Archives for posts with tag: Crime

For high schools this time of year, most students are getting ready for prom, baseball, graduation and vacation. Like most high schools, students struggled with subjects that they were probably not going to use the rest of their lives. The lives of the students at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, near Ft. Lauderdale, were about to undergo a change and it was a change that was as welcome as mosquitoes on a summer day in the Sunshine State.

Their peace and quiet as they knew would be changed forever and not for good. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, who once walked among them, shot his way through the school, sending students and teachers into hiding for their safety in the hopes that they would not be the next target. At the end of the horror and chaos, 17 people died, 14 of them students, three of them teachers and several more would be injured. Cruz would eventually be arrested and charged with the 17 deaths as well as the assault on the school. As of this writing, he sits behind bars without any chance of bail.

As for those that were injured, some will eventually recover, while others have injuries that will cripple them for the rest of their lives. Cruz took their peace and quiet and disrupted their lives, destroying that peace and quiet forever. Cruz, who was expelled from the same school that he attacked, is the poster child for the NRA. Cruz, through his appointed public defender, offered to plead guilty and take life without parole for his actions as long as the death penalty was taken off the table. So far, the District Attorney of Broward County and the Attorney General of the state of Florida have not made any decision or comment on that.

In the days following the massacre, students around the country planned a national walkout on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 13 people dead.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told NBC he was proud of the students and their response to the horrific incident. “They are intelligent, they’re articulate, they’re passionate, and they’re committed to securing a safe future for themselves. This is their moment, this is their generation and they’re stepping up and doing what needs to happen,” he said. “I feel so encouraged that this time it will be different.”

Before the Stoneman Douglas students march on Washington, they headed to Tallahassee and spoke to state leaders and it was  Jaclyn Corin, a student who organized the visit. Corbin told the Miami Herald and NBC News, “We are the ones that looked into Nikolas Cruz’s eyes. We took 17 bullets to the heart. We are the only ones who can speak up. We have to be the adults in this situation because clearly people have us failed us in the government, and we must make the change now because we’re the only ones who are going to.”

The students that went to Tallahassee to speak to their leaders saw that failure come to light as house Republicans on Tuesday decisively blocked a move by Democrats to debate a ban on assault weapons in Florida, six days after a massacre that took 17 lives at a Broward County high school.

The bill (HB 219), which would ban the sale and possession of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines like the kind used by Cruz, has been mired in a House subcommittee for months and has not been heard. Amid rising tensions at the state Capitol, Democrats used a highly unusual procedure to move the proposal directly to the House floor for a debate and vote.

Republicans voted it down, 71 to 36. Several survivors of the massacre in Parkland, watching from the visitors’ gallery, were overcome with emotion and the action set off a firestorm of controversy on social media. They were also overcome with anger and righteous indignation.

These kids saw 17 of their friends die and the Florida Legislature, who were supposed to be their ally, chose party over their constituents. They failed the people of the state of Florida by not allowing discussion on HB 219, which would have effectively banned that type of weaponry in the state of Florida. This was their chance to beat swords into plowshares and do it in front of a group of students that recently lost 14 of their classmates and 3 of their teachers.

Instead of listening to their better angels, they chose to listen to the gun zealots and the NRA. They became cowards, plain and simple and there is hope that when these kids get out of college, they become legislators and vote you all out. While some of them were not old enough to drive, let alone vote, they chose an action that is respectful and peaceful. They let the world know that enough is enough. Their actions drew attention to a problem that needed to be addressed and addressed quickly before more people die needlessly.

That day, the Florida Legislature told the future voters of the Sunshine State that they didn’t give a damn about them. This is cowardice. The bigger question is this. When is going to end, when their child is shot or killed? 14 of their peers are dead. They will NEVER graduate from high school, have a Spring break, go to prom or Homecoming. 3 teachers dead, they will never stand in front of a group of students. They are gone forever and short of the Resurrection, they will never come back. Their blood is on the hands of the leaders they hoped would listen to them and protect them.

This in no way is an attempt to punish the people that own guns, the one that go through the PROPER channels to get a weapon and learn how to use it properly. Instead, it’s a call to our elected leaders to listen to their better angels and pass legislation that makes sense and if that means a re-write of the 2nd Amendment, so be it.

Recently, teachers were allowed to return to the school to get their cars and students were allowed to retrieve their personal belongings. They went back to school on Wednesday and when Wednesday came, there will be 17 fewer people at school. There will be fear and nerves that will be frayed. Those 17 that lost their lives will never walk those halls again. Their voices will be missed.

The elected adults failed the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and in the midst of the chaos, tears and blood being shed and anger, it was the students that chose the better course of action, a course of action that Jesus, Ghandi and Martin Luther King would have approved. They took their anger and beat that anger into plowshares. They will further that action by registering to vote or voting in the upcoming midterm elections.

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School chose to do what was right and challenge their leaders to do was right, not what was popular.

It’s time for the adults to follow suit.

Six teams remain with unblemished records and five are in action in week five. Atlanta, New England, Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay take the field this week, while Carolina has a bye.

STILL IN THE MIX: History shows that a losing record at this point in the season does not negate a team’s chances of making the playoffs.

Since the current playoff format (12 teams) was instituted in 1990, 25 teams have rebounded from a losing record after four weeks to qualify for the postseason. Four of those clubs advanced to their Conference Championship Games, including the 2001 New England Patriots (1-3) en route to their Super Bowl XXXVI victory.

Since 1990, teams that started 1-3 or worse and made the playoffs:

YEAR – TEAM, RECORD (ADVANCED TO:)
1990 – New Orleans, 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs)
1990 – Philadelphia, 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs)
1991 – New York Jets 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs
1992 – San Diego, 0-4 (Divisional Playoffs)
1993 – Green Bay, 1-3D (ivisional Playoffs)
1993 – Houston, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
1995 – Detroit, 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs)
1995 – Philadelphia, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
1996 – Dallas, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
1996 – Jacksonville, 1-3 (Championship Game)
1997 – New York Giants, 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs)
1998 – Buffalo, 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs)
2000 – New Orleans, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
2001 – New England, 1-3 (Won Super Bowl XXXVI)
2002 – Atlanta, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
2002 – Tennessee, 1-3 (Championship Game)
2002 – New York Jets, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
2002 – Pittsburgh, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
2004 – Green Bay, 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs)
2005 – Chicago, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
2007 – San Diego, 1-3 (Championship Game)
2008 – Minnesota, 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs)
2011 – Denver, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
2013 – Carolina, 1-3 (Divisional Playoffs)
2013 – Philadelphia, 1-3 (Wild Card Playoffs)

SIX AT 4-0?: Five teams have gotten off to 4-0 starts in 2015 – Atlanta, Carolina (who has a bye this week), Cincinnati, Denver and Green BayY – tied for the most in a season in NFL history (1968, 2003, 2009 and 2013). New England, who had a bye in Week 4, is 3-0 and with a win on Sunday at Dallas, can be the sixth team to start the season 4-0, which would be the most in a season in NFL history. That contest can be seen on CBS at 4:25 p.m. Eastern.

OPULENT OCTOBER: New England’s high-powered offense, which leads the league in scoring (39.7 points per game) and total offense (446.3 yards per game), has the Patriots atop the AFC East with a 3-0 record.

Since 2000, the year Bill Belichick was named head coach and the franchise drafted quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots lead the NFL with a .738 winning percentage (45-16) in games played in the month of October.

The teams with the best records in the month of October since 2000:

TEAM (WINS-LOSSES, WIN PCT.)
New England (45-16, .738)
Pittsburgh (42-17, .712)
New York Giants (40-19, .678)
Indianapolis (38-19, .667)
Green Bay (36-21, .632)

​BLAZING BENGALS: Cincinnnati has started the season 4-0 for the first time since 2005 and hosts Seattle this Sunday seeking a 5-0 start.

With a win on Sunday, the Bengals will have started 5-0 for the third time in franchise history (1975, 1988). In 1988, Cincinnati finished the season 12-4 en route to a Super Bowl XXIII appearance.

Quarterback Andy Dalton, who carries an AFC-best 123 passer rating into this week’s matchup, has earned a passer rating of 115 or better in each of the team’s first four contests. Dalton is the second quarterback to begin a season with four such performances (John Hadl, 1973) since the NFL implemented the passer rating system in 1973.

