Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season was another drama-filled week of action as teams who started the season red hot are beginning to cool off and some preseason Super Bowl favorites remain in the cellar in their own division.
Here’s a quick look at some of the best and worst that Week 5 had to offer:
Overachieving Team: Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles picked up the second win of the Nick Sirianni Era on Sunday and all it took was three interceptions and a blocked punt to overcome an offense that averaged just 4.5 yards per play and turned the ball over three times.
Entering the game as a three-point underdog, the Eagles trailed by multiple possessions for most of the game and didn’t take their first lead until there was less than three minutes in the game. Credit the defense for frustrating Sam Darnold all game, holding the Panthers to just one touchdown and just two third down conversions during the final three quarters.
Offensively, it was a struggle all day for Jalen Hurts and company. Eight of their first 11 drives failed to record a first down and Hurts’s 5.4 yards per attempt represented the lowest mark among winning quarterbacks on Sunday.
Things get tougher for Philadelphia as it heads home to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady threw five touchdowns and the Buccaneers’ high-powered offense posted 45 points in a laugher against the Dolphins.
Underachieving Team: San Francisco 49ers
Trey Lance managed to score just 10 points in his first NFL start and despite the 17-10 loss to the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, it’s hard to look at the box score and not be excited for the rookie’s future.
Not only did Lance rush for 89 yards, the most for a 49ers quarterback since Colin Kaepernick, but the San Francisco offense drove into Arizona territory on every single possession, save for one three-and-out in the second quarter. This also marks the second-straight week that San Francisco has averaged more yards per play than their opponent, but failed to win.
Maybe Kyle Shanahan didn’t feel comfortable with Joey Slye kicking, considering he just joined the team five days ago, but it took 59 minutes for the 49ers to attempt a field goal, despite being in field goal position at least twice earlier in the game and finishing the day just 1-5 on fourth down attempts.
A bye week and a pair of games against the Bears and Colts should help ease Lance into the role of NFL starting quarterback and give Shanahan time to continue to craft an offense around the rookie’s unique skill set. Because although the results weren’t there on Sunday, the outlook sure is promising.
Overachieving Player: Giants WR Kadarius Toney
Kadarius Toney caught just two passes for negative two yards in his first two NFL games and managed just 16 yards on two catches in his third. Finally, in his first NFL start last week, Toney caught six passes for 78 yards.
But he had a breakout game on Sunday with the Giants missing their starting quarterback, running back, and top three wide receivers. The rookie caught 10 of his 13 targets for 189 yards, helping Mike Glennon keep the Giants within one possession before the Cowboys pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Only Davante Adams had more yards than Toney on Sunday, but the rookie averaged over four yards of separation and earned over nine yards after the catch per reception. In fact, that figure was nearly double his expected YAC/R.
Toney should continue to see a lot of looks, even with Daniel Jones sidelined with a concussion. He’s now received 22 looks in the passing game and a pair of rushing attempts in the last two weeks.
Underachieving Player: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
It’s hard to understate just how nightmarish Sunday night was for Patrick Mahomes. He had never lost a game against the Bills, never lost at home by multiple possessions, and had thrown three touchdowns or more in every start this season.
The Chiefs proceeded to get blown out by 18 points, Mahomes threw a pair of interceptions and managed just two touchdowns against a defense that already had two shutouts on their resume this year.
The Chiefs now sit a 2-3, their worst start to a season since 2014, when they finished 9-7 under the guidance of Alex Smith. In fact, Kansas City has started 2-3 six times since the advent of the 16-game schedule and has never won more than nine games.
Surely we’re underestimating Mahomes. He’s second among quarterbacks in the NFL in EPA and first in Total QBR. But that’s what makes nights like Sunday so shocking. The Chiefs still rank in the top-five in points scored, but that might not be enough, considering their defense has now allowed at least 30 points in four consecutive games.
Bad Beat of the Week: Cleveland-Los Angeles O/U 46.5 points
Usually this space is reserved for unlikely and last-second covers, but sometimes a line is so off, it is worth wondering how it got so wrong.
Both teams entered the game among the league-leaders in time of possession and Cleveland’s powerful running game seemed like a perfect recipe for a low-scoring game. Instead, we got a contest that resembled a Big-12 matchup with Los Angeles hitting the game total on their own and Cleveland adding 42 points of their own.
The Browns did rack up 230 yards on the ground, but chunk plays in the passing game, like David Njoku’s 71-yard touchdown, were crucial to their success. In fact, both teams rushed for three touchdowns, but over 700 yards were gained through the air.
The over hit just minutes into the third quarter when Nick Chubb rumbled 52 yards for a touchdown. Credit Justin Herbert and the Chargers for fighting back from that 14-point deficit and scoring touchdowns on four straight possessions to pull ahead and take the lead for good.
And ironically, this isn’t the first time the Browns have lost a game scored 47-42. They performed the exact feat in December of 2020 against the Ravens, which was also the last NFL game where both teams scored 40 points.