By RYAN BRAUCH
With a little bit over a quarter of the 2017 NFL season in the books, the league took a huge turn during Week five with numerous key injuries and the trade sending Adrian Peterson to Arizona.
Week five was an opportunity for many teams to prove to the league, fans and even themselves that they are still in a position to succeed. For other teams it was their last attempt to be competitive before throwing in the towel for the season and focus on tanking for a draft pick. Lastly, Week five may have been the last chance for some players to keep their starting roles.
After starting 0-3, the Cincinnati Bengals have used the last two games to resurrect their chances to stay competitive this year. With a big 31-7 victory against a young Cleveland Browns team in Week four, followed by a 20-16 home win against the shorthanded Buffalo Bills, the Bengals are in a comfortable spot heading into Week six. Cincinnati is rewarded with a bye week to prepare for their upcoming matchups and fix any kinks in their schemes.
The Jacksonville Jaguars also made the best of a tough matchup in Week five, as they met with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game started out slow but it was only a matter of time before the defense completely took over control of the remaining quarters by forcing veteran quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, to throw five interceptions. Jacksonville earned a huge 30-9 victory over the 3-1 Steelers after a rocky and inconsistent 2-2 start to the season. The Jags, now 3-2 look forward to an interesting NFC matchup against the Rams at home in Week six.
Meanwhile two 0-4 teams faced off in New York as the Giants hosted the Los Angeles Chargers. After what became an intense battle for each of the team’s first win, the Chargers were able to capitalize on a fatal fumble and steal the game with a last minute touchdown putting Los Angeles up 27-22 with only a few minutes remaining.
Not only did the Giants fail to win the game, they also lost their four best wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Dwayne Harris, to long term injuries which will likely cause them all to miss the remainder of the season. The Giants will likely continue to run into problems getting wins, especially with their lack of a receiving corps and lousy offensive line.
Searching for their first win, the 0-4 Cleveland Browns played the New York Jets at home. Unfortunately for the Browns, they did not get off to the start they had hoped for as rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer played a lackluster first half, completing less than 50 percent of his passes, fumbling the ball and throwing an interception.
Despite Kizer’s less than outstanding play, the Browns were still in the game, only down by three points at halftime. Heading into the second half, head coach Hue Jackson went in a different direction, benching Kizer for second year signal caller Kevin Hogan. The Stanford product took control of the game and led the team down the field for a touchdown, putting the team up 7-3 in the third quarter. Sadly the Browns weren’t able to hang on for the win and Kizer may not be able to hang on to his starting job.
On top of the plethora of injuries accumulated by the Giants, other star players such as JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Charles Clay and Sam Bradford suffered major injuries. Watt and Mercilus have been ruled out for the rest of the season, putting the Houston Texans’ defensive front at a disadvantage for the rest of the year. Despite those major setbacks, no team will suffer as severely as the Giants, missing almost their entire receiver group.
To top off an insane Week five, the New Orleans Saints made headlines by trading seven time Pro Bowler and 2012 MVP, 32 year old running back Adrian Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals. Peterson, the long term Minnesota Viking, joined the Saints this past offseason, creating a huge logjam at the running back position for Sean Payton and the Saints.
Through the first few weeks of the season, things clearly were not working out between the Saints and Peterson, as the future Hall of Famer believed he deserved more carries but with established and trusted back Mark Ingram and standout rookie Alvin Kamara also in the backfield, it became apparent Peterson would not get more than a few carries a game.
The Cardinals were eager to capitalize on this lack of chemistry by trading for the veteran back after starting star running back David Johnson went down with a long term injury in Week 1. Struggling to find an answer to their run game problems, the Cardinals look to thrust Peterson into the starting role to revive their offense. Following such a hectic week, most teams look to regather themselves and prepare for the upcoming weeks.