We take a look at the potential headlines and stories coming out of the Week 6 NFL matchups.
The NFL has managed to make it to Week 6, despite no certainty that the season would even happen in the first place. With almost daily positive tests popping up now, and games being rescheduled with the tact and forethought of a chainsmoking monkey thumping away at a typewriter, the season has managed to make it to Week 6, and for that, we should be grateful.
We do not know how much longer the season will continue going, with reason to believe it will be suspended coming out almost every day, so we should appreciate any game we get the opportunity to see. So help get readers into the games this week, we took a look at each game and break down the headlines that make this week exciting.
Cam Newton could return to the Patriots’ offense while Drew Lock will return to the Broncos
We know how the New England Patriots are about communication, in that they do not communicate. So likely we will not know whether or not Cam Newton will start Sunday’s matchup between the Patriots and Denver Broncos until game day. However, all signs suggest that Cam Newton will be returning to the field for the New England Patriots, having spent the last two weeks (although only one game) inactive after testing positive for Covid-19.
On the Denver side, Drew Lock will be returning to the field for the first time since he suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2. This is huge for the Broncos who are looking to finally get something going after suffering a 1-3 start in the first quarter of the season.
This game maybe too early in the season to be a must-win for either team, but with both teams looking to get some momentum after slow starts and early byes, this is a win both teams must go get. This makes both teams getting their starting quarterbacks even more important.
The AFC South’s dynamic change is on display
If you had asked most analyst before the season started to break down the AFC south, the Texans would have been at the top, with the Titans coming up either second or third, depending how confident the analyst was in Phillip Rivers and the Colts, with of course Jacksonville being almost unanimously last in the league, let alone the division.
Oh how the tables have turned.
The Titans are on top of the division, despite having only played four games thus far in the season, while the Houston Texans are actually fourth in the division at 1-4. The Texans were the first team in the league to fire their head coach and are scrambling to make anything positive of this disaster of a 2020 season.
This game could serves as a huge turning point for the Texans with a win, especially with as young as the season is. A loss does not mean a lost season, however it does put them five losses behind the division leader which may put that spot out of reach.
A match-up for first in the AFC North
The AFC North is currently the best division in football. The Ravens are bullying worse teams, the Steelers are being carried by an old school hard-hitting defense, and the Browns maybe the scariest team in football with their dual headed running attack.
This weekend, the Steelers and Browns are meeting up for the first time this season in a game that has serious playoff implications as well as divisional rankings. The loser will be the 3rd ranked team in the division, with the Browns falling to 4-2, putting them behind the Ravens at second, while the Steelers would drop to 4-1 with a matchup loss to the Browns who would be in second behind the Ravens by a matchup loss (assuming the Ravens win, and they’re playing the Eagles, so be honest with yourself).
This has game of the year possibilities and fun matchups to watch, so keep your eyes on this one.
An important game for two different reasons
The Ravens schedule is embaressingly easy. Trips to the NFC East and AFC South makes for 8 easy wins. Add in two matchups with the Bengals and the Ravens do not have to win another divisional game to grab a playoff spot. However, if the Ravens want to grab the number one spot in the division, they have to capitalize on the easy matchups like they have this week.
However, the Ravens are on a two season long downward spiral that is currently manifesting in a 1-3-1 record. Doug Peterson is on the hottest seat in the league, Carson Wentz confidence is basement level lows, and fans are calling for Jalen Hurts.
The Eagles need this win out of desperation, the Ravens need this win to keep the number one spot in the playoffs a possibility.
The NFC East dumpster fire presents
How can a division that receives so much attention and press coverage be so consistently terrible.
The NFC East is misery for a second straight season, and now that Dak Prescott is injured and can not carry the Cowboys to the division title, any team can grab this division, even with a losing record. That means every divisional game is a must win for every team.
The Washington Football Team and the New York Giants are both franchises that attempted to re-establish their identities recently. Both got new quarterbacks (Dwayne Haskins in Washington and Daniel Jones in New York) in last years draft and both got new head coaches this season (Ron Rivera in Washington and Joe Judge in New York). A win, and especially a division title, could help put either of these teams further down the road of redefining themselves.
An alternate headline for this game could definitely be about this being Alex Smith’s first official start since his devastating injury. Love that guy, and not only because we share a last name and are therefore inevitably related, and therefore I genetically draw from the same pool that he gets his good looks from.
Falcons first game without Dan Quinn
This week the Atlanta Falcons cut head coach Dan Quinn after an embarrassing 0-5 start. Having joined the team in 2015, originally Quinn looked like he would be the next great coach in the league taking the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl in 2016.
Then 28-3 happened.
Never has a loss destroyed a franchise as rough as 28-3 destroyed the Atlanta Falcons franchise, and in 2020 that downward spiral has manifested into an 0-5 start, with multiple choked leads within the same season. The franchise desperately needed a culture reset and of course that starts with the firing of Dan Quinn.
This will be the Falcons first game without him on the sideline, with Raheem Morris set to be the interim coach for the time being. Falcon fans should also appreciate Matt Ryan for the time being, because this could also be the last full season of Matt Ryan as the starter.
