Tag Archives: week 6

2017 Season: Week 6 Preview

Another week and another slew of crazy and unpredictable NFL action is on our plate.  All teams have played at least a quarter of their games this year, and we are starting to get a feel for how some are.  However, there are still a few teams that we don’t know about five games in.  These games are getting hard to pick, but here comes another effort from yours truly.  Let’s get it.

Last Week: 8-6

Season: 44-33

Locks: 1-4

Upsets: 1-4

Thursday, October 12th, 8:25 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) @ Carolina Panthers (4-1)

We kick off Week 6 with the best of the fourteen games.  Both the Eagles and Panthers are built a lot alike.  Two tough quarterbacks capable of making plays with their legs, defenses that can get after the ball, and a running attack that could take over a game.  Also, these teams ate #1 and #2 in the league in converting third downs on the year.  In a tough one to pick I am going to go with the Eagles.  They can control the clock with their running game better than Carolina in my opinion.

Philadelphia 26, Carolina 20

Sunday, October 15th, 1:00 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (2-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-1)

Fresh off of their BYE, the Falcons host the offensively challenged Dolphins.  There is not much to debate here, the ‘Phins will not be able to keep up with Atlanta on the road.  I expect Matt Ryan to carve up Miami en route to a healthy win.

Atlanta 37, Miami 14

Cleveland Browns (0-5) @ Houston Texans (2-3)

This could be our first battle of rookie QBs on the season, and these rookies could not be having more polar opposite of seasons.  DeShone Kizer was benched last week versus the Jets for poor play and turning the ball over while Deshaun Watson has accounted for five touchdowns in back-to-back weeks.  Houston did suffer a major blow losing both J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus last week, but it won’t matter this week at home versus Cleveland who still looks like a hot mess on offense.

Houston 30, Cleveland 10

Detroit Lions (3-2) @ New Orleans Saints (2-2)

Here’s a fun stat: the Saints have not turned the ball over yet this year.  No team has ever opened the season with five straight turnover-free games and they look to be the first against a team that, to be honest, I don’t know too much about.  Are the Lions a good team or one that has been fortunate to play teams like the Cardinals, Giants, and the Sam Bradford-less Vikings?  I think Detroit has a solid squad, but I do not see them going in to the Big Easy and winning for the second straight year.  I saw what Cam Newton did to this “D” on the road and I’m convinced that Drew Brees can do the same at home.

New Orleans 27, Detroit 24

Green Bay Packers (4-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (3-2)

How good is Aaron Rodgers?  He lead his team back on the road against Dallas with the go-ahead touchdown pass at the eleven second mark.  The craziest thing is, that was not surprising to anybody.  We all expected it to happen and it did.  Right now the Vikings offense is Jekyll and Hyde and they will have no chance if it is slumping this week, even at home.  Green Bay is the hot team right now and I think they will go on the road and take care of business like the Lions did two weeks ago.

Green Bay 22, Minnesota 16 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Chicago Bears (1-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-2)

Mitchell Trubisky looked pretty good on Monday night before throwing a pick in the final minutes, but let’s face it, he was going against a very good defense.  The Chicago offense was very sloppy and wiped out a lot of nice plays with penalties.  That shows that the Bears are not a quality team.  They’ve been no shows in their two road games this season, and I expect that to continue against a Raven team that may have found a bit of their mojo on offense last week against the Raiders.

Baltimore 29, Chicago 13

New England Patriots (3-2) @ New York Jets (3-2)

Who woulda thunk it: both the Pats and Jets have the same record five weeks into the season.  The Patriots looked great on offense for the second and third quarters against Tampa Bay while their defense looked awesome for the first 50 minutes of that game.  Against the Jets, who were barely able to beat the struggling Browns, I think Bill Belichick and company will overwhelm them on both sides of the ball.

New England 30, New York 15

San Francisco 49ers (0-5) @ Washington Redskins (2-2)

If I had to pick the best out of the winless teams, there is no doubt it would be the 49ers.  They actually could have won any of their last four games and are hanging in there.  However, they are finding ways to lose which is what bad teams do.  The Redskins are not a bad team.  They have an even record, but their two losses came against squads with a combined record of 9-1.  Jay Gruden’s team, at home, should get their ground game going against a Niner team that can be had in that department.

