NFL 2021’s Week Five delivered yet more terrific NFL action as eight games ended with just one score between the two sides.
Several teams recorded memorable comebacks while some suffered absolute heartbreak. The Arizona Cardinals remain the cream of the crop after they maintained their perfect record with a 17-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
At the bottom, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions remain winless – the latter after another agonising loss, this time to the Vikings in Minnesota.
With more than a month of action in the books, MVP candidates are coming to the fore, the playoff picture is becoming clearer and the draft order is starting to take shape.
Here are our winners and losers from Week Five:
The Buffalo Bills quarterback once again showcased his mercurial talents in primetime as he outplayed former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes on Sunday Night Football in a 38-20 victory over Kansas City at Arrowhead.
Allen was terrific in throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns, adding a team-high 59 yards and another score with legs. Mahomes, meanwhile, committed two uncharacteristic turnovers.
— NFL (@NFL) October 11, 2021
Allen has progressed every year since Buffalo drafted him coming out of Wyoming, and he is undoubtedly now one of the very few truly elite quarterbacks. He has thrown for 1,370 yards, 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions so far in 2021, adding a further two scores in the run game.
During their current four-game win streak, the Bills have averaged 39 points per game and given up just 10.25 – with two shutouts recorded by the defense.
Buffalo are arguably the class of the AFC right now and Allen is the biggest reason for that success. He is a definite MVP candidate for 2021, and worth every cent of that $258million six-year contract extension he was handed over the summer.
Speaking of MVP candidates, a certain 44-year-old once again made an NFL defense look pedestrian as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers routed the Miami Dolphins 45-17 at Raymond James Stadium.
Brady was at his commanding best as he threw for 411 yards and five touchdowns against a Miami defense which was powerless to slow him down.
Mike Evans and Antonio Brown both caught two touchdown passes and amassed over 100 yards, and Tampa hardly missed Brady’s injured BFF – tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Brady has 15 touchdown passes and just two interceptions through five games of the 2021 campaign, has his team sitting atop the NFC South and few would bet against him making a run for an eighth Super Bowl ring.
‘America’s Team’ overcame a sluggish start in their NFC East matchup against the New York Giants to earn a comfortable 44-20 victory at AT&T Stadium.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) October 10, 2021
Dak Prescott was once again in imperious form – throwing for 302 yards and three touchdowns – while wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper as well as running back Ezekiel Elliott all caught TD passes. Elliott added a score on the ground for good measure.
Defensively, Trevon Diggs recorded his sixth interception of the young campaign and Micah Parsons continued his campaign for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award by making a number of crucial plays.
The Cowboys are talented on both sides of the ball, and play in a powderpuff division with the Giants, the Washington Football Team and the Philadelphia Eagles all currently having losing records.
We are already confident to lock in Dallas as the NFC East champions, with 12 games still to play.
The International Series games in London are returning after a year’s hiatus due to the global pandemic, and what a contest we had to kick off the return at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
A meeting between the 1-3 Atlanta Falcons and 1-3 New York Jets may not look desirable on paper, but it certainly delivered an enthralling matchup in the English capital.
Matt Ryan and the Falcons led 20-3 at the interval with the former NFL MVP throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns overall. The 2021 #4 overall draft pick – tight end Kyle Pitts – showcased why he was considered the best offensive weapon in the draft with nine receptions for 119 yards and a maiden NFL touchdown.
The Jets, however, demonstrated remarkable character by mounting a comeback to get within a score of the Falcons. Rookie running back Michael Carter scored his second touchdown of the 2021 campaign while rookie quarterback Zach Wilson continued his progression.
The best thing though was seeing 60,000 fans packing the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to welcome back pro football to London.
What started with days of abuse on social media turned into a week to remember for Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dairus Slay.
The Philly defense had given up 83 points combined in Weeks 3 and 4, while Slay took to social media to praise the aforementioned in-form Dallas corner Diggs. Cue a torrent of abuse from an Eagle fanbase raging at one of their own praising anything to do with the hated Cowboys.
