Two teams slug it out for sole possession of first place, while another pair of teams battle to stay above .500. This is Week Six in the STACK Battle of the Brands, but before we preview the matchups and starting lineups, we're tackling another lineup quandary with the help of Zach Warren of the sports analytics firm numberFire. This week's issue involves Under Armour and its QB controversy.
Is it time for Tom Brady to replace Cam Newton as UA's starting QB?
Warren: It was probably time for Brady to supplant Newton as the starting QB a few weeks ago, based simply on the players' consistency. Newton's success since entering the league has been intimately tied to his rushing ability. When he's been able to rush for at least 50 yards, the Panthers are 6-4. When he has not, his team is 1-10. The problem is, you never know which is happening when. He has rushed for 50 yards almost 50 percent of the time, both this season and in his career, but this is not enough consistency to make up for having only one 300-plus yard passing game, four total passing TDs, and five interceptions this season. I'll take Brady's five straight games with a TD pass and one interception on the year.
Game 1: Team adidas (2-3) vs. Team Under Armour (2-3)
Kendall Wright, Team adidas's newly-appointed No. 1 wide receiver, has been targeted early and often this season but has yet to find the end zone. Is this the week for the rookie's first career TD? After being knocked out of last week's contest, Robert Griffin III appears set to start Sunday, as is TE Kyle Rudolph, who starts in place of Jimmy Graham (bye week).
- QB: Robert Griffin III (vs. MIN)
- WR: Kendall Wright (vs. PIT)
- WR: Davone Bess (vs. STL)
- RB: Reggie Bush (vs. STL)
- RB: Frank Gore (vs. NYG)
- TE: Kyle Rudolph (@ WAS)
- Flex: DeMarco Murray (@ BAL)
Team Under Armour
Tom Brady gets his first start in the Battle of the Brands, and, based on Warren's ruling, he will assume starting QB duties for the foreseeable future. Several players on Team Under Armour are faced with some not-so-favorable matchups, including Brady and Stevan Ridley vs. the Seahawks D, as well as Miles Austin and Torrey Smith, who go up against two of the league's top pass defenses on Sunday.
- QB: Tom Brady (@ SEA)
- WR: Julio Jones (vs. OAK)
- WR: Miles Austin (@ BAL)
- RB: Arian Foster (vs. GB)
- RB: Stevan Ridley (@ SEA)
- TE: Vernon Davis (vs. NYG)
- Flex: Torrey Smith (vs. DAL)
Game 2: Team Nike (3-2) vs. Team Reebok (3-2)
After scoring three TDs last week, Victor Cruz is numberFire's No. 1-ranked wide receiver for Week Six. Choosing between Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson for the No. 2 wideout position was no easy decision, so we played the matchup game and ruled in favor of Fitzgerald, who plays against a hapless Buffalo Bills secondary.
- QB: Matt Ryan (vs. OAK)
- WR: Victor Cruz (@ SF)
- WR: Larry Fitzgerald (vs. BUF)
- RB: Ray Rice (vs. DAL)
- RB: LeSean McCoy (vs. DET)
- TE: Jason Witten (@ BAL)
- Flex: Marshawn Lynch (vs. NE)
The bye week absence of Maurice Jones-Drew and Brandon Marshall doesn't sting as bad after last week's breakout performances by Ahmad Bradshaw and Reggie Wayne, who slide into the starting lineup for Team Reebok. We'll see if Bradshaw can score some points against a stout San Francisco 49ers run defense.
- QB: Peyton Manning (@ SD)
- WR: Roddy White (vs. OAK)
- WR: Reggie Wayne (@ NYJ)
- RB: Jamaal Charles (@ TB )
- RB: Ahmad Bradshaw (@ SF)
- TE: Antonio Gates (vs. DEN)
- Flex: Antonio Brown (@ TEN)
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