What we learned: 36 takeaways from Week 5

The Patriots, Bengals, Broncos, Packers, Falcons, Panthers and Cardinals are the class of the NFL, combining for a 28-1 record through five weeks.

What do those organizations have in common?

Of the half-dozen teams leading the NFL in 2015, Arizona guard Mike Iupati was the highest-profile offseason addition.

New England signed dynamic satellite back Dion Lewis to a reserve/future contract in late December. Cincinnati brought back pass rusher Michael Johnson after he fell out of favor in Tampa Bay. Denver added safety Darian Stewart on the cheap. Green Bay re-signed B.J. Raji when no other team would pay him. Atlanta imported a host of rejects, highlighted by new No. 2 receiver Leonard Hankerson. Carolina installed Michael Oher on Cam Newton's blind side after Tennessee dumped him. Arizona signed Chris Johnson as a training-camp afterthought.

A list of the NFL's biggest disappointments reveals a stark contrast in approaches.

The 1-3 Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh to the richest defensive contract in history. The 1-4 Saints pulled off several big-name swaps and added C.J. Spiller. The 1-4 Jaguars splurged for Julius Thomas and Jared Odrick. The 2-3 Eagles traded for Sam Bradford and lured DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell away from their teams. The 2-3 Seahawks made a splash move for Jimmy Graham.

Even the Colts, now 3-2 thanks to three straight games versus the toothless AFC South, have underwhelmed with veteran acquisitions such as Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Todd Herremans and Trent Cole failing to live up to expectations.

As is often the case in the NFL, the best teams maintain continuity, allowing the nucleus to gel without drastically changing offensive or defensive schemes.

Here's what else we learned in Week 5:

  1. It's no longer an option to dismiss the Bengals. Now 5-0, their 17-point comeback was a true team effort. Adam Jones kickstarted the comeback with a big return. Their pass rush and coverage finally woke up after a relatively quiet day. The offensive line blew open holes for Giovani Bernard when it mattered, and Andy Dalton calmly directed one of the biggest comebacks of his career with plenty of help from his friends.
  1. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' passing game went absent after halftime. The Seahawks had only three first downs in their final six drives, including two chances in overtime. Wilson deserves some of the blame. He made a clearly poor decision to run to end one overtime drive, and often held the ball too long. The Seahawks' offensive line played much better overall.
  1. The strangest part of the game: The Seahawks didn't miss Marshawn Lynch that much. Thomas Rawls ran up the gut on Cincinnati during an opening TD drive, and broke free for a 69-yard touchdown in the second half. He finished with 169 yards on a day when the Seahawks' offensive line played much better until a few late penalties.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

  1. This game shows how tough it will be to slow down Brady this season. The Cowboys hit him early and often, buoyed by a big day by Greg Hardy, yet Brady still averaged 10.2 yards-per-attempt. It was comfortable win because Brady is also getting supported by a strong running game and a defense that gets better every week.
  1. Dallas' vaunted offensive line can only do so much, and they hardly looked dominant in this one. The Patriots forced six three-and-outs in the first half, at one point holding the Cowboys without a first down for 25 minutes of game time. The Patriots defenders darted through the Cowboys' line repeatedly, with excellent free-agent import Jabaal Sheard recording two sacks and two tackles for loss.
  1. Dion Lewis completely changes the Patriots offense. He put up another 93 yards from scrimmage in 14 touches, forcing some of the most comical missed tackles you'll ever see. His one-handed touchdown catch where he made at least three Cowboys defenders miss in the open field was typical of his season. He makes wow plays every week and his recent contract extension looks like an absolute bargain.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

  1. Despite the loss, Joe Barry's Redskins defense played a gutsy game. It starts with a much-improved Washington secondary that shut out star wideout Julio Jones (5/67) over the first two quarters while coaxing Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan into a pair of first-half turnovers. The 'Skins kept Atlanta out of the end zone until midway through the final period. Ryan finished with just 218 yards on the day, but he was fantastic when it mattered most: His late-game heroics during a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive put the Falcons up by three with less than a minute to go. The Redskins, however, weren't done ...
  1. I'm a bigger Kirk Cousins fan than some. He makes his share of mistakes, but the Redskins quarterback showed masterful comprehension of the offense and made the most of his weapons in guiding Washington back from the dead into OT. Cousins threw an ugly interception in the first half -- and ended the game with his pick-six in overtime -- but his late-game chemistry with fourth-rounder Jamison Crowder (8/86) was something we haven't seen from Robert Griffin III in years. Still, the turnovers were a killer, and something that keeps Cousins from the upper echelon of Gregg Rosenthal's QB Index.
  1. Falcons rookie runner Tevin Coleman returned to action, but this remains Devonta Freeman's backfield. Leading the way with an outrageous 153 yards off 27 carries, Freeman showed off the quick feet and savvy vision that make him a major headache on a weekly basis. His fourth-quarter score marked Freeman's eighth touchdown on the year. Coleman saw just two carries and isn't a threat to steal snaps away from Freeman any time soon.

