Week 6 in the NFL will be no different. There are some tremendous matchups with serious implications. For some there are must-wins, if this year is to matter at all. For others there are let's try to salvage something so there is a building block.
Week 6 separates the winners from not only the losers, but the pretenders.
Rashard Mendenhall looked great in his return to action. And as is becoming the shocking norm, Chris Johnson looked pathetic in Minneapolis, gaining 24 yards on 15 carries.
By all accounts this should be a walkover week for the Steelers... which is why they will lose in Tennessee.
After leaving Sunday's game with an aggravated calf injury, Troy Polamalu looks like he'll be a sideline observer for this game. This is never a good sign for a Steeler team that feeds off of his energy and mere presence.
Matt Hasselbeck has proven that he can be a very good starter in this league even at 37. With Kendall Wright, Kenny Britt and Nate Washington, Tennessee has the potential to put up some numbers.
I think that Chris Johnson breaks out of his slump this week. Hasselbeck gets time to throw.
Final Score: Tennessee 17 - Pittsburgh 13
All they do is win. Matt Ryan has been MVP-like in his play. Thirteen TDs vs. 3 INTs isn't too shabby. Having faith in three different receivers—Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Roddy White certainly helps.
The running game is solid enough with Michael Turner.
The Raiders on the other hand have been bad... but we all expected that. The Pittsburgh win was big for them, keeping out of the "O-fer" group, but that has been the only bright spot. They were manhandled by Miami and Denver.
Carson Palmer is no longer elite. He's average at best. Having almost no playmakers around him doesn't help his cause. Darrius Heyward-Bey has proven to be the bust we all thought he would be when Oakland stretched way more than they should have to move up in the draft to get him.
If you take out the one, 64-yard romp, Darren McFadden has a 2.4 yard average per rush.
There is no upset here.
Final Score: Atlanta 31 - Oakland 13
The Cowboys have been America's most schizophrenic team. I don't think they know whether good Cowboy or bad Cowboy is going to show up.
Jason Witten can say he's fine and offer to sign all the waivers he wants...he's not the same guy he was last year. The Chicago game was a nice little break out for him, but questions remain. Normally sure-handed, he has missed a lot of on target throws this year.
Romo is Romo. He is the perfect QB for this team. Who shows up? Five INT guy like he did against the Bears? Or the surprisingly effective 22-27, for three TDs Romo from opening week against the Giants?
The Ravens have been solid all year. A disappointing loss to the Eagles the only blemish. The defense is still feared.
Joe Flacco made us a giggle when asked, that he thought he was the best QB in the NFL. Well, he has backed it up—sort of. Seven TDs to four INTs ain't great, but he has looked good this season.
Ray Rice is a great back, Top 5 in the NFL. With him in the backfield Baltimore and Flacco always have a chance to do something.
This week? Good Romo shows up.
Final Score: Dallas 27 Baltimore 20
Ahhh Sam Bradford. The last of the grossly overpaid rookie class. We've all wondered when and if he would get his act together and play like a No. 1 overall pick.
He hasn't, not yet. But he's closer. He had a nice win this past week in their upset of the previously unbeaten Cardinals. The Rams could easily be 4-1 had they not lost a close one to the Lions in Week 1.
Danny Amendola is becoming one heck of a wideout. His injury—far scarier and dangerous than any of us knew, will keep him out of action this week.
Miami got a big win this past week in Cincy. Ryan Tannehill is capable, and when healthy, Reggie Bush has shown us all that he has still got it.
Without Amendola St. Louis goes down.
Final Score: Miami 31 - St Louis 24
So much for the much ballyhooed introduction of Matthew Stafford into the "Elite QBs Club." He has been woefully average at best. Three TDs vs. four INTs is simply bad. For Stafford to be averaging less than one TD a game is gross.
The running game hasn't been much better.
Philadelphia started the year with an awful, turnover-filled win against, still winless, Cleveland.
Then they beat a very good Baltimore squad the following week.
Then they get crushed by Arizona.
Then they beat dreaded rival NY Giants.
They they lose a nail biter to Pittsburgh this week.
LeSean McCoy has been good this year, but Michael Vick cannot stop turning the ball over. He's trying too hard. The defense has been good, but not good enough.
By all accounts, the Eagles should win this week. Since Week 2: Win, Loss, Win, Loss...Win?
Detroit gets back to its aerial ways and takes out the Eagles.
Final Score: Detroit 34 - Eagles 17
Always a bitter rivalry, it's kind of like when ugly girls fight...you don't really want to watch it, any of it, but something draws you...
That draw is Trent Richardson vs. A.J. Green. These are two of the most exciting young players in the NFL. Both Cleveland and Cincy could be very exciting teams in the next couple of years.
