Four teams, including a pair of NFC South clubs, have this weekend to themselves. How have the Falcons, Saints, Jets, and 49ers fared so far in 2021?
We have arrived at that part of the NFL season when comes a little rest for the weary. It’s the first series of off-weeks for the NFL’s 32 teams that culminates in Week 14. On tap for a little mini-vacation are the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers.
Only one of these clubs is above .500 at the moment and two of these teams have first-time NFL head coaches.
So what has 2021 been to date for this quartet? What happened in Week 6 that affected these four clubs. It’s grading time.
NFL 2021: Grades for teams coming off Week 6 Bye
Atlanta Falcons (2-3)
There’s a new head coach in Arthur Smith and a new defensive coordinator in Dean Pees. But these Falcons look a lot like the team last year that struggled on defense while quarterback Matt Ryan put up big numbers.
Atlanta has already allowed 16 offensive touchdowns (11 through the air) and over 30 points in three of their first five outings. Meanwhile, Ryan is hitting on 69.1 percent of his passes and has thrown for 10 scores as opposed to just two picks.
New Orleans Saints (3-2)
Talk about a rollercoaster start? But take a look at the 2021 season when it comes to Sean Payton’s club. A rout of the Packers (who haven’t lost since) was followed by a humbling loss in Carolina.
The Saints rebounded to beat the Patriots on the road, then returned home and lost to the Giants in overtime. The team won at Washington in its last outing. Quarterback James Winston has four of the team’s five turnovers but he’s already thrown 12 TD passes.
New York Jets (1-4)
Former 49ers’ defensive coordinator Robert Saleh inherited a team that won only two games a year ago. The Jets have struggled coming out of the gate, especially on the offensive side of the ball as rookie quarterback Zach Wilson has taken his lumps.
He’s been sacked 18 times and thrown more than twice as many picks (9) as touchdown tosses (4). And speaking of interceptions, the Jets are the only team in the league that hasn’t intercepted a pass.
San Francisco 49ers (2-3)
From a pair of wins over the Lions and Eagles to three consecutive losses, Kyle Shanahan’s team suddenly finds itself on the ropes as the Cardinals and Rams continue to win. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is once again battling injuries and rookie Trey Lance is a bit nicked up as well.
The defense has been a big spotty under new coordinator DeMeco Ryans despite the return of a pass rush that has totaled 11 sacks in five games – led by Nick Bosa (5).
Things got a little tighter when it came to the three teams chasing the Buccaneers in the NFC South. While Tampa Bay held on to beat the Eagles, 28-22, on a Thursday night at Philadelphia, the Carolina Panthers fell in overtime at home, 34-28, to the Vikings.
The 49ers are now in third place in the NFC West following Seattle’s 23-20 overtime loss at Pittsburgh. And the Jets watched every other team in the AFC East lose while they were getting some rest.