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Pick Six: Week 6

MIA 31- CHI 28 (OT)

Turnovers cripple Bears

Fins keep AFC East interesting

Highlight: Not only is it impressive to get one turnover in the end-zone, but two? Miami’s defence found a way to do the improbable by stopping two of the Bears drives down the field at, and in the end zone. Early in the game they were able to stop the run, with what appeared to be a yard away from breaking the line, then stripping the ball free from the running back to recover it on their own 1 yard line. Fast forward to the fourth, and the Fins once again get the ball in their hands by intercepting a pass in the end-zone. What surely would've been the back breaking touchdown, gave their team the motivation to go out and get the win.

Lowlight: As impressive as it is for a defence to get two red-zone turnovers, it’s equally as unimpressive if you're the on the other side of the ball. Mitchell Trubisky has the ability to be an elite quarterback, as he should being the second overall pick in his draft year. Tonight, however, his decision making really hurt him, on what was otherwise a really great game from the play caller. He threw an awful interception right to the waiting Miami defender in the end zone that started the Bears fourth quarter collapse. Then, in overtime, he was unable to drive the ball close enough for his kicker to put through the winning field goal, even after the Bears defence had just forced a turnover. He had more than enough opportunities to close this game out and couldn't execute.

Biggest Question: Is it time to take the Miami Dolphins seriously in the AFC? The Dolphins have quietly been having a successful season. The additions of work horses Frank Gore, and Danny Amendola, has brought nothing but success as they provide consistent, and reliable options for any Miami quarterback. The Fins appear to have bought in to the ‘win by committee’ attitude, each week keeping every game competitive and never really taking their foot off the pedal. The worst loss they've suffered this season was at the hands of the New England Patriots, but the Patriots are an elite team with the same core players from their recent Super Bowl appearances… and were favoured. Even after losing back to back weeks (lost to Cincinnati the following week) they battled through adversity throughout the entirety of this game, and managed to kick the game winning field goal.

LAR 23- DEN 20

Gurley steals all running backs yards in the game; Helps hide Goff’s rough day to stay perfect

Highlight: Todd Gurley II is in a league of his own it seems. On a night where Jared Goff struggled to find consistent production through the air (more on that in the lowlight), Gurley II found no issues finding success of his own. He ran for 208 yards, adding on 2 rushing touchdowns to cap a fantasy owner’s wet dream of a night. Gurley II was elusive when needed, and showed his power by making it difficult to even bring him to the ground. The Los Angeles Rams were able to hold on to their perfect season by trusting their elite running back to carry the weight, and ‘out yard’ Goff by running more yardage then his quarterback could throw for (208 for Gurley II, 201 for Goff). Also, shoutout to Robert Woods for having a 100+ yard night, totaling half of Jared Goff’s production.

Lowlight: Every player in the game who wasn't named Gurley or Woods. Well maybe not every, but there are quite a few. If the Rams are looking to continue their recent success, they'll need to pull out a better showing than the two man band they had this game. Jared Goff needs to be able to take advantage of his explosive receivers and connect at a more successful rate. Throwing for just, and I mean just, over two hundred yards, as well as only completing on fifty percent of his throws will not be good enough to 1) Keep the streak alive or 2) Challenge for the Superbowl. Each week teams show us that you need a balanced offence to find the success that you're looking for in the season. Just go ask Denver. This week they struggled to find any yards on the ground, but that probably has something to do with Todd Gurley II going for 208 in the game. Denver’s defence provided no solutions to halt, or even remotely slow down the Rams run game. Surprising when you have one of the most electrifying linebackers in Von Miller and newcomer to the team, college standout Bradley Chubb (he did however get to Case Keenum 3 times, but were talking bout the run game here).

Biggest Question: Will Todd Gurley II get his overdue League MVP? Well he's got my vote that’s for sure. The league MVP is usually given to a quarterback, and hasn't been out of a quarterbacks grasps since 2012 when Adrian Peterson took the top spot. Fast forward 8 seasons, and Gurley II has most certainly thrown himself into the minds of the NFL award selectors. He shows off his versatility by finding ways to get into the open field either with the ball or off the ball. He's Goff’s safety net; If ever the drive is in need of a little spark, Gurley II is the ignition to give the offence opportunities to put points up on the board. With his production output already at an elite level, and him being the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year, it’s time for Todd Gurley II to be taken serious as the best running back in the game.