Andy Dalton to A.J. Green could be a deadly combo for years to come.
Ditto—any Cleveland quarterback handing off to Trent Richardson. The guy is that good.
Riding high, with a three game winning streak after a demoralizing opening week loss to Baltimore, Cincy took a bad loss this week going into Miami and mustering only 300 yards of offense. (Dalton's two INTs certainly didn't help.)
Cleveland meanwhile took another loss; by far their worst of the season. Cleveland is not as bad as its record indicates. They have lost four of their games by a combined 24 points. Six points a game shows that they've been in them—anything less than a touchdown to win it, is in it.
After shutting Dalton to Green down this week, and watching T-Rich go for over 100 on the ground, Cleveland gets their first W.
Final Score: Cleveland 27 - Cincinnati 24
Andrew Luck is certainly playing the role of No. 1 overall pick well.
The Jets are in the midst of their own personal hell. Revis goes down. The owner all but says that Tim Tebow should probably be the starting the QB right now and now Santonio Holmes is lost for the year.
Despite playing better than expected against the Texans, let's not forget that one of their TDs was a return—meaning, the offense is not better.
The Colts' upset of the Packers was certainly a shocker. They've played well this year but who thought they were good enough to beat the Packers? This was a great win for them—especially the younger players. Learning to believe is integral in the beginning of any career, whether it's the NFL or accounting.
The Colts continue their run and the Jets continue their slide. It's an upset but only because the oddsmakers say so. The Colts really should win this game.
Final Score: Colts 24 - Jets 10
Eric Winston just became one of my favorite players in all of sports, not just the NFL. His impromptu news conference to address the issue of fans booing when Matt Cassel got injured, was awesome. This was a perfect example of what to do...please see Owens, Terrell for the "That's my quarterback man..." for an example of how not to do it.
Cassel is not playing well this year. In a winnable game this week thanks to the defense, Cassel threw two INTs and lost a fumble. He was clearly a large part of the problem.
The Chiefs should be better. Jamaal Charles leads the NFL in rushing. Dwayne Bowe is always dangerous, but he needs the ball in his hands.
Tampa Bay is a work in progress. A young work in progress. This is another team that is not as bad as its record. After a Week 1 win against the Panthers they lost a game they should have won against the Giants, giving up 25 fourth-quarter points.
TB followed that up with a bad loss against the Cowboys. Holding DeMarco Murray to 38 yards on 18 rushes was huge. Causing two Romo fumbles and an INT was great. But their offense doomed them. Josh Freeman completed only 10 passes for 110 yards and the team combined for 75 yards on the ground...and this paltry total almost got it done!
No upset here. With Cassel most likely out and Brady Quinn getting the snaps, the Chiefs won't do well this week.
Final Score: Tampa Bay 17 - KC 9
This is a big game for both of these teams.
With both sitting at 3-2, either Seattle, with a win, keeps close pace with Arizona and San Francisco or they fall to .500—not a good spot to be in with SF (twice!), Chicago, Minnesota and Arizona left on the schedule.
New England has a bit more breathing room than Seattle due to the rather weak conference they are blessed to play in this year, though they still need some separation.
It seems that Belichick and Tom Brady have decided to throw a shot across the collective bow of the NFL. After a surprising loss at Arizona and a tough loss the next week to Baltimore, NE has scored 83 points in its last two games—both wins. The offense is definitely clicking. Robert Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez's injuries are watching, but Brady and Wes Welker, after early season discord with many asking if Welker should ask for a trade, seem to be up to their old tricks.
Seattle's D has played well this season including holding Aaron Rodgers and the vaunted Packer offense to 300 total yards as well as the Cowboys. Both...ahem...wins.
I'd love to see Belichick get a little comeuppance, but it ain't gonna happen here.
Final Score: New England 38 - Seattle 24
Arizona is a very interesting team. Through 5 games:
They are giving up only 15.6 points a game—good for fifth in the NFL.
Their 17 sacks are good for second in the NFL.
They've forced five fumbles putting them tied for fourth in that category.
By all accounts this is a very good defense...or is it? They played against a rookie QB in their opener. Another rookie against Miami. An unproven third year guy against St. Louis and a lost Vick against Philly. The only guy they've faced with obvious skill is Brady. They did shut him down, so I am perplexed.
John Skelton wins the job out of spring training and promptly gets hurt in Week 1. Kevin Kolb comes in and goes 4-0 to start the season until this week, losing a rather uninspired game against to St. Louis where Kolb was sacked nine times.
Buffalo is nearly as much of an enigma. Fitzpatrick is third in the NFL with 12 TD passes. He's also second in the NFL with eight INTs.
