Yahoo Sports NFL senior writers Kimberley A. Martin, Terez Paylor and Charles Robinson select Week 6 games this weekend that can leave us buzzing heading into Monday.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
There’s no love lost between these bitter rivals, and when the Steelers and Bengals square off, fisticuffs may start.
The road to the division championship always runs through Pittsburgh, but the path is clear for Andy Dalton & Co. to widen the gap between them and the rest of the AFC North. Even at 4-1 and sitting atop the division, Cincinnati has plenty to prove against the Steelers (2-2-1), who have won nine of their past 10 matchups, including six straight. But these don’t appear to be the same Steelers – at least, not yet. Off-field drama surrounding Le’Veon Bell’s weeks-long holdout, coupled with Antonio Brown‘s mounting frustrations, only highlighted the issues plaguing Pittsburgh. And Cincinnati would love nothing more than to deliver a blow to its rival in front of the home crowd.
The Steelers are coming off a dominant win over the depleted Atlanta Falcons and Brown had his best game of the season: six catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. If Pittsburgh can ride the momentum to a road victory in Cincy, it’ll be on solid ground in the standings heading into the bye week – just in time for Bell’s much-anticipated return.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns
Hey, there’s finally a feel-good story out of Cleveland that doesn’t involve the words “LeBron” or “Indians.” That’s right Clevelanders, we’re already in Week 6, and your Browns do NOT have a losing record! And what’s more, at 2-2-1, they’ve also scored more points than they’ve surrendered. Granted, it’s by only one point (114-113). But a starving man doesn’t turn down a Happy Meal, right?
Seriously, the Browns are playing decent football, and a lot of that has to do with No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, whose competency at quarterback has teamed up with an emerging defense, giving Cleveland a chance to win every week. We’ll get to see both units tested against the Chargers (3-2), who feature the league’s seventh-best offense in total yards and 15th-best defense in yards per game.
With no shortage of talent on the field, I expect this one to be more entertaining than most think.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
There are endless storylines in this one. Not only is it a battle for AFC supremacy and a potential playoff matchup down the line, there is history between Andy Reid and Bill Belichick. They’re two head coaches who always seem very well-matched when it comes to an in-season battle like this. But the storyline I really love is the crossroads of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. One guy is in the midst of his youthful rise into the elite and another guy who keeps extending the impressive winter years of his career.
I think Brady is a little agitated by the shine that Mahomes has taken away this season. And maybe he should be. If you subtract three interceptions that weren’t really Brady’s fault, his numbers stack up well with Mahomes’ despite playing his first four games with far less skill-position talent.
Well, now that Julian Edelman is back and guys like Sony Michel and Josh Gordon are getting some traction in the offense, it’s a more even comparison. This game is Brady’s chance to show some of that old man strength and prove that the NFL’s quarterback power rankings still begin at his doorstep. Conversely, Mahomes has an opportunity to wrestle the baton away and take another leap forward as the league’s leading man.
I’m here for all of it. So let’s go.
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