What We Learned: 33 Expert Takeaways From Week 6

There were a number of surprising performances and interesting developments on Sunday in the NFL. The 33rd Team’s experts weighed in with 33 takeaways from the day’s games:

Giants 24, Ravens 20

1. “The Giants, who continue to be the biggest surprise in the league, now sit at 5-1 and are in the mix to win what has turned out to be a surprisingly good division. We’ve talked almost every week about the departure of Wink Martindale, and actually saw today why he is the most impactful coordinator in the league — both his impact in turning the Giants around and the Ravens struggling to be who we thought they were.” — Joe Banner

2. “You look at Lamar Jackson’s performance in the final five minutes of the game, just unbelievable. Just made some really poor decisions for a veteran quarterback who was once an NFL MVP. … You have to give Wink Martindale a lot of credit. He knew this football team well having been Baltimore’s former defensive coordinator. He did a great job limiting the explosive plays, keeping Jackson contained as best he could.” — Rich Gannon

3. “It seems like you get in the fourth quarter and Lamar feels like he has to make that play to win the game, and the discipline of what they do just kind of vanishes, it becomes street ball almost. It’s hard to win a championship like that, it just is. … They’re not a real disciplined team. They’re kind of just a ragtag team, and I promise that is not John Harbaugh at all.” — Mike Martz

4. “I’ve been impressed with what the Giants have done the entire season. Brian Daboll, what he’s done well is find what the players do well and then just ask them to do that. They’re not trying to get guys to do more then they can, and are doing a good job of keeping them out of positions where they’re going to be exposed. And now the momentum is building, they’re believing in what he’s selling and implementing, they’re seeing the success. You can play above your level if you believe you’re there, and that’s what they’re doing in a lot of ways, week in, week out.” — Eric Mangini

5. “This whole Giants team: Strong, tough, determined, smart, gritty, and they’re very comfortable with playing a game deep into the fourth quarter. They feel like they’re going to win, and Brian Daboll developed that in six games. Unbelievable.” — Charles Davis

Colts 34, Jaguars 27

6. “The Colts came up with a great game plan. Jonathan Taylor was out, Nyheim Hines was out, so they knew in order for them to score points,  they were going to have to throw the ball. But its amazing that Matt Ryan at his age was able to throw the ball that many times and lead them to victory. I thought Jacksonville’s defense didn’t do a good enough job getting pressure on Ryan, and when you give him time, he shows you why he’s still a legit quarterback and one of the top quarterbacks in this league.” — Rick Spielman

Patriots 38, Browns 15

7. “The Browns are not built to come from behind. Passing the ball 45 times and running it 18 times is not a recipe for their success. The Browns struggled to get Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt going and Jacoby Brissett was intercepted twice. The one bit of good news for Cleveland was Myles Garrett finally sacked the quarterback, putting Bailey Zappe to the turf twice.” — T.J. McCreight

8. “It’s only a few weeks ago that people doubted Bill Belichick’s decisions regarding which coaches should run the offense and call the plays. Yet they scored 38 points today playing a third-string rookie QB who was selected in the fourth round out of a non-Power 5 program. It wasn’t against a great defense, but still, scoring 38 points on the road with a backup against any team proves why he’s the best head coach in the history of the game.” — Joe Banner

9. “Impressive performance from the Patriots to go back to Cleveland. Bill Belichick’s not going to go back to Cleveland and his old team and lose with a rookie quarterback. The Patriots took the kid gloves off of Bailey Zappe. They let him go out and play, and he threw the ball really, really well.” — Rich Gannon

10. “The idea that you’re going to put the ball in Brissett’s hands 45 times and then Nick Chubb’s going to touch it 12 times, and New England has the 22nd-ranked run defense, it doesn’t make any sense. And I don’t know why Cleveland would ever line up in an empty formation, and not have the threat of at least one of those guys running the ball. … I’d be really curious to hear what the thought process was going into this game to come out with this result in terms of offensive approach.” — Eric Mangini

Bengals 30, Saints 26

11. “The Saints built an early lead but their struggles on defense caught up with them again. Dennis Allen deserves to be on the hot seat — although it would be very surprising to see them make a move after just one season. From Week 1, the team has looked disorganized, not lived up to its potential, and the defense — Allen’s specialty — has been the side of the ball that has hurt the team the most.” — Joe Banner

Steelers 20, Buccaneers 18

12. “I thought Mitch Trubisky played very well and might have gotten the starting job back today. He made plays with his arm and legs in the time he was in there for Kenny Pickett.” — Mike Tannenbaum

13. “Like we said last week, everyone has buried the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin can steady the waters through any type of adversity. Tom Brady comes into town with his Bucs, Kenny Pickett gets banged up, and the Steelers have other injuries that they are dealing with — yet Tomlin had his team ready to play and they upset Tampa Bay 20-18. It is not luck that Tomlin has never had a losing season as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.” — T.J. McCreight

14. “Tom Brady doesn’t look like he’s fallen off at all physically, he’s playing at such a high level. They’re calling the offense differently than maybe they have in the past, which is way more conservative. I don’t know that they’re as good in the offensive line as they’ve been and they’re probably concerned about that, trying to keep Tom from getting hit. They’re just not explosive at all like they have been, they’ll be a just above .500 team at the end of the season if this continues.” — Mike Martz

Falcons 28, 49ers 14

15. “Huge win for the Falcons at home over the 49ers. It’s hard for a West Coast team to stay on the East Coast in back-to-back weeks, but the Falcons looked very good.” — Mike Tannenbaum

16. “It is difficult to understand why the 49ers drafted a quarterback in the first round and wanted to move away from Jimmy Garoppolo. With Jimmy G, Kyle Shanahan is 33-16, and without Garoppolo, he is 9-29. Sometimes the best move to make is no move at all. If San Francisco just would have committed to Garoppolo and not picked Trey Lance, they could have picked a position player with that third pick in 2021.  Some of the players that were available included Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and Micah Parsons.” — T.J. McCreight

17. “Atlanta continues to prove that, despite negative preseason expectations, they are an improving team that is maximizing the modest amount of talent on the roster. On the other hand, the 49ers continue to be a mystery. At one point, Garoppolo was 10-of-11 and they were struggling to score. Their defense has generally played well, but did not on Sunday. The NFC West looks like another underperforming division that is up for grabs.” — Joe Banner

18. “Arthur Smith’s approach is similar to the Brian Daboll approach in New York: What do we do well, and we’re going to give you a healthy dose of that. And whatever we need to do that week to win, we’re going to do it, whether you agree or don’t. We don’t need 30 passes because the NFL says we should pass 30 times. We’ve got to run it 40 times? Great, we’re going to do that. It’s hard to do that with all the external pressure and expectations, but it’s the right thing to do, and I give Daboll credit for that.” — Eric Mangini

Jets 27, Packers 10

19. “The blocked punt was a huge turning point in the game. It just shifted momentum.” — Mike Tannenbaum

20. “There was certainly some miscommunication by the Packers on the blocked punt by the Jets’ Micheal Clemons. Right guard Isaiah McDuffie engaged and then let Clemons go to block Kenny Yeboah. Upback Dallin Leavitt was not in proper position and was unable to get his hands on Clemons, who was able to block the punt with textbook technique. Mistakes on special teams are hard to overcome both on the scoreboard and emotionally.” — T.J. McCreight

21. “It’s really hard to understand what is going on in Green Bay. Their wide receivers are not as strong as they need to be, but with all the investment in their defense and Aaron Rodgers still playing at a high level, there’s no way to explain how they lost at home to a Jets team with significant weaknesses.” — Joe Banner

22. “The Jets’ defense today put everyone on notice that they’re to be taken seriously in the AFC and the AFC East, dealing with the Buffalo Bills. … They’ve got talented guys, it’s just now with coach Robert Saleh, they’re buying into what he’s selling, they’re flying around on defense, and they made Aaron Rodgers tap out today, at Lambeau Field, which is something you rarely ever see.” — Samari Rolle

23. “Zach Wilson comes back, but this game was not about him at all. It’s the other stuff that’s starting to come along. It’s the plays on special teams, it’s the pressure by the defense, it’s the way the defense is coming together. Those things to me are really encouraging. If anything, Zach Wilson is going to have to catch up to everyone else and make an impact.” — Eric Mangini

Vikings 24, Dolphins 16

24. “The quarterback situation looks like it’s catching up to the team with Tua out. The Dolphins’ defense played well and kept Minnesota to just 234 yards of offense, but the six Minnesota sacks and Jaylen Waddle’s fumble and dropped pass that led to an interception were costly mistakes.” — Mike Tannenbaum

25. “The Dolphins continue to struggle keeping their starting QB on the field. For the third time this season, the starter left the game early due to injury — which results in the guy who wasn’t getting practice snaps playing a key role. That’s a tough spot to put your backup in against this Vikings team, which I believe is overrated but still good enough to win in these circumstances. Miami will need to turn it around to compete in that division.” — Joe Banner

26. “The difference in this game was the Vikings’ defense, which had been struggling most of the year. They played kind of a bend-but-don’t-break-type of defense, but they were able to pressure Teddy Bridgewater, hit him a few times, and Harrison Smith did a great job causing the fumble at the end of the game.” — Rick Spielman

Rams 24, Panthers 10

27. “I am not sure how many games the Panthers will win this season under interim coach Steve Wilks, but he will hold them accountable. In Arizona, he was highly respected by the players and had very high expectations for everyone within the organization. He set the tone today with Robbie Anderson.” — T.J. McCreight

Seahawks 19, Cardinals 9

28. “The Cardinals need DeAndre Hopkins on their offense. It will really help Kyler Murray to have a No. 1 wide receiver he can lean on to make plays. They also need to get their running game going — you don’t want your quarterback to be your leading rusher.” — T.J. McCreight

Bills 24, Chiefs 20

29. “In the fourth quarter, Josh Allen, on fourth-and-inches, ran a quarterback sneak for a first down. With so many plays from shotgun, going under center is more rare now than ever. Usually, quarterbacks are either really good at sneaking or really bad. Being a big, strong and long quarterback helps. But there is more to it than even that — there is an aspect of instinctiveness to know where the window is and where a slight angle may help — and all of that happens in less than a second. It actually is an art.” — T.J. McCreight

30. “This is nothing that will shock anyone, and it is not a hot take. But after watching the Bills-Chiefs game, there are five quarterbacks in the AFC who can go to the Super Bowl. One of these passers will be in the big game — Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow. No other QB has a chance.” — T.J. McCreight

31. “We knew that Josh Allen was going to be the Bills’ driving force. And with him being that force, that means beating you with his big arm and his legs, and that was led by Stefon Diggs on Sunday. They have done such a great job of moving Diggs around, allowing him an opportunity get better matchups, and then Allen and he are just on another page. When we look at what they’ve been able to do over the course of their time together, they’re just stepping it up a notch.” — Greg Jennings

Eagles 26, Cowboys 17

32. “Early on, the Eagles set the tone. They came out on offense and they were running the ball effectively, they were throwing the ball, and they were taking advantage of the Dallas Cowboys kind of being a little bit patient. … Ultimately, the Eagles were the better team.” — Tank Williams

33. “Moral victory for the Cowboys? Not a chance. Although Ezekiel Elliott did look like a good back in the second half.” — Wade Phillips

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