BAL 21-TEN 0

Mariota left out to dry by O-Line

Ravens Shutout Titans in sack filled Sunday

Highlight: Without a doubt, whenever a team is able to achieve 11 sacks in a single game, it’s going to be viewed as the highlight and major storyline. For this article however, I'm going to be saving that for my lowlight. Now, that isn’t to take anything away from Baltimore and their defensive persistence to get to Marcus Mariota, but I felt the weight of the responsibility fell on the offensive line and play calling, more than the actual play of the defence itself. Instead I'm going to give credit to Joe Flacco and Michael Crabtree for finally showing just how dangerous this combination could be. In the early parts of the season, Flacco has found much success in the pass game with speedster John Brown; but tonight, the Ravens showed they've got a couple talented wideouts on the roster. What was most impressive for me about Crabtree and Flacco tonight, was the execution on the touchdown drive. Flacco threw a big gainer downfield, throwing to Crabtree’s back shoulder, where only he could get to the ball, allowing the crafty receiver to make a spin move that sent the defender slip n’ sliding to the ground. Crabtree was finally taken down near the five. A few plays later on 3rd & goal, Flacco threw another beautiful back shoulder pass to the front left pylon of the endzone, once again only where Crabtree could get his hands on it. A touchdown, a thing of beauty too. 

Lowlight: Without further ado, let’s take our verbal road trip to Sack City, population: Marcus Mariota. The stop we’ll make is on the very first drive of the game, because that describes the scene of the whole game very fittingly. We should've known from that moment there, Mariota was in for a very bumpy ride. As the quarterback faked play action and rolled out to his left, the play call design had decided to leave Terrell Suggs (Ravens All-Star Linebacker) completely unblocked, and nothing but open field in front of him to barrel in Mariota’s direction. With the quarterback just barely avoiding Suggs, he unfortunately was unable to have eyes in the back of his head to see Chris Wormley chugging in to grab his first career sack. Now, I know I don't have the same knowledge or experience as an NFL head coach, but even I know if you leave a man completely unblocked, you've left your quarterback set up for a head on collision. It was clear the offensive line couldn't hold blocks long enough throughout the game to let routes develop, and would often leave Mariota with no time to release the ball. They couldn't hold a pocket for him to have space to get a throw off if the route was open. The offence looked confused as to who they were responsible for blocking when the ball was snapped on numerous plays. The O-line had their bags packed, cars started and were already on their way to let the Ravens defence come in and beat the Titans quarterback out of his town. 

Biggest Question:  Have the Baltimore Ravens stolen the wheels off the Titans momentum train? Or have the Titans just sold the wheels off themselves? The Tennessee Titans are in danger of losing what looked to be incredible momentum just as quickly as they found it. Look back at weeks three and four where they held the Jacksonville Jaguars to just 6 points all game, then won a thriller against the Eagles in overtime by a field goal (26-23). But the last two games haven't been anywhere close to the execution and determination they showed in the beginning of the season. Mariota has already expressed prior confidence issues, and having an O-line who can’t protect the young, bright QB. With such a young core of players on the offensive side of the ball, the value of them growing and finding success together early in season shouldn't be overlooked. Having lost a game they should've won against a struggling Buffalo Bills team, this week was a proving ground opportunity. The Baltimore Ravens are still unsure of how their team will find their success this season with all the new additions to the receiving core, but the Titans failed to take advantage of absolutely any play last night. If they have another week in a row with a poor performance, I think it’s safe to wrap the season up with a bow and look to build protection through the draft and free agency.

DAL 40- JAX 7

Bortles….more like Boredles

Dak and Zeke run all over the Jags D

Highlight: Run Dak Run! How do you neutralize some of the games scariest defensive backs? You keep the ball on the ground and keep your legs moving. Ezekiel Elliott has proven time and time again he has no issues doing that since he took the league by storm two years ago. Usually having to carry the load of the offence by himself, so seeing Elliott rush for 106 yard and a touchdown was no surprise. This time, however, Zeke had a partner in crime. Dak Prescott called his own number 11 times and found a gold mine of success himself, grabbing 82 yards plus a rushing touchdown of his own. Sprinkle in an excellent pass game (183 yards, 2 touchdowns), and the Cowboys offence showed how dangerous it can be against an elite Jaguars defence. 

