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 Astros head to New York to face the Yankees. Composite image by Jack Brame.

After sweeping the Mets in a two-game series at Minute Maid Park, the Astros will head to the Big Apple to square off against Yankees in what will be the most anticipated matchup of the season thus far.

Both Houston (43-25) and New York (50-18) have been the top two teams in the American League since May 11 and will play the first of a four-game series starting on Thursday.

If the Astros want to prove they are the best team in baseball, their elite players need to showcase their skills and win on the biggest stage in the biggest city.

1. Altuve must silence the crowd again

Last season, the Astros only managed to win one game in The Bronx thanks to some late inning heroics from New York “fan favorite” Jose Altuve who powered a game-winning home run to silence the relentless crowd.

It’s not a stretch to say Altuve might be the most hated baseball player in New York, but that doesn’t seem to affect him.

Although Yankee elites will continue to spew their venom towards the 2017 A.L. MVP, his ability to shut out the noise and perform at the plate under these circumstances will be one of the Astros' best assets during the series.

Throughout his career, Altuve has consistently been able to drive a stake into the heart of Yankee fans time after time.

The All-Star second baseman is currently hitting .269 and has no fear of taking on the Yankees in New York.

2. Bregman’s bat stays hot

Similarly to Altuve, Alex Bregman is no stranger to the boo birds, and doesn’t seem too affected by the harassment. So playing in front of the relentless crowd at Yankee Stadium won’t be a problem for him either.

Sure, it’s no secret that the former All-Star isn’t having a great season so far, but things seem to be turning around as Bregman has a .292 batting average with two home runs and four RBI over his last seven games.

It was only a matter of time before the former 1st round pick would start to figure things out at the plate.

This Astros' lineup is already potent as it stands, but when Bregman returns to form, more than the Yankees should be concerned when facing Houston.

3. Air Yordan takes flight in the Big Apple

Yordan Alvarez is having a tremendous season, and has been on a tear as of late.

Since signing his six-year extension on June 6, the 24-year-old is hitting .429 with five home runs, 17 RBI and a 1.347 OPS.

Alvarez is on pace to earn the American League Player of the Month for June and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

The last time the Cuban native went to Yankee Stadium, he hit two homers off of former Astros’ pitcher Gerrit Cole, and looks forward to returning to the Big Apple.

"Whenever a player goes to New York and plays there, it's just really exciting with the history of that team and the ballpark," Álvarez said through a translator. "We know they're a really good team so we're just going to compete and try to win."

Alvarez will certainly be looking forward to hitting bombs towards the infamously short right field porch at Yankee Stadium.

4. The pitching staff stays strong

The Astros are scheduled to have Framber Valdez, Justin Verlander, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy take the mound this series and all of them have some varying degree of previous success against the Yankees.

Justin Verlander (albeit more in the postseason) has had multiple dominating performances against the Bronx Bombers and will take the mound on Friday against Luis Severio in what should be an elite pitcher's duel.

The other three aforementioned starters will look to continue their impressive season thus far as well.

If the Astros' starting pitchers can continue to keep them in games like they have all season, there is no reason Houston won’t be ready to face whatever the Yankees throw at them.

5. One bonus note

Astros’ shortstop Jeremy Pena has been on the injured list since June 15 with left thumb discomfort but will be eligible to come off the IL as early as this Friday.

Pena took swings in the batting cage and was spotted fielding ground balls Tuesday and assuming all goes well these next few days, he could rejoin the Astros sometime during the Yankee series

If the 24-year-old rookie does return, it will give Houston one more deadly weapon that the Yankees would rather not face.

Jake Meyers could also make his 2022 season debut as his minor league rehab assignment runs out this week. Other moves would have to be made, but the potential for Meyers to return could bolster this already lethal lineup.

Pena and Meyers may not come back in time for the Yankee series, but if they do, the Astros may have the best lineup in the league.

Watch out New York, Houston is coming.

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