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Zach Ertz wins the lottery? Winners and Losers from NFL Week Six

By Stuart Dick

Published: 17:52, 20 October 2021 | Updated: 20:17, 26 October 2021

The NFL season continues to accelerate at a frantic pace with Week Six of the campaign now in the books and both International Series games in London in the rear-view mirror.

The Arizona Cardinals continued their impressive start to the season, maintaining the only unbeaten record in the NFL. At the opposite end of the spectrum the Detroit Lions continued their dire early-season form to earn the unwanted title of the sole remaining winless team. Kudos to Jacksonville for finally earning win number one.

With the playoff picture becoming ever clearer in the NFC, the AFC continues to baffle and excite with three of the four divisions set to become season-long storyboards that NFL scriptwriters furiously alter to increase the drama.

As always, we list our winners and losers the past week’s actions including a ‘lottery win’ for Zach Ertz, praise for the Ravens O-line and question marks about the competitiveness of the NFC.

Winners

Zach Ertz

The NFL is such a magical place. You can be struggling on the roster of a 2-4 team with very little hope of making the postseason, when suddenly you are whisked away to a new city to become a member of the number one team in the league.

That is exactly what happened to former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz on Friday. A day after he scored a touchdown in Philly’s 28-22 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he was traded to the now 6-0 Arizona Cardinals for a 2022 fifth-round draft pick and cornerback Tay Gowan.

After a knee injury sidelined Cardinals TE Maxx Williams for the season last weekend, Arizona moved quickly to secure the three-time Pro Bowler from Philadelphia to add to their plethora of receiving talent which already includes wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins, AJ Green, Christian Kirk and emerging star Rondale Moore.

Ertz, who has 579 receptions, 6,267 yards and 38 touchdowns in his nine-year NFL career, caught the game-winning touchdown in the Eagles’ only Super Bowl victory in 2017. He now has a real chance of securing a second championship ring as part of the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL.

Spare a thought though for Tay Gowan….

Jonathan Taylor

There is making the most of your opportunities and then there is doing what Jonathan Taylor did for the Indianapolis Colts in their AFC South showdown against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

The second-year man, drafted #41 overall in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, needed just 14 carries to amass a scintillating 145 yards and two touchdowns as the Colts routed their in-division foes 31-3 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

A blistering 83-yard scamper through the left-hand side of the Colts offensive line – and a stiff arm on Texans’ defensive back Justin Reid – set up a four-yard touchdown run late in third quarter for Taylor, essentially confirming Indy’s second victory of the campaign.

A balanced Colts offense will be the key to success going forward, and Taylor will be hoping his performance this weekend will earn him more opportunities to carry the load going forward.

Maxx Crosby

Las Vegas Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby had a career afternoon in his side’s AFC West showdown with the Denver Broncos, registering three sacks and five QB hits.

The 24-year-old, the #106 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, was a menace in the Broncos backfield throughout the 34-24 victory, benefiting immensely from the defensive play-calling of Gus Bradley.

Crosby twice rushed free after well-executed stunts by the Raiders defensive line, hitting Broncos Teddy Bridgewater at full speed.

It was not just a one-off performance from the former Eastern Michigan star either. The defensive standout has recorded a career-high 18 quarterback hits through just six weeks of the season and is an early contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Jacksonville Jaguars

London proved a happy hunting ground once again for the Jags as they finally ended a 20-game losing streak with a 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Twenty-six-year-old kicker Matthew Wright was the hero as he booted two late field goals of 54 and 53 yards to secure the franchise’s first win since September 13, 2020.

QB Trevor Lawrence, the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. earned the first victory of his young pro career with a 319-yard, one touchdown passing day in the English capital. Much-maligned head coach Urban Meyer also collected his first win in the pros.

The losing streak was the second-longest since the NFL and the American Football League (AFL) merged in 1970. Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had suffered a longer winless streak – they lost their first 26 games as a franchise during the 1976 and 1977 seasons.

Baltimore Ravens’ offensive line

Everyone knows the offensive line is the most unheralded group of positions in football, and also the most important. Franchises yearn for a dominant offensive front, either in the run game or the passing game. Only very rarely do you get both at the same time.

Well, the Baltimore Ravens have showcased that type of all-round dominance in the past two weeks against two potential play-off contenders.

In last week’s 31-25 overtime victory over Indianapolis, quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for 442 yards and four touchdowns in a sublime display.

