NFL Week 5: Big questions, risers, fallers and takeaways

The commencement of Week 5 of the NFL season was marked by a Chicago Bears breakthrough on Thursday night. Justin Fields tossed four touchdown passes, giving the Bears their first victory over the Washington Commanders.

In order to win in London on Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense successfully slowed down the explosive Buffalo Bills attack. Back home, the New Orleans Saints defeated the New England Patriots, the Detroit Lions improved to 4-1, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense dominated the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter.


Our NFL Nation reporters responded to all the action, addressing any unanswered queries following each game, and identifying who or what is improving and degrading for each club. Let’s start now.

Carolina 24 vs. Detroit 42

David Montgomery’s promotion to RB1 has the Lions’ running backs performing better? Jahmyr Gibbs’ hamstring injury prevented him from playing, but Montgomery carried the ball 19 times for 109 yards. He has six rushing touchdowns through his first four games after his score on Sunday. With 17 rushing touchdowns last season—the majority of which came at the goal line—former Lions running back Jamaal Williams established the team record, but Montgomery has already shown the potential to surpass it. The second-longest touchdown of his career was scored by him in the first quarter on a 42-yard run.

After the victory, stock up: TE LaPorta, Sam. With two touchdowns on Sunday, the rookie is demonstrating why GM Brad Holmes got a great deal. He became a factor to the offense right away thanks to his early chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff. With 25 catches in his first five games, LaPorta is tied with Jordan Reed (26 in 2013) and Keith Jackson (29 in 1988) for the third-most receptions by a tight end since 1950.

Stock declines following victory: offensive on third down. After a perfect victory on both sides of the ball, there wasn’t much to quibble about. However, against the Panthers, the offense went only 4-for-9 on third downs. One of the few areas where the Lions offense isn’t among the top in the league after five games is their 39.4% conversion rate, which ranks 16th in the NFL. Erik Woodyard

Should Bryce Young be benched in favor of Andy Dalton by the Panthers? The Panthers, who have allowed 45 points this season as a result of turnovers, are suffering because of Young’s errors. Of those, 31 occurred immediately following a Young turnover or interception, including 14 against the Lions in the first half. The Week 3 game against Seattle, when veteran backup Dalton took the place of an injured Young, saw the offense at its most effective. The Seahawks scored no scores as a result of turnovers. Dalton might be the short-term fix for this 0-5 squad as it searches for its identity, but Young is the long-term solution.

After the defeat, stock up: Laviska Shenault Jr. The Panthers have been debating between running back and wide receiver as his best positions. They gave the 2020 second-round pick (by the Jaguars) five rushes for 27 yards on Sunday, which appeared to be a hint.

After the defeat, RB Miles Sanders’ stock fell. He signed a four-year, $25.4 million contract to serve as Carolina’s starting running back and relieve Bryce Young of his receiving duties. He averaged 2.9 yards per carry entering the game on Sunday, but he only gained 32 against the Lions thanks to a fumble that resulted in a score for the Lions. Dave Newton

next contest: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at Dolphins

Is Ridder’sHouston 19, Atlanta 21 best day as a professional being rocked by Kyle Pitts’ season breakout? Desmond Ridder, the quarterback, responded to a week of concerns about his job security with his best performance as a professional, completing 28 of 37 passes for 329 yards and a score while also scoring on one carry for seven yards to complete his second fourth-quarter comeback of the year. It’s his first game as a pro with more than 250 passing yards. It was mostly due to the tight end’s comeback, as he recorded his highest receptions (seven for 87 yards) since his debut season in 2021. Atlanta has been looking for information about the Ridder-Pitts connection

Stock up after the win: DC Ryan Nielsen. Atlanta’s defense has consistently done enough to win, allowing one touchdown per game over the past two weeks and kept the Falcons in games while the offense has had to sort out its issues.

Stock down after the win: RB. It’s likely the Falcons will say Patterson is still working his way back into the lineup, but he’s been an offensive nonfactor his first two weeks, with a handful of combined snaps and one catch for 7 yards. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Commanders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Is’Pitts, Kyle season breakout what jolted Ridder’s best day as a pro? After a week full of questions about job security, quarterback  responded with his best game as a pro, completing 28 of 37 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown while rushing once for a 7-yard touchdown and completing his second fourth-quarter comeback this season. It’s his first game over 250 yards passing as a pro. A lot of it had to do with the reemergence of the tight end, who had his most receptions (seven for 87 yards) since his rookie year in 2021. This Ridder-Pitts connection is what Atlanta had been looking for.

