Week 6 is on the horizon with yet another dandy of a pigskin matchup to start things off right on Thursday Night Football, as the Philadelphia Eagles soar into Charlotte, NC to face Cam’s savagely fierce Carolina Panthers. But we mustn’t forget how a wacky Week 5 got us here. With the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins all getting some much needed R & R during the first official bye week of the 2017 National Football League regular-season, the remainder of the league in Week 5 provided us with plenty of saucy nailbiters.
The pigskin seems to be taking us on an early season roller coaster. You know, the one with the loop-diddy-loops. A sultry Week 5 gave us 10 games decided by six points or less. And three of those contests were won by a mere three points. Drama, drama and mo’ drama has filled the Professional Pigskin League’s season with intriguing storylines separated from play on the field. But I’m not here to discuss politics with you. . . I’m here to bring you the funk, catering your taste buds to my best battles of Week 6.
Before I hit the play button on my ‘Pigskin Preview’, my thoughts and prayers go out to both J.J. Watt and Odell Beckham, Jr. These two premiere athletes had their season’s end with gruesome injuries on Sunday. Mr. Watt, a three-time defensive player of the year, broke his left tibial plateau — meaning that the break was at the most proximal (top portion) of his tibia, just below his knee. Humans have two bones that encompass the lower leg (tibia and fibula). The tibia is the bigger and stronger of the the two, and bares the majority of Watt’s enormous frame. As for OBJ, he suffered a fractured left fibula at the ankle. The fibula is the lateral (outer) bone in the lower leg. Thus, OBJ’s fracture occurred at the most distal (bottom portion) of his fibula. Here’s to a speedy recovery for two of the most dynamic offensive and defensive playmakers in the NFL.
Eagles @ Panthers
For the third week in a row, I’m starting with a TNF matchup. As you very well know by now, teams having to play after a short week gives me a wicked case of some nasty nausea. I simply don’t like it. But for the third-straight week, we have a goodie in store. Both the Eagles and Panthers come calling with impressive 4-1 records. Philly is falling in love with quarterback Carson Wentz. Aren’t we all. What’s not to love? Dude is slinging the pigskin in his second season like a perennial All-Pro. Wentz’s career-best four touchdown performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday led to a 34-7 rout. The young gun certainly has himself some deadly weapons at his disposal. Offensively versus the Panthers, Philly will lean on the resurgence of running back LeGarrette Blount. Look for the powerful yet nimble “blount” object to get more than 14 carries in this contest. With Carolina’s defense playing relatively sound football at the moment, more touches for Mr. Blount will mean more time in the pocket for Mr. Wentz to fling dimes from the sky. More play action? Yes. The gentlemen shouting for the ball will be veteran wide receiver Torrey “Afterburners” Smith and emerging star wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who’s quickly becoming Wentz’s favorite toy. And don’t forget about the Eagles’ shutdown defense. Philly’s “D” will be breathing down Panther quarterback Cam “Always Dapper” Newton’s neck, who’ll need the same wizardry he used on the Detroit Lions in a 27-24 “W” on Sunday for success.
Carolina will not only need Cam’s wizardry to knock off the Eagles, they’ll need more than 18 carries for 21 yards from running back Jonathan Stewart. Sticking to the running game even when it wasn’t producing helped Carolina’s passing attack against Detroit, but getting closer to 100 yards rushing will be the only remedy that’ll give the Panthers a chance versus Philly. And look for rookie running back sensation Christian McCaffrey to become continually more involved in Carolina’s offense in this one. Congrats to Mr. McCaffrey scoring his first touchdown on Sunday via the shovel pass from Newton. Speaking of Mr. Newton, there’s no need to reminisce too much on his week leading up to the Lions’ game. Cam was disrespectful and laughed at a female reporter after a question was directed towards him (there’s no excuse for that), and later apologized to her and women everywhere via a video on Twitter after realizing his mistake and poor act of judgement. I could write an entire article about this, but I won’t.
If Cam can dish some sweet lil dimes like he did on Sunday to his high-octane duo at wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, get some help from his running attack, and sample a dusting of help from a good defense come Thursday, the Panthers will have a puncher’s chance at home in Charlotte.
