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Shocks Aplenty As NFL Enters Midseason

Shocks Aplenty As NFL Enters Midseason

As the 2024 NFL season entered its sixth week, the campaign was shaping up to be a predictable affair. In the NFC, perennial heavyweights in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers look set to battle out for the conference once more. In the AFC, Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs look headed straight for a sixth straight conference championship game.

Heading into game week six, both the aforementioned Eagles and their Californian counterparts were expected to continue their 100% records. They both faced two of the league’s weakest teams and thumping victories were expected. What we witnessed however was the complete opposite, and their performances have blown the race for the Super Bowl wide open.

49ers Crumble at Lowly Cleveland Browns

Following their unbeaten start to the new campaign, the San Francisco 49ers had catapulted themselves into Lombardi favourites. A huge 42-10 victory against an ever-improving Dallas Cowboys on game week five made the rest of the league sit up and take notice. A Cleveland Browns team that had a modest 2-3 record and that has reached the playoffs just twice since 1994 wasn’t expected to provide any resistance at all. But just as they did when they upset the Cincinnati Bengals on the opening weekend of the campaign, the Ohio side threw an almighty spanner in the works.

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The visitors at FirstEnergy Stadium looked as though they were handling business as usual when the ever-reliable running back Christian McAffrey was on the end of a 13-yard yard reception from Brock Purdy to give his side a lead. They then extended that margin to ten points when Jake Moody sent over a field goal early in the second quarter. But following that, the wheels began to come off.

Purdy, who has established himself as one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the entire league since stepping up from third-stringer to first-stringer late last season, couldn’t make a completion if his life depended on it. He ended up with a paltry 12 completions out of 27 attempts and to make matters worse, McAffrey suffered a game-ending injury which saw the 49ers’ ground game also neutralized. And the hosts would take full advantage.

Running back Kareem Hunt rushed home a 16-yard touchdown to bring the hosts to within three. Then back-to-back field goals in the third quarter would give the Browns a shock lead. Jordan Mason rushed home early in the fourth quarter and looked to have spared the 49ers blushes. But once more, two consecutive field goals gave the hosts the lead with just minutes remaining.

That gave the 49ers one final drive in an attempt to knick a sixth straight victory. The best they could manage was a field goal attempt which would have given them a one-point victory. Inexplicably, the reliable right boot of Moody dragged his attempt wide gifting a shocking victory to the Browns. But luckily for the 49ers, their current biggest rivals also had a day to forget.

Related: Eleven To Watch In The 2020/21 NFL Season

Rodgers-less Jets Upset Eagles at MetLife

Prior to the current campaign getting underway, the New York Jets were many people’s dark horse for the Lombardi. That came due to their blockbuster trade of Aaron Rodgers in the close season, grabbing the 39-year-old three-time MVP winner from the Green Bay Packers. However, hopes of a successful campaign were all but ended barely six minutes into the new season when A-Rod suffered a season-ending injury.

The MetLife Stadium outfit has struggled ever since. They managed to knock off the Bills in the opening week despite Rodgers’ injury, but only one win has come in the weeks since. The Eagles meanwhile had a perfect 5-0 record and they were expected to pile on the misery for their opponents on week six.

Last season’s NFC Champions have become a point-scoring machine in recent weeks. Back on game week three, Eli Berkovits’ locks tipped the Eagles to combine with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers to score over 46 points, a prediction which ultimately didn’t come to fruition. And on week six, the Eagles would bust parlays up and down the country once more.

Just like the 49ers, it also looked like business as usual for the Eagles on the road. Jalen Hurts predictably rushed home an early touchdown and with five minutes remaining in the first half, D’Andre Swift had pushed the lead out to 14-3. But just like the team they vanquished in last season’s NFC Championship game, they would capitulate. In those five remaining minutes, back-to-back field goals from Greg Zuerlein had reduced the deficit to 14-9. Another field goal in the third quarter brought the hosts into striking distance, and strike they did.

With just 1:46 left on the clock, the Jets drove their way down the field and into the Red Zone. Breece Hall would then rush home from eight yards, while Zach Wilson would find Randall Cobb for a two-point conversion, confirming a shocking 20-14 victory for the hosts and blowing the NFC wide open ahead of the midway point.

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