Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 9:47 AM
The changing face of the National Football League may have a new face: It wasn't all that long ago - heck, just go back a few weeks ago, if you wish - to understand that the NFL's real public image was QB Peyton Manning and maybe even Green Bay slinger Aaron Rodgers but wake up today on the 8th day of October in 2012 and you could make the case that Indianapolis' new QB Andrew Luck will be the real glamour boy of the NFL in the not-too-distant future.
No doubt Luck's ability/talent/determination to bring the Colts back from a 21-3 deficit to a 30-27 win against the Packers in Week 5 action on Sunday afternoon was (or should have been) the major headliner this past weekend as a "Win One for the Gipper"mantra was the deal for cancer-plagued Indy coach Chuck Pagano and his team but say what you will about the league's newest stars and we say Luck will be the biggest/brightest of 'em all!
Let's just say that Luck - 31-of-55 passing for 362 yards and two TDs against Green Bay - flicked the switch that not all the great pro athletes are able to flick come crunch time and so the transformation from Manning's old team to Luck's new team continues right before our very eyes but hear us out:
Luck will have a larger impact on the NFL than the four-time MVP Manning ever did because - you can really just feel it - the Colts will win more than a single Super Bowl crown in this kid's career plus the fact he can make things happen with his legs will be ultra-important (note that Luck rushed 6 times for 24 yards in the Week 5 comeback victory).
As it turns out, Luck marched the Colts 80 yards on 13 plays to give 'em the lead with 35 seconds left, thanks to a four-yard scoring strike to favorite target WR Reggie Wayne (13 receptions for 212 yards and the one score) and keep in mind that Luck converted three different third-down plays in that final drive - if he already doesn't strike you as the "real deal"than we must be watching different games!
Now here's the here-and-now trick: The Colts are 2-2 SU (straight-up) this year with thrilling home wins against Minnesota and Green Bay and don't look now but Indianapolis could win two-of-three or all three of their next three games: At New York Jets, home to winless Cleveland and at wobbly Tennessee
Hey, what happens if Luck's Colts go to the playoffs this year and Manning's Denver Broncos don't? Now that would be a scoop, eh?
Okay, so let's take a look at a couple of other monstrous stories in NFL Week 5 play ...
ATLANTA 24, WASHINGTON 17 - No doubt the concussion suffered by Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III stole all the post-game headlines here but what about these perfect Falcons (5-0)?
On a day when veteran QB Matt Ryan threw an inexplicable pick six to a down lineman (see DE Ryan Kerrigan) and Atlanta PK Billy Cundiff missed yet another gimme field-goal try (see 31 yards out), the Falcons somehow survived in the nation's capital as this underrated Atlanta defense picked off Griffin's replacement - fellow rookie QB Kirk Cousins - twice in the game's final two minutes.
Hey, hats off to Ryan for leading Atlanta on three scoring drives (two TDs and a FG) in the fourth quarter and kudos to never-gets-old TE Tony Gonzalez for his star-spangled day (see 13 catches for 123 yards and one TD) but the truth is the Falcs these days make all the plays you have to make to stay perfect whether it was WR Roddy White's great 59-yard catch last week against Carolina that set up Matt Bryant's game-winning FG or whether it was WR Julio Jones' nifty 18-yard tip-toe catch here in Landover.
Now the Falcons welcome in the woefully erratic Oakland Raiders into the Georgia Dome this Sunday, followed by the Atlanta bye week and than a trip to Philadelphia in Week 8.
Sink your teeth into that one against old pal Michael Vick - talk about your great theatre!
NEW ORLEANS 31, SAN DIEGO 24 - Let's just say that the SD Chargers can't be blamed if their first words following this one was "we wuz robbed"as the "real"officials really appeared to give the Bolts the short end of the stick here with some bogus late-game penalties including an offensive pass interference call against TE Antonio Gates that was downright criminal!
On a night when mega-popular New Orleans QB Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas' 52-year-old mark of most consecutive games with a touchdown pass - Brees is now at 48 games and counting - the beloved "Who Dat"Nation had reason to party after Brees aired four scoring strikes and lit up the Chargers with a heavy dose of WR Marques Colston (9 catches for 131 yards and 3 TDs) who allegedly was playing here on a bum ankle.
Hey, the Chargers can't blame anyone but themselves for letting the Brees-Colston combo go wild and shame on San Diego for not getting lame OT Jared Gaither out of the lineup late before his defender created a strip-sack of QB Philip Rivers - another case of Chargers head coach Norv Turner being asleep at the wheel!
So, the Saints have finally "scratched"into the win column but the N'Orleans defense remains shoddy (see 427 yards allowed or 6.6 yards per San Diego offensive play) and without suspended head coach Sean Payton - yes, NBC must have flashed 500 shots of Payton sitting in a high-above suite - the Saints don't even feel like real contenders this year. Still, gotta start somewhere, right?
Tonight, it's ...HOUSTON (4-0) at NEW YORK JETS (2-2) - 8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
You could make the case that the Houston Texans - who've won games this year by 20, 20 and 24 points already - are the best team in all the NFL but you also would not be wrong to proclaim Gary Kubiak's crew has not even scratched the surface of this team's overall talent level.
In fact, the Texans have left plenty of points out there on the field already this year and still this AFC West squad is averaging 31.5 points per game and WR Andre Johnson has just 16 receptions and two TDs ... hmm.
On the flip side, Houston's J.J. Watt - declared to be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year by a couple of the TV brainiacs this past Sunday - sports an NFL-best 7 ½ sacks so far and he's probably licking his chops at this very moment wondering how many times he'll get his mitts on Jets' QB Mark Sanchez who has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in each of the past three weeks. You've heard it before and will hear it again here: The Jets' offensive line has been downright awful this year (did someone say three Pro Bowlers on board in C Nick Mangold, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and RB Brandon Moore - all of whom have regressed badly this year).
For the Jets - no CB Darrelle Revis; no WR Santonio Holmes.
Spread Notes - Houston has banged out four consecutive pointspread wins to start off this year and the Texans are a collective 12-3-1 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites since late in the 2010 campaign. Meanwhile, the Jets are 1-2-1 spreadwise so far this season and did you know that Rex Ryan's club is a dead-even but vig-losing 13-13 against the odds in all home games in the Ryan Era that started in 2009?
NOTE: Catch our Mid-Week Update in the next Jim Sez as we tackle all the latest NCAA Football News & Notes plus we'll get you the NFL Week 6 Thursday Night Preview between the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Tennessee Titans.