How Long Can the Chiefs Keep Winning? — NFL Week 6 Preview
Key NFC games, a battle of surprise teams and a test for the unbeaten Chiefs. Here’s a preview of the most interesting games in Week 6 of the 2017 NFL season:
Thursday, October 12
A Thursday Night Game Worth Watching? Wow!
Philadelphia at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Philadelphia (4–1) and Carolina (4–1) are two of the NFC’s best teams this season because of productive quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Cam Newton, respectively, and each team’s aggressive pass rush. The Eagles and Panthers meet in Charlotte this week, giving NFL fans an actual good reason to tune in Thursday night.
Carolina has the league’s third-ranked defense, while Philly boasts the NFL’s third-best offense, led by Wentz. Those two units will battle, but it’s whether the Eagles defense can get to Newton that is most likely to determine the outcome of this game.
Sunday, October 15
The Kings of the NFC North
Green Bay at Minnesota; U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Green Bay (4–1) has soared to the top of the NFC North once again thanks to the continued excellence of Aaron Rodgers, who leads the league with 13 touchdown passes. Unfortunately for the Packers, Rodgers has also been sacked a league-high 19 times, tied with the statue-like Carson Palmer of Arizona for most in the NFL. Minnesota (3–2) must get its pass rushers like Everson Griffen after Rodgers and stifle the long drives he often produces.
On offense, the Vikings hope that quarterback Case Keenum can continue to play well enough in place of Sam Bradford/Teddy Bridgewater to keep the injury-riddled team in contention for the NFC North title. Having top 10 receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen as targets can only help. Getting a running game going would be even better.
The Rams & Jags Are Better Than Anyone Thought They’d Be
L.A. Rams at Jacksonville | EverBank Field, Jacksonville; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Raise your hands if you knew the Week 6 game between the Rams and the Jaguars would be a battle of teams leading their respective divisions…. No one, right? Change comes fast around the NFL. Save for last Sunday’s disappointing loss to Seattle, Los Angeles (3–2) has flourished under rookie head coach Sean McVay’s dynamic offensive scheme. Quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley are having productive years and showing fans in L.A. that there is a better professional team in the city than USC.
Jacksonville (3–2) has emerged from its constant rebuilding mode thanks to the running of rookie Leonard Fournette, who ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards with 466. As good as the Jags are at using the run — and, if Blake Bortles was your quarterback, you’d run the ball, too — Jacksonville’s defense ranks 31st in the NFL against the run. That could mean a big day for Gurley and the need for Bortles (gulp) to help them play catch up.
Expect the Steelers to Try to Run Over the Chiefs
Pittsburgh at Kansas City | Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Kansas City (5–0) is the NFL’s last undefeated team and they deserve to be. No team has played better or more consistently this season — against formidable competition — than the Chiefs. However, while quarterback Alex Smith is getting MVP-level praise and running back Kareem Hunt is piling up Rookie of the Year votes, the Kansas City defense has looked ordinary at times, ranking 27th in the NFL.
Given the struggles of Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has thrown six touchdown passes and seven interceptions this season, expect Pittsburgh (3–2) to use running back Le’Veon Bell to fuel its offense. The AFC’s second-leading rusher rolled for 170 yards against the Chiefs in the Steelers’ 18–16 playoff win at Arrowhead in January. A steady diet of his punishing runs could open up the passing lanes for Big Ben — and end K.C.’s early season win streak. If the Chiefs stuff the run and force Roethlisberger into passing situations, their undefeated run will continue.
Is This the End of Eli Manning?
N.Y. Giants at Denver | Sports Authority Field, Denver; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Along with the lowly Browns and the clueless 49ers, the New York Giants (0–5) have yet to win this season. Maybe this is karma for Eli Manning? You win two Super Bowls by beating the NFL’s most dominant dynasty TWICE in improbable upsets made possible by a devastating pass rush and circus catches, so later in your career, your team implodes with injury after injury while your offensive line can’t seem to block anyone (and you get sacked 13 times in five games).
It’s not likely to get better this Sunday night for Manning, who gets to face Denver (3–1) on the road. The Broncos have the league’s best defense and will likely send Von Miller and other pass rushers in a zombie-like parade into the pocket all game. New York’s best hope is to force Denver QB Trevor Siemian into turnovers and hope that Manning can work better with a short field.
Sunday, October 15
Miami at Atlanta | Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Detroit at New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
New England at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
San Francisco at Washington | FedEx Field, Landover, Md.; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Chicago at Baltimore | M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Cleveland at Houston | NRG Stadium, Houston; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Tampa Bay at Arizona | U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on Fox
L.A. Chargers at Oakland | Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Monday, October 16
Indianapolis at Tennessee | Nissan Stadium, Nashville; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle