With six weeks into the NFL season almost in the books, we're starting to see which teams are distancing themselves from the pack, which ones that started slow are gaining momentum, and the ones which had a hot start but are starting to fade.
If the Saints are doing this without Drew Brees...
The Saints won its fourth straight game without injured future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, beating the Jaguars 13-6. Brees backup Teddy Bridgewater has been steady if not spectacular in this four-game stretch.
Brees could be out another couple of weeks at least for games against the 3-2 Chicago Bears and the 2-3-1 Arizona Cardinals. That's followed by a bye week. If Brees comes back after that, fully healed and with a fresh arm that's barely been used this season, the Saints could be very dangerous for the stretch run and playoffs.
Cowboys, Rams have returned to Earth
After a 3-0 start, both the Cowboys and Rams are looking mortal.
After losing to the Saints (without Drew Brees) and the Packers, Dallas lost Sunday to the previously winless New York Jets. The Cowboys allowed Sam Darnold, who hadn't played in over a month, to throw for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
The defending NFC Champion Rams looked like they were again a contender in September, but have now dropped three in a row -- including two against division opponents Seattle and San Francisco. They mustered just 157 total yards Sunday against the 49ers.
And then there was one
The San Francisco 49ers are the NFC's only unbeaten remaining this season after that 20-7 win over the Rams. The caveat is those wins all came against teams that are now .500 or worse. They get another winnable game next week against the 1-5 Redskins, who barely beat 0-5 Miami Sunday.
Then it gets tough. Seven of San Francisco's final 10 are against teams that are .500 or better, including five against division opponents. Even though two of those are against 2-3-1 Arizona, divisional matchups are never throwaways.
The New England Patriots are the lone AFC undefeated team at 6-0.
Your MVP leaders are...
For all the amazing seasons he's already put together, Seattle's Russell Wilson is putting up his greatest numbers yet. He's having the best and most-efficient six-game start of his career. Wilson has thrown for 1,704 yards with a 72.5% completion rate, 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions for a quarterback rating of 124.7. He's also run for three scores, leading the Seahawks to a 5-1 start.
Carolina's Christian McCaffrey is making a strong case this season for running backs. He's leading the league in attempts (127), rushing yards (618) and yards per game (103), and he's tied for second in touchdowns (7). He also has 305 yards receiving and two receiving touchdowns. Plus, he's putting up Madden-like moves like this one.
You can't leave out defending MVP Patrick Mahomes. His 2,104 yards passing leads the league. He's tied with Wilson with 14 touchdowns against one interception and boasts a quarterback rating of 111.9.
Don't sleep on DeShaun Watson. After helping the Texans beat the Chiefs Sunday, the quarterback has 1,644 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions along with a nearly 70% completion rate. He's also rushed for five touchdowns.
If the playoffs started today..
- New England
- Kansas City
- San Francisco
- New Orleans
- Green Bay
Five quick hits
- Mahomes produced what, on the surface, appeared to be impossible stats Sunday. Mahomes threw for 116 yards on the teams' opening drive. It started at Kansas City's own 9-yard line -- 91 yards away from the goal line. But several penalties kept moving the Chiefs back during the drive. The series included a 52-yard catch and run by running back Darrel Williams and 42-yard touchdown to wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
- Is the Marcus Mariota era over in Tennessee? He was pulled in the middle of the game for Ryan Tannehill as the Titans failed to get any offense going against the Broncos. Denver won 16-0. In six games, Mariota has seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
- The seat is likely getting pretty hot for Dan Quinn in Atlanta. Three seasons after that epic Super Bowl collapse, the Falcons are 1-5. First-year head coaches Zac Taylor of the Bengals (0-6) and Miami's Brian Flores (0-5) may also be feeling a little warm -- it's not unheard of to fire a head coach after one season. And keep an eye on Doug Marrone in Jacksonville and Mike Vrabel in Tennessee (both 2-4).
- Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield ripped the officials after Sunday's 32-28 home loss to the Seahawks. “I’ll probably get fined for this, but it was pretty bad today,” Mayfield said. A total of 19 penalties were called in the game -- 10 on Seattle and nine on Cleveland. Also hurting the Browns were Mayfield's three interceptions, giving him a league-leading 11.
- Eagles linebacker Zach Brown is eating a little crow. After saying this week that Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was the weakest part of Minnesota's offense, Cousins threw for four touchdowns in a 38-20 win over the Eagles. When asked about it in the locker room, Brown said, "I'm here to talk about the game. Any other questions besides Kirk Cousins?"