NFL news and notes, Week 6

Power rankings

He said it

"We've got a lot of good players. If we had any coaching at all, we'd be in good shape."

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, on his 1-3 team

Keep an eye on

A pair of disappointing 1-3 teams meet today when the Vikings host the Cowboys. The subplot, however, is what happened in last season's playoff game when the Vikings tacked on a late touchdown pass in a 34-3 victory. At the time, Cowboys LB Keith Brooking challenged the Vikings bench and called the late score "disgusting and classless."

Upset alert

Cowboys over Vikings: The Cowboys go in as slight underdogs, but with Vikings QB Brett Favre dealing with injury and controversy, the Cowboys will sneak out with a W.

Number of the week

33,452 Net passing yards through the first five weeks of the season, the most in NFL history.

Protecting the football

It keeps being repeated that Jets QB Mark Sanchez doesn't have to win games in New York but only protect the ball, manage the clock and just don't lose games. Well, the Jets are 4-1, and look at this stat: Sanchez has not thrown an interception this season after throwing 20 last season. In fact, the Jets have turned the ball over only once. If they don't turn it over today in Denver, the Jets will become the first team in NFL history to commit one or no turnovers in the first six weeks of the season. As it is, they are only the fourth team since 1933 to go the first five games with one or no turnovers. And it starts with Sanchez.

"Do I feel like I'm better than I was last year? Hands down, without a doubt," Sanchez says. "I feel so much more comfortable, sharper. It's only going to build."

1. Ravens

2. Steelers

3. Jets

4. Falcons

5. Bears

6. Patriots

Milestone watch

The Bears' Devin Hester, left, needs one kick return for a touchdown to tie Brian Mitchell for most in NFL regular-season history with 13. Hester has eight punts and four kickoff returns for touchdowns, and that does not include a return in Super Bowl XLI.

This and that

The Chiefs are looking to start 4-1 for the first time since 1998. … If the Lions lose at the Giants, it will be their 24th consecutive loss on the road, which will tie their own NFL record. The Lions lost 24 in a row on the road from 2001 to 2003. … Last week, the Broncos' Kyle Orton became the second quarterback in franchise history to throw for at least 300 yards in four consecutive games. What's strange is the other was not John Elway, but Brian Griese, who accomplished the feat in 2002. … Texans WR Andre Johnson has 14 10-catch, 100-yard receiving games. One more and he ties the great Jerry Rice for most in NFL history.

Information from the Associated Press and the Philadelphia Inquirer was used in this report.

Big Ben returns

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger returns from a four-game suspension today, and the Steelers can sure use him. Sure, they are 3-1, but they are last in the NFL with only 544 passing yards. "I don't think there is any question his return is going to be a great lift to the team," CBS analyst and former Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. Roethlisberger is 9-1 against today's opponent — the Browns, who are likely to start rookie Colt McCoy at quarterback.

Three teams enter this weekend winless. The Bills, Panthers and 49ers are all 0-5, and because each has played so poorly, it's not a stretch to wonder if any of them can challenge the 2008 Lions — the only NFL team to go 0-16. Surprisingly, according to BetUS.com, the 49ers have the best chance to go 0-16 at 50-to-1 odds. The Bills are 75-to-1, and the Panthers are 200-to-1. A look at the three teams and what stands in their way from a winless 2010:

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have gone from one of the NFL's winningest teams in the 1990s to bottom-feeders with just one winning record this decade. This is their worst start in 25 years. Owner Ralph Wilson said, "It's bad," S Donte Whitner called the team a "laughingstock," and even G Eric Wood didn't dismiss Buffalo from going 0-16. They've given up 161 points, most in the NFL, and have held an opponent under 34 points only once in the first five games. The only games in which it appears the Bills have a chance are Nov. 14 at home against Detroit and Dec. 12 at home against Cleveland.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have scored only 52 points in five games — by far the lowest total in the NFL. (By the way, that's an astonishing 88 points fewer than the Chargers.) The problem is at quarterback, where Matt Moore and rookie Jimmy Clausen have taken turns being equally ineffective. The Panthers are averaging only 136.4 yards through the air, the next-to-worst average in the league. The Panthers host the winless 49ers next week. If the Panthers don't win that game, they might not have a better shot. They play the Rams and Browns, but both games are on the road.

San Francisco 49ers

What's so surprising is the 49ers were picked by most to win the weak NFC West. For starters, the 49ers have had a fairly difficult schedule. And they have been competitive in three of their losses — losing by three to New Orleans and Philadelphia and by two to Atlanta. Other than being unable to run (about 78 yards a game), the 49ers are statistically in the middle of the pack in just about everything else. They have two games against the Rams and Cardinals, plus a meeting against winless Carolina. You have to figure they will win eventually.

NFL news and notes, Week 6 10/16/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 16, 2010 5:37pm]

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