1. I think this is what I liked about Week 5:
a. I couldn't have written it better myself, so I won't try. Andrew Brandt of National Football Post with a smart analysis about why Bengals owner Mike Brown won't bend on releasing or trading Carson Palmer.
b. Wow. Did you see Maurice Jones-Drew truck Leon Hall on his way to the first points of the game at Jacksonville? Leveled him.
c. Classic shuck-the-blocker-and-tackle by Troy Polamalu early against the Titans, stopping the Titans' Chris Johnson.
d. There isn't a better quarterback in football than Drew Brees at throwing the ball just right to lay it over the linebacker layer and in front of the deep secondary. His touch is perfect.
e. Steve Smith, who elevates like few others.
f. Now I know what the Colts saw in Curtis Painter. When he gets time to throw, he stands in the pocket and delivers a nice ball.
g. Dwayne Bowe, with the catch of the year in the end zone. The catch of many years. Terrific balance and concentration.
h. What a stat by Jim Nantz on CBS: The end-of-half pick by Antonio Cromartie against Tom Brady was his first interception EVER in the red zone at home. That's almost impossible to believe. But Nantz said it's the first time after 91 touchdowns that Brady threw a pick inside the 20- at home.
i. Doug Baldwin of Seattle (eight for 136 and an important touchdown) is a great story for Seattle. You'll read about him in Tuesday's column.
j. Broken record again: Cam Newton was competitively terrific against the Saints, even though he was only 16 of 31.
k. Love what I saw out of Newton post-game. Drew Brees and Sean Payton shook his hand and said things to him, but he had a pained, almost angry expression on his face. Guy looks like he hates to lose.
l. Love Ron Rivera sticking up for his guys, saying a fine might be worth it rather than letting Roman Harper hit Steve Smith with a cheap shot and having it go unretaliated.
m. Aaron Rodgers. What a great downfield thrower.
n. Shaking my head how good the 49ers looked.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about week 5:
a. Me, for not including Denver linebacker Von Miller of the Broncos in my prospective quarter-of-the-season rookie awards. Of course he belongs in the running for the overall best rookie, right behind Cam Newton. My error.
b. Daniel Graham, with two first-quarter penalties for Tennessee.
c. Al would have loved Chaz Schillens running four yards past the deepest Houston Texan. Al would not have loved Jason Campbell throwing it three yards past him.
d. The Eagles need tackling practice. Badly.
e. Bush-league play, Roman Harper. Ridiculously late hit in the end zone on Steve Smith of the Panthers.
f. Hope your sixth-round salary can take a five-figure fine, Danny Batten. That's the second-year Buffalo linebacker from South Dakota State who took two full steps and hit Michael Vick high and will get fined for his hit for sure.
g. Asante Samuel. Tackle somebody!
h. Pink socks on the Giants. Pink gloves, okay. Pink cleats, I guess. But long pink socks with the blue uniform? Yeccccch. What's next? Full pink uniforms?
i. I mean, really. Is someone going to buy Victor Cruz's pink socks at an auction to benefit the battle against breast cancer? I don't want to diminish that effort, but there's got to be some limit. Some of the stuff players have worn the last two weeks looks absurd.
j. Peyton Manning wasn't allowed to wear black high-tops to celebrate the life of Johnny Unitas after Johnny U died, yet NFL players can dress without regard to the NFL's uniform code, some wearing pink socks, some wearing other pink items, and some not? I don't get it.
k. The Jags. Dead team walking.
3. I think ESPN might get the best rating in years tonight for Chicago-Detroit, and I hope for the network's sake it can be like the squirrel gathering acorns for the winter. This game is a total gold mine. But for the rest of the year? Mostly bad news. ESPN has to be getting a little nervous about the Monday night slate. Miami (0-4) at the Jets next week. Jacksonville (1-3) hosting Baltimore the next week, and the Jags hosting San Diego in December, followed by St. Louis at Seattle (combined records: 2-7). Yikes.
