The NFL season is flying by, as we are already in Week 6 of the 2020 season. Entering Week 6, there are many storylines to look into that could affect the slate of games.
Will Andy Dalton continue to play well now that Dak Prescott is out for the season? Is Dalvin Cook going to be available to play for the Minnesota Vikings after a heartbreaking loss? Will any extracurricular activities be going on between the Steelers and Browns? Will Jimmy Garoppalo bounce back after being benched last week? There are so many questions that can (or will) be answered at the conclusion of this NFL week.
My Week 5 selections were right on point. All three games were decided by single digits, one of them requiring overtime to decide a winner. The action and entertainment were overflowing, with all games coming down to the wire.
The best games for each time slot for Week 6 involve two legendary quarterbacks, a second-year quarterback’s primetime debut, and division rivals facing off with some violent history.
Best Early Afternoon NFL Matchup: Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, October 18, 2020, at 1 p.m. on CBS)
This AFC North rivalry has enough to satisfy all NFL fans this week. The Browns are looking to hand the Steelers their first loss of the year. Everyone knows what went down last year when Myles Garret hit Mason Rudolph on the head with his own helmet.
Luckily for the Steelers, Rudolph isn’t playing this time around. Ben Roethlisberger has this team’s offense rolling alongside a strong defense. The Browns are also impressive early, coming into this division game 4-1.
The visiting Browns are coming off a home win against the Indianapolis Colts. Baker Mayfield played well in that game, until the fourth quarter. In fact, he has the lowest QBR in football during the final 15 minutes (7.1).
Going against a Super Bowl winning quarterback in Roethlisberger, Mayfield will need to produce late in this game. This Steelers defense needs to be on their game against not only Mayfield but the Browns’ loaded cast of skill players.
Pittsburgh’s defense has been solid, but not like 2019 when they were among the best in football. Their run defense allows 64 yards a game, second-best in the NFL. The Browns league-leading rush offense will test the limits of Pittsburgh, even if it’s only Kareem Hunt carrying the load.
The Steelers pass defense still has some issues that Mayfield can take advantage of. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have had solid weeks back to back as well. The attention they bring will help Austin Hooper, Kareem Hunt, and others get one on one matchups.
Pittsburgh’s offense also has weapons. One of them being Chase Claypool, who racked up four touchdowns against the Eagles. His breakout performance should be on Cleveland’s radar, as his size creates matchup problems. The Browns have one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL, allowing 296.4 yards a game.
The run defense is stout, however, giving up 87 yards a game, fourth-lowest in the NFL. With both the Browns and Steelers touting strong run defenses, it could be an air raid kind of day.
Much will be made of this being Myles Garrett’s first time seeing the Steelers since his incident. Coach Mike Tomlin made it known his team will not be entertaining any of the “low hanging fruit,” as he put it. It is likely things might get chippy on occasion, but nothing that would warrant the reaction like last year’s scuffle.
#Steelers’ HC Mike Tomlin on facing Myles Garrett for the first time since last year’s incident with Mason Rudolph: "We’re not looking for that low hanging fruit or that reality TV storyline. They’re a 4-1 team. This is a big game in 2020."
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 13, 2020
Garrett is actually an important factor in this game. If he can continue to cause problems in the backfield, it will be a long day for Roethlisberger. This division game is important, and both teams understand what is on the line this week.
Best Late Afternoon NFL Matchup: Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, October 18, 2020, at 4:25 ET on Fox)
Two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks take the field in this late afternoon matchup. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are facing off for the third time ever. It’s crazy how much football has been played, and these two haven’t played more often. The Packers are undefeated and being led by two Aarons. One being Rodgers the quarterback and one being Jones the running back.
Rodgers’ play so far has been stellar, hushing all of the Jordan Love chants (for now). He is one of three QBs averaging over 300 yards a game this season and has not thrown an interception. He ranks third in touchdowns with 13, and his 92.5 QBR is the best in the NFL.
Rodgers has been able to do this without his star receiver, Davante Adams. Adams has been nursing a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 2. Adams is on track to return this week, giving Rodgers’ his top weapon to pair with backfield stud Aaron Jones.
Jones’ dual-threat ability is what makes him such a valued asset to the Packers’ offense He is fifth in the league with 374 yards and fourth in yards per carry amongst running backs (5.8). His explosiveness is something Tampa Bay needs to worry about, as he has five total plays of 20 yards or more this season.
The Bucs rush defense is the best in the league, but their pass defense needs improvement. Aaron Rodgers can have a trademark performance, which means Tom Brady would need to play just as well.
Brady had a pedestrian performance against the Bears, throwing for 253 yards and a touchdown. There is also that fourth down brain lapse he had in crunch time. Outside of his five-touchdown performance against the Chargers, Brady has been rather average.
His struggles against Chicago could be attributed to the offensive line. They allowed three sacks and had Brady under pressure all game. With that being known, the Packers will be looking to add to their 12-sack count for the year
The battle at QB is what makes this matchup so enticing. Brady vs. Rodgers for the third time has the potential to be the best one given the weapons at their disposal. Defense will be important, as one key turnover could end up being the deciding factor in the game. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to fourth down again for Brady and the Bucs.
Best Primetime NFL Matchup: Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys (Monday, October 19, 2020, at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN)
Kyler Murray is the star in the spotlight on Monday Night Football in Week 6. He goes to Jerry’s World (AT&T Stadium) to face the Cowboys. Both teams are coming off of wins but with a cost.
Dak Prescott is done for the year after a gruesome ankle injury, and Chandler Jones is also out for the season after bicep surgery. Even though both teams will miss these irreplaceable pieces, the show must go on.
Murray has been awesome this year, putting the Cardinals right in the thick of the NFC West race. His running ability makes him such a tough cover, as he has the highest yards per carry average in football. He also has the second-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL.
Deandre Hopkins’ arrival has been such a blessing to Arizona. He continues to be one of the best receivers in football, leading the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards.
His presence has also allowed Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, Kenyan Drake, and others to have favorable matchups. Chase Edmunds has also played well recently, giving the Cowboys one more player to worry about.
Dallas has bigger things to worry about. With Prescott being out for the year, how will their offense look with Dalton under center? He stepped in nicely last week, helping the Cowboys fend off the Giants.
Relying on Ezekiel Elliott would be smart, as that is where Arizona struggles. They gave up 124.1 yards on the ground compared to being a top 5 pass defense, allowing 222.4 yards through the air. Zeke should be on the menu for Mike McCarthy.
The Arizona Cardinals need this win to keep pace in their highly competitive division. The Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers all are within a game of each other. Without Dak, Kyler Murray needs to put the pressure on Dallas’ defense.
If this becomes a shootout, the Cowboys won’t keep up. In the lowly NFC East, a loss could knock Dallas out of the division lead if the Eagles win. Monday night gives us an exciting matchup between two interesting teams,