Playoff seedings are starting to take shape. The NFC East is looking like the best division in the NFL. The Patriots look unstoppable. And the Dallas Cowboys have a full-blown quarterback controversy on their hands. Let’s get to the recaps:
Denver vs San Diego: San Diego beat the Broncos 21-13 in a victory that probably saved head coach Mike McCoy’s job for another week. The Chargers jumped out to a 19-3 third quarter lead and forced Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian to win the game on his own. That’s probably not the way the Broncos planned it; Siemian throwing the ball 50 times in a game is a recipe for disaster. Denver also committed 12 penalties for 103 yards and had a CJ Anderson touchdown reception called back late in the fourth quarter. Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers became the franchises career passing leader in the win.
Buffalo vs San Francisco: The Buffalo Bills beat the 49ers 45-16 winning their fourth straight game in the process. This game looked like a good one when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit wide receiver Torrey Smith for a 53 yard touchdown pass to give the team an early 10-7 lead. Eventually, the wheels fell off as Buffalo proceeded to score 35 unanswered points. The Bills rushing attacked rolled off 312 yards (7.1/carry) and four touchdowns. Buffalo nows sit at 4-2 while the San Francisco dropped to 1-5.
Philadelphia vs Washington: The Washington Redskins stayed hot winning their fourth game in a row over the Eagles 27-20. The Redskins defense did an outstanding job apply pressure on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz sacking him five times and forcing 11 quarterback hits. Wentz’s growing pains are to be expected but the last two games he has held onto the football far too long which is allowing the defense to get to him. Washington also rushed for 230 yards which allowed them to control the clock and keep the Eagles offense off the field. These two teams are neck and neck in the NFC East which is all of a sudden looking like the best division in the NFL.
Cleveland vs Tennessee: Tennessee moved into second place in the AFC South by beating a banged-up Cleveland team, 28-26. Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota (348 total yards, three TDs) evoked visions of his Heisman Trophy days at Oregon with a complete performance. Cleveland quarterback Cody Kessler (336, two TDs) did his best to stop the bleeding, but the Browns remain as the league’s lone winless team.
Pittsburgh vs Miami: In the biggest surprise of the week, the Dolphins steamrolled the Steelers 30-15. Midway through the first quarter, Steelers’ wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey darted past the Dolphins defense for a 60 yards touchdown run on an end-around play. After that however, things turned for the worst for Steeler Nation. Coach Mike Tomlin had to watch the Dolphins’ Jay Ajayi gash his defense for 204 rushing yards. To add insult to injury (literally) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a knee injury. Big Ben was able to return in the second half, but it was announced after the game that he will need minor knee surgery and will be out four weeks. The Steelers should be able to get by with Landry Jones, but what looked like a winnable division last week just got exponentially harder. And just a final tidbit over Ajayi’s performance, he joined Ricky Williams and Reggie Bush as the only players in Dolphins franchise history to run for 200 or more yards in a game.
Baltimore vs New York Giants: The Giants were able to keep pace in the NFC East with a 27-23 victory over the Ravens. Giants’ wide-out Odell Beckham had the kind of game the team (and fantasy football owners) have waited for all year. Beckham’s 211 receiving yards in the second half tied for the second-most yards in one half since Steven Largent (Seahawks) set the record with a 224 yard performance in 1987. Eli Manning had another 400 yard passing day (8th of his career) as he helped lead the Giants back to .500.
Carolina vs New Orleans: Nothing seems to be going right in Carolina as the Panthers dropped to 1-5 with a 41-38 loss to New Orleans. If there was ever a time a team needed a bye week, it’s the defending NFC Champs. The Panthers could use the rest before a season defining matchup with Arizona in Week 8. New Orleans won for the second time in as many weeks and Drew Brees moved into a tie with Peyton Manning for the most 400 yard regular season passing games in NFL history (15).
Chicago vs Jacksonville: Jacksonville earned its second victory of the season by knocking off the Bears 17-16. This was a very unspectacular game as the only excitement was the iPhone video of the fan brawl outside the stadium after the game. I guess Bears fans feel that if the team can’t win, might as well fight the visiting fans.
Detroit vs Los Angeles: In an entertaining game, the Detroit Lions managed to hold of the LA Rams 31-28. The pregame started with plenty of fireworks as Detroit honored its 1991 squad that featured running back Barry Sanders. That energy flowed into the game and finished wildly with Lions kicker Matt Prater nailing a 34-yard field goal with 1:29 left in regulation. Lions’ safety Rafael Bush intercepted Rams quarterback Case Keenum a few plays later, sealing the victory. Matthew Stafford (4 TDs, 139.8 QBR) continues his fantastic season. If the Lions expect to make a playoff push, they will need to have Stafford playing at this level because they can’t seem to get anything going on the ground. In addition, allowing Keenum to complete 19 straight passes is a horrendous display in your pass defense. The Rams dropped to 3-3 and fell 1.5 games behind Seattle in the NFC West.
