May 26, 2024

Week 6 of the NFL season started Thursday night with the Kansas City Chiefs‘ defense holding Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson to under 100 yards passing.

On Sunday, in the season’s final game from London, the Baltimore Ravens were held off the Tennessee Titans, as kicker Justin Tucker matched his career high with six field goals. The Cleveland Browns‘ defense showed up in a big way in a win over the previously undefeated San Francisco 49ers, while the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins had no problem finding the end zone.

Our NFL Nation reporters reacted to all the action, answering lingering questions coming out of each game and picking out who — or what — is rising and falling for every team. Let’s get to it.

Jump to a matchup:
KC-DEN | BAL-TEN | SF-CLE | SEA-CIN
MIN-CHI | WSH-ATL | CAR-MIA | IND-JAX
NO-HOU

Browns

Do the Browns have the NFL’s best defense? They have as strong a case as anyone. The 49ers had scored 30 or more points in eight straight games and came in as the second-highest-scoring team (33.4). San Francisco, which had been averaging 402.6 yards of offense, gained just 215 Sunday. This defense has strengths at every level, with no obvious weaknesses. The Browns’ offense still has questions to answer, but the Cleveland defense, which already ranked No. 1 in efficiency coming into the weekend, has proved to be Super Bowl-caliber.

Stock up after the win: WR Amari Cooper. He had two big sideline catches (58 and 26 yards) leading to Cleveland’s first 10 points; he continues to be a constant for a banged-up and inconsistent Browns offense.

Stock down after the win: Turnover margin. The Browns, who had an interception, have lost the turnover margin in every game this year, though Sunday they remarkably overcame it after throwing two interceptions of their own. — Jake Trotter

Next game: at Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


49ers

What did we learn from the 49ers’ first loss? Through the first five weeks, the Niners looked nearly invincible, but they proved to be mortal for the first time Sunday as their 15-game regular-season winning streak was snapped. Not much went right in this one. Cleveland’s defense dominated the line of scrimmage, handing quarterback Brock Purdy easily his worst game as a pro. The Niners lost multiple key players to injury and the defense committed costly penalties that led to the Browns’ game-winning drive. It’s rare that the Niners were the less physical team, but they were, and others who want to beat them will have to try to follow Cleveland’s blueprint.

Stock up after the loss: P Mitch Wishnowsky. Wishnowsky has been excellent all season and continued to be on Sunday in a field-position-dependent game in which the Niners needed his help; he averaged 52.3 yards and dropped two punts inside Cleveland’s 20.

Stock down after the loss: RB Christian McCaffrey and WR Deebo Samuel. The Niners had been relatively healthy through the first five weeks, but that luck turned for the worse Sunday as Samuel (shoulder) and McCaffrey (oblique) departed the game and did not return, while left tackle Trent Williams played the bulk of the game with an injured right ankle. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: at Vikings (Monday, Oct. 23, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Texans

Is the Texans’ running game back on track? Coming into this game, the Saints were allowing 91.6 rushing yards per game (ranked eighth in the NFL), and the Texans were averaging 82.6 yards per game (27th). But in Week 6, the Texans’ rushing attack was effective against the Saints as it churned out 120 yards, led by running back Devin Singletary, who had 58.

Stock up after the win: The defensive line. The DL controlled the line of scrimmage, holding the Saints to 89 yards and sacking Derek Carr twice while pressuring him on 48% of dropbacks.

Stock down after the win: The pass coverage. Despite CB Steven Nelson nabbing an interception to seal the win, the Texans allowed Carr to throw for a season-high 353 yards with a touchdown. — DJ Bien-Aime

Next game: at Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Saints

How can the Saints get their offense on the same page? The Saints’ offense has been erratic all season. There’s been miscommunication between the receivers and quarterback Derek Carr, protection issues and a failure to score touchdowns in the red zone. There were some big plays by Rashid Shaheed and Chris Olave, but the Saints haven’t been a cohesive unit yet this season, and it cost them against the Texans.

