* The tight games continue. Through Week 6, there have been 47 games decided by 7 points or less, including 6 of 13 this weekend. That's the second most games ever to this point in the season. The 1999 season had 50 games with such close outcomes.
* Another record that began in the 1999 season is safe as well. The New England Patriots
failed to score 30 or more points against the Dallas Cowboys
. The Patriots still won, 20-16, but the St. Louis Ram's record of scoring 30 points or more in 14 straight games remains the standard. The Patriots fell one game short. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did extend another record, though, winning his 31st consecutive regular season home start. Brady has not lost in Foxborough during the regular season since 2006. For those wondering how long ago that was, that's two seasons before Aaron Rodgers even began starting for the Packers. The Patriots now move to 5-1 on the season and move into first place in the AFC East.
* The team New England moved ahead of, the Buffalo Bills
, lost on the road to the New York Giants
27-24. This game was close throughout and came down, as most games pitting two good teams against each other do, to the turnover battle. Usually rock-solid Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions, both to Giants defensive back Corey Webster, while usually turnover-prone Giants QB Eli Manning threw none. Buffalo this season has scored a high percentage of their points off the turnovers they create, but were unable to cause one Sunday. Not only did the Bills defence not pick off any Manning passes, but two pass interference calls against Buffalo cornerback Drayton Florence, including one on 3rd & 6, extended the Giants drive that led to the winning field goal with 1:32 remaining. Now both these teams stand at 4-2 on the season. Overall, it was a well played game between two good teams.
* The San Francisco 49ers
and Detroit Lions
are also two good teams who played each other tough this past weekend. The 49ers won the game 25-19. The outcome turned on a 6-yard fourth down pass from San Francisco QB Alex Smith to Delanie Walker with 1:51 left in the game. This touchdown was confirmed after a lengthy review, as it seemed every score was in this game. Up until the Walker TD, San Fran was trailing 19-15. Had the Lions hung on to win and keep their undefeated season going, this game would have been remembered for the 49ers 15 penalties and undisciplined play. Instead, San Francisco won and the game will be remembered for the coaches' undisciplined actions after the game. 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh and his Detroit counterpart, Jim Schwartz, had a little yelling match after a rough handshake (and shove??) by Harbaugh. Neither coach was fined by the league, but they were warned. The next time these two teams play could be the playoffs with a lot more at stake. Stay tuned...
* Whichever team goes far in the NFC playoffs will probably have to play a game in Green Bay
. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 234 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half to beat the winless St. Louis Rams
24-3. There is a famous saying about any NFL team being able to win on any given Sunday...not this time. The Packers were almost assured victory shortly after lacing up their cleats. The biggest surprise of this game was that Rodgers actually threw an interception, only his third of the season to go along with 17 TD passes.
* In the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles
hung on to beat the Washington Redskins
20-13 after jumping to an early 20-0 lead. The Eagles desperately needed a win to essentially save their much anticipated season. But don't be too impressed with the win. Redskins QB Rex Grossman handed the Eagles the game, throwing 4 interceptions before being pulled by coach Mike Shanahan. Grossman was praised by this writer in a column
last Thursday...on Sunday, Rex showed everyone why such praise for him is so infrequent.
* Players are getting banged up this season seemingly more than ever. This could be blamed on the lack of conditioning during the lockout or the new practice rules. The most likely culprit (and hardest problem to fix) is the fact that the players are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever. The collisions between them will therefore be more violent and more likely to cause injury. It can also be argued that today's team medical staffs are better trained and more able to properly diagnose borderline concussions or sprains, thus adding to the injury report each week. Quarterbacks such as Sam Bradford, Michael Vick, or Jason Campbell getting banged up in a given week is almost to be expected.
* What's not expected is two coaches going down in the same game! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
beat the New Orleans Saints
26-20 in Tampa Bay. Now these two teams are tied for first place in the NFC South. That's news, but the big story from the game was that Saints head coach Sean Payton suffered a torn MCL and broken tibia when he was rolled up on by his tight end Jimmy Graham after Graham was tackled out of bounds. Payton was somehow able to call plays for the rest of the game. On the other sideline, defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake tore his patellar tendon celebrating an interception by his squad. Both coaches are presumably listed as "probable" for next week.
* On Sunday night, the Chicago Bears
devoured the Minnesota Vikings
39-10 at home. The Bears were ahead 26-3 at the half. Vikings All-World running back Adrian Peterson made it as close as it would get with a touchdown opening the second half. That comeback lasted about 14 seconds as Devin Hester returned the ensuing kickoff for a TD, the 17th return touchdown of his career. That ties him with Hall of Famer Rod Woodson and leaves him only two behind all-time leader, Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Also looking to the future, the Vikings used this game as a chance to begin their 2012 campaign, benching QB Donovan McNabb in favour of first round pick and Quarterback of the Future, Christian Ponder. Ponder didn't play poorly, but he won't be the answer to help the Vikes this season.
* This week in Wildly Optimistic Predictions
- In a slight downgrade, Ryan Fitzgerald may or may not win AFC Offensive Player of the Year.
- The Oakland Raiders
, in keeping with Al Davis' tradition, will trade for an aging veteran who has worn out his welcome elsewhere. This vet will lead the Raiders to the playoffs.
- Tom Brady will play one game this season in which he does not set, tie, or extend an NFL record of some kind...maybe.
* Baltimore Ravens
linebacker extraordinaire Ray Lewis
became the first player in NFL history to have both 40 sacks and 30 interceptions in his career. The first ballot Hall of Famer just keeps adding to his legacy with no signs of stopping.
* Saints QB Drew Brees
threw for 383 yards (but three interceptions in a loss) to become the first player to ever throw for more than 350 yards in four consecutive games. In fact, he's only missed that plateau in one game this season. He remarkably remains 11 yards behind Brady for the league lead. Brees' favourite target, Jimmy Graham
, became the second TE with four straight games of over 100 yards receiving. Tony Gonzalez was the other; pretty heady company for the young tight end.
* Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis
had a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown in the Monday Night game. His New York Jets
beat the hapless Miami Dolphins
24-6. The Dolphins receivers dropped several passes, continuing a miserable and winless season.
* That leaves the Dolphins as the clear favourite to win the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. The Rams remain winless and the Indianapolis Colts
haven't won yet either, but neither of those teams seems as helpless as the Dolphins. They don't have much in the way of talent, have been hampered by injuries, and seem to shoot themselves in the foot more than any other team. That's a recipe for the first overall pick in 2012.
* More quarterbacks went down to injury this weekend, giving today's 4pm EST trading deadline the potential for wildness. In-season trades aren't as common in the NFL as in other professional sports, but the Denver Broncos
have already moved wideout Brandon Lloyd and several other stars, including sack machine Jared Allen, are rumoured to be available. As of this writing, the aforementioned Raiders are closing in on a trade for beleaguered Carson Palmer from the Bengals, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. NFL general managers could be negotiating right up until the deadline. GMs should be wary of any handshake deals with the 49ers, though!?!