We are now officially a third of the way through the 2021 NFL regular season with the Week 6 action now in the books.
And if the latest slate of terrific action taught us anything it’s that nothing lasts for long in the National Football League.
Buffalo’s juggernaut ground to a halt in a Monday-night loss in Tennessee, while the Justin Herbert bandwagon came fully off the tracks in a devastating reverse for the Chargers in Baltimore.
Whatever you are picking in terms of your NFL predictions, at least you now have plenty of evidence to work with.
The action continues apace as Week 7 gets under way on Thursday Night Football with two 3-3 teams - the Broncos and Browns - locking horns in a crucial crossroads game in Cleveland.
Before the big kickoff in the Dawg Pound, let’s look back at what we learned from Week 6, and ahead to some of the NFL betting pointers for this weekend’s schedule.
The phrase ‘next man up’ is one you’ll hear a lot from NFL coaches. It’s a brutal league and a brutal game, and here are some of the key injuries from Week 6:
Darrell Taylor (DE, Seattle Seahawks): When Taylor left the Heinz Field turf strapped to a stretcher during the Sunday night loss in Pittsburgh, you would have been forgiven for fearing the worst. The good news is that he appears to have avoided serious injury. Amazingly, he has also not yet been ruled out of this week’s game vs New Orleans.
Dak Prescott (QB, Dallas Cowboys): Prescott has Comeback Player Of The year wrapped up and is now prominent in the race to be league MVP after leading the Cowboys to five straight wins. But he left Gillette Stadium on Sunday wearing a protective boot after throwing for 445 yards and three scores in an epic 35-29 overtime defeat of the Patriots. An MRI confirmed Prescott has a calf strain, but the good news is Dallas is heading into its bye week. Dak has time to recover before the Cowboys face the Vikings on October 31.
Kareem Hunt (RB, Cleveland Browns): With Nick Chubb already ruled out of Cleveland’s matchup with 5-0 Arizona last Sunday, the Browns could ill-afford to lose his backfield running mate Kareem Hunt. That’s exactly what happened, however, with Hunt following Chubb onto the injury report with a calf injury. Hunt is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, terrible news for a team which is beset by injuries right now.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Cleveland Browns): Just a week after featuring in our Trending North section (which feels like a curse right now), the highly-touted rookie suffered a high-ankle sprain in that crushing 37-14 home loss to Arizona. He will miss multiple weeks and all of a sudden a promising Cleveland season risks falling apart.
Baker Mayfield (QB, Cleveland Browns): Just to compound Cleveland’s misery in that loss to Arizona, they saw starting QB Mayfield re-aggravate a significant shoulder injury he has been dealing with in previous weeks. Mayfield has been wearing a harness to try and play through a torn labrum, and the beating he took on Sunday will not make things any easier. There are tough, and painful, times ahead.
Kadarius Toney (WR, New York Giants): The Trending North curse strikes again - a week after lighting it up against the Cowboys, Toney left the game early after aggravating an ankle inury as the Giants were crushed at home by the Los Angeles Rams. His status for this Sunday vs Carolina is not yet known, but Toney’s injury is another major blow for a decimated receiving corps.
Antonio Gibson (RB, Washington Football Team): Gibson is continuing to play through a stress fracture in his shin, and it will continue to hamper him (he left Sunday’s loss to Kansas City on multiple occasions). The injury needs rest to heal, three months of it to be precise. That is not happening any time soon so if you are thinking of including Gibson in any bets, do bear this in mind.
Latavius Murray (RB, Baltimore Ravens): The Ravens are firing on all cylinders right now after that demolition of the Chargers, but an ankle injury to Murray could slow down their ground game a little. There is a chance he misses the Week 7 matchup with Cincinnati, and then completes his recovery during Baltimore’s upcoming bye week.
Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, Carolina Panthers): Rookie receiver Marshall Jr is a doubt for this weekend’s clash with the Giants after suffering a concussion in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Vikings in Charlotte. At this stage the odds must be against him, but we did see Daniel Jones trotting out there last weekend just days after staggering off the field in Dallas. More on concussion protocol to come…
Josh Myers (C, Green Bay Packers): Green Bay has not exactly been convincing in reeling off five victories since that opening-day rout at the hands of New Orleans. Things are not about to get any easier for the Pack after they lost starting center Myers to a knee injury in the win over Chicago last Sunday. He is expected to miss at least one week of action.
