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NFL Storylines after Week 5: A brutal season for kickers continues

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USA Today

NFL Storylines after Week 5: A brutal season for kickers continues

Despite a 24-point loss on Monday Night Football, the Redskins remain in first place in the NFC East.

Is the NFC East the new AFC South? Are the Browns back? Will the Rams or Chiefs shut up Mercury Morris?

Let’s take a look at the top storylines in the NFL after Week 5. 

Biggest Week 5 NFL Storylines

1. Eagles are still hungover

It didn’t seem like the Eagles partied as hard as the Capitals did following their championship but it certainly looks that way after five weeks. Philadelphia is 2-3 and is also need of a running back (Jay Ajayi is out for the season with a torn ACL).

Even with Ajayi on the field, the Eagles struggled to score. Philadelphia has not scored more than 24 points in any of their games. Last season, they scored 24 or more points in 12 games. 

That all being said, the Eagles remain just a ½ game back of the Redskins for first place in the NFC East. 

2. Champagne remains on ice

There is still plenty of time for the 1972 Miami Dolphins to pop some bubbly but through five weeks there is a pair of unbeaten teams remaining in the NFL, the Chiefs and the Rams. 

Handing the keys to Patrick Mahomes has worked out quite well for the Chiefs. Mahomes finally threw an interception in the Chiefs’ win over the Jaguars on Sunday (he actually threw two). Still, a 14-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio is quite solid.

Remember when we thought Jared Goff was bust? Well, he’s not. Goff leads the NFL in passing yards and is a budding superstar. The Rams have an embarrassment of riches on offense and Sean McVay (I know it hurts Redskins fans) can do no wrong orchestrating things on the sidelines.

The surprising part has been the Rams defense has struggled over the past two weeks, allowing to 31 points in Vikings and Seahawks.

3. Everyone is a winner!

Do the 2017 Browns and 2008 Lions celebrate when the final NFL team gets a win? Probably not.

But if they did, they would have celebrated on Sunday because the Arizona Cardinals notched their first win of the season, a 28-18 victory of the 49ers. 

When will the Rams officially clinch the NFC West? L.A. is three games up on 2-3 Seattle. Both Arizona and San Francisco are 1-4.

I think it’s safe to say the Rams are going to win this division.

4. BREAKING NEWS: The Patriots will be fine

Back-to-back losses had the hot takers proclaiming the Patriots were dead.

When are they going to stop doing that? Over the past two weeks, the Patriots destroyed the Dolphins and scored 38 points in a win over the Colts on Thursday night.

Will the Patriots win another Super Bowl this year? I don’t know. But we do have to remember their house remains the nicest in an ugly neighborhood (that's an analogy for the AFC East being bad). 

Another January game in Foxboro seems likely.

5. What happened to Dak Prescott?

It wasn’t that long ago when Dak could do no wrong. After taking over for the injured Tony Romo, Prescott helped lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and a NFC East title. He was selected to go to the Pro Bowl and was named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Now, Prescott ranks No. 24 in passing yards and is among the worst in completion percentage (61.8%). 

After the 2016 season, people would have looked at you like you had three heads if you told them that Jared Goff would be better than Prescott.

Dak is not Dallas' only problem. The Cowboys have a lot of issues including a head coach that decided to punt the ball away at the opponent’s 42-yard line in overtime.

This does not look like a team that will win more than five or six games.

6. Kickers. 

It has been an odd season for kickers. Daniel Carlson and Zane Gonzalez both lost their jobs after dreadful performances in Week 2. On Sunday, former Redskins kicker Graham Gano made a game-winning field goal from 63 yards in Carolina! Panthers QB Cam Newton said of his kicker, "A wise man once told me great quarterbacks are only as good as their kicker."

Then there was Packers veteran kicker Mason Crosby. He missed four field goals and an extra point in the Green Bay’s 31-23 loss to the Lions. Crosby became the first kicker to miss four field goals and an extra point in the same game since the Raiders' Cole Ford in 1997, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. As of now, the Packers are going to stick with Crosby.

And who said kicks need to be pretty to be effective…

Week 6 will be here before we now it and it will certainly bring us a whole new slew of storylines. 

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Thanksgiving is a huge game for the Redskins and a huge opportunity for Colt McCoy

Thanksgiving is a huge game for the Redskins and a huge opportunity for Colt McCoy

For decades, the most iconic image of America came from Texas. 

Hollywood loved the cowboy, silently toiling in the heat and cold, staring down danger and prepared to answer any challenge that came his way.

But over time, industrialization and modernization, cowboys drifted from the national consciousness, or at least from the movies and television screens. 

As things shifted, however, another Texas icon emerged: the quarterback. 

Friday Night Lights, first as a book, then a movie, and later a TV show, made the country care about small town Texas high school football. The sophomoric Varsity Blues helped too. 

As that mythology grew, one real life QB emerged to fit the storybook casting: Colt McCoy.

With blue eyes and a humble voice, McCoy came from tiny Tuscola, Texas, a town of fewer than 800 people about three hours west of Dallas. He went on and excelled as the starting quarterback at the University of Texas, becoming the winningest Longhorn QB ever. 

Then the storybook ended.

