John Madden
John Madden
Broncos-Dolphins tops weekend's slate
By John Madden
ALLMADDEN.com

Here is my look at some of the teams, players and games for Week Six.

Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos
When thinking Dolphins-Broncos, Dan Marino and John Elway come to mind. They're two of the all-time great quarterbacks, but obviously they won't be playing this Sunday.

Brian Griese
Brian Griese is the ninth-rated passer in the NFL.
Denver didn't play well two Mondays ago against Baltimore, but the Broncos put it all together on Sunday against San Diego. They will run the ball and play-pass, and they need quarterback Brian Griese to be effective. He was against the Chargers. He has some good receivers in Rod Smith (who hurt his shoulder on Sunday), Ed McCaffrey and rookie Ashley Lelie. Lelie and fellow rookie Clinton Portis bring a lot of speed to the Broncos' offense.

Denver's defense is pretty good and it'll need to be that way against Miami. The Dolphins offense has looked good, and Norv Turner is a great offensive coordinator and play-caller. He has good mixture and balance with his offense. Running back Ricky Williams has added a whole lot to that side of the ball, too. He looks quick and fast, and he helps them control the ball and the clock.

Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots
The Patriots have lost a couple in a row on the road, after looking so good in their first three games. The defense has had a tough time, especially when playing the run, and they need to get well soon. It won't be easy getting well against Brett Favre and Ahman Green, though.

Favre was on target Monday night with his short, medium and deep passes against Chicago. He really played well, and Green's a heckuva back who can run the ball, and catch it and do some things after he catches it. The Packers' defense has a lot of guys injured, so that'll be something to watch.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
Ray Lewis
The Ravens are going to miss Ray Lewis this weekend.
Ray Lewis will not play this week after injuring his shoulder last Sunday night at Cleveland. He's such a big part of what the Ravens do. I saw him play a couple of Mondays ago against Denver, and he put his team on his shoulders as if to say, "Here, come on and follow me." Well, they did, and they really took it to the Broncos.

Baltimore's an interesting team in that it's kind of down, but the Ravens have some really good parts. In Jamal Lewis, they have a good running back. In Jonathan Ogden, they have the best offensive tackle in football. In Chris McAlister, they have a very good cornerback. And in Ray Lewis, they have the best middle linebacker in football. That's pretty darn good.

The Colts have Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison, and that's a heckuva offense right there. That threesome's been good over the years, but it's always been about the defense with Indianapolis. Last season, James got hurt, and the defense really struggled and that's tough on an offense. When you're always falling behind by two or three touchdowns, you have to play uphill, and you force things and that leads to turnovers. Tony Dungy came in there this season and he's a defensive guy. If he can get the defense to play better, Indianapolis can get back to being a playoff team.

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
The problem with the Falcons in this game is the health of Michael Vick. He hurt his shoulder in Atlanta's loss on Sunday to Tampa Bay. The Falcons are all about him. He's their best quarterback, obviously, and their best passer and best runner. He's something special, but now he's injured. Atlanta has to wonder if he'll play. And if he does, how much will he be able to play?

The Giants are an interesting team. They don't seem to be able to put a lot of things together. Just when you think, jeez, they may never go out and win another game, they do go out and win. And when you think, oh boy, they're good, they don't go out and win. It's always very important for New York that Kerry Collins gets off to a good start in a game. He needs to get in a good kind of rhythm and stay in it. Part of that is, he needs some kind of running game with Tiki Barber and maybe Ron Dayne. They need that good mixture of offense, and that will help Collins get into that rhythm and get some confidence. He has some guys that can catch the ball in Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey (who is bothered by a turf toe) and Ike Hilliard.

New Orleans Saints at Washington Redskins
On Sunday rookie Patrick Ramsey came in for an injured Danny Wuerffel and led the Redskins to a win at Tennessee. It looks like Steve Spurrier has found his quarterback, as long as Ramsey keeps his part up. Washington has a chance to do some things. It has a very good back in Stephen Davis (who hurt his knee against the Titans), and some good cornerbacks on defense. As I've said before, Spurrier will do well in this league, but I'm not sure if he'll do well right off the bat. He still needs some parts.

The Saints are a very good team. They were one of the top teams in football two years ago when they won their division, but then they struggled some last season. This year, though, they look like they're one of the top teams in football again. I really like quarterback Aaron Brooks, and Joe Horn's one of the best receivers in football. Deuce McAllister has done a nice job out of the backfield. Jim Haslett's their coach and he was a tough guy when he played in the NFL. Well, his defense plays tough and they have tough guys on it. They really like to hit you.

Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
The way the NFL is today, it's really a passing league. If you look at the trends early in the season, it started out with teams spreading out defenses, empty backfields, four and five receivers on the line of scrimmage, quarterbacks back in the shotgun and throwing the ball quickly, and short patterns and slants. That's kind of the direction the league has gone in so far.

Then you have these two teams that haven't been doing that. The Chiefs' Priest Holmes is one of the best running backs in the league, and he's running behind a very good offensive line. LaDainian Tomlinson's done a nice job for the Chargers, too. Heck, that's what these teams are about: running the football.

This is a divisional game and a rivalry game with a lot of emotion in it, and it will be hard-fought with the team winning the game probably being the one who wins the rushing game. There aren't a lot of games like this anymore and that's kind of neat to me.

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (ABC, Monday, 9 p.m. ET)
The 49ers are in great shape right now, especially within their division. They were in the playoffs last season, but they didn't win the NFC West. Their nemesis was St. Louis and they had to get past them. Now, the Rams are struggling and looking for their first win, and San Francisco beat them last weekend. The 49ers now have to look around and think, OK, who's our competition going to be in the division? The first thing you have to do to get in the playoffs is win your division. You can get in as a wild-card team, but you really want to win your division. That's the most important thing.

With St. Louis being down, San Francisco has to look at Arizona and the Seahawks in the NFC West. If Seattle's going to get in the hunt now, this is a good game to start putting the Seahawks in that hunt. They're coming off a bye after beating Minnesota the week before. It's always a good thing to get a win going into your bye week. You get a lot of positive things from that and you can build on that.

Look for my complete preview of this game on Friday at ALLMADDEN.com.


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