Cody Schoeler’s 2022 Week 6 NFL West Previews
Posted on October 13, 2022
We are now officially past the quarter-mark in the season (which is now in the middle of week five as opposed to after week four thanks to the new 17th game).
Usually, this is around the point in the season where we start to get a good understanding of teams and where they stand. But that hasn’t necessarily been the case so far.
Plenty of teams have provided mixed signals this year, especially the teams in the west.
Other than Kansas City, none of the eight west teams are looking like what we thought they would be this year.
The Rams look like a shell of the team from last year. The Broncos don’t appear to have an NFL-caliber offense. And the Seahawks might not actually be one of the worst teams in the league, at least on offense anyway.
Week Six provides another chance to either confirm those early-season suspicions or to prove them wrong. And with some great matchups for west teams this week, it should provide plenty of entertainment as well.
49ers (3-2) at Falcons (2-3)
Sunday, October 16
10:00 a.m., FOX
This matchup has the potential to be an incredibly fun game, perhaps the most fun of the early window on Sunday.
The Falcons play teams close. Despite their 2-3 record, they have played every game close and have just a minus-four point differential.
They will be facing a very tough 49ers defense and may struggle to put up enough points to keep this one close.
San Francisco seems to have things clicking at the moment. It has allowed just 12.2 points per game, so shutting down quarterback Marcus Mariota and rookie wide receiver Drake London shouldn’t be too difficult for them.
The offense is where the concerns lie. The 49ers have a ton of variability on that side of the ball with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo leading the way.
That group has looked better recently, with running back Jeff Wilson and wide receiver Deebo Samuel carrying most of the offensive load.
And those two should have success again going up against an Atlanta defense that has allowed the 12th-most points this year.
The Falcons’ penchant for close games may end up prevailing in this contest but the 49ers have the blueprint for an easy victory and should be able to follow it to a T.
Rams (2-3) vs Panthers (1-4)
Sunday, October 16
1:05 p.m., FOX
If there was ever a time for the Rams to just dominate their opponent and gain some much-needed confidence, it would be this week.
The Panthers are coming off an embarrassing loss to the 49ers that resulted in them firing head coach Matt Rhule and most of his staff.
They also may be without quarterback Baker Mayfield who is battling an ankle injury, which would leave them with quarterback P.J. Walker as the starter.
The Rams are coming off their own embarrassing defeat last week, although they didn’t fire head coach Sean McVay. But they did look completely overmatched against the Cowboys, especially on the offensive line.
Luckily for Los Angeles, Carolina doesn’t have the same level of talent on the front seven as Dallas, although defensive end Brian Burns is a very good young player.
The Carolina defense as a whole has been struggling this year, giving up 63 points combined in the last two games.
This should be the perfect opportunity for quarterback Matthew Stafford to bounce back and finally have a good game.
The Panthers will likely be unable to guard wide receiver Cooper Kupp, as most teams are, and this could even be the game the Rams get their run game going.
And on defense the story is simple. Walker won’t have a chance against guys like defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, no matter how good running back Christian McCaffrey is.
The 2021 Rams would absolutely blow this Panthers team out of the water but since the 2022 version has been a much different story, it’s not guaranteed that they even get a win on Sunday.
Cardinals (2-3) at Seahawks (2-3)
Sunday, October 16
1:05 p.m., FOX
If you like high-scoring games then this is the matchup for you.
These two squads have scored a combined 232 points this year while also giving up a combined 277 points.
This could finally be the game where Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray looks like the player worthy of his large contract.
The Seahawks have allowed the second-most points this season and the seventh-most passing yards. That should lead to a big game for Murray.
He is going to have to score a ton of points to keep up with the Seattle offense.
Quarterback Geno Smith is playing out of this world at the moment, leading the Seahawks to 25.4 points per game, the seventh-most in the league.
This game will feature plenty of dynamic playmakers on offense.
Seattle receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett haven’t missed a beat with their new quarterback and Arizona wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Zach Ertz have been equally as impressive.
This game will also be the first opportunity for Seattle’s rookie running back Kenneth Walker as the starter.
