Week 6 will go down in history as the week where nothing all that exciting happened. More likely, it will not go down in history because nothing all that exciting happened. There were two games within ten points of one another (Oakland won one of them!) and one had scores in the 130s and the other in the 160s. There was only one real playoff worthy upset, though a couple of others fell a little short. Only 2 times scored more than 221 points. It was a whole lot of meh. Broadly, week 6 continued a number of trends we’ve seen all year, and continued to set the stage for a series of vicious second half playoff battles.
Game of the Week: Philadelphia Eagles 221 over Carolina Panthers 205
This game was the exception. The hands down game of the week. Two strong efforts, a close game, and a stunning upset. Carolina was looking golden as the 7-1 division leader of the AFC South and Philly was reeling, having just lost a pseudo-elimination game to the Cardinals. This one should have been a forgone conclusion. It was not. Mark Ingram, freed from the shadow of Adrian Peterson, exploded for 33 points, Zach Ertz caught a pair of touchdowns, and some guy named Matt Judon picked up 14 total tackles and two sacks to bring the Eagles defense well over 100. It was enough to overcome an incredible 161 point defensive day from Carolina (9/11 defensive guys in double digits, 3 in the 20s) because Carolina’s offense went flatter than we’ve ever seen it before, totalling only 38 points and without a double digit scorer. Does this change much? Well, not for Philly. They are still too far behind and Matt Judon is not going to do that every week. For Carolina though? If this is an offensive trend rather than an outlier, that division is still really hard. The double stat correction victory in week 4 is looking more and more critical.
Atlanta Falcons: It’s been a rough couple weeks in Atlanta, where the 4-1 Falcons had lost three straight to fall to 4-4 and into last place in the NFC South. A get well game with the hapless Dolphins was just what the doctor ordered. The Falcons spread it around nicely on offense, as every skill position player scored between 14-20 points. On defense, they picked off three passes, including the game ceiling pick six from A’Shawn Robinson in the wild Detroit-New Orleans game. It was an obliteration of 130 points over Miami, and earned the Falcons high points honors. I’m sure Atlanta would have rather held off their 251 point outburst for a more competitive game, but it still serves notice that the Falcons are an excellent team, a contender in the South, and can beat anyone on any given week.
Minnesota Vikings: For a long time this year, it seemed as if it would be the same as it ever was for the Vikings. Their strong young offense and strong young defense wasn’t coming through, and when they were coming through, it was resulting in close losses rather than wins. Suddenly, however, Minnesota has put together two consecutive 200 point games resulting in two consecutive victories over divisional opponents – first Chicago and now Green Bay. It was the defense that carried the day, with 5 turnovers, 3.5 sacks, and 47 total tackles. Jerick McKinnon is showing that he can play Dalvin Cook too, Taywan Taylor grabbed a deep touchdown, and Laquon Treadwell hit double digits in points. It’s not enough to save the season this year most likely, but the rebuild appears to be taking shape after all!
New York Jets: Speaking of another team exceeding expectations, the Jets were expected to be the laughing stock of the AFC East, and instead have been competitive every single week. They have lost only one game by more than 15 points all year (and that was a game in which the Jags went off for 256) and have moved into sole possession of second place by virtue of a 70 point thrashing off the Patriots. It was a hot and heavy rushing attack for the Jets, who combined for 62 points from Melvin Gordon and Chris Ivory and linked to 96 defensive points. The Jets still have holes on offense (outside of Wentz, Gordon, and Ivory, the other four guys scored a combined 15 points), and have no chance of catching Buffalo. But they have made something true of Gang Green for the first time in RDFL history – the Jets are no pushover.