Washington 27, San Francisco 10

Sunday, October 15th, 4:05 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)

Who woulda thought that this would be an interesting game?  We got a good offense versus a good defense.  The Rams did just turn the ball over five times against Seattle but they still remained in the game thanks to a solid effort from their “D”.  Meanwhile the Jags were busy going on the road and dominating the Steelers.  It is still hard to tell if the Jaguars are for real because they seem to appear and then disappear the next week.  I was going to pick them at home, but I got a weird feeling that this will be their knuckleball of a game.  Rams win.

Los Angeles 20, Jacksonville 14 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-3)

The Cardinals were torched a week ago against a good Eagle team and have managed just 22 points over their last two games.  They are not protecting Carson Palmer well, but luckily for them Tampa Bay has struggled to get to the passer (although they did a fine job at that versus New England a week back).  That said, I don’t know if I like their odds traveling across the country to play a very ticked off Cardinal team that will be looking to take some shots on offense.  I like an Arizona upset here.

Arizona 26, Tampa Bay 25

Sunday, October 15th, 4:25 e.t.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) @ Oakland Raiders (2-3)

The Chargers picked up their first win of the year against a very banged up and still winless Giants team while the Raiders struggled on offense for the third straight week.  Oakland’s problem is that they have not been able to run the ball during this stretch.  Luckily, the Chargers have had a lot of problems stopping the run themselves and that does not bode well for them here.  I think the Raiders can eek out a win without Derek Carr at the helm here, but with a loss, they would drop to last place shockingly enough.

Oakland 21, San Diego 20

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)

Ben Roethlisberger’s comments following his five interception performance were concerning stating that maybe he didn’t have it anymore.  To me, that just sounded like a QB frustrated with his performance and I can see him breaking back out at some point.  However, that will not happen this week.  The Chiefs have too many weapons on offense to contend with and they are hitting on all cylinders right now.  At Arrowhead, I love the home team.

Kansas City 38, Pittsburgh 24

Sunday, October 15th, 8:30 e.t.

New York Giants (0-5) @ Denver Broncos (3-1)

Why can’t Sunday Night Football flex out of this game?  The Giants are a mess right now and are essentially missing their entire receiving corps and cannot protect their QB against one of the best defenses in the league on the road.  The Broncos should have no problem steam-rolling Big Blue here.

Denver 35, New York 7

Monday, October 16th, 8:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Tennessee Titans (2-3)

This game could be very intriguing with Andrew Luck versus Marcus Mariota or it could be another blah Monday night game with Jacoby Brissett versus Matt Cassel.  Let’s hope it is the former.  I think Mariota should be a go for this game and the Titans really need a win to keep pace in the division at home.  The Titans have struggled to beat the Colts as of late, but I think that trend ends on Monday night.  Their defense is good enough and the offense is much better with #8 healthy.  I do reserve the right to change my mind on this contest provided who is starting at QB for each team.

Tennessee 28, Indianapolis 17

Week 6 Recap: Chiefs @ Raiders

Chiefs @ Raiders
Sloppy field conditions affected play on Sunday October 16th in Oakland

Final: Kansas City 26, Oakland 10

Coming off of a BYE, we all know the narrative: Andy Reid is lights out.  He was 14-2 heading into this game when his team plays after that off-week and that record raises to 15-2 as the Chiefs dominate the Raiders amidst some very sloppy field conditions with a rain storm brewing.  The field did play a big factor in how this game was played, but not enough of one for Oakland to be able to blame it for the loss.  What they can blame is their defense and their inconsistent play on the offensive side of the ball.

After coming out and scoring a touchdown on their first offensive series, things looked good for the Raiders, but unfortunately they could not keep that train rolling as they really struggled to get things going after that.  Their receivers seemed to have a tough time creating separation and the route-running was very choppy.  Of course, the field was muddy and there were many receivers slipping and sliding about.  Oakland was never able to adjust to this and could not get a good drive together after their first one.  Derek Carr was a bit off in this contest.  A lot of his throws were missed high and he made a couple of dangerous passes.  His one interception that he threw went to Marcus Peters.  It was badly underthrown, but that was due to the fact that there was a lot of pressure in his face.  Otherwise, he did not impress all that much and was skiddish a bit in the pocket, even without pressure.  Amari Cooper was the lone standout at wide-out today as he reeled in ten receptions for 129 yards.  Only one of those came in the second half, however, as the Chiefs did a better job doubling him.  Marcus Peters did a great job shadowing Michael Crabtree on the opposite side as the Chiefs practically had him on his own island out there in man coverage.  It was a poor showing from Oakland’s receivers since they were unable to win on a lot of man-to-man looks that they were getting.  Jalen Richard did not do much at running back, but DeAndre Washington did flash in his limited opportunities.  He had ten carries for 49 yards and enjoyed some solid run blocking.  Perhaps Oakland should have utilized him more given the ugly conditions.  The Raiders ran 39 pass plays to only 14 run plays.  Being this unbalanced did not help against a solid defense.