Stock up after the loss: Olave. He was one of the bright spots of the offense after two down weeks, catching seven passes for 96 yards despite working through a toe injury.

Stock down after the loss: K Blake Grupe. The Saints struggled in the red zone and Grupe was off as well, missing two field goal attempts one game after a performance that earned him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. — Katherine Terrell

Next game: vs. Jaguars (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

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0:32

C.J. Stroud throws 1st career INT

C.J. Stroud throws his first career interception, but the Texans recover a fumble on the interception return.

Commanders

How did Washington go from ugly home loss to quality road win? Washington finally made big plays and gave its offense two short fields Sunday. Punt returner Jamison Crowder changed the game with a 61-yard punt return to the Atlanta 11-yard line to set up one touchdown for a 10-7 lead, while corner Kendall Fuller set up Washington’s lone second-half touchdown with an interception return to the Atlanta 27. Linebacker Jamin Davis sealed the win with a final-minute interception.

Stock up after the win: The goal-line defense. In the fourth quarter, Washington stopped a two-point conversion. On Atlanta’s next possession, corner Benjamin St-Juste intercepted quarterback Desmond Ridder in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 7.

Stock down after the win: The pass protectors. Sam Howell was sacked five more times (Atlanta doubled its season total), increasing his league-high total to 34. The season-long issues continue to remain: Either Howell holds onto the ball too long or he doesn’t get the protection he needs from the offensive line. — John Keim

Next game: at Giants (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Falcons

Why did Falcons coach Arthur Smith go for two in the fourth quarter? It was an odd decision for Smith to go for two after the Falcons scored to cut the Commanders’ lead to 24-16 early in the fourth quarter. His defense had been playing well and had Atlanta kicked the PAT, then tied the game later, it would have had all the momentum. Smith has shown he has no problem being aggressive — it helped the Falcons beat the Packers earlier this season — but this one was a curious decision considering the situation.

Stock up after the loss: The pass rush. A couple of weeks ago, Atlanta defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen said he believed as long as the Falcons kept their pressure coming on opposing quarterbacks, the sacks would come. On Sunday, he was right. Atlanta had five sacks — including defensive end Calais Campbell‘s career 100th sack — and 10 quarterback hits on a day the franchise desperately needed it.

Stock down after the loss: QB Desmond Ridder. A week after the best game of his young career, the Falcons quarterback threw three interceptions — including a brutal one in the end zone in the fourth quarter, Atlanta’s first in the red zone since facing Washington last year — and seemingly had late-game procedural issues leading to a delay of game just before his second pick. He went 28-for-47 for 307 yards with two touchdowns. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Buccaneers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Bengals

Can the offense be more consistent? The Bengals started hot with touchdowns on their first two drives. Joe Burrow completed 11 of his first 13 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. But then things fizzled out. Cincinnati’s offense accounted for only three more points and relied on the defense to keep Seattle at bay. The Bengals’ D came through and stopped the Seahawks’ late drive at their own 9-yard line, but if Cincinnati wants to truly make a deep postseason run, it must do a better job of sustaining drives throughout the game to relieve pressure on the defense and reduce the margin for error.

Stock up after the win: The pass defense. CB Cam Taylor-Britt had his second interception in as many weeks as Cincinnati flustered Seattle QB Geno Smith for most of the day, picking him off twice, sacking him four times and giving up zero touchdown passes.

Stock down after the win: RB Joe Mixon. Mixon didn’t have an overly productive day — just 12 carries for 38 yards. He has rushed for fewer than 70 yards in five of six games this season. — Ben Baby

Next game: at 49ers (Sunday, Oct. 29, 4:25 p.m. ET)


Seahawks

What happened to Seattle’s offense after the opening drive? Geno Smith & Co. began the game by methodically marching 75 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown — and then basically disappeared. Their other 10 possessions yielded only six points, a huge disappointment given how stout their defense was after allowing touchdowns on the Bengals’ first two possessions. Smith (27-of-41, 323 yards, zero touchdown passes) committed an uncharacteristic mistake in the red zone on his first of two interceptions. He may not have been at fault on his second pick, but this was not one of his finer games.

