Week 6 has five games I’d put in the can’t miss category, about the same as last week, and at least one that has the potential to be the best game of the first half of the season. Yes, there is also the requisite amount of apparent blowouts, and divisional games that will settle last place, and not first, but let’s accentuate the positive, shall we?
Here’s a preview of Week 6:
Giants at Saints: Eli Manning comes home and finally gets to play in the Superdome. Two undefeated teams hook up in what could be a precursor to the NFC Championship Game. Gregg Williams, the Saints’ defensive coordinator, knows Manning well from his years in Washington. The Saints are fresh off a bye, while Manning’s heel is at least a marginal concern. The Giants have been running over people on the ground. What a game.
Broncos at Chargers: If Denver can take its mojo on the road and knock off the only team equipped to potentially compete for the AFC West crown, it will be sitting pretty. The Broncos might let down after an emotional overtime win over the Patriots, while San Diego comes in amid turmoil after general manager A.J. Smith tore into the club during the bye week. We should learn a few things about the shape of this division after this one.
Ravens at Vikings: A few short weeks ago, Baltimore was atop many power rankings. But the defense hasn’t been nearly as aggressive, or effective, the offense can’t find the right balance between run and pass and the special teams has been iffy with penalties far too common. Cedric Benson ran wild against the Ravens last week and I heard this Adrian Peterson cat can play a little. Oh yeah, and Brett Favre is undefeated, in case you didn’t notice. Great out of conference game.
Bears at Falcons: Chicago’s bumps and bruises were curbed by the bye. Jay Cutler was in the zone and Johnny Knox was emerging. Atlanta’s pass defense could be its undoing, and in the comfy confines of a dome, I’d think Cutler might take to the air. Roddy White is coming off a monster game for Atlanta and these two teams could end up in a struggle for a wildcard spot, with this a crucial tiebreaker.
Cardinals at Seahawks: If someone is going to push the 49ers in the NFC West, it will come from this coupling. Matt Hasselbeck tossed four touchdowns in his first game back from injury and Kurt Warner keeps humming along. Neither team has played great ball in all aspects, but the ‘Hawks are tough at home and this could be a vital springboard for them into their bye. Crucial result for both teams.
Okay, here’s the best of the rest, in order of projected watch-a-bility:
Titans at Patriots: Vince Young finally got some mop-up reps last week, but with the Titans 0-5, he needs to get some starts. Tennessee is by no means an awful club and if they put it together and create some confusion with Wildcat looks, an upset is possible. The Titans are going to win some games. New England is getting more healthy, and this could also be a big game for Tom Brady against a wounded Titans’ secondary.
Texans at Bengals: As I write this, the game is a potential blackout, which I have to imagine is not the case. The Cardiac Bengals are pulling fourth-quarter miracles and are one miracle against them in Week 1 from being undefeated. Houston’s scheduled for a win, based on their pendulum of erratic output, but the road is not very kind to the Texans as a rule. If the Texans are going to be a factor — which I couldn’t see from the start of the season — they need to put a winning streak together.
Eagles at Raiders: With three healthy quarterbacks active, could Philly put up 70 points? I mean, even if you rest Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb in a blowout, you know Mike Vick would want to score some points if he got an extended look. If the Raiders are not the worst team in the NFL right now, I don’t know who is.
Browns at Steelers: Always a grudge match, but Pittsburgh seems to be hitting its stride. The Browns have been competitive recently, but quarterback play is a massive issue for them. Hard to see them moving the ball much against this group.
Lions at Packers: Green Bay comes off the bye with something to prove. Pass protection must improve, immediately. The Lions have been pushing opponents and if they opt to rest Matthew Stafford again, Daunte Culpepper will be fine. The Packers can’t afford to fall too far behind the Vikings, too soon, and already have the head-to-head defeat.
Bills at Jets: This, potentially, could be the end for Bills coach Dick Jauron, who, by all accounts, is as good of a human being as you will find in his profession (and I am not just saying that because he is a fellow Red Sox fan). If it is, we wish him all the best moving forward. The Jets’ have hit some real adversity for the first time in the Rex Ryan/Mark Sanchez regime. Maybe they alter the ultra-conservative offensive approach a bit this week, though, protecting and incubating Sanchez will always be paramount.
Chiefs at Redskins: A loss here might just spell the end for Jim Zorn. Kansas City put a mighty scare into the Cowboys last week. Still, this is two very flawed football teams getting together. Washington’s ever-wilting offensive line — not a surprising development — might end up being the difference with Jason Campbell sacked five times last week.
Rams at Jaguars: Jacksonville’s positive vibes took a turn for worst last weekend, with a humiliating loss on the field and some discipline issues off of it. Should be a great bounce-back opportunity for the Jags to remain in the periphery of the hunt. The Rams, frankly, are going to have a hard time competing against most teams, though getting Marc Bulger back might help.
Panthers at Buccaneers: Would have been more interesting had both teams been looking for their first win. Maybe the Panthers can put together a little mini-run and get back to their blue-collar ways and take some of the heat off coach John Fox as well.