BASN’s NFL Sunday Preview: Week Five

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: October 6, 2007

NFL Sunday Preview

PHILADELPHIA — The crucial second quarter of the NFL season is here and almost every team still has a chance to make to the playoffs. Though four teams are perfect thus far (Cowboys, Packers, Patriots, and Colts) there is a glut of 21 teams that are .500 or better after four games. The factor that is causing all this parity in the NFL is “adjustments”.

The NFL is a copycat league where teams can catch-up quickly and adjustments are the only way to combat staying ahead of the pack or falling behind. With the second round of bye weeks, it is time for the “good” coaches to make the adjustments necessary to get their teams back on track or keeping them at the top.

Remember early season results are important (don’t want to get too far behind), but good coaches realize that they want their team peaking in the championship months of November and December when it is playoff push time.

We will see if our four unbeaten teams can make it to 5-0, which would only be the second time in NFL history (2003) that many teams have that record. On the other side of the table the three teams that have not won a game thus far (Dolphins, Saints, and Rams) have the slightest glimmer of a chance as one team the 1992 San Diego Chargers started 0-4 and finished 11-5 making the playoffs.

I believe that of the dubious three, the Saints have the best chance of getting back in the race starting this week with their home game against the Carolina Panthers. The Saints are relatively healthy, except for the loss of RB Deuce McAllister, compared with the Rams and Dolphins plus Saints head coach Sean Payton has had a bye week to lick his wounds and find ways to get Reggie Bush and recently turnover prone quarterback Drew Brees going.

One thing for sure you know we will see an upset this week from nowhere as every NFL team is willing to fight and score to the end in this crazy league. Points have been aplenty through the first four weeks of the season. A total of 2,622 have been scored, the second most in that time span since 1970 (2,719 in 2002). The points being scored are crazy and those sentiments were echoed by Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna who said “In the NFL, things can get crazy,” and he ought to know.

He engineered a 34-point outburst last week in the fourth quarter, the most points ever scored in the fourth quarter of an NFL game (most points ever in any quarter: 41 — Green Bay vs. Detroit, 10/7/45, second quarter; and Los Angeles vs. Detroit, 10/29/50, third quarter).

This week I will want to see if the NFL “turnaround” teams (Cleveland, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay) can continue their surprising trend upward from a dismal 2006. Last season, they had a 13-51 (.203) combined season record and this year through the first quarter of their season, they are 10-6 for a .625 mark.

Their success has been due to many facets (NFL record setting points, young players believing, new faces in new places, etc), but I believe the off-season adjustments (OTA’s, the NFL Draft, and free agency) have been the main factor in these teams’ attitude change.

The interesting part of the season is that now other teams are not looking past the turnaround four, but are specifically setting game plans to stop them. The schedules for the turnaround four also will get more difficult starting this week (Bucs visiting the Colts, the Browns traveling to New England, and Detroit traveling to Washington) as the upper echelon of the league will start to see if these guys are pretenders or contenders.

You know I love reunions and this week’s games will again feature some “Welcome Back” mayhem including:

– The Browns going to New England with several former key members (Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel, DT Ted Washington, and OLB Willie McGinest) of the Patriots Super Bowl teams coming home. The Patriots also welcome back Safety Rodney Harrison from his suspension for performance enhancing drugs. More on this game in the game notes section.

– The Buccaneers travel to Indy to face the champs in the “Dungy Bowl”. I know Tony Dungy, the NFL’s classiest man, will say all of the right things, but it still has to bother him that Jon Gruden won a Super Bowl with his guys in Tampa Bay as he was jettisoned out the door. Dungy will always be compared to Gruden even though he has now won his own ring with the Colts and this is a chance to show the country who is the better coach. The Colts will need to bandage up from injuries to face the Buccaneers version of the Cover 2 led by Barrett Ruud in a game that should have a playoff feel to it. Also look for inspired play from Tampa Bay OLB Cato, who will be returning to the RCA dome after he led the Super Bowl XLI-champion Colts in tackles in both the regular season (162) and postseason (26).