Packers @ Vikings
Green Bay Packers’ field general Aaron Rodgers continues to rule the pigskin neighborhood with his ‘sharks with freakin laser beams’ dime pieces to his quadruple-threat at receiver — Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. Mr. Rodgers delivered once again in a cray-cray 35-31 “W” over the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington on Sunday. Mr. Adams caught a leaping 12-yard TD pass from Rodgers with just 11 ticks remaining on the clock. Rodgers’ rifle found Davante on a back-shoulder bullet to the front left corner of the end zone. Game-Set-Match, Cheeseheads. . . Ridiculous! We’re lucky that Davante was even able to play after taking a horrifying helmet-to-helmet hit from Chicago Bears’ linebacker Danny Trevathan just 10 days earlier. After a scary moment, Mr. Adams was taken off the field via stretcher.
If rookie running back Aaron Jones can tote the pigskin 19 times for 125 yards like he did against Dallas in another NFC “Norris” North division rivalry, the Packers should be skating home from Minneapolis with a victory. Of course, not without the help of the Pack defense led by Mr. Campbell’s Chunky Soup “Mama’s Boy”, outside linebacker Clay Matthews.
Case Keenum will get the nod at starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings after being their “relief pitcher” for Sam Bradford in Monday night’s 20-17 win over the Bears. Man, it seems like I could go on-and-on when it comes to these “Norris” division games. Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky received his highly anticipated debut in primetime on MNF. He looked sharp for most of the game, but his “rookie mistake” cost Chicago in the end. Inside their own 20-yard-line, Trubisky forced a bad throw into tight double coverage late in regulation resulting in a Harrison Smith interception, allowing the Vikes to seal the Bears’ fate with a field goal.
Keenum has looked pretty darn good the last few weeks, but can he continue his strong play against the Pack? Look to my “balance on offense” mantra to answer that question. Without the greatness of rookie runner Dalvin Cook who suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on October 1st, who’ll lead the run game for the Vikings? Running back Jerick McKinnon will do the honors. Mr. McKinnon looked dynamite in Chicago, gaining 95 yards on 16 carries. His explosive 58-yard scoring burst makes me feel like Purple Nation is in good hands right now. Additionally, Jerick led Minnesota in receiving on the night. With McKinnon providing the balance, look for WRs Michael Floyd and Adam Thielen to help Keenum’s cause. If the Vikings’ “Purple People-Eater” defense slows Jones in the backfield, they have a defensive line and secondary that could create enough havoc for Rodgers with their pass rush and coverage to mark their turf with a “W”.
Steelers @ Chiefs
This one’s simple for the Pittsburgh Steelers to have any chance of conquering the lone unbeaten team in the league. Ben Roethlisberger can’t throw five interceptions — two of those resulted in pick-sixes for the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 30-9 trouncing of the team many thought were the favorites in the AFC to reach the Super Bowl. Okay, the Jags are starting to look un-Jaguar like in a good way, but losing like that on your own field hurts. Not only must Big Ben play better, that patented Steelers’ “Steel Curtain” defense had better make an impression. One last thing here for Pittsburgh to dethrone the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs on the road in Arrowhead Stadium. . . Give the ball to your workhorse back Le’Veon Bell. Simple, simple, simple. Mr. Bell had only 15 carries on Sunday, and he let everyone know about it. After their defeat to the Jags, Le’Veon said, “I don’t think we got enough attempts.” He’s right. Additionally, Bell echoed, “I feel we’re a good enough team to wear guys out whether they know we’re running the ball or not.” Face the facts, head coach Mike Tomlin, the man is speaking the truth.
On the flipside of this matchup, we know what the Chiefs can do on offense. Game Manager Alex Smith aired the pigskin out in their clash versus the Houston Texans to the tune of 324 yards and three strikes for six. And tight end Travis Kelce showed-up again in back-to-back weeks, hauling in eight receptions for 98 yards. Yes, the middle of the field is continuing to stay open with that KC running attack clicking. The other-worldly rookie running back that is Kareem Hunt earned his money facing the Texans, going to work with 29 carries for 107 yards. He wows me every week. What about Kansas City’s defense after giving up 34 to Houston? They’ll be just fine with Justin Houston still leading the corps for KC’s “D”. Let’s not forget that they faced Texans rookie phenom passer Deshaun Watson who’s hotter than Phoenix in June at the moment. How about a dabble of special teams play? The speedy lil jitterbug, WR Tyreek Hill, made the difference with his cheetah-esque legs as he made reservations for six on an 82-yard punt return to the heezy. If all three phases are singing in harmony and they avoid turnovers, nobody can beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead. Period.