Vince’s View: NFL Week 6 picks, trends, notes and what to look for

Dolphins WR Preston Williams / Credit: Miami Dolphins media site

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Each week I’ll bring you this week’s NFL schedule with my predictions followed by some great notes and stats directly from the National Football League Communications Department.

Our Sports Animal NFL programming for Week 6
(Sun) 10am – 12:30pm: The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts
(Sun) 12:30pm – Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
(Sun) 12:00pm – Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (News Talk 98.7)

WEEK 6 NFL SCHEDULE
SUNDAY & MONDAY, OCTOBER 18-19
(All times Eastern)

Sunday, October 18
Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers 1:00 PM FOX
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers 1:00 PM CBS
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts 1:00 PM FOX
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans 1:00 PM CBS
Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 PM FOX
Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles 1:00 PM CBS
Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 PM FOX
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots 1:00 PM CBS
Washington Football Team at New York Giants 1:00 PM FOX
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins 4:05 PM CBS
Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4:25 PM FOX
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers 8:20 PM NBC

Monday, October 19
Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills 5:00 PM FOX/NFLN/Amazon
Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys 8:15 PM ESPN

Byes: Las Vegas, L.A. Chargers, New Orleans, Seattle

Vince’s View: Green Bay at Tampa Bay, Kansas City at Buffalo and Cleveland at Pittsburgh are the marquees matchups this week. There’s more good on good and bad on bad this week. Dallas begins life after Dak, but the defense will have it’s hands full against Kyler Murray. What’s the QB situation in San Fran? The Falcons begin the post-Dan Quinn era. Considering how good the Titans looked Tuesday night vs. Buffalo with little practice, you’d think the team would be fine at home against the one-win Texans with two less days of prep.

Week 5 Prediction Record: 8-6
Season Record: 50-27 (65%)


SPOTLIGHT ON SCORING, CLOSE GAMES & COMEBACKS

AS NFL ENTERS WEEK 6

To say the 2020 NFL season has been a high-scoring campaign might rank among the top understatements of all-time.

That’s because, speaking of all-time, none of the previous 100 NFL seasons through five weeks have produced more points or touchdowns than 2020.

Two of those high-scoring teams, the CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-1) and PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-0) – go head to head Sunday in an AFC North showdown at Heinz Field (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Cleveland, off to its best start since 1994, has scored 30-or-more points in four consecutive contests, its longest streak since a seven-game stretch in 1968. The Browns lead the AFC with 19 total touchdowns. Pittsburgh is coming off its highest-scoring game in nearly two years, a 38-29 win over the Eagles in Week 5. In the victory, Steelers wide receiver CHASE CLAYPOOL, a native of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, became the first rookie in NFL history to score three receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in the same game. Claypool leads all rookies with five touchdowns (four receiving, one rushing) in 2020.

BATTLE OF THE BAYS: The highest-scoring team this year, the GREEN BAY PACKERS (38.0 points per game), emerges from a bye and travels to meet the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX). Green Bay (4-0) is off to its best start since beginning the 2015 season 6-0. Packers running back AARON JONES and Buccaneers wide receiver MIKE EVANS are tied for third in the NFL with six touchdowns each, as both players have reached the end zone in each of their team’s games this season. Quarterbacks AARON RODGERS (13) and TOM BRADY (12) have combined for 25 touchdown passes this season. They square off in the rubber match of their series as starting quarterbacks, with each player winning one of the first two meetings.

The seasons with the most points and touchdowns scored through five weeks in NFL history:

MOST POINTS THROUGH WEEK 5, NFL HISTORY MOST TOUCHDOWNS THROUGH

WEEK 5, NFL HISTORY

2020 3,958 2020 453
2018 3,739 2018 424
2011 3,566 2015 404
2013 3,566 2019 403
2015 3,562 2011 396
 

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Entering Week 6, the AFC North has three teams with at least four wins: the BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-1), CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-1) and PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-0).

Since realignment in 2002, the NFL only three times has seen a division with three-or-more teams with at least four wins after five weeks. In the NFC East in 2008, the Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) actually weren’t one of the three clubs in that division to begin with four-or-more wins but went 7-3-1 over the season’s final 11 weeks, won their first two playoff games and advanced to the NFC Championship. In 2002, the Oakland Raiders (4-0) emerged from an early season AFC West logjam to advance to Super Bowl XXXVII.

The divisions with three-or-more teams with at least four wins through a season’s first five weeks, since 2002:

SEASON DIVISION TEAMS
2020 AFC North Pittsburgh (4-0), Baltimore (4-1), Cleveland (4-1)
2008 NFC East New York Giants (4-0), Dallas (4-1), Washington (4-1)
2002 AFC West Oakland Raiders (4-0), Denver (4-1), San Diego Chargers (4-1)

NO LEAD IS SAFE: After the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS clawed back from a 17-point deficit to win in overtime on Monday Night Football, the 2020 season continues to write a consistent message: Teams are never out of games.

