WEEK 6 MATCHUPS
KANSAS CITY (5-0) AT NEW ENGLAND (3-2)
There’s no better measuring stick for the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs and young QB Patrick Mahomes. Beat the Patriots in Foxborough, and all that excitement might be validated. Remember, though, that the Chiefs — with Alex Smith at QB — won the 2017 NFL opener there, went on an up-and-down ride the rest of the regular season, then lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs. The Patriots straightened out and made the Super Bowl before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. Given the starting job in his second pro season, Mahomes has looked immune to any sort of high-stakes pressure while throwing a league-leading 14 touchdown passes. Can he outdo New England counterpart Tom Brady tonight?
PITTSBURGH (2-2-1) AT CINCINNATI (4-1)
One of the NFL’s most vicious and yellow-tinted rivalries gets renewed. These teams combined for four penalties for unnecessary roughness, one for unsportsmanlike conduct, one for taunting, one for roughing the passer and two 15-yard penalties for grabbing a facemask in their most recent meeting. Cincinnati set a franchise record with 173 yards in penalties in that messy affair, when the Steelers overcame a 17-0 deficit to win for the sixth straight time in the series.
L.A. CHARGERS (3-2) AT CLEVELAND (2-2-1)
When last they met in Cleveland, the host Browns won in their 15th game to avoid a perfect season on the wrong side of the ledger. Then they lost every game in 2017, including to the Chargers on the road. They’ve got two wins already this season and lead the NFL with 15 takeaways, two more than in the entire 2017 season.
CHICAGO (3-1) AT MIAMI (3-2)
The Bears, coming off a bye, are trying to win four straight for the first time since 2012. They rank No. 1 against the run and second overall. If second-year QB Mitch Trubisky truly has found the passing rhythm — his six TD throws in a rout of Tampa Bay two weeks ago tied for second-most in an NFL game — the Bears need to be taken seriously. The Dolphins were taken seriously until they laid eggs at New England and Cincinnati.
CAROLINA (3-1) AT WASHINGTON (2-2)
Washington’s inefficient defense was the victim last Monday night as New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees became the NFL’s all-time passing leader during a 363-yard performance. Now comes Carolina, which has the NFL’s top rushing offense, in part because quarterback Cam Newton is such a weapon on the ground. Oh, and he’s 4-0 with nine TDs and zero interceptions for a 115.4 passer rating against Washington, along with two rushing scores.
L.A. RAMS (5-0) AT DENVER (2-3)
The Rams’ offense has looked unstoppable. Jared Goff leads the league with 1,727 passing yards, and Todd Gurley is tops with seven TD runs and ranks second with 645 yards from scrimmage. The Broncos yielded 323 rushing yards to the New York Jets last week. Yes, Gurley is aware.
JACKSONVILLE (3-2) AT DALLAS (2-3)
Oddly, Dallas has never won its first three home games at Jerry World. With Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette still hurt, the showpiece matchup with top Cowboys runner Ezekiel Elliott disappears. Elliott has been the prime weapon for Dallas and averaged 154 yards from scrimmage per game in the past three. The passing game is 30th, though, as Dak Prescott struggles without a top-notch receiver. Now he’ll face the stingiest defense in the NFL.
SEATTLE (2-3) VS. OAKLAND (1-4)
It’s back to London for the NFL as Seattle makes its first regular-season overseas appearance with a visit to Wembley Stadium. If the crowd is eager to see good defense, don’t count on the Raiders delivering. They rank 30th overall, have the fewest QB pressures (29), are tied for fewest sacks (six) and are tied for third-fewest takeaways (five).
INDIANAPOLIS (1-4) AT N.Y. JETS (2-3)
If any team needed the long layoff from a Thursday night game, it was the Colts. They went into New England undermanned on Oct. 4, then got hammered with more injuries, giving them little chance against the Patriots. Assuming they are somewhat healthier, this is a far better chance for Indianapolis to straighten out its season. Andrew Luck’s arm has looked strong in his return season, but who does he have to throw to if T.Y. Hilton isn’t in the lineup? New York opened up its offense in the win over Denver, letting rookie Sam Darnold occasionally fling the ball downfield. It led to some huge plays, and the Colts are vulnerable to that.
BUFFALO (2-3) AT HOUSTON (2-3)
Each team comes off a tight victory in which the offenses were stagnant while the defenses and kicking games were decisive. Houston wants things more open when it has the ball, with Deshaun Watson connecting on throws to DeAndre Hopkins. Buffalo’s solid second-year CB, Tre’Davious White, will be tested. Apparently fully healthy after two tough years, Texans DE J.J. Watt is tied for the NFL lead with six sacks.
ARIZONA (1-4) AT MINNESOTA (2-2-1)
Minnesota WRs Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have a combined 38 points. Arizona, with the NFL’s worst offense, has scored all of 65 points. The Cardinals are coming off a win, though, and lost their previous two games by a combined five points.
SAN FRANCISCO (1-4) AT GREEN BAY (2-2-1)
After a stinker at home to hand Arizona its first win, the 49ers go to the prime-time showcase Monday against Green Bay, which is following a stinker of its own at Detroit. Both teams struggle to protect the ball, and the 49ers can’t find ways to take it away from opponents; they have a league-low one interception and have forced three turnovers.