Where has the Baltimore Ravens defense gone? Who ever would have thought that the Ravens with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed on the team would ever struggle so mightily? Baltimore has given up plus 20 points in four out of their six games this season and 26 points or higher three times. They have given up two straight 100-yard rushing games to single running backs, last year the Ravens only gave up over 100 yards to a team three times and that was including the playoffs. Baltimore’s once vaunted defense has given up go ahead scores late in the fourth quarter against the Bengals and Vikings. In the past once the Purple and Black had the lead in the fourth quarter the game was essentially over. The Ravens do not have a secondary that can hold up if they do not get pressure on the quarterback, 11 sacks in six games is not going to get it done. In the past they had Chris McAllister at CB, one of the best in the league, Dominque Foxworth doesn’t have those kind of credentials.
Let’s hit the Week 6 12-Pack:
1. What a day for quarterbacks, eight quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards. The record for the teams that had the 300-yard passer was 6-2. Ben Reothlisberger led the way with 417 yards and Matt Schaub threw for 392 yards and 4 TD’s. I thought what Schaub did was impressive until Tom Brady exploded like a grenade. He threw for 380 yards and 6 TD’s and Belichick pulled him after the first drive in the second half. Looks like Mr. Brady is ready to start torturing the rest of the NFL again.
2. The two quarterbacks that caught my eye the most on Sunday were two that didn’t throw for 300 yards and it was for completely different reasons. Brett Favre and Mark Sanchez are linked in a way that is worth of the Kevin Bacon game. Favre retired, but never officially filed his retirement papers leaving a hefty number on the Jets cap. The Jets did not want to go into the season with Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff as their quarterbacks. New York trades up and drafts Mark Sanchez, Favre knows he has NYJ’s GM Mike Tannabaum trapped because he needs the cap room to sign Sanchez and asks for his release. New York has no option, but to grant #4 his wish and Brett signs with the Vikings. Right now the move is working out for the Vikings and the Jets are in a tailspin. Favre played incredible in the Vikings victory over the Ravens, hitting his WR’s down the field and just the threat of him under center opens up lanes for Adrian Peterson. “Sanchize” (that’s sarcasm, that is why you don’t give a kid a nickname after two games) threw five interceptions and has single handedly lost the Jets two out of their last three games. Don’t get me wrong I still think Sanchez is a franchise QB for the Jets, but he is going to go through some growing pains as he gets adjusted to the NFL game.
3. The other undefeated team in the NFC made a huge statement; the New Orleans Saints rolled up the New York Giants 48-27. This game late in the 2nd quarter was on its way to becoming the ball game we all expected. The Giants were down by 10, just stopped the Saints on 4th and Goal at the 1 yard line, and Eli Manning with less than two minutes was poised to lead Big Blue on one of its patented two-minute drill drives. Then Saints safety Roman Harper happened, he sacked Manning and forced a fumble that the Saints recovered. Instead of going into the half down 10 or less the Giants went to the locker room down 17 and never got back into the game. Last year the Giants had a three headed monster at the RB position with Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Saints have Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Mike Bell, not as good, but they were very effective in their first game playing together an a unit.
4. The Washington Redskins are a complete disaster. Their head coach Jim Zorn was stripped of his play calling duties by the Redskins front office. The only person who should be able to relieve Zorn of his play calling duties is himself, he is the head coach. That is gameday operations and the front office should have nothing to do with that decision. If they want a change, fire Jim Zorn. Right now Zorn looks like a puppet, who even knows if he was the one to call for quarterback Jason Campbell getting benched? If Owner Dan Snyder doesn’t want Jim Zorn running things, fire him and stop trying to turn your organization into the Oakland Raiders.
5. The New York Jets are in a lot of trouble and it’s not just because their rookie QB is playing like a rookie. They have lost three straight games, their All-Pro nose tackle Kris Jenkins might miss the rest of the season, and they are playing undisciplined football. For the second straight season the Jets have handled success and accolades with extended losing streaks. Last year it was later in the season, this year it happened after a 3-0 start. New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan made a name for himself with his talk and now it is coming back to bite him. The past two weeks he has struggled with time management, made questionable decisions, and he has looked like a rookie himself. It is inexcusable to lose a football game to team playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback, leading 13-3 at halftime, and when you run for over 300 rushing yards. Thank god for Sunday night TV, if it wasn’t for a great episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm I don’t think my mood would have improved for another couple of days.
