NFL Recap: Week 6
By: Pat Altemose
The NFL drives me insane. Week in and week out, I watch the good, bad, and ugly that is the Philadelphia Eagles. Like most loyal fans, I don the colors of my Eagles and watch with pure joy (or disappointment) as Carson Wentz throws yet another touchdown (or gets sacked yet again by Ryan Kerrigan).
Regardless of the outcome, I love to watch the NFL due to the unpredictable nature of the game. The product on the field is unparalleled by other professional leagues. For either a casual fan of the league or single team savants, the NFL provides compelling storylines and ruthless rivalries every week. It provides a means where people can rally behind a team and a league where each team has a chance to win, regardless of the opponent. It encourages all fans to have hope going through the season. That this is the week. This is the week the Patriots are upset or the week the Browns win a game. This is the week the Panthers bounce back or the week Odell Beckham Jr. returns to his dominant form. The NFL keeps us on the edge of our seat as we watch and celebrate the success or share in the failures of our precious NFL franchise. Week 6 provided all the more reason to continue to watch as the 2016 NFL season unfolds.
Teams on a bye: Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings.
Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers
Final Score: 21-13 Chargers
While the Broncos’ defense had a statistically impressive outing, holding the Chargers to 265 total yards, it was the offense that disappointed. As a team, the Broncos were penalized 12 times for 103 yards, while the Chargers were flagged twice for a measly 12 yards. Two additional turnovers gave the Chargers a total of five redzone chances. This is certainly concerning for a Broncos team that could not get their offense going against a weak Chargers defense without star CB Jason Verrett. In order for the Broncos to return to winning after their second straight loss, they must push the ball down field through the air. Trevor Siemian averages a meager 6.98 yards per attempt, which ranks in the bottom third of quarterbacks. In order to open the running game for CJ Anderson, Siemian must throw the ball down field to prevent opposing defenses from loading the box. As for the Chargers, after leading every game heading into the final two minutes, a victory over the reigning Super Bowl champions should instill confidence moving forward. It will be interesting to see how each team adjusts as the matchup moves to Denver in Week 8.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington
Final Score: 27-20 Washington
The Eagles offense never really had an opportunity to get off the ground. Replacement OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai was a significant down grade from Lane Johnson, who began his 10-game suspension for PEDs this week. Aside from a special teams miscue and pick six from Malcom Jenkins, the Washington defense held the Eagles to six points and a pedestrian 239 yards of total offense. For a Philadelphia team that looked so complete a few short weeks ago, Doug Pederson and his staff are going through some growing pains. Washington played as a legitimate contender for the NFC East crown. Considering Cousins was missing his favorite target, Jordan Reed, Cousins was very efficient throwing the ball down field. This should instill some confidence in Cousins’ ability to bring Washington back to the playoffs and a second straight NFC East title.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Buffalo Bills
Final Score: 45-16 Bills
Led by three LeSean McCoy touchdowns, the Buffalo Bills and Rex Ryan rolled the 49ers in Week 6. The Bills have accrued four straight victories, which moves them right back into the thick of the playoff hunt. In Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 debut, he looked like a shell of himself. Kaepernick struggled throwing the ball all day and missed many wide open receivers. The only real bright spot for Kaepernick throwing the ball was Torrey Smith catching a severely underthrown deep-ball and taking it 53 yards for the touchdown. Additionally, Carlos Hyde was injured in the third quarter, which pretty much halted all progress the 49ers saw in the running game. The 49ers are in trouble going forward and matchups against the Bucs, Saints, Cardinals, and Patriots the next four weeks don’t seem promising.