Props do have to be given to the Kansas City defense.  They went man-to-man for most of this game and had great success doing it.  Ron Parker and D.J. White did have a lot of trouble matching up with Amari Cooper outside in this game, but Bob Sutton gave the two help by floating safeties in his area to create double-coverage.  Marcus Peters was in and out of this game, but when he was in he did great work covering Michael Crabtree.  He was beaten once, pretty badly, but that ended up being on the play where Carr under-shrew his receiver and Peters came down with the pick.  The biggest stand-out in this game was pass rusher Dee Ford.  He exploded in the second half with two sacks and a forced fumble that the defense recovered late in the fourth quarter, practically sealing the game.  He hustled to the ball and became a nuisance to block as the game wore on.  Derek Johnson was in on nine stops, but did miss a couple of tackles and was poor in the running game.  Once again, the less than ideal field conditions did play a part in this, but he was not too bad in pass coverage.  Philip Gaines was not targeted often in the slot.  The looks that Kansas City gave Derek Carr inclined him to pass the ball towards the perimeter, with very limited success.  Locking down the middle of the field was key in this Chiefs’ victory.

One of the few times Alex Smith was brought down on Sunday.

The Raiders defensively were a mess.  For starters they ran a ton of zone looks in this game.  That alone is bad news because Alex Smith typically thrives against zone coverage, as he did this afternoon.  The conservative looks and Cover-3s were a byproduct of how bad the Oakland secondary had been in the first quarter of the season.  They did not let up many big plays, but were picked apart in underneath coverage.  Zone D will work if there is heat being applied to the quarterback in these looks.  There was not much pressure to speak of being generated by the Raiders’ front four.  Khalil Mack did record a sack early on, but was very much neutralized for the most par.  He was victimized in coverage as well when Spencer Ware beat him for a 30 yard reception in the second quarter.  Bruce Irvin had no impact and was, too, made to look very uncomfortable in coverage.  He also missed a couple of tackles in a very forgettable showing from #51.  The Raiders missed a lot of tackles as a team and this did not help when the Chiefs were running it right at them.  The middle of the field was constantly open which should not have been the case because of the zone coverage.  Kansas City picked up 406 yards because the Raiders did not generate a pass rush and were far too soft with their coverage.  There was shoddy tackling and the D-line let the Chiefs break contain and move the ball around the edge on a couple of different occasions.

Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware in action from Sunday

Alex Smith was very good in this game, probably the best he’s been all year and also the top performer in the game.  He was a solid and impressive 19/22, and at one point hit 14 straight passes.  The Chiefs offense performed despite some funky play-calling in the red zone.  There was one point where Smith tossed it out wide to Dontari Poe for the big guy to run it in for a touchdown.  That was creative.  However, Andy Reid may have gotten too cute with his play-calling in the red zone.  He dialed up a Jeremy Maclin pass, which failed, and the outside runs were not very effective in that area of the field.  Between the twenties though, these outside runs flourished.  Jamaal Charles had a 17 yard run at one point and looked great doing it.  The offensive line blocked very well and the Chiefs were consistently able to take it around the outside and gash Oakland for big plays.  The O-line turned in its best effort, by far, on the season and they are the big reason why Kansas City came out on top.

Quickly, special teams should be mentioned because they did play a bigger role in this game.  To start the contest, Jalen Richard ran the kickoff back for 50 yards, setting up Oakland’s lone touchdown.  After that he did not do very much as the Chiefs did swarm to him in the open field.  Cairo Santos missed a field goal and an extra point and Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed a long field goal as well.  There was a point in the game where Jack Del Rio opted to go for it on fourth and five at the Kansas City 32 instead of kicking a 50 yard field goal.  The elements may have had a huge impact in this decision.  Also, for the Chiefs, Tyreek Hill had a 50-yard punt return as well.  This guy showed great speed and can be an incredible X-factor for the team moving forward.

In the end, the Chiefs picked up another win over the Raiders and looked very good doing it.  The defense was exceptional and they played to the weather much better than the Raiders did.  Showing a good commitment to the running game was key, something Andy Reid isn’t always known to do.  Safe throws from the right arm from Alex Smith were peppered in and he made some very accurate passes against a lot of zone looks.  Derek Carr did not enjoy the same success as he missed a lot of throws and had almost no looks on the inside of the field.  The Raiders will try to clean this up next week on the road where they are 3-0 against the Jaguars.  The Chiefs will play host to an offensive team in the Saints next Sunday while the defense looks to continue its good job.  At the end of the day, Kansas City probably is not this much better than Oakland, but for this game they were because they were able to execute at a high level and also play to the elements much better than the Raiders.  Things are getting mighty tight in the AFC West.

Dontari Poe
Dontari Poe takes this lateral from Alex Smith into the end zone for a rushing touchdown.

The Skinny:

  • Alex Smith was deadly accurate in this game missing only three throws all game.  He, at one point, had 14 straight completions.
  • The Chiefs rushed for a season-high 184 yards utilizing all of their backs.  Jamaal Charles looked to be full strength once again demonstrating great cutting ability and speed, even with the sloppy field conditions.
  • The Kansas City defense played lights out, especially in the second half shutting out Oakland.  The pass rush really picked up as the game wore on and they did a good job taking away the middle of the field.  Almost all of Derek Carr’s passes went outside the numbers.
  • After the first drive of the game that resulted in a touchdown, the Raiders offense was slowed.  The receivers did not run great routes and had a couple of dropped passes.  Derek Carr missed high with a lot of his throws.
  • Amari Cooper had ten receptions in this game, but only one of those came in the second half.  Kansas City did a great job adjusting to his game at the half.
  • The Raiders defense was poor once again in this game.  They missed a lot of tackles, the defensive line was bullied by the Chiefs’ O-line and the secondary could not hold down the fort, even when primarily in zone looks.  Alex Smith picked them apart with short passes.

2016 Season: Week 6 Preview

The sixth week of NFL action is upon us and if the season were to end today we would have four different playoff teams this year than last.  It has been an up and down year and filled with some big time performers and exciting play-makers.  So this has me thinking: who are the most fun players to watch in the league?  Below is my top-ten list of most fun players to watch; those that constantly make jaw-dropping plays and are must-watches whenever they suit up and hit the field.

10- Von Miller, LB, Broncos: From explosive bull rushes to athletic spin moves, it is a flat out pleasure to watch this guy rush the passer.  He is getting even better in run defense and pass coverage as well, making him one of the more well rounded players on this list.

9.- Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: Thiss guy is a flat out pleasure to watch.  He is constantly making big plays and out-running defenses.  Every time he takes the field you just know there is a chance he can turn in a 75 yard touchdown at any time.

8.- Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: It is so fun watching Big Ben wind up and chuck the ball deep a few times per game.  He is by far and away the best deep thrower in football and it is certainly something to see him tossing it deep to Antonio Brown, Sammie Coates, or Markus Wheaton every week.

7:- Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks: Whether it is getting in the face of opposing wide receivers or making athletic plays breaking up or picking off passes, this guy is always entertaining.  Just watch him run with someone in man-to-man coverage if you don’t believe me.  Check the tape as they say.

6:- Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns: Who woulda thought a Brown could make this list.  This guy is here because he can play wide receiver, quarterback, or running back.  This dude does it all and is a real threat and a joy to watch.

5:- Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles: It is a lot of fun watching a rookie make calls at the line, audible, and pick defenses apart the way this guy does at just 24 years of age.  He is only going to get better, which is a scary thought.

4:- LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: This one should need no explaining.  This guy is very reminiscent of Barry Sanders with the way he can juke, cut, and make defenders miss.  One of the very best in that department.

3: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants: I may not be a fan of his tantrums that he throws on the sidelines, but it is always entertaining to see how he will react to plays on the field.  Not to mention the plethora of jaw-dropping catches he’s made early in his career.

2: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks:  Wilson’s scrambling ability has been an awe in this league for a few years now, but since he is recently developing into more of a pocket passer, we are finding out that there isn’t much he can’t do.  A play and/or game is never over with #3 at the helm and that is a big nod to him as a player.