6. The Arizona Cardinals got a big win on the road in Seattle to put them into a virtual tie for first place with the San Francisco 49ers. Kurt Warner looked solid establishing a good repertoire with WR’s Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston. The Cards running game continues to struggle, Chris “Beanie” Wells fumbled twice in 12 carries. Coach Whisenhunt isn’t going to be able to put “Beanie” on the field if he continues to have issues holding onto the ball. Arizona’s defense was lights out on 3rd down, Seattle was 0-11.
7. The Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles 13-9; I can’t believe I just typed that. Running back Justin Fargas established himself as the Raiders #1 back with Darren McFadden hurt and TE Zach Miller showed the Raiders have at least one functioning pass catcher. When DE Richard Seymour decides he wants to give effort the man is a beast; four tackles, three of them for a loss, and two sacks. Believe me it’s not a coincidence that he had a game like this a couple days before the trading deadline. If he doesn’t get traded the intensity level will drop right back down.
8. Staying on the Raiders-Eagles game, a couple times a year Eagles head coach Andy Reid has games where he forgets the running back position exists and the Eagles always struggle in these contests. McNabb threw 49 times and Brian Westbrook only had six carries (he did have nine catches). Reid will watch the tape, realize he screwed up and will get back to a more balanced attack.
9. Congrats to Todd Haley and Kansas City Chiefs on getting their first win of the season. There is not a more entertaining coach to watch on the sidelines than Todd Haley.
10. It was in a loss and ended up being a meaningless play because of the outcome, but with less than 40 seconds left Chicago Bears WR Earl Bennett made a gutsy 24-yard catch on 3rd and 25 to give the Bears one last chance to send the Bears-Falcons game into OT. Cutler couldn’t make the play on 4th down, but catches like Bennett made on 3rd down are the type that earn the confidence from you coach and quarterback. Much like the Giants, the Bears young WR’s in Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox, and Devin Hester are better than expected.
11. I love watching football games in the snow like the Patriots-Titans game. There is not a better scene for an NFL game than watching a game with snow trickling down and the field being covered white. That is one of the main reasons I can’t stand domes and I’ve said this before, football is a sport that is meant to be played in the elements. Controlling the environment that the game is played in hurts the game.
12. Division rankings six games into the season…
1. NFC North – Could possibly end up with six playoff teams
2. AFC North – Three teams that can win the division in Cin, Balt, and Pit
3. NFC South – NO and Atl had statement wins, Car is on the rebound
4. NFC East – Giants are still at the top of the NFC, Eagles and ‘Boys look mediocre
5. AFC East – Pats starting to click and Fins making strides
6. AFC West – Broncos the surprise of the league…SD has something to prove
7. AFC South – Colts class of AFC…Jac and Hou are decent
8. NFC West – 49ers and Cardinals wouldn’t win any other division
New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez threw five picks and cost the Jets their game against the Buffalo Bills.
Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas had nine tackles.
New England Patriots safety Pat Chung had eight tackles and an INT
Three huge defensive injuries. Start off with the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks losing the heart and souls of their defense. Everything the New York Jets did on D started with NT Kris Jenkins being a beast. He was an All-Pro nose tackle and the Jets have no depth in the defensive line to replace him. They were using DE/OLB Vernon Gholston as an NT at times because of the lack players at the position. Seattle lost All-Pro MLB Lofa Tatupu. This puts more pressure on rookie OLB Aaron Curry to keep playing at a high level.
Week 7 Look Ahead
Minnesota Vikings @ Pittsburgh Steelers – The Vikings look to take down an AFC North power for the second straight week, this time on the road.
San Francisco 49ers @ Houston Texans – Always got to give love to the high powered offense going up against the stingy defense. Plus, Michael Crabtree makes his NFL debut.
Atlanta Falcons @ Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys look to turn things around after their bye week against the up and coming Falcons.
Chicago Bears @ Cincinnati Bengals – Bengals couldn’t stop Matt Schaub can they contain Jay Cutler?
New Orleans Saints @ Miami Dolphins – Dolphins look to win their third straight game and hand the Saints their first loss.
Arizona Cardinals @ New York Giants – The Cards look to make a statement on Sunday Night Football against one of the NFL’s elite. Earlier in the year Arizona was embarrassed on SNF by the Indianapolis Colts.