With Week 6 of the National Football League’s slate behind us, pigskin parody seems to be surfacing everywhere. Seven games from Week 6 proclaimed the victors by just six points or less. Furthermore, there were some surprising if not altogether dominating performances from several so-called underdogs on the road.
What awaits in Week 7? Nobody has a clue at this point. All four teams in the AFC East are currently .500 or better. Really? Yup. The league’s lone unbeaten team – the Kansas City Chiefs – lost at home in Arrowhead, 19-13, to the Pittsburgh Steelers. All three phases were not singing in harmony for the Chiefs, and turnovers dampened their Sunday. Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” defense made its presence felt. And head coach Mike Tomlin listened to his All-Pro running back, Le’Veon Bell. Instead of 15 carries in the previous week, Mr. Bell had 32 totes for 179 yards and a touchdown.
How about a Miami Dolphins 20-17 “W” against the Atlanta Falcons after trailing 17-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in “Hotlanta”? Yeah, that happened. As did a Giant 23-10 win over the Denver Broncos in the Mile High City. Yes, the G-Men got off the schnide without Eli Manning’s best targets at wide receiver available. Both Odell Beckham, Jr. and Brandon Marshall were MIA with both studs having seasoning-ending surgery on their left ankles. However, the stunning effort from running back Orleans Darkwa (21 pigskin touches for 117 yards), an efficient night for Mr. Manning and some stupendous play from the NYPD “New York Pass Defense” was the Giants’ remedy on Sunday night. The NYG snagged two key interceptions from Denver’s Trevor Siemian, with one resulting in a pick-six. They forced three total turnovers compared to a big goose egg for the Broncos. That difference spells victory or defeat every single time.
Before I blow the whistle on my dandy’s in Week 7, let’s pray for the two stinkers left in the Professional Pigskin League. The San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns walked off the field on Sunday afternoon with grotesque 0-6 marks. Lastly, we can’t forget Green Bay Packers’ leader Aaron Rodgers, suffering a broken right clavicle (collarbone) in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, for all pigskin fans, Mr. Rodgers will likely miss the remainder of the season. It’ll be UCLA product, Brett Hundley, trying to keep the Cheeseheads afloat with arguably the most potent passing attack in football surrounding him.
Cardinals @ Rams
After a tumultuous relationship with the New Orleans Saints in his first handful of games, “All Day” Adrian Peterson got his fresh start with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. Turning back the clock, AP gutted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 134 yards and two ‘house jobs’ for six on the ground in his desert debut. He’s not done, folks. His famous No. 28 jersey was put aside in Glendale, trading it in for No. 23. Hmmm. . . I think it’s fair to say that AP was channeling his inner MJ (Michael Jordan) with the new number. On one play to the right side of the offensive line, Peterson’s jump cut was so nasty that it jooked me out of my sneaks while sitting on the couch. Former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer from Southern Cal (USC) didn’t mind AP’s presence in the backfield either. In fact, Palmer was able to get some of his college moxie back in a Cards 38-33 victory over the Bucs. Palmer, AP and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald should have their hands all over the pigskin in this affair. Look for a stronger Arizona defense to potentially be the difference maker in the end against the Los Angeles Rams this coming Sunday, helping the Cards put themselves in prime position to dethrone the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West by regular season’s finale.
The No. 1-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jared Goff, didn’t have to do much in a Rams’ victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. As Goff improves from week-to-week and we look for another Cal Berkeley product to shine as Aaron Rodgers has in his brilliant career, rushing leader Todd Gurley shoulders the load for these Rams. My “balance on offense” mantra saw Mr. Gurley carry the pigskin 23 times for 116 yards. This, along with another “special” special teams’ performance, will give L.A. a chance at home. How about Pharoh Cooper’s electrifying 103-yard kickoff return to the heezy on the opening play of the game? A blink of an eye and a sick spin move later, and Cooper had the kids and everyone shouting, “he gone!” Then, a second special teams’ touchdown took place after a blocked punt, scoop and score. Don’t expect the same from the Rams when they face the Cardinals. Mr. Goff, along with some help from his defense, will have to play hero to escape the Cards.
Falcons @ Patriots
The Falcons and New England Patriots find themselves reeling a bit this season with 3-2 and 4-2 records respectively. In a rematch of Super Bowl 51 in Foxborough, MA on Sunday Night Football, the Falcons will be looking to avenge their loss on the world’s biggest stage, blowing a 28-3 lead. Both teams look like a shell of themselves from last year, so who’ll use this much-needed win as a platform to hit a mid-season stride? Falcons’ field commander Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan has struggled to a degree during the first portion of the regular-season, but he hasn’t lost anything physically. Yes, he needs to avoid interceptions; however, he’s still flinging the pigskin like an All-Pro. Facing the Dolphins, Ryan uncorked a filthy dime to wideout Marvin Hall with a 40-yard strike for six – Hall’s first career reception and a touchdown. Now that’s the way to enter the league. Offensively, one thing was eye-popping to me. Matt had 35 attempts through the air, but running back Devonta Freeman was handed the ball only nine times for 68 yards. If you do the math, that kind of production should’ve rendered Mr. Freeman many more touches. And with a 17-0 lead, why wouldn’t you milk the clock? C’mon Falcons!
The Falcons’ defense is good enough to slow down the Pats a smidge. Don’t give CEO Tom Brady time in the pocket to pick you apart, run the darn pigskin and let Mr. Ryan play more efficiently with fewer pass attempts. That’ll give Atlanta a chance at revenge on SNF.
Now, what can we say about Brady? Some may think he’s struggling at 40. I wondered myself as the season began, but I’m not now. Tom “Terrific” just set the NFL record for regular-season victories by a quarterback with his 187th on the road versus the New York Jets. The win gave the Pats the AFC East lead. Throwing lasers for a majority of the game, Tom completed one pass that wowed me. This was a high toss to wide receiver Brandin Cooks that was flung perfectly. I’d like to call this my ‘baby from the sky’ dime that was sweetly corralled by Mr. Cooks. Yes, the baby was safely and securely delivered. No need to panic. Both Brandin and tight end Rob Gronkowski had monster games on the receiving end of Brady’s deliveries. Defensively, look for New England to make Ryan air it out as many times as possible, keeping Freeman at bay with stout run defense. If they do, they’ll keep Atlanta’s chance at redemption unlikely.
Redskins @ Eagles
For my last preview, I’ll make this one extraordinarily simple. The Washington Redskins have one heck of a quarterback in Kirk Cousins. By the way, he’s currently playing like he wants to get straight paid. On the other end of this NFC East rivalry, the Philadelphia Eagles’ second-year gunslinger Carson Wentz has been showing-off in 2017 with his arm talent. The man under center who makes the fewest number of mistakes with his right arm in this Monday Night Football goodie will lead his team to victory. I’d say that’s simple. If the Eagles emerge with the “W”, they’ll maintain the best record in the NFC with a masterful 6-1 start.