1: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers:  This one is a no-brainer.  This guy A.B. is a funny guy (just check out his snapchat).  On top of that he makes splash play after splash play Sundays and has some of the best choreographed dances you will see in football.  This guy is explosive, fast, and simply put a must-watch for any fans of football.

Now that we have covered the top ten most exciting players, lets get on to predicting the fourteen (promisingly) exciting games for the weekend.

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 38-39

Thursday, October 13th, 8:25 e.t.

Denver Broncos (4-1) @ San Diego Chargers (1-4)

The San Diego Chargers have got to be the most exciting/hard-luck 1-4 team in recent memory.  It has been gut-wrenching loss after gut-wrenching loss for these guys and now they host the Super Bowl champs who are coming off of their first loss of the season.  Ty Sambrailo had a nightmare of a game versus the Falcons’ pass rusher Vic Beasley and now has to face a Chargers team that finally got their rookie Joey Bosa on the field against Oakland.  He did okay with a couple of sacks and multiple pressures against one of the better lines in the sport and a quarterback who gets rid of it quickly.  He could be the difference in this one.  Why am I not expecting San Diego to win this game though?  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they know how to lose a game better than any other team in the league right now, besides maybe Cleveland.  Whether it be defensive collapses, botched holds on field goal attempts, or last minute turnovers, the Chargers know how to choke away a game.  Joe DeCamillis will be stepping in for Gary Kubiak to coach this game, and Denver should be getting Trevor Siemian back this week so we can expect to see the offense revert back to what it was pre-Paxton Lynch: a complete and fundamentally sound one.  Joe DeCamillisRegardless of whether or not it is Lynch or Siemian, the Broncos win this game with their defense and also because they are much healthier than are the Chargers.  With that being said, expect the Bolts to put up a fight and make this a very good game.  That’s what these guys do best under Mike McCoy.

Denver 21, San Diego 18

Sunday, October 16th, 1:00 e.t.

Carolina Panthers (1-4) @ New Orleans Saints (1-3)

Panthers vs Saints

What is going on with the Panthers?  They lost a game at home to a Tampa Bay team that did everything they could to give it away.  Derek Anderson had a rough go of it in the second half and the team just has not been the same as it was a year ago.  This is partially because they have struggled to run the ball lately.  If there were ever a team to get right against, it is these Saints.  Sure, they have had an extra week with the BYE to prepare for Carolina while they come on the road after a short layoff after having played on Monday night, but I still like Ron Rivera and company to steal this game.  Cam Newton is still in concussion protocol, but early signs as of the typing of this prognostication show that he will be a go for Sunday’s action.  The gameplan should be the same whether it is Newton or Anderson:  feed the backs the ball and let them run through an injury plagued New Orleans defense.  There will be big plays to be had down the field as well.  The Saints aren’t exactly superb at matching up with tight ends or larger receivers.  The Panthers have both an elite tight end and a big target in Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin.  Whatever hope Carolina has at returning to the postseason will hinge on their performance in this game, and I think they bounce back and get back to their roots with the running game.  That defense has some other problems that won’t be helped playing Drew Brees, but for this week I say the team survives.

Carolina 27, New Orleans 21

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) @ New York Giants (2-3)

It hasn’t exactly been the best of times for either or these two squads as each rolls into this game hoping to snap losing streaks.  Baltimore’s impressive 3-0 start has quickly vanished after two close losses at home to the Redskins and Raiders.  Marc Trestman was kicked to the curb after not pleasing the crowd with his play-calling Sunday versus Washington.  In steps Marty Mornhinweg who is used to coaching against the Giants from back in his days as OC under Andy Reid on the Eagles, but that was a different team he was facing.  These Giants are a spread offense with a trio of good receivers and no sight of a competent running game.  The last time these two teed off, Joe Flacco lit up the New York secondary, but that was, again, against Tom Coughlin’s Giants.  This is a different package of G-Men and one that is hard to figure.  The offense has run stale lately, but that was against two good defenses (yes, I am considering Green Bay’s “D” as a good one for the first time in a few years).  The Ravens have a middling unit whose strength is playing the run.  Yardage-wise, Baltimore is actually tied for second in the league, but they are not forcing as many turnovers as the other higher ranked defenses are.  On the road against a Giant team that cannot afford to lose looking up at the rest of what looks to be a good NFC East, I don’t like their chances.  Janoris Jenkins is balling these days and Joe Flacco would be wise to go elsewhere with the ball.  P.S., get Mike Wallace involved deep!  This guy can take the top off of defenses, it is time the Ravens utilized him.  Anyhow I like the Giants to pull it together in an entertaining win.Janoris Jenkins

