Week Six was a weekend that reminded us how wide open the NFL is. Only six weeks into the season and already we have no undefeated teams left, and only one winless team in the form of the Carolina Panthers… so, we’re starting the column this week with one of those undefeated teams that was knocked off their perch.
1) The spirit of New York
I’m so impressed with the spirit of the New York Jets. They could have folded when Aaron Rodgers went down injured. They’ve lent on their defense, they’ve leant on Breece Hall and the running game. They’re very much alive in the AFC playoff race.
They play so well on defense. They were excellent again against the Eagles, coming up with big interceptions. That was the only way they could beat Philadelphia, taking advantage of some Jalen Hurts mistakes, with their quarterback having made a few too many already this season. He has seven interceptions already, compared to six from all of last season.
The Jets have played Buffalo, Dallas, Kansas City and Philadelphia in four of the first six weeks – they could have been looking at a 3-3 record even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
2) Browns stun the Niners
Cleveland knocked off the only other undefeated team in the league, in the 49ers. It was very much a defensive-led effort, which is the way the Browns have to go this season – especially as we wait to see how long Deshaun Watson is sidelined at quarterback.
This is a team powered by its defense. And they faced the ultimate challenge in the form of the 49ers’ star-studded attack. They were up to the task.
Going into the final drive, San Francisco had gained just 21 total yards of offense in the second half. They still almost pulled off the win, but that would have been harsh on the Browns. I think they deserved this victory. They are one of those teams that might spoil a party or two once it gets to playoff time.
3) Lamar Jackson
I’ve talked about this before in this column: star players matter.
Having a breadth of talent, and depth across your roster, is vital when it comes to lasting through the attritional battle that is an NFL season but you also need difference-makers, who can take a game by the scruff of the neck and inspire those around them.
Although his numbers weren’t sensational, I thought that was Lamar Jackson in Baltimore’s 24-16 win over Tennessee at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. He ended the days with 62 rushing yards, added 223 passing yards and one touchdown, but the biggest thing was that he turned a lot of four or five-yard losses into five or six-yard gains.
It was special to see him in the flesh and a special way to finish off these three weeks’ worth of NFL games in London. We continue to be appreciative of the teams coming over this side of the pond.
4) McDaniel’s Miami
Another week and another incredible performance by the Dolphins offense. It feels like you can cut and paste that into this column every week. They are sensational. They beat the Panthers 42-21, and that’s after spotting the visitors a 14-0 lead!
They didn’t blink, they didn’t panic. They backed themselves to get their opportunities, and they knew they were going to score. They’re just too good.
Tua Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes, Tyreek Hill had a huge day and anyone worried about the loss off rookie running back De’Von Achane, fear not, as Raheem Mostert had 115 yards on the ground to go with three TDs.
These Dolphins are scarily fast, they’re hugely productive week on week and I just think they’ve got everything you need to make a deep run into the playoffs – including fighting spirit.
5) Stroud turning Texans around
I think we as a league should be paying more attention to the Houston Texans. They have now won three of the last four after beating the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
CJ Stroud continues to impress, even though he threw his first interception of the season he still threw a couple of touchdown passes.
I like the eyeball test, you don’t always have to focus on the numbers. It wasn’t just about him; there were some key defensive stops late in the game that suggest the Texans are building an intriguing team in a winnable division. I don’t think enough credit has been been paid to DeMeco Ryans, who is turning this team around.
Player of the Week – Tyreek Hill, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins
I just think when Tyreek Hill is on fire, on full form he is almost impossible to cover. I can’t remember seeing a receiver like this, who can blow a top off a defense time and time again. Six catches, 163 yards and a touchdown.
Not only do we see him catch deep passes but we see him catch 15 and 20-yard comebacks where the defensive backs have dropped 25-30 yards into coverage. They are scared stiff of Tyreek Hill and few defenses have an answer.
Play of the Week – Adams’ interception against the Eagles
I’m going with Tony Adams’ interception of Jalen Hurts late in the Jets’ win over the Eagles. It was third-and-long and really the only way I thought the Jets were going to win this game was to turn the ball over there, I didn’t feel Zach Wilson was going to match the length of the field.
Hurts just needs to avoid the interception, he makes an ill-advised throw and then Tony Adams strikes and takes it down inside Philadelphia’s 10-yard line to help the Jets win that game.
It was a vital play in New York’s season and one that epitomised the start of their season with the defense helping out the offense.
Coach of the Week – Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions
Dan Campbell’s Detroit Lions are now 5-1, they’ve won 13 of their last 16. I think we can stop talking about the Lions as a cute success story, we can talk about them as one of the best teams in the NFL right now.
They won in Tampa Bay with defense, which is something you could not have said a year ago with that unit being the worst in the NFL. Jared Goff also had some big moments. This is looking like a real team.
They have got energy, chemistry and belief, and that all comes from their head coach in Dan Campbell. The Lions, because of their head coach, are eating at the top table of NFL teams.
On my radar… Desmond Ridder
How many chances do you want at the end of a game? It felt like every time I watched that game the Atlanta Falcons had the ball back, Washington won 24-16 but couldn’t close out that game.
Desmond Ridder threw a terrible end zone interception, at which Arthur Smith did little to hide his dismay. He turned the ball over on downs on the next drive and then threw an interception to finish the game.
He is not HIM, as they would say in American Football terms. Taylor Heinicke is watching on from the bench, and I’m watching this carefully because I think he would give a decent spark to this team. This is I believe a playoff calibre team, lacking a playoff calibre quarterback.
Week Seven begins on Thursday night (1.15am Friday morning) when the Jacksonville Jaguars face the New Orleans Saints, live on Sky Sports NFL.