Week 6 of the NFL season usually means we’re into the grind of the schedule. Injuries are mounting, some teams have become contenders, some teams are thinking about next year already. With that in mind here are my picks for this week.
Carolina at Atlanta.
Interesting matchup in the NFC South. The Panthers have been fun to watch, but haven’t translated their excitement to victories. A 1-4 start to the season has been disappointing but optimism abounds in Carolina. Cam Newton looks like the real deal at quarterback and at some point, the bounces will go Carolina’s way. Atlanta have been a disappointment this season. After going 13-3 last year, the Falcons are 2-3 right now and fading from the NFC South race. The defence has struggled and Matt Ryan doesn’t look like the same quarterback. I like Carolina to steal a win from the Georgia Dome.
San Francisco at Detroit.
The game of the week. No one would have said that last year. Or the year before. Or the year before. Etc. Lat season at this time the two teams had a combined record of 1-9. This year they are a combined 9-1. After years of frustration, Alex Smith is finally starting to live up to the billing of being a first overall draft choice. Smith has thrown for 7 touchdowns while throwing only 1 interception so far. He’s shown more confidence in the pocket and has won the faith of his teammates. The Lions have been one of the great stories this season. Everyone remembers the Honolulu Blue and Silver going 0-16 in 2008. The Lions are 5-0 this season and have a legitimate MVP candidate in receiver Calvin Johnson. Megatron has 9 touchdowns so far and is on pace to score 28 touchdowns this season. Ford Field should be rocking for this one. I like Detroit to win.
Indianapolis at Cincinnati.
This one is ugly. The Colts are 0-5 and desperate to get out of the abyss so to speak. Yes the team misses Peyton Manning but at some point, the rest of the players have to step up their performances and show that it wasn’t just Peyton that made the Colts a very good team not so long ago. The Bengals are a surprising 3-2 and may have found their quarterback of the future in Andy Dalton. The Bengals have responded better without Carson Palmer than the Colts have without Manning. Cincinnati wins.
St Louis at Green Bay.
No contest. The Packers are the best team in football. The Rams are looking at next year already. I feel bad for Sam Bradford. Green Bay wins huge.
Buffalo at New York Giants.
This game has potential. The Bills are another great story, going 4-1 so far and have been very exciting to watch. Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a splendid season for the Bills as he continues to lead his team with clutch throws and a never say die attitude. The Giants are 3-2 but are coming off a bad loss to Seattle and are looking to rebound. Injuries have plagued the Giants this season but they have managed to fight through them and become contenders in the NFC East. Gut feeling but I think the Giants will manage a victory at home.
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh.
Former divisional rivals square off in the Steel City. The Steelers are coming off their best game of the season, a 38-17 trouncing of Tennessee and are looking to use that game as a springboard for the rest of the year. The Jaguars are 1-4 and are starting rookie Blaine Gabbert at quarterback this week. Pittsburgh wins and Jack Del Rio will be feeling the heat in Northern Florida.
Philadelphia at Washington.
One team is 3-1 and leading the division. The other is 1-4 and being ripped apart at the seams. The surprising thing is the Redskins are the 3-1 team and the Eagles are the teams with major issues. No one saw this coming. Many people (myself included) thought the Eagles would run away with the division this year. Not happening. The Eagles are beset with turmoil and chaos that is destroying their season. Coach Andy Reid has lost the room and rumours suggest that if the Eagles lose to Washington, Reid will be fired. The Redskins have been a major surprise thanks in large part to the strong play of quarterback Rex Grossman. After years of anguish in Chicago, Grossman has found a home in the Nations Capital and has revived the team’s fortunes. Washington wins and Reid gets fired.
Houston at Baltimore.
Interesting game. The Texans are 3-2 but I think there is something missing with this team. It doesn’t help that LB Mario Williams is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. It also hurts when star receiver Andre Johnson won’t play due to a hamstring injury. Running back Arian Foster will be the focal point of the offence and he must have a great game for Houston to have a chance. The Ravens should be salivating. No one loves playing against one-dimensional offences more than Baltimore and their menacing defence should be a force this week. Baltimore wins.
Cleveland at Oakland.
An emotional game in the Black Hole. The Raiders will play their first home game since the passing of legendary owner Al Davis. The Silver and Black won last week following the death of Davis and will use that emotion this week as well. The Browns will have to fight through that but they are too inconsistent and untrustworthy for that. Oakland wins another one for Al.
Dallas at New England.
There are those who thought this might be a Super Bowl preview. I’m not buying that. The Cowboys are a mystery. Sitting at 2-2 everything revolves around how Tony Romo plays. When he’s good the Cowboys look like the best team in the NFL. When he’s bad the Cowboys look hideous. There’s no middle ground with the Cowboys and that doesn’t bode well heading into this matchup with the Patriots. Tom Brady continues to shred opposing defences and he should exploit the Cowboys aggressive defence. New England wins.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay.
Big game in the NFC South. The Saints are 4-1 and are lighting up scoreboards across the league. Drew Brees is a strong MVP candidate right now and no one can stop him, or so it seems. The Bucs are coming off an embarrassing loss to the 49ers and this young team will be tested by this form of adversity. The Bucs will be better this week but the Saints are a better team. New Orleans wins.
Minnesota at Chicago.
The Vikings won their first game last week and are hoping to build off that momentum. Adrian Peterson is a joy to watch and will have to carry this team for the season. The Vikings don’t have much after AD. The Bears are coming off a Monday Night loss to Detroit and are faced with a must win game. The offensive line has been horrible and Jay Cutler has taken a beating this year. Matt Forte will have to come up huge for the Bears to be successful. The Vikings struggle at Soldier Field so I’m taking the Bears to win.
Miami at New York Jets.
Ugh. Why is this game on Monday Night? The Jets are 2-3 and are more talk than action. The Dolphins are 0-4 and are in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The less said about this game the better. Jets win.
Last week 7-6.
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