Five things to watch: NFL Week 5

Five things I’ll be looking at in the fifth week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. Can the Rams keep on rolling?

The Los Angeles Rams, coming off a victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week, have been a surprise team this year. But Jared Goff and Todd Gurley haven’t faced a defense the caliber of Seattle’s.

On the other hand the Rams have won four of six games against Seattle the last three seasons. A victory over the Seahawks would give the 3-1 Rams a two-game lead over the Seahawks and raise more questions about whether the Seahawks’ window is closing after they were a yard away from back-to-back Super Bowl victories three years ago.

2. Can the Cowboys awaken from their surprising slumber?

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Steelers are winning, but Brown tantrum hints at trouble

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves with an interesting dilemma Sunday.

They are nine-point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are the worst team in the league against the run and the best against the pass.

So it figures their game plan would feature Le’Veon Bell, who finally got into a groove last week against Baltimore when he ran 35 times for 144 yards and caught four passes for 42 yards.

But things are complicated because it is also the first game since Antonio Brown had a temper tantrum last week when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t throw to him when he felt he was wide open.

Brown flipped over a Gatorade bucket and angrily brushed off offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

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USC’s Darnold no longer looking like a sure NFL thing

Sam Darnold is making things difficult for NFL scouts.

The USC quarterback was supposed to be the consensus No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, but his shaky play at the start of this season has raised questions about just how good a prospect Darnold really is.

In USC’s 30-27 loss to Washington State Friday night, he completed only 15 of 29 passes for 164 yards with an interception and a fumble that ruined the Trojans last bid for a late victory.

Washington State had lost 15 in a row to ranked opponents.

So far this year, Darnold has nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Last year, he had 31 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

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Taking a look back at the NFL’s Week 4

Five observations on the fourth weekend of the 2017 NFL season:

1. The 1972 Miami Dolphins can start putting the champagne on ice. With the season only four weeks old, Kansas City is the only unbeaten team in the wake of the Chiefs’ 29-20 victory over Washington and Atlanta’s 23-17 loss to Buffalo.

By contrast, there are four winless teams – the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers.

The odds, though, are against the Chiefs going unbeaten. They barely escaped with the victory over Washington on a field goal with four seconds left. They added another touchdown, recovering a fumble on the last play when Washington tried the Stanford band lateral play.

That enabled the Chiefs to cover the spread and the over so a lot of money changed hands on that last play. But looking at Andy Reid’s playoff record – only one Super Bowl appearance and an overall 11-12 mark — it is too early to crown them as a favorite to make it.

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The Juice is loose again, unfortunately

There is a certain irony in the fact that O.J. Simpson was released from prison Saturday night at the same time the nation is engaged in a debate about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

It’s a pretty good bet that if Simpson were playing today, he would not be taking a knee. He was never an activist.

He was at USC in 1968 when there was a threatened black boycott of the Olympics in Mexico City. The boycott never took place, although Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raised a fist while wearing a black glove on the medals stand to protest. Both were suspended by the U.S. Olympic Committee and returned home to death threats.

In a documentary on CBS Saturday night, a clip was aired in which Simpson was asked in 1968 about the proposed boycott.

“Right now I don’t want to be involved,’’ he said. “I’m not in track. I have no comment on the matter.’’

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