Chiefs and Rams destined for a Super showdown, coaching gambles, rookie QBs excelling: just another week in the NFL. We'll give you all the 2018 NFL news you can handle in under three minutes each week. (Disclaimer: You can stay longer than three minutes. Time is relative.) Here's the best of the NFL from Week 5.
On A Collision Course?
Five weeks into the season, only the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams remain undefeated, and if you like high-octane offense, well, who wouldn’t want to see these two teams still standing come February? Partisan interests aside, of course. Meaning that if your favorite team can’t make it to the Super Bowl, you’d surely be on board with a Chiefs-Rams matchup, right?
After all, no two teams are more dazzling to watch, as whiz-kid coach Sean McVay is recreating an updated, grass version of the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf, while Chiefs’ fireballer Patrick Mahomes simply has become the must-see QB in 2018.
Hey, it might be fun to see a team score 40 in a Super Bowl…and lose.
There’s a long way to go, obviously, and the two teams meet Nov. 19 in Mexico City, yet both made statements in Week 5, with the Rams pulling out a comeback win in Seattle, the most hostile of environments, and the Chiefs rolling over the big, bad defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Indeed, you think the Jags weren’t impressed? Check out what safety Tashaun Gipson told Yahoo Sports after losing 30-14 in Kansas City, “We came here with all this hype, talking about how good we are as a defense, myself included,” Gibson said. “And we got drug out there. Straight drug. I’ve never played an offense with that many weapons. They had their way with us all game.”
All of which sets up a big-stage moment for these Chiefs when they go to New England Sunday night to play the Patriots. Nobody has turned hotshot quarterbacks into pumpkins quite like Bill Belichick over the years, so if Mahomes has his way with the Pats, maybe this is truly a pass-the-torch season in the NFL.
In which case, where do we sign for the extravaganza that would be a Chiefs vs. Rams Super Bowl? O/U of one billion will be fun.
Fortune Favors The Bold
Right about now you get the feeling McVay would hit on 18 at the blackjack table and simply nod knowingly as the dealer delivers him a three. Not that the odds were quite that long when the Rams’ coach elected to go for 4th-and-inches at his own 43-yard line, holding a 33-31 lead with 1:39 left in the game and the Seahawks out of timeouts.
But let’s just say that even Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson, king of the fourth-down gambles, might have questioned McVay’s sanity. If his team failed to convert, after all, he would have been practically handing the Seahawks a win, a la Frank Reich and the Colts in week 4. Yet McVay didn’t want to take a chance on giving the ball back to Russell Wilson, even if a punt likely would have pinned Seattle deep, so he gave his guy, Jared Goff, the ok for a quarterback sneak.
Game over indeed, as it turned out, when Goff made it easily. Afterward, McVay said he was influenced by his players, who wanted to go for it and admitted to reporters, “Fortunately you guys don’t have to kill me for it because it worked.”
Uh-Oh. When Jerry Speaks…
Well, let’s be honest, there’s never a time when Jerry Jones doesn’t speak, but when the Cowboys’ owner publicly second-guesses his coach, Jason Garrett is surely feeling an inferno building around his job status, even though the rising heat is no one's fault but his own.
If only he’d coached as boldly as McVay in the Cowboys’ 16-13 overtime loss to the Houston Texans.
Actually, Garrett just needed to be logical: the Cowboys had 4th-and-1 at the Texans’ 43-yard line early in overtime, with one of the best offensive lines in football and Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott as weapons, so going for it seemed like an easy call.
No wonder even Jones questioned his coach’s decision to punt, saying it was the right time to take a risk. He also insisted Garrett still has his full support, though if he was being honest he surely would have added:
Checking That Rookie QB Scoreboard
In Week 4 ,they all lost. In Week 5 they all won. If you want an answer as to who is going to emerge as the best of the first-round draft picks among rookie QBs Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen, it might take a while.
Like maybe 10 years or so?
They all continue to demonstrate plenty of promise; in fact, this was the first time in the Super Bowl era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that rookie QBs went 4-0 in the same week.
Who was the star? Mayfield, Allen, and Rosen all made big plays to spark wins, albeit rather ugly ones, but Darnold wowed the Jets with some perfect downfield throws downfield in a rout of the Denver Broncos, including TD passes of 76 and 35 yards to Robby Anderson.
Winner. Until next week, anyway.
Such A Team Guy
So in an ESPN interview, with his (life coach, friend, confidant?) Lil Wayne by his side, Odell Beckham Jr. complained about the state of his team, his quarterback in particular; essentially said he’d rather be playing in warm-and-sunny Los Angeles than New York; and when asked about his comments after a 33-31 loss to the Panthers, he explained:
“I’m trying to be a leader.”
Imagine, then, what he might have said he if he were trying to be a diva? At least the tension in the Giants locker room won't be exacerbated by a gut-wrenching loss on a 63 yard yard field goal as time expires. Oh, wait.
All Hail The New Passing Yardage King
Twitter is not always the friendliest place on earth, but maybe it was invented for moments like Drew Brees breaking Peyton Manning’s record as the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader.
All of which added to the feel-good nature of the moment, as Brees has long been considered one of the real good guys in the NFL, and something of an underdog as a relatively short quarterback who stands (maybe) six-feet tall that bounced back from a normally career-ending shoulder injury.
As for Manning, he responded graciously, and with his signature humor, congratulating Brees with a pre-taped video message that was played in the Superdome after the big moment.
Meanwhile, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Brett Favre, Troy Aikman led the list of Hall of Famers that took to Twitter to applaud Brees.
Who knew social media could be so warm and fuzzy in 2018?
*Out-of-market games only. Select int'l games excluded.