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Bird’s Eye View: How Atlanta’s remaining opponents played in Week 6

Injuries are mounting for Atlanta’s future opponents, but some surprises are emerging as well.

Welcome back to Bird’s Eye View!

Atlanta’s roller-coaster start to the season continued with a 24-16 loss to the Washington Commanders. The Commanders had plenty of help from the home team in this one, as various self-inflicted wounds kept the Falcons from making up ground.

Although the operational miscues haven’t been prevalent much this season, they are a clear priority with an away game against a division opponent on the horizon. Winning the division is the priority for the Falcons, so all attention should be on this Sunday. But y’all know why we’re here.

A brief refresher for those reading this piece for the first time: This exercise is meant to provide a quick synopsis of how each team did the previous week. I’ll highlight a standout player from each side of the ball, and for the two teams next on Atlanta’s schedule, I’ll include a potential x-factor player for the upcoming matchup.

Here’s how the Falcons’ remaining opponents looked in Week 6.

Weeks 7 & 14 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Win at New Orleans (26-9)

- Week 5: Bye

- Week 6: Loss vs Detroit (20-6)

Tweet-length summary of Buccaneers in Week 6:

Best offensive player in Week 6: WR Chris Godwin

It was a very rough day for Baker Mayfield and the Bucs offense, which missed multiple explosive plays. Godwin was the most reliable producer for Tampa Bay on Sunday, catching six of his seven targets for 77 yards. He led the Bucs with three contested catches, five first downs and 18 yards after the catch.

Best defensive player in Week 6: LB Lavonte David

David is the center pillar of Tampa Bay’s defense, and he played at a very high level against a potent Detroit offense. He led all Bucs players with 12 tackles, including six stops, per PFF. He also had a sack against the Lions and break up a pass while allowing just four catches on seven targets. David still does it all, and he does it well.

X-factor for Buccaneers in Week 7: S Antoine Winfield Jr.

I strongly considered Vita Vea for this spot, and he could easily wreck things if the Falcons don’t have a plan ready. But they’ve done a decent job against some good defensive lines recently, so Winfield is the player I’ve got my eye on. The fourth-year safety has been an all-around wonder once again. He has two sacks on 10 pass rush snaps, he has limited opponents to a 50 percent completion rate on balls thrown in his direction, and has the third-highest run defense grade among safeties on Pro Football Focus.

Team stat to know: The Buccaneers have the third-best turnover differential in the league at plus-six.

Week 8 – at Tennessee Titans (2-4)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Win vs Bengals (27-3)

- Week 5: Loss at Indianapolis (16-23)

- Week 6: Loss vs Ravens (24-16)

Tweet-length summary of Titans in Week 6:

This is the 2023 winner of the Field Goal Jamboree in London Award. Seriously, it feels like there’s one every year. This game was an all-timer, though, featuring NINE field goals. The loss of Ryan Tannehill to a high ankle sprain is big.

Best offensive player in Week 6: RB Derrick Henry

This was a classic King Henry game, and the Titans are going to need more of those moving forward—although rumors have begun to swirl about potential trades. He carried the ball 12 times for 97 yards, including a 63-yard run out of the Wildcat formation.

Best defensive player in Week 6: LB Azeez Al-Shaair

Al-Shaair tied for the league lead with 15 tackles in Week 6, which was the second consecutive week he’s reached that total. He played all 71 snaps for Tennessee’s defense on Sunday and was especially effective when defending inside the red zone.

X-factor for Titans in Week 8: Whoever the quarterback is

With this matchup standing in the batter’s circle, the timing of Tannehill’s injury will play a big role. Do the Titans again turn to Malik Willis, who was 4-of-5 passing for 74 yards and gained 17 yards on three carries as Tannehill’s replacement on Sunday? Or will it be rookie Will Levis? The Falcons will be watching closely.

Team stat to know: Tennessee’s red-zone offense ranks 29th in the NFL with a conversion rate of 33.33 percent.

Week 9 – vs Minnesota Vikings (2-4)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Win at Carolina (21-13)

- Week 5: Loss vs Kansas City (27-20)

- Week 6: Win at Chicago (19-13)

Tweet-length summary of Vikings in Week 6:

The Vikings are barely scraping by against the league’s worst teams and keeping things close against some of the league’s best. All six games they’ve played this season have been decided by a one-score margin. This team, man.

Best offensive player in Week 6: LT Christian Darrisaw

Darrisaw has been on fire the last few weeks after truly breaking out in superstar fashion last year. The third-year tackle did not allow a single pressure against Chicago, and he looked good as a run blocker even if the Vikings weren’t productive on the ground.

Best defensive player in Week 6: S Josh Metellus

Metellus is to Minnesota’s defense what Cordarrelle Patterson was to Atlanta’s offense the past couple of years. He can do virtually everything at a high level, as he illustrated with his strip-sack in the third quarter to extend the Vikings' lead and help put the game away.

Team stat to know: The Vikings lead the league in lost fumbles (9) and turnovers (13) this season.

Week 10 – at Arizona Cardinals (1-5)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Loss at San Francisco (35-16)

- Week 5: Loss vs Cincinnati (34-20)

- Week 6: Loss at Los Angeles Rams (26-9)

Tweet-length summary of Cardinals in Week 6:

The Cardinals have actually played better this season than I thought they would, but they still sit with a 1-5 record and will very likely finish among the league’s worst teams. The injury to James Conner robbed Arizona of its only effective offensive threat.

Best offensive player in Week 6: TE Trey McBride

The second-year tight end played his most snaps of the season on Sunday, and he handled the workload nicely. The Cardinals need to start finding out what they have in their young pieces, and McBride might be something. He led the offense with four catches for 62 yards against the Rams.

