NFL Roundtable: Week 6 recap | Football | CBC Sports

NFLNFL Roundtable: Week 6 recap

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 | 10:41 AM

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San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith is out of his element when he’s forced to take the offensive burden as the blowout loss to the Giants showed. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press) San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith is out of his element when he’s forced to take the offensive burden as the blowout loss to the Giants showed. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

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In's weekly chatter, our guys debate the balance of power in the NFC, the troubles surrounding with the Dallas Cowboys, the contenders in the AFC East, and the craziness of Week 6.
In's weekly chatter, our guys debate the balance of power in the NFC, the troubles surrounding the Dallas Cowboys, the contenders in the AFC East, and the craziness of Week 6.

Follow our panelists on Twitter: @tcare66 @JesseCampigotto @JasonD79.

The New York Giants dismantled the 49ers in San Francisco. What does this do to the balance of power in the NFC?

Tony Care: It reaffirms the Giants as an elite NFC team. When the defensive line plays the way it did against a terrific 49ers' offensive line, New York can beat anyone. I know a lot of people thought the Giants would take a step back after winning the Super Bowl, but this team will challenge the likes of San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago and even Green Bay (Yes, I still like the Packers) come playoff time.  As for the 49ers, you can see why they pursued Peyton Manning in the off-season. When the team is playing great defence and running the ball, all is well with Alex Smith. When the QB is asked to rally his team back from more than a touchdown deficit he's completely out of his element.

Jesse Campigotto: That was an impressive win, but the one lesson the NFL continually teaches us is not to overreact to one big game. I still rank San Francisco as part of a tightly packed top tier of NFC teams, along with the Giants and Chicago. You'll notice I didn't include Atlanta, the only undefeated team in the entire league. The Falcons are a counterfeit 6-0. Even though their plus-58 scoring margin is solid, they've played a super-soft schedule and yet they've still been outgained by their opponents on the year, giving up an average of 5.9 yards per play on defence while getting only 5.6 yards per play on offence. That yardage deficit nearly caught up to Atlanta the last three weeks (especially against Carolina, which would've won its Week 4 matchup if not for an awful fumble by Cam Newton) but they escaped against a slate of mediocre opponents. Look for the Falcons to pay the piper soon, possibly as early as their next game, in Week 8 at Philly.

Jason Davidson: What it does is show that there are plenty of teams in the mix. The Giants look like the clear frontrunner to take top spot in the NFC East. The 49ers should be fine as I expect them to still come out on top in the NFC  West. But that doesn't guarantee those two teams will meet each other for a chance at going to the Super Bowl. The 6-0 Atlanta Falcons are running away with the South and the Green Bay Packers, although their record may not show it, are still the best team in the North. Come January, those are the four teams who will vie for a spot in the NFC championship.

The Dallas Cowboys let another game get away as they squandered a fine performance against the Baltimore Ravens en route to a disheartening loss. Are the Cowboys in trouble?

Tony Care: Well let's see, their clock management is atrocious, the offensive line continually takes false start penalties, their most talented wide receiver can't be trusted, and their best offensive weapon (RB DeMarco Murray) can't stay healthy. Aside from that everything is peachy. In all seriousness, this was a must-win and Dallas blew it. Look at Cowboys' next slate of games. After Carolina, they host the Giants, then go on the road against Atlanta and Philadelphia. If the Cowboys go 1-3 during this stretch it's over. With the erratic way the team has been playing I can easily see that happening.

Jesse Campigotto: That game was frustrating to watch because Dallas kept shooting itself in the foot with ill-timed penalties. But the Cowboys still had a chance to win on a last-second 51-yard kick. If it split the uprights, would we be having this conversation? I'm not writing Dallas off yet. They've played an insanely tough schedule so far: road games against the Giants, Seattle and Baltimore, and home tilts against Tampa and Chicago. That's the hardest slate any team in the league has faced, making the Cowboys' 2-3 record seem not so bad.

