Week six failed to have many close games during the 1:00 PM ET start. There were no one-score games during that time period, other than the overtime 34-28 Vikings win over the Carolina Panthers, which was an exciting end for both teams. The Panthers drove down the field and Sam Darnold found Robby Anderson for a touchdown, and then Darnold picked up the two-point conversion with his legs.
The Panthers defense capitulated at the end of regulation, but Greg Joseph missed the field goal which sent the game to overtime. The Vikings won the toss and drove the ball nine plays for 75-yards that was ended by a 27-yard touchdown pass to KJ Osbourn. The Vikings have found themselves in a few overtime, or almost overtime, games this season.
The NFL standings are starting to show us who are pretenders and who are contenders. Sadly, the Giants fall in the former as they were dismantled 38-11 against the Rams as they fall to 1-5. Scott Hansen of the NFL Network stated that there has never been a score of 38-11 in the history of the NFL. I thought that was pretty crazy. Let’s see what else is going on around the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals
It’s been six games and the Cardinals have yet to lose, despite playing teams like the Rams in Los Angeles and now the Browns in Cleveland. The Cardinals defeated the Browns 37-14 on the road in week six. Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray, and the rest of the Cardinals are making a statement to the rest of the NFL.
The Cardinals have one of the front runners for the MVP with Kyler Murray, but a rushing attack led by Chase Edmonds and James Connor have also proven to be dangerous. The offense is multiple and the defense is filled with stars like Budda Baker, JJ Watt, Isaiah Simmons, and, of course, Chandler Jones. Jones missed this game on COVID protocols, along with several other Cardinals’ personnel. Center Rodney Hudson also didn’t play, which makes this win even more impressive for Arizona.
The most anticipated game in week six was arguably the 4-1 Los Angeles Chargers traveling to the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens. After scoring 47 points against one of the top defenses in the league (Browns) last week, many speculated a shoot-out would ensue. However, the Ravens absolutely put the clamps on Justin Herbert and the Chargers. The Ravens won 34-6 and the Ravens’ defense held Herbert to less than 200-yards passing.
West coast teams traveling to the East coast for 1:00 ET sometimes struggle to adjust to the time difference. It seems this could have impacted the Chargers on Sunday. Regardless, credit must be given to John Harabourgh and his staff, as well as Lamar Jackson. Too bad the Rams didn’t receive the memo for West coast slow starts because they gave the Giants an absolute beat down on Sunday.
Replacement running backs
Unfortunately, football is a violent game that results in injuries. Too many starting running backs have been injured over the last few weeks: Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, David Montgomery, Montegomery’s backup Damien Williams (COVID), and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The replacements for these players were Devontae Booker, Chuba Hubbard, Khalil Herbert, and Darrel Williams.
All the replacement backs had solid games in week six other than Booker, who had 12 carries for 41-yards. It wasn’t really Booker’s fault, per se; the offense was an absolute mess on many levels. Nevertheless, Hubbard had 61-yards on the ground and an early touchdown. Herbert averaged 5.1 yards per carry and had 97-yards, along with a touchdown. He had one touchdown called back as well.
Darrel Williams found the endzone twice on the ground in the Chiefs 31-13 road victory over the Football Team. Williams was inefficient on the ground with 21 carries for only 62-yards, but playing alongside Patrick Mahomes offers a lot of scoring opportunities. Williams also had three catches for 27-yards.
Bisaccia is the interim head coach for the Las Vegas Raiders amid the Jon Gruden fiasco. The Raiders team seemed to be in turmoil - a possible easy win for the Denver Broncos at home. However, as we know, there are no easy wins in the NFL. Bisaccia and the Raiders went into Denver and defeated the Broncos 34-24 with a late Broncos’ touchdown to make it look closer.
Running back Kenyan Drake was the catalyst. Drake was very frustrated all season for his lack of usage. He signed a two-year, $14.5 million deal (with incentives) and he wasn’t seeing the field. Drake played a large amount of snaps without Gruden calling plays, and he produced in a huge way. Drake had a touchdown on the ground and through the air. Bisaccia had some late sweats after the Broncos recovered an onside kick with about a minute left in the game, but the deficit was too much for Denver to overcome.
Defensive lineman Tershawn Wharton of the Chiefs intercepted Taylor Heineke in an unlikely manner. This may not be one of the top five glamor plays from week six, but I wanted to acknowledge it for multiple reasons. For starters, I have to show love to big men when they either score touchdowns or come away with unlikely interceptions. And secondly, Wharton’s interception involved pinning the football to a helmet, and that just reminds me of much better times.
