The Patriots had Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski on the field together for 45 of 77 snaps Sunday, according to Next Gen Stats, creating almost impossible matchup dilemmas to solve. Many of Bennett's easy catches came from the Browns' defense simply not being able to identify whether he was blocking or going out on a route. Bennett was playing as well as any tight end in football for the first month of the season. Now he's not even the best tight end on his own team. After two injury-plagued performances, Rob went Full Gronk with an assortment of physical catches and rumbles through the Cleveland secondary.
No coach is better at creating mismatches than Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. No quarterback is better than Brady at exploiting them.
The two tight ends should open up the rest of the offense, with receiver Chris Hogan playing like an upgrade of Brandon LaFell on the outside, and Julian Edelman should find more room to roam. One of the league's worst pass-blocking groups from a year ago has its left tackle, Nate Solder, back, supported by excellent rookie left guard Joe Thuney. One-time starting running back Steven Jackson is a strange memory, while LeGarrette Blount is in fine form. Dion Lewis might even return in November.
And now the rest of what you need to know coming out of Week 5 and heading toward Week 6.
It was a good week for ...
"You can ask me 100 times, he's going to be in there the rest of the season," a distressed Adam Gase said after the game.
The Dolphins only embarked on three drives against the Titans that traveled 20-plus yards, sinking to depths not seen during the Joe Philbin era. There were excuses aplenty, from a dormant running game (51 rushing yards) to a poor offensive line (Tannehill was sacked six times), but assigning blame seems beside the point. For five years running, both Tannehill and the Dolphins organization have shown no ability to problem-solve. Gase is learning that the hard way.
In the final seven minutes alone, Slay broke up a third-down pass to force a punt, caused a fumble to set up a game-winning field goal andpicked off Carson Wentz to seal the game. The Lionsgave Slay a monster contract extension -- and Slay gave himself the nickname, "Big-Play Slay" -- for days like this.
Joey Bosa, defensive end, San Diego Chargers:He was worththe wait. In just 27 defensive snaps on Sunday in Oakland, the Chargers' first-round pick had two sacks, three QB hits and three more tackles for loss. If he can just continue at this pace, he'll go down as the most productive defensive player in NFL history. That's good news for a franchise that finds new and depressing ways to lose each week. Speaking of which ...
Philip Rivers' lip readers:Rivers mouthing "We're the Bad News Bears" is one of the indelible images of the season thus far. San Diego's final sequence had everything from this Chargers campaign: bad execution, bad coaching and bad luck. If the team hadn't failed to convert a second-and-1, it wouldn't have been attempting the field goal that was fumbled in the first place. It appears a bad spot made the conversion job tougher than it needed to be.
It was a bad week for ...
Jay Cutler's job security:Brian Hoyer is ready to make Cutler a $16 million backup. While Alshon Jeffery and his fantasy owners were rightfully irate when Hoyer failed to locate his No. 1 receiver on the final Bears offensive play in Sunday's loss to the Colts, coach John Fox is unlikely to bench Hoyer anytime soon. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Hoyer can keep the job for the season if he continues to play clean football. Hoyer even sprinkled in some highlight-reel throws during his 397-yard performance.
Fox indicated he wasn't too bothered by Hoyer not seeing Jeffery on the play in question.
"I don't know that you can be super critical," Fox said. "When you're out there playing quarterback, it looks a little different than when you're up in the press box having hot dogs."
All the specially selected meat trimmings in the world won't make Hoyer look like a franchise quarterback. He's just the guy who makes other franchise quarterbacks look overpaid. ...