Jason Davidson: You would think Jason Garrett would have learned his lesson from poor clock management. Last year, he freezes his own kicker in what turns out to be a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.  This time, he has the time to run an extra play or two and opts not to do so, burning precious seconds instead. The end result? Dan Bailey misses a game-winning 51-yard field goal and the Ravens escape with a 31-29 win. Especially frustrating for Big D considering Bailey hardly ever misses. Furthermore, the Cowboys ran for 227 yards against an injury-depleted Baltimore defence and they had possession of the football for two thirds of the game. If you can't win under those circumstances, then yes you are in trouble.

After six games, all four AFC East teams have identical 3-3 records. Have the rest of the teams caught up to New England or is it just a matter of time before the Patriots pull away?

Tony Care: The Pats will eventually separate themselves from the pack. They've lost three games by a combined four points so let's keep things in perspective. The Bills, who I still consider the second best team in the division, can't hang with the big boys right now. They've been outscored 145-86 by the 49ers, Patriots and Jets and still have Houston, New England, Seattle and NYJ on the schedule. Miami is a surprise to this point but isn't improved enough to make a playoff push, and the Jets remain a mess regardless of their .500 record.

Jesse Campigotto: The second thing. New England's three losses have come by a combined four points, and the Pats' point differential is plus-51. The rest of the AFC East is a combined minus-60. The Buffalo Bills are minus-55 on their own, proving that not all 3-3 teams are created equal. And New England has played a relatively tough schedule, with games at Seattle, at Baltimore and home to Denver already in the books. The remaining slate is a relative cake walk, with Houston and San Francisco as the only top-tier opponents, and both of those games are at home.

Jason Davidson: I think this is still the Patriots' division. The Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are not playoff material, although the 'Fins are moving in the right direction. The Patriots will get their act together. There is simply too much offensive talent on that team. After all, they lead the NFL in total offence, averaging 31.3 points per game. The defence may be a little suspect but they can overcompensate by putting points on the board. A 10-6 record in the AFC East, maybe even 9-7 will be good enough to secure a home playoff date for Bill Belichick and company.

Week 6 definitely had some crazy moments, rallies and devastating injuries. What stood out to you the most?

Tony Care: Never thought I'd put Tom Brady in a negative light but he had as much to do with New England's loss in Seattle as the defence. In the final seconds of the first half the Pats were poised to go up by 10 points. But instead of kicking a field goal, coach Bill Belichick decides to go for one more play. So Brady makes a poor decision by throwing the ball through the back of the end zone and gets called for intentional grounding, causing the Patriots to walk away with no points. With New England then leading 20-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Brady overthrows Wes Welker near the end zone and is intercepted. You know it's a crazy week when Brady plays below his usual brilliant self and is actually blamed for a loss.

Jesse Campigotto: How about that comeback by Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Monday night? Denver overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit (owing to a pair of lost fumbles in the kicking game and an 80-yard pick-6) to win 35-24. The Broncos deserved to win this game (they outgained San Diego 7.0 yards per play to 4.3) but at the half were in grave danger of losing because all the luck was going San Diego's way. When things evened out in the second half (the Broncos scored on a fumble recovery and a pick-6 of their own) and Manning found his no-huddle groove with three TD passes, Denver got the win it deserved. Always nice to see that in a league where luck plays a bigger role in the outcome of games than most people give it credit for.

Jason Davidson: Peyton Manning has done it again as far as Monday night magic goes. Down 24-0 at halftime, the Denver Broncos rallied to stun the San Diego Chargers 35-24. Philip Rivers throws four interceptions. We all knew Norv Turner was on the hot seat at the start of the season. Well, that seat is just about scalding now. How much more patience can majority owner Alex Spanos have?  On the injury side, the loss of linebacker Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season is a huge blow to the Baltimore Ravens' defence. It will be very difficult for them to recover from this.

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