No team stands out, but watch for the Patriots and Steelers; Jay Cutler, human pinata; hot player of the week; the Chargers continue to suck and there are way too many dirty hits.
How I saw Week 6 in the NFL:
Call it a season with no theme. There appear to be a lot of good/pretty good teams, but no elite teams. In this kind of season, the teams that stay competitive and get better each week have a real shot to make some playoff noise.
If I had to rank a top team right now it would be the Jets (5-1), who have won five in a row. The latest was a 24-20 thriller at Denver. The game's key play was a 46-yard pass interference penalty against the Broncos on fourth down. It was a good call despite the crowd howling its displeasure. LaDainian Tomlinson then ran in for the game-winning TD. The Jets' defense is awesome and the offense is very productive, with QB Mark Sanchez playing well. LT looks like the LT of old.
In their division, the Jets have to contend with the Patriots (4-1), who rallied from 20-10 down in the fourth quarter to beat Baltimore, 23-20, in overtime. In their first game following the Randy Moss trade, the Pats offense was efficient if not explosive. Deion Branch, just acquired this week, caught nine passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots have a young defense, but it played well in the fourth quarter and overtime. New England has a tough upcoming schedule, with games at San Diego (the Chargers are tough at home), at Pittsburgh and home against Indianapolis and Minnesota (the Moss Returns Bowl), but they are using a formula that worked well in winning three Super Bowls in 2001-03-04.
|Hot Player of the Week: Eric Decker of the Denver Broncos|
Another team that can only get better is the Steelers (4-1), easy 28-10 winners over Cleveland in Ben Roethlisberger’s return. With Big Ben under center, the Steelers have a legit passing game. They already have a killer defense, which they will need with five of their next seven on the road. The Colts (4-2) gutted out a win at Washington, but are so banged up that every game will be a slog. No team needs their upcoming bye more than Indy.
In the NFC, no team stands out (4-2 is the best mark in the conference), which means a lot of teams are in it. It’s a weird year when the Rams and Packers have the same record (3-3).
The Vikings (2-3) looked dead a couple of weeks ago, but two wins in three games, combined with the Bears and Packers struggling have combined to put Minnesota firmly back in the NFC North race.
The Vikings beat the Cowboys (1-4) as Dallas continues to play OK in parts of games, but finds some way to screw up at the most crucial time. This looks like it will be Wade Phillips' last as coach, something most Cowboys fans are rooting for. His team is totally undisciplined, as evidenced by Miles Austin getting a penalty a week for excessive celebration a week after a similar penalty cost the Cowboys big time against Tennessee. If Dallas somehow makes the playoffs, they will be only the sixth team to do so since 1990 after starting 1-4.
Back to Earth: After starting 3-0, the Chiefs are now 3-2 after blowing a 10-point fourth quarter lead at Houston. Last week, in a 19-9 loss to the Colts, the Chiefs offense struggled while the defense played lights out. This week, it was the offense that excelled but the defense that fell apart. This is a fun team to watch simply because you never know what they’ll do.
Collapse: Easily the league’s most disappointing team is the Chargers (2-4), 2017 losers to the Rams. San Diego has lost all four road games to teams that finished a combined 15-49 in 2009 (Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland and St. Louis). Tight end Antonio Gates (my fantasy tight end) has what is called a bad ankle injury, which only adds to their woes. How Norv Turner keeps his coaching job is beyond me; losing to teams you are superior to is clearly a sign of a coach unable to properly prepare his team. The Chargers’ one saving grace is that they play in the weak AFC West, where 8-8 won the division two years ago. San Diego is far from out of it despite how crappy they have looked.
Hot player of the week: Eric Decker is a 6-3 rookie wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, and an Outsports Weekend Hot Jock when he was a senior at the University of Minnesota. He hasn’t gotten much action so far this season, but this award goes for looks and hotness, not game play, so he’s hard to beat.
Human piñata: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked nine times by the Giants and suffered a concussion, which kept him out last week. His line was scarcely better Sunday against the Seahawks – Cutler went down six times in a 23-20 loss.
Vick or Kolb? The Eagles have a bit of a dilemma -- who is the quarterback once Michael Vick is healthy? Kevin Kolb replaced Vick and the Eagles have won two in a row, with Kolb looking terrific (23 for 29 and three TDs) against the Falcons. But Vick was playing amazing football before he got hurt, and Cyd thinks he should get his job back. I am not so sure. Kolb began the season as the starter until he got hurt in Week 1, and based on his play the past two weeks, he is as deserving as Vick. Kolb will probably make it easy by getting hurt again right when Vick is set to come back.
Hand of glue: The Colts' Pierre Garcon had an amazing one-handed grab against Washington that is the best I've seen this season (watch it here). This is the same Garcon who's likely to drop a pass that hits him square in the numbers.
Hot commercial alert: The guy in the Corona beer ad is cute with a tight hard body, making it one of the few commercials I don't turn off during games.
Brutal: I saw a bunch of helmet-to-helmet hits this week, with guys being carted off the field. There has to be some sort of stronger penalty for guys who launch themselves at defenseless players; maybe they sit as long as the injured player does. Call it the eye-for-an-eye punishment. Former Patriot Rodney Harrison said on NBC that being fined had no effect on him, but that being suspended did.