Stock up after the loss: The run defense. The Seahawks entered Week 6 allowing the fewest yards per carry in the NFL (3.2), a massive turnaround from last season. That continued to be a strength against the Bengals, who managed just 46 yards on 15 attempts. Seattle stuffed Mixon on a third-and-1 rush to force a punt at the start of the fourth quarter, but then the offense gave it right back via Smith’s second interception.

Stock down after the loss: WR DK Metcalf. To be fair, Metcalf led Seattle with four passes for 69 yards and briefly left the game with a hip injury. But he committed another costly 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness when he shoved a defender at the end of a play — some 30 yards away from the action. He was also the intended target on what turned out to be Smith’s second interception, but he stopped his route. — Brady Henderson

Next game: vs. Cardinals (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

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0:25

Bengals sack Geno Smith on fourth-and-goal to clinch win over Seahawks

The Bengals get to Geno Smith in the red zone to seal their 17-13 victory over the Seahawks.

Jaguars

Is RB Travis Etienne Jr. the offense’s most important player? Etienne ran for 52 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. It was the second week in a row he has rushed for multiple touchdowns, tying a franchise record for consecutive games with multiple rushing touchdowns, but the offense stalled out in the fourth quarter when the Jaguars were trying to run clock and seal the game. The Colts wouldn’t let Etienne get free. He had five carries for zero yards, and the Jaguars had minus-2 yards on 12 plays. The inability to run clock late may be a one-game thing, but the Jaguars have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Stock up after the win: Turnover defense. The Jaguars have forced 15 turnovers on the season after getting four Sunday. They’ve forced at least two in five of six games and have eight in their past three. That has kept the team in games while the offense has struggled to find rhythm.

Stock down after the win: Depth. Right guard Brandon Scherff (ankle) and cornerback Tyson Campbell (hamstring) were hurt Sunday and didn’t return. Wide receiver Zay Jones (knee) and left guard Walker Little (knee) missed the Colts game, so the Jaguars could potentially be down four starters on a short week at New Orleans on Thursday night. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Saints (Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET)


Colts

Can the Colts compete long-term with Gardner Minshew in the lineup? The ongoing issue with Anthony Richardson‘s shoulder means the Colts might need to get comfortable with Minshew under center. That will obviously change the look of the offense and — based on Sunday — will also change its expectations. Minshew has performed best this season when coming off the bench in relief of Richardson. But in the two games he started, when opponents had a chance to prepare for him, he has struggled. Baltimore limited him to a 61.4% completion rate in Week 3 and the Jaguars picked Minshew off three times. Richardson is going to miss at least three more games, if not many more, depending on the team’s decision regarding surgery.

Stock up after the loss: RB Jonathan Taylor. The Colts did not enjoy much rushing success Sunday, but there was a flash of the potential Taylor possesses when he caught a short pass on a drag route and turned it into a 40-yard gain in the second quarter.

Stock down after the loss: CB JuJu Brents. The rookie did register his first career interception in the game, but what was concerning was how the Jaguars appeared to consistently target the receivers lined up on his side of the field. — Stephen Holder

Next game: vs. Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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0:22

Etienne scores his second TD on 22-yard Wildcat run

Travis Etienne Jr. bounces to the outside to score a 22-yard touchdown for the Jaguars.

Vikings

Should we feel any better about the Vikings after their second win of the year? No. If not for two turnovers by Bears backup quarterback Tyson Bagent, the Vikings were well on their way to losing this game. Their offense without receiver Justin Jefferson was punchless, managing a season-low 220 yards against a Bears defense that had allowed the NFL’s eighth-most yards per game this season. It marked their lowest yardage and points totals in a win since managing to beat the Bears with 193 total yards in 2021. The Vikings’ two victories have come against the Bears and Panthers, who are a combined 1-11, and they have at least three more games left to play before Jefferson returns.