Power Pick of the Week: New York 32, Baltimore 27

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) @ Chicago Bears (1-4)

This is a game that has a lot of moving parts to it.  On one hand we have the Jaguars who are coming off of a BYE and were barely able to gut a win out in London against Indy.  The team is still trying to morph its identity on offense and has struggled mightily with turnovers.  Meanwhile we have the Bears who have actually done some very nice things on offense over the past two weeks with Brian Hoyer slinging it around.  Things have become ten times easier for him though because of rookie running back Jordan Howard.  This guy looks like the real deal.  He has flashed with great quickness and power plus he has the hands you like out of the backfield (wow I just noticed I sounded like Rich Gannon with that one).  The Jaguars are literally a middling team when it comes to rush defense, ranked 16th.  They could have their hands full with Cameron Meredith, said no one ever before last week, in the middle of the field.  If the Jags continue to play zone as they have for the better part of the first quarter of this campaign, Hoyer the Destroyer could pick them apart.

Brian Hoyer

This will be the game that Allen Robinson finally goes nuts in.  It will, however, be in a losing effort.  These are the kinds of games that Chicago wins.  We all think they are one of the worst teams in the league but these guys have actually been participating in some watchable football games lately.  I like the Bears at home because of the strides I’ve seen them take on offense early on.  As for the Jags, I still don’t know if they are any good.  One ugly win in London over an average team hasn’t sold me.

Chicago 27, Jacksonville 21

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-4)

Dolphins are Pissed

These aren’t your father’s Dolphins, unless of course he was a big fan of their “work” in 2007 when the team went 1-15.  Miami is a mess offensively and they really struggle to cover receivers on defense.  This spells trouble with the most explosive offense coming to town to play a game that is going to force Adam Gase and Clyde Christensen to get the team to score a lot of points.  The Dolphins don’t do that.  Their season high was 30 which came in overtime against a dreadful Browns team.  In their four losses the Dolphins have scored just 58 total points which equates to just over 14 points per game.  Oy vey.  They are gonna need to do better than two touchdowns in this contest if they hope to hang with the Steelers.  Sure, Pittsburgh is a very different team away from home but they still have a boatload of playmakers on offense.  Jarvis Landry longs for a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger to turn him into an Antonio Brown, because I do think he has the talent.  Miami can make some noise in this game if and only if they can pressure Big Ben and cut down on the big plays.  These guys were letting Titans run behind them last Sunday at home, I don’t see them slowing down the Steelers this week.  The road team should enjoy a nice easy win on Sunday.

Pittsburgh 35, Miami 13

Cleveland Browns (0-5) @ Tennessee Titans (2-3)

Could the Titans really go to .500 after this week?  A win over Cleveland would bring them there and have them in a nice position to go on a little bit of a run and actually compete in the AFC South.  Meanwhile for the Browns, there aren’t a ton of games this year where they will have a solid chance in winning, but this would be one of them.  Tennessee doesn’t have a wide receivers corps that is going to scare anybody away and their defense is susceptible to giving up a chunk play here and there.  They are turning the ball over a bit more than they’d like as well, so if the Browns can hold on to the rock they might have a shot at a win.  That said, the team has Kevin Hogan dressing up for action at quarterback.  The thought is that Cody Kessler will be good to go here, but if not then they have yet another signal-caller to ready for game action.  Even if Kessler is a go, the Cleveland defense is a liability.  Teams have been able to run on this unit for years now and if there is one thing the Titans want to do, it is run the football.  DeMarco Murray is second in the league and rushing and he should see plenty of carries here.  The defensive line gets bullied when trying to defend the run.  The Patriots didn’t have a lot of success dashing them a week ago, but their game-plan called for a lot of passes.  Tennessee will not be throwing it 40+ times by choice.  I like them to really control the flow of game and let that dominant offensive line do its thing.  Just a side note here, can you name another team in football that has a better starting tackle tandem than do the Titans.  It is hard to beat the combo of Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin.  As a final side note here, last week’s touchdown celebration by Andrew Hawkins may have been the greatest I’ve ever seen.

