Week in Review

NFL Week Six: Good, bad & ugly

Shawn Hubbard, baltimoreravens.com

Week six of the NFL is in the books and it didn't disappoint. We saw upsets, thing that'll make you upset, and more of the same ol same ol from some teams/players. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had another performance that leaves you in awe. 21/33 for 236 yards and ran the ball 19 times for 152 yards and a touchdown. While I'm not all for a quarterback running this much, Jackson hasn't taken too many hard hits. However, if he continues to run as much as he has, it'll catch up to him eventually. Until then, let's enjoy this talented quarterback.

-The Vikings' Stefon Diggs was the beneficiary this week of the angst turned production when it comes to the pass game. Diggs had seven catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns. I was impressed with Kirk Cousins' ability to hit him deep a couple times on two long touchdown catches (62 and 51 yards respectively). If the Vikings get this kind of production, they could be a tough out for the rest of the season. Cousins had 333 yards passing and four touchdowns.

-Welcome back Sam Darnold! The Jets quarterback came back from a case of mononuecleosis to help his winless team beat the Cowboys 24-22. 22/32 for 338 yards and two touchdowns, including a 92-yarder to Robbie Anderson. What a difference it was to have him under center. Will this spur on a playoff run? That remains to be seen. At 1-4, it's highly unlikely, but not impossible.

The Bad

-In a game that pitted two of the worst teams in the league against one another, would one expect the Redskins/Dolphins game to end in any other way than an epic failure? The Dolphins scored a touchdown and were an extra point away from tieing the game, but they decided to go for two. They called a bubble screen to running back Kenyan Drake...and he dropped it. They're still winless and the Redskins got their first win because of it.

-With the score 7-7, 3rd&Goal, ball on the 1 yard line, two and a half minutes into the 2nd quarter, 49er's quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw a ridiculous pass. He appeared to get happy feet in the pocket as the pressure collapsed it quickly, and lobbed a pass up to Marcus Peters. Peters, unfortunately, plays for the Rams. Good thing the 9ers went on to win 20-7, or this could've been really bad.

-Speaking of interceptions, Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco wishes he didn't get credit for one he threw against the Titans. Rookie tight end, and 1st round pick, Noah Fant lost a ball looking for it over his shoulder. The ball hit his back and allowed Titan safety Kevin Bayard to get one of the easiest picks of his career. This is clearly a case for not counting all interceptions against the quarterback.

The Ugly

-Tough week for kickers around the league. Falcons' Matt Bryant cost his team a chance to tie the game by missing an extra point with 1:53 left in the game and they ended up losing 34-33. Texans' Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a field goal and an extra point in his team's 31-24 win. Although he missed a 60-yard drop kick, it was cool to see Panthers' Joey Slye attempt one. At least he didn't cost or nearly cost his team the game.

-Bears' offensive lineman Kyle Long has found himself on IR for the fourth year in a row. This time it's a hip injury that's taken the veteran down. At 30 years old and no guaranteed money left on his deal, it may be over for Long. He's been good, but injury-prone offensive lineman over 30 don't have much of a role outside of backup or camp body, and even those are iffy.

-The end of the road may be near for the top two picks in the 2015 draft. Bucs' quarterback Jameis Winston and Titans' quarterback Marcus Mariota are both playing in their fifth year option years of their rookie deals, and neither seems to have earned an extension or the right to another opportunity to start. Winston threw five interceptions against the Panthers and Mariota was benched in favor of backup Ryan Tannehill. Careers can be resurrected, but I doubt it in either case. The best they can hope for now is to hold a clipboard and keep cashing NFL checks for a few more years.

By now, we're starting to see the water find its level. Seven of the eight divisions have a leader, albeit some are by slim margins. Only the NFC East has a tie at the top with the flalling Cowboys and underwhelming Eagles tied at 3-3. There's also a line being drawn between true title contenders, and the pretenders. The next four to six weeks will tell us a lot more. I guarantee that one of the post-week six division leaders will be the eventual champion. Until then, keep me at my word.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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