With a passer rating of 115 or better on Sunday, Dalton would become the first quarterback in NFL history to begin a season with five such consecutive games since the NFL implemented the passer rating system in 1973.

Andy Dalton’s passing performances in 2015:
WEEK OPPONENT (PASSING YARDS/TD-INT, RATING)
1   at Oakland (269/2-0, 115.9)
2   vs. San Diego (214/3-0, 126.1)
3   at Baltimore (383/3-1, 122.3)
4   vs. Kansas City (321/1-0, 127.1)
5   vs. Seattle?????????

DIVISIONAL DOMINANCE: Indianapolis is the king of the AFC South mountain after their 23-20 over Houston Thursday night in the Lone Star State. The Colts have now won 16 divisional games in a row, which places them ahead of the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins for the longest streak since 1970. Indianapolis’ active win streak against AFC South opponents began on December 30, 2012, when the Colts earned a 28-16 win against Houston.

The teams with the longest divisional win streaks since 1970:

TEAM (DIVISION, SEASONS; STREAK)
Indianapolis (AFC South, 2012-15; 16)*
Miami (AFC East, 1972-73; 15
Dallas (NFC East, 1993-94; 14)
Oakland (AFC West, 1975-77; 13)
Tennessee (AFC Central, 1998-99; 13)
*Active

​TREMENDOUS TIGHT ENDS: New England tight end Rob Gronkowski has four receiving touchdowns this season, which ranks first amongst NFL tight ends. Since entering the league in 2010, Gronkowski leads all players with 58 touchdown catches.

When Dallas hosts New England this Sunday, Dallas tight end Jason Witten (59 career touchdowns) and Gronkowski can join Tony Gonzalez (111), Antonio Gates (99), Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe (62) and Jerry Smith (60) as the only tight ends in NFL history with 60 career touchdowns.

With a touchdown reception against Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, Gates would become the second tight end in league annals with 100 receiving touchdowns.

The tight ends with the most receiving touchdowns in NFL history:

PLAYER (TEAM(S), REC. TDs
Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta, Kansas City), 111
Antonio Gates (San Diego) 99*
Shannon Sharpe (Baltimore, Denver) 62
Jerry Smith (Washington) 60
Jason Witten (Dallas) 59*
Rob Gronkowski (New England) 58*
*Active

FRANTIC FREEMAN: Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman leads the league with seven rushing touchdowns this season. He is the first player to rush for at least seven touchdowns in his team’s first four games to start a season since La Dainian Tomlinson (eight) in 2005.

With at least one rushing touchdown this Sunday versus Washington, Freeman would become the first player with eight or more rushing touchdowns in their team’s first five games of a season since Tomlinson (9) and Shaun Alexander (8) each did so in 2005.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (13 in 1958) is the only player in NFL history with at least 10 rushing touchdowns in his team’s first five games.

RISING ROOKIE: Buffalo rookie running back Karlos Williams (No. 155 overall, Florida State) became the fourth rookie since 1960 to score a touchdown in each of his team’s first four games with a 23-yard touchdown reception in the Bills’ Week 4 game against the New York Giants.

With a touchdown on Sunday, Williams would become just the fifth rookie in NFL history to score a touchdown in each his team’s first five games, joining Robert Edwards (six in 1998), ALAN AMECHE (five in 1955), Joe Cribbs (five in 1980) and Bill Howton (five in 1962).

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR: The 2015 International Series began in Week 4, with the New York Jets defeating the Miami Dolphins 27-14 at London’s Wembley Stadium in the first divisional contest played in the United Kingdom. It was the first of three games to be played in London this season. The other two games, which will also be played at Wembley, feature the Buffalo Bills against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7 (October 25th) and the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Detroit Lions in Week 8 (November 1st).

The 12 regular-season games played at Wembley Stadium:

DATE – WEEK
October 4, 2015 – 4 / New York Jets 27, Miami 14
November 9, 2014 – 10 / Dallas 31, Jacksonville 17
October 26, 2014 – 8 / Detroit 22, ATLANTA 21
September 28, 2014 – 4 / Miami 38, Oakland 14
October 27, 2013 – 8 / San Francisco 42, Jacksonville 10
September 29, 2013 – 4 / Minnesota 34, Pittsburgh 27
October 28, 2012 – 8 / New England 45, St. Louis 7
October 23, 2011 – 7 / Chicago 24, Tampa Bay 18
October 31, 2010 – 8 / San Francisco 24, Denver 16
October 25, 2009 – 7 / New England 35, Tampa Bay 7
October 26, 2008 – 8 / New Orleans 37, San Diego 32
October 28, 2007 – 8 / New York Giants 13, Miami 10

As the NFL season enters the second quarter, there are five 4-0 teams – Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay – tied for the most in a season in NFL history (1968, 2003, 2009 and 2013). New England – who had a bye in Week 4 – is 3-0 and can be the sixth team to start the season 4-0 which would be the most in a season in NFL history.

​Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 83.1 percent of teams (59 of 71) to start 4-0 have qualified for the postseason.

In the NFC, the Falcons, Panthers and Packers lead the way.

Atlanta and Carolina share the top spot in the NFC South with perfect 4-0 marks. Over the past 10 seasons, it is only the third time that two teams from the same division each started 4-0: Detroit and Green Bay in 2011 (NFC North) and Denver and Kansas City in 2013 (AFC West). Those four teams all advanced to the  postseason.

The Falcons, led by rookie head coach Dan Quinn, are 4-0 for the first time since 2012, when the team won the NFC South with a 13-3 record and advanced to the NFC Championship Game as the conference’s top seed.

“It’s the exact same feeling now,” says Atlanta wide receiver Roddy White, the franchise leader in catches (771), receiving yards (10,449) and touchdowns (62). “Guys are just anxious to be out there. And that’s what you want as a team. Everybody’s waiting for the next Sunday. Everybody’s preparing and getting themselves and their minds ready for Sunday. If we can keep that edge going, we’ll be good. We’re taking this thing one game at a time. It’s the NFL. You’ve got to be consistent. You can’t think that we can just show up and beat people.”

Atlanta’s 137 points scored are the second-most in the NFL and the offense has been led by quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones – the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September – and running back Devonta Freeman. Ryan’s 1,202 passing yards are the second most in the NFL. Jones, who is the only player in NFL history to have at least 135 receiving yards in each of his team’s first three games, leads the league in receptions (38), ties for first in receiving yards (478) and ties for second in touchdown catches (four). Freeman leads the NFL with seven touchdowns and is the first player to rush for at least seven TDs in his team’s first four games since La Danian Tomlinson in 2005.

“It’s a team effort,” says Freeman about the team’s 4-0 start. “Coach Quinn does a great job getting us to come out and compete every day. It feels good to score  but getting the team victory is the most important thing. Individually, I want to be the best player but we want to go to the Super Bowl.”

The Panthers are 4-0 for the second time in franchise history. Carolina’s last 4-0 start was 2003 when the club won the NFC South and advanced to the Super Bowl.

“It’s nice to be in the situation we are in,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “We still think we have room to improve and be a better football team. We have a long road ahead of us. We still have 12 games left to play and it’s going to be a tough race all the way through.”

Carolina is allowing 17.8 points per game, tied for the lowest mark in the NFC. The Panthers lead the NFL in interceptions with eight and have a league-best +8 turnover differential (11 takeaways, three giveaways). Cornerback Josh Norman leads the NFL with four interceptions and two interception-return touchdowns. Norman, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September, is the first player in franchise history with four interceptions in the team’s first four games. He is the first cornerback since Charles Woodson in 2008 to record two INT-TDs in his club’s first four games.

“It feels real good to be 4-0,” says Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis, who leads the team with 36 tackles. “It’s definitely exciting but we can’t just be happy with that. We have to understand that we have tough opponents coming up and we have to be ready for that.”

The Packers are 4-0 for the first time since 2011 when the team finished with the league’s best record at 15-1.

“We’re 4-0 and in first place in the division,” says Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who leads the NFL with a 125.9 passer rating. “We’re playing the kind of ball we want to play in most phases of the game. But there are peaks and valleys throughout the season and there are ups and downs.”

