Eli Manning and the New York Giants kicked off week six by continuing their shocking start to the season and earning a 0-6 record. That's one of the biggest surprises of the year thus far, but it's not going to be the only surprise this week.
Where else will the note worthy happenings be in week six?
Top Match-ups to Watch
New Orleans' Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles vs. New England's Defense
Without some familiar faces taking the field for New England, the Patriots haven't been lighting up the scoreboard quite like usual. That was painfully evident last week as New England had their worst offense performance in nearly a decade. With the Saints on tap for this weekend's match-up, it's going to fall on the Patriots' defense to keep the game manageable.
There's no question that the key to slowing down the Saints offense lies with stopping Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Unfortunately for opposing defenses, it's proved almost impossible to stop the both of them at the same time. In every game they've played to this point, either Graham or Sproles (or both) have taken advantage of a distracted defense and been huge determining factors in their games.
Even worse news for the Patriots? Their recent track record against tight ends hasn't been exactly stellar. In their last two games, they've allowed 22 catches for 230 yards and two scores to tight ends. That doesn't exactly bode well for their match up with Graham, who by far will be the most talented tight end they face all year.
Against the Falcons, the Patriots tried using Jarrod Mayo and safety help deep to slow down Tony Gonzalez, and it didn't work particularly well. If New England tries that again, Sproles will have all day to take advantage of a less than athletic defense. If they elect to use single coverage on Graham, though, he could have a career best day. Regardless, it's going to be a long day for the Patriots' defense.
Green Bay's Running Game vs. Baltimore's Front Seven
Few things are guaranteed in life, but there aren't too many safer bets than death, taxes, and the fact the Packers will head into nearly every game looking to throw the ball all over the field. It's a given that Baltimore's defense is going to make slowing down Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's aerial attack their top priority, and they should have at least some success at that.
Green Bay needs to stay balanced in this one, and that will mean they'll be looking for another strong performance from their running backs. In spite of the fact that their offensive line hasn't played particularly well this season, the Packers have had consistent success running the ball for the first time in years.
The key to their success on the ground has been keeping opposing defenses off balance by running the ball out of passing formations. Spreading out the defense has allowed the Packers to pick up five yards per carry regardless of it was Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Franklin, or James Starks carrying the ball.
Fortunately for the Ravens, they're well prepared to deal with a team trying to run the ball while their defense is spread out. Haloti Ngata is obviously going to be effective against the run on the interior regardless of how many receivers are on the field. More importantly, Baltimore's defense hasn't missed many tackles this season, which will be crucial when the defense is spread out and fewer gang tackle opportunities arise.
As each of these units are playing at the top of their games right now, there may not be a more entertaining match up all weekend long, and whoever wins the match up will more than likely win the game.
Detroit DT Ndamukong Suh vs. Cleveland OG Shawn Lavao
As strange as it sounds to say it, since Brian Hoyer took over at quarterback for the Browns, they've been one of the hottest teams in the league. A huge key to that success was his ability to get rid of the ball quickly, neutralizing the opposing defenses' attempts at rushing the passer. Now that Brandon Weeden is returning to the starting line up, that trend isn't likely to continue. One of Weeden's biggest weaknesses is that he holds on to the ball far too long, and correcting a habit like that doesn't happen in a week or two.
When facing a defensive line like Detroit's, holding on to the ball longer than you should is going to be a nightmare scenario, and it all starts with Ndamukong Suh's ability to rush the passer from the inside. He's only racked up two sacks on the year, but he's recorded a ton of pressures and is in as dominatant a form as he's ever been.
Lining up across from him on Sunday will be Shawn Lavao at right guard. Lavao made his first start of the year at that position last week, and it didn't go particularly well. He struggled more in the running game than protecting the passer, but it wasn't a game to be proud of in any phase. He's been an average pass blocker for most of his career in the NFL, but he's going to need to play at a higher level in this match up. With Weeden holding on to the ball, it'll be a long game otherwise.
– Although it's tempting, don't bail on Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron just because Weeden is back in Cleveland. Weeden looked like a player that had improved somewhat last week. That offense may not be a lost cause quite yet.
– Tired of AJ Green's slump? There's no better time to look for him to break out than this week. Buffalo's secondary has been awful all season, and Stephon Gilmore will be seeing his first action of the year. That's a great opporunity for Green to make up for lost time and have a huge game.
– Were he in the right offfense, Cam Newton would be primed to explode this week as well. Minnesota has been miserable on defense and would be vulnerable to a mobile quarterback. Unfortunately, Carolina is dead set on making him a pocket passer. It's tough to justify starting him this week.
– If it were even possible, look for LeSean McCoy's fantasy output to actually increase with Michael Vick out. McCoy is Nick Foles' security blanket on check downs, and he's sure to get plenty of looks.
– TY Hilton had a huge game last week against two of the best corners in the league, and on Monday Night he's got a match up with two of the worst. Provided he gets the snap count that he deserves, Hilton should be in for another big game.