Battle for draft position
Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions have phoned it in, despite the season being only 5 weeks old. Patricia’s job is all but gone, Doug Marrone’s job is all but gone, Stafford’s days are numbered especially because I am convinced that playing for Detroit ages you three times as fast, Minshew days are numbered in Jacksonville because Jackonsville can have nothing nice.
This battle is going to be sloppy football and the team with the most mistake and suffers a loss, really wins with a step closer to the number one draft pick.
Trevor Lawrence, this is your future. Maybe try the XFL?
AJ Green visits his future home?
AJ Green needs out of Cincinnati, he clearly does not want to be there and is phoning it in until this offseason when he can escape and be a free agent. However, it would be wiser of the Bengals to trade him before the deadline as to get something in return (might I suggest an offensive lineman?). So who is a position to win that could really use an offensive weapon to help out their older quarterback?
Oh hi there Indy, I almost did not see you there.
The Colts would be wise to throw some day three draft picks (a sixth would suffice) and grab a veteran talent at wide receiver to help Phillip Rivers and the offense perform at an acceptable level, given how well their defense has performed thus far. This should be a great trip for AJ Green to use to find his housing and some great dinner places for when he gets to officially move there in a few weeks.
A Matchup between the two most surprising teams of the year
The Chicago Bears are 4-1, which is more wins then most analyst were giving them before the season, let alone in the first five weeks of the season. Sure, their schedule has been pretty weak, with matchups against the Falcons, Giants, and Detroit making up 3 of those five games, but dubs are dubs.
However even more surprising are the Carolina Panthers at 3-2, despite the sudden and complete culture shift that happened this offseason. Going from Cam to Teddy Bridgewater, Ron Rivera to Matt Rhule, and losing Luke Kuechly from the defense should have put the Carolina Panthers in position to spend 2020 rebuilding.
Both of these teams are overperforming in surprising ways, and with seven teams making it to the playoffs this year, this may actually have implications for the seventh playoff spot in the NFC.
Alternative headline is that this maybe the Panthers last game without Christian Mccaffrey, and at 3-2 without your best player, the Panthers are looking great.
Adam Gase’s former employer could get him fired
Two other NFL coaches have been fired this season, and neither of them was Adam Gase, and that is a crime.
However, if the Miami Dolphins can hand Adam Gase an L this week, pushing the Jets to 0-6, I do not know how the Jets can justify keeping Gase around any longer. The NFL would be better without him.
So for the first time since 2019’s Week 17, I am rooting for the Dolphins. Fitzpatrick, I need you.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady
The two most elite players from the last generation of players that are not named Peyton Manning. Head to head yet again, but oh how the times have changed.
Tom Brady has made his way to a new team with a ton of new offensive weapons, but his play has seriously spiraled in the last couple seasons. The Bucs are still trying to find their identity under TB12, and despite the New Orleans Saints below average play this year, they do not have long to figure it out.
The Green Bay Packers are on the complete other side of that spectrum, currently rolling at 5-0 and being led by a legitimate candidate for league MVP Aaron Rodgers. They lack serious offensive weapons, but Rodgers could throw touchdown passes to a waterboy. Currently leading their division and the best team in the division by a mile, Matt Lefluer may go get the chip in only his second season as head coach.
This game will probably be one sided in all honesty, but it will be a great nostalgia trip for some people.
The Battle of California
The Rams and 49ers have been on such similar paths the last few seasons that it is almost spooky.
A young, defensively minded head coach uses their deep defensive roster to power their way to a Super Bowl, where they got beaten by the torchbearer (for the Rams, it was Tom Brady, for the 49ers, it was some kid named Patrick Mahomes). Their offenses were held back by mediocre quarterback, and despite normally making up for that with a powerful running back/backs, they fell away from that in the big game and ended up losing the game because of it. The Super Bowl Hangover hit both teams hard, although the Rams look set to finally get back on track.
This is a great defensive battle between the only two teams in California (there is most definitely not a third team in California, because if there were, I would have met a fan of theirs at one point) that will be great for viewers who love old school, defensive ball with a ton of ground work.
The Chiefs and Bills both look to reset momentum
Two MVP candidates, two teams who look set to control the AFC side of the playoff bracket, battling it out in a great Monday night (the game is 4 Pm central, so afternoon?) matchup.
Both teams are coming off of embarassing losses, with the Chiefs being shocked by a divisional opponent and the Bills were destroyed by a team that had not played football in two weeks. Both teams will be angry and looking to take out some frustration that has been sitting in them all week.
Both teams need a win to get back on track and they will be looking to get it in (pre) primetime.
Kyler Murray versus the league’s worst defense
I could write about how this is an important game for Dallas, with it being their first game without Dak Prescott since taking over for Tony Romo in 2016. I could write about the tight NFC East again, but I want to think happy thoughts.
However I am really excited to see what Kyler Murray can do against this defense.
Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins have some insane chemistry, the Arizona offense is humming, and this could be an offensive track meet. If Kyler Murray has 600 yards offense on Monday night, I would not be surprised.
The Arizona defense is also miserable and could offer up opportunities for Andy Dalton to shine, but that is not nearly as exciting as Kyler Murray.