If you watched the Falcons not look as good against Jacksonville without Julio Jones Logan Paulsen Jersey , Devonta Freeman, Deion Jones, Desmond Trufant and Ricardo Allen on the field, congrats. You watched a football team not look as good against a good team without five of its best players. Welcome to not having good players on your football team. Look to the stars When you look at the Atlanta Falcons, there are nine guys who, besides Matt Ryan, pretty much dictate where the team goes. Julio, Devonta, Deion, Desmond, Ricardo, Alex Mack, Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley. Saturday night, six of those guys pretty much didn’t play against the Jaguars as the third preseason game chugged along (Mack left early in favor of Wes Schweitzer, who plays center now). All that was left was Jake, Grady and Vic. And, even so,a team without those six (or with less-good players) does not win a Super Bowl. What makes Atlanta special is its complete roster. They have depth, most certainly, but that’s primarily because they have about 10 guys holding down the vital spots on the roster who are all really good-to-great players. Heck, a couple of them are even elite or are bordering on that. So what happens if you take most of those guys out of the picture against a team who just made it to the AFC Championship? You get something not super-amazing! The Falcons proved Saturday night that all of your “Trade Julio!” “Cut Devonta” “Trade Trufant!” tweets are super, super dumb.Those guys are the reason the Falcons are a great team, and the Falcons aren’t nearly as great when those guys aren’t on the field. Not even the hubbleflub of preseason poppycock can hide that from you. The Patriot NayNow Youth Keanu Neal Jersey , those guys have high price tags, and NFL fans in general (I’m not singling out my beloved Falcoholics, I promise) like to live in a world where a team can win a Super Bowl without having to pay anyone. Essentially, everyone wants to be the Patriots and win like the Patriots do. Buddy, I hate to break it to ya, but the Patriots haven’t had a Patriots disciple to go all the way yet. New England and New England alone wins like New England does because they’ve got the master chef in the kitchen. The other chefs who go start their own restaurants never find the same levels of success. Do you ever wonder why that is?Trying to emulate the Patriots only gets you caught out in the open. The Falcons have done a great job under Dan Quinn of doing their own thing, and it’s worked out well. Part of that equation comes with paying the top guys what they’re worth. Saturday, you saw a vision of a team that did exactly what some fans want; a future where no one makes any money. It’s a world where every decent player taps into their entire potential every week and covers where there only be stardust. Yet somehow the head guys in charge are able to muster the brilliance of Bill freaking Belichick week to week and get you that ring you’ve always dreamed of. You know, since that always works. You want to know how important Atlanta’s stars are? Look at Jacksonville. Sure, it’s only preseason, but they would’ve looked sharper if the best players were on the field. The team noted that if this mattered at all, those guys would’ve played. Good lessons to learn in August: If the best guys aren’t out there, maybe begin to take them much more seriously than whatever you’re watching on television.The Baker’s Dozen, Week 5: Rams hold on, Chiefs take control, Eagles falter Week 5 has come and gone. We saw some heartbreaking outcomes (the Falcons’ horrible loss comes to mind), and some very exciting games. While some teams are clearly starting to take shape, others continue to baffle us with inconsistency and sloppy play. Several teams, too, have effectively dropped out of the playoff race by hitting the death knell of 1-4.At any rate, I’m here to bring you all the best takeaways from Week 5. Let’s begin.The Patriots are back to being unstoppableThere was a brief moment, like there is early in every season, that we thought: just maybe the Patriots (3-2) dynasty could be coming to an end. And, like every season before it, this proved to be nothing more than a mirage. Julian Edelman made his return to New England Youth Austin Hooper Jersey , and all the sudden the maligned Patriots’ WR corps looks absolutely stacked—with Josh Gordon getting his first real snaps. The whole thing was so...typical.The Broncos and the Jets are the two most confusing teams in the NFLTwo teams that I’m absolutely confused by are the Broncos (2-3) and the Jets (2-3), who have taken turns looking competent and absolutely terrible. When the two met in Week 5, the same pattern emerged: one looked competent, the other terrible. Denver’s run defense—which is supposed to be good—gave up over 300 yards to Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell. Are either of these teams actually playoff-caliber? No, but they’re capable of looking good once in awhile. That’s gotta be infuriating for fans.Graham Gano kicked a 63-yard field goalThis one deserves it’s own entry. The Giants (1-4) surely thought they had beaten the Panthers (3-1) when Carolina sent out Graham Gano to attempt a ludicrous 63-yard field goal. Well, Graham nailed it, sending New York into the basement of the NFC East. Incredible. This Carolina team is also very inconsistent, but they’re finding ways to win.The Titans are so incredibly bad on