Tennessee 25, Cleveland 14

San Francisco 49ers (1-4) @ Buffalo Bills (3-2)

Just when most of us though that Rex Ryan was dead in the water and foolish for firing Greg Roman, the Bills turn things around and win three straight games.  It is so much more for them than an offensive coordinator change.  The defense is playing very well and LeSean McCoy is looking like the runner he was back in 2013 when he won the rushing title.  Speaking of Shady, you can bet that he will be fired up to face his former head coach that (allegedly) ran him out of Philly again.  San Fran could not slow down David Johnson a week ago at home and this defense plays even worse on the road.  Travelling across the country into a college-like environment won’t help them either.  Tyrod Taylor has been careful with the football when he has actually lined up under center to take the snap.  BoneheadAs long as Buffalo can avoid making mistakes like that, they should win their fourth straight game.  It wouldn’t be right to end this preview without pointing out the fact that Colin Kaepernick is starting for the Niners.  Will he provide a spark for them in Chip Kelly’s offense?  Perhaps so, but it is going to be tough for them to pull off the zone-read with the quickest linebacker tandem in the league with the Brown brothers, Zach and Preston.

Buffalo 19, San Francisco 10

Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) @ Washington Redskins (3-2)

Here is a good looking game for you football junkies out there.  The Redskins, like the Bills, have risen from the 0-2 abyss and found themselves with a winning record three weeks later.  They now have a chance to leapfrog the Eagles in the NFC East with a win.  Carson Wentz has finally been picked off in the NFL, although his throw that Darius Slay got his hands on was a good one.  Now he will have to bounce back to get back in the good graces of he Eagles fans.  Truth be told, Wentz had that team moving against Detroit.  A combination of good play-calling and execution had Philly on the comeback trail after being down by 14 in the second quarter.  They probably would have won the game had Ryan Mathews not lost his grip on the ball right before the two minute warning.  The Redskins are fresh off of a thrilling win over the Ravens in Baltimore, a place that NFC teams have had almost no success in playing.  The defense had been had early this season with big plays down the field, but did not allow anything longer than 15 yards against the Ravens.  Kirk Cousins wasn’t perfect but he also did not make any major mistakes, save the one interception that was fumbled out of the end zone.  Kirk CousinsHe tends to save his best efforts for these Eagles and I fully expect him to go toe-to-toe with Carson Wentz and provide one of the most entertaining games of the weekend.  In the end, it makes more sense to pick Philly because of their defense and because Wentz has actually been playing at an elite level this season (he is the #1 ranked quarterback according to Pro Football Focus), but I am riding with the Redskins for the third straight week because this is the NFC East and I think this division is simply made to be bunched together tighter than a high school clique.

Washington 26, Philadelphia 23

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) @ Detroit Lions (2-3)

This may sound crazy, but the Lions probably saved their season with the gritty win over the Eagles a week ago.  If they were to fall to 1-4  with the Packers sitting at 4-1 and Vikings at 5-0 there would have been little hope for them to win the division.  The wild card is looking like it is going to go to a pair of 11 win teams in the NFC this year as well, so a loss to Philly really would have buried them.  As it is, they are 2-3 and still digging their way out of the early season hole they have fallen into.  Save one poor game against Chicago, Matthew Stafford has actually played well this seasons, and ever since Jim Bob Cooter took over at offensive coordinator for Detroit.  JimBob Cooter for PrezThe Rams have the potential to wreck a quarterback’s day but that is only if they can get pressure on their opponent.  Last week against Philly, Stafford got rid of the ball quickly to his running backs out of the back field on choice routes and to his receivers on quick slants and eight yard hitches.  I expect him to do more of the same to LA.  Also, the Rams don’t have the offense that the Eagles did.  Case Keenum is not exactly scaring anybody throwing the ball, and Tavon Austin is yet to make a huge impact on any game this season.  The one thing that is concerning to Lions fans would have to be their run defense.  The Eagles gashed them in the middle with draws and traps.  Todd Gurley could gash them, however he is more of a smashmouth runner.  Quick dives towards the line of scrimmage have been his game over the course of his young career and the Lions don’t have tons of problems defending those.  It is the longer developing plays that give them fits.  Look for some stretch runs and or cutbacks to get the Lions on their heels.  Anyways, I still like Detroit to win at home because of what I saw last week.  I hate making picks based of off these kind of facts, but against my better judgment I am doing it here.  Don’t quote me on a Lions’ win!