-- Marc Sessler

  1. The cries for Johnny Manziel will quiet down after this one. Josh McCown became the first Browns quarterback in franchise history to throw for 300-plus yards in three straight weeks. His 457 passing yards are also a team record, topping anything put on tape by Otto Graham, Brian Sipe or Bernie Kosar. McCown again made a star out of tight end Gary Barnidge (8/139/1) and played mostly mistake-free football from wire to wire. Cleveland's decision to play the aging veteran creates a long-range problem -- what to do with Johnny? -- but this embattled Browns coaching staff is playing for today.
  1. Fantasy heads predicted a big afternoon for Ravens back Justin Forsett against the league's second-worst run defense. Play-caller Marc Trestman didn't disappoint, feeding Forsett 21 times for 121 yards. He wasn't alone, with rookie Javorius Allen gashing Cleveland's ghastly run-stoppers for another 58 yards. The Browns desperately need defenders who can contain the edge.
  1. Browns rookie runner Duke Johnson has emerged as a juicy pass-catching threat out of the backfield, but Cleveland's ground game remains problematic. After a promising first-year campaign in 2014, Isaiah Crowell took far too long to heat up on Sunday, finishing with just 49 yards off 13 carries. This was a confidence-building win for Cleveland, though, one that raises more questions for Baltimore's shaky secondary. The Browns were ripped all offseason for having their worst cast of playmakers in the NFL, so how do you explain giving up 505 total yards? The Ravens are 1-4 for a reason.

-- Marc Sessler

  1. Just as they did last week to Carson Palmer, the Rams made life difficult for Rodgers, forcing him to hold the ball and scramble with receivers struggling to separate. The two interceptions come with caveats, however. The first was deflected at the line of scrimmage and required a diving effort by linebacker James Laurinaitis, ending Rodgers' home streak of 49 touchdowns without a pick. The second came three possessions later when Trumaine Johnson jumped James Jones' route and dove for the ball, pinning it to the ground. The play was automatically reviewed and determined to be an interception even with the ground's assistance in the catch - a truly bizarre ruling considering that play is almost universally overturned on replay. Rodgers also lost a fumble late in the third quarter, marking his first three-turnover performance since 2009. He played better than the numbers suggest.
  1. Clay Matthews told the CBS broadcast team this year's defense boasts the best personnel since the five-time Pro Bowler entered the league in 2009. The Packers knocked Nick Foles around, hitting him 11 times, forcing four interceptions and completely shutting down the passing game. Moving all over the defense, Matthews hit Foles four times himself and has been flying around like Troy Polamalu this season. Coach Mike McCarthy now boasts a top-10 defense to go with his dynamic offense.
  1. Todd Gurley is an awesome sight to behold in the open field. What he's shown the past two weeks strongly suggests he's an old-school, franchise-altering workhorse capable of moving the chains between the tackles and flashing the game-chancing speed and power to take it to the house. Like Adrian Peterson, he just looks different with the ball in his hands. The Rams will go as far as the ground attack takes them because the entire offense hinges on Gurley's tackle breaking and Tavon Austin's gimmick plays.

-- Chris Wesseling

  1. Jay Cutler led a dink-and-dunk parade for most of the game, but in the fourth quarter, the Bears quarterback spread the ball around with precision leading Chicago to the win after looking listless in the first half. The maligned signal-caller was tossing to the likes of Cameron Meredith on the game-winning drive. Cutler has looked solid in Adam Gase's offense this season, it all coalesced late Sunday. On the final scoring play, Cutler bobbled a low snap and lobbed a touchdown to Matt Forte. Classic Cutler would have thrown a pick. Sunday he earned the win.
  1. Jamaal Charles went down with a non-contact knee injury early in the second half and was quickly ruled out. The focal point of the Chiefs' offense immediately grabbed his right knee and was helped from the game. Without Charles the Chiefs bogged down. Ian Rapoport reports the fear is Charles tore his ACL. If that fear is realized, the Chiefs offense is in trouble. Charcandrick West took the lead and Knile Davis shared the load without Charles.
  1. The Chiefs' defensive line brought the heat on Jay Cutler early. Taking advantage of Chicago starting a rookie center, Hroniss Grasu, Andy Reid's squad kept bringing pressure right up the gut. Jaye Howard was a wrecking ball. The nose tackle lived in the backfield compiling six tackles, two for loss and a sack. His presence was felt off the bat with sack-fumble in the end zone covered for a touchdown on the second drive of the game. The Bears' offensive tackles were able to keep Justin Houston (three straight games without a sack) at bay late as the Bears stormed back in the second half.