Chiefs DT Tershawn Wharton with arguably the best interception by a defensive lineman you’ll ever see. Whew. pic.twitter.com/4NRIprQz4g— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 17, 2021
It is Halloween season, so Wharton may have just been doing his best impression of the great David Tyree. What an overachiever, though. Not only did Wharton pin it to his opponent’s helmet, but he then used his helmet to secure the interception.
Let me start by saying I feel awkward saying another team is a “loser,” when I, Nicholas Falato, cover the New York Giants - a team that has personified losing on many levels. With that expressed, the Dolphins lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London despite receiving a clean bill of health for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
London is a second home for the Jaguars - they play a home game every year in London, other than in 2020. Tagovailoa threw for 329-yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The Dolphins scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to take the lead, and their defense was able to hold Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars’ offense from scoring a touchdown.
Unfortunately for Brian Flores and the Dolphins, Jaguars kicker Matthew Wright kicked a 54-yard field goal and a 53-yard field goal to win the game with their last two drives. Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence’s first NFL wins happen across the pond, and the Dolphins continue their disappointing season as they drop to 1-5.
The Giants’ hopes
Just when we expected it couldn’t get worse for the Giants, somehow it always does. Ed Valentine shared a similar sentiment about the Giants. There were very high expectations heading into the season, after the Giants added Kenny Golladay, Adoree Jackson, and a few other quality assets. The season has been, let’s say, less than ideal.
New York’s defense has been a disaster all season. They lost two close games that were very winnable, and pulled the miracle off in New Orleans, but they’ve been beaten terribly through the last two weeks. They have been outscored 82-31 in the last two weeks. Yes, injuries played a factor, and it seems insane the amount of players that can’t play because of injuries.
Regardless of the injuries, the team is still being taken to task on both sides of the football. The defense rarely comes up with a big play when necessary, and the offense struggles to sustain consistent offense. Daniel Jones significantly regressed in the Rams game and his old, ugly, habits were on display. He was reckless with the football and locked onto receivers. Giants’ receivers slipping on their routes and dropping passes didn’t help Jones. Those mistakes seem to be the microcosm of this Giants’ season. If there were any playoff aspirations after the Giants upset win against the Saints, they were quickly fizzled by the beatdown in Dallas and the dismantling that took place at MetLife stadium on Sunday.
The Lions are the only winless team in the NFL, and it’s been two straight games that Jared Goff failed to throw a touchdown pass. The Lions lost at home to the Bengals 34-11. Goff managed 202 passing yards with an interception. He had this bad look…
Jared Goff…threw it away…on fourth down pic.twitter.com/tvXEX307QW— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 17, 2021
Head coach Dan Campbell came out after the game and reassured that Goff is the starting quarterback, but did say he has to “step it up more often.” The Lions only has David Blough behind Goff, so it may be unlikely that Goff is benched, but it’s not going well for Goff at the moment. He gets to go back to Los Angeles and face Sean McVay and the Rams next week.
Arizona are winners on the season to this point. They’re the only undefeated team in the NFL and they just went to Cleveland and handled the Browns with ease. The Browns were without Nick Chubb, but the Cardinals were able to come into Cleveland and just dominate. Cleveland did hit on a hail mary pass to close the first half to make the score 23-14.
Baker Mayfield's Hail Mary 57-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones traveled 66.4 yards in the air, the longest completed pass in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016) by 2.0 yards.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 17, 2021
Completion Probability: 15.4%#AZvsCLE | #Browns pic.twitter.com/7iBWUg60V8
Baker Mayfield hurt his left shoulder early in the third quarter, but the score was already getting out of reach as the Cardinals defeated the Browns 37-14. In the fourth quarter, Kareem Hunt grabbed the back of his leg and was carted to the locker room as well.
The Browns offense put up 42 points last week in a losing effort out in Los Angeles against Justin Herbert and the Chargers. The Browns are now 3-3 on the season and they have two straight home games against the Broncos and Steelers - two winnable games. The Browns need to stabilize and get back on track. It won’t be easy with both of their running backs dealing with injuries.
Panthers passing attack
We discussed the attack a bit in the open. They almost won this contest because of some late game heroics from Sam Darnold. However, Darnold had plenty of head scratching moments. He missed some passes and threw a bad interception to Breshod Breeland. He finished the game 17 of 41 for 207-yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Worse than Darnold was his receiving corps who dropped several passes. Robby Anderson held onto the touchdown, but that was almost about it. He let at least three balls slide through his grasp, and star DJ Moore also dropped two easy passes. Darnold was off in the game, and his receivers didn’t rise to the occasion either. After starting 3-0, the Panthers have lost three straight.