Week 6 of the 2013 NFL season is officially a wrap, and the San Francisco 49ers are 4-2 and about to head out on their two week London road trip. The 49ers will travel to Nashville later this week to face the Tennessee Titans, and then head over to London for a week of preparations leading up to their Week 8 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The playoffs are still a long ways away, which means the NFL standings are still a bit of a jumbled mess. This is plenty apparent in the NFC. The NFC West sees the Seattle Seahawks sitting in first place at 5-1, while the 49ers are a game back at 4-2. The NFC North has the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears tied at 4-2, with the Green Bay Packers a half game back at 3-2. The NFC Least is a mess with the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles tied at 3-3, and squaring off next week. The NFC South has the most clarity with the New Orleans Saints sitting at 5-1, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Carolina Panthers.
Seahawks squeak by
The Seahawks improved to 5-1 with a hard fought win over the Tennessee Titans. It was not the most inspiring of performances, but Seattle got the job done at home. The Titans offense is a mess, but their defense is pretty solid. They were generally about to contain the Seahawks offense, but came up short in the upset bid.
For the Seahawks, that marks their third straight fairly uneven performance. They lost to the Colts last week, although they played well enough for much of the game that they probably should have pulled that one out. Of course, the week prior, they were dominated by the Texans in the first half by only to stage a huge rally late to pull that one out. They pounded the 49ers in Week 2, so we can only say so much about the Seahawks, but they still have their share of question marks.
It gets really interesting this week for the Seahawks, as they are traveling to Arizona on a short week. Normally I'd say this benefits the home team, but Arizona is a bit banged up, with Larry Fitzgerald likely to be a question mark much of the week. This strikes me as a wholly unpredictable matchup on the short week...or maybe I'm just trying to tell myself that.
Rams aren't quite going away
I realize the Houston Texans were scuffling coming into this game, but how many people saw the St. Louis Rams going into Houston and thoroughly dominating? The game got off to a rather slow start, but even before the Rams defense and special teams took over, the Rams were pulling away.
I'd say this game could be rock bottom for the Texans, but the Rams looked like the team I thought they might be heading into this season. I don't think they are necessarily as good as they looked on Sunday, but I thought they were better than the team that got pounded 35-11 by the 49ers.
And now, the NFC West is looking better than most any division, outside the AFC West. The Cardinals and Rams are both sitting at 3-3, which leaves them two games back of Seattle, and in the thick of the wild card race. If you remove the 5-1 Seahawks and 5-1 Saints, there are nine NFC teams that range from 2-3 to 4-2. We will see some separation at some point, but for now, there are a lot of playoff opportunities available.
The Saints are still strong, in spite of the stunner
The New Orleans Saints appeared on their way to 6-0 and a huge win at Foxboro, when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots surprised a lot of us. The Saints took a 27-23 lead with 2:24 to go. On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Tom Brady threw a deep ball to Julian Edelman that was picked off at the Saints 30. The Saints came out with a chance to put the game away, but their run game could do nothing. They picked up two yards on first down and one yard on second down, before Drew Brees lost five yards on third down. They punted, and the Patriots drove 70 yards in 1:13 to claim the 30-27 win as time expired.
I still think the Saints are a strong team, but this did highlight some of their issues. The Rob Ryan-led defense has shown drastic improvement this season, but they could not slam the door on this one. Additionally, tight end Jimmy Graham suffered a foot injury that is currently being evaluated. The Saints have a well-timed bye in Week 7, and it sounds like there is optimism that Graham could be back after the bye.
The Kansas City Chiefs continue to roll through the early portion of their schedule, improving to 6-0 with a 24-7 win over the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders actually hung close for much of the game, but they fell apart late. Terrelle Pryor showed just about everything you need to know about him in this loss. He made some great throws and runs, but he also took some awful sacks, and sometimes looked completely lost. It's all part of the development process.
The Chiefs are now 6-0, thanks primarily to their strong run game, defense, special teams, and dominance in the turnover battle. Anybody else think that sounds familiar? Would the 2011 San Francisco 49ers please answer the white courtesy phone?
The Chiefs are in the midst of a three game homestand, and their schedule sets up nicely for them to be 9-0 heading into their Week 11 showdown with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were not overly impressive in beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 35-19, but it is worth noting they will be getting Von Miller back this week. They should be able to head into that game at 9-0 as well, setting up one heck of a matchup.
The question on plenty of minds is how good are these Chiefs. The 2011 49ers comparison is apt. The Alex Smith connection makes it particularly easy, but there are a ton of similarities between these two teams. I think this Chiefs defense is very strong, but it's a question of how good. It is going to need to be all-world when they face the Broncos later this season, and potentially again in the postseason. Do they have it in them?