NFL Week 6 of the 2010 season is nearly in the rearview mirror, giving fans, players, and coaches alike a moment to look back and reflect on the magical moments of the weekend.
And from Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings remaining alive with a major win over the reeling Dallas Cowboys to an ever-improving New England Patriots team, let’s take a quick glance at 25 things we learned in week 6.
Starting with Pittsburgh’s Big Ben, let’s kick things off…
Battered Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned to the NFL gridiron on Sunday afternoon, helping to guide the Steelers to a 28-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
In his first game on the field in 2010, Roethlisberger threw for 257 yards, tossing three touchdowns and an interception this past weekend.
And if things continue as planned in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger will be playing a major role in revamping the Steelers as the second half of the NFL season looms.
The Cleveland Browns lost again on Sunday, dropping a 28-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers en route to a 1-5 overall record.
Cleveland has lost two straight contests and is winless on the road.
Sadly, at least from Browns fans, it's the same old tune yet a different season.
Cleveland hasn't fielded a good football team in ages, and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon.
From Brett Favre and the Vikings bouncing back with a big win to the Atlanta Falcons getting spanked by the Philadelphia Eagles, things have truly been shaken up after the week 6 games in the latest NFL standings.
The Houston Texans have solidified itself as the No. 1 team in the AFC South, the Dallas Cowboys are in dead last in the NFC East, and the Minnesota Vikings now have a ray of hope as the 2010 season rolls on—just to name a few changes.
Plus, beyond the stats and numbers that plague fans and players alike on a constant basis, this weekend also proved that any team can win on any given Sunday.
Granted, it's been a see-saw season this year in the NFL; and with week 7 on the horizon, don't be surprised when more shocking upset and big-time blowouts occur in the near future.
The New Orleans Saints needed a big win this weekend when facing Tampa Bay, with Drew Brees and company doing just that in a 31-6 blowout victory.
New Orleans is currently in second place in the NFC South, holding a 4-2 overall record.
But even more important that much-needed bounce back win is the fact that Brees and company appear regrouped and refocused on taking care of business on the football field.
And if Brees and his teammates can keep that up, New Orleans will soon be back on top in both NFL standings and power rankings.
The Pittsburgh Steelers picked up a major win on Sunday afternoon over the cellar-dweller Cleveland Browns, walking away with a 28-10 victory.
Pittsburgh holds a 4-1 overall record while going 2-1 at home and 2-0 on the road.
But the Steelers win over the pitiful Browns had many magical moments forecasting a bright future for the Pittsburgh franchise.
And call me crazy, but if Pittsburgh can keep the momentum rolling they could easily be contenders come postseason play.
One of the biggest questions heading into week 7 is whether or not the St. Louis Rams win on Sunday was a fluke or reality.
Regardless of the answer, the Rams are now 3-3 overall and in third place in the NFC West.
However, if you want my personal opinion, I believe St. Louis' Sunday win was legit—and it's only a matter of time before people are once again talking about the Rams as NFL contenders.
While the St. Louis Rams are making a climb up the NFL standings and power rankings, the San Diego Chargers continue to dig deeper into the league cellar.
San Diego is now 2-4 overall and has lost two straight games.
But there's still a lot of football remaining to be played—and with the season just nearing it's midway mark, don't be too quick to count out the Chargers.
The San Francisco 49ers can finally breathe a sigh of relief after picking up win No. 1 of the 2010 season on Sunday.
San Francisco beat Oakland 17-9 and is 1-5 overall.
49ers head coach Mike Singletary has also got to be ecstatic right about now; he's always had a solid team, it has just taken them six weeks to learn to play together.
How can anyone not feel sorry for the Detroit Lions this year, a team that seems plagued with winless seasons time and time again?
The Lions are 1-5 overall and in last place in the NFC North.
Like Cleveland, it's been ages since Detroit fielded a solid contending NFL team.
And with the way things are looking in 2010, the Lions appear to be heading right back down that drain and back into the league cellar.
The Miami Dolphins defeated Green Bay 23-20 in overtime on Sunday, improving to 3-2 overall in 2010.
Miami is 3-0 on the road and 0-2 at home this year.
But even more important than all the stats is the fact that the Dolphins can use this latest win as a diving board moving forward and looking towards the future.
Miami has plenty of time to still make a run this season, and I wouldn't be surprised if Sunday's win begins pushing things in a positive direction for the Dolphins.
A loss is a loss, but losing to a former winless team hurts more than others.
The Oakland Raiders continued it’s losing ways on Sunday, dropping a 17-9 decision to the San Francisco 49ers to drop to 2-4 overall.
Unfortunately for Raiders fans, Oakland's 2010 campaign already appears to be in the dumpster.
And if you look at Sunday's matchup with the 49ers as things to come, it's time to go ahead and shut the door on Oakland's season.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a whole lot to be proud of, regardless of the team dropping a heartbreaking 35-31 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Kansas City is 3-2 overall and has lost two games in a row.
But the Chiefs came to Houston with a game plan, and executed that plan to near perfection—attacking the Texans' extremely weak pass defense as Kansas City aired things out on Sunday afternoon at Reliant Stadium.
It almost worked—and if not for a Houston offense that clicked on all cylinders in the closing moments of a week 6 showdown, the Chiefs easily would have won.
The Green Bay Packers are having a nightmare season, and it has nothing to do with the three-year absence of Brett Favre.
Green Bay dropped a 23-20 overtime loss to Miami on Sunday, bringing the team’s overall record to 3-3 overall.
The Packers have also loss two consecutive contests and appear to be a team heading towards the league cellar rather than making a climb up the NFL standings.
