Remember back in Week 3 when it seemed like player protests were more so the focal point of the NFL than the actual games themselves? Well it looks like we might be in for a similar situation during Week 6, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently announced that he will consider punishing players who continue to protest the national anthem. This is sure to cause a pretty serious stir among players and coaches, and we’ll have to see how all of this noise translates to the field.
For now, though, let’s talk about actual football. Week 6 is going to feature some pretty exciting games, and here are 5 that I think will be particularly worth watching.
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers, Thursday, October 12 @8:25 pm EST
What’s not to love about a matchup between two 4-1 teams? Philadelphia is coming off a monstrous victory in which they defeated the Arizona Cardinals 34-7. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had arguably the best game of his pro career, throwing for 304 yards and a career high 4 touchdowns. What’s even more impressive about those numbers? Wentz went 11/12 when throwing on 3rd down plays, zipping 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions during those conversions. He showed us some really incredible poise not all that common among young quarterbacks, and it looks like he and this Eagles team are for real. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has been blazing hot over the past 2 games, throwing for a total of 671 yards, 6 touchdowns through the air, and 1 score on the ground. He seems to have bounced back nicely after losing his favorite target in tight end Greg Olsen to a broken foot in Week 2, placing a higher emphasis on backup tight end Ed Dickson (who caught 5 passes for a crazy 175 yards in Week 5) and wide receiver Devin Funchess, who has been more of an afterthought over the past few years. This is gonna be a really fun game to watch and I think it’ll be close, but I’m gonna have to give the edge to the Panthers on this one. They’ve got home field advantage and a better running back situation than Philadelphia, who lost Darren Sproles for the season and will be sitting Wendell Smallwood against Carolina.
Predicted winner: Panthers
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, October 15 @ 1:00 pm EST
A division rivalry between two teams both coming off victories and are only one game apart in the standings? Sign me up. Green Bay’s Week 5 win over the Cowboys was something to behold. As I watched the Cowboys march up the field and score a touchdown to take the lead in the fourth quarter with time still left on the clock, I thought to myself, “Oh you done did it. You just gave Aaron Rodgers a two-minute drill to win the game. That ain’t gonna work out so well for you.” And guess what? It didn’t. Rodgers went into full, well, Aaron Rodgers-mode and dissected the Cowboy’s defense both with his arm and his legs, connecting on a perfectly thrown touchdown to Davante Adams to win the game with less than 20 seconds left. Green Bay has looked like its dominant self as of late and it’s been a blast to watch. Minnesota has also looked solid this year, albeit not as exciting. This is mainly due to their stout defensive unit, which has only allowed one 300-yard passing game this season (to Jameis Winston) and zero 100-yard rushing games. Last week also gave us a decent look as to how the Vikings run game will operate without Dalvin Cook, as Jerrick McKinnon rushed for 95 yards, including a huge 58 yard touchdown. However, no part of Minnesota’s team can match the excellence of Aaron Rodgers’s recent play, so I can’t see them beating the Packers any time soon.
Predicted winner: Packers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, October 15 @ 4:05 pm EST
There is one reason in particular that stands out in order to make this game really worth your time: Adrian Peterson, who was traded by the New Orleans Saints to Arizona on Tuesday. Peterson’s performance so far in New Orleans had not lived up to the hype, with only 87 yards rushing on 27 attempts. However, a big reason for this was that he was sharing a backfield with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. This trade is an indication that Arizona fully intends to make Peterson their feature running back until David Johnson returns from his wrist injury later on in the season. It’ll be really interesting to see what happens there. Tampa Bay has been an interesting team to watch this season, with many people (myself included) predicting them to be one of the biggest breakout franchises of the year. At 2-2, they haven’t exploded onto the scene just yet, but they’ve shown a lot of promise. Quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown for over 300 yards passing in 3 of their 4 games, making full use of Tampa’s new weapons in wide receiver DeSean Jackson and rookie tight end O.J. Howard, while still showing that he and star wide receiver Mike Evans can still kill it on the field. While the big thing to keep an eye out for in this game is Peterson, I believe that the Bucs will outperform Arizona’s offense.
Predicted winner: Buccaneers
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, October 15 @ 4:25 pm EST
Raise your hand if you thought Alex Smith would be the best quarterback in the NFL through 5 weeks. If your hand shot up after reading that, I’m sorry but you’re a terrible liar. Through 5 weeks, the Chiefs quarterback has 1,391 passing yards (third in the league), 11 passing touchdowns (tied for third), a ridiculous 125.8 QB rating (first in the league, 13.8 points higher than Tom Brady in second place), and zero interceptions. Smith has guided this Kansas City team to a 5-0 record, with each victory coming rather handily. They’ve been a lot of fun to watch and you should tune in to their games whenever you get the chance. The Steelers are also playing solid football with a 3-2 record and a tie for first place in the AFC North, but last week’s game against the Jaguars was a mess. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw 5 interceptions to an admittedly very good Jacksonville defense, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns. It was a nasty game for Big Ben for sure, but Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t much better, letting up 181 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns to rookie running back Leonard Fournette. You know who else has a phenomenal rookie running back? The Chiefs. Kareem Hunt has been marvelous this year, and it’s been beyond difficult for anybody to stop him. With Smith playing the best football of his career and Hunt ready to shred Pittsburgh’s defense just like Fournette did, it’ll be really tough for the Steelers to walk out of Arrowhead Stadium has victors.
Predicted winner: Chiefs
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans, Monday, October 16 @ 8:30 pm EST
Monday Night Football will bring us a game that has a lot of meaning to it. Both Indianapolis and Tennessee are at the bottom of the AFC South, tied at 2-3. Both teams will most likely be missing their starting quarterbacks, with Colts quarterback Andrew Luck still sidelined with a shoulder injury and Titans QB Marcus Mariota’s health up in the air after suffering an injury during a Week 4 game against the Houston Texans. Due to the injuries, the Colts have started Jacoby Brissett since Week 2 and the Titans are looking at veteran Matt Cassel to step in for Mariota. While a game between two teams playing with backup quarterbacks might not seem all that exciting, the winner of this one will have a serious advantage over the other team, as both starters are expected to come back to the field within the next few weeks. In terms of who will win this match up, I’m leaning toward the Colts. Brissett has looked more and more comfortable at the helm of Indianapolis’s offense as the season has gone on and I haven’t seen enough of Cassel to feel okay with predicting a win on his behalf.
Predicted winner: Colts