NFL: Week 6 — Undeniably weird results, no unbeaten teams
It may have been the fact that last Friday was the 13th and Halloween is just a few weeks away, but Week 6 of the 2023/24 National Football League (NFL) season was undeniably weird. Not that a lot was expected from the games, based on the matchups, but there were so many head-scratching moments that ‘spooky’ felt like an apt adjective.
Of the 30 teams that played last week, 22 were below (or at) the 20-point threshold and only two were able to break the 25-point ceiling. The highest scoring team was the Miami Dolphins and even they had to dig out of a 0-14 hole before destroying the Carolina Panthers 42-21. However, the major talking point from those results is the fact that there are no undefeated teams remaining in the NFL this season, following losses by the previously unbeaten San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 49ers and Eagles weren’t expected to be tested last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, respectively, but the blemish on their records is a harsh reminder that anything can happen every week in the NFL.
To make matters worse, both losses came against second-string quarterbacks — Phillip Walker for the Browns and Zach Wilson for the Jets — who were both unimpressive on the day.
Cleveland’s win was especially shocking, as without quarterback (QB) Deshaun Watson and running back Nick Chubb, they broke San Francisco’s 16-game regular season win streak and outgained their opponents 334-215, in a narrow 19-17 victory. The 49ers did lose wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Christian McCaffrey to shoulder and rib injuries, respectively, in the game, but this was the same offence that ran roughshod over the league’s stingiest defence the week before.
The Browns racked up 160 yards on the ground, the most rushing yards surrendered by the San Francisco defence since Week 6 of last season, and the 215 total yards was the lowest for the 49ers since 2018.
The other major talking point was Cleveland’s defence, which forced QB Brock Purdy into his worst game as a professional and handed him his first regular season loss (10-1). Purdy completed just 12 of 27 passes for 125 yards (with one interception), leading to the lowest passer rating, completion percentage and passing yardage of all his NFL starts. Purdy and the rest of the 49ers might be without Samuel and McCaffrey when they visit US Bank Stadium to tackle the Minnesota Vikings (2-4) next Monday night, but they are still seen as a touchdown favourite by JustBet, making a second-straight week that the Vikings will be home underdogs.
The Vikings are coming off a 19-13 home win against the Chicago Bears, but will still be without star receiver Justin Jefferson, who will miss the second of the four games he has to sit out after going on injured reserve. This will be San Francisco’s first trip to Minneapolis since the 2018 season opener, where the Vikings muscled out a 24-16 victory, and while the 49ers have a 15-9 record against Minnesota on their home turf, the Vikings have won the last six matchups at home against these opponents. This could be interesting, especially if the San Francisco stars are out, but the Vikings are a little short-handed and should find themselves at the short end of this one.
The most appealing game this weekend is the Dolphins (5-1) visiting the Eagles (5-1) on Sunday night. The high-flying Miami offence was the pick of the pack in Week 6, racking up 424 total yards to add to their already record-setting year, while Philadelphia’s QB Jalen Hurts threw three interceptions last weekend — although he can’t be faulted for two — in his team’s 14-20 loss, after throwing four in his first five games this season.
The matchup record for these teams is very close, having played 15 times, with the Dolphins winning nine. This prime time, heavyweight bout could very well be a preview of Super Bowl LVIII, and the Eagles enter the weekend as slight JustBet favourites, despite having a weakened defensive secondary due to injuries. They will have to contend with the speed of wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, having already shuffled 15 defensive backs, after season-ending injuries to cornerbacks Avonte Maddox and Zech McPhearson, plus cornerback Darius Slay was unavailable for last week’s loss to the Jets.
There is something to be said for home field advantage but, considering Philadelphia’s injury-hit secondary going against an explosive Miami receiving core, it’s hard to see the home team coming away with a win on Sunday night. If ever there was a great underdog bet, this is it, and unlike last weekend, a lot of scoring is expected in this one.
The other showcase game this weekend features the most surprising team so far this season, the Detroit Lions (5-1), who were 1-5 at this point last year, and they take their proud record into M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon to tackle QB Lamar Jackson and his Baltimore Ravens (4-2).
Currently the Ravens have a four-game win streak against the Lions and lead the all-time series 5-1. These teams last met in September 2021 and the Ravens came away with a 19-17 win in Detroit. They are 3-0 at home versus Detroit and have outscored them 111-33 in those three games, but these Lions toppled the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in the opening game of the season and are on a four-game win streak, averaging 29 points in those games and winning by an average of 15 points.
Both teams are coming off big wins — the Lions over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20-6) and the Ravens over the Tennessee Titans (24-16) — and Baltimore is favoured by JustBet by a little more than a field goal, but this contest will probably be decided between Detroit’s defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and how much protection Jackson’s offensive line can provide. Then again, Jackson is a different level, running quarterback and he’ll be a challenge to contain. Get your refreshments before noon as this will be an early game on Sunday….. Are you ready for some football?
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