Rodgers, who won his first MVP award during that 2011 season when he set the single-season passer rating record (122.5), is once again at the forefront of Green Bay’s success. He has 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions and is only the third quarterback in NFL history to have at least 11 touchdown passes without an interception in his team’s first four games (Peyton Manning, 2013 and Don Meredith, 1966). Wide receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones each have four touchdown receptions, tied for the second-most in the NFL this season.

The Packers are allowing 17.8 points per game, tied for the lowest mark in the NFC. Green Bay has recorded 17 sacks, tied with St. Louis for the second-most in the NFL and the most in the NFC. The Packers are the only team in the NFL to have three players with at least three sacks: linebackers Julius Peppers (3.5), Clay Matthews (3.0) and Nick Perry (3.0).

“We’re excited to get to 4-0,” says Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. “That’s the most important part for our football team. We have a ton of work to do and we’ll continue to work.”

In the AFC, the Bengals (4-0), Broncos (4-0) and Patriots (3-0) are the last of the unbeaten teams.

The Bengals aim to reach 5-0 for the first time since the 1988 season, when Cincinnati finished 12-4 and advanced to Super Bowl XXIII.

Cincinnati has relied on the sterling play of quarterback Andy Dalton, whose 123.0 passer rating leads the AFC, and a balanced offensive attack that features a pair of dynamic running backs and talented pass catchers.

“With running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, that’s pure power and then pure speed. That’s what you want in the backfield,” says former NFL wide receiver and NFL Network analyst NATE BURLESON. “When you have complementary players at the wide receiver position, at the running back position, it gives Andy Dalton the confidence in knowing they can go out and beat anybody.”

Hill, in his second year, leads the AFC and ranks second in the NFL with five rushing touchdowns, while third-year pro Bernard it tied for third in the conference in rushing yards (297).

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays,” says Dalton, who is the only NFL quarterback to post a passer rating of 115 or better in each of his four games this season. “That is what we expect from this offense.”

In Denver, the Broncos’ defense has led the charge to 4-0, as Denver ranks first in the NFL in total defense (275.5 yards per game) and passing defense (185.3 yard per game) and is second in scoring defense (17.2 points per game).

“For a long time when you mentioned a team that Peyton Manning was on it was purely offensively,” says Burleson. “But that Broncos defense is stepping up. They have guys on every level that can make plays.”

Turnovers and sacks have also been an important part of the Broncos’ success. Denver leads the NFL with 18 sacks and is tied for second with 11 takeaways, including several critical turnovers that helped secure early-season victories.

Cornerback Aqib Talib’s 51-yard interception-return touchdown proved to be the game-winning score in a 19-13 win against Baltimore on Kickoff Weekend and cornerback Bradley Roby clinched a 31-24 victory at Kansas City with a 21-yard fumble-recovery touchdown in Week 2. Last Sunday, it was a sack-fumble by T.J. Ward with 35 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that ended the Vikings’ final drive in Denver’s 23-20 win.

“The thing that I love about this football team is I think it has the belief that it’s going to find a way,” says Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, who is the third coach in club history to start 4-0 in his first season. “It’s going to find a way to make a play or win the football game.”

The Patriots’ high-powered offense, which leads the league in scoring (39.7 points per game) and total offense (446.3 yards per game), has New England atop the AFC East division with a 3-0 record. New England’s 119 points are tied for the most ever by a defending Super Bowl champion through the first three weeks of a season (St. Louis, 2000).

“(Tom) Brady is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in this league,” says Burleson. “The Patriots figure out the weaknesses of each team and then they exploit those weaknesses. They don’t just attack. They exploit the weaknesses of every defense they face.”

Brady is the second player in NFL history to pass for at least 1,100 yards (1,112) and nine touchdowns (nine) with no interceptions through the first three games of a season (Peyton Manning, 2013).

“I think we had a good three weeks,” says Brady, who reached 400 career touchdown passes this season and is one of five players in NFL history to reach the milestone. “We’ve got a lot of veteran players, especially on offense. It comes down to our execution – how well we throw and catch and block and tackle and rush the passer.”

FAST STARTERS: Denver quarterback Peyton Manning passed for 213 yards and one touchdown in the Broncos’ 23-20 win against Minnesota in Week 4. Manning earned his 100th win at home as a starter, joining Brett Farve (113) as the only quarterbacks to win at least 100 home starts.

This season marks the seventh time Manning has led his team to a 4-0 start to begin a season, the most of any starting quarterback in NFL history. Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton is the only other starting quarterback to lead his team to at least four 4-0 starts.

The quarterbacks with the most 4-0 starts:

PLAYER (4-0 STARTS TO A SEASON)
Peyton Manning (7)
Fran Tarkenton (4)
Many tied with 3

BOOMING BECKHAM: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jt. played in his 16th career game in Week 4, a 24-10 victory at Buffalo. Beckham, who entered the game already having the most catches in a player’s first 16 games despite only playing 15, had five receptions for 38 yards.

Beckham (1,612) surpassed Bill Groman (1,593) for the most receiving yards through a player’s first 16 games.

The players with the most receiving yards in their first 16 games to begin a career:

PLAYER – TEAM (YEAR(S), / RECEIVING YARDS)
Odell Beckham Jr. – New York Giants (2014-15 / 1,612)
Bill Groman – Houston Oilers (1960-61 / 1,593)
Billy Howton – Green Bay (1952-53 / 1,500)
Charley Hennigan – Houston Oilers (1960-61 / 1,426)
Lance Alworth – San Diego (1962-63 / 1,399)

The 2015 NFL season is three quarters of the way done and while six remain unbeaten, 18 of the league’s 32 teams are in first place or within a game of the top of the mountain in their divisions. At the same time, there’s still a lot of season left on the docket and a lot of football left in the season.

“We break the schedule down into quarters so we’re getting ready to start the second quarter now,” says tackle Andre Smith of the 4-0 Cincinnati Bengals. “We’re starting the season off 0-0. That’s how we’re looking at it. We’re having a lot of fun. We’re playing hard and guys are doing what they’re supposed to do, executing when they need to and just trying to play good football.”

There are five 4-0 teams – Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay – tied for the most in a season in NFL history (1968, 2003, 2009 and 2013). New England – who had a bye in Week 4 – is 3-0 and, with a win on Sunday at Dallas, can be the sixth team to start the season 4-0 which would be the most in a season in NFL history.

​“We’re 4-0 and in first place in the division,” says Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who leads the NFL with a 125.9 passer rating. “We’re playing the kind of ball we want to play in most phases of the game. But there are peaks and valleys throughout the season and there are ups and downs.”

But all 32 teams know there’s room for improvement. And while not every club has gotten off to a great start, nothing is a given in the NFL.

Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was adopted, 111 teams (37 percent of the 300 playoff clubs) have advanced to the postseason after starting the season 2-2 or worse. There were five such teams – Carolina (2-2), Green Bay (2-2), Indianapolis (2-2), New England (2-2) and Pittsburgh (2-2) – last season and all five were division winners. The Patriots, who started the season 2-2 through four games, went on to win Super Bowl XLIX.

“We’re 2-2 now instead of 0-2, so we’ve got some confidence going,” says defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins of the New York Giants, who have won two in a row after an 0-2 start. “We’re finally starting to see some benefits from the hard work. The first two weeks, we were working hard but we weren’t able to reap any rewards from it. Now we’re getting wins so it’s helping mentally and confidence-wise. It’s showing us the right way to do it so we can keep improving that way.”

That’s all part of the unpredictability of the NFL. So entering Week 5, while it certainly helps to be near the top of the standings, don’t count anyone out. Anything’s possible and as ESPN’s Chris Berman once said, “that’s why they play the games.” For the week, 9-5. Not bad for week four. For the year, 42-18. For this week, there are no former Super Bowl matchups and those will continue next week with three matchups from past Super Bowls as the league celebrates the 50th anniversary of the big game.

Week 5 began on Thursday night as AFC South rivals Indianapolis and Houston met in the Lone Star State, with the Colts taking a 23-20 win in the Lone Star State and concludes on the Left Coast as Pittsburgh travels to Cali to take on the San Diego Chargers and Philip Rivers Monday night at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Here are Sunday (and Monday’s) games.