Stock up after the win: PK Greg Joseph. The margin of victory in this game was six points, aided greatly by Joseph hitting two long field goals of 51 and 53 yards, his first two field goals of more than 50 yards this season.

Stock down after the win: The running game. In a game in which the Vikings could have really used a strong running game to offset the loss of Jefferson, they instead netted only 46 yards on 22 carries. — Kevin Seifert

Next game: vs. 49ers (Monday, Oct. 23, 8:15 p.m. ET)


Bears

How will the Bears’ offense adjust without Justin Fields? Fields injured his throwing hand in the third quarter when he was sacked and was ruled out of the game. He was replaced by rookie Tyson Bagent (a former Division II QB for Sherperd University), who was strip-sacked on his second play from scrimmage, and the fumble was returned for a touchdown. Bagent did lead a touchdown drive later and had completed seven throws before underthrowing a pass that was intercepted late in the fourth quarter that sealed the Bears’ fate. Depending on how long Fields is sidelined, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will need to get creative in tailoring the offense to Bagent’s strengths.

Stock up after the loss: LB T.J. Edwards. The Bears linebacker got home on a second-quarter blitz to hit Kirk Cousins’ arm and caused an interception that was recovered by Tremaine Edmunds. Edwards almost had a fumble recovery earlier in the game but was ruled out of bounds.

Stock down after the loss: The passing game. Chicago didn’t have positive passing net yardage until its fourth drive of the game. The struggles to protect up front against the most aggressive blitz in football limited the Bears effectiveness through the air (113 yards passing). — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Raiders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Dolphins

With the Eagles up next, how concerning was the Dolphins’ start to Sunday’s game? The Panthers took a 14-0 lead, but the Dolphins responded with 35 unanswered points and 428 total yards. Coach Mike McDaniel loves seeing his team in adverse situations, so perhaps Sunday was a reminder not to overlook any opponent. Slow starts are atypical of the NFL’s most explosive offense, which has compiled the second-most yards through six games in NFL history. Considering how the Dolphins finished the game, it’s probably safe to place the glass cover back over the panic button.

Stock up after the win: RB Raheem Mostert. The Dolphins’ running game didn’t skip a beat without De’Von Achane, Mostert had three touchdowns and ran for 115 yards on 17 carries.

Stock down after the win: CB Eli Apple. Injured corner Jalen Ramsey is reportedly looking to play within the next month, but for now, the Dolphins have struggled at cornerback opposite Xavien Howard. Apple rebounded to end the game but allowed 77 yards on four catches as the nearest defender. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: at Eagles (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)


Panthers

After a positive offensive showing, is there hope for a mini-run after the Panthers’ bye? Yes, and not just because of Bryce Young. The Panthers had a running game for the first time since the opener, and that took pressure off Young — until Miami erased Carolina’s 14-0 lead. Young also didn’t have the big turnovers that have led to points, completing 23 of 38 pass attempts for 217 yards and a touchdown. This consistency is what Carolina needs after its bye, with winnable home games against Houston and Indianapolis followed by a Thursday night game at Chicago.

Stock up after the loss: RB Chuba Hubbard. Replacing starting running back Miles Sanders (shoulder), Hubbard’s 88 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries gave some life to a running game that had been almost nonexistent and earned him the right to keep the job.

Stock down after the loss: CB Donte Jackson. Carolina’s most experienced starting corner was beaten deep on a go-rout by wide receiver Tyreek Hill for a 41-yard touchdown and whiffed on a tackle on another big play. While Jackson wasn’t totally responsible for Hill on the day, the receiver had more than 150 yards receiving. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Texans (Sunday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m. ET)

play

0:43

Tyreek Hill records video while doing a backflip on TD celebration

Tyreek Hill records himself doing a backflip to celebrate his 41-yard touchdown reception.

