All In The Cards: Which Teams Have Hope And Which Do Not? (Week 5 Recap)

Welcome to the week five recap! With the Cardinals recent signing of Dwight Freeney I’ll be having a separate column tomorrow detailing how the Cards have been able to get the most out of players like Freeney who look old and washed-up before reviving their career in the desert. For now let’s take a look at the week 5 scores and determine which teams are having a slow start and which teams are probably doomed to agonizingly trek through the rest of this season. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis:

How I did with NFL Week 5 Predictions:

  • Arizona 42, Detroit 17: I hate to say this because I have quite a few friends who are Detroit Lions fans and they are dedicated to this team, but the other fans who attended the game really contributed to the Lions collapse against the Cards. Home field advantage is more than just playing in a familiar place. Home field advantage is also knowing that you have a stadium’s worth of people cheering and supporting you and then feeding off that energy to go the extra mile. The Lions had none of that Sunday. Despite turning the ball over twice in the first ten minutes, the Lions held a 7-0 lead over the Cardinals and held them to their only scoreless quarter of the season. Yet the boos kept coming and when the Lions fed off that negative energy they imploded in the second quarter. Let me make this clear: I am not blaming the Lions fans in attendance for the loss. The Cards had a better matchup and would have most likely taken control of the game sometime around the end of the third quarter. However, I do believe the Lions gave up during the game because the fans gave up. I don’t care how many interceptions Matthew Stafford throws, subbing in Dan Orlovsky at quarterback is giving up. While I don’t blame the Lions fans for being frustrated, it is a fans job to support their team through the good times and the bad times. The Lions are going through some bad times right now, and they’ll need the support of my friends as well as other dedicated Lions fans to help get them through this season. (1-0)
  • Indianapolis 27, Houston 20: The Colts have won their last three games after starting the season with two straight losses. Does that mean they have bounced back? Well let’s look at those wins: all three games were against AFC South teams (who are a combined 3-8 this season when you remove the three games against Indianapolis), all three games were decided by one score, and two of those games saw the Colts trailing in the fourth quarter. I’ll give credit for winning the last two without Andrew Luck but Matt Hasselbeck is a lot better than your typical backup quarterback. Indy will probably lose to New England (which is okay because everyone else outside of Denver and maybe one of the two New York teams will lose to them as well) but it will be their next two games afterwards (home against the Saints and away at the Panthers) that will tell us if the Colts have rebounded or not. (2-0)
  • Atlanta 25, Washington 19: The Redskins continue to play very competitively and were almost able to hand the Falcons their first loss. With the way the NFC East has performed so far this season I wouldn’t discount the Redskins from the NFC East race, at least not yet. Meanwhile the Falcons are the physical manifestation of a gambler on a hot streak. Their blowout win over Houston showed that they can control a game from start to finish, which is a relief because that is what they’ll need to do when this hot streak in the fourth quarter inevitably dries up. (3-0)
  • Buffalo 14, Tennessee 13: I still believe the Bills are a good team but they have just been decimated by injuries on offense. With talk of Tyrod Taylor possibly missing time, it may just be one of those circumstances where a team won’t reach their potential due to outside forces. The Bills probably won’t beat the Bengals this week even if Taylor plays but he will be necessary for their next two games against the Jaguars and Dolphins. (4-0)
  • Chicago 18, Kansas City 17: Let’s all take a moment to appreciate Jay Cutler and finally give him his props. That is now two comeback victories in a row for a team that looked like it was vying for the first overall pick just two weeks ago. As for the Chiefs, the loss of Jamaal Charles makes it easier for me to say they are finished. Here’s hoping he is healthy and ready to go by next season and that he doesn’t try to risk playing again this year. (4-1)
  • Cincinnati 27, Seattle 24: During last week’s recap I wrote about how the no call for the Seahawks against the Lions would probably give them the momentum they needed to play like themselves again. At no time did that feel more apparent than when Bobby Wagner scored on a fumble return in the third quarter to put Seattle up 24-7. Then that momentum died. The unimpressive Seahawks team that somehow found their way to .500 appeared in the fourth quarter and the Bengals made them pay. These are the two-time defending NFC champions and I know no one wants to count them out, but at some point we need to look at the present instead of the past. The present does still show promise but it has yet to provide confidence. (5-1)