Washington (2-2) at ATLANTA (4-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 705. The resurging Atlanta Falcons host Washington in the Big Peach Sunday afternoon.

​The Redskins evened their record at 2-2 with a 23-20 victory over Philadelphia last week. With the win, Washington moved into a tie for first place in the NFC East with Dallas and the New York Giants.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 290 yards, rushed for a touchdown and threw the game-winning TD pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds remaining in the game. Garçon had the final three catches (30 yards) on the game-winning drive, including the four-yard touchdown.

“Pierre is one of the greatest competitors on this football team,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden told the Washington Post and USA Today. “People feed off of that.” Washington in the come from behind win over their NFC East rivals outrushed the Eagles 127-87 and forced a pair of Philly fumbles in the win. The ‘Skins on third down conversions went 9 of 17 and kept the ball for 41:08, using part of that time for the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, while the Eagles were 4 of 12 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for a mere 18:52

The Falcons remain one of the league’s unbeaten teams and improved to 4-0 with a 48-21 win over Houston.

Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman rushed for three touchdowns and leads the NFL with seven TDs. Freeman is the first Falcons player with seven rushing touchdowns in the team’s first four games of a season and is the first player in the NFL to accomplish the feat since La Dainian Tomlinson in 2005.

“It’s a team effort,” says Freeman about the team’s 4-0 start. Freeman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV, WXIA-TV, WAGA TV and WGCL-TV, “Coach (Dan) Quinn does a great job getting us to come out and compete every day. It feels
good to score but getting the team victory is the most important thing. Individually, I want to be the best player but we want to go to the Super Bowl.”

Washington may lead the series 14-8-1 and they may have outscored the Falcons 579-454 but Atlanta has won the last four contests, including taking a 27-26 win in the Big Peach in 2013 (Washington’s last win over the Falcons took place in 2003 in Atlanta by a final of 33-31. Atlanta’s favored by 8 and the over/under’s 47. The over/under makes sense, the spread is a bit high. Both teams are capable of putting up numbers on the scoreboard. At the same time, Atlanta has won three games from the NFC East. Make that four. Falcons may not cover the 8 but they win at home in the Big Peach.

Seattle (2-2) at Cincinnati (4-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 706. Seattle leaves the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks to face the Bengals in the Buckeye State.

The defending NFC champions have won two in a row and Seattle’s defense has not allowed an offensive touchdown in each of the past two games. In Week 4, the Seahawks knocked off Detroit 13-10 in a contest that saw its fair share of controversy and moved within a game of first place in the division. For those that came in late, the controversy took place late in the ball game as the Lions were marching down the field when Lions WR Calvin Johnson caught a pass and was leaning toward the goal line, when he had the ball knocked out of his arms. The ball was lodged loose and rolled in the end zone, where it was tipped out of bounds by a Seahawks player. Once again, the end zone became the 13th man for the Seahawks on a Monday night in a controversial win. After a scoreless first quarter, Seattle led 10-3 at the and then held off the Lions in the second half. Even without Marshawn Lynch, Seattle did outrush 110-53

“The fight that we’ve shown as a team and our collective effort, it’s phenomenal,” says Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who is the only player in the NFL with a 100+ passer rating (100.5) and 150+ rushing yards (177). “That’s what it takes week in and week out.” Despite being sacked six times, Wilson did manage to connect with WR Doug Baldwin for the game’s first score. As far as third down tries? Neither club did anything to make their fan bases happy (Detroit 3 of 12, Seattle 6 of 13) in the Monday night affair in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle won the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 32:04 to Detroit’s 27:56.

The Bengals enter Week 5 with a 4-0 record and a two-game lead in the AFC North. Last week, Cincinnati recorded a 36-21 win over Kansas City. Quarterback Andy Dalton threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Tate and running backs Jeremy Hill (three) and Giovani Bernard (one) combined for four rushing TDs in the Bengals’ victory. Cincy led Alex Smith and Kansas City 14-12 at halftime and outscored the Chiefs in the second half 22-9. The Bengals outrushed Kansas City 124-113 and sacked Smtih five times in the contest.

“We’re 4-0,” says Bernard. “That’s all that matters right now. We need to work on what we did wrong and try to get to 5-0. We’ve got to get ready for Seattle.” Cincinnati went 6 of 10 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 23:07, while the Chiefs held on to the pigskin for 36:53 and went 7 of 16 on third down.

The series is even at 9-9 and the Bengals lead in scoring 388-350. They last met in 2011 in Seattle with the Bengals coming out of the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks with a 34-12 win, while Seattle’s last win in the series also came in Seattle in 2007 by a 24-21 final. Cincy’s favored by 3 and the over/under comes in at 44. Seattle looks to break up the Bengal party in Cincy, while the Bengals have a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentaliity. Cincy covers the 3 and stays unbeaten for at least another week.

Jacksonville (1-3) at Tampa Bay (1-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and and DirecTV 711. They’re separated by 201 miles and a 3 hour drive down I-95 and I-4. They meet for only the sixth time as Jacksonville travels south to face the Buccaneers in Tampa. Both teams come into the Sunshine State contest with losses in their ledgers.

Jacksonville let a 13-10 lead at Indianapolis (who was playing without Andrew Luck under center) at the half before the Colts rallied thanks to a pair of Adam Vinatieri field goals to fall 16-13 in overtime. Jacksonville held Indy to 60 yards rushing, while they tallied 142 yards of their own and managed to sack back up QB Matt Hasslebeck three times in the Hoosier State. Both teams played a turnover-free contest but both teams had problems converting on third down (Jacksonville was 7 of 18, Indy was 7 of 15). Time was the ally of Jacksonville, who kept the ball for 36:10 to Indy’s 34:14.

Jameis Winston and the Bucs trailed Cam Newton and Carolina 17-10 at the intermission in Tampa last Sunday before the defending NFC South champions ran away in the second half, as the Buccaneers were outscored in the second half 20-13. Although Tampa Bay outrushed Carolina 141-133, Winston (287 passing yards) was tapped for four interceptions, while being sacked twice, despite throwing a pair of TDs. Winston’s Heisman counterpart Newton threw for 124 yards and a pair of TDs without an interception. Carolina’s defense forced five turnovers in the win, while the offense went 3 of 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 27:52. Tampa Bay kept the ball for 32:08 and went 8 of 16 on third down but was perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2.

This is only the sixth meeting between the intra-state rivals and Jacksonville leads the series 4-1, has outscored the Buccaneers 127-88 and has won the last four meetings, including a 2011 win in Jacksonville by a final of 41-14, while the Bucs won the first meeting in 1995 in Tampa Bay by a slim 17-16 margin.

In spite of their record, the Buccaneers are favored by 3 with a 45 1/2 over/under. Both numbers make sense and this one might actually be worth the time to watch. Tampa Bay recovers from the drubbing they got last week and takes it out on Jacksonville, covering the 3.

Buffalo (2-2) at Tennessee (1-2), 1 p.m on CBS and DirecTV 712. Coming off a tough loss and a bye week, Tenneessee and Marcus Mariotta welcomes the Buffalo Bills to the Music City for an AFC matchup in the Volunteer State.

Buffalo trailed the New York Giants 16-3 at the half in Orchard Park and could never recover, falling to the Giants 24-10. The contest along the shores of Lake Erie was not one for the offenese as neither club dented the 100 yard rushing barrier (New York had 92, Buffalo had 55) and Manning burned the Bills with three TD passes in the contest. Third down tries in the contest could be described in one word… both teams were dismal (New York was 3 of 15, while Buffalo was 3 of 16 and 1 of 3 on fourth down). Time of possession favored the Giants, who kept the ball for 30:33 to Buffalo’s 29:27.

The Titans had a bye last week after their 38-35 loss to Indy two weeks ago in the Music City. The Titans made it a 2-point game late when FB Jalston Fowler scored on a 1-yard run with 47 seconds left. Tennessee then chose to go for two to tie things up and perhaps send the contest into overtime but Fowler’s run attempt failed as he scrambled to get in but could not. Indy then ran out the clock and took the win out of Music City. Indy outrushed Tennessee 133-88 and the Colts forced a pair of turnovers for the win. The two teams struggled on third down tries in the contest, with Indy going 4 of 11, while Tennessee was 4 of 13. That was the bad news. The good news was that each did well on fourth down tries, finding success on their only try in the contest. Even though they lost by 2, the Titans did win the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 34:59 to Indy’s 25:01.

