Week 5 showed continued improvement for three of the teams and a continued decline for the other.
After beginning the season with a big victory over their NFC South foe the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons have seen their production decline over the following weeks. Last Sunday they lost 30-20 to the New York Giants while their defense continued to play poorly and watched “Good Eli” hook up with rookie Odell Beckham Jr. for his first touchdown of the season.
The offensive line has been injury riddled for the 2-3 falcons which has not affected the passing game but it has rendered the running game ineffective in clutch situations. The Falcons hierarchy must ask themselves if it is time to give Devonta Freeman more carries because of his home run ability. His 24-yard scamper was by far the longest run of the game for the dirty birds and he finished with four carries for 38 yards compared to Steven Jackson’s 13 carries for 37 yards.
Freeman also bested Jackson in the passing game he was able to gain seven more yards (44 yards to Jackson’s 37) on the same amount of receptions. Look for Matt Ryan to continue to look for Freeman this Sunday as they welcome the Chicago Bears and their high powered offense.
The Carolina Panthers finally showed signs of last season’s Panthers with a 34-21 victory over the Bears. The opportunistic defense was able to intercept Bears quarterback Jay Cutler twice and they forced three fumbles recovering two. They also held one of the most prolific offenses to under 400 yards of total offense.
Cam Newton produced his best game of the season. It is clear that as the weeks go by he is feeling healthier and healthier. Newton completed passes to eight different receivers including tight end Greg Olsen who continued his stellar play this season with six receptions for 72 yards. He was on the receiving end of both of Newton’s touchdown passes.
Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly had another Kuechly-like day recording 15 total tackles to run his season total to 61. The offense will need to continue to improve as the Panthers travel to Cincy for a match-up against the Bengals and a defense that will be hungry to erase the memory of a New England Patriot beat down in week five.
The Buccaneers and Saints faced off in the NFC South game of the week. While many didn’t give the Bucs a chance coming into the game they quickly had to change their tune and wait until extra time for the Saints to finally overcome the Bucs at home 37-31.
Drew Brees, who was without star tight end Jimmy Graham for most of the game, struggled with his decision-making and allowed the Bucs defense to pick him off three times during the game. Despite the turnover Brees completed passes to nine different receivers and the work of Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas proved to be too much for the Bucs defense to withstand.
Thomas was a weapon running the ball and catching. He rushed the ball four times for 35 yards and caught 8 passes for 77 yards. He added two touchdowns; one through the air and one on the ground.
Robinson was the leading rusher on either team amassing 89 yards on 21 carries. His one touchdown proved to be the nail in the coffin as he darted off-tackle on the left side broke one tackle and ran over two Buccaneers defenders as he reached the end zone ending the game.
The Buccaneers second-year quarterback Mike Glennon continued to show signs of improvement. He completed 19 of his 32 passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Vincent Jackson has been the biggest benefactor of Glennon’s good play. He totaled 144 yards on eight receptions. Lavonte David continued to splash creating 14 tackles and free agent addition Alteron Verner had his best game as a Buccaneer picking Brees off once and breaking up two other passes.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, the running game has yet to completely catch on only flashing signs of the rushing attack form two seasons ago. If the rushing game is to improve it will have to do so against a very formidable Baltimore Raven defense and their outstanding rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley. They will need a balance offense if they want to get a win in their first home game in almost a month and improve their record to 2-4.
The Saints will travel to Detroit to take on the Lions whose roar may be a little less vicious without star receiver Calvin Johnson who is battling a high ankle sprain. The Saints need a victory to climb back to .500 and stay in touch with Carolina who currently sits at 3-2.
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