After getting destroyed by the Jets in Week 1, the Bills crushed Kansas City and beat Cleveland by 10...then the wheels came off. New England treated them as their whipping boy and San Francisco figured they'd let New England know what a real team can do. It has been a rough couple of weeks for Buffalo.
Arizona has given up 231 passing yards a game this season. Fitzpatrick will exploit this and throw all over the AZ defense.
Final Score: Buffalo 35 - Arizona 27
In the oddsmakers eyes the Chargers get the nod in this one. It must be the home-field advantage because I am struggling to see where the Chargers have any other advantage. They are coming off an ugly loss to winless, but better than that, New Orleans.
Denver is coming off an equally ugly loss to the Patriots.
Both QBs are capable of playing lights out. Both teams have a good enough, to just above average running game. Both defenses have shown they can step up when needed.
These teams are so similar.
I don't think the stats will tell the story in this one. I think Manning is pissed that he lost so badly—again—to Tom Brady and that's the difference.
Final Score: Broncos 31 - San Diego 30
Minnesota would be the talk of the NFL had Arizona not shocked everyone through 4 weeks of the season. A 4-1 start no one expected.
Adrian Peterson is coming back off of a torn ACL and Christian Ponder is still their quarterback. This was not supposed to be a very good team...yet here they are.
Washington has been equally surprising. With a rookie QB in RGIII, a suspect running game and wideouts no one is writing home about. Pierre Garcon was supposed to be a game changing signing to pair with Santana Moss. Between the two of them they have 20 receptions through five games. I'll do the math for you—that's a two rec. average for the two of them. Not good.
Without RGIII playing as well as he has, veteran like, they're 0-5.
Whether Minnesota is for real, remains to be seen. Outside of San Francisco, they haven't played anyone great. Jax? Indy? Detroit? Tennessee? Not exactly an all world lineup of foes.
Minnesota is a nice team that is relying heavily on their defense. With five FF, 14 sacks, they rack in the Top 5. Only two INTs out of secondary is low, but not awful.
Percy Harvin has been a revelation on special teams, putting them second in returns. (Special teams kicking, they are dead last.)
It looks like RGIII will play this week. But I don't think he'll be himself. A step off, a little weary —Washington loses a bit of they giddy-up in this one. If it comes down to him, I like Kirk Cousins and think he has a solid future in the NFL, but the Vikings will be responsible enough with the ball to eke one out.
Final Score: Vikings 24 - Redskins 13
The first of two titanic games in Week 6.
The 49ers can solidify themselves as the team to beat in the NFC or the Giants could reclaim their spot in the upper echelon of NFC teams.
The 49ers utterly destroyed the Bills this last week and the Giants laid a serious beating on the Browns. Could there be an offensive let down coming for one of these teams? Doubtful...but both teams have the defenses to impose their will and force a let down.
Eli Manning loves these situations and has shown he can thrive in them.
Alex Smith hasn't proven much. He's capable enough but don't tell me for one second that if Matt Barkley was available and SF could trade up to get him they wouldn't and 49er fans everywhere would froth at the mouth.
Which team's offense can out-slug the others defense? Who takes the punch to mouth and gets up?
Ahmad Bradshaw or Frank Gore? Who gets the running game going and sustains it?
Final Score: Giants 24 - 49ers 23
Holy Good God! This game is going to be awesome. This game means too much to both teams to be anything but awesome.
Though the Texans didn't look great this past week, they got the job done versus the Jets.
Arian Foster is solidifying himself as a premier back—if not already the premier back in the NFL today. Foster has gotten to 5,000 yards in the third fewest games (40), behind only Eric Dickerson (39) and Edgerrin James (38).
Matt Schaub is always dangerous especially behind an O-line that has given up only three sacks all year. (Credit Schaub too—the guy gets rid of the ball and stands tough in the pocket, finding receivers with D-lineman bearing down on him.)
The Packers are in panic mode. The loss this week to Indy was bad. They blew a big lead to a team that should have been beaten handily. It's starting to look like this team is more like the team that barely beat the Saints and took down the Bears, on what is looking like an off night for Chicago, rather than the juggernaut they were last year.
The Packers must win this game. To go to 2-4 would be catastrophic. They still have Arizona, Detroit, NY Giants, Chicago and Minnesota (twice) left on the schedule. Granted, they should win four of these games...but will they? The way they're playing these days, they'll be lucky to win 2-3.
The Texans want to prove they can beat anyone anytime. They've beaten some bad teams—handily. The Denver win was nice...in Denver. Other than that, they haven't played anyone who will make the playoffs this year. They need a big win on National Television to firmly etch their names at the team to beat this year.
Big game, big, big game.
Final Score: Packers 38 - Texans 31