NFL Week 6 Cheat Sheet
Week 5 gave us more Andy “The Red Rifle” Dalton fourth-quarter heroics, another magical Aaron Rodgers performance, and three Sebastian Janikowski 50-yard field goals. It also gave us our first Ray Edwards sighting of the season, a drizzle of some of that Tim Tebow magic, and a whole lot of commercials featuring a grizzled Tim Allen looking down on guys who play fantasy football. And here I thought you were one of us all along, “Tool Man” Taylor. What a shame.
The Texans and Giants lost home games they had second-half leads in, ruining several survivor pools and my flawless Week 5 in the process.
11-2 ain’t bad though. I’ve been saying it for weeks — get on board, folks. The Cheat Sheet’s rollin’ in 2011.
Week 5 Record: 11-2
Overall 2011 Record: 55-22
WEEK 6 CHEAT SHEET TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Adrian Peterson had three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter of Sunday’s 34-10 win over the Cardinals, making him just the fifth player since the 1970 merger to accomplish the feat. Since 1970, just one Pro Football Hall of Famer scored three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter of a game and he did it in the 1988 season. Who is this player? (ANSWER BELOW)
Week 6 CHEAT SHEET QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"To me, (Al Davis) was a role model and someone I looked up to and admired. He used the word 'maverick.' He was a big figure. He meant a lot in terms of the game. He would talk about my days at Georgia, and you think, 'You remember those plays, and you remember who played beside me?' He's like that grandfather who was always around and you wanted to hear stories. He always had a story. He's going to be sorely missed." — Raiders DT Richard Seymour, following Oakland’s emotional 25-20 win at Houston.
WEEK 6 CHEAT SHEET GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE WEEK
"We've got to score points, period. It doesn't matter how we score, we've got to score." — Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, following the Jags’ 30-20 loss at home to the Bengals. Jacksonville is averaging a league-worst 11.8 points per game.
WEEK 6 IMPRESS YOUR COLLEAGUES WATER COOLER FACT OF THE WEEK
Wes Welker had 124 receiving yards in the Patriots’ 30-21 win over the Jets on Sunday. Welker has 740 receiving yards this season, the most ever through a team’s first five games of a season. The previous mark was 704 receiving yards by Charley Hennigan of the Houston Oilers in 1961. Not familiar with Hennigan? The guy was a stud.
In Showtime’s wonderful 2009 “Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League” series, George Blanda tells a great story about Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown’s tryout with the Oilers: “Willie couldn't cover Charley Hennigan in practice, so he was let go, and the Broncos picked him up. The next year we played Denver, and Charley needed nine catches to break Lionel Taylor’s record of 100 receptions in a season. Charley got the nine he needed, with Willie covering him. Willie's in the Hall of Fame. Charley Hennigan should be, too."
Now, let’s get to the picks.
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT Games
St. Louis at Green Bay: It may be a tad premature, but the talk of a 2011 Packers 16-0 campaign isn’t all that absurd. Who exactly is going to beat these guys? The Packers have now come back from down 13-0 in Carolina and 14-0 in Atlanta to win both games on the road. What Aaron Rodgers is doing is just plain silly. The NFL’s best player completed passes to 12 players Sunday night, tying a single-game team record. There are too many weapons on offense and too much depth on D. Someone wake up Mercury Morris, please. It’s about that time.
The Pick: Packers 34, Rams 14
Buffalo at New York Giants: Sure, it’s been 21 years since Scott Norwood went wide right in Super Bowl XXV, but I still can’t help but think of Mark Ingram shimmying his way through the Bills D for a crucial first down, James Lofton’s incredible circus sideline catch, and Everson Walls’ exuberant reaction to Norwood’s misfire when these two teams square off. I like the Giants in this one. New York’s 17-5 in games played prior to its bye week, the Bills D has covered up some serious issues with defensive touchdowns, and the Giants won’t lose two home games in a row to teams outside their division.
The Pick: Giants 34, Bills 23
Indianapolis at Cincinnati: The Colts let two first-half double-digit leads slip away in Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Chiefs. They also lost Joseph Addai and Jerraud Powers in the game to hamstring injuries. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier for Indianapolis after Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. Back-to-back trips to New Orleans and Tennessee are up ahead. So … how about those Pacers? What? The NBA is in a lockout? I had no idea.
The Pick: Bengals 24, Colts 20
Carolina at Atlanta: With Sunday’s loss to the Packers, the Falcons fell below .500 for the first time since the 2009 season. After scoring on their first two possessions and jumping out to an early 14-0 lead, the Falcons punted on their next five possessions and then threw interceptions on the two following that. Ho hum. Fortunately, the Atlanta offense has the pleasure of going up against the worst defense in the league on Sunday. Carolina starts two rookies at defensive tackle, has one of the worst linebacking corps you’ll ever see take an NFL field, and a below-average defensive backfield. Matt Ryan gets his groove back in this one.
The Pick: Falcons 34, Panthers 23
San Francisco at Detroit: Who had the 49ers and Lions playing the biggest matchup in the NFC in Week 6 before the season started? If you did, congratulations, you win the pool. Which pool? I don’t know, every pool. Sure enough, the 4-1 49ers and the 5-0 Lions will square off in a game that could have serious playoff implications. So you’re aware, San Francisco hasn’t played in a postseason game since 2002; Detroit hasn’t since 1999. After seeing the way that crowd lifted the Lions in the second half on Monday night, I can’t pick against the Lions at home. Until Thanksgiving, of course, when if all goes to plan, Detroit will be facing Green Bay, with both teams owning 10-0 records. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Pick: Lions 31, 49ers 20
Philadelphia at Washington: I’m waiting for the following classified ad to show up in the Philadelphia Inquirer at some point this week: “Do you have two short and slow friends who don’t have much NFL experience? If so, the three of you should show up to Eagles practice this week, walk into our facilities, and start at linebacker for us on Sunday. Come one, come all!” As I predicted he would do in this column last week, Fred Jackson ate that awful Eagles linebacking corps alive last Sunday. With 13 days to prepare and LaRon Landry, Brian Orakpo, and London Fletcher all playing All-Pro caliber football, look for the Redskins to put the final nail in the “Dream Team” coffin in this one.
