Each week through the 2019 season, former NFL defensive back and current BBC analyst Jason Bell will highlight five things to look out for that weekend. Watch Jason twice a week on the BBC.
Here are some key things to look out for in Week 6.
It's game day again in London!
So, we've got Carolina Panthers coming in to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's the Bucs home game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It's going to be rocking and rolling as we saw last week. This stadium is built for the NFL and both teams are going to love this atmosphere. Players feed off this kind of environment and you'll see that intensity. The most fascinating story of course is Christian McCaffrey. He's an NFL MVP candidate and he's leading the league in rushing. The Panthers are the number four rushing offense in the NFL but now they face the Tampa Bay defense who are very good at stopping the run. I believe they are number two in the NFL and they showed that earlier in the year when they played Carolina and stopped the run. That's why they had success and won that game. So, this is going to be a fantastic match up because both these two teams' strengths are going to battle it out. Once again, you're going to see Kyle Allen who has been very productive for Carolina. He has been able to run and manage this offense correctly with Cam Newton being out. He has to have a big game and make some big throws down the field to back up this Bucs defense. On Bucs offense Jameis Winston has been doing really well. You've got to give Bruce Arians and the offensive team credit for honing in his issues with making mistakes and turnovers. They've really worked on that and they're scoring a lot of points. They're 5th in scoring and a top ten team in passing. So, all in all, both team's strengths are going to battle it out and that always makes good football.
The Tank Bowl
One thing that's going to happen is hopefully one of these teams is going to come away with a victory. When there is a firing of a Head Coach it usually ignites your team. Maybe for only one week but it happens. The reason that happens is the pressure. Players feel pressure and this is a production business. So, when people start getting cut or fired everybody elevates their game. Players don't care who coaches them, they have to go out there on the field and perform because people are watching. You're playing for your NFL future and pride. I think that you're going to see a decent performance out of Washington because that's what happens when you have a change in the middle of the season. With the Dolphins, yes there is no pressure on the Head Coach Brian Flores to win, they know it's a rebuild situation. But once again as a player you have to go out there and perform if you want a job next year. If you want a job anywhere you have to stand out, especially playing on a bad team. So, I look at this game from a player standpoint, guys need to perform, and I think we're going to see that out of Washington because the pressure is on.
Kyle Shanahan vs Sean McVay
We've got a good game in the NFC West. This division is for the taking and you have three teams that are elite with the Rams, 49ers and Seahawks. So, this game matters! San Francisco is one of two undefeated teams left but they are coming down to LA. The Rams are coming off two loses in a row and they are back at home. So, they are going to be fired up! They cannot lose another game at home. They're backs are against the wall and they are going to play like that. My one concern about the 49ers is the injured Full Back Kyle Juzszcyk, he's instrumental in this offense. He allows them to do a lot of different things that makes Kyle Shanahan's offense special. You can't just plug a guy in and run that thing the same way. I want to see how this offense operates without him. However, this 49ers defense is elite. They are arguably the strength of this team. I think the 49ers are the better team but with LA having their backs against the wall and being at home, I think they can pull this off. Jared Goff has been getting a lot of pressure, as far as his performance, but in reality, he's been playing well. They are just not able to run the ball like they usually do. Everybody wants to talk about Todd Gurley and let's be honest his production is not great. But this offensive line of the Rams isn't as good as it once was. So, it's a little bit of both. Maybe Todd is trying to protect himself? To me, he doesn't cut with the same explosion. But that can also happen to a Running Back when he knows there is just nowhere for him to run. I feel that offensive line is not moving back the way it once was and Running Backs naturally protect themselves. If they can fix that up front, I think Todd Gurley will be able to bounce back and break some longer runs.
The story line in this, Jets haven't won a game and Sam Darnold is back, and the one thing that this does is it gives them a spark. Darnold has the chance to show his team, the organisation and they city of New York how important he is. He's been the missing part, if they look the same with him back then it raises questions over Darnold. The team is what they are but as a Quarterback position you should be immediately upgrading your teams' performance everywhere especially if players believe in you. I hope to see big things from him when they take on Dallas at home this weekend.
With the Kansas City Chiefs, there is a bit of formula out now on how to stop them and how you line up and play defense against them. They lost last week because Indianapolis played a lot more man to man coverage than they ever have. They changed and adjusted their defense to mimic what has worked previously. But the Chiefs are missing Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins gets hurt. They have Travis Kelce, but you can double team him. When the Chiefs get those guys back and healthy you won't be able to play man coverage and be successful against them. It will not happen. This is an offense built around it's players. At the moment they can be beaten but once those players come back, you'll see the offense strengthened and making big plays in the field again.