<
>

Biggest Week 6 NFL questions, stats and predictions

play
NFL 60-second preview for Week 6 (1:04)

ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano breaks down Week 6 of the NFL, in which Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott looks to break through the Packers' defense and the Dolphins, Rams and Bears try and figure out their quarterback situations. (1:04)

Taking a spin around the NFL to get you ready for Week 6:

The big questions

How will Colin Kaepernick perform in his first start of the season?

San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly made a quarterback switch this week, and the move coincides with a restructured deal for Kaepernick.

The 49ers' offense was bad with Blaine Gabbert -- 22nd overall and 30th in passing, according to Football Outsiders. They are averaging 5.11 plays per drive (31st) and 23.48 yards per drive (32nd). Considering Kelly's commitment to tempo, those are particularly disastrous numbers which will stress the defense over the course of a season.

What is up for debate though is whether Kaepernick will make a difference. He made eight starts last season and ranked 35th in yards per dropback (5.46) and 29th in QBR (47.0).

During his days in Philadelphia, Kelly used to say any system that is not quarterback-friendly is a bad system. Kaepernick has been an effective player before, and he's only 28 years old. In terms of the run game, he's the only true threat Kelly has had at quarterback since Michael Vick.

With the 49ers having lost four straight, Kelly's job now is to see if he can somehow resurrect Kaepernick's career. The 49ers go into Buffalo as 9-point underdogs.

Can Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys stay hot?

They've got a formula that's working beautifully. The Cowboys are averaging 7.23 plays per drive and are keeping the ball on average for 3 minutes, 36 seconds per offensive possession. Both marks are tops in the NFL and have allowed Dallas to limit exposure of the league's 25th-ranked defense.

In arguably the week's most fascinating matchup, the Cowboys' run game will go up against a Green Bay Packers defense that has limited opponents to just 1.99 yards per carry, best in the league.

As for the Prescott-versus-Tony Romo question down the road, the answer should be simple if Prescott continues to play this well. The Cowboys have the second-ranked offense and third-best passing game. They've accomplished that with receiver Dez Bryant being mostly a nonfactor.

To count on the 36-year-old Romo to stay healthy and perform at a level above how Prescott is performing would be a stretch. And to make that move at the expense of developing a young quarterback doesn't make sense.

Will the Seattle Seahawks be able to slow down Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons?

The Falcons have the top-ranked offense in the NFL, and the Seahawks have the top-ranked defense.

In Week 5, Atlanta did a brilliant job of getting its running backs matched up on the Denver Broncos' linebackers. Tevin Coleman has 313 receiving yards on the season, more than any other running back. That's what makes the Falcons so tough to defend right now. They're playing to the strengths of their matchups. It doesn't have to be Julio Jones dominating every week.

Look for cornerback Richard Sherman to shadow Jones for much of this game. The Seahawks, playing at home, are 6.5-point favorites.

Numbers that matter

5.65: Jameis Winston's average yards per dropback. That ranks 27th in the NFL. He's 25th in completion percentage (58.5), 26th in yards per attempt (6.41) and 27th in passer rating (75.9). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Lovie Smith and hired Dirk Koetter, in part, to help develop Winston. But through five weeks, they have the 29th-ranked offense in the league.

5.37: Brock Osweiler's average yards per dropback. That ranks 30th. Granted, the Houston Texans quarterback was going up against a tough Minnesota Vikings defense, but he was a disaster in Week 5, completing 19 of 42 passes for 184 yards. Osweiler is the league's 29th-ranked quarterback in terms of passer rating, ahead of only Gabbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Texans have the worst offense and the worst passing offense in the NFL through five weeks. They have too much talent on that side of the ball to be struggling this badly. The Texans are 3-point favorites at home Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts.

461: Rushing yards for DeMarco Murray. That's second to only Elliott. He's averaging 4.96 yards per carry and looks much more like the player we saw in Dallas than the guy who struggled during his only season in Philadelphia. Murray is averaging 2.09 yards after contact (seventh). Last season, that number was 1.53 (38th). The Tennessee Titans are 7-point favorites at home against the Cleveland Browns.

What we'll be talking about Monday

The New York Giants' offense struggling once again: They had a chance to steal one against the Packers in Week 5, but Eli Manning & Co. just could not get going. The Giants' offense is averaging 16.4 points per game, which ranks 27th. Ben McAdoo's team is a 3.5-point favorite at home, but New York could have a tough time moving the ball again against the Baltimore Ravens.

What's happened to the Cincinnati Bengals: If they fall to the New England Patriots (who are 8.5-point favorites), the Bengals will match their loss total from 2015. Andy Dalton has been sacked on 7.9 percent of his dropbacks, the fourth-highest rate in the league. In the previous two seasons, that number was 4.3 percent.

Whether the Oakland Raiders are for real: All five of their games have been decided by seven points or fewer, and the Raiders have won four of them. Derek Carr (11 touchdowns/two interceptions) has looked great, but the defense (ranked 29th) continues to struggle. If the Raiders can knock off the Kansas City Chiefs, they'll be in sole possession of first place in the AFC West.