Honorable Mentions: Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans
Arizona Cardinals: Welp. Arizona faced a twin elimination games in weeks 5-6. A chance to prove that their underwhelming season to point was a blip and separate themselves from the also rans. After sluggishly sleepwalking to a 158-146 win over the Eagles in week 5, they followed suit with another entirely uninspiring performance in week 6, this time losing 175-147 to fellow bubbler Tampa Bay. Oof. This week’s problems are typical of Arizona’s season – a 40 point offensive dud rendered big defensive games from Chris Baker, Calais Campbell and Craig Robertson meaningless. Arizona is 23rd in the league in total offense, now 4 games back of Seattle with 7 games to go, and just can’t seem to get the car out of second gear.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals keep turning in excellent performances to surprise everyone and put themselves in striking distance of a divisional crown. And then somehow botch the strike. After playing Buffalo close in week 5, Cincy had the perfect setup- a game with a heavily bye and injury ravaged Seattle Seahawks team coupled with a Steelers loss. The Bengals were perfectly set up to move into first place in the North. Instead, the bye week offense mustered only 60, only 6/20 players reached double figures, and the Bengals couldn’t capitalize, falling 168-163 to a gritty Seattle team and the returning excellence of Pharoh Cooper. The door isn’t entirely closed, though, as Cincy gets Pittsburgh in week 7, with the winner in sole possession of first place.
Pittsburgh Steelers: It was the best of players and it was the worst of players for the Steelers on Sunday, as it seemingly has been all year long. Le’Veon Bell put in his best performance to date, scoring 38, and Jarvis Landry chipped in 23 of his own. Lawrence Timmons, Allen Bailey, Sean Davis and DeForest Buckner played with their traditional excellence. But the Steelers were undone by FIVE zeros (Jesse James, Kenny Britt, Albert Wilson, Byron Maxwell and Pierre Desir), and five more plowers who scored 5 points or fewer. It’s hard to win when half your lineup scores five points or less, even with Le’Veon Bell. Despite all that, Pittsburgh remains a half game up in their division and the chance to put some distance between themselves and the Bengals.
Dishonorable Mentions: Washington Redskins, LA Rams
Week 7 Games of the Week:
Buffalo Bills vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: As a reward for their elimination game win against Arizona, the Bucs get to play Buffalo, the only team in RDFL without a tie or a loss to blemish their record – and whose fantasy point total suggests that they’ve been every bit as good as their record suggests. Good luck. The Bills bring their #3 ranked offense to face the Bucs #31 ranked offense. And that stat tells you all you need to know about this matchup.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ye olde grudge match. Both Cincy and Pittsburgh scuffled a bit in week #6, but one of them is going to make it right in week #7. In a quirk of fun scheduling, these teams won’t play their rubber match until week #12, so the winner is going to have the tie breaker and an edge in the division for the rest of the year. The question for both teams is simple. For Pittsburgh, can it get enough contributions from it’s supporting cast? For Cincy, which team is going to show up? The one that took the mighty Bills to the wire in week 5? Or the one that lay down to Seattle in week 6?
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders finally got lucky in a close game, picking off the Chargers by a single point at home to survive a crushing first half injury to Aaron Rodgers. As a result, they remain in Wild Card position with a nice 6-3 record. Their game with the Chiefs is a must win for the division, as a loss would leave them 3.5 games back with six to play, and would be nice to have for the wild card as well. A lot is riding on Hundley’s shoulders – and something should be send to commend the Raiders for having Hundley ready to step in.
Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants: Along with the Bengals/Steelers, this is my true game of the week. The 8-1 New York Giants. vs the 8-1 Seattle Seahawks. Both teams have long since run away and hid in their respective decisions, but both playoff byes (Detroit, Seattle, and the Giants are all 8-1, only two can get byes) and bragging rights are at stake. For the Giants, a win would give them victories over both Detroit and Seattle and basically assure them the #1 seed in the playoffs. For the overachieving Seahawks, a signature win over the Giants would serve as major validation for a team that still can’t quite believe it’s lofty record. It’s hard to pick against the Giants here, particularly with the addition of Mike Evans, though the reinstatement of Ezekiel Elliott is a nice counter.
New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers: Does this count? I mean, sure. The 4-5 Packers have been a decent team and are not entirely out of the muddied NFC Wildcard picture. The even better New Orleans Saints are in the thick of both the Wildcard and NFC South races (which may quite possibly be synonymous – it’s possible, even likely, that both wild cards in the NFC come out of the South this year). New Orleans, coming off a tough loss to Detroit but boasting a top ten defense should win this one. But Green Bay has a solid chance to beat them. And that event could make everyone 5-5 and throw even more mud in the NFC playoff picture.
Good luck in week 7 everyone!