Cleveland Browns vs. Tennessee Titans
Final: 28-26 Titans
The Cleveland Browns were a 2-point conversion away from tying up the Titans and heading to overtime. With 2:07 left the Browns charged down the field and scored only to miss the 2-point conversion. At a score of 28-19 in favor of the Titans, Hue Jackson goes for it all with the onside kick. The kick was recovered by the Browns and short 90 seconds later; Duke Johnson scores with 27 seconds remaining. After a Cody Parky kick, the Browns are only down two. Unfortunately, lightening doesn’t strike twice and the onside kick rolled out of bounds, allowing Marcus Mariota and the Titans to take a knee and leave with the victory. In a season of so many disappointing games, Cleveland needs to build on this game to remain competitive for the rest of the season. As for the Titans, they are second in the AFC South. Mariota is playing well and has been improving every game this season. As long as he can stay healthy, the Titans should remain competitive moving forward.
Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Giants
Final: 27-23 Giants
Odell is back! In a series of interesting touchdown celebrations involving his good friend the kicking net, Odell Beckham Jr. had a career day: two touchdowns and 222 receiving yards. The Giants were finally able to protect Eli Manning and as a result he was able to unleash on Baltimore’s secondary. Without a running game (38 yards rushing for the Giants), Eli took matters into his own hands and with 1:24 left on the clock, Beckham Jr. took a quick slant 66 yards for the score putting the Giants up 27-23 over the Ravens. Going forward, the Giants should feel great knowing that Eli and Odell are back on the same page. With this prolific offense clicking, the Giants are back and ready to win. As for the Ravens, after a red-hot 3-0 start, three straight losses have readjusted expectations for the Ravens this season.
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
Final: 41-38 Saints
In an offensive shootout, both defenses struggle mightily to get the opponent off the field. With three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Cam Newton and surging Panthers scored on a designed QB run that ended with Newton celebrating in the end zone. With a completed 2-point conversion to Devin Funchess, the Panthers tied the game at 38. Unfortunately for them, they had to give the ball back to one of the best fourth quarter quarterbacks. Drew Brees shredded a less than formidable Panthers secondary and capped the drive with a 52 yard Wil Lutz field goal. The defending NFC champs find themselves at 1-5 and at the bottom of a division they owned a year ago. It appears that Cam Newton has found his stride after coming back from his concussion, yet it is the defense that is struggling. The season gets no easier for the for the Panthers, who face the Cardinals next week.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Chicago Bears
Final: 17-16 Jaguars
Headed into the fourth quarter the Jaguars had yet to score and trailed 13-0 to the Bears. Slowly, but surely Blake Bortles led the Jags down the field, only to be capped off by a Chris Ivory touchdown. The Bears later answered with a 32-yard field goal from Connor Barth. That was not enough to hold off Bortles and the resurging Jaguars who scored 10 points in the final five minutes of regulation to cap off a 17-16 victory at Soldier Field.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Detroit Lions
Final: 31-28 Lions
For the first time all year the Los Angeles offense had a pulse, putting up 28 points albeit against one of the worst defensive units in the NFL. Certainly one of the surprises of the year, the Rams are 3-3. Even more of surprise was the fact that they lost a game in which Case Keenum threw for over 300 yards with 3 touchdowns after basically doing nothing all season. This is certainly encouraging for a Rams team that has been struggling to put up points in previous weeks. Moreover, it makes the Rams choice to start Case Keenum over 1st overall pick Jared Goff a little less suspect.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins
Final: 30-15 Dolphins
This was not only a concerning loss for a Steelers team that was steam-rolling teams headed into this matchup, it is uncertain how long Pittsburgh will be without QB Ben Roethlisberger. While defensively Pittsburgh struggled, giving up 204 yards on the ground and another 252 through the air, it was the play calling that was the most puzzling. Matched up against one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL, Le’Veon Bell rushed the ball a meager 10 times for 53 yards. With arguably the most dangerous running back in the NFL, it appeared as though the Steelers would unleash Bell, but after falling behind early Bell was forgotten. With Landry Jones at the helm of one of the most lethal offenses in the NFL, the Steelers have become a very average team with a poor defense. This could spell trouble depending on the extent of Big Ben’s absence.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots
Final: 35-17 Patriots
The Patriots picked up right where they left off with the Browns and dominated the other team from Ohio. In this decisive Patriot victory, Rob Gronkowski finally showed that he is fully recovered from his hamstring injury, recording 7 receptions, 162 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots appear to be the top team in the AFC, especially with stellar play from Brady and Gronk. On the other hand, the Cincinnati offensive line play horribly, allowing for constant pressure on Dalton all game. This has been the theme for Cincinnati all year, allowing Dalton to be sacked 19 times through 6 games. Dalton is on pace for a career-high 51 sacks on the season. If the Bengals are going to turn their offensive struggles around, it all starts with protecting their franchise quarterback.