Lowlight: If at any point you found this game boring, just know there is a strong possibility Blake Bortles was more disinterested. Even the way he releases the ball looks lazy and “effortless”, but not in the normal positive meaning that phrase normally carries. I understand the hole that’s left by not having a healthy Leonard Fournette in the backfield and what his presence and skills bring to the offence. T.J. Yeldon has shown his versatility in games that he's been called upon and has made the gap between the two running backs seem almost obsolete. Bortles has no internal feel with his wideouts and struggles to put the ball in spaces they can get.

Biggest Question: Are the Jags once again going to be crippled by their Quarterbacks decision making? Jacksonville was arguably the Superbowl favourites last year once they met the Patriots in the AFC championship game. Elite run game, the baddest and meanest, most feared defence backs in the entire game, and a defensive machine in Calais Campell. What they didn't have… a quarterback confident enough to come through in key games. Bortles made huge mental mistakes that costed Jacksonville a shot at the Lombardi trophy. This year he's looked to have picked up where he left off. With essentially the same defence back from last year Jacksonville struggles to find offence in games that the defence holds the other team to low scores. Blake Bortles is the Jacksonville Jaguars weakest link, goodbye?

GB 33- SF 30

Is Aaron Rodgers even human???

San Fransisco allow Packers to find win in last minute

Highlight: No seriously, is Aaron Rodgers human? Has anyone checked to see if he is of human descent, because I'm not convinced. If you need evidence just watch a highlight package of Aaron Rodgers and tell me otherwise. Oh still not convinced? Alright well let’s look to the last minute of this game. After willing his team back to a tie game with just over a minute left on the clock, ball around 10 yards from his own end zone. A bleeding, hobbling, Rodgers goes to work. Making play after play down the field, throwing perfect put balls into areas where his receivers could make plays and get out of bounds to stop the clock. The insurance play was a beautiful arcing throw that landed right into the hands of Davante Adams that gained more than enough yardage for kicker Mason Crosby to hit the game winning field goal with no time left.

Lowlight: The hardest part of watching this game if you're a San Fransisco fan was how well the offence performed without future franchise quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo, and how close the team was to winning. The lowlight for me was the defensive effort throughout the game, mainly noticing the yardage they allowed from the Green Bay receivers. 3 separate receivers went for over 100 yards receiving on the day. Just this off season San Fran went out and got one of the most electrifying cornerbacks in Richard Sherman to provide an answer for some of their previous defensive miscues. In the final minute drive produced by Green Bay the 49ers only stopped Rodgers on one throw where he intentionally sailed it over Adams head in the end zone to waist more clock and set Crosby up. There needs to be more desire to win shown on the defensive side of the ball.

Biggest Question: Will Aaron Rodgers be healthy enough for the season? He's already having left knee issues and by the end of the game his elbow was bloodier than the Deadpool sequel. But one thing that any team can ever hurt on the quarterback is his heart. Time and time again, bruised and battered, Rodgers refuses to be told he's out of a game. He provides video game highlight real plays every single time his team needs him to. No matter how injured he is, he wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. He has the trust of everyone to do it. I don't know of a single football fan who wouldn't trust Aaron Rodgers leading a game winning drive, but his issues with staying healthy has forced him to not be in a lot of situations where his team has an opportunity to find the win. Green Bay needs to be careful with how far they let him play through injuries, not only for the concern of this season, but future seasons to come.

NE 43- KC 40

Mahomes shows up in big moment

Brady proves Patriots are still relevant in AFC

Highlight: yourself a favour, just watch. The entire game was a highlight for both sides even though the Patriots emerged the only team victorious.

Lowlight: The only lowlight here is that the Kansas City Chiefs suffered their first loss of the season.

Biggest Question: Who’s the top dog? Whenever two teams of this caliber face off the immediate question afterwards is usually “Have the power rankings changed because of this outcome?”. I feel this game only raised more questions than answers. Due to the fact it was such a close game, I can’t honestly say these teams separated themselves by more than a fraction of space. Mahomes worked through adversity and kept the game exciting, never looking too in over his head. The Chiefs proved in this game that speed does kill; but, maybe not as lethal as patience. And that’s exactly what the New England Patriots showed throughout the entirety of this contest. Tom Brady and the boys in blue, white and red never hit the panic button and executed to perfection. As coach Bill Belichick constantly preaches, “do your job, and do it well.” Getting a full team effort, the Patriots proved to the younger, flashier Chiefs that football is as much a mental game as it is an athletic game. All I'm sure of is I can’t wait for the potential fireworks that may come if these teams get the opportunity to meet in a championship game. 

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