To put it bluntly, Green Bay is looking awful and the team is in dire need of changing things as soon as possible; if not, the Packers can kiss it's 2010 season goodbye.
Although the Washington Redskins lost to the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 on Sunday night, Donavan McNabb continues to prove he’s still a phenomenal play-caller in the NFL.
McNabb threw for 246 yards in the Redskins home loss, throwing one touchdown and two untimely interceptions.
But he's still a very good fit in Washington.
As long as management continues to have faith in McNabb, and barring any unforeseen injuries, the Redskins could easily be the team to beat in a few weeks.
Mark me up as one who believed the Atlanta Falcons were a solid squad this season, but they proved a whole lot with Sunday’s 31-17 blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Atlanta, regardless of being 4-2 overall, must improve if it aims to make a deep postseason run in 2010.
Because looking at the way things currently stand, the Falcons are going to be on the outside looking in come postseason play.
I'm not saying Atlanta WON'T make the playoffs, but they have a whole lot of holes to fill between now and December if the Falcons hope to contend in January 2011.
There are two things that appear to be facts regarding the Houston Texans in 2010: the team’s pass defense is pitiful while the offense can score points in a hurry.
Houston proved both on Sunday, falling behind early before battling back for a 35-31 inspiring victory to improve to 4-2 on the season and solidify itself as the first place team in the AFC South.
Taking a closer look at the two cases in point, Houston's secondary MUST begin improving if it wants to move from pretender status to contender.
And as far as the offensive scoring points at lightening quick speed, teams around the league better keep that in mind when facing a Texans team intent on reaching postseason play this year.
Peyton Manning and the Colts are continuing to look like the Indianapolis of title days, with the team improving to 3-2 overall after taking a 27-24 road victory over the Washington Redskins.
The Colts are 2-0 at home while going 1-2 on the road.
But it's about more than just improving.
It's about Peyton Manning looking more and more like that consistent leader on a team build upon championships and success.
It's about winning games on both sides of the ball.
And it's also about winning games the right way; something Manning and his Colts teammates know all too well.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a deep and talented team in 2010, and proved that on Sunday with a dominating 31-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
The Eagles are now 4-2 overall and have won two straight games.
How deep, you ask?
Take backup QB Kevin Kolb, for example, who got the starting nod this past Sunday—and if you believe head coach Andy Reid, Kolb will likely start again next Sunday against the Titans.
With Seattle stealing a 23-20 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the biggest question is: are the Seahawks under-the-radar contenders this season?
Seattle is now 3-2 overall and tied for first place in the NFC West.
And with the team's latest win, don't be surprised to see the Seahawks in the hunt for postseason play as the second half of the NFL season looms.
The Seahawks have plenty of time to begin causing a buzz in the league, and if you want my opinion I believe Seattle could very well be considered contenders in a few weeks.
No matter how you slice it, the Dallas Cowboys are literally terrible this season.
Dallas dropped a three-point loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with the Cowboys dipping deeper into the NFL cellar while holding a 1-4 overall record.
The Cowboys have also dropped two straight games and appear to be well on it's way to one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
And for a team highly considered Super Bowl contenders to begin the season, nothing has gone right—and nearly everything has gone wrong—for Dallas' football team.
Yes, the Baltimore Ravens overtime loss to the New England Patriots hurts; but it’s not the end of the world.
Nor is it the end of the season.
Regardless of Baltimore’s latest setback, the Ravens still have plenty of time to bounce back and make a major run in 2010.
Baltimore is currently 4-2 overall and in second place in the AFC North.
And by the time all is said and done, don't be shocked to still see the Ravens amongst the leaders of the standings come late December.
Go ahead and call me crazy; Baltimore has a very solid team this season.
The Chicago Bears' hot start to the 2010 season appears to finally be slowing down.
Chicago, 4-2 overall this season, dropped a disappointing 23-20 loss to Seattle on Sunday—with the Bears holding identical 2-1 records at both home and on the road.
But Chicago is still riding a high following a phenomenal start to the season, and I have no doubt that the Bears are a legitimate team in the NFL this year.
In fact, I wouldn't be shocked one bit to see Chicago make a deep postseason run come early January 2011.
Eli Manning and the New York Giants continue to make some major noise on the NFL gridiron this season.
The Giants beat the Detroit Lions 28-20 on Sunday and have won three straight contests.
New York’s Giants are also currently 4-2 overall and in first place in the NFC East.
In addition, Eli Manning is beginning to look more and more comfortable in the pocket as an NFL quarterback.
Yes, I'm sure it runs in the family.
But regardless of the reasons for the season, Manning and his New York teammates are looking better and better every week.
Both New York teams are looking really sharp this season; the Jets beat Denver 24-20 on Sunday and are currently in first place in the AFC East.
The Jets are 5-1 overall and have won five consecutive games.
And if the playoffs were to begin today, I'd easily be one arguing that the New York Jets are Super Bowl contenders.
Sure; it's a long season and there are plenty more games to be played.
But the Jets appear to be a team on a mission in 2010, absolutely focused on reaching it's postseason hopes and dreams—no matter what it takes.
So who’s the new No. 1 NFL team to beat heading into week 7?
If you want my opinion, that honor goes to the New England Patriots.
New England beat a very strong Baltimore team 23-20 in overtime on Sunday, improving to 4-1 overall.
The Patriots have also won three straight contests, going 3-0 at home and 1-1 on the road.
But beyond the numbers, Tom Brady and his teammates are growing and learning one week at a time; and with the way things are going, Brady and the Pats won't be stopping until the Super Bowl fat lady sings...
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org