With Week 6 in the NFL nearly in the books (the 49ers visit the Packers on Monday Night Football), let’s take a quick look at two teams on the rise and two teams who are falling.
Cowboys: Conor McGregor’s pregame hype speech must have worked, because Dallas had their best offensive showing of the season in beating Jacksonville, the league’s top-ranked defense. The Cowboys scored on their first four possessions, and the offense showed some creativity and energy they’d lacked this season. Receiver Cole Beasley had 100 receiving yards, and quarterback Dak Prescott passed for 183 yards and two touchdowns along with running for 82 yards and one touchdown. The Cowboys are now 3–3 and tied with the Eagles for second place behind 3–2 Washington in the NFC East. Dallas has only played one conference game this season (a win over the Giants in Week 2), and they’ll meet Washington next week for an opportunity to make a move in a wide-open division.
Steelers: After their second win in a row, this one against a one-loss Bengals team, the Steelers seem to have righted the ship. Ben Roethlisberger led a 77-yard game-winning touchdown drive, capped off by a 31-yard Antonio Brown touchdown catch to seal the win with ten seconds left. The Steelers head into their bye with a crucial win, and the impending return of Le’Veon Bell, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported today that the team has still not heard from Bell. With Bell (probably) back for their next game, these Steelers have all the momentum they need. Cincinnati and Baltimore lead the AFC East, but Pittsburgh is close behind.
Jaguars: Jacksonville started off this season looking like a true contender, but Sunday’s loss to an average Dallas team exposed some flaws. At times, the defensive line was able to hurry Dak Prescott, but they struggled to consistently apply pressure to disrupt the Cowboys offense. Blake Bortles made some questionable decisions and threw another unfortunately placed football: Last week against the Chiefs, he bounced a ball off an offensive lineman’s helmet for an interception; this week, a pass intended for a double-covered Dede Westbrook was tipped and intercepted. The Jaguars, Titans and Texans are all 3–3 in the languishing AFC South, so this loss doesn’t doom Jacksonville, but it highlighted some concerning issues in the team. Most notably: the Jaguars defense has now allowed a combined 70 points in the last two games.
Bills: Let’s be honest, the Bills were already down this season, but Josh Allen’s elbow injury sunk Buffalo even further. Backup QB Nathan Peterman, who entered the game in the third quarter in Allen’s place, Peterman quickly led a drive for the go-ahead touchdown, but then threw an interception that Houston returned for the game-winning score, and then threw another pick on his next possession. Allen’s injury status going forward is unknown, but left in the hands of Peterman for the next game or two, Buffalo will probably get familiar with the bottom of the AFC East.
Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet?Sign up for The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.
NOW ON THE MMQB: Robert Klemko on how we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sean McVay and the Rams’ offense. ... Jonathan Jones on the Steelers resurgence. ... Gary Gramling recaps the day’s madness. ... Andy Benoit previews Packers-49ers on Monday Night Football.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Robert Klemko spent 24 hours with Melvin Gordon (who rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns against the Browns on Sunday). ... Andy Benoit on the NFL's most unusual comeback story.
1. The Chargers gained 89 yards and scored a touchdown by running the same play twice.
2. A receiver revolt in Buffalo?
3. Kelvin Benjamin explains why he didn’t run routes with Josh Allen before the game.
4. Somehow, Andrew Luck is not discouraged.
5. Adam Gase would really prefer to not talk about Ryan Tannehill’s injury ever again.
6. Ryan Shazier walked out onto the field where he was injured almost a year ago.
Julian Edelman fixed his glove mid-route on this touchdown catch.
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at email@example.com