NFL Update: Only two undefeated teams remain Can the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs stay unbeaten?
By Hunter Jameson
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
The National Football League just wrapped up its sixth week of the season and there were a few surprises that many fans were not expecting. With many rookies getting their first taste of the NFL this season, trades over the off-season and coaching changes, fans knew it would be interesting to see how each team would start.
In the first Thursday Night Football game of the season, quarterback Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos threw seven touchdown passes. The Broncos traded for wide receiver Wes Welker this off-season, who came from the New England Patriots and made significant contributions on opening night and has continued to help Manning thus far. The Denver Broncos find themselves one of two remaining undefeated teams at 6-0 and have been almost unstoppable in five of the six games. Manning is on pace to break the NFL record for most touchdowns in a season, held by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots with 50 in 2007. Manning currently has 22 passing touchdowns through six games with only two interceptions. Running back Knowshon Moreno has been the leading rusher for the Broncos so far, compiling 373 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He makes an impact whenever he gets a chance, considering that the Broncos’ offense relies primarily on Manning’s arm. Wide Receivers Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker lead the team with 37 receptions each, Thomas with four touchdowns and Welker with eight. The Broncos are in the American Football Conference West, or AFC West, with the San Diego Chargers. The two teams play each other at Qualcomm Stadium on November 10th.
The biggest surprise of the season so far has been the success of the Kansas City Chiefs, the other remaining undefeated team. Quarterback Alex Smith could not have made more of a statement with his new team than starting 6-0, just one year after going 2-14. Smith was traded to the Chiefs from the San Francisco 49ers after Colin Kaepernick took his place as starting quarterback. The Chiefs have six returning NFL Pro-Bowlers: Strong Safety Eric Berry, Running Back Jamaal Charles, Punter Dustin Colquitt, Linebacker Tamba Hali, Linebacker Justin Houston and Linebacker Derrick Johnson. With four of their defensive Pro-Bowlers returning, the defense has been stifling in the first six games. The pressure has not been placed on Alex Smith as much, allowing the team to play together as a unit and have such a successful start.
Running Back Jamaal Charles has been a workhorse so far for the chiefs, leading the team in rushing and receiving yards with a combined seven touchdowns. If both teams are able to keep their winning streaks alive, Nov. 17 will be the day one of them finally loses. The Chiefs travel to Denver that Sunday to take on the Broncos, likely the biggest game of the season for the Chiefs.
As for the remaining 30 teams, the target is not directly on them like the Chiefs and Broncos, but every week is important for the chance to make the playoffs. The New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks are all leading or are tied for the lead in their respective divisions. The most surprising team in a depressing aspect has been the New York Giants, who are still winless at 0-6. They can’t find a way to win so far along with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are also winless.
There have been some outstanding individual performers this season who have carried their respective teams. Buffalo Bills Linebacker Kiko Alonso leads the NFL in tackles with 67 and is tied for the lead in interceptions with four. New Orleans Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham leads the NFL in reception yards, as he catches passes from Quarterback Drew Brees. Brees is second in the NFL in passing yards with 1,958. As of right now, there is no doubt that Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning is the Most Valuable Player of the league through six weeks, but we will see if another player can step up and make their presence known as the weeks continue.
Unfortunately, there have been several injuries this season to key players that have put a heavy burden on their teammates. Wide Receiver Julio Jones broke his foot and is out for the season, leaving the Atlanta Falcons with one less weapon on offense to help quarterback Matt Ryan. Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta fractured and disloacted his hip early in the season but is recovering quickly. He hopes to return to the field in December. Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Juke Joeckel, the second overall draft pick in last year’s draft, broke his ankle and is out for the season. New England Patriots legendary defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is out for the season after having surgery of his Achilles.