‚This is the first time in my career to be 5-0,” says Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. ‚I’m very proud of this team.  It’s important to start fast.  But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  It only gets tougher from here on out.”

And ‚here on out” starts in Week 6 for four of the five unbeatens.

While the Colts enjoy a bye this week, the other four undefeated teams will all face clubs with a .500 or better record.  And that includes a matchup between the 5-0 Giants and 4-0 Saints at the Louisiana Superdome.

‚It’s going to be a great atmosphere at the Superdome with two undefeated teams,” says Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was born in New Orleans and will play in his hometown for the first time.  ‚The Saints are playing really well. They’re a really talented team so it should be fun. I’m looking forward to the experience.”

New Orleans currently sits atop the NFC South, one season after finishing in last place. In fact, six of the eight divisions currently have new teams in first place from a year ago. If that holds, it will tie the 2003 and 2008 seasons for the most new division winners in a single season.

So while things are going well for the unbeatens, there’s still plenty of football left.

‚It’s good to be 5-0,” says Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, ‚but we don’t want to be 5-1.”

He’s right.  Because in this league, things can turn quickly. And the past has proven that.

Since the current 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, 11 teams have rebounded from being at least three games under .500 after the season’s first five weeks or later to qualify for the postseason. Of those 11, six won the division, including last year’s San Diego Chargers, who won the AFC West after a 4-8 start.

And that’s the NFL, which is always full of surprises.

Some of the key games in Week 6:

(Sunday, ESPN America, 7:00 PM CET)     

This Sunday’s contest at the Metrodome will feature two teams with offenses that pound the ball on the ground and defenses that stop the run. Since the start of the 2007 season, the Vikings have been the league’s best in rushing offense (150.1 yards per game) and run defense (78.2).  Meanwhile, the Ravens‘ ground game ranks fourth (130.8) over that span and their rushing defense is second (79.7).

Minnesota’s run game is led by Adrian Peterson, who leads the NFC with 481 rushing yards and tops the league with seven rushing touchdowns.  The Pro Bowl running back has led the conference in rushing in each of his first two seasons and will face a defense that has allowed just one 100-yard performance in the past 40 games.

Through the first five weeks of the season, teams with a 300-yard passer have a combined record of 23-8 (.742).  The 23 combined wins for clubs with a 300-yard passer are the most in NFL history through the first five weeks of a season.


For the Ravens, running backs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee have split carries to form a potent duo.  Rice ranks seventh in the NFL with 364 rushing yards and McGahee is tied with Peterson for the league lead with seven total touchdowns. The tandem will face a squad that has led the NFL in Joe Flacco and Minnesota’s Brett Favre are tied for fourth in the NFL with nine touchdown passes. Favre has passed for at least two touchdowns in 10 consecutive games at the Metrodome, the longest streak in one stadium since Kurt Warner‘s 12 games in a row at the Edward Jones Dome from 1999-2000.

(Sunday, FOX, 1:00 PM ET)            

A showdown between two unbeaten teams will take place in the Louisiana Superdome this weekend.

The Giants, who are 5-0 for the third time in franchise history, are coming off an impressive 44-7 win over Oakland.  New York outgained the Raiders 483-124 in total yards and rushed for 220 yards.  Running back Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 110 yards on 11 carries (10.0 average) and scored two touchdowns.  Quarterback Eli Manning provided the air attack, posting the fourth perfect passer rating (158.3) by a Giants QB since 1960 (minimum 10 attempts).

The Saints, who had a bye in Week 5, are 4-0 for the third time in team history.  The club tops the NFL averaging 36 points per game and is led by quarterback Drew Brees, who has a league-best 14,941 passing yards since joining New Orleans in 2006.

‚This game is going to be a real test for us,” says Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce. ‚The Saints are going to be prepared.  They’re a well-coached team.  They’re playing well on both offense and defense.  It’s one of our biggest challenges so far.”

(Sunday, ESPN America, 02:00 AM CET)     

A pair of 3-1 teams will be in the spotlight on Sunday night when the Falcons host the Bears.

Atlanta was impressive last weekend in a 45-10 victory at San Francisco, the largest margin of victory against the 49ers at Candlestick Park since the team began playing there in 1971.

Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White are the new ‘Triplets,’” NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders says about the Falcons‘ quarterback, running back and wide receiver trio.

In the victory against San Francisco, Ryan passed for a career-high 329 yards, Turner rushed for three touchdowns and White had eight catches for a franchise-record 210 receiving yards with two touchdowns.

The Bears, who had a bye last week, enter this game with a three-game winning streak.  At 3-1, the team is off to its best start since 2006, when Chicago advanced to Super Bowl XLI.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has recorded a passer rating of at least 100 in three consecutive games, the first Bears QB to accomplish the feat since the statistic was introduced in 1973.  In his career, when Cutler has posted a 100+ rating, his teams are a perfect 13-0.  In the backfield, Chicago running back MATT FORTÉ is one of only two players (Houston’s Steve Slaton) in the NFL with at least 1,500 rushing yards (1,509) and 500 receiving yards (569) since the start of the 2008 season.

(Monday, ESPN America, 2:30 AM CET)     

Two AFC West rivals will meet on Monday night when the red-hot Broncos, who are 5-0 for the first time since their last Super Bowl season in 1998, visit the defending division champion Chargers.

‚We’ve won five games,” says Denver head coach Josh Mc Daniels. ‚But we can play better and we can coach better.  And we’ll need to in order to keep winning.”

The Broncos, who are allowing a league-low 8.6 points per game, are coming off an exhilarating 20-17 overtime victory over New England.  The defense held the Patriots scoreless after halftime and quarterback Kyle Orton passed for 330 yards and two scores, guiding the team on a 98-yard drive to tie the game in the fourth quarter.

San Diego had a bye in Week 5 and the team is looking forwarded to getting back on the field.

‚This is a big stretch of our season,” says Chargers tight Antonio Gates. ‚We had a chance to regroup a little bit, reevaluate what’s going on and now we’ll try and get on a roll in these division games.” 

(OCTOBER 11-12)

Byes: Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Diego


Sunday, October 11

Sunday, October 11, cont’d

Cincinnati 17, BALTIMORE 14

Atlanta 45, SAN FRANCISCO 10

Cleveland 6, BUFFALO 3

ARIZONA 28, Houston 21

CAROLINA 20, Washington 17

DENVER 20, New England 17 (OT)

Pittsburgh 28, DETROIT 20

SEATTLE 41, Jacksonville 0

Dallas 26, KANSAS CITY 20 (OT)

Indianapolis 31, TENNESSEE 9

N.Y. GIANTS 44, Oakland 7


PHILADELPHIA 33, Tampa Bay 14

Monday, October 12

Minnesota 38, ST. LOUIS 10

MIAMI 31, N.Y. Jets 27


(OCTOBER 18-19)
(All times local)

Byes: Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, San Francisco


Sunday, October 18

Sunday, October 18, cont’d

Houston at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Philadelphia at Oakland, 1:05 PM

Detroit at Green Bay, 12:00 PM

Arizona at Seattle, 1:05 PM

St. Louis at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM

Tennessee at New England, 4:15 PM

Baltimore at Minnesota, 12:00 PM

Buffalo at N.Y. Jets, 4:15 PM

N.Y. Giants at New Orleans, 12:00 PM

Chicago at Atlanta, 8:20 PM (NBC)

Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM


Carolina at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Monday, October 19

Kansas City at Washington, 1:00 PM

Denver at San Diego, 5:30 PM (ESPN)

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