Sunday’s week 6 action shapes as a crucial week for any teams with negative records, in their desperation to stay in contact with the playoffs. Falling to 2-4 or worse 1-5 in mid-October is a one-way trip to a top 10 draft pick next April.
Headlining the under pressure franchises are 2015’s NFC finalists, Carolina and Arizona. Two of the preeminent pre-season favorites, the Cards and Panthers have struggled spectacularly through the opening month of the season. The Panthers in particular are in world of trouble. After Monday nights defeat to the Buccaneers, the reigning NFC Champions are at 1-4, three games down (and a tiebreaker) in their division. This team which ran like a well oiled machine last season, has spluttered and struggled through the opening 5 games, with the secondary, offensive line and run defense all major issues.
Still if there’s a matchup that could potentially cure what ails them, it’s a very talent depleted Saints side. Furthermore, MVP Cam Newton returns from a week out due to the league’s concussion protocol and should be a huge factor against this awful Saints defense.
Their vanquished foes from the NFC title match, Arizona, are also in danger of losing touch with the leaders in their division. Through five games the Cardinals have been a curious mixture of hot and cold, particularly on offense. David Johnson and ageless veteran Larry Fitzgerald have carried the offense thus far, but against a Jets’ defense that’s simply hemorrhaging big plays Carson Palmer’s deep passing game should get every chance to come into its own.
A 1-4 record doesn’t truly represent what kind of team the Jets are in 2016. Their defensive line is arguably the league’s best, and they will surely place on emphasis on getting after Carson Palmer and stopping the brilliant David Johnson. It’s a grossly overused cliche, but this one is absolutely a must-win for both the Jets and Cards.
Back in the AFC, Jacksonville have been enormously disappointing throughout September and despite the weakness of the AFC South are desperate to move back towards 0.500 and save head coach Gus Bradley’s job. If the Jaguars talent conforms and is up to the job, a broken Bears outfit shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge. The alternative is another crippled season with mass changes on the horizon.
The rest of the AFC South has absolutely nothing to shout about, ensuring that all four franchises remain in contention. The Titans at 2-3 should be capable of getting past the hapless Browns, whilst the Colts and Texans clash on Sunday Night Football. The Texans are the stronger all-round team, without any decent quarterback play; opposed to Indianapolis who have excellent quarterback play and absolutely nothing else.
Looking further around the league, the Bengals appear to be in a decline and an always difficult match in Foxboro won’t make their chances of keeping pace with Pittsburgh any easier. The Lions are on the ropes in the NFC North, despite Matthew Stafford seemingly taking a step forward with his level of play. They play the overachieving Rams.
Miami are in all sorts of trouble, their offense might be the league’s worst. Their defense isn’t much better and they’ve got the red hot Steelers coming to town. Just quietly the Giants are in a little bit of strife too, within the NFC East after a strong opening fortnight. Eli Manning hasn’t connected with his trio of wide receivers as of yet, and the strength of other franchises in their division absolutely ups the pressure on the Giants to notch a W here against the Ravens.