Atlanta vs Seattle: The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 26-24. This game was full of excellent highs and terrible lows, if one is a Seahawks fan, but at the end of it Seattle came out with a win that helps extend their lead in the NFC West to two games in the loss column.
After trailing 17-7 at halftime, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan was surgical in guiding the Falcons to 17 unanswered points in the third quarter. Ryan’s arm strength was put on full display, stringing touchdowns throws of 10, 36 and 46 to three different receivers (Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo). The Falcons actually led this game seven entering the fourth quarter. However, buoyed by tough runs out of tailback Christine Michael (two rushing scores) and sterling efficiency from QB Russell Wilson (25/37, 270 yards). Seattle outlasted a burgeoning Falcons squad who looks to be the clear-cut favorite in NFC South.
Cincinnati vs New England: The Bengals kept it close for 2.5 quarters until the Patriots turned up the gas and sped away with a 35-17 victory. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was terrific in his second start of the season and Rob Gronkowski (7 catches, 162 yards, 1 TD) has made everyone forget about that awful start to the season. The Patriots look unbeatable with Brady at the helm. In fact, since 2007, Tom Brady holds a 49-1 at home versus AFC opponents. That is a ridiculous winning percentage and the major reason why they win the division every year.
Dallas vs Green Bay: The Cowboys improved to 5-1 and lead the NFC East after a 30-16 road victory over the Packers. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott (247, 3 TDs) continues to impress. He has cemented his case to retain the starting gig once Tony Romo returns. Ezekiel Elliott (157 rushing yards) continues to build upon his record setting season as he is the first running back in NFL history to rush for 130+ yards in four straight games. The Packers couldn’t get anything going on offense and now find themselves on the outside looking in in the NFC playoff picture.
Kansas City vs Oakland: Kansas City went on the road and grinded a tough win over the Oakland Raiders 26-10. The conditions were wet and the Chiefs used a balance offensive attack to pick up their first road win of the year. Chiefs’ running backs combined for 183 yards and Alex Smith was efficient as usual (19/22, 224 yards). More importantly for KC, is that running back Jamal Charles looks to be fully recovered from the ACL injury. If he and Spencer Ware (131 yards, 1 TD) can stay healthy, the Chiefs will have a two-headed monster at running back that will remind some fans of the Christian Okoye/Barry Word and Priest Holmes/Larry Johnson combos. The three rushing touchdowns by the Chiefs were the most touchdowns in a single game in the past two seasons which is a good sign for later things to come.
Houston vs Indianapolis: Down 23-9 entering the fourth quarter, the Texans offense woke up and pulled out a 26-23 overtime victory. With under three minutes to go in regulation, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (269, 2 TDs) connected with Lamar Miller and CJ Fiedorowicz to tie the game. This was one of Osweiler’s best games as a Texan and something they can build on heading into a pivotal Week 7 matchup at Denver. The blown lead by the Colts was the first time since Week 7 of 2011 that a team lost a 14-point lead with under three minutes to go.
New York Jets vs Arizona: Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer returned from a concussion and led Arizona to a 28-3 victory over the Jets. Actually it was David Johnson (138 total yards, 3 TDs) who did all the heavy lifting in this game. The Cardinal defense (eight passes defended, six quarterback hits) also looked much more like the unit we expected to see going into the season. For the Jets, who now sit a 1-5, a change at quarterback may be on the horizon. To be fair to incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback is only part of the problem. But you can’t change the entire defense so any upgrade may have to come from the QB position.
- Jay Ajayi (MIA) – 204 rushing yards, 2 TDs in a win over Pittsburg.
- Odell Beckham (NYG) – 8 catches, 222 yards and 2 TDs in a win over Baltimore.
- Tom Brady (NE) – 29/35 376 yards, 3 TDs in a win over the Bengals.
Honorable Mention: David Johnson (111 yards, 3 TDS); LeSean McCoy (140 yards, 3 TDs); Drew Brees (465 passing yards, 4 TDs), Lamar Miller (178 total yards, 2 TDs), Golden Tate (8 catches, 165 yards, 1 TD); Kendall Wright (8 catches, 133 yards, 1 TD); Eli Manning (403 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs).
- Justin Forsett – five rushing yards in a win over Los Angeles.
- Jeremy Kerley – two catches (nine targets), three drops in a loss to Buffalo.
- Carson Wentz – 11/22, 179 yards in a loss to Washington.