-- Kevin Patra

  1. This game had the ingredients of a vignette that will later be neatly tucked in a What went wrong in the Sean Payton era longform. Aside from a fairly lively discussion between Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on the sideline, the game had the look and feel of a Zeppelin rapidly falling to earth. Drew Brees was swarmed constantly, trapped into making horrible throws and boxed in by bizarre play-calling when he actually got the ball moving.
  1. We cannot simply say that this is how Chip Kelly planned it. There are a lot of variables here, including a disastrous Saints defense. However, the idea of the power spread with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews firing at 100 percent is terrifying for teams that slip behind more than 10 points against the Eagles. This was the best performance Philadelphia's offensive line turned in all year and it showed.
  1. Sam Bradford became the first player this season to toss two red zone interceptions in the same half and the Eagles still won by more than 20 points. We might have been closer to the second coming of the Mark Sanchez era than we thought. But for now? We have Sam Bradfordshowing some poise.

-- Conor Orr

  1. Pay no attention to last week's aberrant loss in which Arizona doubled St. Louis' 13 first downs. The Cardinals have a strong case as the NFL's most complete team, starting with their dominant point differential of 100 -- the best through five games since the record-breaking 2007 Patriots squad.

Carson Palmer's 154.2 passer rating Sunday was the second-best of his career and second in franchise history to Kurt Warner's 158.3 versus the Dolphins in 2008. Entrenched as the lead back, Chris Johnson is running like the last four years never happened. David Johnson is the first rookie since Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) with two rushing scores, two receiving scores and a kickoff return touchdown in his team's first five games. Larry Fitzgerald is a prototypical go-to receiver, John Brown stretches the field and Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington provide quality depth. Their 190 points scored are seventh-most in NFL history through five games.

The defense shuts down the run and wreaks havoc in the passing game, exemplified by five takeaways in the first 35 minutes of Sunday's laugher. Barring a serious injury to Palmer, an ultra-aggressive Bruce Arians will be coaching a powerhouse all season long.

  1. Stafford was benched in favor ofDan Orlovsky early in the third quarter of a 35-7 game after tossing his third interception of the afternoon. Stafford has steadily regressed since Joe Lombardi replaced Scott Linehan as offensive coordinator early in 2014. He already has eight interceptions after tossing just 12 last season. More worrisome, he's now sensing the rush and hesitating to pull the trigger behind a leaky offensive line. With a backsliding quarterback and a defense sorely missing Ndamukong Suh and a healthy DeAndre Levy, Jim Caldwell is overseeing one of the NFL's worst teams.
  1. Lions rookie Ameer Abdullah is in the doghouse after fumbling twice in the first half of Sunday's game. It's worth noting that his college fumble rate was the highest among tailback prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft. His obvious playmaking ability has also been stifled with no holes to exploit. With or without a healthy Joique Bell, he can't afford to keep fumbling.

-- Chris Wesseling

  1. This Bills team is dreadfully undisciplined and still a bit scattershot, but man, do they have attitude. The final Titans drive began and ended with a brutal Marcell Dareus hit on Marcus Mariota and an even more intense hit on the intended wide receiver that led to a decisive pick by Stephon Gilmore.
  1. When Mariota came out of college, the worry was that Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn't be able to incorporate enough of Chip Kelly's system into his offense to make the No. 2 overall pick worthwhile. But maybe it was Kelly who wasn't incorporating enough Darrell Bevell at Oregon. The Titans are picking their spots to use Mariota's legs extremely well this season. While he drastically under threw a potentially big pass in the first half of Sunday's game, there were moments when a very good Bills defense was flummoxed -- just not enough of them. Keep in mind that he's basically doing this on his own. On Sunday, he was the Titans' leading rusher and passer.
  1. Tyrod Taylor did not have a great game statistically, but emotionally, his ability to come back from a serious hit, miss one play and then nail Chris Hogan on a 46-yard rope to set up the game-winning touchdown. On that drive, he also caught a trick pass in traffic. It's unbelievable how criminally overlooked Taylor was over the years given the absolute lack of quality starters.