Including contests that were played when the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers, Tennessee leads the series 27-14, has outscored the Bills 911-801 and has won the last five contests in the series, including a 35-34 win in 2012 in upstate New York (BUffalo’s last win in the series came in upstate New York in 2000 by a 16-13 count). Buffalo’s favored by 4 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Both clubs are actually better than their records and this could become a close affair. Bills circle the wagons in the Music City and covers the 4.

Chicago (1-3) at Kansas City (1-3),  1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 707. A pair of 1-3 teams meet in the Great Midwest as Da Bears travel to Kansas City to face off with the Chiefs.

Da Bears led Oakland 16-14 at the half and managed to hold off the Raiders in the Windy City 22-20. Chicago outrushed Oakland 98-70 at Soldier Field last Sunday and despite being sacked three times, Jay Cutler did manage to throw three TDs passes in the win. Chicago on third down tries in the Windy City went 10 of 17 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:22, while the Silver and Black kept the pigskin for all of 26:38, while going 6 of 14 on third downs.

The Chiefs return to Arrowhead in hopes of righting their ship with a 36-21 loss at Cincinnati under their belts. Cincy led Alex Smith and Kansas City 14-12 at halftime at Paul Brown Stadium and outscored the Chiefs in the second half 22-9. The Bengals outrushed Kansas City 124-113 and sacked Smtih five times in the contest. Cincinnati went 6 of 10 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 23:07, while the Chiefs held on to the pigskin for 36:53 and went 7 of 16 on third down.

Da Bears lead the series 6-5 but Kansas City has outscored Chicago 207-167. Kansas City won the last meeting with Chicago in 2011, taking a 10-3 win in the Windy City, while the Chiefs’ last win came in 2007, also in the Windy City by a final of 20-10. Kansas City’s favored by 10 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. The 46 1/2 makes sense. The 10 points? REALLY? Neither team is that good right now but it’s still early in the season. You might want to avoid this one (unless you’re a fan of one of the teams) and watch that “NCIS” marathon on USA (Ziva may get some American sayings wrong but when she headslaps Tony, it’s really funny!). Chiefs may not cover the 10 but they win at home.

Cleveland (1-3) at Baltimore (1-3), 1 p.m on CBS and DirecTV 709. A pair of 1-3’s meet in Charm City looking to stay out of the cellars of their respective divisions.

The Ravens got three Jeff Tucker field goals, including a 50-yarder in overtime in the Steel City to beat Pittsburgh 23-20. Justin Forsett (150) and Pittsburgh LaDavion Bell (129) each led their teams in rushing as both clubs managed to crack the 100-yard barrier (Baltimore had 191-167). Joe Flacco managed to out pace Michael Vick (who took over for Ben Roethlisberger) in passing yardage 189-124, with each man connecting on a TD pass. Third down tries in the overtime Thursday night affair did not have fans of either team shouting for joy (Baltimore was 6 of 17 and 1 of 4 on fourth down, while Pittsburgh was 2 of 13 and 0 of 2) and that was the bad news. The good news? Baltimore in addition to winning the game won the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 37:43 to Pittsburgh’s 32:09.

Cleveland comes to the East Coast with a 30-27 last second loss under their belts. The Browns managed to tie things up at 27-27 when Josh McCown and TE Gary Banbridge connected on a 1-yard TD pass with 2:09 left in regulation. Cleveland could have had the game go into overtime when Chargers K Josh Lambo missed a 39-yard field goal try as time expired. There was one small glitch in that plan… Cleveland was offside, which meant the game could not end on a defensive penalty and with the five extra yards, Lambo connected on a 34-yarder to take the win. Cleveland outrushed the Bolts 100-91 but McCown was sacked four times in the game, despite throwing a pair of TDs, while Philip Rivers threw three TDs. If you’re a fan of third down conversions, this game was not for you as Cleveland was 4 of 13 and the Chargers were not much better at 3 of 11. Time of possession did favor Cleveland at 34:19 to San Diego’s 25:41.

Baltimore leads the series 24-8, has outscored the Browns 725-455 and has won 13 of the last 14 meetings, including sweeping the series in 2014 (Cleveland’s last win in the series came in 2013, when the Browns won along the shores of Lake Erie by a final of 24-18).

They met in week three in Cleveland and the Ravens needed a pair of Jeff Tucker field goals to win 23-21. Tucker’s second FG, a 32 yarder, came as the clock struck :00. Baltimore outrushed Cleveland 160-91 and Joe Flacco threw a TD pass to help the Ravens. Neither club was impressive on third down conversions in the first meeting (Baltimore was 4 of 12 and 0 of 1 on fourth down, while Cleveland was 5 of 11) but the clock favored Baltimore, who held the ball for 30:55 to Cleveland’s 29:05.

Game two was in Charm City and Baltimore closed out Cleveland’s season, sending the Browns to a 20-10 loss. Once again, Baltimore outrushed Cleveland 129-109, while Flacco threw a pair of TDs without an interception. Both teams were plagued on third down tries in the second contest (Baltimore was 4 of 13 and 0 of 1 on fourth down, while Cleveland was 3 of 13 on third down but 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the clock was the ally of the Browns this time, as Cleveland kept the ball for 30:43 to Baltimore’s 29:17.

The Ravens won the week three contest by 2 points, covering the spread of 1 and both clubs covered the 41 1/2 over/under by scoring 44 points. In the second meeting, which closed out the season for the Browns, the Ravens again covered the spread (9), winning by 10 but neither club reached the 42 over/under, scoring only 30. Baltimore’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 44. Both teams are actually better than their 1-3 records and that’s a good thing. The bad thing is that there can be only one winner. Ravens take this one nevermore, although they may not cover the 6 1/2.

New Orleans (1-3) at Philadelphia (1-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 708. It’s gumbo vs. Philly cheesesteak as the Saints march into the City of Brotherly Love to face the 1-3 Eagles in Philly.

Last week in the Big Easy, Dallas rallied with a late fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to Terrance Williams but it was Brees and WR C.J. Spiller connected on a 80 yard TD pass in overtime to win 26-20. Dallas managed to tie things up in regualtion when Weeden and Williams connected on a 17 yard TD pass to force the tie. New Orleans had a chance to win the Sunday night contest in regulation but K Dustin Hooker’s 31-yard field goal try hit the uprights, sending the contest to the extra period. New Orleans wasted very little time if any in the extra period as they wone the coin toss and used only two plays to take the win, with the biggest play coming when Drew Brees and WR C.J. Spiller connected on a 80 yard TD pass (the second play in overtime) for the win. Dallas managed to outrush New Orleans 115-103 and Weeden did throw a 17 yard TD pass to Williams with 1:51 to play in regulation. Dallas on third down tries went 3 of 12 (1 of 1 on fourth down), while keeping the ball for 29:20, while the Saints picked up their first win, going 6 of 13 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 30:53, including overtime.

The Eagles let a 20-16 lead at Washington out of their grasp as they fell to Redskins 23-20 in Landover last Sunday. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 290 yards, rushed for a touchdown and threw the game-winning TD pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds remaining in the game. Garçon had the final three catches (30 yards) on the game-winning drive, including the four-yard touchdown. Washington in the come from behind win over their NFC East rivals outrushed the Eagles 127-87 and forced a pair of Philly fumbles in the win. The ‘Skins on third down conversions went 9 of 17 and kept the ball for 41:08, using part of that time for the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, while the Eagles were 4 of 12 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for a mere 18:52.

Philly leads the series 15-11 and have outscored the Saints 596-518. New Orleans did win the last two meetings with the Eagles, with the last one coming in 2012 in the Big Easy by a final of 28-13, while the Eagles’ last win also came in the Big Easy in 2007, a 38-23 decision. The Eagles are favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. Eagles make this one closer than the 4 1/2 but New Orleans picks up their second win in a row in the City of Brotherly Love.

St. Louis (2-2) at Green Bay (4-0) 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710. Green Bay looks to stay unbeaten as they host the Rams in the land of beer, cheese and bratwurst.

