NFL Week 5 in review: NFC West rules, QB play, NFC playoff battles

Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The NFC West is still dominating the league, some good teams will be left out of the postseason in the NFC and other tidbits in Bryan Gibberman's latest "The Morning After" column.

It was another 3-1 week for the NFC West and the only loss came because two teams within the division played each other - the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams.

The NFC West is the only division with all four teams above .500 and their total record is 14-6 -- best in the NFL.

How real is it?

Out of division the NFC West has defeated the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers twice, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins.

Three of the six losses have come within the division and the other three were to the 4-1 Minnesota Vikings, 4-1 Chicago Bears and 1-3 Detroit Lions. That's only one loss to a team with a below .500 record and a loss I don't even consider bad.

With those wins and the quality of competition in the losses if this was putting together an NCAA Tournament resume it screams #1 seed.

Here's the problem, it's only five weeks into the season. Is it actually sustainable?

I don't question the 49ers, if they get average quarterback play San Francisco is arguably the most well-rounded team in the NFL.

The other three teams have question marks, namely their offensive lines. Seattle can hide their poor pass blocking because they are so effective running the ball. Arizona and St. Louis on the other hand are failing in both facets.

Quarterback play in the division still isn't a strength, but for the three teams not named the Niners it isn't all about them. The poor pass blocking as mentioned above hinders their abilities. Not saying Kevin Kolb, Sam Bradford and Russell Wilson are top 15 QBs, but with a quality run game and decent protection they can succeed.

San Fran and the Bengals (Andy Dalton) last year, Mark Sanchez advancing to two AFC Championship games, Matt Cassel leading the Chiefs to the playoffs and Joe Flacco's run with the Ravens are all examples of team's with middle of the road QBs having success in recent years.

Part of the equation for the NFC West to continue at this rate is the defensive play needs to be elite. To be a good team without an above average to top flight quarterback more things need to go right. You have to play good special teams, have a solid turnover margin and win close games.

Seattle's defense is rock solid, they have an elite defensive line and the back line is above average.

St. Louis has struggled some stopping the run until this past week against the Cardinals, but their corners with Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins are as good as they come.

Arizona has three players who are top five at their position in Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington and Patrick Peterson. Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson aren't too far on the outside at theirs also. In the last two weeks the Cardinals defense has showed holes. Miami was able to wing the ball all over the field and the Rams ran the ball well in the second half. I believe Arizona's defense has too much talent for these struggles to really continue.

In a ridiculously stacked NFC it is going to be a battle for the six playoff spots.

It has already been established only one team is coming out of the NFC South. That leaves five spots, three division winners and two wild card spots for this group of teams - New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.

10 pretty damn good football teams fighting it out for five slots.

I look forward to seeing how it plays out over the next 11 weeks and if the NFC West can continue its unexpected quick start.

Extra Points

  1. Eagles head coach Andy Reid at it again. LeSean McCoy only had 16 rush attempts against the Pittsburgh Steelers plus on 1st and goal from the three yard line Reid lets Michael Vick run instead of Shady. One day he will learn, hopefully.
  1. I did this with the Ravens last year and it came back to haunt me because they got to the AFC Championship game, but they are an unimpressive 4-1. Since destroying the Bengals in Week 1 they lost to an Eagles team that tried to give the game away and beat the Chiefs and Browns by a combined 10 points. Between all that they did defeat the Patriots. Does Baltimore play to the level of competition or are they not as good as their record says? I lean towards the latter.
  1. Is Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles going to hold up for an entire season? He is coming off major knee surgery and he is getting run like he has never been before. Through five games Charles has 102 carries. In 2010 he had 230 carries in 16 games and 190 in 15 games of 2009.
  1. Couldn't help but laugh at how big a deal NBC made about Drew Brees breaking Johnny Unitas' consecutive games with a TD pass record. I had to ask someone I was watching the game with what record Brees was breaking. I have great respect for the history of the NFL, but I'm guessing most people were like me and didn't give two craps.
  1. Ryan Matthews had 80 yards on 12 carries for the Chargers against the Saints. As a head coach your #1 job on offense is to get the ball to your most skilled players. Chargers head coach Norv Turner failed in this aspect miserably.
  1. What a show Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver Reggie Wayne put on in Indy's win over the Packers. It's too bad it won't happen more often, but watching Luck and Aaron Rodgers go head to head was a blast.
  1. Get better Robert Griffin III. I enjoy watching you play too much; hopefully the concussion isn't a really bad one.
  1. The Falcons improved to 5-0, but if they expect to advance to the Super Bowl they need to play better. They shouldn't struggle as much as they did to beat the Panthers and Redskins like they have the last two weeks.
  1. If a NFL team takes USC quarterback Matt Barkley over West Virginia QB Geno Smith they will regret that decision for a very long time.

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