nfl week 6: four things to keep an eye on
By Tayyib Abu
The cold air descending, the games are getting bigger, and the end of BST is nearing. Week 6 of the NFL is here, and we are deep in the throes of Autumn.
This week features a Floridian derby in the Sunshine Borough of Haringey. There’s a colossal inter-conference matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers. There’s a healthy dollop of controversy and some big ‘prove-it’ games for some teams. It should be another week laced with drama and action.
Here are four things to watch in Week 6 of the new season…
Florida Comes To London
The second London game of the season features a Floridian derby as the Miami Dolphins take on erstwhile Londoners, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two franchises from the Sunshine State swap home comforts for a chilly matchup in Tottenham, and both are desperate for a win.
After finishing 10-6 in 2020, many members of the NFL cognoscenti felt bullish about the Dolphins’ chances of competing for the AFC East crown. Sadly, the Dolphins are 1-4, and with the Bills in imperious form, a divisional title is not on the cards. The Dolphins are the worst team in point differential. A grisly number of -75 sees the Dolphins occupy the basement in that metric.
Furthermore, they are 30th in DVOA. However one opts to look at it, the Dolphins are a terrible team right now. The one silver lining for Miami is that Tua Tagovailoa returns from injury. The former Alabama star must kickstart his NFL career. And a game against an ailing, divided Jacksonville Jaguars team represents the perfect opportunity.
The Jags are winless and are still dealing with the fallout from the Urban Meyer scandal. The Jaguars battled hard against the Titans in Week 5, but Tennessee eventually ran away with the victory.
The Jags are 31st in total DVOA, and the only thing propping them up is former Clemson phenom, Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence could enjoy the game against the Dolphins; the Miami secondary has played at a poor level all season, and Lawrence is beginning to look more comfortable at the NFL level.
In addition, Jacksonville’s defensive front seven should get chances to attack Miami’s poor offensive line. The unit ranks 30th in pass-blocking success, and their quarterback is still nursing a rib injury.
It is a massive game for both head coaches. Urban Meyer is undoubtedly on the brink. Meanwhile, Brian Flores can’t afford to fall to 1-5, which would surely end any faint playoff hopes. A defeat for either coach could spell the end.
Can Bill Belichick Devise A Masterplan?
The Patriots are hanging around like a bad smell emanating from a gruesome murder. Last week, the Pats escaped with a narrow win over the hapless Texans, and they aren’t playing good football. Forgotten rookie quarterback Davis Mills lit the Patriots’ defense up, and the task for New England gets even more challenging this week.
The Dallas Cowboys are hot right now. Quarterback Dak Prescott is the runaway favorite for CPOY, and their defense is seizing every opportunity. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is working wonders with a unit that performed woefully in 2020. The Cowboys are first in the NFL at successfully neutering an opponent’s number one wideout. Add ball-hawking sensation Trevon Diggs to the mix, and Mac Jones’ offense could toil.
On the defensive side, Bill Belichick must delve deep into his vast knowledge to formulate a plan. Since Matt Patricia’s return to New England, the former Lions tyrant has attempted to instill the defensive principle he failed to implement in Detroit. The Patriots now play a lot more single-high safety irrespective of if they’re in base, nickel, or dime. Dak Prescott got a good look at that defensive philosophy as the Giants adhere to the same theory.
Dallas’ quarterback is one of the best at manipulating and moving the deep safety. Ally that to the speed of Dallas’ offense, and they can clear the middle of the field, allowing Prescott to attack deep. Coach Belichick must curate a plan to take the big play away from Dallas. However, it is much easier said than done. A defeat to a legitimate contender here, and the Patriots could find themselves in also-ran territory.
What Next For The Raiders?
The bombshell NFL news of the week was the chaos that erupted around Jon Gruden and the Washington Football Team. After various ugly emails leaked, Gruden resigned. The former Super Bowl-winning head coach left the Raiders organization in disgrace.
Lost in the drama was that Las Vegas lost two straight games before the Gruden drama exploded. Now, owner Mark Davis and GM Mike Mayock must pick up the pieces. The strong start seems like a distant memory, and the locker room must rally together to get their season back on track.
Fortunately, the Raiders are playing a Broncos team that were masquerading as contenders. The Broncos started 3-0 after playing the Jags, Jets, and Giants. They’ve predictably regressed. Plus, the injuries and inadequate quarterback play are beginning to hurt them.
The Steelers made life difficult for Teddy Bridgewater, and a talented Raiders pass rush might wreck things for the journeyman quarterback. The spotlight will intensely shine on the Raiders this Sunday, and a win could turn down the noise for a week.
Can The Bills Send Out Another Statement?
The high-flying Buffalo Bills swap Sunday night for Monday night as they battle the Tennessee Titans. Buffalo dismantled and dominated the Kansas City Chiefs at fortress Arrowhead in a statement victory.
Now Buffalo gets a shot at another supposed contender. Last year, the Titans crushed the Bills as Mike Vrabel’s team emerged from their Covid-induced layoff with a vengeance. Couple that with coach Sean McDermott’s desire to defend the run and dominate physically, and this is another big game for Buffalo.
Offensively, Josh Allen is getting better and better. He outduelled Patrick Mahomes, and this Titans secondary shares one common trait with the Chiefs; good quarterbacks can attack them.
Buffalo must keep an eye on pass-rusher Harold Landry. The Titan has quietly amassed a lot of pressure’s in every game, and he could prove difficult for Buffalo’s offensive line.
Last week, Buffalo contained the most explosive passing attack. If they bottle up the most dangerous running game in the league, they will send a serious message to everyone else.
Tayyib is an avid NFL fan and, as a follower of the detroit lions, is a permanent resident in the honolulu blue heartbreak hotel. writing football articles since 2019, tayyib loves everything about the sport except that wins are not a qb stat. follow him on twitter @TayyibABU1