In 2010, he was drafted by a terrible Browns team. In two seasons he started 21 games, but went 6-15. 

His career stumbled, he landed on a few bad San Francisco teams after that. He battled injuries, often, and didn't play all that well in spurts. 

His chance at NFL stardom, like he'd found in college, faded. Eventually, he caught on with the Redskins in a weird situation. 

McCoy joined the team in 2014, the same year Jay Gruden took over as head coach. Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins were already on the roster, and a multi-year awkward dance ensued. 

All three QBs got starts in 2014, but by 2015, Cousins got the starter's job, McCoy became the backup and RG3 hit the bench. In 2016, Griffin went to Cleveland, with McCoy firmly entrenched as Cousins' backup.

For two years, Cousins took every snap in Washington, and McCoy worked hard on the scout team to press the defense. 

Things seemed to be coming to a head as Cousins' contract situation reached a breaking point in 2018. Finally, maybe, McCoy would get his chance. 

And then Washington traded for Alex Smith.

McCoy again seemed destined to the bench, but much like fictional characters Johnny Moxon or Matt Saracen, the backup got thrust into the spotlight. 

After 10 games and a 6-3 start, Smith went down with a broken leg last week in a loss to Houston, and now, after a long, long wait, it's McCoy's team.

"For me, now is not a time to really kind of think about what got me to this point right here," McCoy said Tuesday. "Now, it's time to play."

That said, a small town upbringing is a big part of his story, and for McCoy, he can't forget it.

"I certainly wouldn’t change where I grew up, where I came from," McCoy said. "Everyone there means so much to me and that's a special part of me. Right now, my focus is on this team and how I can help this team this week because I know they're counting on me."

What McCoy might not know, or realize, is that his story is part of what makes him so appealing. 

The small town hero, the Texas gunslinger, McCoy fits all those bills. 

Redskins running back Chris Thompson tried to describe the intangible trust that comes from playing with McCoy, and the best he could muster was labeling it that "Texas thing." 

Watching McCoy enter the game for the Redskins last week at FedEx Field, there was an undeniable electricity that shot through the stadium. It was palpable, and multiple Redskins players said they felt it, too. 

And now, after four starts in four years in Washington, McCoy has the chance to lead a good team into the NFL playoffs in a league where a backup quarterback got named Super Bowl MVP last season.

"This opportunity is a great one for him," Gruden said.

"We don't have to change a thing with Colt at quarterback. We just go on as scheduled. I know the players all have a ton of respect for Colt and they're going to play hard for Colt and they know the ball's going to be thrown in the right spot."

Of course it starts on Thursday, on national television, and of course it starts in Dallas with the Redskins installed as big underdogs. 

McCoy found success once before playing against the Cowboys in Dallas on national television. It was a riveting win, down to the wire, and the Redskins entered the game as big underdogs, too. 

That came in 2014, in the middle of a lost season for Washington, but the victory still resonates for a lot of fans, in the same way Colt McCoy resonates with a lot of fans. 

The story is easy to root for and the person makes it even easier. McCoy, despite some circumstances where other players would complain, publicly or privately, never did. He never really got his chance to start, but kept soldiering on. 

"It's not easy but at the same time, I'm thankful for where I am and for the things that I’ve gone through. Hopefully some of the ups and downs that I've been through in my career will help me now, help me in this situation. I think if I didn’t enjoy football, if I didn’t love football, I probably would have maybe been through. But I love the process. I love the challenge each week."

This week's challenge is much different than it has been for McCoy. 

The challenge is no longer staying engaged in meetings or practices when playing time isn't on the horizon. 

The challenge is the Dallas Cowboys, on a short week, with a surging defense and a vicious pass rush.

The challenge is a beat-up Redskins offensive line and the pressure of maintaining a one-game lead in the NFC East. 

For years, the challenge has been mental. Now, the challenge will be very, very real. 

This game is huge for the Redskins. For their playoff hopes. For their coach's job security. For the organization's direction in 2019. 

And it's also huge for McCoy. To validate his hard work. His patience. To validate Tuscola. 

"I'm thankful for the opportunity but I think it's even more than that. It's time to just go play and put everything else aside," he said.

"We have a huge game this week. It's a huge game."

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Not that this helps, but NFL admits refs missed a late call that would've assisted Redskins vs. Texans

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USA TODAY Sports

Not that this helps, but NFL admits refs missed a late call that would've assisted Redskins vs. Texans

You're finally over the Redskins' loss to the Texans and looking forward to their matchup against the Cowboys, right?

Well, time for you to get upset again.

At the end of that game, officials made a call on Josh Norman, a holding that shouldn't have been flagged.

They also didn't make a call involving Josh Doctson on a play where two Houston DBs got very physical with the 'Skins wide receiver on Washington's last play from scrimmage.

But hey! Guess what!?

On Tuesday, the NFL informed the Redskins that the Texans should've been penalized for pass interference on that second sequence:

Fantastic news, right? This means Dustin Hopkins can trot out and try his game-winning field goal again, doesn't it?

Oh, wait, it doesn't?

Of course it doesn't. 

These late admissions don't help anyone. They don't change the final scores or records of the teams involved.

So why don't you just head to the comments section of this blog and let it rip, because that's about the only thing you can do at this point.

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