Wild week five in National Football LeagueFriday, October 15, 2021
BY MARK ARCHER
To say week 5 of the 2021/2022 National Football League (NFL) season was wild would be an understatement.
The Cincinnati Bengals versus the Green Bay Packers overtime thriller on Sunday and the Baltimore Ravens vs Indianapolis Colts overtime nail-biter on Monday ensured that, at least one game has gone to overtime in each of the first five weeks of the season. This marked the second time ever (also 2018) that a season has featured at least one overtime game in each of its first five weeks.
But, while those games were particularly enthralling, the exploits of a bunch of kickers ultimately stole the headlines.
Things got off to a bad start for kickers last Thursday (October 7) when Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay missed an extra point after their first touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks. Then, in what can only be described as one of the roughest days in league history for kickers, Sunday began with New York Jets kicker Matt Ammendola missing an extra-point attempt on the Jets' first touchdown of the day in their loss to the Atlanta Falcons in London.
In total, kickers missed 12 extra points last weekend, which ties an NFL record and they also missed 12 field goals on Sunday. This was emphasised by Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby who had made 27 straight field goals coming into the afternoon, but he missed three 'game-winning' field goals and an extra point on Sunday before eventually producing the game-winner in overtime.
Speaking of overtime, the Ravens, down by 19 points in the second half last Monday, executed a historic comeback to pull out an epic 31-25 win over the Colts in overtime. Baltimore quarterback (QB) Lamar Jackson was living a nightmare, managing the fewest first-half points (3) in his 42 starts before leading the biggest comeback of his career. His untimely fumble at the Colts' two-yard line led to Baltimore trailing 22-3 with 3:06 left in the third quarter, but it signalled the start of the comeback.
Jackson threw for a career and franchise record 442 yards and four touchdowns (with no interceptions plus 50-yards rushing) making him the first QB in NFL history to achieve that mark while also completing 85 per cent of his passes.
On the subject of 400 plus passing yards, the highly decorated Tom Brady surprisingly set a new mark last weekend when he threw for 411 yards plus five touchdowns for the first time ever in his illustrious career. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers were playing hosts to their southern neighbours, the Miami Dolphins and no mercy was shown in the 45-17 victory.
Brady, reportedly suffering from a thumb injury, displayed no apparent ill-effects and, after 22 years in the league, is still registering firsts – and to think he sat down with over seven minutes left to play. He has had nine career games with five or more touchdowns, second only to Drew Brees in the NFL record books, and his 12 games throwing for over 400 yards tie for fourth all-time. He is currently on pace for 6,008 passing yards and 51 touchdowns this season which would be a career best and would fall just four shy of the single-season NFL touchdown record held by Peyton Manning.
Sandwiched in the middle of all this action was the game of the week between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills plus the Arizona Cardinals achieving their first 5-0 start since 1974.
Buffalo's number one rated defence made the usually explosive offence of the Chiefs appear ordinary, limiting QB Patrick Mahomes to 272 passing yards (while grabbing two interceptions) and containing Tyreek Hill to only 63 receiving yards in the lopsided 38-20 win.
The Bills have made significant strides since being beaten twice last season by the Chiefs, and now lead the NFL in both offense and defense by scoring 34.4 points while allowing a meager 12.8 points, respectively. They will be playing their second-straight game in prime time next Monday and, if they can get past the Tennessee Titans, a comfortable schedule lies ahead against the Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets (a combined 2-13 record).
Buffalo travelled to Tennessee a year ago and lost unceremoniously (42-16) but enter this encounter as firm JustBet favourites based on their dominance thus far. The Titans are no slouch but have allowed as much as they have scored and cannot be given the nod this time around – even at home.
The 2019 Super Bowl champion Chiefs are currently last in their division but enter the weekend as 7-point JustBet favourites over a wavering Washington Football Team. The Kansas City defence is the worst in the league, but their opponents should offer minimal resistance this weekend and the Chiefs are expected to use this opportunity to get their season back on track.
The Cardinals are off to a dream season but have not looked as convincing as their record suggests. They take their unbeaten start to Cleveland to tackle a wounded Browns team and it's anybody's guess what the result will be. The Browns have been given a slight three-point edge by JustBet so the margin for error is very thin. This should be an interesting watch.
Another match of interest should be the renewed division rivalry between the Packers and the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field. QB Aaron Rogers is slowly finding his touch and has gotten the Green Bay-machine running but there is pride at stake and the Bears will not take this one lying down – especially at home. The Packers should prevail but may be made to sweat for this one.
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Super Bowl LVI Champion
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6.20
Buffalo Bills 6.60
Kansas City Chiefs 8.20
Los Angeles Rams 9.40
Green Bay Packers 11.00
Baltimore Ravens 12.00
Arizona Cardinals 13.00
Cleveland Browns 15.00
Dallas Cowboys 15.00
Los Angeles Chargers 17.00
*Only Top 10 odds shown (see website for full list)