NFL Week 5 Sunday Scramble: Bills brilliant; Eagles, Cowboys poised for elite Week 6 showdown

Another football Sunday is quickly approaching. The Eagles remain unbeaten (again). The Giants defeated Aaron Rodgers. The Cowboys dominated the Rams. That was just a taste of Week 5, with more prime-time matchups to come.

Have you missed the first waves of Week 4 action? Get caught up on our Sunday Scramble, a weekly roundup of top takeaways and titbits. This is meant to be a mash-up of the good stuff, like the best greasy breakfast plates at your local diner, with everything from weekly MVPs and true-or-false narratives to a look ahead at next weekend’s best games and hot-seat candidates.

Week 5 Honors

Austin Ekeler, Chargers RB

Brandon Staley did everything he could to undermine the Rams’ victory over the Browns (more on that later), but his most underappreciated offensive weapon saved the day. Ekeler was a machine against Cleveland, rushing for 173 yards on 16 carries and scoring once. Justin Herbert can relax knowing that he’s only a dump-off away.

Taysom Hill, Saints TE

That’s right, haters! Hill’s lack of a defined position didn’t matter against the Seahawks, who had no answer for the Swiss Army Knife. He led New Orleans’ rushing attack with 112 yards on a day when Alvin Kamara also surpassed 100. In addition, he matched Andy Dalton’s touchdown total through the air, delivering a perfect strike to Adam Trautman in a 39-32 victory.

Brian Daboll of the Giants was named Coach of the Week.

New York, for some reason, keeps doing it. The G-Men traveled to London this time, got an efficient day from a banged-up Daniel Jones, stayed creative with Saquon Barkley, and defeated Aaron Rodgers to go up 3-1. Daboll does not have elite players on either side of the ball, but he has gotten the best out of almost everyone on the field.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen is this week’s, Mr. Cool.

Everything he did in a 38-3 rout of the Steelers looked effortless. Pittsburgh was starting a rookie quarterback and a banged-up defense, so Allen threw it up accordingly, reinvigorating Gabe Davis as a downfield threat and using Buffalo’s fourth win in five games as a sort of arm tune-up. The Steelers simply had no chance against his cannon.

Teams of the Week: Sweet and Sour

SWEET: The Giants, for ruining Aaron Rodgers’ first game outside of the United States with yet another ugly but successful outing under Brian Daboll. This team is finally putting Daniel Jones’ legs to work, not to mention feeding the energized Saquon Barkley. They’ve already surpassed their 2021-win total, despite not having a full complement of pass catchers.

SOUR: The Commanders, for once again relying on Carson Wentz’s arm, this time against Tennessee. Of course, they don’t have much of a choice; Taylor Heinicke is the top alternative, and his ceiling is already set.And Wentz did throw some long balls to threaten a comeback. But every game he’s played has been a roller coaster ride.

SWEET: The Jets for destroying the Dolphins and upsetting the AFC East standings. After knocking Teddy Bridgewater out of the game on the first play, New York relied on its collective rushing talent to control the game, keeping the ball in the hands of Breece Hall and Michael Carter Jr. Zach Wilson is an unproven passer, but he and his teammates can move.

SOUR: The Lions, for not showing up at all against a Bailey Zappe-led Patriots team. Detroit had one of the busiest offenses in the NFL, but Jared Goff and company were sluggish in New England, especially in the red zone. Dan Campbell’s team has typically shown grit despite its consistent defeats, but this one wasn’t even close.

Is it true or false?

Which developing narratives, popular or fabricated, are true?

Brandon Staley is putting the Chargers in jeopardy: L.A. will remain competitive as long as Justin Herbert is at quarterback and Austin Ekeler’s legs are churning, but Herbert seems to feel obligated to defend his coach’s decision-making regardless of win or loss. Whatever the analytics say, going for it on fourth down at midfield when your opponent is down by two isn’t always a good idea. Staley has yet to demonstrate his ability to get out of his way.

Verdict: TRUE

More big-picture changes are required for the Steelers: Mike Tomlin accepted the possibility following the Steelers’ humiliation at the hands of the Bills, and why shouldn’t he? The offense hasn’t looked consistently explosive in one and a half years under Matt Canada, and the “D” has become a sieve when T.J. Watt isn’t healthy. The problem for Pittsburgh is that most of the higher-up changes that could resurrect this team (for example, an offensive coordinator change or personnel turnover) will not occur until later.

Verdict: TRUE

Arizona’s problem is Kliff Kingsbury, not Kyler Murray: The coach takes a lot of heat for the way the Cardinals’ offense starts and stops in fits, and the team’s 20-17 loss to the Eagles on Sunday won’t win him many fans. But Murray was equally, if not more, to blame for Philly’s defeat. On Arizona’s final drive, his actions of sliding early and spiking the ball on third down with no timeouts remaining forced the Cards to rush their game-winning field goal attempt, which they missed. Verdict: FALSE.

Week 6 is on the horizon.

Matt Rhule of the Panthers is on the hot seat.

Rhule was already at the top of our hot-seat rankings heading into this week, and now he’s coming off a crushing home loss to the 49ers, dropping to 11-27 as Carolina’s head coach. If Sam Darnold hadn’t been injured, Baker Mayfield would almost certainly be on the bench right now. With each passing week, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that Rhule will be the one to make the swap. All of his big bets on that side of the ball are paying off.

Cowboys vs. Eagles, Game of the Week

You thought we’d go the easy route and say Bills-Chiefs, didn’t you? This time, no. Yes, the rematch between Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes will undoubtedly be must-see television, but how about this prime-time matchup atop the NFC East? The Eagles are 5-0 for the first time since their NFC championship season in 2004, and Dallas is still rolling even without Dak Prescott. Micah Parsons pursuing Jalen Hurts is prime “Sunday Night Football” material.