Five things I’ll be looking at in the sixth week of the 2017 NFL season:
1. Can the Steelers get their act together?
The Kansas City Chiefs, the league’s only unbeaten team, will be trying to boost their record to 6-0 against the Steelers. But all the chatter is about the Pittsburgh Steelers and how will they recover from the last two weeks.
First, Antonio Brown had his Gatorade bucket meltdown two weeks ago. So it appeared the Steelers tried to compensate last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They featured Ben Roethlisberger’s passing against the league’s best pass defense and he threw two Pick Sixes to give the Jaguars the win.
Meanwhile, Le’Veon Bell had just 15 carries against the league’s worst run defense. Roethlisberger said after the game that he didn’t know if he had it anymore. But mid-week, he was saying he has his confidence back and questioned the reporters, saying he’s been playing longer than many reporters have been covering the team.
And coach Mike Tomlin defended their game plan. The Steelers did knock the Chiefs out of the playoffs last year, but appear dysfunctional now. Can the Steelers get their heads back into the game against a good Chiefs’ team? We’ll see.
Another question is what the TV ratings for this game that will get national coverage. The Steelers are usually a good TV draw and the Chiefs are unbeaten, so it could help the league’s slumping TV ratings.
2. Can the Jets keep up their surprising start?
When the season started, we figured the New England Patriots would be 5-0 and the Jets 0-5 coming into this game. Instead, they’re both 3-2.
Bill Belichick is saying all the usual things about how good the Jets look on film, but despite the records, the Patriots are heavy favorites. Tom Brady, even though he’s getting hit too often, appears to give the Patriots a big edge over Josh McCown.
Leonard Williams pointed out that Brady has been holding the ball longer and taking more hits. That may be a problem against better teams, but probably not against the Jets although It will be interesting to see if the Jets can keep it close.
3. Can the Rams get revenge for Greg Olson?
The Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams are both surprise teams this year. Nobody expected them to be 3-2 at this point. The Jaguars are favored at home, but there’s still the Blake Bortles factor.
He threw one pass in the second half of the victory at Pittsburgh. The Jaguars can’t keep winning that way, and Jared Goff of the Rams in only his second year is looking impressive and could outplay Bortles. One sidelight is that the Jaguars fired Greg Olson after seven games last year as he took the fall for Bortles’ shaky play.
Now he’s having good results tutoring Goff. A coach looks better mentoring Goff than Bortles. The Jaguars, who won their first, third and fifth games in blowouts, are trying to win two in a row for the first time this year.
4. Can the Vikings cool the red-hot Rodgers?
Aaron Rodgers continues to play lights out for the Packers so the odds are that he’ll get the Packers to 5-1 against the Vikings, who will be playing without Sam Bradford and will go with Case Keenum.
The Vikings are tough at home even though a good number of Packer fans usually show up when Green Bay plays at Minnesota. And Rodgers doesn’t have a good offensive line in front of him, but it doesn’t seem to matter because he has such a hot hand right now.
5. The Browns see what they passed up on
Not a good time for the Cleveland Browns to be playing the Houston Texans and rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. It’s another reminder that the winless Browns passed Watson twice on the first round and took DeShone Kizer, who’s been benched for Kevin Hogan.
After playing 50 games at Stanford, Hogan was drafted on the fifth round by the Chiefs last year and cut at the end of camp. He was then signed with the Browns. If Watson has a big day against the Browns and Hogan struggles, there will be more questions about whether the current Browns regime has any idea of how to find a quarterback.