Houston's offensive makeover: The Texans needed an alternative to Hoyer, who finished his tenure in Houston (11 games, nine starts in 2015) with a 136-yard, zero-touchdown, four-pick showing in a wild-card loss to the Chiefs. They didn't have to choose Brock Osweiler. Houston's offense is inarguably worse through five games this season with Osweiler at quarterback. Osweiler has no ability to sustain drives, with the offensive line and new running back Lamar Miller not helping matters. Osweiler is 29th out of 31 qualifiers in yards per attempt.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 48 times on Sunday, and the Jets hit him once. While Leonard Williams (19 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles) is having the breakout season in Year 2 many expected, Muhammad Wilkerson (1.5 sacks) and Sheldon Richardson (0.5 sacks) have been rather quiet. Coach Todd Bowles is seeing the limitations of a defense that is incredible at stopping the run but lacks natural pass rushers. Opposing teams see it, too.
Both decisions showed a complete lack of faith in the Rams' offense. You could argue that such lack of faith is warranted, but that's part of the problem. Between this result and the team's 9-3 win in the home opener, Los Angeles fans have quickly learned what Fisherball is all about. Get used to it.
Narratives that were busted this week:
Lynch has physical gifts that make other first-round picks look ordinary. The rookie just isn't ready to start yet, which he showed during a performance Sunday that included a lot of wild, high throws and difficulty handling pressure. Lynch can handle the hurry-up offense well, but Siemian can handle Gary Kubiak's entire offense, even with Kubiak unable to coach Thursday because of a complex migraine issue. Perhaps we'll see Lynch again this season, but it sure looks like Denver's best chance for a repeat will be with Siemian under center.
Dak Prescott would struggle once he faced a legitimate NFL defense: Prescott's outrageous first four starts as a pro came with a slight caveat. The best defense he and the Cowboys faced in that stretch was the Giants' unit, which rushes the passer with all the urgency of a Terrence Malick movie. (And none of the beauty.) Sunday's matchup against Cincinnati set up as a real test, yet it played out like the four games prior.
Dallas' offense dictated early, controlling the flow of the game, and Prescott played with the ease of a 10-year veteran. It's hard to overstate the high quality of Prescott's skill set and decision making. If the 2016 NFL Draft were held again today, he would be a top-five pick.
Cincinnati's line play on both sides -- the team's secret weapon over the last five years -- has been ordinary this season. The Bengals have a sack differential of minus-7. After one of the most thorough losses of the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals are in a similar spot to New England after the Patriots' embarrassing Week 4 loss in 2014. It's only fitting that these Bengals are "on to Foxborough" in Week 6.
Stories that deserve more attention
1) Everyone forgot about Shady. LeSean McCoy was dynamic down the stretch last season with Buffalo, but no one particularly noticed because of the team's defensive struggles. The switch to offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has unlocked the running game, with McCoy making athletic defenders like the Patriots' Jamie Collins and the Rams' Alec Ogletree look foolish trying to tackle him. Rex Ryan's "I told you so" tour this season is going to be epic.
2) A funny thing happened during this mostly slow start by the Packers' passing game: The defense has carried the team. Green Bay is allowing just 42 rushing yards per game and 2 yards per carry, miles ahead of any other team. Pro Football Focus rates them as the second-best pass-rushing team in football, with surprises all over the roster. Nick Perry is out-playing Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. Third-round pick Kyler Fackrell has made a weekly impact as a situational pass rusher, forcing a fumble by Eli Manningon Sunday night. Role players like Quinten Rollins, LaDarius Gunter and Jake Ryan are all providing quality snaps.
This could strangely be one of Aaron Rodgers' best chances at a title despite the erratic passing game. His defense and offensive line have rarely been better.
3) The Panthers have more problems than simply young cornerbacks and Cam Newton's absence, as everyone witnessed during Monday night's bizarre loss to the Buccaneers. This was the kind of bizarre, "so bad it's good" prime-time game that only comes once a year. Panthers coach Ron Rivera essentially saved Bucs coach Dirk Koetter from giving up on the game in regulation.
Tampa only stayed in it so long because Carolina's bedrock defensive line has gone soft. Bad sign when the Bucs were able to dictate up front in the first half against Panthers defensive tackles Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei, who have not been nearly as effective this season. Remember this loss when the Panthers inevitably rally late in the season and are fighting for a final playoff spot.