NFL winless trio continue to frustrate

Week 5 saw three of the NFL's winless teams add another chapter of futility for their suffering fans, and two quarterbacks come off the bench to possibly reclaim the No. 1 job.

NFL Week 5: What we learned

Jimmy Clausen and the Carolina Panthers have scored an NFL-low 52 points through five weeks. ((Chuck Burton/Associated Press))

And then there were 3

Detroit joined the ranks of the winners on Sunday with a resounding home victory over St. Louis, but that was it. The other three winless teams all lost in their own particularly excruciating way.

Who will be the next to win? Will someone go winless through 16?

Coach Mike Singletary and quarterback Alex Smith may not be long for full-time NFL employment after San Francisco's loss at home on Sunday night.

But the crazy part is that the 0-5 Niners are only probably out of it, but not unquestionably done. Their next four games aren't daunting — if you can say that about a winless club. More importantly, five of their six divisional games are to be played in the second half of the season. An 8-8 or 7-9 record could be enough in the unsettled NFC West.

Defensive studs

Kroy Biermann, DEAtlanta
LeRon Landry, SWashington
D.J. Williams, DTBaltimore

Buffalo is a popular pick of many to have the worst NFL record at 2010's end, but consider that the Bills receive visits from Detroit and Cleveland over the next two months. As of this writing, the Lions are on 23-game road losing streak since 2007 and the Browns are 2-8 since the beginning fo last season.

Yes, the Bills are bad but we've seen the weather help the home team to victory many times in November games at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Young quarterbacks are particularly bedevilled by the unpredictable winds in Western New York that time of year, and if Matthew Stafford is back at the helm for the Lions, who knows? Those winds have gotten the best of more established QB's.

Carolina's defence alone makes them an unlikely bet to go winless, no matter how putrid their quarterback play. But boy, is the offence bad. The Panthers have put up just four offensive touchdowns and 52 points in five games. 

With such an inept passing game, opposing teams have been able to corral the team's talented running backs for the most part. Amazingly, Carolina's only lost by an average of about 10 points per game.

Back in the saddle again?

There was also some interesting developments this weekend regarding second chance pivots.

Bruce Gradkowski was injured and brutal for the Raiders. Jason Campbell, benched after two losses, could now be back for good in 2010 barring injury. Campbell put together an impressive relief performance in Oakland's rally, and with the next four games of the schedule not overly imposing, it would behoove the Raiders to get some momentum established at the position.

Carolina ditched the quite bad Matt Moore for the awful Jimmy Clausen. The rookie threw an interception against Chicago and fumbled three times (although two were recovered). Moore came in and wasn't terrible. The Panthers have a bye week, giving John Fox something to chew on.

Matthew Stafford will be back fairly soon for Detroit, there's no doubt about that, possibly even next week against the New York Giants.

But consider that the Lions lost three of their games by a total of 10 points in his absence. For two mediocre teams, Shaun Hill has cobbled together an 11-9 career record as a starter.

Forget second chances. Could a third chance be given to David Carr in San Francisco? Carr hasn't started since 2007 in Carolina. Or did Smith do just enough late in the loss to Philly to again to cling to his job?

The Unsung Heroes

Reggie Hodges, PCleveland
Deji Karim, RB/KRJacksonville
Hiram Eugene, STOakland

Big Turnovers

Excluding fourth quarter/OT turnovers, which are no-brainers:

1. With Houston trailing 7-0, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub throws an interception to Corey Webster. The Giants quickly convert it into a two-TD lead in the first and are never threatened again.

2. The Rams are nine yards from going up 7-3 on Detroit when Danny Amendola fumbles just as he's hitting the ground. After a mad scramble the Lions recover, and St. Louis would never taste the end zone on the day.

3. Dallas has a chance to take their first lead of the game in the third when Tony Romo's pass goes off Martellus Bennett's hands at the Tennessee goal line, intercepted by Michael Griffin. The Titans immediately score on an 80-yard pass and never trail again.

Big Mistakes

Dwayne Bowe: Matt Cassel threw at Bowe eight times, resulting in a whopping two completions. With the Chiefs down by three late in the third against Indy, Bowe can't come up with consecutive passes, including one in the end zone that goes off his hands. Kansas City settles for a field goal and the Colts score the next and final 10 points of the game.

Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe couldn't come up with the ball enough to keep the Chiefs unbeaten. ((Darron Cummings/Associated Press))

Terrell Owens/Chad Ocho Cinco: With Cincinnati getting close to field goal position late in a tie game, Owens pushes off to set the Bengals back key yards and Ocho Cinco allows a Carson Palmer pass to go off his hands, to be intercepted by Tampa Bay.

John Carney: Old man Carney, who New Orleans brought back because they weren't happy with Garrett Hartley, misses a 29-yard field goal attempt with the score 13-13 late in the third. You can hardly say it was the reason the Saints were upset by Arizona, but it undoubtedly contributed to a sense on the sidelines that it just wasn't their day.

Looking ahead

Here's three of the biggest games of Week 6:

Baltimore (4-1) at New England (3-1): Aside from the AFC playoff implications, will the Patriots be better able to thrive against a still solid Baltimore defence without Randy Moss?

Tennessee (3-2) at Jacksonville (3-2): With four AFC East and Central teams as of this writing with just one loss, it is a huge swing game for these South division rivals.

New Orleans (3-2) at Tampa Bay (3-1): Granted, it's a couple of if's, but if the Saints lose to the Bucs and Atlanta beats Philadelphia, the defending champ Saints will find themselves two games behind the Falcons, who they've lost to, and 1 ½ back of Tampa Bay in the NFC South.