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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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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