On Thursday, we published our Five-on-Five NFL Challenge post, for which staffers picked over rosters to construct the most versatile, exciting five-man football squads. We asked our readers to hit us up with their own teams, and boy did they. Below are some of our favorites. The responses have been lightly edited for clarity and fact checking.
Detroit Lions: Matthew “Truck Stick” Stafford, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, Golden Tate, Ziggy Ansah
Good luck tackling that crew one-on-one-backyard-football style! Might be the only championship Detroit ever wins …
Buffalo Bills: Shady McCoy, Tyrod Taylor, Maquise Goodwin, Sammy Watkins, Stephon Gilmore
I almost wish the Bills could play five-man football, because the drop-off from their five best players to the rest of the team is frighteningly large.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Mike Daniels, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Clay Matthews
Could anyone stop the Rodgers-Jordy combo in a five-on-five format?
Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler, Cody Whitehair, Connor Barth … just kidding, the Bears actually get WORSE in this league
Coach: Rod Marinelli
Condolences to Robert Mays.
New England Patriots: Matthew Slater, Ryan Allen, Stephen Gostkowski, Joe Cardona, Nate Ebner
Coach: Bill Belichick, a side of grit, and a slice of hustle
No one appreciates the value of special teams more than Bill Belichick. He’s a coach who places equal value on the kicking game and the passing game. He’s repeatedly reached in the draft to find punt-coverage gunners, wedge busters, and long snappers.
Nominally listed as a wide receiver, Matthew Slater is a team captain with 4.4 speed and five Pro-Bowls despite having just one career catch (a 46 YPC career average, though). He’s a relentless gunner with more intangibles than you can shake a stick at.
As seen in last Thursday’s Texans-Pats bloodbath, Ryan Allen can punt the ball end over end inside the 10 whenever he damn well pleases. Stephen Gostkowski has led the league in scoring five times in 10 seasons. Scoring won’t be a problem for this team.
Allen and Gostkowski remain so effective because the ball is hand-delivered to the perfect spot every time, courtesy of American hero and long snapper Joe Cardona, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, mentally tough after years under the tutelage of drill sergeants and Coach Belichick.
Speaking of American heroes, the roster gets filled out by U.S. Olympic rugby player Nate Ebner. Rugby is like football, except there are no pads and no semblance of rules or order.
So you won’t beat this team mentally, you won’t beat them physically, and you won’t win the field-position game. Who cares who plays quarterback? Belichick obviously doesn’t.
FC Barcelona: Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Neymar, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué
Coach: Chris Ryan
Five-a-side football? No one’s beating Barcelona in that game. With that attacking trio, Iniesta running the shower, and Ringer footy expert Chris Ryan manning the touchline, this team puts five goals past any of these amateur sides in the first 10 minutes, easy.
Five-man team: Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Peters
Coach: Andy Reid
If I’m drafting a team for a game that values speed and explosiveness, why not re-create the team that played the most perfect offensive game in NFL history (Week 10, 2010) and then scored 28 points in seven and a half minutes five weeks later to turn a 21-point deficit into a win?
Even with the caveat that I have to use current, washed Mike Vick, this team would slice up opponents so fast they’d look like Daniel Boulud or some other equally famous chef with a big pile of onions.
What’s more important, they’d score so quickly that Coach Reid’s famous foibles with clock management wouldn’t be that much of an issue.
There are some other good choices for the fifth spot — Asante Samuel, Trent Cole — but I’d rather pick the entertainment value of one of the most athletic linemen the league has ever seen doing his thing in space.
If these teams ever actually played in a league, this five would be (A) the stuff of Katie Baker’s nightmares (what up, Matt Dodge!) and (B) unstoppable.
Oakland Raiders: Carr, Cooper, Mack, Joseph are no-brainers. But instead of Crabtree, let’s throw in a Kelechi Osemele, ’cause he’s terrifying.
To be clear, Lane Kiffin will never be allowed back in the Coliseum. Let’s bring back Hue Jackson for this one.
Washington Professional Football Team: Jay Gruden, QB whisperer Jon Gruden, father Jim Gruden, Redskins strength coach intern Jon David Gruden II a.k.a. “Deuce,” DeSean Jackson
Coach: DeSean Jackson
As a player-coach, DeSean can continue to torment Jay and all of the Gruden family. Also, be prepared for Dan Snyder to overpay to bring in all these Grudens for a few seasons of low production.
Denver Broncos: Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders, C.J. Anderson
Coach: Wade Phillips
Don’t need anyone to throw since none of these other teams are going to be able to tackle C.J. Anderson. But with Wade Phillips coaching these bits of the Orange Crush and No Fly Zone, scoring will all come from strip-sack fumbles and pick-sixes. Otherwise, the idea of Von Miller connecting with Emmanuel Sanders on touchdown passes would probably produce the NSFW-est touchdown celebration dances.
(This guy didn’t name his team so we’ll volunteer I’ll Kick It, So Watt): Dan Bailey, Justin Tucker, Sebastian Janikowski, Matt Prater, J.J. Watt
Now bear with me here. In one of the old Madden games, there was a challenge team that could kick a field goal from anywhere. They were scrawny and whatever offensively, but I’m telling you literally anywhere you stopped them from, they would say, “No worries,” and kick a laser-accurate field goal. I would stop them on their own 10-yard line and they would respond by kicking a 107-yard field goal. I lost to them more times than I want to admit before finally outscoring the offensive nightmare that was the Kickers.
I thought they would be a breeze. But victory is no small task when every defensive stop means three points are going up on the board.
This is what I want to replicate. If J.J. Watt can (A) move the ball just a little bit down the field with sheer force of will, and (B) single-handedly decimate offenses, I really think this team has Super Bowl written all over it.
Who’s our coach? Scott Norwood. That’s right. Today, redemption is spelled S-C-O-T-T.
Will they ever score a touchdown? Not likely.
Will it matter? Not likely.