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New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, right, hits Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap during the first quarter of Sunday's game. ((Winslow Townson/Associated Press))

When Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai left Sunday night's game late after getting walloped high by Washington linebacker London Fletcher, it was an unfortunately fitting end to a vicious Week 6 in the NFL.

The games are getting more important, and the intensity is picking up, but by any standard, the body count was eye-opening.

There was a spate of head injuries in Sunday's slate. Some were the incidental result of a brutal game but others appeared avoidable and could lead to discipline.

New England safety Brandon Meriweather hit Balitmore tight end Todd Heap above the shoulder, while James Harrison inexplicably avoided any penalties despite leading with his helmet to take out half of Cleveland's receiving corps — Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs.

Atlanta defensive back Dunta Robinson targeted Philadelphia receiver DeSean Jackson, who according to NFL.com, suffered memory loss. Robinson fared only a little better, knocking himself out of the game with the impact.

Most seriously, Detroit Lions linebacker Zack Follett was hospitalized after a violent helmet-to-helmet hit with New York's Jean-Pierre Paul while covering a fourth-quarter kickoff return.

Defensive studs

Trent Cole, DE Philadelphia
Larry Grant, LB St. Louis
Cameron Wake, DE/LB Miami

West goes south

One of the other trends os Sunday was the terribleness of the AFC West.

The San Diego Chargers seem determined to miss the playoffs for the first time in five seasons but the rest of the division isn't co-operating. All four AFC West teams lost on Sunday, with the Chargers not able to overcome a big early deficit in St. Louis.

Kansas City squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth in Houston and next play Jacksonville at home, no gimme game.

Oakland had winnable game in its grasp against San Francisco, but the offence was inept.

Denver has lost three of four but can at least make a case that they've passed the worst four-game stretch of their season: Indy, Tennessee, Baltimore, and the N.Y. Jets.

In a crossroads match next week, the winner of the Raiders-Broncos game will still be in the division hunt at 3-4, while the loser will fall to 2-5 barring a tie.

The Chargers host New England next week and could also fall to 2-5. But remember, the Bolts have been down this road before due to the weakness of the division. They made the playoffs two years ago despite a 4-8 start.

The Unsung

Danario Alexander, WR St. Louis
Stephen Grotkowski, K New England
Drew Stanton, QB Detroit

Looking ahead

Here are three of the biggest games of Week 7:

Pittsburgh (4-1) at Miami (3-2): Yes, Big Ben has already made his debut but did anyone expect Colt McCoy to upset the Steelers in his first game? Roethlisberger and the Steelers should get a much sterner test in Miami against a Dolphins team that is hungry for a win at home after going 0-2 on their own field to start the season. Maybe J-Lo is bad luck.

Philadelphia (4-2) at Tennesse (3-2): Intriguing because both are in the top half of teams in the NFL, because both Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick have looked impressive, and because the Eagles are 3-0 on the road.

Minnesota (2-3) at Green Bay (3-3): This will be Brett Favre's final visit to Green Bay as an active NFL player. Or the last until next season. A loss in this prime time NFC North affair could start one of them on a spiral out of the playoff picture.