It’s Week 6 of the 2019 NFL season. With the halfway mark fast approaching, here’s one thing each of the league’s 32 teams and football fans should be thankful for this weekend:
New England Patriots (5-0): Scheduling
New England has allowed a league-low 6.8 points per game this season. That number includes 14 points off a special teams fumble returned for a touchdown and a pick-six against the New York Jets. The actual Patriots defence has allowed an average of 4.0 points per game. For perspective, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens allowed an average of 10.3 points per game. The 1985 Chicago Bears gave up 12.4 points per game. That isn’t to say that this defence is as good as either of those units. It certainly helps that four of their first five opponents have a combined 1-17 record.
Buffalo Bills (4-1): Scheduling
Notice the trend here? The Bills are 4-1 heading into a bye in Week 6. Still, the best may be yet to come. Buffalo’s remaining schedule includes two games against the lowly Miami Dolphins as well as games against the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. If they win those six games, Buffalo will be guaranteed 10 wins. At the very least, that should translate into an AFC Wild Card spot.
New York Jets (0-4): A Healthy Quarterback
Maybe things would have been different for the Jets if Sam Darnold never contracted mono. Or, maybe not. But after watching Luke Falk average 109.0 passing yards over his last two starts, Jets’ fans will be thankful just to see Darnold return in time for Sunday’s date with the Dallas Cowboys.
Miami Dolphins (0-4): Tanking
Miami’s entire offence has 900 total yards through four games. Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has 866 total yards. A Dolphins tank is legitimate. However, with a long list of top quarterback prospects eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, including Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, all will be forgiven if Miami lands a franchise quarterback in April.
Baltimore Ravens (3-2): Running Backs That Play Quarterback
In all seriousness, Lamar Jackson is a stud. He just matched teammate Robert Griffin III’s NFL record as the fastest quarterbacks in NFL history to reach 1,000 career rushing yards, needing only 21 games. Coming off his worst performance of the season, Jackson will have an excellent opportunity to bounce back against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Cleveland Browns (2-3): Video Evidence
The video of Monday night’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers probably isn’t worth replaying, but at lease there is evidence that Baker Mayfield didn’t actually snub cornerback Richard Sherman.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4): Minkah Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick has looked every bit the part of a rising star at his position since being drafted 11th overall by the Dolphins in 2018. While we won’t know the true value of the first-round pick the Steelers traded away to get him until the end of the season, we can at least acknowledge that Fitzpatrick has provided a substantial upgrade for Pittsburgh at a significant position of need.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-5): A.J. Green’s Return
The star wide receiver won’t practice this week but he could return in time for a Week 7 matchup with the Jaguars. Or, he could be back just in time to fetch a decent return should Cincinnati opt to trade him. Would the Bengals pull the trigger on a trade involving Green?
Houston Texans (3-2): Deshaun Watson
Watson earned his second AFC Offensive Player of the Week nod of the season after throwing for 426 yards and five touchdowns in a 53-32 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Despite being pressured on 41 per cent of his drop backs, Watson has thrown for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception. He ranks fifth in DVOA at his position, according to Pro Football Focus.
Indianapolis Colts (3-2): Jacoby Brissett
The Colts are coming off a road win in prime time, at one of the most hostile stadiums in the NFL, against the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. Pretty impressive for a team that lost its franchise quarterback a week before the season started. Jacoby Brissett has done his part to get to 3-2.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3): Minshew Mania
Has Gardner Minshew III already done enough to earn the nod at quarterback over Nick Foles when the latter returns from injury? The Jaguars are relevant again and Minshew is the biggest reason for it.
Tennessee Titans (2-3): Made Field Goals
The Titans didn’t waste any time replacing Cairo Santos with another former Bears kicker in Cody Parkey after the former missed four field goal attempts in a 14-7 loss to the Bills. Parkey’s next attempt will be his first since the memorable double doink that cost Chicago a chance to advance in last year’s NFC Wild Card Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-1): New England Patriots
Kansas City won four straight to open the season before hitting a wall against Indianapolis. Sure, the Chiefs have been hit hard by injuries. Still, it isn’t like their franchise quarterback retired abruptly in the middle of the preseason. What stood out most from the loss was the way the Colts were able to execute the same plan of attack that New England used in last year’s AFC Championship Game. Indianapolis pounded the rock with Marlon Mack on offence and played tough man-to-man coverage to slow down Patrick Mahomes on defence. The Patriots may have exposed a potential formula for beating Kansas City. But if Mahomes and company can learn from those losses, address their vulnerabilities and make an effort to correct them before the playoffs, it could be the difference that puts them over the top as a Super Bowl contender.
Oakland Raiders (3-2): Disco Dancing
Apparently, Jon Gruden considers the moves he broke out after last week’s win over the Chicago Bears “Disco Dancing.” Who knew?
Los Angeles Chargers (2-3): Potential
The bad news is that Melvin Gordon looked awful in Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the previously winless Denver Broncos. The good news is that the Chargers are still talented enough to contend for a playoff spot in the AFC. Five of the 12 playoff teams from last season had records below .500 after Week 5. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Phillip Rivers and company were one of the teams that turn things around this season.
Denver Broncos (1-4): A Win
Denver will no longer be mentioned in the same conversation as the NFL’s four remaining winless teams. That in itself is a win. However, the schedule won’t get any easier for the Broncos with games against the Titans, Chiefs and Colts over the next three weeks.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-2): Carson Wentz
Injuries, drops and penalties have taken their toll on his numbers but Wentz has persevered. According to Pro Football Focus, Russell Wilson is the only active quarterback with a higher passing grade than Wentz heading into Week 6.