Ravens

What has happened to the Ravens’ offense? Baltimore has scored only one touchdown in its past seven quarters and went a frustrating 1-for-6 in the red zone. The Ravens entered this game as the third-most efficient red zone offense and would have put the game away earlier if they had punched the ball into the end zone. The biggest issue is the ineffectiveness of the running game and not allowing quarterback Lamar Jackson to throw more inside the 20-yard line. The Ravens didn’t score a touchdown on 13 runs in the red zone, but Jackson was 2-for-3, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Zay Flowers.

Stock up after the win: K Justin Tucker. Tucker bailed out the Ravens with six field goals (41, 28, 23, 29, 20 and 36 yards) for the second time of his career. He’s the only kicker in franchise history to kick six. Tucker did have an extra point blocked, though.

Stock down after the win: S Kyle Hamilton. The 2022 first-round pick delivered a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Titans wide receiver Chris Moore in the third quarter, becoming the third player this year to get ejected. On the next play, the Titans scored their only touchdown — a 15-yard run by Derrick Henry. — Jamison Hensley

Next game: vs. Lions (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Titans

Who will be the Titans’ QB after the bye week? Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t return after throwing an interception late in the third quarter, aggravating an ankle injury that he had been fighting through. Second-year quarterback Malik Willis finished the game, but the Titans traded up in April to select Will Levis with the second pick in the second round. Levis has served as the No. 3 quarterback in the first six games, but Tennessee will have some time to evaluate Tannehill, and to sort out their backup situation as well, with a bye in Week 7.

Stock up after the loss: The red zone defense. It held the Ravens to one touchdown on six trips inside the 20, even though Baltimore entered the week having scored on 72% of its trips inside the red zone this season. The Ravens’ five field goals from the red zone were the most by any team since the Panthers in 2020.

Stock down after the loss: WR Kyle Philips. The Titans returner muffed a punt at Tennessee’s 11-yard line just before the end of the first half to give the Ravens the ball and set up a 29-yard field goal. — Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Falcons (Sunday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m. ET)

play

0:26

Lamar scrambles and finds Flowers for TD

The Ravens get the first touchdown of the game as Lamar Jackson rolls to his left and finds Zay Flowers.

Thursday

Chiefs

Can the Chiefs sustain the way they’re playing defense? Yes. It’s no longer a small sample size. Through six games, the Chiefs were allowing the second-fewest points (14.7) per game and fifth-fewest yards (284) coming into Sunday. They will get challenged over the next few weeks with upcoming games against the Chargers, Dolphins and Eagles, but the Chiefs have shown they are capable of holding their own.

Stock up after the win: WR Rashee Rice. The rookie had four catches for 72 yards, and for the season, he leads the Chiefs’ wide receivers in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

Stock down after the win: Other than Rice, the wide receivers are failing the Chiefs. The group had five catches for 31 yards Thursday, and the season stats aren’t much more inspiring. — Adam Teicher

Next game: vs. Chargers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)


Broncos

Did the Broncos’ defense actually find some mojo despite loss? Talk about extremes. The Broncos’ defense, the same one that surrendered 70 points in Week 3, was flying all over Thursday. The Broncos hit and pressured quarterback Patrick Mahomes just enough, and they held Kansas City to one touchdown. No, Denver didn’t win, but it showed a new wrinkle or two, including a 4-3 look with rookie linebacker Drew Sanders in the mix, and it won the battles in the red zone. For a group that came into the week ranked last (or near last) in almost every major statistical category, it was at least something to build on.

Stock up after the loss: RB Javonte Williams. His numbers won’t cause much excitement — he finished with 52 yards on 10 carries — but he looked the closest to his tackle-breaking form before a knee injury last season, and he finished runs with purpose.

Stock down after the loss: WR Jerry Jeudy. Despite one of the worst days of quarterback Russell Wilson‘s career — 95 yards passing and two interceptions — the Broncos need significantly more from Jeudy — two receptions for 14 yards against the Chiefs. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Packers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

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