Carolina might be for real, New England have always been for real and we'll find out just how real the Jets are on Sunday. Neil Monnery looks at some of the movers after Week 6 of the NFL season.
"On Sunday Night the Pats went into Indianapolis and won relatively comfortably against a team most people thought were their key competition in the AFC. Not like the Colts played badly either, they played really well but they lost."
They hadn't played anyone regarded as good. They hadn't even looked anything special despite putting together four straight wins. Then, last Sunday, the Panthers went to Seattle, found themselves two scores down deep in the fourth quarter yet come back to win. And now we have to ask ourselves whether Carolina really are a good football team after all. The return of Luke Kuechly from concussion was huge as the middle linebacker accounted for 14 tackles in this one. Cam Newton's numbers weren't anything to write home about (20/36, 269 YD, 1 TD, 2 INT) but he got the job done late when the game was on the line. I don't think Carolina are outstanding in any department, but they do a lot of things well enough to start believing that they will be playing in January.
Next up: home v Philadelphia
New England Patriots
This is an open message for those (including some of my betting.betfair NFL colleagues) who still don't believe in the New England Patriots. Just stop. Stop looking for reasons why the Patriots are lucky to be undefeated, stop looking for reasons to justify your scepticism and just stop hating on the Patriots. Here's a Neil top tip - they are the best team in football and do you know what? It isn't even that close. Put them on a neutral field with anyone else and the Patriots will be the favourites straight up. The Packers are the only team who might see the line open at under 3 points. On Sunday night the Pats went into Indianapolis and won relatively comfortably against a team most people thought were their key competition in the AFC. It's not like the Colts played badly either, they played really well but they lost. I'm not saying they'll go 16-0 - you can back them to do that at 12/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook - as they can easily lose one or two stupid ones but let's get this straight, the Pats aren't the 2007 version in terms of the deep threat and stretching the field but they can - and will - kill you by a thousand paper cuts.
Next up: home v NY Jets
New York Jets
We'll find out just how good the 4-1 Jets are on Sunday when they travel to New England but for now they look like a top ten NFL team and I'm not sure many of us saw that coming into the season. As per usual there are always question marks until an outfit like Jets beat a legitimate team at full strength. Wins over the Browns, Dolphins and Washington's NFL franchise aren't anything to crow about but beating Indianapolis is, even though it was revealed that Andrew Luck was playing with a pretty banged up shoulder. Chris Ivory deserves notice, a late round fantasy star who has run for over 300 yards in his past two outings. The Jets are certainly trending in the right direction but don't invest in that stock, people, not this week anyway.
Next up: @ New England
Six weeks ago if I'd caught myself writing the sentence, 'Seattle might not actually make the playoffs' then I'd conclude aliens had landed and forced the NFL season to be stopped while we were involved in a grim battle to save the human race. That seemed more likely than the Seahawks not making the post-season. Yet they are 2-4 through six weeks. None of their defeats had been bad losses on paper but these fourth quarter collapses in the last two weeks have been truly worrying. This team has all the components (bar an effective o-line) to go deep but they are really struggling to put it all together. I still think they will make a wildcard spot but with Atlanta and Carolina both looking good, I only see one spot available so they'll need to win eight of their last ten, at least.
Next up: @ San Francisco
They are 6-0 and the defense is just off the charts. I've written about it before and this D can carry them past most teams. The problem is this offense is still not even league average. I saw a lot of the Browns game on Sunday and even when Peyton threw the pick-6 and after his interception in OT, I still thought Denver would win such is my belief in the defense. But at some point they are going to need Peyton, the running backs, the wide receivers and the o-line to all step up and win them a big match and I'm not sure that they can. The Packers in a fortnight on Sunday night will be a gut check game, if they win that or even if they lose but are very competitive then that will ease some of my concerns. Everything that I own is on the Broncos bandwagon because of that defense, but I look at how ineffective that offense is and it just isn't getting any better so I'm quietly taking a few of my belongings off Denver.
Next up: bye, home v Green Bay in week 8
No-one expected much from Jacksonville this season but Gus Bradley is a defensive coach and they just gave up 31 points to Houston. I keep looking at that roster and I can see some talented playmakers on offense. I love Allen Robinson, saw a lot of him in the Big Ten and he just went up and made plays and he has carried that type of ability into the NFL. Julius Thomas we know is a top-notch TE and Allen Hurns is good too. Yet while they score, the defense just can't keep other teams out. Sunday's game in London against Buffalo should be entertaining though and they have the talent to pick up a big victory but they'll probably fall short late, just like they keep doing.
Next up: v Buffalo (in London)
Neil Monnery NFL P/L 2015 Season
Staked - 53pts
Returned - 110.33pts
P&L - +57.33pts