NFL Week 6 Preview
Week 6 of the NFL did not premiere with a typical Thursday night football game due to schedule changes to accommodate for COVID 19 related issues. However, now Week 6 will get underway on Sunday through showcasing several dynamic matchups across the league. One game that all NFL fans need to be looking forward to, is the matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they host the Green Bay Packers.
The outcome of this NFC offensive heavyweight fight will absolutely prove to be critical for whichever team wins at the end of the year when it comes time to determine playoff seeding within the NFC. With all of that on the line, both of these teams should be pleased to hear that they can expect the return of some top offensive weapons. On Friday, it was announced that pro bowl WRs Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers and Chris Godwin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would plan on being activated on game day for this matchup. Both had previously been inactive with hamstring injuries the past several weeks. With the addition of both players into each of their respective offenses, these offenses will only improve by making the already explosive and efficient offenses more lethal and able to score on any one given play.
Within any football game, it is a fact that dictating the line of scrimmage is one of the best indicators to a successful outcome to a football game or season. With that said, one of the key matchups that I will be focusing in on and watching closely this Sunday will be the matchup between the pair of Tampa Bay OT’s and Green Bay’s duo of EDGE rushers.
The pair of Buccaneers OT’s, Tristan Wirfs and Donovan Smith, proved to be successful over the first four weeks of the season by handling teams with potent pass rushes and elite pass rushers highlighted by Cameron Jordan of the Saints and Joey Bosa of the Chargers. Nevertheless, for the first time this pair showed significant lapses in pass protection against Khalil Mack and the rest of the Chicago Bears defense. This resulted in an increased pressure rate and increased number of sacks in the Monday night football game this past week. Meanwhile as for the Packers, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith are both getting home and recording pressures and sacks to formulate a current top 10 pass rushing duo in the NFL. The standout of the pair is easily Za’Darius Smith, who has recorded ten pressures and delivered five sacks through five games which is currently tied for 3rd place on the NFL leaderboard with Minnesota Vikings Yannick Ngakoue and only behind Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald and Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett.
Another matchup I am looking forward to watching for pure enjoyment of football is the matchup between the pair of off-ball LBs for Tampa Bay and Packers RB Aaron Jones. Upon assessment, this is very much a strength on strength matchup as Aaron Jones is undoubtedly one of the premier offensive playmakers in the NFL; where Jones can have a significant impact in both the passing game and rushing attack. However, both Lavonte David and Devin White of the Buccaneers possess above average man and zone coverage abilities with sideline to sideline speed to hang in this matchup with Aaron Jones. Even with White and David combining to easily form a current top 3 off ball LB duo in the NFL, I fully expect Packers head coach Matt LeFleur to continue to test their abilities and utilize his Aaron Jones to attack this defense.
If you had a chance to rewind and examine the schedule just over one week ago, you would have noticed that two division leaders with unbeaten records within the AFC were slated to play one another. Yet this matchup will now be played Monday night with no chance to secure top positioning in the AFC. Regardless of all of that, I still circled the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs as they take on the Buffalo Bills as one of the NFL Games of the Week.
Looking back on the past week, both teams suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of AFC opponents as the Chiefs were dominated by the Raiders and the Bills were run over by the Titans for all to watch on Tuesday night football. Going into this matchup, both the Chiefs and Bills are both now 4-1, coming off of embarrassing losses and looking to win. That win being so important as rights to postseason seeding advantages for the AFC playoff picture. This alone will ensure that there will be juice for this game and with both teams being well coached and wanting to get back on track, this game will be a good one.
Looking at the rosters for both of these teams, it is hard to overlook the head to head matchup between both franchise QBs. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have both had terrific starts to the season and are rightfully in consideration with Russell Wilson for NFL MVP. With the addition of Stefon Diggs as WR1, Josh Allen has been able to show off areas of refinement in his own passing game. Allen has made strides in accuracy at all levels of the field and when this accuracy is combined with the elite arm strength, the same arm strength that caught people’s eyes while he was at Wyoming, it makes a dangerous weapon and one that I do not believe the Chiefs are equip to handle. Moreover, with the return of All-Pro CB Tre’davious White doubtful, watch for QB Patrick Mahomes to attack down the field utilizing Tyreek Hill.
However, one of the biggest focuses for me this week when looking at the whole NFL will be watching Andy Reid and Eric Beinemy and the choice of utilization of Leveon Bell and Clyde Edwards-Healaire independently and together. With both QBs armed with legit offensive weapons and a motivation to win, look for them to lead their team in what will likely come down to an offensive shootout. To me, the winner will be the team that can steal an extra possession or get a timely stop on defense in the end of each half.
Even with the two other games being worthy of national attention; the matchup between the 4-1 Cleveland Browns and the 4-0 Pittsburgh Steelers is my game of the week. When the Cleveland Browns come into Heinz Field on Sunday, it will be the biggest game that the two teams have played thus far in the season and will be the most important matchup between the teams since the 2004 season. To the surprise of many, the Cleveland Browns have the highest scoring offense in the AFC through the first five weeks. Over that span, the Browns are scoring a stunning 31.2 points per game. This is particularly impressive because the Browns secured a victory at home against a top 3 defense in the NFL, scoring 32 points on the Indianapolis Colts in week 5.
As for the defensive side of the ball, they Browns have not been able to stop much. Safety and Linebacker play has been below average, so look for the Steelers to exploit this in the same ways they did against the Eagles last week. However, in that time the Browns have leaned on the play of EDGE Myles Garrett to be a game changer. With that, Myles Garrett has delivered by forcing key turnovers late in games that create extra opportunities and have shifted momentum of each game. The Browns have significant role players that have alreadu been ruled out for Sunday; those players being LB Jacob Phillips and SAFs Karl Joseph and Ronnie Harrison Jr. Those players being out of the lineup will be problematic for matchups on gameday and it is something to monitor as the game goes along.
As for the home team, the Steelers are playing defense at a supremely high level with a commitment to a pressure philosophy that is unmatched by any other team in the NFL. Right now, the Browns biggest concern should be that the Steelers are blitzing on over 50% of the total defensive snaps and for comparison the next highest rate of any NFL team is less than 40%. With this increased blitz percentage, I fully expect the Steelers to attempt to get the Browns in 2nd and 3rd in long situations, so that they are able to create confusion pre-snap and force turnovers early and often in this game. EDGE players Bud Dupree and TJ Watt will be the main proponents of this game plan as the Steelers defense looks to force crucial turnovers that will allow the Steelers offense to come out onto the field.
With 16-year NFL veteran Ben Roethlisberger back at QB armed with talented weapons including JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, James Connor and Eric Ebron. The Steelers will be able to score and I expect that the Steelers will utilize the size and speed of Chase Claypool in pre-snap motion and various mismatches until there is a successful game plan by the Browns to be effective at stopping that from happening.
This matchup between AFC North Rivals is my game of the week because it could be the chance for the Browns to clearly affirm themselves as key players within the NFL this season and all the while the Steelers will be given the opportunity to reassert their consistent dominance over Cleveland in this rivalry all while remaining in sole possession of first place in the AFC North. I hope you are all as excited for these games as I am. Personally, I am going to be taking the Browns by 3 in a slow paced defensively dominated game, Bills by 1 in an season high offensive display and a Packers win by 10 in a dramatic offensive performance by Aaron Rodgers in the head to head matchup with Tom Brady. What is your one NFL Game of the Week? Who are you taking for these NFL Games of the week and why?