Dallas Cowboys (3-2): Returning Tackles
The bad news is that the Cowboys offence looked terrible in back-to-back losses to the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers. The good news is that offensive tackles La’el Collins and Tyron Smith could be back in time for a must-win game against the New York Jets. Dallas will need them the rest of the way.
New York Giants (2-3): Super Bowl Memories
Daniel Jones will have his work cut out for him without Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard against the Patriots this week. At least Giants fans can spend the week reliving a pair of Super Bowl wins over New England as the celebration of the NFL’s 100th season continues.
Washington Redskins (0-5): New Beginnings
Washington let assistants Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur walk when they replaced Mike Shanahan with Jay Gruden. Now they are forced to try to find a long-term solution that can match up with those head coaches in NFC matchups for years to come.
Green Bay Packers (4-1): Aaron Jones
A fifth-round pick in 2017, Jones went for 182 total yards and four touchdowns in Green Bay’s win over Dallas. With Davante Adams dealing with a toe injury, the Packers will be forced to lean on Jones again versus the NFC North rival Lions on Monday Night Football.
Detroit Lions (2-1-1): Kerryon Johnson
Running back Kerryon Johnson is coming off a season-best 125 rushing yards in a loss to Kansas City in Week 4. Coming out of the bye week, he will look to pick up where he left off against Green Bay. The Lions have averaged 120.5 rushing yards per game this season. Meanwhile, the Redskins and Arizona Cardinals are the only NFC teams that have allowed more rushing yards per game than the Packers.
Chicago Bears (3-2): Mitch Trubisky
For all of the talk about Chase Daniel’s performance in a win over the Minnesota Vikings, the good feelings didn’t last for Bears fans after a 24-21 loss to the Raiders in London. Despite the shaky start, Trubisky is still the best long-term option in Chicago right now.
Minnesota Vikings (3-2): Kirk Cousins
Cousins will never be worth the three-year, $84 million contract the Vikings signed him to at the same time other teams balked at that price tag. Still, he can be a serviceable starter in the right situation. Coming off his best performance of the season, all eyes will be on Cousins and the Minnesota offence heading into a key NFC showdown with Philadelphia.
New Orleans Saints (4-1): Teddy Bridgewater
The Saints improved to 3-0 in Bridgewater’s starts this season after he threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 31-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Drew Brees will eventually return, Bridgewater has kept New Orleans in the race for the top seed in the NFC.
Carolina Panthers (3-2): Christian McCaffrey
Even if the MVP is reserved for quarterbacks, McCaffrey deserves to be in the conversation. The second-year running back is on pace to break the NFL’s scrimmage yards record with a 2,771 yards. He’s the single-biggest reason why the Panthers have won three in a row. Our NFL analyst Davis Sanchez discussed how McCaffrey has helped turn Carolina’s season around here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3): Sports Science Staff
The Buccaneers’ sports science staff has had a busy week preparing the team for its trip to London. However, their sleep schedule recommendations haven’t been taken too seriously. Head coach Bruce Arians revealed he broke protocol staying up to watch the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS. If that’s true, then Arians knows tight end O.J. Howard also broke the sleep schedule protocol. Howard was spotted at the game and cameras captured him in a highlight-reel play when he made a bare-handed catch of a foul ball.
Atlanta Falcons (1-4): Julio Jones
The good news is that the Falcons have the NFL’s best wide receiver signed through the 2023 season. The bad news is that their defence just gave up 53 points in a loss to Houston and only Miami has a higher average points per game allowed. At 1-4 and with a tough remaining schedule, the focus in Atlanta has already started to shift to beyond this season.
San Francisco 49ers (4-0): Kyle Shanahan
One year after they were absolutely devastated by injuries on both sides of the football, the 49ers look like a legitimate contender under Shanahan this season. For the first time since 1984, San Francisco is the NFC’s lone remain undefeated team entering Week 6. While Jimmy Garoppolo gets a lot of the credit after improving to 10-2 as the 49ers starting quarterback, Shanahan’s coaching has been the biggest reason for their success. Our NFL analyst Davis Sanchez talked about Shanahan’s game planning after their win over Cleveland on Monday Night Football.
Seattle Seahawks (4-1): Russell Wilson
The NFL’s highest-paid player has earned every penny of it through five weeks. Wilson has thrown for 1,409 yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 73.9 per cent of his pass attempts. He’s also run for 120 yards and a pair of scores. If Mahomes is the MVP front-runner, then Wilson is right behind him right now.
Los Angeles Rams (3-2): Immediate Opportunity For Redemption
For as crushing as last week’s loss to the Seahawks was, the Rams have an immediate opportunity at redemption with the undefeated 49ers in town this Sunday. Los Angeles could very well be 4-1 right now. Instead, Jared Goff and company are looking up at San Francisco and Seattle in the NFC West. Fortunately for the Rams, they still control their own destiny in the division.
Arizona Cardinals (1-3-1): Kyler Murray
The Cardinals still have a long way to go before they can contend in the NFC West. Fortunately, they have a franchise quarterback they feel can get them there. Murray set up Arizona’s game-winning field goal against the Bengals with a 62-yard drive to earn his first career victory. Was it the start of something special? Cardinals fans are just thankful that it could be.