  • In fact, 2020 is the first year in NFL history in which at least one team has overcome a deficit of at least 16 points to win in each of the first five weeks of a season. Six games this season have seen a team victoriously battle back from at least 16. Only the 2011 season (seven) has had more games in the first five weeks in which one team has trailed by 16-or-more points and won.
  • Four teams erased deficits of at least 13 points and won in Week 5 alone. The Saints (trailed 20-3), CHICAGO BEARS (13-0), DALLAS COWBOYS (17-3) and SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (13-0) each earned Week 5 victories after overcoming such deficits. In 10 games this year, a team has wiped out deficits of at least 13 to win, the second-most such games in NFL history through five weeks. Only the 2011 season (12) had more such games through Week 5.
  • In 17 games this season, a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points and won, the second-most such games through Week 5 of a season in NFL history.

Chicago (4-1) is off to its best start since opening 7-1 in 2012 and this week travels to play the CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-2), who have won three straight under first-year head coach MATT RHULE. The Bears in three of their wins this year – Week 1 at Detroit, Week 3 at Atlanta and Week 5 vs. Tampa Bay – have erased deficits of 13-or-more points.

The Cowboys, who host Arizona this week in the second Monday night game (8:15 PM ET, ESPN), have registered wins after trailing by 19 points in Week 2 and 14 points in Week 5. Dallas rookie CEEDEE LAMB has been front and center in each of those comeback wins. Lamb, who leads all rookies in both receptions (29) and receiving yards (433), can become the first player in league history with at least five receptions in each of his first six NFL games.

COMPETITION MAKES YOU BETTER: Nine of 14 games in Week 5 were within one score in the fourth quarter. Overall this season, more than 70 percent of games (54 of 77) have been within one score in the fourth quarter.

The Rams’ JARED GOFF, who leads Los Angeles into San Francisco for a Sunday Night Football matchup (8:20 PM ET NBC), has an NFL-best fourth-quarter passer rating of 155.8. Defensive lineman AARON DONALD tied his career high with four sacks in Week 5, while teammate TROY REEDER registered three sacks. Donald and Reeder are the first pair of teammates to each record at least three sacks in the same game since Houston’s WHITNEY MERCILUS (3.5 sacks) and J.J. WATT (three sacks) in Week 17 of the 2015 season.

THREE YOUNG QUARTERBACKS ON THE MARQUEE FOR MONDAY NIGHT: Three of the NFL’s brightest young quarterbacks take the primetime stage on Monday night in Week 6.

  • In the first of two Monday night games (5:00 PM ET, FOX/NFLN/AMAZON), when the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (4-1) go on the road against the BUFFALO BILLS (4-1), PATRICK MAHOMES meets JOSH ALLEN for the first time. Last week, Mahomes became just the fourth player in NFL history to reach 20 games of 300-or-more passing yards in his first four seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers KURT WARNER (26 games) and DAN MARINO (22), as well as ANDREW LUCK (21). Allen leads the AFC with 14 touchdown passes in 2020.
  • In the nightcap, KYLER MURRAY makes his first career start on Monday Night Football when the ARIZONA CARDINALS meet the DALLAS COWBOYS at AT&T Stadium (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). Murray, who has five rushing touchdowns in 2020, is the fourth quarterback since 1970 with at least five rushing touchdowns in his team’s first five games, joining CAM NEWTON (2011), KORDELL STEWART (1997) and Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRY BRADSHAW (1972).

What To Look For – Week 6

WHAT TO LOOK FOR 2020 REGULAR WEEK 06 ENGLISH

​​NOT CATCHING L’S: Through Week 5, scoring has been at an unprecedented level throughout the NFL, as seven teams are a​​​veraging at least 30 points per game, the most in a single season through Week 5 since 1970.

Three of those teams – the GREEN BAY PACKERS (38.0 points per game, 4-0), SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (33.8, 5-0) and TENNESSEE TITANS (30.5, 4-0) – are unbeaten entering Week 6. The PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-0) are averaging 29.5 points per game and also have yet to lose this season.

If Green Bay (at Tampa Bay; 4:25 PM ET, FOX), Tennessee (vs. Houston; 1:00 PM ET, CBS) and Pittsburgh (vs. Cleveland; 1:00 PM ET, CBS) are all victorious in Week 6, 2020 will be the third season since 1970 (not including the shortened 1982 season) in which at least four teams are unbeaten through six weeks. Seattle has a bye in Week 6.

