NFL Winners and Losers: Bills QB Josh Allen has big day before showdown vs. Chiefs

The only thing holding Josh Allen back from setting records this season might be that the Buffalo Bills are too good.

There will be games in which the Bills are so dominant that Allen goes on ice for the second half. Sunday was one of them.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers were remotely competitive, or if Bills head coach Sean McDermott held a grudge against Mike Tomlin, Allen could have broken a single-game record for passing yardage that has been on the books since 1951. Instead, Case Keenum finished the game as the Bills rolled to a 38-3 win.

Allen had 348 yards and four touchdowns at halftime. Allen could have broken Norm Van Brocklin's longstanding record of 554 yards in a game if the Bills kept throwing for four quarters. Allen also could have challenged the single-game record of seven touchdown passes. It's not like the Steelers were going to stop him. He started the game with a 98-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis and kept cooking all half.

In the first half alone the Bills had 400 yards, averaged 11.8 yards per play and had eight 20-yard plays. Those are some Rams "Greatest Show on Turf" numbers. Allen finished with 424 yards and four touchdowns and it could have been a lot more.

Allen had a similar game in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans, when he had four touchdowns. The Bills won 41-7 so he didn't stay in to keep putting up numbers.

Allen could win an MVP award this season. He could challenge some NFL records. But it will all seem a bit empty if the Bills don't make a Super Bowl. That's why next week is so important.

In Week 6 the Bills play at the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills' season has ended in the playoffs at Arrowhead Stadium each of the past two seasons. The Bills can win a playoff game at Kansas City — they famously came 13 seconds away last season — but it would make their lives a lot easier if they played the playoff game in Buffalo. Without a win at Kansas City next Sunday afternoon, it'll be hard to get home-field advantage over K.C.

Quarterbacks aren't measured by ridiculous stat lines in Week 5 against an overmatched defense. Allen has to lead the Bills to a Super Bowl to get the widespread respect as one of the game's truly great quarterbacks. A win next Sunday might be a big step toward that.

Josh Allen had a huge game in the Bills' win over the Steelers. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Josh Allen had a huge game in the Bills' win over the Steelers. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) (Bryan M. Bennett via Getty Images)

Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 5 of the NFL season:


Cowboys defense: Maybe Doomsday really is back.

Dallas was written off after Week 1 and haven't lost since. Dallas' defense scored the first touchdown of Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams, returning a fumble for a score. Then the Cowboys allowed just one touchdown to a Rams offense that suddenly looks mediocre. Dallas won 22-10 despite a quiet offensive day.

Dallas is 4-1 and can thank its defense. Micah Parsons shook off an injury for another stellar day. The coverage was very good aside from when Cooper Kupp got loose for a 75-yard touchdown. Dallas can rush the passer as well as anyone in the NFL, and its defense is carrying the team when it needed it most, without Dak Prescott in the lineup.

When Prescott returns, Dallas' offense will get better. The defense is already in the top tier.

The Eagles, winning without A.J. Brown doing much: Philadelphia is much better off with Brown, a true alpha receiver. But it doesn't need him to win.

Brown had a quiet Sunday. He had 32 yards on three catches. The Eagles still won 20-17, grinding out a long drive after the Cardinals tied it, then holding on when Arizona missed a field goal following a baffling sequence from Kyler Murray.

Dallas Goedert played very well, with 95 yards. DeVonta Smith had 10 catches for 87 yards. Jalen Hurts played well, mostly with his legs. He had a team-high 61 rushing yards and two rushing TDs. The Eagles are 5-0, and they're getting contributions from everyone during the hot start.

Taysom Hill: It didn't make all that much sense for the New Orleans Saints to play Hill as much as they did when Drew Brees was quarterback. It's smart when your quarterback is Andy Dalton.

Hill is tough to defend and he had an enormous game Sunday in a big 39-32 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Hill scored three touchdowns and threw for another. After the Seahawks took a 32-31 lead, Hill ran for 60 yards off left tackle for the go-ahead score.

Hill has made a nice career for himself as a gadget player. He was at his peak value Sunday, giving the Saints' offense a boost it has needed all season.

Tom Brady and the Bucs' offense: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren't going to be stuck on offense all season.

Last week, in garbage time of a blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buccaneers put up some yards. They carried that momentum into Sunday. Brady threw often in the Bucs' win over the Atlanta Falcons. He went over 300 passing yards in the third quarter. Leonard Fournette had a big day. (The Buccaneers were bailed out a bit by an awful roughing the passer call on Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett late in the game,) The 21-15 win pushes them to 3-2 this season.

The first few weeks of the season weren't great for Tampa Bay's offense. The Bucs were also dealing with numerous injuries. They're getting healthier. Their offense will be fine.

Bailey Zappe: No, we won't make a Drew Bledsoe-Tom Brady reference. But Zappe made the most of his opportunity on Sunday with Mac Jones out with an ankle injury.

Zappe played well against a bad Detroit Lions defense in a 29-0 win. He finished 17-of-21 for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The most impressive thing for the Patriots was that they dominated a Lions offense that had played very well before Sunday.

Zappe started because Jones was out and Zappe looked OK in relief of Brian Hoyer last week after Hoyer suffered a concussion. The Patriots decided to roll with the rookie fourth-round draft pick against the Lions on Sunday.

