Another Sunday has passed, which means it’s time to analyze several risers and fallers, stars and duds, and wins and losses. Several players and teams had their stocks dramatically rise after Week 5’s action, while others let us down and illustrated, once again, the unpredictability that the league presents us.

Without further ado, let’s get into some of my major takeaways from Week 5 of the 2022 NFL season.

1. The AFC West is not the powerhouse we thought it would be.

Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs are still the Chiefs. Minus a shocking blunder on the road in Indianapolis—Kansas City has, yet again, looked like one of the league’s best teams. 

It can be argued, however, that every other team in the division is underachieving and will continue this trend for the remainder of the season. 

The Los Angeles Chargers, albeit plagued by injuries to several key players, look okay at 3-2 throughout five games. The Denver Broncos are one of the worst-coached teams in the league and look utterly helpless on offense; 2-3 even looks nice for them these days. The last-place Raiders, sitting at 1-4, have just one win against the lowly Broncos, appearing to be in a hole too deep to overcome. 

With competitive divisions like the AFC East, NFC East, and NFC West seemingly more well-rounded top-to-bottom, it’s fair to question the divisional powerhouse of the NFL.

2. As Aaron Rodgers said, Green Bay’s ways of winning were not sustainable.

Following the Green Bay Packers’ 27-24 overtime win over the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field, quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters that his team’s ways of winning were “not sustainable.” 

Those “ways of winning” consisted of grinding out games on the defensive side, albeit with a conservative approach, in addition to using a proficient ground game to mask a putrid passing attack. 

Up 20-10 against the 3-1 New York Giants at halftime in London, it seemed as though the Packers had come to finally realize this. Unfortunately, these problems resurfaced in the second half and the oddly competitive New York Giants blew right past them, 27-22. 

On the offensive side, many of the same problems came back to bite them yet again. 

32-year-old Randall Cobb has been Rodgers’ primary target, which says a lot. He and Allen Lazard are just painfully average, Romeo Doubs is clearly still warming up to the league, and Christian Watson can certainly be labeled as a bust right now. I also question the approach of a defense led by Joe Barry, where it appears they’re content to give up short-to-modest gains on seemingly every play. 

Why not play man coverage against one of the league’s worst receiving rooms since you have Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, and Rasul Douglas – all very good cover corners? I just don’t get it. 

The result? A unit that should be carrying this team has been killed by a thousand paper cuts against a Giants team that sported Darius Slayton, Richie James, and David Sills as its top wideouts on Sunday.

3. The Lions are yet another overhyped Hard Knocks team.

I actually quite like the Detroit Lions. 

A rebuilding franchise that was seemingly ahead of schedule with awesome young offensive talents like D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, as well as hopeful defensive cornerstones like Aidan Hutchinson and Jeff Okudah. Additionally, Jared Goff had looked like an above-average starting quarterback. 

Throwing behind a rock-solid offensive line, the Lions were the league’s top-scoring offense for four weeks. In Week 5, however, they put up a goose egg; 0-for-6 on 4th down, Detroit couldn’t do anything against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots’ defense. Not once did they opt for the points. 

Not that it would have mattered in a 29-0 loss to Bailey Zappe, New England’s third-string quarterback who made his first career start with Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer out. 

Further, the defense has looked bad all year and Sunday was no different. Although Zappe admittedly looked quite good, letting up nearly 30 points to a third-string quarterback is not ideal. Rhamondre Stevenson, who is also a fine player, looked like prime Emmitt Smith against Detroit’s helpless defense. 

Although I don’t think the Lions are quite as bad as they looked on Sunday, their status as a below-average NFL team is relatively unchanged, even if they’re making decent strides each year.

4. New York football is… BACK?

With both New York teams, the Giants and the Jets, sporting winning records through five weeks, it’s fair to wonder at this point—is New York football back? For all New York fans, I’m here to tell you where your teams truly stand after Week 5. 

In the Big Blue Nation, it’s time to admit, your team is half-decent. The Giants are no longer a bad team. Their personnel has outperformed all expectations, and it’s clear that Brian Daboll is a great coach.

It’s important to remember that the Giants’ other wins, however, all came against bad opponents—they have a cupcake schedule. Upcoming games against the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars will provide more clarity on where the Giants stand. 

Meanwhile, the Jets beat the Miami Dolphins at MetLife stadium, 40-17. While I believe this game was closer than the final score indicated, it’s still a solid win. Miami was extremely compromised from the start with third-stringer Skylar Thompson forced into action in the first quarter. Perhaps with Tua, the result could’ve been different. 

The Jets’ cornerback duo in particular is shaping up to be truly elite. Pair that with solid offensive building blocks and an improved defense, and you have a vastly improved team. 

I personally am not sold on Zach Wilson at all as I don’t think he’s that good, but he’ll have the chance to prove me wrong if he can perform well against the solid defenses of the Packers, Patriots, Broncos, and Bills.

Overall, I won’t jump the gun and say New York football is BACK, but if these performances continue, they could be well on their way.

5. The Panthers have a case as the NFL’s worst team.

Carolina Panthers’ quarterback, Baker Mayfield, performs badly. It feels like decades ago since we saw the once half-competent, Cleveland Browns’ quarterback lead his team to a near-win in the divisional round against the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, he’s just flat-out bad. 

His interception that went feet over top target DJ Moore’s head encapsulates his first (and likely last) season in Charlotte. Sure, the Panthers’ supporting cast isn’t great, but you still have two high-end weapons in Moore and running back Christian McCaffrey. 

The defense, as well, has some potential but you can’t win if you don’t score some points. 

We all knew the Panthers weren’t going to be good, but I’d be lying if I told you that I thought they’d be this terrible. At least Baker can pursue an acting career or more commercial appearances once his dwindling NFL career comes to a close.

6. The Bills – not the Eagles – are still the NFL’s best team, and by quite some distance.

The last undefeated team in the NFL is the Philadelphia Eagles. The best team in the NFL, however, belongs to the Buffalo Bills. 

The Eagles could very well be the second-best team in the league, however, the Bills’ 38-3 thrashing of the Pittsburgh Steelers reinforced that at their best, they can’t be beaten. 

Possessing the frontrunner for MVP, a top five wide receiver, the league’s top defense, and one of the best front offices in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills are about as stable a franchise as any in professional sports. On top of that, the Bills have no real discernable weakness, other than possibly a depleted secondary. Even then, their replacements for Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, and others would still be quality starters against many other teams. 

There are no more excuses now. It’s the Super Bowl or bust in Buffalo, New York.

7. The AFC crown – yet again – might be decided at Arrowhead Stadium.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs were punched in the teeth right away on Monday night. Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs were an absolute problem for a Chiefs defense that couldn’t get out of their own way in the first half at Arrowhead. 

The score read 17-0 in the middle of the second quarter, and 20-10 at the half. Thanks to four touchdowns from the ageless Travis Kelce, an improved defensive mindset, and some more Mahomes magic, however, Kansas City escaped with a 30-29 win at home. 

If nothing else, Monday night’s AFC West tussle illustrated once more that Mahomes is never out of the game. Minus Tyreek Hill, Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy have managed to keep this offense at the same level in 2022. There has been no dropoff at all, largely due to Mahomes and Kelce’s chemistry, an improved Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and a stable of weapons that’s able to collectively fill the massive void left by Hill. 

Perhaps the defense needs to show more consistency, but it’s easy to imagine a world where the Chiefs are once again hosting the AFC Championship Game in late January.

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