By Mike Ivcic, UltimateCapper Contributing Writer
In a league where scoring is now the standard, three teams won games scoring less than 20 points (Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and San Diego) while only Buffalo and New Orleans lost while scoring more than three touchdowns. Maybe the colder weather is having an impact, or maybe defenses are becoming more accustomed to the new rules, or maybe it was just a fluky week, but either way the notion that teams have to score-score-score to win in the NFL was slightly disproved, even if only for one week. What else happened in Week 6? We’re so glad you asked…
And Then There Were Two…
So long, New Orleans – your undefeated season was fun, but your defense and head coach combined to blow that over the span of about 180 seconds in Foxboro. That leaves just the Chiefs and Broncos with unblemished records, and both are three winnable games away from setting up a scintillating 9-0 vs. 9-0 in Denver on November 17. For Kansas City, it’s Houston, Cleveland, at Buffalo, and then a bye leading into their trip to Mile High, while the Broncos will be tested in Indy this week before Washington, bye, and at San Diego. After watching the last two weeks, it might actually be more likely for Denver to lose prior to that matchup, considering they have two fairly difficult road games. Still, I’m just hoping neither team suffers a defeat so NBC can use their flex privileges and allow the entire country to watch it on Sunday Night Football – especially since the current game in that slot involves the Giants.
… But Three On The Other Side
It’s always more fun to focus on who the last undefeated team will be, and in this case we now know for sure that only one team will have the potential to put together a 16-0 regular season. The flip side to that, though, is that teams also have the chance to wind up 0-16, and three teams are still in the running for the title of “last team to win their first game.” Obviously the Jaguars are the clear frontrunner for a winless campaign, but the Buccaneers and Giants might give them a good shot. For NY, this may be one of the best two chances to pull out a victory with Minnesota coming to town. If not now, the Raiders visit the Meadowlands on November 10, but in either instance the Giants will have to reverse a disturbing stat – they haven’t scored more than 23 points in any game this year, but they haven’t allowed less than 27. In other words, there’s no combination of actual game scores that would allow the Giants to actually win a game. Meanwhile Greg Schiano may be in need of aloe and moisturizer because of how hot his seat is in Tampa. There are actually some games that the Bucs could be considered reasonably capable of winning, though, as they still play Carolina and Atlanta twice and get a visit from Buffalo, so they’re probably the least likely candidate to go 0-16 – especially considering their defense has actually been quite stout. After all that, though, this is Jacksonville’s title to lose. They have scored 20 points just one (an even 20 against the Rams) and have allowed an average of 37.8 points over the last four games. Arizona, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Houston twice all present possible victories, but if ever a team was built to match Detroit’s 2008 season, this Jags team is it.
Indy and Irsay
If I were the public relations director for Jim Irsay… well, let’s be honest, I’d probably have already quit or been fired. Still, in a pretend-world where I’m advising the Colts owner on his comments to the media and general public, I would have only two words for him. “Shut. Up.” It’s not that his comments were bad – on the contrary, I think the statements he made regarding Peyton Manning’s tenure in Indy and the subsequent changeover to Andrew Luck were actually about as classy and respectful as Irsay can be. The issue is that he’s said so many controversial things over the past couple of years that everyone just assumes that every time he speaks or tweets, he’s taking a shot at someone or something. Clearly that’s the impression John Fox and Tony Dungy, two well-respected NFL minds, seemed to get from Irsay’s words. I didn’t find them derogatory or critical of Manning in any way, and almost everyone that knows even one ounce about the game of football believes the Manning-Colts-Luck situation was handled very well and worked out beautifully for everyone involved – especially with the benefit of two years’ worth of hindsight. With that in mind, Mr. Colts Owner, stop making any public statement in any way and just let Sunday night be about honoring one of the two or three greatest QB’s to ever play the game and not about anything you may or may not have meant.
If The Playoffs Started Today…
It was such a popular feature last week that we’ve decided to keep it for the rest of the season as our fourth down feature – especially with one specific change that occurred in the AFC:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-0)
2. New England Patriots (5-1)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)
4. Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
5. Denver Broncos (6-0)
6. Miami Dolphins (3-2)
Notes: The Chiefs win the West over the Broncos because of better combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed (just trust me on this). The Bengals win the third seed over the Colts because of conference record (Cin 3-1, Ind 2-2).
1. New Orleans Saints (5-1)
2. Seattle Seahawks (5-1)
3. Detroit Lions (4-2)
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-3)
5. San Francisco 49’ers (4-2)
6. Chicago Bears (4-2)
Notes: The Saints get the top seed over the Seahawks because of strength of victory (NO .407, Sea .379). The Lions win the North over the Bears because of head-to-head victory. The Cowboys win the East over the Eagles because of strength of victory (Dal .235, Phi .063). The 49’ers win the first wild card over the Bears because of conference record (SF 3-1, Chi 2-2).
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
Thu, 8:30pm, NFLN
Line: Seahawks by 6.5
The Seahawks are not the same team on the road, and I think that has become abundantly clear after they needed a Matt Schaub gift to beat Houston and lost to Indianapolis. Arizona isn’t at the same level as the Colts, but I could easily see them doing what the Texans did and keeping the game very close right to the end. Ultimately, Seattle is a better team, and will almost surely handle the Cardinals easily when Arizona returns the trip December 22, but the Cardinals played well in their first two home games and have that short-week Thursday night advantage. As long as Carson Palmer doesn’t turn the ball over – a tough task considering his 11 interceptions already through six games – then Arizona will definitely have a chance here. Give me a late Seahawks field goal to finally decide this one.
Pick: Seattle 24, Arizona 21
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