The seasons with the most unbeaten teams through six weeks since 1970 (not including the shortened 1982 season):

SEASON TEAMS (RECORD THROUGH WEEK 6)
2015 5: Carolina (5-0), Cincinnati (6-0), Denver (6-0), Green Bay (6-0), New England (5-0)
2009 4: Denver (6-0), Indianapolis (5-0), Minnesota (6-0), New Orleans (5-0)
   
2020* 4: Green Bay (4-0), Pittsburgh (4-0), Seattle (5-0), Tennessee (4-0)
*Through five weeks  

— NFL –​

THROW PACK THROW: Last season, Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS passed for 26 touchdowns, while throwing only four interceptions, tied for the fewest among qualified quarterbacks in 2019. Through his first four games in 2020, Rodgers is tied for third in the league with 13 touchdown passes, while being the only qualified passer to not throw an interception.​

With at least three touchdown passes and zero interceptions on Sunday at Tampa Bay (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Rodgers will tie MILT PLUM (16 touchdown passes before throwing his first interception in 1960) for the fourth-most touchdown passes by a player to begin a season before his first interception in NFL history.

The players with the most touchdown passes before throwing an interception to begin a season in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Peyton Manning Denver 2013 20
Nick Foles Philadelphia 2013 19
Alex Smith Kansas City 2017 18
Milt Plum Cleveland 1960 16
       
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 2020 13*
*Active streak      

With at least two touchdown passes and zero interceptions on Sunday, Rodgers would become the first player in NFL history with at least two touchdown passes and zero interceptions in each of his team’s first five games of a season.

— NFL —

FIRE THE CANNONS: Tampa Bay wide receiver MIKE EVANS ties for the league lead with six touchdown receptions in 2020, while being the only player with at least one touchdown reception in five games this season.

With a touchdown reception on Sunday against Green Bay (4:25 PM ET, FOX) Evans will become the fourth player with at least one touchdown reception in each of his team’s first six games of a season since 1970.

The players with a touchdown reception in the most games to begin a season since 1970:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON GAMES  
T.J. Houshmandzadeh Cincinnati 2007 8  
Plaxico Burress New York Giants 2007 6  
Wes Welker Denver 2013 6  
         
Mike Evans Tampa Bay 2020 5*  
*Active streak      

— NFL —

CHASING HISTORY: Last week, Pittsburgh wide receiver CHASE CLAYPOOL recorded seven receptions for 110 yards and scored four touchdowns (three receiving, one rushing), becoming the third rookie wide receiver to record four touchdowns in a single game in NFL history. Entering Week 6, Claypool leads all rookies with five touchdowns this season.

With a touchdown on Sunday against Cleveland (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Claypool will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (1998), MARTAVIS BRYANT (2014), WILLIE GAULT (1983) and CALVIN RIDLEY (2018) for the most touchdowns by a rookie wide receiver in his first five career games since 1970.

The rookie wide receivers with the most touchdowns in their first five career games since 1970:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON TOUCHDOWNS
Martavis Bryant Pittsburgh 2014 6
Willie Gault Chicago 1983 6
Randy MossHOF Minnesota 1998 6
Calvin Ridley Atlanta 2018 6
       
Chase Claypool Pittsburgh 2020 5*
*Through four games  

— NFL —

DONALD DOMINANCE: Last week, Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman AARON DONALD registered four sacks and a forced fumble in his team’s victory, his second-career game with four sacks. Entering Week 6, Donald leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks this season.

Since entering the league in 2014, Donald has 79.5 career sacks, tied with CHANDLER JONES for the most in the NFL over that span. With at least a half a sack at San Francisco on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Donald will become the fourth player with at least eight sacks in each of his first seven seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers DERRICK THOMAS and REGGIE WHITE, as well as DEMARCUS WARE.

The players with at least eight sacks in each of their first seven seasons since 1982:

PLAYER TEAM SEASONS
Derrick ThomasHOF Kansas City 1989-1995
DeMarcus Ware Dallas 2005-11
Reggie WhiteHOF Philadelphia 1985-91
     
Aaron Donald St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams 2014-2020*
*7.5 sacks in 2020    

— NFL –​

STEEL CURTAIN: Entering Week 6, the PITTSBURGH STEELERS tie for the league lead with 20 sacks and tie for third with six interceptions. Last week, Pittsburgh registered five sacks and two interceptions in its victory, becoming the fourth team since 2000 to register at least three sacks and an interception in each of its first four games of a season.

With at least three sacks and an interception on Sunday against Cleveland (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Pittsburgh will join the 1985 NEW YORK GIANTS as the only teams in NFL history to record at least three sacks and an interception in each of their first five games of a season.

— NFL —

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