By Eric Schmidt

Five weeks are in the books for the NFL regular season, and there are some interesting trends occurring. New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees is putting up some very strong numbers once again this year, in spite of the Saints struggles. One unlikely division has emerged as the toughest so far this season. A veteran receiver is poised for a very strong season with a rookie quarterback and an unlikely quarterback was the last starter to throw a pick in 2012.

Drew Brees leads all quarterbacks with 14 touchdowns so far this season, despite the Saints having a 1-4 record. Brees, along with Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford all threw for over 5,000 yards last season. Brees set the single season passing yardage record, throwing for 5,476 yards. This season, he is on pace to break his own record. Only Eli Manning is the other quarterback on pace to eclipse the 5,000 yard mark. He nearly achieved the feat last year, finishing with 4,933 yards.

Kevin Kolb despite only starting four games, leads all quarterbacks with 22 sacks. He hit the ground an astonishing 9 times against the St. Louis Rams last Thursday night. Aaron Rodgers is right behind him with 21 sacks. Christian Ponder was the last of the starting quarterbacks to toss an interceptions this season, throwing two on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Despite an impressive showing as a rookie, Ryan Tannehill has just two touchdown passes on the season so far.

In the ground game, two backs have posted 200 yard efforts so far this season, Ahmad Bradshaw and Jamaal Charles. Despite only one 100-yard effort this season, Chris Johnson’s struggles continue, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. Johnson is on pace to fall short of even the 700 yard mark this season.

Stevan Ridley leads all running backs with 37 carries which have resulted in first downs while Arian Foster is the only running back averaging one touchdown per game (5).

Brian Hartline leads the NFL in receiving yardage, but by just one yard over Demaryius Thomas. Reggie Wayne, behind rookie QB Andrew Luck continues to lead the league in targets with 60. Victor Cruz took the NFL by storm last season with his salsa dances in the endzone and an 18.7 yard average. Cruz is only averaging 11.8 yards per reception this season, but leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 5.

The league is filled with talented young tight ends but one venerable veteran leads them all in many statistical categories. Tony Gonzalez leads all tight ends in receiving yards, with 388. He also leads all receivers in first downs and receptions. (and he’s contemplating retirement?)

On the defensive side of the ball, J.J. Watt leads the league with 8.5 sacks. The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals lead in team sacks with 18. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders have reached opposing quarterbacks the least, recording just 3 sacks each.

The much ballyhooed and high priced Buffalo Bills defense has found it’s way into the record books, but for the wrong reasons. The Bills have been gashed this season and are allowing 449 yards per game and a league high 32.5 points per game. Last Sunday, they became the first team in league history to allow 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in the same game.The Bills have also allowed the league worst 176 points against.

The Chicago Bears defense has made a splash this season. Tied for league totals in sacks, the Bears have also score five defensive touchdowns. They have had two defensive players score touchdowns in games in back-to-back weeks. The Bears are also third in points allowed with 71.

New England and Atlanta are tied for the best takeaway/giveaway ration with +10. The Kansas City Chiefs are worst at -15.

Many pundits suggest that the adage, defense wins championships is dead. However, the four teams with the lowest points allowed this season- San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Houston, have a combined 16-2 record. Two of those teams, San Francisco and Seattle are in the surprising NFC West. Considered the league’s worst division just two seasons ago, the NFC West has recorded the most wins (14) and allowed the fewest points of any other division (310).

The Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams have eclipsed their win totals from last season and the Indianapolis Colts have equaled their total in just five weeks.

 

 

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