5 Things to Look Out For in NFL Week Five
It’s the first London game of the year and the first in the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. For the Raiders who are technically hosting the Bears, despite this game being 5,345 miles from Oakland, it is the first game on the road in a crucial month with the team being away from Oakland.
The team's travels begin with ex-Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack licking his lips at the prospect of his rampant Bears defense facing Derek Carr and the Raiders. In the Bears’ first four games this season, Mack has had four and a half sacks and forced four fumbles, appearing well on his way to eclipsing last season's achievements. Carr has already been sacked eight times this year and his offensive line has left him looking exposed. For Mack and company, the Raiders look like a feast.
However, the Bears have trouble on the offensive side. Starting quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, has failed to ignite in his third year but the shoulder injury he sustained against Minnesota will leave him handing the reins to veteran Chase Daniel. If Daniel can do what Trubisky has failed to do so far, then the Bears will be comfortable winners. If the Bears fail to catch fire on offense, it could be an attritional afternoon in what will likely be a wet and grey London afternoon.
Who starts for Washington?
Washington did last weekend what the Giants have done in the pat, throwing in their rookie quarterback, in hopes that he could generate movement in their offense. For Dwayne Haskins, it didn’t work quite the same way as it did for Daniel Jones when he replaced Eli Manning a few weeks ago. Haskins led his team to a 24-3 win over Washington on Sunday.
By replacing the starter, Case Keenum, head coach, Jay Gruden, was admitting that things were not working for the team, despite insisting Keenum would remain the starter and Haskins was part of a future plan.
Now Gruden has opened a can of worms. What does he do now?
The 4-0 Patriots await the 0-4 Washington this Sunday and a decision must be made. Only the most diehard fan could imagine that Washington can beat the Patriots this week. Do you throw in the rookie, who will likely be intercepted multiple times by the best second line in the league? Or do you replace him and go back to Keenum?
Which is worse for the team's future - to lose confidence being replaced after just half a game or to be badly defeated? This is the decision that awaits Gruden.
Preparing for a Jets take-off
The Jets come off their bye week with a need to get their season rolling. They have not yet secured a win this season. Flying into New Jersey this weekend are the Philadelphia Eagles who looked like the team many predicted to make a deep playoff run in beating the Packers last Thursday.
From the summer of new recruits, Le’Veon Bell joins second-year quarterback, Sam Darnold, giving their fans renewed hope. The Eagles seem to be on an upward curve while the Jets have been going from disappointment to calamity - as is the case with Darnold who is likely to be out still with mononucleosis. He has been sidelined since week two.
The schedule over the next few weeks doesn’t look pretty for the Jets. They have scheduled games against the Cowboys and Patriots after the Eagles. With a 2-2 record, the Eagles haven’t been perfect. The Jets are really going to need to catch Carson Wentz and his Eagles on an unlucky afternoon if the Jets are to do anything this season.
Last year, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw to receiver Adam Thielen more than seven times per game on average. Through the first four games of this season, that figure has dropped to less than half of what it was before, leading to Thielen calling out his quarterback after the 16-6 loss to Chicago.
These circumstances led to apologies from Cousins to Thielen this week in the run-up to their game against the Giants. Cousins admitted, “I need to get him more opportunities, get him the football”.
It was a tactic that worked last season. Thielen was a stand-out player for Minnesota last term but he is now the victim of becoming a marked man. The Vikings are seemingly trying to develop a running game to go with their other offensive options. However, now they face the Giants, who look somewhat nervous against the throw.
The week the Cardinals have been waiting for
It was never going to be easy for Kyler Murray. The number one draft pick of 2019 inherited a Cardinals offense that is in need of rebuilding. Along with his running ability, Murray's arm strength has led the Cardinals to third in the entire league for passing attempts made.
The bad news for Arizona is that many of the passes haven’t exactly been a success. They now face the Cincinnati Bengals who have been amongst the worst in the league for defending against the throw.
It was never going to be easy for Murray to settle into the league and justify his position in the draft but this might just be the game to show them why the Cardinals made him number one. As we head into the second quarter of the season, both Arizona and the Bengals are still searching for their first win. For Murray and the Cardinals, this might just be the week they were waiting for.
Contributing Author - Rees Dale