The shocking manner in which the New York Jets knocked off the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night was an appropriate ending to a week that saw several thrilling finishes, such as the game-ending interceptions by the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts that snapped the perfect records of the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. But the game that provided the most non-stop pulse-pounding action was surely the tilt between the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys in which the Broncos needed a last-second field goal to hold off a relentless Cowboys team. The 51-48 shootout included over 1,000 yards of total offense, 884 of which came through the air.
While it will be hard for any week to live up to the excitement of last weekend, the games on tap for the Week 6 NFL schedule have the potential to provide similar shocking upsets and down-to-the-wire finishes.
Bears (3-2) vs Giants (0-5) | Soldier Field, Oct. 10
Amazingly, despite the well-documented struggles by the winless Giants thus far in 2013, the team still remains just two games out of the division lead, giving them a legitimate shot in the NFC East if they can string together some wins.
Eli Manning and Co. have shown in the past that they are capable of getting hot at any time, but if they have playoff hopes this year, they’ll likely have to get it going at Soldier Field against a Jay Cutler-led Bears team motivated to rebound from a two-game skid.
Cowboys (2-3) vs Redskins (1-3) | AT&T Stadium, Oct. 13
The Cowboys have battled through a difficult early-season schedule to grab a place atop the NFC East standings, but at 2-3, their lead is far from comfortable, as even the 1-3 Redskins are just a single game out of first place.
Now that Robert Griffin III has had three games and a bye week to shake off the rust, this prime-time matchup could give fans the first indication of whether or not the Redskins will be able to climb back into the divisional race. For the Cowboys, the test will be how they bounce back from a heart-breaking loss to the Broncos.
Saints (5-0) vs Patriots (4-1) | Gillette Stadium, Oct. 13
The potential storylines for this matchup seemed endless a week ago, as both teams were undefeated and Tom Brady was expected to have the chance to tie Drew Brees’ record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass; however, much can change in the NFL in a week’s time, as the Patriots fell on the road in Cincinnati while being held without a touchdown pass.
Still, the level of intrigue remains high in this contest, as two of the league’s best signal-callers will be squaring off for the first time since 2009. If Rob Gronkowski is cleared to play for the Pats, the game could also feature two of the league’s best tight ends, as the Saints’ Jimmy Graham is currently the NFL’s leader in receiving yards with 593.
Raiders (2-3) vs Chiefs (5-0) | Arrowhead Stadium, Oct. 13
Two of the biggest surprise teams at this point in the season, the Raiders and Chiefs, will meet at Arrowhead Stadium for the first of two meetings this season. Behind the play of quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders have looked like a potential playoff team for the first time in years, and if they can move the ball on the ground against Kansas City’s average run defense, Oakland will be in good shape in the postseason race.
After earning three road wins already this season, Kansas City will begin a three-game stretch at home against the up-and-coming Raiders. While the undefeated Chiefs are on a roll, they won’t be overlooking the Raiders, who have won the last five games between the teams at Arrowhead Stadium.
49ers (3-2) vs Cardinals (3-2) | Candlestick Park, Oct. 13
After a few missteps, the 49ers appear to be back to their dominant ways after posting back-to-back decisive victories to pull their record to 3-2. Also 3-2, the Cardinals have quietly put themselves right in the thick of the NFC West battle, as the Carson Palmer-Larry Fitzgerald connection looks to be getting stronger by the week.
With both teams just a game out of first, this divisional tilt has high stakes for the first time in several years. San Francisco has managed to put together stops even without some of its top playmakers on the field, but the injury-riddled defense will need to find another gear to slow down the Cardinals' high-octane passing attack.
Seahawks (4-1) vs Titans (3-2) | CenturyLink Field, Oct. 13
After dropping their first game of the season in a tight contest on the road against a red-hot Indianapolis Colts team, the Seahawks will return to the comfort of their home venue at CenturyLink Field, where they have not lost a game in over a year.
While playing in front of their raucous home crowd will help, they will still need to bring it on the field against the 3-2 Titans, who will likely test the will of the Seahawks' rushing defense with heavy doses of the lightning-quick Chris Johnson.
Packers (2-2) vs Ravens (3-2) | M&T Bank Stadium, Oct. 13
Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco are both former Super Bowl MVPS and have both righted the ship for their respective teams after they struggled in the early going. With both the Packers and Ravens owning rushing defenses that rank in the NFL’s top six, it will likely be up to the star QBs to move the ball down the field through the air.
With both squads coming off impressive wins over one-loss opponents, this game could serve as a launching point for the victors, as it will give the winner back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Steelers (0-4) vs Jets (3-2) | MetLife Stadium, Oct. 13
Momentum is certainly on the side of New York in this contest, as the Jets are flying high after pulling off a shocking upset over the Falcons in Atlanta with a last-second field goal. The offense has made timely plays, but it has been the defense that is most responsible for the team’s 3-2 mark, as the unit has allowed less than 300 total yards per game.
While they may not have the momentum, the Steelers do have the advantage of coming off a bye week. With legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau having an extra week to devise a scheme to shut down the Jets’ offense, Troy Polamalu and the Pittsburgh defense are likely to find ways to get after rookie quarterback Geno Smith.