The Rams will attempt to knock off an unbeaten team for the second consecutive week. St. Louis is coming off a 24-22 victory over Arizona, which had entered the game with a 3-0 mark.

Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley rushed for 146 yards last week in his first career start. Gurley, who had 106 yards in the fourth quarter, is the first rookie drafted in the first round to rush for at least 100 yards in the fourth quarter since Adrian Peterson in 2007. Wide receiver Tavon Austin had two touchdowns catches in the win over the Cardinals and is one of two players (Arizona’s David Johnson) in the NFL this season to have a touchdown via rushing, receiving and returning. St. Louis outrushed Arizona 164-133 and sacked Carson Palmer four times in the win. Third down tries? Not a lot to write home about. St. Louis? 5 of 13. Arizona? 2 of 11 (they did manage to find some success on fourth down, going 1 of 2) and the clock favored Arizona, who held the ball for 33:13 to St. Louis’ 26:47.

“Todd came out this week and exploded,” says Austin about Gurley.

Green Bay moved to 4-0 with a 17-3 win at San Francisco and Packers hold a two-game lead in the NFC North.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw a touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers in the win over the 49ers, has 11 touchdowns and no interceptions this season for a league-best 125.9 passer rating. That is the third-most touchdown passes without an interception by a quarterback in his team’s first four games to begin a season in NFL history.

“We’re excited to get to 4-0,” says Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. “That’s the most important part for our football team. We have a ton of work to do and we’ll continue to work. We’ll get back at it and get ready for St. Louis.”

Green Bay led 7-3 at the half and outscored San Francisco 10-0 in the second half to take the 17-3 win at Levis’ Stadium. The Packers outrushed the 49ers 162-77, while sacking QB Colin Kaepernick six times on the Left Coast. Both clubs did struggle on third down conversions in northern California (Green Bay was 5 of 13 but 2 of 2 on fourth down, while San Francisco was 4 of 13 and 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Packers kept the ball for 36:34 to San Francisco’s 23:26.

Including contests that were played in Cleveland before the Rams moved west to Los Angeles and then to St. Louis and the Packers played some games in Milwaukee, St. Louis leads the series 45-44-2 and have outscored Green Bay 2,095-2,070. However, the Packers have won the last four contests, including a 30-20 win in St. Louis in 2012, while St. Louis’ last win in the series came in 2006 in Lambeau by a fina of 23-20.

Green Bay’s a 10 1/2 point favorite and the over/under’s 47 1/2. St. Louis might make this one intersting but the Pack prevails in the land of bratwurst, beer and cheese and may cover the 10 1/2.

Arizona (3-1) at Detroit (0-4), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Arizona travels to the Motor City to face the winless Lions who are in the NFC North cellar. Both teams lost close contests last week and both look to keep their fan bases happy.

The Desert Angry Birds trailed throughout their contest with St. Louis last Sunday in Glendale and eventually lost to the Rams 24-22. St. Louis’ Todd Gurley rushed for 146 yards last week in his first career start. Gurley, who had 106 yards in the fourth quarter, is the first rookie drafted in the first round to rush for at least 100 yards in the fourth quarter since Adrian Peterson in 2007. Wide receiver Tavon Austin had two touchdowns catches in the win over the Cardinals and is one of two players (Arizona’s David Johnson) in the NFL this season to have a touchdown via rushing, receiving and returning. Arizona was outrushed by the Rams 164-133 and Carson Palmer found himself getting sacked four times in the loss. Time was the ally of the Desert Angry Birds, who kept the ball for 33:13, while the Rams held it for 26:47. Third down conversions were not a thing of beauty for either the Desert Angry Birds or the Rams as St. Louis was 5 of 13, while Arizona 2 of 11 (but the Cards did reasonalbly well on fourth down, going 1 of 2).

The Lions look to right their ship at Ford Field Sunday afternoon after their controversial 13-10 loss to the Seahawks last Monday night. Lions fans were roaring mad when WR Calvin Johnson caught a pass and was leaning toward the goal line, when he had the ball knocked out of his arms. The ball was lodged loose and rolled in the end zone, where it was tipped out of bounds by a Seahawks player. Once again, the end zone became the 13th man for the Seahawks on a Monday night in a controversial win. After a scoreless first quarter, Seattle led 10-3 at the and then held off the Lions in the second half. The Lions were outrushed by Seattle, who were without the services of RB Marshawn Lynch 110-53 and forced three Seattle turnovers. Third down tries for the Lions were few and far between (Detroit was 3 of 12 and kept the ball for 27:56 seconds, while the Seahawks didn’t do much better, going 6 of 13 and held the ball for 32:04).

Including contests that were played in Portsmouth (the Lions old home) and Chicago before the Cards moved to St. Louis and then to Arizona, Detroit leads the series 31-27-5 and have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 1,130-1,020. However… the Desert Angry Birds have the upper hand in the series, winning the last six contest, including taking last year’s meeting in the desert by a final of 14-6 (Detroit’s last win in the series came in 2005, when they won in the Motor City 29-21.)

In the week 11 matchup in Glendale, Arizona led 14-6 at the half and shut out the Lions in the second half for the win. Detroit did manage to outrush Arizona 98-46 but Matthew Stafford was sacked four times in the 8-point loss at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cards went 8 of 14 on third down conversions, holding the ball for 30:43, while the Lions kept the ball for 29:17 and went 5 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

Arizona won the week 11 meeting, covering the 2 1/2 point spread, winning by 8. Neither club came anywhere near the 41 1/2  over/under, combining for only 20 points. Arizona’s a 3 point favorite in the Motor City and the over/under is 44. Arizona looks for some measure of revenge, while the Lions are looking for that first win. Desert Angry Birds cover the 3 and win in the Motor City.

New England (3-0) at Dallas (2-2), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots travel to JerryWorld to face off against the Romo-less Cowboys in a late-afternoon contest in the Lone Star State.

The Patriots had a bye in Week 4 and look to continue their winning ways. Including the postseason, they have won six games in a row, averaging 37.8 points per game. Brady, who was named the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for September, has completed 96 of 133 passes (72.2 percent) for 1,112 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions for a 119.6 passer rating. Two weeks ago in Foxboro, they took Jacksonville to the woodshed, beating the Jaguars 51-17. New England ran for 125 yards, while holding the Jaguars to 57. Both Brady and Blake Bortles each threw a pair of TDs in the contest and both men were sacked twice, which was all but decided after 45 minutes of play with New England leading 37-10. Inspire of the somewhat lopsided score, both clubs did quite well on third down tries (Jacksonville was 6 of 12; New England was 11 of 14) but the Jaguars failed in their only fourth down try in the contest. As far as the clock goes, time was the ally of New England, as the defending Super Bowl champs kept the ball for 34:40 to Jacksonville’s 25:20.

“Over the course of 16 games, you figure out where you’re at and which way your season is heading,” Brady told the Boston Globe. “We’ve just got to keep going.”

The Cowboys enter Week 5 with a 2-2 record and a share of first place in the NFC East with the New York Giants and Washington. Last week, Dallas rallied with a late fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to Terrance Williams but eventually fell to New Orleans in overtime 26-20. Luck was on the side of the Cowboys when Saints K Dustin Hocker clanged a 31-yard field goal try off the crossbar, sending the game into overtime. In the overtime, it was Drew Brees going to work quickly as he and WR C.J. Spiller connected on a 80 yard TD pass (the second play in overtime) for the win. Dallas managed to outrush New Orleans 115-103 and Weeden did throw a 17 yard TD pass to Williams with 1:51 to play in regulation. Dallas on third down tries went 3 of 12 (1 of 1 on fourth down), while keeping the ball for 29:20, while the Saints picked up their first win, going 6 of 13 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 30:53, including overtime.

“It’s tough but that’s what happens in this league,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten told WFAA-TV and the Dallas Morning News. “You have to regroup. This team doesn’t make excuses. We’ll get back at it.”

Dallas leads the series 7-4 and have outscored New England 234-216. However…. New England has come away winners in the last four meetings, with the last coming in Foxboro in 2011 20-16 (Dallas’ last win in the series? During the Clinton administration, when the Cowboys came out on top 12-6 in 1996). New England’s favored by 7 with a 49 over/under. Even though the Cowboys don’t have Romo and Bryant right now, this one does meet the criteria for “THE DRILL!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?)