During the week Slay received further criticism for missing practice due to ‘personal reasons’, even though it was for the birth of his son Desmond.
Slay closed out a tumultuous week with a performance to remember in Philadelphia’s 21-18 come-from-behind victory over Carolina. Slay intercepted Panthers QB Sam Darnold twice and limited dynamic playmaker D.J. Moore to just five catches for 42 yards.
The former Detroit star has another tough assignment on Thursday night/Friday morning when he matches up with that talent-laden Tampa Bay receiving corps. Things never get any easier in the NFL.
Defense at SoFi Stadium
If you are a fan of offensive fireworks, then the Cleveland Browns vs Los Angeles Chargers matchup will have been thoroughly enjoyable.
The Chargers topped the Browns 47-42 with 1,022 yards of offense racked up by the two teams – 682 passing and 332 rushing. But the phrase ‘defense wins championships’ normally rings very true, so there is plenty to be concerned about for both franchises.
PURO PINCHI CHARGERS pic.twitter.com/qHlHHGjAo2
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) October 10, 2021
Cleveland recovered a single fumble when Chargers running back Austin Ekeler lost possession – the highlight of what was largely an exercise in defensive futility.
It’s not as if the two defensive units are bereft of star talent – the Browns have defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward while the Chargers boast defensive end Joey Bosa and defensive back Derwin James.
It was an historically bad weekend for kickers in the NFL – a record-breaking 13 extra points were missed during Week Five as well as several costly field goals.
The kicking woes came to a head in the overtime contest between the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals, where both Evan McPherson and Mason Crosby missed multiple crucial kicks.
Green Bay’s Crosby missed an extra point and three potentially game-winning field goals, while Cincy’s McPherson missed two potential clinchers of his own.
Eventually Crosby managed to kick a 49-yarder to earn victory for the NFC North club but several kickers will have woken up on Monday morning after dreaming not of NFL glory but the unemployment line.
That was not the only kicking drama on the weekend, on Monday Night Football Indianapolis Colts kicker Rodrigo Blakenship missed a 47-yarder as time expired – following on from a missed extra point and a blocked field foal earlier in the contest – costing the Colts an upset victory against the Baltimore Ravens.
It is time we talked about the Kansas City defense. They gave up 38 more points in that loss to Buffalo on Sunday Night Football – the first time in Mahomes’ career that he has lost a game by more than eight points.
Kansas City have the 29th-ranked pass defense in terms of yards, while they are 31st in overall yardage given up and last in points allowed. Not a recipe for success for the reigning AFC Champions.
The performance of the defense has the Chiefs sitting last in a very competitive AFC West behind Los Angeles, Denver and Las Vegas. Put simply, if the defense doesn’t improve then a run of five successive divisional titles will come to an end.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) October 11, 2021
The Seattle Seahawks are very much in trouble with the news superstar quarterback Russell Wilson is set to miss four to six weeks after suffering a fractured finger on his throwing hand.
The injury occurred during the Seahawks’ 26-17 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football. It dropped Seattle to 2-3 on the season – three games behind the Cardinals in the NFC West.
Wilson has been Seattle’s shining star for almost a decade now, with the ability to win a game on his own like few others can.
Since being drafted, Wilson had started 149 consecutive games in Seattle and recorded a 100-48-1 record and a solo Super Bowl victory. That run is now at an end, and the hopes of a season are hanging in the balance.
Following on from Urban Meyer’s turbulent time last week, Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was the subject of unsavoury headlines this week as details emerged of an email he sent back in 2011 which had a racial connotation.
Gruden sent the email to then-Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen with a remark aimed at DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association president. Gruden has subsequently apologised for the email and has seen several of his own players step to his defense.
The scandal was no doubt a distraction for Gruden and his Raiders team, who suffered a second consecutive loss on Sunday – 20-9 at home to Chicago.
And ultimately, Gruden was forced to resign from his position as head coach of Las Vegas on Monday evening.