Week 6 in the 2014 NFL Schedule brings on more marquee matchups & matchups with teams who may have been on the downside last year against teams who are on the rise right now.
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans – CBS – 8:30
This is a matchup of philosophies as well as actual teams. The Houston Texans, for many years, have worked to be like the Indianapolis Colts. They built their team initially to try & beat Peyton Manning when he was the leader of the Colts. Didn’t work. They have now been working to build a team to beat Andrew Luck & his setup in terms of trying to make sure the Colts aren’t dominating the AFC South for years to come.
Along the way, however, the Texans built their own identity. They became one of the most elite offensive & defensive units in football. While 2013 was a down year for the Texans due to going through injuries & low morale and chemistry in the lockerroom, the Texans are now going to try to right the ship & in this Thursday Night matchup on CBS, the Texans will have a great chance to show off against the Colts, who will look to be back on top of the AFC South, with another year of experience under the belt of Andrew Luck.
Chicago Bears @ Atlanta Falcons – 1:00 p.m. – FOX
This is a matchup that could easily end up being moved to a 4:25 start or even a Sunday Night Football location if the teams are going to be the way I think they will be.
The Chicago Bears offense has been one of the most potent in the NFL over the last two seasons with having a healthy & content Jay Cutler along with Brandon Marshall & Alshon Jeffery catching the ball on the outside & with their size & speed, Marshall & Jeffery are a nightmare for secondaries to deal with. In this matchup, CB Asante Samuel, one of the better CBs in the National Football League, will have to make a choice on whether to try & lockdown Marshall or Jeffery, no easy task.
Whomever he is on, the other one could look to have a big day, especially if the passing/running game is also going through hybrid running back Matt Forte.
This is the exact same setup that the Atlanta Falcons will be looking to implement as well with their star quarterback, Matt Ryan, who by this point of the season, needs to have shown if he is truly the franchise quarterback that has the ability to truly take the Falcons to the next step & make them a SuperBowl contender. While Falcons WRs Roddy White & Julio Jones don’t have the size that Marshall & Jeffery have, make no mistake that they are among the most dynamic WRs in the NFL, which means this could be a fun shootout all day long, which of course, defensive units won’t want to hear about.
Carolina Panthers @ Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m. FOX
The big thing we are looking at in this matchup is the matchup of the two quarterbacks in the game – Cam Newton & Andy Dalton. Both come from completely different backgrounds in college – Dalton from TCU, a team that at the time wasn’t a BCS conference school, but whom Dalton led to a Rose Bowl victory in 2010 against Wisconsin. Newton, who was a star at Auburn, led the Tigers to an undefeated season & a national championship in 2011.
Both quarterbacks have become among the very good in the NFL, but both have so much to prove in the league. Dalton has a playoff game to win to give Bengals fans better piece of mind, Newton will need to show that he can win this year by having pretty much zero receivers on his team with any experience to speak of. The Panthers & Bengals defenses & running games are already strong, but at some point, the ball has to go down field. Dalton has A.J. Green & Jermaine Gresham, Newton has…………….???
Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks – 4:25 – FOX
Another game that could definitely be flexed into Sunday Night Football, the Cowboys & Seahawks game is one with much intrigue not because of the Xs & Os but the personalities involved in the game. A matchup with Richard Sherman vs Dez Bryant? Count me in. The trash talking that is most likely going to take place in that matchup is just out of the world.
Can Tony Romo & Jason Witten be able to get their offense rolling against that vaunted “Legion of Boom” defensive unit that completely shut down opponents on their way to winning the SuperBowl last year? I will say no on that, especially if Witten is the #1 target all the way through the game if Bryant is constantly engaged & working against Sherman.
A question on the Seahawks side is whether the Seahawks’ offense can keep up with the Dallas Cowboys offense, which has been one of the best in the NFL? While the team did win the SuperBowl, quarterback Russell Wilson was a dynamic player but didn’t have many legit offensive weapons outside of Marshawn Lynch running the football. The Seahawks lost their best receiver in the offseason in Golden Tate, who signed with the Detroit Lions.
San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams – Monday Night Football – 8:30 – ESPN
On the 49ers’ side of things, the team is a defense-first organization, with that defense built on the shoulders of middle linebacker Patrick Willis. On the defensive line, Aldon Smith (if he stay out of trouble) is one of the very best pass rushers in the NFL & with Justin Smith on the opposite side, the 49ers defense as a unit is incredibly nasty.
But the St. Louis Rams are building that exact same reputation with Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, & Janorice Jenkins. The team, built by defensive guru & head coach Jeff Fisher, is building a similar identity to the 49ers in terms of being a great defensive unit with a solid offense.
Speaking of offense, Rams QB Sam Bradford will have a big platform to show off his skills on Monday Night Football. Bradford has battled injuries quite a bit in his career, but the Rams, for now, are still putting the onus on Bradford to be the leader of the franchise & with having dynamic WR Tavon Austin & other young offensive players around who can grow & gel with Bradford & Austin, the Rams have the look of a team that may get to that next level & be where the 49ers are.
For the 49ers offense, it will be a great test to see if their physical offensive unit can match up against a level of defense that will be seen possibly down the line, especially against the Seahawks, whom they will most likely run into again in a playoff run.
Colin Kaepernick is the leader of the franchise, & looks to be there for years to come to become one of the greats in the long history of the 49ers. RB Frank Gore may be slowing down a bit because of the bruising style of runner that he is, but to spell Gore a bit, the 49ers still have great receivers in Michael Crabtree & Anquan Boldin, who will put great pressure on the Rams defensive unit.