The Pick: Redskins 27, Eagles 23
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh: A lot has changed since the David Garrard-led Jaguars knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs in Pittsburgh back in 2007. The Steelers won one Super Bowl and played in another, while the Jaguars haven’t sniffed the postseason since. Jack Del Rio got a $21 million contract extension after that win and David Garrard was re-upped for six more years for $60 million. Five years later, Garrard’s no longer in town (or in any town, at that), rookie Blaine Gabbert’s been thrown to the wolves, and the Jags have the 32nd ranked offense in the league. Five years ago, the song “This is Why I’m Hot” by a rapper named Mims was the No. 1 single in the country. Like I said, a lot can change in five years.
The Pick: Steelers 30, Jaguars 6
Sunday, 4 p.m. EDT games
Houston at Baltimore: The media can be a fickle beast. Just seven days after the storyline around Gary Kubiak’s team was “These aren’t the same old Texans” following a gritty win over the Steelers, the storyline this week seems to be “Umm, so these appear to be the same old Texans” after a horrendous loss at home to the Raiders. Mario Williams is out for the year, Andre Johnson’s on the mend, James Casey won’t be suiting up, and Ravens are going to be fresh coming off a bye week. This has a Baltimore win written all over it.
The Pick: Ravens 31, Texans 26
Cleveland at Oakland: The Raiders haven’t been above .500 after five games since the 2002 Super Bowl year. Look for them to bump their record to 4-2 in front of a riled-up Black Hole in this one. Watching Colt McCoy scramble for his life and attempt a franchise record 61 passes two weeks ago, I couldn’t help but just wonder, “What if he had Julio Jones or A.J. Green to throw to?” Sure, rookies Phil Taylor and Greg Little have been solid enough, and yeah, those additional picks from the Draft-day trade with the Falcons will come in handy down the line. But it’s tough not imagining what this Browns team would have looked like had Colt McCoy had an alpha dog — or hell, an actual No. 1 receiver — to throw to on the outside.
The Pick: Raiders 23, Browns 12
New Orleans at Tampa Bay: Just six days after grinding out a hard-earned victory on national television, the Buccaneers forgot to show up in San Francisco and were victims of the most lopsided defeat in franchise history. The Baby Bucs are going to have to get used to cross-country and cross-continent travel, and it’s going to have to happen soon. After flying back down to Tampa this weekend for the Saints, they are shuffling off to London for the Bears, then will play the Saints in New Orleans after a bye week. The good news? Josh Freeman and Co. will pile up the frequent flier mileage. The bad? All that travel could cause havoc on a team as young and inexperienced as the Baby Bucs. No Gerald McCoy? Perhaps no Blount? Saints by a few scores in this one.
The Pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 20
Dallas at New England: The last defensive coordinator to hold the Patriots to less than 30 points in a regular-season game? That would be Rob Ryan, whose 2010 Cleveland Browns defense suffocated and confused Brady and Co. in an upset victory last season. The ‘Boys should have Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher and Orlando Scandrick all back in the lineup for Sunday’s game, too. So there’s reason for optimism in Big D this week, right? C’mon now. You know the Patriots don’t lose regular-season games at home this decade.
The Pick: Patriots 37, Cowboys 24
Minnesota at Chicago: For 60 minutes last Sunday, the Vikings looked like a real-life NFL franchise, even with their quarterback completing just 10 of 21 passes. Adrian Peterson had his way, running all over a terrible Cardinals defense for 122 yards and 3 scores. But that was the Cardinals. Will he be able to do the same against the Bears at Soldier Field on a Sunday night? McNabb’s going to have to make some plays if Minnesota's going to escape this one with a W. And quite honestly? I’m just not confident he can.
The pick: Bears 29, Vikings 24
Miami at New York Jets: The Dolphins have beaten the Jets in Jersey the last three times they've made the trip, including last December’s matchup a few days after the Patriots waxed Gang Green in East Rutherford. But this Dolphins team? With ol' Matt Moore under center? Even the Jets can beat these guys. Over/Under on when 'Phins fans start making their own custom-made Andrew Luck jerseys — sometime next week.
The Pick: Jets 19, Dolphins 7
Reader Email of the Week
I’m shocked you haven’t commented on Favre yet. What gives? Do you think if you ignore him he’ll just go away? You know it doesn’t work like that.
San Antonio, Texas
That’s a great name you’ve got, dude. As for Favre, I may be on an island, but I absolutely love when he opens his mouth. At this point, he’s like your crazy uncle who just blurts ridiculous things out at Thanksgiving dinner. The Rodgers comments were asinine. I loved them. Shame on any media members who hastily churned out the obvious “Shut up, Favre!” tweets and columns last week. He’s pure entertainment at this point. Why deny it? Let’s embrace the crazy. Oh, and as for Aaron Rodgers? Make no mistake, he’s better right now than Brett Favre ever was.
WEEK 6 CHEAT SHEET TRIVIA ANSWER: Indianapolis Colts running back Eric Dickerson scored three touchdowns in the first quarter of a 55-23 blowout of John Elway and the Broncos in Week 9 of the ’88 season. Dickerson’s stat line that day? 21 carries, 159 yards, 4 touchdowns. Elway's? Well, he was benched. His replacement was some guy named Gary Kubiak.