Best defensive player in Week 6: LB Josh Woods

A little-known player, Woods had one of the best games of his four-year career on Sunday. He made his first start since Week 1 and finished second on the team with six tackles and did not allow a completion in his coverage.

Team stat to know: Arizona’s 5.25 rushing yards per play are the second-most in the NFL.

Weeks 12 & 18 – New Orleans Saints (3-3)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Loss vs Tampa Bay (26-9)

- Week 5: Win at New England (34-0)

- Week 6: Loss at Houston (20-13)

Tweet-length summary of Saints in Week 6:

Best offensive player in Week 6: WR Rashid Shaheed

When Shaheed actually had a catchable ball, he made the most of it. He’s been emerging as a legitimate threat for New Orleans this season, but hasn’t had a true breakout game. Still, on a per-play basis, Shaheed is scary. He caught just two passes, but one was a 34-yard touchdown and the other was a big 51-yard play. Shaheed also carried the ball twice for 18 yards.

Best defensive player in Week 6: DE Carl Granderson

The big-bodied defensive linemen in New Orleans are always very active around the line of scrimmage, and Granderson’s performance on Sunday was a great example. He finished with six tackles, which is a fairly high number for a defensive lineman, and also notched his 4th solo sack of the season.

Team stat to know: New Orleans’ offense ranks 26th in yards per play with an average of 4.61.

Week 13 – at New York Jets (3-3)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Loss vs Kansas City (23-20)

- Week 5: Win at Denver (31-21)

- Week 6: Win vs Philadelphia (20-14)

Tweet-length summary of Jets in Week 6:

The Jets continue to find ways to surprise us, and it’s a commendable job that Robert Saleh and staff have done to keep this season afloat. Still, it’s hard to imagine this team can win sustainably unless the offense picks it up. Not every team will turn the ball over four times like the Eagles.

Best offensive player in Week 6: WR Garrett Wilson

When Wilson does finally get paired with a quarterback who lifts his receivers up instead of drags them down, he could ascend to top status fairly quickly. He’s that good, but we already knew that. He still offers us reminders, though, like on Sunday afternoon when he caught eight passes for 90 yards.

Best defensive player in Week 6: LB Quincy Williams

The other Williams on New York’s defense has been playing at a pretty high level in his third season with the Jets. He’s the team’s leading tackler on the year and put together another great performance against Philadelphia with 12 tackles. He was targeted often in coverage but held up fairly well, although he did allow a touchdown.

Team stat to know: New York's defense is 12th in DVOA, while the offense ranks 26th.

Week 15 – at Carolina Panthers (0-6)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Loss vs Minnesota (21-13)

- Week 5: Loss at Detroit (24-42)

- Week 6: Loss at Miami (42-21)

Tweet-length summary of Panthers in Week 6:

This was one of the best performances for Carolina in 2023, and they lost by 21 points.

Best offensive player in Week 6: WR Adam Thielen

Thielen has claimed this spot a lot recently, and it’s a testament to the chemistry he’s developed with quarterback Bryce Young. Thielen kept his hot streak going with 11 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Best defensive player in Week 6: CB Troy Hill

Carolina’s reserve corner made a great play late in this game to keep the score somewhat respectable. His 61-yard touchdown return off an interception was about as easy as they come, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

Team stat to know: Carolina’s defense has allowed 144.3 yards per game on the ground, which is the third most in the league.

Week 16 – vs Indianapolis Colts (3-3)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Loss vs Los Angeles Rams (29-23)

- Week 5: Win vs Tennessee (16-23)

- Week 6: Loss at Jacksonville (37-20)

Tweet-length summary of Colts in Week 6:

Gardner Minshew turned the ball over four times and Anthony Richardson will have season-ending shoulder surgery. A season that started hopefully in Indy is going downhill fast. The absence of a consistent ground game and the turnovers doomed any chance the Colts had in this one.

Best offensive player in Week 6: C Ryan Kelly

Kelly is off to the best start of his career, despite missing two games this year with a concussion. He has played at a high level as both a pass protector and in the run game. This is a bit of a bounce-back season for the eight-year veteran, and it’s a welcome sight to see.

Best defensive player in Week 6: CB JuJu Brents

Indy’s rookie corner was picked on a lot in this game, but he held up rather well. Brents was targeted 10 times in coverage, but he allowed just six completions. Brents did surrender 78 yards, but a good chunk did come on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Christian Kirk. That was the low spot for the rookie, but he also broke up a pass and intercepted another.

Team stat to know: The Colts average 345.3 yards per game on offense, which is the 10th-best mark in the league through six weeks.

Week 17 – at Chicago Bears (1-5)

Last three games:

- Week 4: Loss vs Denver (31-28)

- Week 5: Win at Washington (40-20)

- Week 6: Loss vs Minnesota (19-13)

Tweet-length summary of Bears in Week 6:

Losing Justin Fields likely cost the Bears in what was a very winnable game. It’s a shame, because Chicago looked like it was starting to turn around. Enter Tyler Bagent, who has the all-time career record for touchdown passes at any collegiate level with 159.

Best offensive player in Week 6: WR DJ Moore

By his Week 5 standards, Moore’s performance in Week 6 was very disappointing. However, so was the entire offense’s. He caught five passes for 51 yards and continues to live a cursed life of poor and revolving quarterback play.

Best defensive player in Week 6: LB T.J. Edwards

Edwards has been one of the most entertaining Bears defenders to watch this season, and he continued to lead the way for Chicago against Minnesota. He tied for the team high with seven tackles and registered a sack for the second game in a row.

Team stat to know: Chicago’s defense has allowed the highest conversion rate on third downs this season.