After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 56 last June and dates a 41-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

Dallas will make this one interesting but New England reamains among the unbeaten and wins in the Lone Star State.

Denver (4-0) at Oakland (2-2), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. Throw out the records. These two AFC West rivals meet in northern California this Sunday. They haven’t liked each other in a long time.

Don’t expect anything to change now. It’s Hatfields vs. McCoys. Dogs vs. Cats. Capulets vs. Montagues.

Denver led the Vikings 13-10 at halftime at home and held off Minnesota in the final seconds to 23-20. RB Ronnie Hillman ran for 103 of Denver’s 144 (Minnesota ran for 113 yards, with Adrian Peterson rushing for 81) and the Broncos defense managed to sack QB Teddy Bridgewater seven times and force the fumble late in the contest that gave them the win. Denver went 2 of 9 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:06, while the Vikings kept it for 33:54 and went 6 of 16 on third downs (both teams had success on fourth down tries; Minnesota was 2 of 2, Denver went 1 of 1).

Oakland trailed Chicago 16-14 at the half and fell short, losing to Da Bears 22-20 in the Windy City. The Raiders were outrushed by Chicago 98-70 but did manage to sack Jay Cutler three times in the 2-point loss. Chicago on third down tries in the Windy City went 10 of 17 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:22, while the Silver and Black kept the pigskin for all of 26:38, while going 6 of 14 on third downs.

Including contests that were played in Los Angeles (yes, kids. The Raiders played in LA), Oakland leads the series 59-48-2 and they may have outscored Denver 2,351-2,258 but… Dener has won seven of the last eight contests, including sweeping the series last year (Oakland’s last win in the series came in 2011 in the Mile High City by a 23-20 final). They met in Oakland in week 10 and the Broncos took Oakland to the woodshed, taking a 41-17 win. Denver outrushed Oakland 118-30 and Peyton Manning threw five TDs despite being picked off twice in the first contest. Denver was 7 of 15 on third down tries in the AFC West contest (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:22, while Oakland held it for 27:38, going 5 of 18 on third down.

The second meeting took place in the Mile High City in week 17 and for the Broncos, “second verse, same as the first,” with Denver coming away with a 47-14 win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Once again, the Raider rushing game was held under 100 yards (67), while Denver ran for 142 in the lopsided win. Both clubs struggled on third down tries in the season finale, with Denver going 7 of 16 (1 of 1 on fourth down), while the Raiders were 5 of 15 (0 of 1 on fourth down) in the game. Time was on the side of the Broncos (apologies to Mick Jagger!) as they kept the ball for 33:01, while the Silver and Black held on to the pigskin for 26:59.

Denver covered the spread in both contests, winning by 24 in the week 10 contest (they were favored by 11 1/2) and by 33 in the season finale (denver was favored by 10). Both teams managed to cover the over/unders in both contests, combining for 48 in week 10 and 61 in week 17. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Broncos as 5 1/2 point favorites and the over/under is 45. Oakland’s actually a lot better than their 2-2 record but the Broncos are the defending AFC West champs and they’re unbeaten. Broncos cover the 5 1/2 and win in Cali.

San Francisco (1-3) at New York Giants (2-2), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. The final game of the fifth Sunday of the 2015 season takes place in upstate New Jersey as the Giants and Eli Manning host Colin Kaepernick and the struggling 49ers in prime time.

San Francisco trailed Green Bay 7-3 at the half and went on to be outscored by the Packers 10-0 in the second half to lose at home 17-3 at Levis’ Stadium. Kaepernick was sacked six time and the 49ers were held to 77 yards rushing, while the Packers tallied 162. Aaron Rodgers was almost surgical-like against San Francisco, throwing for 224 yards and a TD. As far as third down tries? Not a lot to make the fan base of either club happy in the 14-point loss. (Green Bay was 5 of 13 but 2 of 2 on fourth down, while San Francisco was 4 of 13 and 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Packers kept the ball for 36:34 to San Francisco’s 23:26.

Eli and Big Blue led Buffalo 16-3 at the half in Orchard Park and never looked back, as they downed the Bills 24-10. Neither club dented the 100 yard rushing barrier (New York had 92, Buffalo had 55) and Manning burned the Bills with three TD passes in the contest. Third down tries in the contest could be described in one word… dismal (New York was 3 of 15, while Buffalo was 3 of 16 and 1 of 3 on fourth down) but the clock was the ally of the Giants, who held the pigskin for 30:33 to the Bills’ 29:27.

The bi-coastal series is tied at 15-15 and the Giants have outscored San Francisco 579-563 (which includes contests that were played by the Giants at old Yankee Stadium and the Yale Bowl and at old Kezar Stadium for the 49ers before they moved to Candlestick Park). New York has seen victories in four of the last five meetings in the regular season, with the last Giants win coming in 2012 at Candlestick Park by a final of 26-3 (San Francisco’s last win in the series came in 2011, also at Candlestick by a 27-20 count. The Giants are favored by 7 and the over/under’s 43. This one is well worth watching in prime time, given that there are two decent QBs playing. It could be closer than 7 but in the end, Giants fans will give New Yorkers something to hold their heads high after the Yankees were knocked out of the MLB Postseson party. Giants win at home in the Meadowlands, even though they may not cover the 7.

Pittsburgh (2-2) at San Diego (2-2), 8:30 p.m. on ESPN. The action in week five closes out on the West Coast as the Steelers travel to San Diego to square off against the Chargers and Philip Rivers.

Last Thursday in the Steel City, Steelers RB Levon Bell ran for 129 of Pittsburgh’s 167 (Baltimore’s Justin Forsett ran for 150 and the Ravens had 191) but it was Baltimore K Jeff Tucker that nailed three field goals, the last one a 52-yarder in overtime to lose 23-20 at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh, without Ben Roethlisberger at QB and Michael Vick in his place, led 20-14 after three quarters of play at home before the Ravens rallied to tie things up and then take the win on the road. The Steeler offense was 0 for 2 on fourth down tries, including a fourth down try in overtime that would have allowed them to keep the ball (they 2 of 13 on third down) and held the ball for 32:09, while the Ravens kept the ball for 37:43 and went 6 of 17 and 1 of 4 on third and fourth down conversions.

San Diego came away with a 30-27 last second win against Cleveland at Qualcomm last Sunday. The Browns managed to tie things up at 27-27 when Josh McCown and TE Gary Banbridge connected on a 1-yard TD pass with 2:09 left in regulation. Cleveland almost had the game go into overtime when Chargers K Josh Lambo missed a 39-yard field goal try as time expired. There was one small glitch in that plan… Cleveland was offside, which meant the game could not end on a defensive penalty and with the five extra yards, Lambo connected on a 34-yarder to take the win. San Diego was outrushed 100-91 but Rivers managed to throw three TDs without being picked off. (Josh McCown was sacked four times in the game, despite throwing a pair of TDs.) If you’re a fan of third This one was not a fun one to watch as far as third down tries go. Cleveland was 4 of 13 and the Chargers were not much better at 3 of 11. Time of possession did favor Cleveland at 34:19 to San Diego’s 25:41.

Pittsburgh leads the series 21-7 and have outscored the Bolts 719-505. San Diego won the last meeting with Pittsburgh in 2012, winning 34-24 in the Steel City, while the Steelers’ last win in the series also came in the Steel City in 2009 by a final of 38-28. Monday night has been somewhat kind to both clubs, with both clubs above the .500 mark overall (Pittsburgh is 42-24 and won both Monday night contests they appeared in last year, while San Diego is 22-20 but lost their only MNF contest last year. The Chargers are favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Both teams are trying to go above the .500 mark, which means that this one could be a decent contest to watch, which means you might want to tape “Scopion,” “NCIS Los Angeles” and “Castle” this week. San Diego will make it hard for Vick and Pittsburgh but Steelers bounce back from the overtime loss at home last week and take this one and cover the 3 1/2.

when the final report on the Sandy Hook School shooting comes out, a name that many do not wish to hear will be mentioned only once and for good reason. In the report that was to be finalized February 13th, one day before many American school children exchange Valentines Cards and eat Valentine’s Day snacks until they erupt like tiny volcanones will have the man that caused Newton, Connecticut grief and misery will be mentioned by name only once.