– The Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in a Super Bowl XL re-match. Though the super Bowl took place in February of 2006, the Seahawks and their fans have always maintained that they were “jobbed” in the game by key penalties, which I don’t agree with as games are won and lost on the field. The action should feature the Steelers being fired up from their first loss last week to the Cardinals and the Seahawks looking to continue their attacking ways on defense. Even without the verbal sparring of departed players Joey Porter and Jerramy Stevens there should be some thunder and lightning from running backs Shaun Alexander (91) and Willie Parker (93), who are one and two in carries for the NFL.

– A historic “Welcome Back” should go to the Buffalo Bills as they will be hosting a Monday Night Football game for the first time in 13 years. The Bills’ players and fans should be pumped for their first chance for prime time in a while and they should still be on a high from their first win last week over the Jets. The Bills will also have the extra incentive of taking on the hated Dallas Cowboys, who were their nemesis in Super Bowl losses XXVII and XXVIII. The Cowboys are 4-0 for first time since 1995, when Dallas won Super Bowl XXX. Quarterback Tony Romo (72 of 121 passing for 1199 yards w/ 11 TDs and 3 INTs with an additional 71 yards rushing w/ 2 TDs) will be leading the NFL leading Cowboys scoring attack (151 pts).

– And the Giants versus the Jets in a “loser leaves the Meadowlands” bout.

It seems it wouldn’t be an official NFL weekend if we didn’t talk about records.

The Patriots with a win of 20 or more points can break a tie that they currently hold with the Buffalo All-Americans (1920, first year of the NFL by the way) for the most wins (4 games) by that margin at the start of the season.

– With a victory on Sunday over Tampa Bay, the Indianapolis Colts will post a third consecutive 5-0 start, their fourth in five years. In doing so, they would become only the fourth team in history to begin 5-0 in three consecutive seasons, joining the Green Bay Packers (1929-31), Minnesota Vikings (1973-75) and St. Louis Rams (1999-01).

– Tom Brady is going for his fifth consecutive game with three or more touchdown passes. With three more against the Browns, Brady can join Steve Young (1998) as the only quarterbacks in history to throw three or more touchdown passes in the first five games of the season.

– Arizona Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin with 109 yards (currently 4,891) can reach 5,000 receiving yards in his 60th career game, which would place him the fourth quickest player to reach the milestone (Lance Alworth’s 52 games is the fastest).

– Packers QB Brett Favre will look to continue his NFL record 241 consecutive games played by a quarterback streak and he will also will be trying to avoid George Blanda’s NFL record for interceptions (277) in career that he is closing in on.

– Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Tony Gonzalez with his next touchdown catch will break a tie with Shannon Sharpe for the most touchdowns in a career by a tight end (62).

– Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander’s quest to join the 100 rushing touchdowns club also will continue as he needs two rushing touchdowns to join the club in 111 career games and he would accomplish the feat in the third-fewest games (LaDainian Tomlinson reached 100 in a NFL record 93 games).

Games and Notes


1 p.m. ET, CBS — Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf

Of all of the games that were listed this week how could I not want to preview this game between the surprisingly upstart Browns and America’s real team, the Patriots. The game has all of the storylines that you love to hear about reunions, records, high scoring teams, cheating (well maybe not this one for Pats fans), a charging team, contender vs. past champ, and the “Hoody” Bill Belichek.

This will be the first time Browns coach Romeo Crennel and LB Willie McGinest face the Patriots since helping them to three Super Bowl titles in four years from 2001-04, with Crennel as the team’s defensive coordinator. But to Crennel, it’s a pure business trip, memories or not. He said regarding the game “We could be going to Timbuktu and it would be the same thing”.