After the victory, stock up: DC A Ryan Nielsen. Over the previous two weeks, Atlanta’s defense has regularly performed well enough to win games, surrendering only one touchdown while keeping the Falcons in contention while the offense worked out its kinks.

After the victory, Cordarrelle Patterson’s stock dropped. Although Patterson has only played a small number of combined snaps and one catch for seven yards in his first two weeks, the Falcons are likely to claim that he is still getting back into the lineup. Micheal Rothstein

vs. Commanders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) is the next game.


Will the Texans’ scoring problems turn into a pattern? The passing attack proved unreliable even though quarterback C.J. Stroud hit tight end Dalton Schultz with the game-winning touchdown throw. The Texans’ passing offense had been on fire over the previous three weeks, and they entered the game with the fourth-highest passing yards per game (281). The offense only managed to score 19 points, with four of Stroud’s 35 attempts for 249 yards and a touchdown ending in field goals.

After the defeat, stock up: Schultz. The tight end had his greatest performance as a Texan, recording a season-high seven catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Stock declines after the defeat: a pass defense. The Falcons’ passing offense, which had an NFL-worst average of 156 yards per game going into the contest, was able to throw for 351 yards on Sunday. — Bien-Aime DJ

vs. Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) is the next game.

Has De’Von Achane’s rise to prominence made the Dolphins’ offense a run-first unit? The rookie delivered once more, recording his third straight 100-yard rushing outing, highlighted by a 76-yard burst to the end zone for his fifth season score. The Dolphins gained 222 yards on the ground as a result of Achane’s last 151 yards on 11 carries. Raheem Mostert wasn’t a slouch either; on 10 carries, he gained 65 yards and a touchdown. Miami still gained 302 yards through the air against the Giants’ defense, but if Achane and Mostert are going to keep running the ball this well, Miami needs to ride it till the tires fall off.

After the victory, stock up on big-play offense. We knew the Dolphins were quick coming into the season, but they currently own seven of the NFL’s top seven ball-carrier speeds, including Tyreek Hill’s new highest overall speed of 22.01 mph.

After the victory, Tua Tagovailoa’s stock dropped. With two interceptions, it wasn’t his sharpest day. It says a lot that a 300-yard, two-touchdown game is suddenly seen as a “down” performance for the fourth-year quarterback that 233 of his 302 throwing yards came after the catch. the author Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


When is this offense going to show some competency? Sunday night in Buffalo isn’t an ideal spot for a 1-4 team, even if there is a chance that running backThe Saquon Barkley (ankle) and left tackle Stephen Thomas (hamstring) return. Now the Giants also have to deal with the uncertainty of quarterback Jones, Daniel (neck). It might be at least another couple of weeks before the Giants can get their offensive line to be functional. Giants quarterbacks were sacked seven times on Sunday, and the offense did not score a touchdown for the second straight game

After the defeat, bolster the defense. On Sunday, the Giants’ defense outperformed their offense. They conceded some significant plays and 31 points to a potent Miami offense, but they also committed three errors, one of which was Jason Pinnock’s pick-six from 102 yards out.

Stock declines after the defeat: S Simmons, Isaiah. The 2020 first-round pick, which the Giants acquired through trade last month, began at linebacker in place of Micah McFadden (ankle), but he had little effect. He simply wasn’t able to consistently shed blockers. — Jordan R.

(Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET) Upcoming game: at Bills

Is Kenny Pickett moving forward again? After stumbling through the first three quarters, Kenny Pickett connected with George Pickens for a touchdown throw of 41 yards and the AFC North victory. To set up the touchdown, Pickett hit Pickens two plays earlier with a brilliantly timed back-shoulder pass for a 21-yard gain. The most by any player since the beginning of last season was his third go-ahead touchdown pass of his career, which came in the final two minutes of regulation. Through the first month of the season, Pickett has struggled, but going into the bye week, this offers the Steelers and their quarterback a big lift.

After the victory, stock up on inside linebackers. The greatest hits of the game were made by this unit, including Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts’ two third-down stops in the fourth quarter. In addition, Kwon Alexander recorded two tackles for loss and a sack, including a crucial one in the fourth quarter that resulted in a safety two plays later.

After the victory, TE Gunner Olszewski’s stock dropped. Olszewski took over the return responsibilities when Calvin Austin III was sidelined with an injury and had a huge turnover in the second half. However, Olszewski’s fumble comes after another mistake in the opening week of the season. Joey Porter Jr.’s first career interception prevented points from being scored. Brooke Pryor

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