Walker takes over following the season-ending injury to running back Rashaad Penny and could have a difficult time against a Cardinals’ defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards this year.
Since this game will be defined by the offenses, the winner will be whichever side can get enough plays from its defense to just barely pull ahead.
The Seahawks have rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen who has recorded an interception in three straight games, including returning one for a touchdown in week four against Detroit.
The Cardinals have defense end J.J. Watt, who is still disruptive despite his age, and safety Budda Baker, who is one of the best in the game at the position.
This certainly doesn’t project to be a great day for either of the defenses but whichever unit makes the bigger play will likely be the one that gets the victory.
Chiefs (4-1) vs Bills (4-1)
Sunday, October 16
1:25 p.m., CBS
This matchup has great game-of-the-year potential, partly because the last time they played it was an absolutely iconic game.
Both the Bills and Chiefs are picking up right where they left off last year and playing incredibly good football again. They could play multiple times each year and no one would get tired of watching it.
Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are once again playing better than just about every other player in the league. But Allen may actually have the advantage this time around.
He is playing out of his mind and producing unbelievable plays and performances each week. He also gets to go up against an improved Kansas City defense but one that is still bottom-10 in points and passing yards allowed.
Mahomes is facing a much harder challenge.
The Bills’ defense is arguably the best in the entire league. They are tied with the 49ers for the fewest points allowed and are second to them in yards allowed, yards per play, and scoring percentage.
Allen also has the better weapons, though not by much. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is established as one of the best in the league while fellow wide receiver Gabriel Davis is a game-breaking deep threat.
Buffalo also has wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie and Khalil Shakir, a rookie who has been impressive, to go with tight end Dawson Knox and a solid stable of running backs.
Mahomes has been largely relying on tight end Travis Kelce, to great success, because wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman have been underwhelming. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling has also failed to live up to expectations but has still produced at times.
Clearly, this will be another battle between high-powered offenses, considering they are first and second in points scored this year.
The Bills have the advantage because of their elite defense but the Chiefs’ defense is no slouch. They have the potential to keep this game within reach, in which case all Mahomes has to do is work his magic to get a win (which we have seen him do against this team before).
Chargers (3-2) vs Broncos (2-3)
Monday, October 17
5:15 p.m., ESPN
These teams might be two of the most disappointing squads so far this year.
The Chargers came into the season with high hopes of being the ones to finally dethrone the Chiefs.
While the Broncos were supposed to be vaulted into the top tier of the AFC with the acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson.
So far neither of those has happened, but the Broncos are in a much worse place.
Not much needs to be said about their offense this year other than the fact that it is bad. Like letting down the entire franchise—bad.
The Chargers are certainly not on the same disappointment level as the Broncos but a loss to the Jaguars and closer-than-they-should-have-been games to the Texans and Browns haven’t given the fanbase too much hope.
Fortunately, one of these teams will get a big win on Monday.
The path for a Denver victory is a low-scoring game in which their defense dominates. Of course, that would require the offense to score, which seems to be a problem.
But with the defense playing the way it has been lately, allowing the fourth-fewest points, it is possible that they get the job done.
Cornerback Patrick Surtain will play a huge role in that. He has been one of the best corners in the league this year and his ability to slow down Chargers’ wide receiver Mike Williams will be crucial.
The way the Chargers emerge victorious is to control the game and make the Broncos play from behind.
Los Angeles has been very effective on offense even with that clunker against Jacksonville factored in.
Quarterback Justin Herbert is among the elite at his position and has led the offense to score the ninth-most points this year. The offense could look even better this week if wide receiver Keenan Allen is finally able to return from injury.
Running back Austin Ekeler also has found his stride after a slow start, giving the offense one more dangerous weapon. He has racked up 233 of his season total 313 rushing yards in the last two weeks, so he is playing like the top back that he is.
The Los Angeles defense is far from the intimidating unit that many expected it to be this year. But going against a Denver offense that is 31st in points scored shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.
This should be a fairly easy Chargers win given how both teams have been playing but if the Broncos have flipped the switch this week, then this Monday night matchup could end up being a lot closer than expected.
—More from Cody Schoeler—
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