  • Cleveland 33, Baltimore 30: I was against it at first but it seems the Browns got it right when they decided to stay with Josh McCown at quarterback. Cleveland has had a very easy schedule up to this point so you can’t put too much stock in their record. However, if they can win three of their next five games (which include games against Denver, Arizona, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger probably back) then we can talk. As painful as it is for me to say that a talented team like the Ravens are done, they just look too out of sorts to get things turned around in time. (5-2)
  • Philadelphia 39, New Orleans 17: Every team in the NFC East still has a shot at the division title but the Eagles have to feel a lot better about their chances after this performance. Granted it came against a Saints team that will probably get a top ten draft pick, but the important thing was that all of the offseason acquisitions contributed to this win. Whether or not this is a sign of the team finally getting comfortable with each other will be determined in the following weeks against the Giants and Panthers. (6-2)
  • Green Bay 24, St. Louis 10: Things we learned from this game: the Packers defense is a lot better than what I gave them credit for last week, Aaron Rodgers is not a robot and is capable of turning the ball over (though don’t expect it to happen that often), Todd Gurley really does have the potential to be the next great running back, and last but not least the Rams continue to play a lot worse when facing teams outside of the NFC West. (7-2)
  • Tampa Bay 38, Jacksonville 31: Both teams looked impressive and are giving their fans hope for the future. The best sign for the Jaguars is that Sophomore Blake Bortles looks nothing like rookie Blake Bortles. The best sign for the Buccaneers is that Doug Martin is showing life again, rushing for over 100 yards for the second game in a row. Last time Martin had back-to-back 100 rushing yard games was in 2012, his rookie season. (7-3)
  • New England 30, Dallas 6: There’s no denying that the Patriots are the favorites after a quarter of the season. However, for as good as this Patriots team is, their championship hopes are tied directly to Tom Brady’s health. I know that statement is true of many teams who have elite quarterbacks, but the reason I bring it up is that Brady took some terrible hits against Dallas including one where he was leveled on a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. Because of his age (38), history with serious leg injuries, and the fact he plays for a coach in Bill Belichick who rarely takes him out even during blowouts, Brady and the Patriots are in a position similar to that of Carson Palmer and the Cardinals. Both teams need to be extra careful with their quarterbacks or else the championship dream will disappear. (8-3)
  • Denver 16, Oakland 10: After week five is when you can start looking at season projections as a more reliable way of forecasting a player’s performance. Let’s just say that the forecast looks gloomy for Peyton Manning. Manning is on pace for his first sub-4,000 yard season since 2005, his first 20+ interception season since 2001, and his first season ever with less than 20 passing touchdowns. Sure this could just be a slow start, but he’ll need to produce some big numbers soon as I don’t expect his play to get any better than this when it turns December in Denver. (9-3)
  • New York Giants 30, San Francisco 27: Like the Colts, the Giants started the season 0-2 and have rebounded with three straight wins. If I was to choose which of the two teams has more likely turned things around, I would go with the Giants. Despite the narrow win against a bad 49ers team, the Giants performance over the winning streak has been a little more convincing and against better opponents. However, I’m not ready to hand the NFC East to the Giants just yet. A lot rides on this week’s matchup with the Eagles. A win for the Giants would definitely make them the favorites. (10-3)
  • Pittsburgh 24, San Diego 20: With how the Steelers have been able to perform without Ben Roethlisberger, I’m convinced that the Steelers are one of the top threats to preventing New England from returning to the Super Bowl. Sure the last two games have been close and could have gone either way, but the goal right now is surviving until their quarterback returns, something Dallas hasn’t been able to do. What once seemed like a potential season-ending stretch is now two games at home against Arizona and Cincinnati and a trip to Kansas City against a Chiefs team that is dealing with the loss of their own star. (11-3)