-- Conor Orr

  1. We saw why Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck raved about the Denver's "unbelievable" defense this week. In addition to Harris' game-winning interception, Von Miller leaped over a cut-blocking Austin Howard and snatched the ball out of Derek Carr's hands for a highlight-reel strip sack that set up an easy field goal. Even with All-Pro sack master DeMarcus Ware sidelined by a back injury, the Broncos scored 10 points off of turnovers, bringing their season total 41. That swarming defense has either scored or put Peyton Manning in position to score for a whopping 36 percent of their total points this season.
  1. On the flip side of that equation, Manning's season-long woes continued with a pair of interceptions and several more ugly throws. The Broncos entered this game 30th in Football Outsiders' offensive efficiency metric -- and should fall even further after failing to cross the goal line for the second time in five games. The last game in which a Manning-led team failed to score a touchdown occurred in 2003. If not for a pair of defensive scores this year, the Broncos would have been held out of the end zone in Weeks 1 and 5. Lest we present this as a quarterback-centric issue, the ground attack was shut down once again. C.J. Anderson (11 carries, 22 yards) and Ronnie Hillman (7 carries, 21 yards) combined to average a paltry 2.7 yards per carry. If Manning wasn't backed by the game's most disruptive defense, his inefficiency would be the dominant storyline in the NFL.
  1. Eight-time Pro Bowl player Charles Woodson made history on an otherwise deflating day for the Raiders. The 1997 Heisman Trophy winner picked off the 1997 Heisman runner-up in the end zone to thwart Manning's two-minute drill before halftime. He later came down with a spectacular sideline catch in the third quarter, bringing him into a sixth-place tie with Ed Reed (64) on the all-time interception list. Woodson turned 39 years old last week, making him the oldest player ever to record multiple interceptions in a game.

-- Chris Wesseling

  1. Eli Manning once again put on a masterpiece performance of Jekyll and Hyde.

Bad Eli reared his ugly head at the end of the first half when, driving up four points, he threw a boneheaded interception to a blanketed Odell Beckham. The interception was only Manning's second of the season, and it would almost prove costly. However, in the second half, Good Eli found his footing. He connected with Beckham for long gains and otherwise dumped passes down to his running backs and tight ends.

Of course, Manning saved his darkest, greatest magic for last. Down four points late and with Beckham and Rueben Randle both sidelined with hamstring injuries, Manning marched 82 yards down the field in 1:15, mostly on short passes to Shane Vereen, and finished off the drive with a picture-perfect pass to Larry Donnell in the back of the end zone.

Manning had a masterful evening, finishing with 41(!) completions for 441(!!) yards and three touchdowns. Even more impressive, sans his skillful stars, he pulled off the Miracle at the Meadowlands, Part III, and kept New York's NFC East hopes alive and well.

  1. The 49ers of old were back, for a minute or two. After weeks of enduring criticism for poor throws and pathetic pocket awareness, Colin Kaepernick played his best ball of the young season, finishing 23-for-35 for 262 yards and two touchdown passes, and almost lead San Francisco to a victory. After a frustrating first half, Kaepernick came out of the gate firing for the 49ers. He showed touch on deep balls to Anquan Boldin in the second half, threw smart screens to Torrey Smith and Bruce Ellington all night and led San Francisco on three scoring drives.

However, Kaepernick showed his immaturity on the 49ers' last play of the drive, wasting time running outside of the pocket and not finding open receivers quickly. This week was an improvement, but still not enough to keep him off the hot seat.

  1. Antonio Cromartie may have awoken a sleeping Giant. After the Jets cornerback called Beckham a "one-year wonder" earlier this week, the second-year wideout carried the entire New York offense on his back with a virtuoso performance early on.

Beckham played multiple roles for Manning, catching long post routes for major yardage and turning short routes into big plays. On his touchdown catch, Beckham criss-crossed from the sideline back to Manning, who, under pressure, dumped off to Beckham. The Madden cover boy spun around, evaded another defender, and put the Giants ahead.

New York should be worried though long-term about Beckham's health. The wide receiver left the game with a hamstring injury immediately following the touchdown before returning on the final drive. Beckham, of course, has a history of hamstring issues, and missed the early goings of his rookie season because of one.

-- Jeremy Bergman

  1. Doug Martin was fantastic. The diminutive back dominated Sunday's contest cracking off gashing runs of 39, 20, 19, 14 and 13 yards on a 123-yard rushing day. He added 35 receiving yards and scored three total touchdowns. When Martin gets creases from his offensive line he displays burst, quick cuts and an ability to break tackles on the second level. It was refreshing to watch.
  1. With Martin carrying the load successfully, Jameis Winston didn't have to do much other than not throw the game away. The rookie can clearly gun it when protected, but still gets flustered under pressure. His feet also get lazy in traffic. Winston got lucky when a bonehead fumble was overturned. The rook is still a work in progress and needs the run game to be the focal point.
  1. The Jags' offense with Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, T.J. Yeldon and the return of Julius Thomas is going to be fun to watch. Bortles was slinging it when he wasn't getting crushed in the pocket. Bortles threw darts, compiling 303 passing yards and four touchdowns. He still makes his share of headshaking plays when pressured. I'd like to see the Jags move his launch point more to help overcome the sieve of an offensive line.

-- Kevin Patra

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