Another week has come and gone. Yet another undefeated team has lost. The remaining two undefeated teams reside in the same division. Let’s look back at what we learned in Week 6.
5 Things We Learned in Week 6
1. New England is dangerous. Especially at home. Especially with Tom Brady at quarterback. Especially in the 4th quarter. No, they have not looked especially strong this year, at least compared to past years, because of dealing with injuries and free agency losses (and incarcerations). The Saints had every opportunity to win the game in the 4th quarter but gave Tom Brady too many chances. Brady and the Patriots are 69-0 after taking a double digit lead at home since 2001. This win was huge for the Patriots who are trying to establish themselves in an unexpected closer-than-predicted AFC East battle. Week 7 will see 2 key AFC East battles (Patriots at Jets, Bills at Dolphins). We may know just how close this race will be after this week if New England can begin to distance themselves from the rest with a win.
2. Seattle and San Francisco will be fighting it out to the end for the NFC West crown. Both teams had tough wins at home on Sunday (Seattle vs Tennessee, San Francisco vs Arizona). This coming week will feature tough road games for each team. Seattle will travel to Arizona on Thursday night, where a short week may cause this to be a closer game than usual. San Francisco will travel to Tennessee. A win by Arizona would completely murk up the NFC West and make things even more interesting.
3. Houston has fallen far. After starting out 2-0, they have dropped their last 4 games. Despite leading the league in defense (252.8 yards/game) and being 5th in the league in offense (395.7 yards/game), the Texans can’t seem to find a way to win games. A big reason for this drop is the Texans are dead last in the plus/minus turnover department (-12). They have given the ball away 15 times so far (11 interceptions and 4 fumbles). The turnovers have gotten so bad that the Texans fans cheered on Sunday when Matt Schuab left the game with an injury. It doesn’t get any easier for Houston as they travel to undefeated Kansas City this week.
4. The NFC North will challenge the NFC West for wild card spots. We can look at the standings now and see that there are many teams competing for those two wild card spots in these divisions. If the season ended today, Seattle and Detroit would be the division winners. San Francisco and Chicago would take up the two wild card spots. Green Bay, Arizona, and St. Louis all sit at a game or less out of the wildcard spots. Yes, we are not even at the halfway point of the season but we are beginning to see who the pretenders and contenders are.
5. The top of the AFC West is historically good. It has been 79 years since two teams from the same division won their first 6 games. Kansas City has won their games with their defense which ranks 3rd in the NFL (306.3 yards/game) which includes their passing defense which ranks 2nd in the league (189.7 yards/game). This will be a key matchup when the Chiefs and Broncos finally play each other. It’s no surprise that Denver ranks 1st in overall offense including the top passing offense in the NFL. Peyton Manning has had a historic season up to this point and will play in the marquee game this week, returning to Indianapolis.
Meaningless Power Rankings
1. Denver Broncos 2. Kansas City Chiefs 3. New England Patriots 4. Seattle Seahawks 5. New Orleans Saints 6. San Francisco 49ers 7. Detroit Lions 8. Chicago Bears 9. Indianapolis Colts 10. Cincinnati Bengals
5 games to watch in Week 7
Last week’s record: 4-1 Season record: 14-15
Thursday, October 17th: Seattle Seahawks (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (3-3) The Seahawks are a lot of people’s favorites (including myself) to win the NFC. However, the Seahawks tend to play better at home. This week the Seahawks will have to travel to a divisional foe on a short week after a tough win against the Titans. Takeaways continue to be Seattle’s strength; they lead the NFC with 17. Arizona is not far away with 13 takeaways. The problem with the Cardinals, however, is that they have given the ball away 15 times (only Eli Manning’s Giants have more in the NFC). If Arizona protects the football, they have a chance to win at home and make the NFC West race very interesting. Seattle is a better football team though and will find a way to win.
My pick: Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, October 20th: Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Detroit Lions (4-2) An interleague matchup between two 4-2 teams in the Midwest. Both teams lead their respective divisions and hope to advance to 5-2. Matthew Stafford is putting together a pro bowl season with 1,772 yards 12 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Only Peyton Manning has attempted more passes (Stafford: 239 attempts, Manning: 240 attempts). The Lions have not lost a game at home this season; the Bengals are only 1-2 on the road. The AFC has fared better in these interleague matchups this season but I am not sure the Bengals defense will be able to contain the Lions’ passing attack.
My pick: Detroit Lions
Sunday, October 20th: Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) Somebody has to win the NFC East, right? This division has been full of inconsistent play from every team (except for the Giants who are consistently bad). Both teams have two of their three wins against divisional opponents (Both against the Redskins and Giants who are a combined 1-10). Chip Kelly’s offense has not had problems piling up yards as they rank 3rd in the NFL (449.8 yards/game). Unfortunately, Philly’s defense is ranked dead last (420.2 yards/game). Dallas is not much better defensively (413.2 yards/game). There is a reason the over/under for this game is around 55.5/56 points at most gambling establishments; by all accounts, this will be a high scoring game. There are reports now that Michael Vick will not play so I am leaning towards the Dallas Cowboys.
My pick: Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, October 20th: Cleveland Browns (3-3) at Green Bay Packers (3-2) This is a very interesting interleague matchup between two teams trying to keep pace with teams ahead of them in their respective divisions. The Browns defense will have to pressure Aaron Rodgers just as they have pressured quarterbacks all season. The Browns are 2nd in the league in sacks (24). Rodgers is 2nd in the NFC in passing yards per game (329) and will try to move the ball on a Cleveland defense that only allows 214 yards/game through the air (8th overall in NFL). The Browns have surprised many pundits around the league by going 3-1 since trading away Trent Richardson and hope to make another statement at Lambeau Field where the Packers are 2-0. The Packers will remain undefeated at home unless the Browns defense effectively pressures Rodgers.
My pick: Green Bay Packers
Sunday, October 20th: Denver Broncos (6-0) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2) This Sunday night Peyton Manning will travel back to Indianapolis where he was the quarterback for a majority of his career. The stage will be set for a deserving tribute from the Colts to their longtime quarterback. The Colts looked like an elite team until Monday’s loss in San Diego in a game that saw the Chargers possess the ball for over 38 minutes. Andrew Luck was a not-so-good 18 of 30 for 202 yards, 0 touchdowns, and an interception. Still, Indianapolis has only allowed 205.7 passing yards a game (5th best in NFL). The Indy defense will have to be at their best going against the top passing attack in the league. One important thing to note is that Denver’s passing defense is worst in the NFL (337.7 yards/game) so Andrew Luck may have a chance to outscore Manning. On the road against the Colts will be by far the Broncos biggest test to date this season. Regardless of what Manning has said, there is no doubt that he will want to stick it to the Colts for letting him go. The Broncos’ defense is a cause for concern but I think Manning will outscore Luck.
My pick: Denver Broncos
There are a lot of interesting divisional games to pay attention to as well as the games that were mentioned. These divisional games are always pivotal in how a team finishes. Enjoy!
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