To everyone’s surprise the Browns hold an 11-8 edge in the series, but the Patriots have won five of past six. The last time they met in December of 2004, the Patriots thrashed the Browns 42 to 15 with New England RB Corey Dillon rushing for 100 yards & 2 TDs (1, 4) as Patriots won fifth straight game and improve to 11-1.

But this is not your usual Browns team. After being embarrassed in week one by the Steelers have picked up the pieces behind their on the hot seat coach Romeo Crennel. They have gone 2-1 that last three weeks and they were close to going 3-0 if the Raiders didn’t block a 40-yard field goal attempt by Phil Dawson in the last seconds to preserve a 26-24 victory in week three.

Offensively the Browns should be able to hang with the Patriots. Surprisingly the defensive coach now has an offense led by QB Derek Anderson (48 of 88 passes for 780 yards with 8 TDs and 4 INTs). The Browns have scored at least 24 points in each of their last three games (In 2006, they scored 24 only three times) and now they will be looking to tame one of the NFL’s prolific scoring teams.

Look for Anderson behind an improving line (no sacks last week versus the Ravens) to get the ball to rejuvenated RB Jamal Lewis (seventh in the league with 371 rush yards), deep threat receiver Braylon Edwards (375 yards receiving), and maturing TE Kellen Winslow (367 yards receiving). The receiving duo is also on track to become the first 1,000-yard receiving duo in franchise history.

On defense their numbers are not pretty allowing 427.5 yards a game and having a negative one turnover margin, but they are improving with the return OLB Willie McGinest and the galvanizing play of young up and comers LB Kamerion Wimbley, LB D’Qwell Jackson, and CB Eric Wright.

The Patriots came into the season as everyone’s Super Bowl champion pick and they have not disappointed. To say they have dominated their foes would be an understatement. Patriots are ranked second in the league in total offense and first in total defense.

They have currently tied an aforementioned NFL record for beating opponents by 20 points or more in all four of their games and they have routinely put up 38 points. QB Tom Brady (my first quarter Co-MVP) has been surgeon like passing for almost 80% with a NFL leading 13 touchdown passes, going for his fifth consecutive game with three or more touchdown passes, and getting the ball at every opportunity to comeback player receiver Randy Moss.

Moss has been incredible (31 catches for a league leading 505 yards and 7 TDs with nasty 16.3 ypc) and looks like the player that dominated for the Vikings in the late ’90s. He is on pace to smash the Patriots’ all-time season receiving yardage record (Stanley Morgan’s 1,491 yards in 1986.

To understand the governance of the Patriots look at the numbers put up by them 148 points scored (2nd in the NFL), 19 touchdowns scored (tied for 1st ), 431.8 yards per game offensively (1st in AFC), 226.0 yards allowed (1st), 48 points allowed (1st in NFL), and a +3 turnover ratio (2nd in the NFL). Right now they are on pace to join the 1987 San Francisco 49ers as the only team to finish ranked first offensively and defensively.

I think the game will be a barnburner with the Browns trying to get RB Jamal Lewis going as teams he has been on are 19-3 (.863) when he has 25+ carries. The Patriots will also be trying to get the ball to their running backs as well as they are 8-0 when RB Laurence Maroney has 15+ carries (may not play due to injury).

If Maroney can’t go, watch out for Pats RB Sammy Morris who notched his 2nd career 100-yard rushing game with 117 versus Cincinnati on MNF. Also watch for Patriots LB Adalius Thomas who has 4.5 sacks in last 5 games vs. Cleveland, Browns explosive KR Joshua Cribbs, and both kickers as they have only miss one a piece thus far [Dawson (6/7) and Gostkowski (5/6)].

Week 5

Sunday’s Games






CAR @ NO 1:00 PM FOX

JAC @ KC 1:00 PM CBS


TB @ IND 4:05 PM FOX

BAL @ SF 4:15 PM CBS

SD @ DEN 4:15 PM CBS

CHI @ GB 8:15 PM NBC

Monday’s Game


Byes: Bengals, Vikings, Raiders, Eagles.