As the start of Week 6 approaches, some teams have had their season’s expectations go up in smoke. For others, it started out well, but a few losses have brought questions about execution and strategy. Let’s take a look at a few teams who need to get back on track if they want to stay in the mix for a potential playoff run.
Dallas Cowboys (3-2)
After a disappointing showing that resulted in a 12-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Dallas Cowboys seemed ready for their prime time matchup against the 3-1 Green Bay Packers.
Coming into their contest, the Cowboys were sporting a Top 5 passing and rushing offense, as well as a defense that had only given up 56 points this season. That Top 5 defense gave up 31 points before the offense was able to put a touchdown on the board. The Cowboys defense gave up a whopping four touchdowns on the ground to Aaron Jones, who had four touchdowns coming into the game.
Quiet as kept, the Cowboys rattled off three straight wins to start the season against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and the Miami Dolphins, who were a combined 2-12 on the season. The Cowboys could either be playing down to competition, capitalizing on bad teams, or not good enough to beat perennial playoff teams in the Saints (4-1) and Packers (4-1).
On the bright side, the Cowboys will play the winless New York Jets, who may not have their starting quarterback in Sam Darnold (mono). However, it will be a road game and the Philadelphia Eagles are in two weeks with a Bye Week after their fierce matchup. If the Cowboys wish to regain expectations, beating a winless Jets team and a division rival in the Eagles would have a calming effect.
Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
After Sunday’s 53-32 blowout loss to the Houston Texans, the Atlanta Falcons fell to 1-4 on the season. The Falcons have now dropped their third loss in a row; all to AFC South opponents.
Coming into this matchup, the Falcons had two main weaknesses: Points allowed, and running the ball. The Falcons allowed Deshaun Watson to go 28/33 for 426 yards and 5 TD, posting a perfect passer rating. Keep in mind, this was the same team that only put up 10 points against the Carolina Panthers the week prior.
As underwhelming as their defense may have been, the Falcons continued to struggle on the ground, producing their second rushing touchdown on the season. Is it of anyone’s concern that Matt Ryan is tied for most rushing touchdowns (1) on the team?
One could say the Falcons are primed for a win with the Arizona Cardinals up next on the schedule, but those same Cardinals pulled off an overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals. With the New Orleans Saints (4-1) and the Carolina Panthers (3-2) both riding three-game winning streaks, the Falcons do not have much room for error.
Tennessee Titans (2-3)
The loss to the Buffalo Bills was a tough pill to swallow for the Tennessee Titans. They have now dropped to 2-3 on the season, and have lost both of their home games as well. With the Denver Broncos next on the schedule, Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense will need to get back to basics on the ground in order to open up their passing game that had success against the Atlanta Falcons just a week ago.
With the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans looking like true AFC South contenders, another loss would keep the Titans fighting uphill throughout the rest of this season.
Los Angeles Chargers (2-3)
The warms feels of Melvin Gordon’s return to the lineup did not lead to a win against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Philip Rivers threw 48 times, while the Chargers backfield combined for 35 yards on 16 attempts. Turnovers and the inability to sustain drives had the Chargers fighting from behind the entire game. Keenan Allen, a wrecking machine this season, was held to only 4 catches on 6 targets for 18 yards.
As the season continues, the Chargers will need to improve upon their run game with Melvin Gordon back in the fold. Next week they face the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4), who are doing some losing of their own. The Chargers will be at home, where Rivers has thrown 32 touchdowns in 17 career games at StubHub Center.