Week Five Game Preview

IN a game that pits the student vs the master, Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels hopes to steal a game from his former boss.

And then there were five… Five teams – Denver, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New Orleans and the New York Giants – enter Week 5 with perfect 4-0 marks, tied for the most such teams in a season (1968, 2003) in NFL history.

“We are 4-0 and we’re happy about that,” says Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. “We are excited but know that we have a lot of improving to do in all areas.”

Broncos rookie head coach Josh McDaniels agrees that while a fast start is good, it doesn’t guarantee anything.

“We know we’ve won four games but four games will never qualify us for the playoffs or win our division,” says McDaniels. “Four games won’t ever really get us much of anything. We’re happy to be 4-0, but we’re certainly far from satisfied. There are a lot of improvements to make. We can play better, we can coach better and that’s what we’re after.”

In fact, all 32 teams are after that very same thing. And, while not everyone has gotten off to a hot start, nothing is a given in the NFL. Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was adopted, 83 teams (36.4 percent of the 228 playoff clubs) have advanced to the postseason after starting the season 2-2 or worse.

“When you buy into something, anything can happen,” says Jacksonville defensive tackle John Henderson about the Jaguars, who have won two in a row after an 0-2 start. “It can be an incredible year if we all buy into it.”

In five of the past eight seasons, a team that has started 2-2 or worse has advanced to the Super Bowl. And three of those teams – 2001 New England (1-3), 2003 New England (2-2) and the 2007 New York Giants (2-2) – went on to win the Super Bowl.

So, entering Week 5, while it certainly helps to be 4-0, don’t count anyone out.

Some of the key games on the NFL schedule for Week 5:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (3-1) at DENVER BRONCOS (4-0)

It will be the teacher (New England head coach Bill Belichick) against the student (Denver rookie head coach Josh McDaniels) when two of the league’s hottest teams square off in the Mile High City on Sunday afternoon.

McDaniels, who was named the Broncos’ head coach in January, spent the previous eight seasons (2001-08) working for Belichick in New England, including the last three (2006-08) as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“We’re not going to make more of this game than what it is,” says McDaniels, whose club has allowed a league-low 26 points. “It’s the fifth game of the year. It’ll be a great challenge to play against one of the best franchises in this league.”

Both teams are coming off victories.

Denver, who improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2003, got a late 51-yard touchdown from wide receiver Brandon MArshall to take a 17-10 lead and cornerback Champ Bailey broke up Dallas’ last chance in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line to seal the win.

The Patriots, who face an undefeated team for the fifth consecutive week, knocked off Baltimore 27-21. Quarterback Tom Brady passed for 258 yards – spread among nine different receivers – including a touchdown pass.

“We’ve got a big opponent this weekend in Denver,” says Brady. “They’re undefeated right now, so it’s going to be a tough matchup for us.”

(via NFL Media)


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