The report will mention Adam Lanza by name at first in the report, which will be made public and then listed by AL for the remainder of the report.

The 20-year old Lanza began his rampage of murder and terror on December 12 of 2012 when he shot his mother Nancy at their house in Newtown before going to the school and proceeded to kill 20 students and six teachers before taking his own life.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s Report, according to the Hartford Courant and the Associated Press, also makes recommendations to school design and mental health services. The 16-member panel was convened by Connecticut governor Daniel Malloy and recently met in Hartford for one of their final public meetings.

The report also includes proposals for better communication between local and state police, designing new schools to keep out potentially violent intruders and upgrading mental health protocols to provide help for troubled students. It also recommended the state develop support teams to deploy to schools hit by attacks or other tragedies to help administrators manage security and personnel and provide mental health services during a crisis. Commission Chairman Scott Jackson told the Associated Press and the Hartford Courant, “This is an important day in our two-year odyssey. After creating an executive summary over the next two weeks, we will be ready to finalize and release this long-awaited report.”

The commission is also debating if there are going to be 27 victims, adding Lanza’s mother to the list. They should. After all, he was his first victim.

A draft of the dedication for the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s report references 26 victims. Commissioner Harold Schwartz asked at a hearing Friday why Nancy Lanza should not also be considered a victim. Although the commission ultimately agreed to leave her name out, Schwartz suggested mentioning her at least in a footnote.

“I’m not certain it is morally right to not acknowledge her as a victim,” said Schwartz, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

The role of Nancy Lanza, who often took her son to shooting ranges and bought the rifle he would use in the school massacre, has been a vexing question in Newtown. While friends have said she did her best raising a troubled son, a report by the state’s Office of the Child Advocate concluded she contributed to his isolation as she kept him at home, surrounded by an arsenal of firearms as he whiled away hours playing violent video games. Several commission members said they had no objection to leaving the dedication intact for the 26 people killed at the school. Commissioner Adrienne Bentman asked how other victims’ families might feel about seeing Nancy Lanza’s name on the same page with those of their loved ones. While that question is somewhat vexing, others think that Nancy Lanza was and is a victim and should be included in the report.

The commission chairman, Scott Jackson, said it is impossible to know how much responsibility Nancy Lanza bears.

“I think that’s why number 27 is always so difficult, because there’s so much we don’t know,” said Jackson, the mayor of Hamden.

On that day, which ironically was a Friday, school children all over the country and even in Newtown exchanged Valentine’s Day parties in their classrooms, exchaning cards and feasting on Valentine’s Day candy. There will be 20 fewer students and six fewer adults that were not with them. They were taken from us by AL and his hate and rage. Adam Lanza could have faced justice and the worst he could or would have gotten would have been the death penalty and even then he would be sitting on death row while the appeals process does what it needs to do. Instead, Adam Lanza or AL chose the coward’s way out, shooting himself. In a few months, the house where the horror started will be turned into rubble and will exist no more.

On February 13, the world no longer heard Adam Lanza’s name. He will be a distant memory that does not deserve to be mentioned or uttered in our lifetimes ever again. As a reporter covering the hangings of the Booth conspirators in 1865 wrote, “we wish to hear their names no more.” The report will have the 20 names listed in alphabetical order, a roll call for a class if you will. Their names deserve to be mentioned along with the six adults who were doing nothing more than being their teachers, mentors, protectors and friends. 20 angels, whose parents have been cheated out of seeing them in prom dresses or tuxes, caps and gowns and even wedding dresses will have the final word. On February 13, Sandy Hook and Newtown got their wish. Adam Lanza was and is a bad memory.

We say good riddance to bad rubbish.

She sent the world on a wild goose chase and when the chase was over, she paid for her actions and for crying wolf.

Susan Smith made headlines almost 20 years ago when she told the world that her two children, 3-year old Michael and 14-month old Alex, were abducted by an African-American male. The tables quickly turned on her when her children were found dead. Drowned as they were strapped in their car seats. Smith murdered her children by driving her car into John D. Long Lake, with the very first searches not finding the car at first because the police believed it would be within 30 feet of the shore and did not search farther. It later turned out to be 60 feet off-shore. After the boys were missing for 2 days, Smith and her ex-husband, David, were subjected to a polygraph test. The polygraph was inconclusive and it also showed that her claim to not know the location of her sons was a lie. Afterwards, during the interrogation, she accepted the results of the test, failing the same question on every polygraph test thereafter. At the intersection where she claimed to have been carjacked, no other cars appeared.
The biggest breakthrough of the case was her description of the carjacking location. She claimed that lights at the intersection where she stopped only turn red when a car approaches on the intersecting road. However, since she also claimed that no other cars were on the road at the time, she would have had no reason to stop at the intersection. That claim turned out to be false.

In a trial that would be rivaled only by the Casey Anthony trial, Smith’s defense psychiatrist diagnosed her with dependent personality disorder and major depression. Her father committed suicide when she was 6 years old and she rarely had a stable home life. It was also disclosed that she was molested in her teens by her stepfather, who not only admitted to it but also revealed that he had consensual sex with her as an adult. At 13, she attempted suicide. After graduating from high school in 1989, she made a second attempt to end her own life. She married David and had the two sons but the relationship was rocky due to mutual allegations of infidelity forcing the couple to separate several times.

She was eventually found guilty, she was sentenced to life in prison for murdering her children and will be eligible for parole on November 4, 2024, after serving a minimum of thirty years. At that time, she will be 53 years old.

In an interview with Nancy Grace on HLN, her former husband David said that “I believed her 100%. I’ve said that all along, that I thought Susan would have been the last person to ever hurt Michael and Alex.”  The infamous killer mom made headlines this month after one of Susan Smith’s alleged former jail mates spoke to the National Enquirer.

According to the National Enquirer report, Susan Smith’s former jail mate claims the convicted killer paid her to watch for guards while she indulged in sexual rendezvous with her girlfriend in prison closets and the cafeteria freezer.

“Susan gets money from men she meets through prison pen pal web­sites and she’d put $30 to $50 a week in my prison commissary ac­count,” Susan Smith’s alleged former jail mate told the National Enquirer.

What did David Smith have to say about the scandalous report?

“It doesn’t surprise me with Susan,” her ex-husband told Grace. “She’s very convincing. She was always very sneaky. She always had to have her way or no way. So Susan’s going to do something to always get the attention, get the spotlight on her or get it back on her. Whichever it may be.”

Has Smith stayed out of trouble since her conviction? Hardly. She was first incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Unit in the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina. While in prison, two correctional officers have been punished for having sex with Smith: Lt. Houston Cagle and Capt. Alfred R. Rowe, Jr. Consequently, she was moved to a prison in Greenwood where she is currently held at Leath Correctional Institution. In 2003, she placed a personal ad at WriteAPrisoner.com, which has since been retracted.

Susan Smith’s defense attorney David Bruck refused to give HLN a comment Monday and in 2010, Susan Smith filed a handwritten appeal claiming prosecutorial misconduct.

Susan Smith could have been anything. She could have made a better life for herself and her children, despite her circumstances in her youth. The molestation did not give her a license to kill her children, who would be in college by now had they lived or given a chance to live. The spot where they drowned is now a shrine in their memory. Instead, Susan Smith sits in a prison cell in the Palmetto State, being told when to get up, when to eat and even when to go to bed. Life without parole. Her lies caught up with her. Karma has really big teeth and the day that she was found guilty by a jury of her peers was the day Karma bit and bit hard. Maybe she had her reasons that we don’t know and will never be privy to for her actions. Is she a sociopath? Probalby. Cold, heartless, callous? Maybe.

Nearly 20 years ago, a young mother told the world that her children were missing, kidnapped. In the end, the children were not kidnapped. They were dead and their death was at the hand of their mother, who was supposed to be their guide, guardian and protector.

Susan Smith in that task failed and it cost her children and marriage. Her actions denied her and her former husband to see Michael and Alex grow up, never teach them to drive, watch them grow up to go to the prom, graduate from high school or college, get married or have their own children. She didn’t just do this to her ex-husband, she did it to herself and it cost her everything.

Including her freedom.