Fact or Fiction: Week 5
Are the Patriots in trouble? Our experts debate that topic and more in Fact or Fiction.
Everyone has an opinion about what will happen during the NFL season. And the predictions will either prove to be true or false.
So we've made four bold statements and asked our ESPN experts -- former NFL players Mark Schlereth and Joe Theismann -- whether or not they believe the statements will eventually become fact or fiction.
On which side of the fence do they sit? Click on the links below for their answers.
FACT OR FICTION Mark Schlereth
Fact: This team might have finally run into a set of injuries that it can't find a way to hide with a wrinkle or scheme. The losses of Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi make this team vulnerable to being exploited in the middle of the field. The Pats absolutely must find a way to get someone to elevate their play and step into that portion of the field or they are going to get pounded for the rest of the season. They are going to have to start utilizing their running game to keep this weakened defense off the field.
Fiction: The Patriots certainly have some issues, but they are in a weak division so they should be in good shape until playoff time. Their division features quarterback issues on every team and the Patriots feast upon teams with poor quarterback play. There's no doubt in my mind that they will find a way to patch the holes that injuries have exposed and will respond as well as they have throughout this dynasty. Also, don't forget that they still have the best clutch QB in the game, the best clutch kicker, and the best coach. That doesn't sound like the componentss of a team in trouble.
Fiction: I think this team has one of the best offenses in the NFC, but I don't believe it's the best although it's definitely the most balanced. This team is lacking the consistent explosiveness that teams like the Philadelphia Eagles possess. Until the Giants start consistently putting up big plays to Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey through the passing game and getting big runs from Tiki Barber, I can't call them the best offense in the NFC.
Fact: There's no doubt that this team possesses the best offense in the NFC. What more proof do you need than the fact that they outgunned the St. Louis Rams last Sunday? This team, behind the maturing Eli Manning, is lethal because Manning has the patience to take what the defense gives him and then pounce with the deep ball when the defense least expects it. This team could go far with this explosive offense coupled with a strong defense.
Fact: Let's be honest, this division is the weakest in the league. Nine wins may be a high number for anybody to assume for the winner of this division. I honestly believe that the only wins these teams are going to get are going to be intra-divisional victories because they are just that bad. These teams have suffered through unfortunate injuries, age, poor drafting and bad trades to get where they are today and it's almost a joke that one of them is going to make the playoffs.
Fact: Coming into this season, some people thought this division would be one of the toughest in the league. Green Bay had an explosive offense on paper, but they had serious defensive issues; Chicago was entering the Rex Grossman era. The Lions had great offensive weapons. The Vikings were the poster kids for rebuilding and adding by subtracting. Now five weeks into the season, everything has gone wrong and it's obvious that this division isn't going to have a 10-game winner and may not even have a nine-game winner.
Fact: This is a tough choice because the Denver Broncos have beaten the Chargers already this season and they are already 2-0 in the division. But is seems San Diego was a different team as it didn't utilize LT to the best of its ability. The previous two weeks, the Chargers have figured out how to use one of the best weapons in football. This is a division that will probably go down to the wire, but the presence of LT makes the Chargers the team to beat.
Fact: This is an exceptionally tough division, but the Chargers are the No. 1 team because they have LaDainian Tomlinson. He's one of the most explosive running backs I've ever seen and is head and shoulders better than most backs in the league. With him starting to click, this offense is dangerous and opposing defenses have to find a way to stop their balanced attack.
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