The NFL usually does a great job in providing entertaining games for us on any given weekend, but this week’s slate was particularly pungent.
Bears-Jaguars? Titans-Browns? Rams-Lions? What channel is MLS on? Perhaps I’ll read a book.
There was only one game between two playoff teams from last year this week and only one game that featured two teams that are likely to make the playoffs this year. (You can pick out which one of the three logical options it is.)
Still, we had intrigue, even if it required a bit (OK, a lot) of salt to go down.
Hopefully, we’ll never have to watch anything like Week 6 again.
But don’t pretend you didn’t love every minute.
So take a knee and let’s recap everything we learned in the worst week of the NFL season yet.
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Bills 45, 49ers 16
Colin Kaepernick isn’t a good quarterback, but he is probably an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert (who has made more than $16 million in his career, by the way). If you’re a parent who’s cool with irreparable brain damage and you have a tall kid, make sure they throw footballs.
It's clear that fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman was the Bills' problem ...
The Bills are riding oh so high after making the 49ers look like Gabbert’s alma mater — gashing them for more than 300 yards on the ground Sunday. There’s no way that’s going to continue against [checks schedule] OK, maybe it will continue for another week.
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Jaguars 17, Bears 16
A game worthy of the toilet bowl that is Solider Field, all you need to know about this contest is that Arrelious Benn — a man that I’m not sure anyone, including Jaguars GM David Caldwell, knew was still in the NFL — scored the winning touchdown because the man assigned to cover him slipped and fell.
You can’t convince me that Benn didn’t just Frank Abagnale Jr. his way onto an NFL roster. Tuesday, he’ll be back selling Nationwide insurance in the Champaign-Urbana area, having slipped in, achieving a life-long dream, and sliding out without anyone knowing.
The only consolation from this terrible game for the Bears is that Brian Hoyer threw for 300 yards and no interceptions, meaning that the worst quarterback controversy in the NFL will continue for another week. Wait, that’s not for the Bears, that’s for me. I love this controversy between bad and worse so much. I fully expect Bears fans to start calling to trade multiple first-round picks to Dallas for Tony Romo — lemme tell ya, he went to Eastern, he’d love to come home — who would die in his first game behind that offensive line.
My favorite stat of the week: Blake Bortles had a passer rating of 112.8 without pressure Sunday — his rating under pressure was 0.0 (which doesn’t include the two times he was sacked).
The win was the Jaguars’ first on the road since Week 5… of 2010. It was a simpler time back then — the iPhone 4 had just come out, The Weakerthans were still making music, and my heart was yet to be broken by multiple women who claimed I have “communication problems”.
Communicate this, Ashley!
This game made me long for Titans and Browns.
Matt MartonMatt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Lions 31, Rams 28
Jared Goff is never going to take a snap in the NFL, is he? How long until we can erroneously start the Goff-to-49ers trade rumor?
There’s a bit of a Rorschach test element to this game — is Case Keenum good or is the Lions defense that bad? (The answer is the latter — the guy threw into triple-coverage to end the game.)
The fact that both of these objectively bad teams are 3-3 right now tells you so much about the NFL this season.
But it was nice of Kenny Britt to have one of those “Is Kenny Britt a really good receiver?” games that he needs to bust out every 10 or so contests in order to remain exceptionally paid. The best in the business know how to pick their spots.
Raj MehtaUSA TODAY Sports
Dolphins 30, Steelers 15
Men are walking on their hands and cars run on bubble gum — nothing makes sense anymore. You can't even count on the Dolphins to fail.
Jay Ajayi — who was literally left in Miami earlier this season by head coach Adam Gase — had more than 200 yards on the ground, Ryan Tannehill was able to find his first and only read on almost every passing play, and the Dolphins defense did good defensive things to author the most surprising win of the week.
The Steelers, after a great start, are starting to show cracks. Can a team that has a weak offensive and defensive line really be elite? Pittsburgh is trying to prove one can. I’m not sure if I buy the argument yet.
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Patriots 35, Bengals 17
I don’t have any more stock in the Bengals — I sold it all last week — but if you can get out of the market, do so right now. There’s something toxic in the air in Cincinnati and I’m not referring to the political advertisements that run night and day.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady remains spectacular and he’s filling up Gronk’s stat line. The death march to Houston continues.
The Patriots are clearly the class of the NFL right now — I’d pick them over the Vikings, the second-best team in the league.
If the Bengals lose to the Browns next week — and there’s no guarantee they’ll win that game, does ownership in Cincinnati fire Marvin Lewis? In retrospect, they probably should have done it after that debacle of a playoff loss last season. I’m curious how bad this can get and how one of the worst organizations in football handles the wheels coming off the car, the car flipping over five times, and then catching on fire. They’ll probably extend the driver's contract…
Greg M. CooperGreg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Saints 41, Panthers 38
The slogan for this game: Defense optional.
The NFC South is turning into the Big 12 — it’s so offensively dominated that it’s hard to tell if the offenses are actually any good. So long as they keep playing themselves, that’s not a problem.
It’s amazing how fast the Panthers turned into the Saints. A reminder: Carolina has won the division three straight years without having back-to-back winning seasons in the franchise's history. You can back-check that ridiculousness. If not for the Falcons, that streak might have extended to four years.
