit. The defense was never an issue this season, ranked 10th by Football Outsiders’ DVOA heading into the week.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: Three of Philadelphia’s five games have been decided by a touchdown or less, including a touchdown loss to the Chiefs as their only defeat of the season. The other two wins were blowouts against a Washington team that might be better than expected and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The Cardinals might not be all that good, but one sign of a good team -- more than being able to stay close with another good team -- is the ability to blow out bad opponents. Philadelphia will travel to Carolina to play the Panthers on Thursday night, which could give us one of the best Thursday night matchups of the season.
  • Green Bay Packers: The Packers have just one loss on the year and it came against the Atlanta Falcons while they were opening a new stadium. Like the Panthers, the Packers had a slow start to the year but are now hitting a stride. The first three weeks featured an ugly win against the Seattle Seahawks, the loss to the Falcons, and a win against the Cincinnati Bengals that needed overtime. But the past two weeks included a blowout of a bad Chicago Bears team and a last minute comeback win against the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking of:

Aaron Rodgers Is A Magician

There aren’t many scenarios when taking a lead with 1:18 remaining in the game is giving your opponent too much time, but playing against Aaron Rodgers is one. Dak Prescott scored for the Cowboys on a read option run on third down to give Dallas a 31-28 lead. Rodgers had 1:13 and one timeout left to drive 75 yards for a touchdown. Rodgers only needed 1:02. It took just seven plays for Rodgers and the Packers to get down to the 12-yard line of Dallas -- a key play being an 18-yard yard scramble from Rodgers on a third-and-8. From the 12, Rodgers first threw a an off-target attempt to Davante Adams in the end zone that was defended by Jourdan Lewis. But Rodgers liked the look enough that they went back to exact same play, this time with a perfect throw that couldn’t be defended.

Rodgers is only at 7.2 yards per attempt for the season, which ranks 14th among qualified quarterbacks, but he has the third-highest touchdown rate and the eighth-lowest interception rate. Even while not completely lighting up the stat sheet, Rodgers has been one of the league’s best players.

Are The Jacksonville Jaguars Sustainable?

The team with the league’s best point differential isn’t any of the ones listed above. It’s the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are 3-2 after following up an overtime loss to the New York Jets with a 30-9 trouncing of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jacksonville executed its offseason plan to perfection in Pittsburgh: have the defense dominate and make Blake Bortles do nothing.

Jacksonville’s secondary forced Ben Roethlisberger to throw five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Jalen Ramsey has become one of the league’s best cornerbacks -- be thankful he’s not in Dallas -- and he made an incredible diving catch for one interception and had a pass deflection over the top of Antonio Brown that set up Barry Church’s pick-six in the third quarter.

With the defense giving up little and Leonard Fournette running all over the Steelers, Blake Bortles threw just one pass in the second half.

That’s been Jacksonville’s plan in their wins, but that’s not always going to be a viable game plan. In games like last week against the Jets, Bortles needed to throw 35 times in a close game, but completed just 15 of them for 140 yards. An early lead is almost a must for this team, but that’s much easier said than done.

If nothing else, the Jaguars game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6 is one of the most anticipated games of the week.

Seahawks-Rams Continues To Be Seahawks-Rams

One of the oddities of the Jeff Fisher era as the Rams head coach was how tough they played the Seahawks even when Seattle was the far superior team. With the Rams now a viable opponent for the Seahawks under a new head coach, the game still looked like the same battles of years past.

Two touchdowns were scored, but the majority of opportunities came on field goals for a 16-10 final. The play was also mostly sloppy. Jared Goff had two interceptions along with a lost fumble. Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin also added lost fumbles for good measure. Yet even with five turnovers, the Rams still had a chance to take the lead on a final drive and Goff hit the outstretched hands of rookie receiver Cooper Kupp in the end zone.

It was a tough loss for a young team, but it did show the Rams can hang against a tough defense, which will definitely be needed when they head to Jacksonville on Sunday.