Week 5 Record: 11-3
Season Record: 53-24
Perfect Score Predictions: 2
 

All In The Cards: Week 5

Welcome back a new edition of All In the Cards! This week the Cardinals try to rebound from a disappointing loss to the St. Louis Rams by taking on the Detroit Lions. Both recent history and statistics say the Cards have a great shot at winning but anything can happen in the NFL. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Without further ado, let’s see how these two teams stack up against each other:

Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions

Last Meeting: W 14-6 vs. Detroit (11/16/14), Cards have won last six meetings (last Detroit win was 11/13/05)

We all knew the Arizona Cardinals wouldn’t go undefeated and I even said last week that there was a chance it would end against the Rams. With the Cards losing there are now six teams left in the NFL without a loss. That’s not too surprising on its own; what is surprising is that in contrast there is only one team without a win: the Detroit Lions. The Lions have been in this position quite a few times, having started the season with four or more consecutive losses four times since 2000. However it has been awhile, with the last instance occurring in 2010. With the amount of parity in the NFL, there should be no fear of the Lions going 0-16, like they infamously did in 2008. However, the fear of missing the postseason is on full tilt as a loss this week eliminates any chance of playing in January.

The Lions will have to hope for a reversal of fate as they take on a Cardinals team that has owned them for a decade. The last time the Lions defeated the Cardinals was week 10 of the 2005 season, when Joey Harrington threw three touchdown passes to Roy Williams to lead the Lions to a 29-21 victory. My first takeaway is that I feel old because I remember those Lions teams very well. My second takeaway is that I believe Larry Fitzgerald is the only player on either team that played in that game and will play in Sunday’s game. In that 2005 matchup, Fitzgerald had nine catches for 141 yards and a score so you would reasonably think that that Fitz continued to shred the Lions and the Cards ended up winning those games because they got better players around him. That is actually wrong. During the Cards six-game winning streak over the Lions, Fitzgerald has accounted for 22 catches, 228 yards and three touchdowns TOTAL. Fitz already has more catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns so far this season.

What’s really intriguing about this streak is that almost every win was memorable because of its timing. The first win, a 17-10 victory in 2006, gave Arizona its first win since week one, snapping an eight-game losing streak. That’s not even the longest losing streak the Cards snapped against the Lions, as they ended a nine-game losing streak in 2012 in what would be Arizona’s only win after starting the season 4-0. In 2009, a Cardinals win over the Lions coupled with a San Francisco 49ers loss in week 15 gave Arizona its second consecutive NFC West crown. The Cardinals victory over Detroit in 2013 marked Bruce Arians first win as Arizona’s head coach. Finally, the Cardinals victory last season came in the first game following Carson Palmer’s season-ending injury.

You can see by now how one would think that the Cardinals have owned the Lions. Despite most of the games being rather close, the Cards always got the win they needed. They need a win this week too so they can move on from their loss to St. Louis. However, Detroit needs it more. Will fate shine on the Lions or will the Cardinals continue to use them as their stepladder?

The Lions will need all the luck they can get as this matchup really favors the Cardinals. With the Cardinals recent history of having trouble covering tight ends and other big receiving targets, you would think that Calvin Johnson would give the Lions a big advantage. While Johnson has been effective (37 catches, 368 yards and two TDs in five games) he has never been able to score on the defense with the exception of 2013 when he scored both of his touchdowns. This year “Megatron” hasn’t looked like himself, having yet to top 100 receiving yards in a game despite averaging nearly 12 targets and having only one touchdown.

It’s not like those yards are transferring over to the run game either as the Lions have rushed for a total of 188 yards this season or 47 rushing yards per game. To put that in perspective, five teams have already rushed for more in a single game than the Lions have all season. That means even more pressure has been placed on Matthew Stafford, who has already throw 165 passes this season (second only to Ryan Tannehill’s 171) Stafford is on pace to throw 652 passes this season, which would mark the fifth consecutive year he has thrown over 600 passes. That is just one less season than if you added Tom Brady and Peyton Manning’s 600 pass seasons together and the only quarterback with more is Drew Brees with seven such seasons. For all those passes, the Lions barely rank in the top half of the league in passing yards (245.8 per game, good for 15th). They now face the eighth best defense against the pass in the Cardinals, who have allowed just a yard under 200 per game.

Unlike last week, the Lions don’t have the defense to slow down Arizona’s offense enough to keep them in the game. The Detroit defense is 23rd in passing yards allowed (271.5) and are the second worst team in the NFL when it comes to holding teams on third down (allowing opponents to convert 46% of the time). While the three turnovers helped the Rams get ahead of the Cardinals, it was allowing only two third down conversions in 11 attempts that won St. Louis the game. I don’t think the Lions can replicate that kind of success. Unfortunately they’ll need to in order to pull off the upset, end the losing streak and have any hope of turning this season around. That is going to take way too much luck for me to even consider picking the Lions, but you never know. Maybe this time things will finally go Detroit’s way.

Prediction: Arizona 30, Detroit 13

Other NFL Week 5 Predictions:

  • Indianapolis 23, Houston 16
  • Atlanta 27, Washington 17
  • Buffalo 28, Tennessee 20
  • Kansas City 31, Chicago 17
  • Cincinnati 23, Seattle 19
  • Baltimore 30, Cleveland 17
  • Philadelphia 28, New Orleans 24
  • Green Bay 34, St. Louis 10
  • Jacksonville 17, Tampa Bay 16
  • New England 33, Dallas 18
  • Denver 24, Oakland 14
  • New York Giants 34, San Francisco 17
  • Pittsburgh 24, San Diego 20