Tomato cans. Nothing but tomato cans.
The Power Rankings for Week 6 are out, the reviews are in, and the New England Patriots are on top. That’s the good news. Underneath it all is the near-unanimous qualifier regarding the ‘not exactly a murderer’s row’ level of competition. As Tom E. Curran phrased it, “All caveats remain in place as the Patriots keep playing the schedule they were given and overwhelming them.” He makes sure to add “It’s not their fault” a few times, but we all know that this can and will be used against them for the rest of the season.
The early part of the schedule was literally the early part of the schedule. After the Sunday night opener the Patriots had a nice slate of four one o’clock games. That will be it for early games until a December 15 game against the Bengals in Cincinnati. Until then, the Pats play four late afternoon games and four night games. Things start to get chewy starting in November with the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs on the menu, but next up is the Giants matchup this Thursday night at home. Get your pasta ready.
The longer-than-spaghetti point spread for this game is +16.5 and once again I’m serving up a home-cooked Pats win, and cover.
Around the AFC East:
New England (5-0) vs. NY Giants (2-3)
Buffalo (4-1) - Bye Week
Miami (0-4) vs. Washington (0-5)
NY Jets (0-4) vs. Dallas (3-2)
Kansas City (4-1) vs. Houston (3-2)
Baltimore (3-2) vs. Cincinnati (0-5)
Jacksonville (2-3) vs. New Orleans (4-1)
Cleveland (2-3) vs. Seattle (4-1)
LA Chargers (2-3) vs. Pittsburgh (1-4)
Tennessee (2-3) at Denver (1-4)
Indianapolis (3-2) - Bye Week
Oakland (3-2) - Bye Week
1st - Staff (AP Pro32).
1st - Lindsay Jones (The Athletic): It almost doesn’t seem fair to the rest of the league that the Patriots are in the middle of a three-game stretch of games against the Redskins, Giants and Jets, but all the Patriots can do is find new ways to look really, really good against inferior competition. Our favorite stat right now about the Patriots’ defense is that New England has the No. 1 and 2 player on the interception list — a safety, Devin McCourty, with four, and an outside linebacker, Jamie Collins, with three. No other players in the NFL have more than two picks this season. Throughout the first five starts, Tom Brady and the offense have struggled at times, but the Patriots are finding ways for that to not matter.
1st - Consensus (Bleacher Report): For 30 minutes on Sunday, the New England Patriots looked listless. Out of sorts. Rather un-Patriots like. The defending Super Bowl champions actually trailed the winless Redskins 7-0 and managed just 12 points in the first half.
However, NFL games have two halves—and by the time the final gun sounded, the Pats had blown out another overmatched opponent.
There’s really not much that can be gleaned from New England picking up twice as many total yards as the Redskins. Or Tom Brady throwing for 348 yards and three scores against an awful Washington secondary. There’s a reason the point spread on this game was north of two touchdowns.
Still, the Patriots (as they usually do) took care of business in Week 5. And looking at the team’s schedule, it’s hard to point out a real challenge until road trips to Baltimore and Philly in Weeks 9 and 11. By then, the Pats will more likely than not be 8-0...and still sitting atop these rankings.
1st - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): They don’t look crisp all the time, but they are winning games. It’s all about the defense in the early going so far.
1st - NFL Nation (ESPN): Surprise fantasy player: Sony Michel, RB. Sunday’s performance represented a notable change for those patiently waiting for Michel to have some significant production. He finished with 91 rushing yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 32 yards. The pass-catching production is a good sign that the coaching staff is trusting Michel more in the passing game. Last year when Michel was on the field, it was almost always a run. Look for Michel’s production to increase going forward, now with some added potential in the passing game.
1st - Tom E. Curran (NBC Sports Boston): A ho-hum 26-point win that resulted in the end of the Jay Gruden Era in Washington. All caveats remain in place as the Patriots keep playing the schedule they were given and overwhelming them. It’s not their fault. It’s not their fault. Giants up Thursday. Still not their fault.
1st - Michael McMahon (NESN): It was touch and go in the first half against the Washington Redskins, but the Patriots showed good balance in the second half while the defense continues to be a wagon against lowly opponents. Another “tomato can” awaits.
1st - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): The Patriots’ passing game has struggled of late, so Josh McDaniels called on his ground attack to spark the offense. That did the trick. After a first half in which Tom Brady threw the ball 31 times and New England managed just 12 points against the lowly Redskins, the Pats shifted gears and ran over Washington in a 33-7 win. Sony Michel led the way, finishing with 91 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown. The ground game freed up Brady, who passed for 348 yards and two touchdowns a week after one of his worst passing performances in a narrow win over the Bills. The defense was its dependably dominant self, though the challenge wasn’t exactly steep against Colt McCoy and a lost Redskins team that fired its head coach a day after the game. The Pats are 5-0, with more layups to come against the Giants and Jets.
1st - Darryl Slater (NJ.com): They just keep rolling.
1st - Peter Botte (NY Post): The Pats are 5-0 for the fifth time in their history and only the second time since 2007 after holding Washington to just 220 yards of offense Sunday. Their defense impressively hasn’t allowed a touchdown pass yet, the first time any team in the pass-happy NFL has done that in five straight games since 1988. Daniel Jones gets the next chance to end that streak Thursday night.
1st - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): FedEx Field will from this point forward be known as Gillette Stadium South.
1st - Jenny Vrentas (SI): After trailing for the first time all season, Tom Brady and co. hung 33 unanswered points on the lowly Redskins. Their defense continues to swarm, averaging 6.8 points allowed per game.
1st - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots actually trailed after giving up a long touchdown run to the Redskins. Then they tightened the screws defensively and saw Tom Brady operate with precision offensively, save for an interception. The schedule suggests they probably won’t be in real danger of losing until November.
1st - Doug Farrar (TouchdownWire): No, the Patriots have not faced a Murderer’s Row of quarterbacks this season. And outside of the Ben Roethlisberger-led Steelers on opening night, you could argue that they haven’t opposed a credible offense. Or, we could set that aside and just admit that Bill Belichick’s defense in 2019 is going to be one for the ages. Through five games, the Patriots defense is playing at a pace to outstrip the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens, the two defenses most noted as the best of the post-merger era. The Pats have 11 interceptions; Green Bay ranks second with seven. They’ve allowed a ridiculous 4.0 yards per passing attempt. They’ve allowed an opponent passer rating of 44.0; the Bills rank second with a 66.9 rating allowed. The Pats play the Giants on Thursday night, and then the Jets, Browns, and Ravens after that. By then, it may be time to acknowledge that, while they have beaten weaker opponents at times, this defense is historic in its ability to shut everybody down.
1st - Nate Davis (USA Today): They clearly deserve top spot. But Tom Brady getting sacked season-high four times Sunday, mounting injuries show even they’re vulnerable.
1st - Mark Maske (Washington Post): The offense had a bad first half Sunday at FedEx Field, one week after a poor outing in Buffalo. But the Patriots got things going in the second half in the lopsided win over the Redskins, to the delight of the many New England fans in attendance. The defense continues to dominate. Now there’s a quick turnaround for a Thursday night meeting with the Giants.
1st - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): As discussed previously, a team like the Chiefs had to realistically look at the Patriots and their schedule and plan on either winning about 14 games or settling for the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Kansas City’s margin for error in that regard is almost gone. It’s hard to call a team a lock to have home-field advantage through the playoffs before Week 6, but it’s getting harder to come up with a realistic scenario in which the Patriots aren’t the top seed.