At the start of the season, many expected the NFC East to be the best division in football, but Week 6 put a major hole in that argument. However, among the six things that caught my eye on Sunday, the number of prolific passers tops the list.
1. Hot from the start
I was so impressed that several quarterbacks threw as if they were all warmed up and had a great feel for the defense on their first drive. JaMarcus Russell hit 10-of-13 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown before halftime, which was impressive for him, but four other quarterbacks were off the charts in the first half.
Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, New Orleans' Drew Brees and New England's Tom Brady combined to connect on 72 of 91 passes (79.1 percent) for 1,052 yards, 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions, leading their teams to 119 points. Keep in mind, those are first-half numbers alone!
2. Signs of life
Just when people start to bury a team, we are reminded this is professional football, not college or high school. Teams that looked like they didn't have a chance delivered. Along the way, the AFC West gained some respectability this weekend.
The Raiders' win over the mighty Eagles raised questions about Philadelphia and gave Oakland fans the ray of hope they were begging for after the way Giants described the Silver and Black effort a week before. Oakland was ranked 31st on defense and held Philadelphia to three field goals.
3. What was 'Gained?'
It's rare to see a player traded for a second-round draft pick 37 games after he was the fourth overall selection in the draft. Honestly, I stopped looking for a comparable transaction after going back 10 years.
I asked three personnel people and two former head coaches about this trade and they all seemed puzzled. After being drafted in 2007, Gaines Adams became a 16-game starter in 2008 and was credited with 38 tackles, 21 hits on the quarterback, 6.5 sacks and six passes defended.
I recognize he was off to a poor start this season, but when you consider his salary, his '08 production, his age (26) and his 30 sacks in 28 college starts, Tampa Bay should not have traded him. Perhaps there were other factors that drove the deal, but a second-round pick just seems like a good deal for the Bears.
4. Slaying the beasts of NFC East
What a setback weekend for the NFC East. Most preseason predictions had three teams in this division contending for the playoffs. At the end of September, the Giants were considered the top team in the NFL, with the Eagles and Cowboys in the playoff discussions.
The Eagles were shocked by a team some analysts believed to be the worst in the NFL. Philadelphia had the top-ranked pass defense, but Russell hit seven different receivers for 224 yards and a score.
5. Big numbers for receivers
Week 6 helped build the argument that the NFL is a passing league. The record for 100-yard receivers in one week is 23. There were 17 players with 100-plus receiving yards Sunday, including two running backs (Houston's Steve Slaton, Baltimore's Ray Rice) and a tight end (Oakland's Zach Miller).
The most impressive thing about the explosion of the passing game this weekend was the fact that four teams had multiple 100-yard receivers: Pittsburgh (Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward), Jacksonville (Mike Sims-Walker, Torry Holt), Houston (Slaton, Andre Johnson), and New England (Randy Moss, Wes Welker).
It looks as if the 23 mark may be in jeopardy at some point this season. Teams simply aren't afraid to throw in just about every situation.
6. Favre from done!
Brett Favre never seems to grow old. His performance this year seems even more amazing than in years past when you consider how many people thought he should have stayed home and ridden his tractor. He entered Week 6 against the Ray Lewis-led Ravens ranked fourth in the NFL with a 104.1 passer rating. He finished the Baltimore game with a 136.9 rating and now is up to 109.5.
Favre threw three TD passes and now has 12 in six games. He averaged 9.58 yards per attempt against the Ravens and is at 7.57 yards per attempt on the season. Beyond the numbers, his ability to look off a safety, find a third or fourth read and simply take a sack instead of throwing an interception is what makes him even more special now than ever before. Favre was sacked three times Sunday to bring his season total to 14. But with Ed Reed floating around in the deep middle, Favre did not throw an interception, and that was awesome. Favre has only thrown two interceptions in 178 pass attempts. The new No. 4 is far from done, and very dangerous right now.