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NFL - Where We Stand After Week 5

By Scott Nichol
Tuesday, October 16th, 2001

As I watched a good seven hours of football Sunday (it rained here in Wisconsin), I reflected back to all those stories I wrote and all those predictions I made. I looked back at those pre-draft and post-draft stories. I could not help but to think what must have crossed my mind when I thought the Titans would control the AFC. Or how on paper the Vikings looked to be the powerhouse in the NFC. It must have been the lack of sunshine during a Wisconsin winter.

Time for a reality check now that we have five games to use as a benchmark; it's time to look at where things may go from here. There is only one undefeated team left in the Rams, who have come on strong, not only with that explosive offense, but the defense can hold their own this year.

Even with Marshall Faulk out for a few weeks with a bruised knee, the Rams still have more than a respectable offense. Now they are in a position if someone steps up in Faulk's absence (Candidate?) and can move the ball on the ground, they will have all the more weapons to use. Not only that, but it gives the opposing defenses one more person to have to account for. This would also give the Rams a chance to rest Faulk at the midpoint of the season, possibly a blessing in disguise?

Behind the Rams would have to be my beloved Packers. After last year's Super Bowl, I thought the Packers had all the pieces in place. But I have thought this since Bart Starr was the QB. The big question was the defense. They have shut down just about everyone so far. The Packer defense was second to the Ravens going into Sundays game. They are young, fast, and competitive. Brett Favre is having an MVP-type year again and the offense has scored just about at will. If everything goes well, the Frozen Tundra will once again come into play later this year. Maybe even a trip to New Orleans, the site of the last Packer Super Bowl win.

After the Rams and Packers, San Francisco at 4-1, New Orleans at 3-1, and the New York Giants at 3-2 are all playing solid football.

In the AFC, the Titans were the team I thought would walk through the season and claim the Lombardi Trophy. As I looked at the TV lineup early this year, I thought this weekend held two possible Super Bowl matchups. The Tampa Bay vs. Tennessee game or the Green Bay vs. Baltimore game looked to be matchups that could have had pre-Super Bowl hype. Instead, the Titans come away with only their first victory.

Pittsburgh is 3-1 then the pack that is at 3-2 includes Miami, Baltimore, N.Y. Jets, Denver, San Diego, and Cincinnati. Yes, the Bengals are included, but will not be there later this year.

As I was working on this story, I was also watching the Colts and Raiders. Oakland is certainly playing well. The defense looks strong and the addition of Jerry Rice gives Rich Gannon a herd of receivers to throw to.

Now that the cream is rising to the top, the next two-thirds of the season should be fun to watch.

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