It’s amazing that a team with the best defensive player in the game can be that bad on defense, but here we are.
It seems that Cam Newton finally figured out that he’s going to have to be the bigger, stronger, faster Drew Brees for the rest of the season and perhaps the rest of his career. I, for one, am for this, though Cam putting up massive numbers in a six-win season is a pretty sad thought.
Derick E. HingleDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Giants 27, Ravens 23
We still have no idea if the Ravens are any good. This puzzle could go the distance.
What we do know is that Odell Beckham is 1. back and 2. weird as hell.
Seriously, the kicking net thing ceased to be funny a week ago. I’m now actively rooting against him scoring touchdowns because after cuddling with the net (after he made sure the cameras were focused) and then proposing to it (again, after everyone looked his way) I was convinced he was going to consummate the marriage on the sideline should he have scored a third touchdown in the game. Then he’d have some equipment managers bring out a little net and recreate its birth and raise it as his son. In Week 10, they’ll have a family portrait. Beckham and his net family will eventually get a golden retriever named Buster.
Forget the sports psychiatrist, he might need to see a real-deal shrink.
This game was only broadcast on local cable access and all networks have destroyed their recordings for the sake of future generations.
Positives: Marcus Mariota is good and Cody Kessler continues to show promise, so long as Terrelle Pryor — who is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL (it only took him seven years, what a country!) — is on the other end of the passes.
This NFL campaign is like a simulated season in Madden 14 years into a dynasty mode — it’s so far removed from reality you don’t even bat an eye at all the weird crap that’s happening. Anything can go down.
Except a Browns win. That’s not going to happen.
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Washington 27, Eagles 20
Oh no, the Eagles are coming back down to Earth, aren’t they?
It was a wonderful little run for Philadelphia, making us believe that they were Super Bowl contenders with a prudent-decision-making rookie quarterback at the helm. They allowed us to believe that in the NFL, anything was possible, even complete turnarounds after tire-fire seasons.
Joke’s on us.
Maybe this is a dip in the road to success, but it seems more likely that the Eagles already threw the one kind of smoke they had and now will join their regional brethren at the 8-8 table.
Washington is now 4-2 after Kirk Cousins found the secret stash of candy in the basement freezer. The 52 percent passing game is just what he needed to throw everyone off his sulfuric scent for a while.
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Chiefs 26, Raiders 10
The Raiders’ garbage defense and advantageous offense was finally exposed, and by who else but the most unassuming decent team in the NFL – the Chiefs.
The lopsided nature of this game is everything you need to know about how ridiculous the NFL is this season. The Raiders had the second-best record in the league and the Chiefs were relegated to afterthought (for good reason, to be fair). Now Kansas City will be deemed a contender and the Raiders will spend all week defending Jack Del Rio, because the fan base has already decided that Derek Carr is really good and they’re entrenched to that viewpoint.
If only Andy Reid had bye weeks before every contest — some team should hire co-head coaches and have him handle every-other week. You’d win eight games annually.
Also, the field conditions for this game were clearly made worse by the Raiders’ grounds crew at the request of the tiny-handed Mark Davis, who is starting his PR campaign to get his team to that criminal building out in the desert. He probably called a special session late at night to vote on how to flood the field.
Cowboys 30, Packers 16
Let’s all really enjoy the “Aaron Rodgers is broken” talk for the next few days, because it’s going to be particularly funny to have that fresh in the memory when he lays waste to the Bears Thursday night.
What are the Cowboys going to do at quarterback? It’s the question that will dominate the NFL once the Rodgers talk dies down. My bet? Make the wrong decision.
No, I don’t know what the decision is, but the Cowboys are going to make the wrong one. This is the team that was openly discussing how bad they messed up by picking Dak Prescott in the spring, and now he’s the franchise savior. They lucked into success and now that control is back in their hands, they’re going to mess it up.
I’m really looking forward to the passive-aggressive soap opera that’s about to go down in North Texas. It’s going to put JR’s Dallas to shame.
Also, the Packers need to take those uniforms, head out to a field a few hundred yards from the stadium and burn them all. You know what color the team’s helmet is — at least make the yellow on the uniform match. Don’t start me on the khaki pants. Even Jim Harbaugh wouldn’t wear those.
Benny SieuBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Seahawks 26, Falcons 24
Yes, it was pass interference. No one is arguing the opposite of that.
Here’s the more interesting part of that internet outrage: The presumption that Atlanta would have done anything with the granted field position. It’s the Falcons — they have a history of mucking up situations like that.
Alas, it’s probably for the best that Atlanta felt cheated out of that contest — that was the best game of the weekend and both teams are serious contenders in the NFC, an uncontested outcome would have improperly penalized the Falcons.
Yes, there was sloppy play, particularly on defense, but that’s the NFL in 2016 (and 2015, and 2014… you get it). The Falcons proved (again) that they’re the real deal — a different animal than last year’s squad — and the Seahawks have found their championship-level form on offense. Christine Michael is on the verge of a monster game — you can feel it.
Would anyone be shocked if this was the NFC title game? (Sorry, Cowboys and Vikings…)