Fast forward a week and the Ravens showcased dominant run blocking to total 187 yards and three touchdowns – overpowering the much-vaunted Los Angeles Chargers defensive line at the point of attack.

Incredibly, the Ravens still have all-pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley to return to the line-up. Stanley has missed the majority of the season to date due to an ankle injury with Alejandro Villanueva moving from right tackle to deputise in his absence.

That balance in skillset bodes well for a team which tops the AFC North with a 5-1 record and already boasts victories over the Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos in 2021.

Losers

Miami Dolphins

I didn’t really want to double-dip on the London game but Miami have more than one reason to be worried. Not only did they contribute to the end of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 20-game losing streak, but they are also about to help Philadelphia secure a top-five draft pick in 2022 if things go on like this.

Heading into the season as supposed play-off contenders, the Dolphins have won just one of their six games to date – a 17-16 victory over the New England Patriots in Week One – and only Detroit sit ahead of them in the current NFL draft order.

The Eagles, remember, own the rights to the Miami’s first-round pick in 2022 thanks to a trade in the 2021 NFL Draft which saw Miami move from #12 to #6 to take wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.

To be fair to Waddle, he showcased the sort of ability which led the Dolphins to draft him on Sunday. The former Alabama star caught 10 passes from Tua Tagovailoa for 70 yards and two touchdowns, and he has 37 receptions for 301 yards and three scores so far in 2021.

The positive for Miami? Their upcoming schedule has a number of winnable games on it, namely the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and both New York franchises.

Detroit Lions

The winless Detroit Lions – one of only two franchises to record an 0-16 season in NFL history – continued their futile march to the #1 overall pick in 2022 with a 34-11 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field.

The Lions’ offense mustered a mere 228 total yards – including just 36 on the ground – in the blowout loss to Joe Burrow and the resurgent Bengals, who moved to 4-2 on the young season.

Looking through the Detroit roster, there is very little star power. Quarterback Jared Goff was ditched by the LA Rams in a trade for Matt Stafford this offseason and T.J. Hockenson is the offense’s most valuable weapon – a third-year tight end with just 10 touchdowns to his name.

The Lions’ defense, meanwhile, ranks 25th in yardage allowed and 27th in points allowed while the offense is 27th in yardage and 28th in scoring. No matter how you dress it up, that is not a recipe for success.

Brandon Staley

Everything that could go wrong for Chargers head coach Brandon Staley in his team’s 34-6 demolition by those Ravens did. However, it’s his baffling decisions to go for it on fourth down twice – in LA’s own territory – which earns himself a place on this list.

With the score at 14-0, Staley called for quarterback Justin Herbert to throw on fourth-and-three from the LA 39-yard line. The incomplete pass resulted in a turnover on downs and three points for Baltimore.

Then, in the third quarter and down 24-6, Staley kept his offense on the field again for a fourth-and-one from the LA 19-yard line. Another incomplete pass gifted the Ravens the ball in the redzone, and three more points on the scoreboard

Ultimately, the decisions didn’t make that much of a difference to the final score, but the calls were highly questionable nonetheless.

NFC Division races

There is a very realistic possibility that the division winners have already been decided in the NFC.

Starting with the NFC East, the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys have the division wrapped up already – they own a three-game lead over the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles and have head-to-head victories over the Eagles and the 1-5 New York Giants.

In the NFC South the 5-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold a two-game lead over the Carolina Panthers, with the New Orleans Saints 1.5 games behind and the Atlanta Falcons struggling to compete at the bottom of the division.

Aaron Rodgers and the 5-1 Green Bay Packers lead the NFC North by two games from the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, with the winless Lions residing at the bottom of the division.

The only relatively competitive divisional race is the NFC West – the 6-0 Cardinals and the 5-1 Los Angeles Rams appear set to battle it out for supremacy.

Chicago Bears fans

Broadcast audio picked up the following from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after he scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown during the 24-14 victory over NFC North rival Chicago.

“All my f***ing life, I own you,” Rodgers shouted as he was congratulated by his teammates at Soldier Field. “I still own you. I still own you”.

It’s hard to argue with that take – Rodgers now holds a 22-5 career edge over the Bears, throwing 57 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions in the process. The Bears, meanwhile, have just two play-off appearances in the past decade – going one and done on both occasions.

For the fans sitting in the front row at Soldier Field, there was very little they could say in return to the over-zealous Rodgers. Perhaps they can take just a little solace from the likelihood that Rodgers is expected to leave Green Bay for pastures new following the 2021 season.

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