Six quick takes about Week 6 in the NFL:
1. The Los Angeles Rams will be aiming to extend their perfect record against a Denver team that may be in danger of having its season spin out of control. The Broncos are on the cusp of their first 2-4 start since 2011. It doesn’t help that two of the Broncos’ next three games are against currently unbeaten teams. They play the Kansas City Chiefs in two weeks sandwiched around a game against Arizona. And the future doesn’t look good for the Broncos. The Chiefs found their John Elway in Patrick Mahomes, while Elway has yet to find a franchise QB as a GM and the Broncos will now likely have to face Mahomes twice a year for the next decade. Elway got a five-year contract extension last year and a new title of president of football operations, but that long-term extension now looks like a questionable move. Elway signed Case Keenum as a free agent this year, but he hasn’t been the answer.
2. The Cincinnati Bengals have been flying below the radar while compiling a 4-1 record as they prepare to host the Pittsburgh Steelers. The decision by owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis not to part ways now looks like a good move. The Bengals find a way to win late, beating the Atlanta Falcons with a late drive and then scoring 24 points in the fourth period to beat Miami. The game against Pittsburgh will be a key test for the Bengals against a division rival. The Steelers have struggled this year, but their games with the Bengals tend to be physical battles. The Bengals can make a statement by beating them.
3. There have been 22 quarterbacks drafted with the No. 1 pick since the start of the common draft, including Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, John Elway and Troy Aikman. None of them have won their first two home games. Baker Mayfield can do that Sunday for the Cleveland Browns against the Los Angeles Chargers and Gus Bradley’s defense. Mayfield passed for 342 yards with a touchdown and a pick in the victory over Baltimore last week.
4. Just two years ago, the Falcons had a 28-3 lead in the second half of the Super Bowl and still managed to lose to New England. It’s been downhill ever since. They were a wild card at 10-6 last year and lost a first-round playoff game to the Philadelphia Eagles. Now they are in freefall at 1-4 as they host Tampa Bay in a division game. And their defense will face Jameis Winston after giving up five touchdowns a game and at least 37 points in the last three games.
5. If Deshaun Watson can play and stay healthy – which is always a question with his reckless style (he’s listed as questionable with a chest injury) – he can become the first quarterback to throw for 375 yards in four consecutive games when the Houston Texans square off against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Watson is one of four quarterbacks who’ve done it three games in a row and one of two to do it this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick did it before he was benched. Blake Bortles of Jacksonville can become the third to do it this year against the Dallas Cowboys. If both Watson and Bortles did it Sunday, it would set up an interesting matchup when the Texans go to Jacksonville next week.
6. The San Francisco 49ers will be in prime time against the Green Bay Packers on Monday night because the league expected Jimmy Garoppolo to be the quarterback. But he’s hurt and the 49ers are 1-4. The Monday game can’t be flexed, although their game with the unbeaten Rams next week has already been flexed. Garoppolo’s replacement, C.J. Beathard, was in position to mount a game-winning field goal drive last week when he was a victim of a strip sack for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The 49ers are showing how bad it can get when a team loses its starting quarterback.