Week 5 of the NFL Season is nearly in the books and we’re starting to see some interesting things as we get to mid-October and the heart of the season. With teams that started hot and stumbled, it can be easy to wonder if it’s a sign the wheels are about to fall off. Before looking at tonight’s battle between the Colts and Ravens, I figured I’d use my normal Monday Morning Quarterback slots for a round of Panic or Patience with three teams that started 3-0 and are now 3-2.
The Carolina Panthers
Patience. The Panthers were a great September story, going 3-0 to start the season. They had a stumble in Week 4 in Dallas, though the team looked good at times. Then yesterday Sam Darnold scuffled, throwing three interceptions as the Panthers fell to the Eagles at home. That should be a bit alarming but I’m not panicking yet. Christian McCaffrey is hurt, having missed the last two games. The Panthers also just added Stephon Gilmore to the secondary, and he’ll be making his debut soon. Help is coming and I think this team is going to end up a playoff contender.
The Las Vegas Raiders
Panic. Look, the 3-0 start was probably a bit unexpected, but the two straight losses have been tough. The Raiders were outplayed by the Chargers on Monday night, which would be forgivable if the same thing didn’t happen Sunday against the Bears. The Raiders have struggles at offensive line and haven’t run the ball well. They have a young defense and now there’s some off-field issues that should give everyone a bit of pause. In addition, the Raiders have started strong and faded away each of the past two seasons, so seeing this trend has to be a concern for the Raiders.
The Denver Broncos
Panic. The Broncos started 3-0 but they were expected to be 3-0. The Broncos began with the Giants, Jaguars and Jets the first three weeks. The team has suffered injuries and now that they’ve played tougher teams the team has looked bad. While the Broncos closed the gap Sunday, it was the second game when they were pretty badly outplayed. The Broncos’ have had some vulnerability on defense and the coaching gives me pause. The offense isn’t good enough to get into track meets and with the Raiders, Browns, Washington and the Cowboys the next four weeks, it could get worse before it gets better.
And with that, let’s look at tonight’s game.
Monday Night Preview
The Colts (1-3) head to Baltimore to battle the Ravens (3-1). We have had some good Monday night games and some good Prime-Time games, and doubtless the NFL expected this matchup of 2020 playoff teams would be just that. However, the Colts haven’t looked like the same time. Injuries and inefficiency had the Colts start 0-3 before getting a win, finally, against the Dolphins last week. The Ravens, meanwhile, stumbled the first Monday night of the season and have been perfect since.
You’ve made your lineup decisions but there are certainly a few players you’re playing from this game. For the Colts, Jonathan Taylor is one of the best running backs in the league, if only the Colts would consistently give him the ball. The only other Colt I’d be considering is Michael Pittman, Jr., who seems to be developing into the most consistent receiver.
For the Ravens, Lamar Jackson is a top quarterback in the NFL, and the team’s best running threat. I think tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Marquise Brown are also decent plays. In the backfield, it seems like Latavius Murray, Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman are the guys. Of those, I like Murray the best but wouldn’t blame you for leaving them all out of your lineup.
I think the Ravens win tonight and I’m not bullish on this game.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.