Sunday Morning Under the Helmet: What To Watch for in NFL Week Six

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Sunday Morning Under the Helmet: What To Watch for in NFL Week Six
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Good morning! Yes, it's that time of week again: Sunday, time for football!

This week it's week six, and it's sure to be another great weekend of hard-hitting action.

But before you strap yourself to the couch for the day and glue your eyes to the big screen, join us as we take a whirl around the NFL and prepare you for week 6 action.

 

Matchup of the Week:  New York Giants (5-0) at New Orleans Saints (4-0)

Giants quarterback Eli Manning will finally get to play in the Superdome—the place where his father played most of his career.

And Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey will make his first appearance against his old team since being traded to New Orleans in the summer of 2008.

But there's more to this game than that.

Both teams rank in the top five in points scored and top ten in points allowed. So it's pretty fair to say this will be a slugfest.

New York is coming off an outright bashing of the Oakland Raiders; the Saints enjoyed a bye in week five.

Through four games, Saints quarterback Drew Brees has simply dominated. He has thrown for 1,031 yards, nine touchdowns, and a rating of 108.4.

In addition to their passing attack, the Saints have a very underrated ground game. Many would be surprised to learn they rank second in rushing yards per game.

But the real surprise from the Saints so far is their defense.

They rank seventh in points allowed per game and sixth in yards allowed per game. This coming after they ranked 26th and 23rd respectively in those categories last year.

The addition of safety Darren Sharper is a big reason for their sudden success. Sharper already has five interceptions and has returned two for touchdowns.

For the Giants, they continue to have success running the ball. They currently rank fourth in rushing yards.

They'll need to continue running well today in order to keep Brees and the Saints offense off the field as much as possible.

They will also need to hope Manning can stay healthy. He's still battling the plantar fasciitis he suffered in week four versus Kansas City. He was taken out prior to halftime last week, presumably for precautionary reasons as they already had a comfortable lead.

On defense, Osi Umenyiora and the rest of the Giants' unit should be able to apply lots of pressure on Brees since New Orleans' left tackle Jammal Brown is on injured reserve.  However, they haven't had too much trouble protecting their quarterback thus far in '09.

 

Keys to the game

-Giants D-line vs. Saints O-line

-Run game

-Drew Brees vs. Giants pass defense (1st)

Prediction: Giants win 24-20

 

Small Names, Big Games

Here we will take a look at three non-superstars who will post big numbers in Week Six.

 

Jason Campbell (QB, Washington)

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell has been inconsistent all season. He threw for over 200 yards in each of his first three games of the season including 340 yards in a week three loss to the Detroit Lions.

However, he's yet to top 200 yards since.

Today could be the day that Campbell gets back to success.

This afternoon he goes against the Chiefs' 29th ranked pass defense. Kansas City has allowed an average of 270 yards through the air and 10 passing touchdowns through five games.

Look for Campbell to top 250 yards and a couple of scores today against the Chiefs.

 

Cadillac Williams (RB, Tampa Bay)

With Earnest Graham going back to fullback there should be more carries for Cadillac going forward.

Williams has been inconsistent all season. He's had as many as 16 carries and 97 yards and as little as two carries and eight yards.

Through five games he's topped 10 yards just twice but when he did he rushed for 97 yards and 77 yards.

Today, Williams will likely see plenty of touches against Carolina's 30th ranked rush defense and could see his first 100 yard performance since week 11 of the 2006 season.

He will be sharing carries with Derrick Ward, but look for the Cadillac to be let loose today.

 

Jermichael Finley (TE, Green Bay)

Packers tight end Jermichael Finley is coming off his best performance of his career.

Prior to his bye last week Finley chalked up six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown, all career highs for the second year man.

With the Lions' 27th ranked pass defense the opponent Week Six, Finley could be quite impressive again today.

 

Others To Watch:   LeSean McCoy (RB, Philadelphia), Nate Burleson (WR, Seattle), Rashard Mendenhall (RB, Pittsburgh)

 

Upset Alert!: Tennessee (0-5) over New England (3-2)???

Undoubtedly the most shocking team so far in 2009 has been the 0-5 Tennessee Titans.

The Titans, the AFC's top seed at 13-3 last season, are trying to avoid going 0-6 for the first time since 1984.

They're season started off with an overtime loss to the defending champions and a three point loss to division rival Houston. But in week three they lost by a touchdown to the Jets and their rookie QB.

Over the past two weeks they've gotten embarrassed by Jacksonville and Indianapolis.

So what has changed to cause them to go from 13-3 to 0-5?

Last season Tennessee's defense ranked second in points allowed, and ninth in passing yards allowed. This season? They rank 29th, and 31st in those categories respectively.

One reason for the sudden drop in defensive production could be the loss of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to the Detroit Lions head coaching position.

Or maybe it's the loss of pro bowl defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth to the Washington Redskins.

But perhaps the reason could be all the injuries suffered on defense.

Defensive lineman Jevon Kearse, cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper, safeties Vincent Fuller and Michael Griffin are just the beginning of a list of key pieces on the defense who are battling injuries.

So what can the Titans do to win in New England today?

They can start with getting back to running the ball.

In 2008, the Titans were one of the best rushing teams in the league and they ran often.

Quarterback Kerry Collins was basically a "game manager."

However, so far this season Collins is second behind Tom Brady in pass attempts despite his unimpressive 67.4 quarterback rating.

The Titans need to get back to their niche.

However, it's tough to stick to the run when you're constantly playing catch up.

The defense needs to find a way to slow down Brady and the Patriots passing attack. To do so they could follow the formula others have used to slow down Brady this season. That is to shut down Randy Moss and play tight on the inside receivers.

If they can keep the Brady-to-Moss combo contained, they've got a chance.

To help the banged up secondary, they'll need to get pressure on Brady. Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch could have a big day rushing from the outside as Patriots left tackle Matt Light could be out with a leg injury.

If they can't win today, the Titans' playoff hopes are completely gone.

 

Keys for TEN

-Shut down New England's intermediate to deep passing

-Run the ball

-Pressure on Brady

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