Friday, October 9, 2009
Week 5 NFL Primer
FIVE 4-0 CLUBS TIED FOR MOST EVER…PATRIOTS VISIT BRONCOS…AND HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH CELEBRATION ON MNF HIGHLIGHT WEEK 5
And then there were five… Five teams – Denver, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New Orleans and the New York Giants – enter Week 5 with perfect 4-0 marks, tied for the most such teams in a season (1968, 2003) in NFL history.
“We are 4-0 and we’re happy about that,” says Giants head coach TOM COUGHLIN. “We are excited but know that we have a lot of improving to do in all areas.”
Broncos rookie head coach JOSH MC DANIELS agrees that while a fast start is good, it doesn’t guarantee anything.
“We know we’ve won four games but four games will never qualify us for the playoffs or win our division,” says McDaniels. “Four games won’t ever really get us much of anything. We’re happy to be 4-0, but we’re certainly far from satisfied. There are a lot of improvements to make. We can play better, we can coach better and that’s what we’re after.”
In fact, all 32 teams are after that very same thing. And, while not everyone has gotten off to a hot start, nothing is a given in the NFL. Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was adopted, 83 teams (36.4 percent of the 228 playoff clubs) have advanced to the postseason after starting the season 2-2 or worse.
“When you buy into something, anything can happen,” says Jacksonville defensive tackle JOHN HENDERSON about the Jaguars, who have won two in a row after an 0-2 start. “It can be an incredible year if we all buy into it.”
In five of the past eight seasons, a team that has started 2-2 or worse has advanced to the Super Bowl. And three of those teams – 2001 New England (1-3), 2003 New England (2-2) and the 2007 New York Giants (2-2) – went on to win the Super Bowl.
So, entering Week 5, while it certainly helps to be 4-0, don’t count anyone out.
Some of the key games on the NFL schedule for Week 5:
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (3-1) at DENVER BRONCOS (4-0) (Sunday, CBS, 4:15 PM ET)
It will be the teacher (New England head coach BILL BELICHICK) against the student (Denver rookie head coach JOSH MC DANIELS) when two of the league’s hottest teams square off in the Mile High City on Sunday afternoon.
McDaniels, who was named the Broncos’ head coach in January, spent the previous eight seasons (2001-08) working for Belichick in New England, including the last three (2006-08) as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“We’re not going to make more of this game than what it is,” says McDaniels, whose club has allowed a league-low 26 points. “It’s the fifth game of the year. It’ll be a great challenge to play against one of the best franchises in this league.”
Both teams are coming off victories.
Denver, who improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2003, got a late 51-yard touchdown from wide receiver BRANDON MARSHALL to take a 17-10 lead and cornerback CHAMP BAILEY broke up Dallas’ last chance in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line to seal the win.
The Patriots, who face an undefeated team for the fifth consecutive week, knocked off Baltimore 27-21. Quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 258 yards – spread among nine different receivers – including a touchdown pass.
“We’ve got a big opponent this weekend in Denver,” says Brady. “They’re undefeated right now, so it’s going to be a tough matchup for us.”
ATLANTA FALCONS (2-1) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-1) (Sunday, FOX, 4:05 PM ET)
The 49ers scored on offense, defense and special teams last week and improved to 3-1 with a 35-0 win over St. Louis. San Francisco scored twice on defense and once on specials teams, recording three non-offensive touchdowns in a game for the first time since 1966 (December 11 vs. Chicago). One of those defensive scores came on a 29-yard interception-return touchdown by linebacker PATRICK WILLIS, who added eight tackles and a career-high 2.5 sacks.
“Wow, just wow,” says San Francisco head coach and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker MIKE SINGLETARY about Willis. “He has so much talent. His talent and knowledge coming together is what will take him to the next level.”
Atlanta, who is coming off a bye week, aims to get back on track after a loss to New England in Week 3. But it won’t be easy as the 49ers have won five consecutive games at home.
“It’s good to get back out there and start preparing for the 49ers,” says Falcons head coach MIKE SMITH. “They’re a good football team and they can make plays in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams.”
Quarterback MATT RYAN, who ranks sixth in the NFL with a 100.4 passer rating, leads an offense that features a trio of 2009 All-Stars in running back MICHAEL TURNER, wide receiver RODDY WHITE and tight end TONY GONZALEZ.
“Their quarterback was a huge success last year,” says Singletary, “and Atlanta has good running backs and receivers. They have great personnel on both offense and defense. We are going to have our hands full.”
NEW YORK JETS (3-1) en MIAMI DOLPHINS (1-3) (Lunes, ESPN & ESPN Deportes, 8:30 PM ET)
“¿Estás listo para el football?”
Monday Night Football will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a matchup between two AFC East rivals.
The New York Jets, who started 3-0 before losing last week, will look to rebound in Miami, where the Jets have won eight of the past 11 meetings, including three in a row. The team’s early success has been attributed to QB MARK SANCHEZ, the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for September, and an aggressive defense led by head coach REX RYAN.
Miami, the defending AFC East champion, got its first victory last week with a commanding 38-10 win over Buffalo. The Dolphins gained 250 yards on the ground as running backs RONNIE BROWN (115 yards, 2 TDs) and RICKY WILLIAMS (85 yards, 1 TD) carried the load.
Miami’s No. 1 ranked rushing attack (183.5 yards per game) will be challenged by the Jets’ No. 4 overall defense (277.8 yards per game).
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH CELEBRATION ON MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
The NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month will culminate in a series of special events surrounding the Jets at Dolphins Monday Night Football game on Monday, October 12, on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Univision Radio will also broadcast the game.
The telecast will kick off with a customized version of Hank Williams Jr.’s opening video featuring Grammy award-winning singer Gloria Estefan and including lyrics in Spanish. Grammy award-winning singer Marc Anthony will highlight gameday activities by performing the national anthem, which will be televised by both ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Estefan and Anthony are both limited partners of the Dolphins.
In-stadium festivities include a pregame performance by Latin Grammy award-winning Jesse & Joy on the Land Shark Tailgate Stage; Latin-style tailgating at Calle Dolphins, in collaboration with Bongo’s Cuban Café, offering typical Latin food, Latin music and a dominos tournament, presented by Pepsi; Hispanic celebrity video messages throughout the game, and a special “Celebration of the Americas” halftime show, presented by AT&T, produced by Estefan Enterprises with participation by Gloria Estefan and a live performance by rising Latin star Jocelyn Rivera.