ATLANTA -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we try to make some sense of Week 6...
• It has been 10 years this season since the St. Louis Rams shot a big hole in the theory that a dome team couldn't win the Super Bowl. Remember that little time-tested NFL chestnut that got trotted out every late fall, like a well-worn holiday decoration? Dome teams were thought to be too soft and too climatically comfortable to ever endure the type of rough conditions required to earn a ring.
Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but old domes are where it's at this season in the NFL. The two oldest domes in the league are rocking this year, with the Superdome in New Orleans housing the 5-0 Saints, and the Metrodome in Minneapolis featuring the 6-0 Vikings. Toss in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta -- the NFL's third oldest dome -- where the Falcons improved to 4-1 with a win over Chicago Sunday night, and domes were the place to be for big games in Week 6.
And make no mistake, Super Bowl dreams are alive and well under the big top in both New Orleans and Minnesota, and they may well still take root this season in Atlanta, too.
The Saints' 48-27 destruction of the previously undefeated Giants (5-1) establishes
In improving to 5-0 for the first time since 1993, New Orleans got touchdowns from an astounding seven offensive players against the Giants, rolling to 493 yards of offense and its third showing of at least 45 points in five games.
The Saints are now averaging a league-high 38.4 points per game, putting them on pace to score an NFL single-season record of 614 points. For comparison sake, the 2007 Patriots of 16-0 fame scored 589 points and cracked the 40-point barrier in just four games that season. The Saints need to average just over 36 points per game in their final 11 games to break New England's record.
New York's defense had given up just four passing touchdowns all season before Sunday's showdown of unbeatens, but Saints quarterback
As for the Vikings, they barely withstood a furious Ravens fourth-quarter comeback to win 33-31, but Minnesota is now 6-0 for the first time since 2003, and has not scored fewer than 27 points in any game this season. That's the Vikings' longest streak in that department since 1998, when Minnesota went 15-1 in the regular season. The Vikings' blueprint for victory was again
The ageless quarterback kept his personal magic carpet ride going with a 21-of-29 passing performance, for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Peterson thrust himself back on center stage with 143 yards rushing on 22 carries, a gaudy 6.5 average. And let's not overlook Vikings' receiver
If you're wondering, New Orleans and Minnesota don't play this regular season, but there's always the chance the two NFC powers will collide in the playoffs. Maybe in the NFC Championship Game, with a trip to Miami and Super Bowl XLIV on the line. Newly renamed Land Shark Stadium in Miami wouldn't be like playing at dome sweet dome, but I'm sure the Saints or the Vikings would be able to handle the early February elements in South Florida just fine.
• Not that I'm making predictions or anything, but as I
Just thought it was worth repeating.
• It was a very good day to be named Rice at the Metrodome. As we said, the Vikings' third-year receiver came up huge with six catches, including a 58-yard catch and run that set up
But Baltimore second-year running back
• Pretty shocking to see the vaunted Ravens' defense struggling to this degree. But maybe at this point we should stop calling the Baltimore D vaunted. After entering Week 5 against Cincinnati having not given up a 100-yard rushing game to an individual in 39 games dating to December 2006, Baltimore's defense has now been dented for triple digits twice in two weeks -- by Minnesota's Peterson and the Bengals'
Losers of three in a row after a 3-0 start, Baltimore has given up 130 points in six games this season, 21.7 per game. That translates to a season total of 347 points allowed, which would be a whopping 103 more than the Ravens allowed last year. That's an increase of more than 42 percent in points allowed, and that's staggering slippage.
• When Ravens kicker
• It had to be fun for the old-guy quarterbacks like Favre and Brees to outduel the younger generation in
• Well that should just about seal the deal in Washington. The Redskins let the winless Chiefs score the game's last 11 points to pin a 14-6 loss on Washington and drop
Think about this: In three home games this season Washington has scored a total of one touchdown and eight field goals, despite playing host to St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
You wonder what
• Good to see Tennessee hasn't stopped fighting, despite its woeful start to the season. When it was 59-0 in that snowfest against New England in Foxboro, I started worrying that the Patriots' Minute Men wouldn't have enough dry gun power to keep firing their muskets after every Patriots score.
When you combine New England's team-record 59-point showing with that very similar 47-7 beatdown of Arizona in the snow last December, the Patriots' combined 106-7 domination of the Cardinals and Titans should have been enough to impress even the toughest BCS voters. Absolutely nobody plays better in a snowstorm than New England.
• Wonder what it really took for
• It took about a month and a half, but the Packers of the preseason finally made their first regular-season appearance. Green Bay didn't finish as strong as it started in a 26-0 win over visiting Detroit, but seeing
Green Bay still allowed Rodgers to be sacked five times, and that puts its ignominious season total at an NFL-worst 25 sacks. On a brighter note, Green Bay's 3-4 defense made some plays for a change, with five sacks and three interceptions of Lions quarterbacks
• The trend of teams coming off their bye with a vengeance continued in Week 6's early-afternoon games. The Saints and Packers were both off in Week 5, and they won their games by 21 and 26 points. Chicago lost at Atlanta coming off its bye week; San Diego is at home against Denver on Monday night.
So far this season, teams are 6-1 coming off their bye. Last week's four returning teams went 4-0 after taking Week 4 off.
• Is there a more wildly schizophrenic team in the NFL than the 3-3 Houston Texans, who snapped the Bengals' four-game winning streak in Cincinnati with that 28-17 win? If you're keeping score, the Texans have now gone loss, win, loss, win, loss, win this season, earning unexpected victories at Tennessee and Cincinnati, and unexpected losses at home to the Jets and Jaguars.
Sounds like another 8-8 season on the way to me. It must be maddening to be a Houston Texans fan.
• Kind of a classic example of a forgot-what-got-us-here loss for Cincinnati. The Bengals played as if they spent all week buying into the hype that was just starting to surround them in the wake of last week's emotional upset win at Baltimore. So much for the praise that has been lavished on the Bengals defense. Houston's offense picked Cincy apart in a way the Steelers or Ravens couldn't.
• Wow. Nine completions for Cleveland's
What's next? Double digits in completions?
• I'm pretty sure Carolina special teams guy
• Perhaps it's time we rethink the notion of the big, bad NFC East. In Week 6, only the Cowboys, who were on their bye, got out with their reputation unscathed (not that it's all that good to begin with).
The first-place Giants got humbled at New Orleans, by three touchdowns. The Eagles went out to Oakland and somehow made the Raiders look like a professional football team one week after the Giants dismantled them. And the Redskins put on their third consecutive putrid homefield showing, losing to the winless Chiefs by eight.
• Maybe it was the five touchdown passes in the second quarter. Maybe it was the team-record 59 points and 622 yards of offense he helped put on the board. Maybe it was completing 19 of his first 20 passes and finishing 29 of 34 for 380 yards and a career-best six touchdowns in his 2½ quarters of action.
But I say
• Uh, oh.
What did all those passes lead to for Philadelphia? Best I can tell, three
• Seattle's defense might have two Qwest Field shutouts to its credit this season, but the Seahawks got carved up by the Cardinals'
And losing at New Orleans and Miami is one thing, but dropping a 16-13 overtime decision to the Bills at home is unforgivable if New York (3-3) really has designs on the AFC East title. If Jets head coach