offenseSomehow, we let one good Marcus Mariota game give us hope. That was dumb. This Titans (3-2) team—featuring Matt LaFleur at OC (someone Falcons’ fans were clamoring for the team to hire)—has now put up miserable numbers in almost every game this season. Against a Bills’ (2-3) team that is probably the least talented in the NFL, Mariota managed only 129 yards passing. Perhaps he’s still recovering from his nerve issue, but this team looks downright pathetic on offense.The Browns won another gameIn a battle of field goals, the Browns (2-2-1) surprisingly came out on top against the Ravens (3-2) in overtime. Cleveland held Baltimore to only 9 points on the day, smothering their rushing attack and keeping the Ravens out of the end zone. While Baltimore doesn’t have anywhere near the league’s best offense, it’s safe to say that the Browns have a very good defensive unit in the making.Kansas City wallops Jacksonville in a battle of AFC heavyweightsWhat many predicted might be one of the best games of Week 5 turned out to be pretty one-sided. The Chiefs (5-0) got on the board early and never looked back, with their bad defense still managing to intercept Jaguars’ (3-2) QB Blake Bortles four (!) times. Jacksonville has an elite defense, but that won’t save them if Bortles commits that many turnovers. With RB Leonard Fournette out of the lineup for some time, the Jags are forced to rely upon Bortles—and it hasn’t been pretty, to say the least.Vikings stabilize, keep playoff aspirations aliveThe Minnesota Vikings (2-2-1) were circling the drain after a series of disappointing losses—including a ridiculous upset at the hands of the dreadful Bills. That put the Vikings in a must-win situation going into Philadelphia, and they answered the call with a strong performance. Kirk Cousins was efficient and accurate, and Minnesota’s strong receiving corps and a solid defensive effort lifted them over the Eagles. They looked like contenders again on Sunday.The Eagles are strugglingThe defending Super Bowl champions have looked lackluster through Week 5. Philadelphia (2-3) just barely held on at home against the Falcons (when they still had a defense), then got walloped by the Bucs, scraped out a win against the Colts, and then lost to the Titans in overtime. Those last three teams have proven that they’re competent, but not particularly good. That’s cause for concern for an Eagles team that clearly had high aspirations in 2019. At 2-3 Womens Andy Levitre Jersey , they’re just one game ahead of the Falcons—and that means they’re one loss away from oblivion.The Rams and Seahawks played the best game of Week 5This one was a barn burner. The Rams (5-0) went on the road to face a vulnerable but game Seahawks (2-3) team, and what a match it was. Los Angeles lost their top two receivers in short order, leading to a much more limited passing attack and an emphasis on RB Todd Gurley. Seattle played their best game of the season on both sides of the ball, with RB Chris Carson having a strong day and Russell Wilson throwing for 3 TDs. It wasn’t enough to take down the Rams, however, who are proving every week that they’re the best team in the NFL.The Cardinals got their first winArizona (1-4) has been struggling mightily in 2018, but managed to find their first win of the season against the injury-ravaged 49ers (1-4). While it isn’t much to brag about, it’s nice to see the rookie QB Josh Rosen get his first win. David Johnson was clearly a bigger part of the gameplan, and the defense made enough plays to seal the game.San Francisco is facing a lost season, much like AtlantaJust like the Falcons, the 49ers are facing an injury-ravaged season of their own in 2018. While San Francisco didn’t have the same caliber of roster (or sheer number of injuries) that Atlanta had, they did lose their QB Jimmy Garoppolo—and while C.J. Beathard has been putting up decent numbers, it’s clear that he can’t overcome the obstacles necessary for the team to stay competitive.The Texans kept their season alive with a win over the CowboysDeshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins led the floundering Texans (2-3) to a victory over the Cowboys (2-3) in overtime, keeping their playoff hopes alive for the time being. Neither of these teams has looked especially good over the first five weeks of the season, but the Texans have the much better roster. This being the AFC, there’s plenty of opportunity for a team like Houston to finish strong and end up firmly in the Wild Card race. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are one loss away from falling out of it themselves—though the NFC East has been a lot weaker than expected.Baker’s Bonus Take: Washington isn’t inconsistent, they’re just badI’ve often remarked that Washington (2-2) is among the NFL’s most inconsistent teams, year in and year out. Well, in 2018, that inconsistency might turn into badness. Facing the Saints (4-1) and their tissue-paper defense, Washington managed only 19 points. The rushing attack was completely stonewalled, and the defense—the most talented unit on the team—got eviscerated by New Orleans to the tune of 43 points. We’ll see how they react at 2-2, but this team clearly has serious issues.What are your thoughts on the games of Week 5? Are the Browns a competitive team in 2018? Are the Eagles really going to miss the playoffs? Who’s on top in the NFC North?
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