He looked good. Jones shouldn't feel like he'll lose his job, but the Patriots have to be happy with what Zappe did against Detroit.

Justin Jefferson, again: Two games ago, Jefferson had three catches for 14 yards. That should never, ever happen again.

The Minnesota Vikings have fed Jefferson the past two weeks. On Sunday they targeted him 13 times, and Jefferson turned that into 12 catches for 154 yards. Jefferson didn't have a huge second half and the Chicago Bears rallied to take a lead. But the Vikings answered with a huge 17-play, 75-yard drive to retake the lead and they held on to the 29-22 win.

The Vikings are 4-1, and while it hasn't always been pretty, they lead the Packers in the NFC North after Green Bay's rough loss to the Giants in London. As long as the Vikings don't forget about Jefferson again, they'll be fine.


Matt Rhule and Baker Mayfield: It's probably bad that in a 15-point game, when Mayfield threw a bad pick-six, it looked like progress. The offense at least moved a little bit in a 37-15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. There's not much else positive to say.

The loss was finally what caused owner David Tepper to fire Rhule. The news came Monday, with the Panthers sitting at 1-4 this season. They were 11-27 since Rhule was hired. The Panthers wanted Rhule badly when they hired him from Baylor. Now Tepper owes him more than $40 million on what was a seven-year, $62 million contract.

Mayfield came out of the game with a high-ankle sprain and it looks like P.J. Walker will get the next start for Carolina. The way Mayfield has played this season, maybe that's not the worst thing. Mayfield was a little better on Sunday but not good enough to keep the Panthers competitive against a tough 49ers defense.

This is the low point for the Panthers. Hopefully. Digging out of these depths started Monday with the news Rhule had been fired. It was time to admit the mistake and move on to whatever comes next.

Carson Wentz: Ask Indianapolis Colts fans about Wentz, and they might say that Wentz will make the exact wrong play right when you don't need it.

The Washington Commanders had four shots from the 2-yard line in the final seconds against the Tennessee Titans, trailing 21-17. On first down, Wentz threw a weird floater to the back of the end zone that was almost picked off. Then he threw one into traffic at the goal line that could have been picked off. Finally on third down he was finally picked off, as linebacker David Long Jr. intercepted him to end the game.

Wentz will make plays. He's capable of that. But he'll ruin you when it matters most.

Dolphins and that 3-0 start: It's not Miami's fault that its fantastic start to this season turned into a two-game losing streak. The Dolphins lost quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in their last game and then Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday. The Dolphins played reasonably well with rookie seventh-round draft pick Skylar Thompson at the New York Jets into the fourth quarter. They had a chance to grab a lead early in the fourth quarter before fading late. The Jets won 40-17.

Miami will presumably get healthier at quarterback soon. The Dolphins still have a good team and 3-2 isn't the worst place to be. But when you start 3-0, you'd like to feel better after Week 5. The loss on Sunday felt empty, with even more quarterback questions afterward.

Same old Jaguars: All of the positive buzz Jacksonville had early this season can now be dismissed.

The Jaguars took a bad 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans, who were the only NFL team without a win through four weeks. The Jaguars got nothing going on offense. Trevor Lawrence made the back-breaking mistake, throwing an interception into the end zone that seemed like it was intended to Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. It went right to him. It was a bad error from a young quarterback who seemed to be making strides.

Lawrence's fumble-fest last week against the Eagles was excused because of rainy weather. The weather was fine in Jacksonville on Sunday. Lawrence just didn't play well in a game the Jaguars should not have lost.

Jacoby Brissett: The Cleveland Browns are trying to stay afloat with Brissett at quarterback until Deshaun Watson returns from an 11-game suspension. Brissett has been OK, but he's still a backup for a reason.

Brissett made a huge mistake that cost the Browns a chance to win. They were in field-goal range, trailing 30-28. Brissett rolled right on a third down and threw an interception right to Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Bryce Callahan with 2:44 left. Brissett would have been OK throwing it into the 23rd row and letting the Browns take a chip-shot field goal. Instead he made the mistake he absolutely couldn't make.

Later, after the Chargers didn't pick up a fourth-and-2, the Browns had a shot to get that game-winning field goal. But the Browns' offense couldn't get closer than a 54-yard FG attempt for rookie Cade York, and he pushed it wide right. The Chargers won 30-28.

The loss wasn't all on Brissett. But he didn't help late in the game when the Browns needed it.

Green Bay Packers' first London trip: The Packers were the last team to play a game in London, and they must have had a long flight home.

The Packers' offense scored zero points in the second half, blowing a 17-3 first-half lead in a stunning 27-22 loss to the New York Giants. Aaron Rodgers' fourth-down pass in the final two minutes was batted at the line and fell incomplete.

Maybe the loss to the Giants will age well. New York has been doubted but it is 4-1. Brian Daboll is doing a fine job in his first season as Giants' head coach. But it wasn't the type of loss a contender usually takes. The Packers should have won fairly easily, especially with their start.

Green Bay couldn't stop a one-dimensional offense that had Saquon Barkley and little else. The offense no-showed in the second half. Randall Cobb was Green Bay's best offensive skill-position player Sunday, and that's not good.

It's a long season and the Packers should be fine. But keep Sunday's loss in mind because maybe it's a sign they're not as good as the past couple seasons.