From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles while making a few observations during Sunday’s NFL Week 6:
n The Team That Has Risen to the Next Level — Cowboys.
Dallas was far from perfect during its 35-29 overtime win at the Patriots with 12 penalties, two red-zone turnovers and some leakiness in the secondary, but it has a superior QB and wide receiver corps to overcome mistakes. QB Dak Prescott has looked flawless after last season’s serious injury and he’s on top of his game. CeeDee Lamb has emerged as a star wide receiver to complement Amari Cooper and a deep receiving unit. Trevon Diggs has turned into a Deion “Primetime” Sanders, intercepting passes at a prolific pace. In previous seasons, the Cowboys would have lost troublesome road games, but not this season. They could have a very deep playoff run.
n Distractions Go Away — Derek Carr, Raiders. The QB went 18-for-27 with 341 yards and 2 TDs in Las Vegas’ 34-24 win at the Broncos despite a week filled with the fallout of the Jon Gruden resignation.
n Major Disappointment Team — Dolphins. Miami narrowly missed the playoffs last year with 10 wins, but this season has been a disaster now with a five-game losing skid. Brian Flores, whose team lost two valuable, second-half timeouts due to questionable coaches’ challenges in its 23-20 loss to the previously winless Jaguars, was outcoached by Urban Meyer during the game. Miami’s defense has severely eroded from last season and the running game is spotty at best.
n Who Are the NFL MVP Candidates? — 1. Kyler Murray, Cardinals; 2. Lamar Jackson, Ravens; 3. Prescott; 4. Tom Brady, Bucs; 5. Josh Allen, Bills.
n 2 Teams That Have to Improve and Now — Jets and Giants. The East Rutherford, N.J.-based clubs are a combined 2-9 and have been outscored by a combined and ugly, 298-181. Look at the teams’ next four opponents: First the Jets — at Patriots, host the Bengals, at the Colts and host the Bills. For the Giants — host the Panthers, at the Chiefs (yikes!), host the Raiders and at the Bucs (double yikes!).
n Welcome to Reality — Browns. They were destroyed at home by the undefeated Cardinals. QB Baker Mayfield is great when his team has a comfy lead in the second half, but he’s not a come-from-behind QB. Granted, Mayfield missed a couple of offensive weapons Sunday, but in the big picture, he’s the third-best signal-caller in the AFC North behind Jackson and Joe Burrow.
n Next Week’s Marquee Games and It’s a Struggle to Find Them — Bengals at Ravens and Lions at Rams (with QB Matthew Stafford facing his old team).
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org