Kansas City Chiefs vs Oakland Raiders
Final: 26-10 Chiefs
While Jamaal Charles is back and seeing limited game action, it was Spencer Ware who stole the show. Averaging over seven yards per touch on the season, Andy Reid fed the hot hand and rode Ware to a decisive 26-10 victory over the rival Raiders. As for Oakland, Jack Del Rio abandoned the run game, calling only 14 designed rushing plays. Without Latavious Murray, Oakland has been very limited in the running game. It appears that none of Murray’s carries are being distributed to the other running backs in his absence. With Murray out, DeAndre Washington led all Oakland backs with 10 rushes for 49 yards. While Murray is on the mend, Oakland must figure out how to reestablish the running game to continue their hot start.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks
Final: 26-24 Seahawks
Matt Ryan continued his elite quarterback play and has been tearing through menacing defensive units for the past couple weeks. Throwing for another 300 yard and three touchdown performance, Matt Ryan almost achieved the seemingly impossible. Taking a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter, the Falcons seemed primed to steal a victory in Seattle. After a quick Seattle score and a blocked extra point attempt, the score was 24-23 in favor of Atlanta. With only 3:57 left on the clock, it was up to Matt Ryan to ice the game. After three quick plays and a first down, Ryan went deep to Julio Jones and was intercepted. This opened the door for Wilson and the resilient Seahawks. Seattle Kicked a field goal with 1:57 left and forced a turnover on downs to secure the victory.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
Final: 30-16 Cowboys
The Cowboys have set themselves apart from the rest of the NFC East after a decisive victory over a Packers team with Super Bowl aspirations. The rookie sensation Dak Prescott was able to dissect the Green Bay secondary with ease, tossing three touchdowns on the way to 30-16 rout of the Packers. Green Bay has experienced slow starts in the past, but Rodgers does not look so relaxed as he was a few years back. The 3-2 Packers are playing catch up with the 5-0 Vikings. It may be difficult for the Packers to catch the Vikings who already have one game in hand.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Final 26-23 (OT) Texans
In the only overtime game this week, Brock Osweiler bested Andrew Luck and the Colts. The Texans are the first team to overcome a 14-point deficit in the last three minutes of a game since Tim Tebow and Broncos in Week 7 of the 2011 NFL season. Also, strangely enough, Osweiler is 2-2 when trailing in a game by 14-points in the fourth quarter. Since Osweiler’s debut, the rest of the NFL is 1-96 in such scenarios. While Osweiler is not the prototypical clutch quarterback, it’s encouraging for Bill O’Brien that Osweiler can stay composed in pressure situations. As for the Colts, another disappointing road loss puts them at 2-4 on the season and 0-3 on the road. The Colts offensive line must keep Luck upright or it will be a long and disappointing season for Indianapolis.
New York Jets vs. Arizona Cardinals
Final: 28-3 Cardinals
It would appear that the Cardinals are back on track to being a dominant team in the NFC after two straight victories. While the Cardinals passing attack isn’t as feared as it was last year, David Johnson has thrust himself into the spotlight and assumed the position of the best running back in the NFL. Back to back games with multiple scores and 100 yards is the blueprint for a running back that can do it all. Additionally, he is catching the ball quite well, averaging four receptions per game. He is involved in every facet of the Cardinals offense. The Cardinals defense stifled the Jets so much so that Geno Smith made his 2016 debut. This will be interesting to follow throughout the coming weeks to see if Geno Smith can steal the starting job from the once highly coveted Ryan Fitzpatrick.