4. I think, by the way, that I'll spend three sentences (and that might be too much) on that idiot Hank Williams, who was rightfully fired by ESPN for comparing Barack Obama and John Boehner playing golf to Adolf "Hitler playing golf with [Benjamin] Netanyahu.'' Then the apparently math-challenged Williams said Obama and Joe Biden were the Three Stooges. Convenient way for ESPN to part ways with Williams anyway, because those opens have gotten as old and stale as "Mork and Mindy'' reruns.
5. I think the NFL would fall apart without me.
6. I think I'm not sure which team exited the Metrodome Sunday more worried about its quarterback: Arizona, which lost, with Kevin Kolb, or Minnesota, which won, with Donovan McNabb. What an oddity for the 2011 season -- 44 points scored, zero touchdown passes.
7. I think the Philadelphia debacle just shows once again why football is such an interesting game. You can bring in all the big names -- unselfish, good players, with no interest in anything but team goals -- and if you don't have chemistry, and if you don't pay attention to the meat-and-potato tenets of the game such as good offensive line play and mobile, playmaking linebackers, you can go down the drain quickly.
8. I think Chris Cooley was too acerbic for me with his original dancing-on-Tony-Romo's-failures comments, but I liked what he said in clarification on his blog the other day. For those who didn't read, Cooley said he took great pleasure in seeing Romo choke away a huge lead against Detroit eight days ago. His blogged followup, in small part: "In a league full of glad-handing and ass slapping between competing teams, I actually care about the organization and fan base that has supported me throughout my 8-year career. While I feel an honest respect for all NFL players, I show no remorse in cheering against another team, especially the Cowboys. If it sounded like I was delighted by Tony Romo's failure last week, I was.'' I get it.
9. I think I never thought I would write these words about Week 6 of the 2011 season: San Francisco at Detroit is the game of the week in the National Football League.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Gotta love The Onion. This from their faux obit on the one and only Steve Jobs: "Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Computers -- and the only American in the country who had any clue what he was doing -- died Wednesday at the age of 56.''
b. The story is too perfect about Michael Oher not knowing Steve Jobs, and Tweeting on his iPhone a query to his followers to find out who this guy was.
c. I guess my tribute to Jobs would be that I don't know how I'd do my job without my MacBook Pro. Friday night, on a train with no power outlets, I fired up the MacBook, took out my Verizon modem, turned it on and Tweeted and wrote a couple of emails for a project I'm working on. The guy sitting next to me was emailing on his iPhone while listening (too loudly) to songs on his iPod. It's a Steve Jobs world.
d. The death of Al Davis prevented me from getting to Jeff Pearlman's book about Walter Payton. This is a bad week for me coming up work-wise, but I promise to have my thoughts out no later than the column of Oct. 24.
e. I've still missed every episode of "The Office'' this year. DVR, don't fail me now.
f. Darn it! Missed Elvis Costello the other night in Montclair.
g. Coffeenerdness: Seattle, you should know that the baristas at the 51st and Madison Starbucks are superb, particularly the store-openers at 5:30 on Sunday and Monday mornings.
h. Beernerdness: Taking your pumpkin recommendations. Been beerless for a few days, but I'll be trying a few pumpkin varietals in the coming days.
i. Quiz answer: The Lions' quarterback in their last Monday night game 10 years ago this weekend was Ty Detmer, who went an efficient but unproductive 15 of 18 before being replaced at the start of the third quarter by Charlie Batch.
Detroit 23, Chicago 17. I like the Lions in this game anyway, and I like them even more if defensive tackle Nick Fairley makes his first career start for Detroit tonight in the Lions' first home Monday-nighter in 10 years. Fairley's been out with a stress fracture in his foot since early in training camp, but defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham sounds like he's drooling over the prospect of getting Fairley back tonight. If Fairley does play, expect a rotation of three-technique tackle Ndamukong Suh, noseman Corey Williams and Fairley, with Sammie Hill or Andre Fluellen, two no-name backups, there in relief if Fairley starts and can't finish. If Fairley is active, the match of the beleaguered Chicago offensive line against the interior of the Lions' front could be the mismatch of Week 5.
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