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Heroes & Villains: McCown is magic, Saints are sinners

The fifth week of football delivered the goods.

Three of Sunday's early games screamed into overtime, headlining a slate of action that saw five teams remain undefeated. The Patriots, Broncos, Bengals, Packers and Panthers are off to a fine start, but the other side of the coin is grim: A slew of sloppy squads steadily revealing themselves to be comprehensive pretenders.

Amid the glorious chaos, let's dive into our heroes and villains from Week 5:


1. Joshua Treadwell McCown: Good quarterback play in Cleveland is the equivalent of seeing a four-mile-wide alien mothership slowly descend over your neighborhood: It alters everything we believe and begs the question, "Am I dreaming?" A 25-year-old Browns fans has never witnessed more than fleeting hints of solid play under center from a laundry list of semi-tragic figures like Kelly Holcomb, Tim Couch and Derek Anderson. Is Josh McCown the latest false flag?

Probably, but over the past two weeks he's silenced the cries for Johnny Manziel and set fire to the record books. Becoming the first Browns quarterback to pass for 300-plus yards in three straight games, McCown shattered a franchise record on Sunday with 457 yards through the air. But forget the stats: McCown effectively ended the season of a Ravens team that was 13-1 against the Browns under Joe Flacco.

It's unlikely to last for the Browns with the Broncos, Rams, Cardinals, Bengals and Steelers up next. Still, McCown is the type of player Cleveland can embrace, with the passer telling Peter King of TheMMQB: "My wife and I went to couple of the NBA Finals games here in the spring. We're walking downtown and we thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if this would happen with the Browns?'"

Let a man dream!

2. Old Humans: It wasn't just the 36-year-old McCown spinning late-career magic. Week 5 was all about the Dad Bod Uprising. Four days after his 39th birthday, Raider safety Charles Woodson picked off Peyton Manning twice. Chris Johnson -- on the wrong side of 30 and written off as yesterday's thrill -- sliced through the Lions for 103 yards like it was 2009. And then we have Matt Hasselbeck, the 40-year-old Colts signal-caller riding a two-game win streak in place of Andrew Luck. It's a great time to be a blue hair.

3. The Perfectly Legitimate Bengals: Cincy's been trapped in a weird purgatory for way too long: Good enough to make the postseason; bad enough to be stuffed in a box come January. Not anymore. This year's Bengals are screaming toward a first-round bye on the suddenly confident shoulders of flame-throwing ginger-hero Andy Dalton. Sunday's wild comeback against Seattle provided more evidence that Dalton is a new man this season, rattling defenses with aggressive darts downfield and making sweet music with the AFC's most talented roster.


2. Spiraling New Orleans Train Wreck: The Saints are the most depressing team in the NFL right now, and correctly described by Conor Orr as a "Zeppelin rapidly falling to earth." We won't waste another word on this slow-motion car wreck until they put together a defensive game plan worth laying eyes on.

Cignetti Update From the Streets

It was another down week for the Rams offense, and a source out of Los Angeles told us emphatically that Private Eye/Play-Caller Frank Cignetti is under fire.

Frank -- as we've dished on before -- is splitting his time running the St. Louis offense while moonlighting on the side as a no-nonsense PI on the West Coast. Engaged on the hunt for a missing L.A. girl named Regina Jane François, Cignetti, per our source, "has become completely lost in the case." Rams officials are quietly fuming after Frank "vanished for 72-plus hours" while the team prepared for last Sunday's Packers showdown. "He's way too obsessive, thinking he can cook up a game plan on Friday night after spending four days in California looking for this François individual."

The Rams are urging Cignetti to "put a lid" on the detective gig, but our source says Ol' Frank is unwilling to do that, telling team officials: "You want that on your hands? Letting a missing girl just float into the abyss? That's not how Frank Cignetti operates."

As of this writing, Regina Jane François remains on the lam.

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