Derrick Henry: If anybody was going to stop Buffalo right now, it was always going to be the incredible Henry. He rumbled for 143 yards and three scores on just 20 carries in a 34-31 Monday night win over the rampaging Bills. A stunning 126 of Henry’s yards on the ground came after contact - the man is virtually impossible to bring down. A 76-yard TD run also advertised that he has wheels as well as that awesome strength and power. If positional bias didn’t come into the MVP race, Derrick would be right in the mix. He is currently on pace to rush for more than 2200 yards in 2021 - astonishing stuff. Next up he faces a Kansas City defense which ranks 27th against the run this season - expect more good times in Nashville.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Any team ending a 20-game losing streak merits inclusion here. Things are finally looking up for the much-maligned Urban Meyer and his quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They both have their first win in the pros, and they had to cross the pond to London to do it in a 23-20 nailbiter against the woeful Miami Dolphins. Things are a long way from rosy in Jacksonvile, but hopefully this gives Lawrence the confidence to really start showing why he was tabbed as a generational talent coming out of college. It also likely keeps Meyer in a job for a few more weeks.
Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore looked like potentially the best team in football on Sunday in a comprehensive 34-6 dismantling of the red-hot Los Angeles Chargers. The Ravens have a potent mix offensively thanks to the dual threat that is MVP candidate Lamar Jackson. They were also superb defensively last weekend in totally shutting down Justin Herbert and a Charger offense which had just put up 47 vs Cleveland.
Randy Gregory: It’s amazing that Dallas Cowboys defensive end Gregory is even in the league right now. That he is playing at a Pro Bowl level is even more incredible. After missing most of his first five years in the league due to marijuana suspensions, he is finally living up to the potential which made Jerry Jones and the Cowboys just refuse to give up on him. Gregory possesses freakish power and speed coming off the edge, and his two sacks and a forced fumble in the win over New England just highlighted both qualities.
Mac Jones: Yes the Patrots eventually lost a heartbreaker to Dallas in OT, but Jones was impressive in bringing New England so close to an upset win over the favoured Cowboys in Foxboro. Dink and dunk had been the order of the day up until now, but Jones showed signs of being able to get the ball down the field here as he completed 15 of 21 for 229 yards and a pair of scores. He did give up a crucial pick six on a tipped ball to the unstoppable Trevon Diggs, but despite that he has been the best rookie QB in the NFL so far in 2021.
Concussion Protocol: Sometimes we look at this and think ‘why bother?’. The sight of Daniel Jones still in the game and struggling as the Giants trailed 38-3 at home to the Rams was another example. This came just days after the New York QB had staggered off the field in Dallas after a helmet-to-helmet collision with Cowboy LB Jabril Cox. This did not come across as a good look for the NFL.
Jared Goff: It maybe a little bit harsh to pick on Goff - he’s on an 0-6 team and he has zero offensive weapons. Despite that, Goff put up pretty respectable numbers in the first four weeks of the season. Not so the last two weeks though - particularly in Sunday’s home humbling by Joe Burrow and the Bengals. The honeymoon - if you can call it that - is very much over for Goff in the Motor City and tough weeks lie ahead for the former #1 overall pick. Next up is a game against his former team the Rams, and Detroit is a 15-point underdog. This could get very ugly.
Denver offensive line: The Broncos dropped a third straight game to fall to 3-3 as the crisis-hit (Gruden) Raiders left the Mile High City with a 34-24 win. Denver has to protect Teddy Bridgewater or whoever else they trot out at QB to have any chance of winning games, and they did not do it on Sunday. A season-high 35 pressures allowed tells the whole story.
Jalen Hurts: The Philadelphia QB is trending just like Goff - he has been very shaky in the last two weeks after a promising start to 2021. He threw for just 115 yards in a Thursday night loss to Tampa Bay - and remember that is a Bucs team which has the 27th-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Hurts just cannot get the ball downfield right now, but maybe the decision to trade safety blanket TE Zach Ertz to Arizona might mean he has to try a little bit harder.
Sam Darnold: Don’t let that late-game rally to take the Panthers into OT vs Minnesota fool you - Darnold was mostly atrocious as Carolina dropped a third straight game to fall to 3-3 for the season. Sam had looked promising early on in 2021, but now he appears more and more like the man who was run out of New York by the Jets in that offseason trade. Taking the gamble on Darnold was a medium-level gamble worth taking for Matt Rhule and the Panthers - only right now it doesn’t appear like it is going to work out.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Tennessee Titans (Sunday October 24, 1800 BST)
This should be a beauty in Nashville as Patrick Mahomes and Derrick Henry take centre stage in a pivotal AFC matchup. The Chiefs have not played like pre-season Super Bowl favourites so far - Mahomes has been inconsistent at times while the defense largely stinks. Tennessee meanwhile has overcome injuries to its wide receivers thanks to the unstoppable Henry. He is on pace for an incredible year and should have another big day here. The Titans cannot afford to get behind early, so look for them to pressure Mahomes and establish the run. There is no other way.