NFL Week 6 roundup with insights for Week 7 and beyond
In a battle of first place teams in Baltimore, both the Chargers and Ravens wanted to stake their claim as the team in the AFC most likely to challenge the Bills for the top seed in the conference. Mission accomplished for the Ravens. For the Chargers, we now have questions.
It wasn't just that Baltimore won the game in spite of just 167 yards passing from Lamar Jackson. They won it going away - sending L.A. on its cross-country flight back home, 34-6 losers.
The Ravens have had a number of wins that could have easily turned to losses. Not this time, as they never trailed, and their superiority was never in doubt. The Ravens are currently six point favorites over the Bengals this weekend and so far they are taking over 80% of the betting action.
The Chargers on the other hand had no answer on defense for the 187 yards rushing allowed to Baltimore, or the Ravens defense that sacked Justin Herbert three times and intercepted him twice. The Chargers managed just 208 net yards, and Herbert failed to get to 200 yards passing for the first time in 13 games. LA will have time to regroup as Week 7 is their bye week.
Trevor Lawrence Gets First Career Win
Top draft pick Trevor Lawrence now has his first NFL win, as does head coach Urban Meyer.
The Jaguars made their annual trek to England this week, facing the Dolphins, who had Tua Tagovailoa back under center. Both quarterbacks threw for more than 300 yards, and Dolphins rookie Jaylen Waddle caught a pair of touchdowns. But Lawrence played mistake-free football, and it was his team that came back from the UK with the 23-20 victory. They get this week off to reflect, regroup and hopefully continue their winning ways in Week 8 versus the Wilson-less Seahawks.
The biggest victor in the Jaguars’ first win in 21 games (breaking the second longest losing streak in NFL history) is kicker Matthew Wright. Wright, who missed extra points in each of the previous two weeks, hit from 54 yards and 53 yards in the final four minutes of the game, securing the win on the final play.
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Cardinals Stay Unbeaten Without Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury
It felt a little bit like 2020, with the Cardinals traveling to Cleveland without head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback coach Cam Turner because they tested positive for COVID-19. But this 2021 version of the Cardinals did not regress one bit.
Kyler Murray is an MVP front-runner, and he looked every bit the part with four touchdown passes. DeAndre Hopkins was his usual All-Pro self, and in spite of a bad play to end the first half, the defense was great, getting to Baker Mayfield for five sacks, even without Chandler Jones.
Mayfield was eventually driven from the game, the Browns are now 3-3, their defense is reeling, and questions about a contract extension for Mayfield are growing louder. Cleveland heads to Denver for the Thursday Night Football matchup this week. Both teams are experiencing losing streaks and the Browns have dropped to +350 at BetUS to win the AFC North. Cleveland opened as six point favorites for the TNF matchup and apparently bettors are also doubting Mayfield - the current betting line has dropped to just Cleveland -2.
There are no questions left to be answered about Arizona. At 6-0 following the 37-14 win, their stock has risen in NFC Championship odds to +500 odds — putting them in a tie for third place on the board with the Green Bay Packers (and just behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at +250, and the Los Angeles Rams at +400). They are also favored by a whopping 18 points over the Texans on Sunday, which looks more like an NCAA point spread!
Cowboys Outlast Patriots
The Patriots continue to be plucky against the best teams in the NFC. They nearly pulled off the late win over the Bucs, and on Sunday they nearly beat the first-place Cowboys. Instead, they lost in overtime, as Dak Prescott threw for 445 yards, three touchdowns, and a 35-yard touchdown to CeeDee Lamb to end the game. Dak is the second favorite behind Kyler Murray for NFL MVP, with his odds creeping down to just +450 at the top online sportsbooks.
The Cowboys are 5-1, winners of five straight, and you would assume that Dallas would love to keep playing, instead of having their bye this week. But on that game-winning play, Prescott hurt his calf and was in a walking boot after the game. That gives Dak two weeks to get ready for a trip to Minnesota, and continue the chase of the Cardinals for the top seed in the NFC.
"But I'll be fine. I'll promise you that," said Prescott in the post-game.
Raiders Move Forward Without Jon Gruden
For the first time since Jon Gruden resigned on Monday, Raiders owner Mark Davis spoke on his ex-head coach.
"The Raiders stand for diversity, inclusion, and social justice. We always have and we always will. The emails that came out are not what we stand for, so Jon Gruden is no longer head coach of the Raiders. There's not much more to say."
Davis has moved on, and so has the team. On Sunday, without Gruden, they played their most complete game of the season, a 34-24 win at Denver. Derek Carr threw for 341 yards, and the defense intercepted Teddy Bridgewater three times.
Broncos safety Justin Simmons summed it up: "Simply put, we got our butts whupped."
He wasn’t exaggerating. The Broncos came into that game as five-point favorites, up from 3½ where it opened. NFL point spread markets who backed Denver were surprised at the Broncos lack of challenge. The defeat is certainly why the Thursday Night line opened so high, but it looks like bettors like Denver to bounce back and cover against Cleveland.