One of the most difficult things about my job is determining what constitutes a trend. Just like you and me, NFL players and coaches have bad days. And when a few of them coincide in one locker room, you occasionally get a steaming, stinking slag heap of a game from a quality team.
Quantifying the effect of home field, weather and favorable and unfavorable individual matchups are tough enough. But what about elements like focus, motivation and discipline? When one NFL contest constitutes 1/16th of a season -- 10 games in MLB or five in the NBA -- the impulse is to draw some sort of conclusion. Even when there's none to be had.
And that's where I was after Sunday's Redskins-Giants game. Washington's offense was phenomenal in Weeks 3 and 4, with RB Clinton Portis getting healthy and opening things up downfield for WR Santana Moss. New York's pass rush had sputtered early in the season, and the secondary isn't good enough to keep receivers covered for more than a blink or two. But instead of a game marking the second coming of the apocalypse for the Giants, everything suddenly clicked. Or maybe they just fell apart for the Redskins.