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NFL Week 6 Preview: The Patriots Would Love to Crush the Colts

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All six of the remaining unbeaten NFL teams will play this week, but the Patriots might want to win more than the others. Here’s a preview of this week’s NFL games:

Thursday, October 15

The Falcons Can Bury the Saints
Falcons Saints
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Atlanta at New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS/NFL Network

The Falcons-Saints rivalry doesn’t get the national hype of Steelers-Ravens, Packers-Bears or Patriots vs. well, everybody, but it’s always entertaining when these two longtime NFC South rivals meet. An Atlanta (5–0) win on Sunday would push New Orleans (1–4) five games out of the division race with 10 games left — an all but insurmountable deficit.

The Falcons want to extend their undefeated start — their best since an 8–0 mark in 2012 — but they are 3–9 against the Saints in the Superdome over the past 12 years. However, New Orleans has been terrible this season, especially on defense. The Saints rank last in the NFL with 409.0 yards allowed per game. It’s hard to imagine them bucking that trend against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, regardless of where the game is being played.

Sunday, October 18

The Mighty Have Fallen
Joe Flacco
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Baltimore at San Francisco | Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox

Remember when these two teams met in the Super Bowl? Things change fast in the NFL. This Sunday’s game is probably the closest they’ll get to Super Bowl 50 — which will also take place at Levi’s Stadium.

Baltimore (1–4) hasn’t actually been that bad in 2015; the Ravens’ four losses have been by a combined 17 points. San Francisco (1–4) hasn’t been that good. While the Niners should have beaten the Giants last Sunday, they have been dominated in the rest of their losses. If Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco wants to save his team’s season, he should have lots of opportunities on Sunday.

Cam vs. the Legion of Boom
Cam Newton
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Carolina at Seattle | CenturyLink Field, Seattle; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on Fox

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the least heralded quarterback of the six remaining undefeated teams. His total QBR of 53.5 is 20th in the NFL and fifth of the six unbeaten QBs; only Peyton Manning’s 51.7 is lower. Still, Carolina (4–0) remains perfect because of Newton’s play-making and a stingy defense that has allowed just 17.8 points per game.

Newton will be tested this week by Seattle (2–3) and a Legion of Boom secondary that gave away a 17-point fourth-quarter lead to the Bengals last week. The real key to the game for the Seahawks is getting running back Marshawn Lynch back on offense so that they can control the clock and not rely on Russell Wilson to provide all the offense. Seattle beat Carolina both times the teams played last season, including the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

Deflategate Redux: The Empire Strikes Back
Patriots Colts
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New England at Indianapolis | Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC

One might think the Colts have had this AFC title game rematch circled for months, but instead it’s likely that the undefeated Patriots are the team most interested in revenge for all of the Deflategate-related shade thrown at them thanks to Indy’s complaint during the blowout playoff loss last January.

Using fully inflated balls, New England (4–0) has been dominant this season, scoring an AFC-high 37.8 points per game and gaining a league-best 423.8 yards per contest. It wouldn’t be surprising if coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady — the non-Patriots fans’ versions of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, respectively — have been devising a game plan to score 100 points against the Colts. It might be possible: Indianapolis (3–2) ranks 28th overall in yards allowed and 28th against the pass — and they’ve faced .

The Colts will need returning quarterback Andrew Luck to play well to help keep the Pats’ offense off the field — and the scoreboard. It wouldn’t hurt if receiver T.Y. Hilton actually showed up: he’s been all but invisible against New England.

Monday, October 19

NFC Least Battle in Primetime
Eli Manning
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New York at Philadelphia | Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN

But for Larry Donnell’s impressive touchdown grab of Eli Manning’s pass into double-coverage in the Giants win over the 49ers on Sunday night, the NFC East could have been a four-way tie of 2–3 teams. Translation: this isn’t the best division in football.

For now, New York (3–2) leads the weak NFC East pack, but the Giants could find themselves tied with Philadelphia (2–3) after Monday night. The Eagles offense finally broke out last Sunday, albeit against the flailing Saints. If Chip Kelly can get Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray to build on last week’s success, Philly could start to round into shape as a potential playoff contender.

The Giants need to protect Manning, who was sacked eight times in a 27-0 loss at Philadelphia last season, and hope receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returns to victimize the Eagles’ iffy secondary.

Other Games

Sunday, October 18
Washington at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Arizona at Pittsburgh | Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Kansas City at Minnesota | TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Cincinnati at Buffalo | Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Chicago at Detroit | Ford Field, Detroit; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Denver at Cleveland | FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Houston at Jacksonville | EverBank Field, Jacksonville; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Miami at Tennessee | Nissan Stadium, Nashville; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
San Diego at Green Bay | Lambeau Field, Green Bay; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS

Bye Week: Dallas, Oakland, St. Louis and Tampa Bay

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