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NFL Week 6: Chance for Teams to make an Identity

Matt ForteOut of all the past weeks in the NFL, week 6 seems to be the most important in terms of declaring who is the cream of the crop in the NFL. Teams are coming off huge wins and heartbreaking losses, while other teams have yet to be challenged thus far. The headline matchup of the week has to be the New York Giants going to play in the Superdome against the New Orleans Saints.

The Giants have been a superior team through the first five weeks of the season but they have played teams with a combined record of 6-19, with two of those wins coming from the lowly Redskins. So clearly the 4-0 Saints will be the toughest team that the Giants have seen. The Giants usually play “old school” football with a rock solid defense and a hard-nosed rushing game. However, the Giants go to guy from a year ago, Brandon Jacobs, has looked soft as ever with a 3.6 yards per carry and only one touchdown. Combine this with a much improved Saints run defense, and it looks like the Giants are going to have to air it out with Eli Manning.

[adinserter block=”1″]On the other side, the Saints seem to be solid all over. Sean Payton’s play calling has transformed the Saints into a double threat with the pass and the run. Pierre Thomas has a ridiculous 6.4 yards per carry and although Drew Brees hasn’t thrown a touchdown since September 20th against the Eagles, remember, he’s still Drew Brees who threw for 9 touchdowns in the first 2 games.

Without the matchup of the undefeated, the Ravens/Vikings game might have been the top game of the week. The Ravens are coming off a last second loss against the Bengals at home and the Vikings are coming into the game stronger than ever with a 5-0 record.

Some might think that it’s going to be a matchup of the great rush defense of the Ravens versus and the great rushing game of Adrian Peterson and the Vikings; however, the Vikings are just 11th in the league in rushing and have only had two 100 yard rushing games this year. The key to the game in my eyes is how both teams play towards the end of the 4th quarter. In the past two games the Ravens have done poorly on both sides of the ball at the end of the 4th quarter, with a failed last minute drive against the Patriots and letting Carson Palmer, with the help of a vicious late hit by Ray Ray, march down the field and score to win the game at M&T Bank Stadium. This bodes well for the Vikings who are showcasing the greatest comeback quarterback of all time in Brett Favre and a feared rushing game that can control the clock with Adrian Peterson.

A game with huge implications that is not getting as much coverage as the games previously mentioned is the Chicago Bears at the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday Night Football. Both teams are 3-1 and both have big wins over good competition. This game features two teams that are very much like each other. Both have a solid but under achieving rushing game. Both have a quarterback that has an immense amount of skill but still has something to prove. And both teams have a defense that rank in the top 6 in points per game.

Both Matt Forte and Michael Turner are not the running backs that they were a year ago, but they still have time to get back to that form. Forte has been clearly affected by the decrease in touches and Turner doesn’t seem to be running like a bowling ball the way he was last year. In a game with teams that are so closely matched, the deciding factor will be clock control. Any team that can dominate the ball and most importantly, eat up time in the 4th quarter will end up winning the game.

Other games that draw attention are the Broncos at the Chargers and the Texans at the Bengals. Broncos are still for some reason considered underrated with a 5-0 record and aren’t looking to slow down. The game will be a boxing match with the Chargers desperately needing a win and the Broncos defense being one of the league’s best in most categories. The Bengals are coming off a great victory at the Ravens by scoring in the last minute. The Texans, in my opinion, are a much underrated team and I can see them pulling an upset. Bengals have a great pass defense but Schaub to Johnson is a deadly connection against any defense. Add that to a slumping Slaton who needs a breakout game and this has the making of an upset.

[adinserter block=”2″]Fantasy wise, the following list of players will be the Miles Austin or Roddy White of the week by feasting all over the defensive matchups. MJD is going to play with a chip on his shoulder and thanks to his complaints during the week, he should see much more of the ball and that’s bad for any defense, especially the awful Rams. Aaron Rodgers should capitalize against the Lions and their pass offense that made Jason Campbell look like a Pro Bowler. And if Steve Smith of the Panthers doesn’t take advantage of the Bucs pass defense than he and Jake Delhomme have lost their magic. A sleeper of the week can be Donnie Avery because the Jags have the 30th ranked pass defense and everyone knows they will be down by more than 14 and will be airing it out. A person I don’t like this week has to be Phillip Rivers. The Broncos pass defense with the new addition of Brian Dawkins has been stingy to all the QBs, including Tom Brady. Look for a below average effort from Rivers.

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