Oh Roger Goodell you sly dog, you did it again. The NFL delivered yet another slate of football. Week six saw three games go into overtime, including the Sunday night matchup between the Steelers and Seahawks. Despite both teams starting off with disappointing 2-3 records, there was no doubt that this would be a hard fought game. Seattle was missing starting quarterback Russell Wilson for the first time in his career, so former second round pick Geno Smith was thrust into the spotlight. Smith, who is yet another Jet quarterback whose career didn’t pan out, played with heart but was left in defeat after Steelers linebacker TJ Watt forced a fumble late in overtime that would set up a game-winning field goal. Elsewhere in the NFC West, the Cardinals remain undefeated as they beat the snot out of a Browns team which is struggling to keep their solid-orange helmets above .500. The drifting Chiefs rebounded with a 31-13 win over Washington after an embarrassing home loss against Buffalo last week. They still look to be out of sorts as they lead the league in turnovers.
Winner – Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have quietly played their way to a strong 5-1 record. After losing the season opener in overtime to Las Vegas, Baltimore has won out, including victories against the Chiefs and Chargers. Everything is going right for the Ravens. Defensively they have surrendered over 20 points just once in the last four weeks, Lamar Jackson looks to have made another step in the right direction as he cements himself as a top-five quarterback in the league, and this is all happening for a team that lost its entire running back rotation in the pre-season. Additionally, the young talent is popping. Rookie defensive end Odafe Oweh has flashed an impressive pass rush skillset and nose for big plays. This paired with second year linebacker Patrick Queen’s hard-hitting play style has Ravens fans foaming at the mouth for the next Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs combo.
Winner – Anyone who likes offense
Straight up, this week was full of shootouts. Only two games had less than 40 points scored while three games went over 60. The Titans and Bills got into a tight game that saw eight lead changes and a game-clinching fourth down stop with 22 seconds remaining to give the Titans a 34-31 upset over a Buffalo team that is looking to contend for a Super Bowl. In London, Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa played up to their lofty draft stock by combining for 648 passing yards in what would turn out to be Lawrence’s first NFL victory.
All around the league there were electric plays. Browns receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones hauled in a 57-yard touchdown to close out the first half against Arizona, Derrick Henry housed it three times including a 76-yard touchdown run, and CeeDee Lamb had a 35-yard walk-off touchdown in overtime which he celebrated by waving goodbye to the Patriot defender he left in the dust. Football’s trend towards fast paced offenses who utilize speed in space has created a style of offense that creates more exciting games, highlights and general entertainment.
Loser – Cleveland Browns
I will be the first to admit that I was 100% committed to the Cleveland Browns hype train this season. I had them come in at No. 7 in my preseason rankings, loved the talent they added in the draft and free agency, and thought that Baker Mayfield would make a significant third year jump. Cleveland currently sits at third in the AFC North with a record of 3-3. Key offensive skill players Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry are out for the near future as they nurse injuries, and quarterback Baker Mayfield is struggling as he had to play through yet another dislocated shoulder on Sunday. The season isn’t over yet, but having lost to the Chargers, Chiefs and Cardinals, and not beaten a team above .500, Cleveland definitely has work to do if they expect to win another playoff game this year. That change is going to have to start with Baker Mayfield. On about 95% of snaps, he looks like the confident and talented No. 1 overall pick that was supposed to change the culture in Cleveland, but during the other 5%, Baker looks just like every other Browns QB who has failed to jump-start a career in the city of losses. Cleveland has a roster that, when healthy, is complete and dripping with talent. The last piece needed is consistent play from their quarterback, but until Mayfield learns to control himself, the Browns won’t take the next step to contender status.
Loser – Detroit Lions
Well, this is sadly a familiar sight. For the fourth year in a row, the Detroit Lions sit in the basement of football. They are the last team to not win a game and after a couple of heartbreaking losses, one can only imagine how it feels to be in that locker room. After scoring 33 against the 49ers in week one, Detroit has failed to eclipse the 20-point mark in its last five games. Quarterback Jared Goff has looked disappointingly average, but it’s hard to blame him when he’s surrounded by a receiving core who had 642 cumulative career receiving yards heading into the season. Just for perspective, Cooper Kupp has already surpassed that number in 2021 alone with former Lions QB Matthew Stafford throwing him the ball. Ouch. Head Coach Dan Campbell looks to be the lone bright spot in Motown as he is pouring his heart and soul into the team. Campbell has been in tears in press conferences after games as he talks about the pride he has in his team’s drive. Watching the Lions play, no one can doubt that the team has heart, but for a team based in the 3-1-3 they look a lot more like 0-6-0.
A.J. Brown – 7 catches. 91 yards (Tennessee Titans 34, Buffalo Bills 31)
DK Metcalf – 6 catches, 58 yards (Seattle Seahawks 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 23)
Dawson Knox – 3 catches, 25 yards, 1 TD pass (Buffalo Bills 31, Tennessee Titans 34)
Elijah Moore – Bye week