The 32 things we learned from Week 6 of the 2022 NFL season:
1. How pervasive is parity in the NFL this year? Of the schedule’s first 92 games, 56 have been decided by one score – most ever at this stage of a season.
2. The Buffalo Bills’ 24-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs is the most consequential so far of a still-young season. The Bills (5-1) have split their last four games at Arrowhead Stadium, also winning there in the regular season last year, but both defeats occurring in the playoffs. However with a head-to-head tiebreaker now in hand against the Chiefs (4-2), chances improved significantly that the next meeting between these teams will occur in Western New York a few months from now.
3. Bills QB Josh Allen, who passed for 329 yards and three TDs on Sunday – including the game winner to TE Dawson Knox with 64 seconds to go – also solidified his early standing in the MVP race on a day when Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes threw a pair of picks, including a comeback killer on Kansas City’s final possession.
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4. And Buffalo pass rusher Von Miller (2 sacks) was the game changer he was paid to be after signing a six-year, $120 million deal in the offseason. Miller was a member of the soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in January, when the Chiefs shredded the Bills’ top-ranked defense in a divisional playoff classic – most notably at the end of the game and overtime. Sunday, it was Miller’s pressure on Mahomes’ final, errant throw that helped secure the win.
5. Who Dey? > Who Dat?
6. Joe Burrow > Andy Dalton.
7. It was that kind of Sunday as the Cincinnati Bengals and star QB Burrow (300 passing yards and 3 TDs, including a game-winning 60-yarder) outlasted Dalton, their former QB1, and the New Orleans Saints 30-26.
8. It was also quite the homecoming for Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, a Louisiana native, who snagged the decisive score (plus another one). Now teammates in Cincy, it was the duo’s first game at the Superdome since leading a now-legendary 2019 LSU team to its most recent national championship. Burrow and Chase also hooked up for two TDs in that 42-25 defeat of Clemson, and Burrow was clearly relishing the memory by rocking Chase’s Bayou Bengals jersey Sunday morning. “I just wanted to pay tribute to the people of Louisiana and all the fans, playing in the stadium we won the national title game in,” said Burrow, who played in front of quite a few of his own No. 9 LSU jerseys. He added: “It was great to come back and feel the culture and energy of the fans.”
9. Going into the season, the AFC projected as the superior conference. But remarkably, to this point, the Minnesota Vikings (5-1) are the only team in their conference outside of the NFC East that’s currently above .500.
10. Six NFC teams sit at 3-3, half of those in the NFC West. Six others have losing records. If the playoffs began tomorrow – they don’t – three NFC teams without winning marks would qualify.
11. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick notched his 324th career win, playoffs included, by beating the team that provided his first head-coaching opportunity, the Cleveland Browns. Now tied with Hall of Famer George Halas on the NFL’s all-time victory list, Belichick is 24 shy of overtaking Don Shula for the overall lead.
12. Rookie Bailey Zappe is becoming the AFC’s answer to Cooper Rush. Since he took the field in Week 4, replacing QB2 Brian Hoyer, the Patriots have scored 88 points – including Sunday’s 38-15 blowout in Cleveland. Prior to Zappe’s ascendance, New England had managed just 53 points. Don’t hurry back, Mac.
13. Speaking of rookie quarterbacks, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Kenny Pickett notched his first NFL win by helping to orchestrate an upset of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, it was a pricey triumph for Pickett, who suffered a concussion in the third quarter.
14. Give Steelers vet Mitchell Trubisky credit for a save – even if the NFL doesn’t award them – after he completed nine of 12 passes for 144 yards and a TD in relief of Pickett. It was easily the best performance in a Steelers uniform for Trubisky, who was benched two weeks ago.
15. For Brady, who was 12-3 against Pittsburgh as a member of the Patriots, it was a rare loss to the Steelers.
16. Maybe we should’ve guessed the New York Jets, who are now 4-2 (and 4-2 all-time at Lambeau Field), would beat the staggering Green Bay Packers. But it was something to see the NYJ and their resurgent fans just take over in Wisconsin.
17. Green Bay lost consecutive regular-season games for the first time since Matt LaFleur became head coach in 2019. Including playoffs, the Pack have now dropped five of their past eight contests.
18. LaFleur will also have to hear about this loss for some time, as he and Jets coach Robert Saleh were groomsmen in one another’s weddings.
18a. Also, the NYJ’s offensive coordinator is Mike LaFleur – Matt’s younger brother.
19. And the New York, New York revival theme continues. The Jets (4-2) and Giants (5-1) have now equaled or exceeded last year’s win total – both clubs were 4-13 in 2021, which capped a league-worst five-year span when each team went 22-59. The G-Men upset the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
20. Giants rookie OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux notched his first career sack, bagging Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson. Thibodeaux admitted the benchmark brought him to tears following the win and said Jackson promised to send him his jersey to commemorate it.
21. How about some love for the Vikes defense, which produced six sacks and three turnovers in Sunday’s 24-16 win over the Miami Dolphins. When you got those kinds of big plays, you can live with surrendering 458 yards.
22. Memorable Sunday for Indianapolis Colts QB Matt Ryan, who seemed to officially arrive as his new team’s field general. Ryan established a franchise record with 42 completions – and this is an organization that has employed Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning, Bert Jones, Andrew Luck, Jim Harbaugh and Philip Rivers, among others. Ryan’s final throw was a 32-yard TD pass with 17 seconds left that beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-27.
23. Ryan, the NFL’s MVP in 2016, also displaced Hall of Famer Dan Marino for seventh place all-time on the NFL’s passing yards list. Now with 61,500 yards in the regular season, Ryan needs 2,589 more to overtake Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger to move into the top five.
24. The Jags, who have beaten the Colts eight in a row at home, have lost five in a row and nine of 10 to them in Indianapolis.
25. The Jaguars and Colts became the first teams to complete a pair of divisional matchups in 2022.
26. The Atlanta Falcons stunned the San Francisco 49ers 28-14 and stunned the rest of us by having a share of the NFC South lead in mid-October.
27. Niners HC Kyle Shanahan coached in Atlanta for the first time since he was the Falcons offensive coordinator in 2016 – when they reached the Super Bowl, but Shanahan was roundly panned for their second-half collapse to the Patriots.
28. Falcons TE Kyle Pitts caught his second career TD pass Sunday, but his first in the United States. His only other score occurred last year in London.
29. Washington Commanders QB Carson Wentz improved to 7-0 on Thursday night games after an ugly 12-7 defeat of the almost equally inept Chicago Bears.
30. Unfortunately for Wentz, he fractured a finger on his passing hand and could miss up to six weeks. At least he won’t miss another Thursday game this year.
31. Byes kicked in during Week 6, taking the Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans off the field – just in case you missed their absence … or were perfectly content they were absent.
32. In their first game without fired coach Matt Rhule, the Carolina Panthers (1-5) appear like the league’s 32nd-best team, well on their way to the No. 1 pick of the 2023 draft. They didn’t score an offensive TD in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Rams, were forced to employ their fourth-string quarterback (Jacob Eason), generated all of eight first downs and sent one of their better players, WR Robbie Anderson to an early shower. Otherwise, everything is great …
32a. … including interim coach Steve Wilks’ Air Jordan XI Jubilees. When you live in Charlotte, may as well at least see if you can get some free Js from Hornets owner Michael Jordan.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.