Detroit 22, Los Angeles 16

Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) @ New England Patriots (4-1)

The Patriots have Tom Brady back, and that should terrify opposing defenses around the NFL.  The Bengals are coming off of one of their worst defensive performances in recent memory and now have to head to Gillette Stadium to face a Patriots team that might not lose another game all regular season (or year if you believe my pre-season predictions).  I think what is more encouraging for the Pats after their dominant win over Cleveland a week ago is the re-emergence of Rob Gronkowski as a weapon. Gronk He, combined with Martellys Bennett is going to be a two headed monster that is almost impossible to defend.  Let’s not even mention that Chris Hogan is balling like his hair is on fire and the always reliable Julian Edelman.  All I am saying is that if the Bengals had trouble defending Terrence Williams, Jason Witten, and Cole Beasely, imagine the damage that the Patriots could do.  A.J. Green will probably face a lot of bracket coverage like he did a week ago.  This is the same strategy New England used when DeAndre Hopkins came to town, and the team held him to just four catches for less than 50 yards in that game.  If the Bengals continue to struggle with finishing drives, we could have another blowout on our hands here.  Cincy will need to hold on to the ball and keep Tom Brady on the sidelines.  There is no need to push the ball down the field on every play.  They need to play things close to the best and dink and dunk the ball to have a chance.

New England 41, Cincinnati 16

Sunday, October 16th, 4:05 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-1)

The Raiders are looking more and more like a playoff team as the weeks fly by and have a chance to get a stranglehold on the division over the Chiefs with a win on Sunday.  Kansas City has had an extra week to stew in the bile of an embarrassing defeat at the hand of the Pittsburgh Steelers two Sunday nights ago and have to be chomping at the bit to get back out there.  Jamaal Charles made his return to the field against the Steelers but saw very limited action in that game.  He should see more here against a Raiders team that is still trying to get its feet underneath them on defense.  Truth be told, their secondary has been the issue so far this season.  Their offense has been fun to watch so far this year and Michael Crabtree has been playing like one of the best receivers in football.  Michael CrabtreeHe is tied for the league lead in touchdowns with five.  The men he’s tied with go by the names of Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, and Jordy Nelson.  Not bad company.  Will the Raiders actually go to 5-1 on the year though?  I don’t think so.  Listen, I know I’ve picked against the Raiders in every week this year except for one and I really do like them.  I think they are a playoff team, but this just seems like a trap game for them here.  Andy Reid is historically very good coming off of a BYE, and I think the Chiefs will be itching to play well after getting dismembered by the Steelers.  Also, it is a divisional game.  Anything can happen.

Kansas City 34, Oakland 21

Sunday, October 16th, 4:25 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (4-1) @ Green Bay Packers (3-1)

The Packers have to be the odds on favorite to win this game, but the Cowboys have some serious mojo going coming into this one.  Their offensive line was firing on all cylinders a week ago and the team enjoyed a dominant home win over the Bengals.  Of course, I don’t really think Cincinnati is all that special this year, but that does not take away from what Dallas did.  This week, however, we see the #1 rushing offense taking on the #1 rushing defense.  Don’t be surprised if the advantage here goes towards the Cowboys.  Yes, Green Bay has been lights out against the run allowing a stifling 2 yards per carry, but let’s remember who they were facing in their first four games: Jacksonville, Minnesota, Detroit, and the New York Giants.  Those teams rank 30th, 32nd, 23rd, and 27th in that department respectively.  So it is fair to say they have not been tested.  Furthermore, I really like what I have seen this season from the Dallas defense, especially lately.  I think they can cover the Green Bay receivers much like the Giants did.  The only difference between the Cowboys and the Giants is that Dallas has that awesome running game and offensive line to attack with.  Dallas Cowboys Offensive LineIf Dak Prescott can avoid making mistakes, like he’s done all year, I think that the ‘Boys earn the upset win on the road.

Dallas 23, Green Bay 22

Atlanta Falcons (4-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (3-1)

Julio Jones vs Richard Sherman

The Falcons went into Denver and pulled an upset over the Broncos in a game that went the way that not many of us thought it would.  Most encouragingly is the fact that Atlanta found some semblance of a pass rush with Vic Beasly who dominated that game.  Now they have to take on a Seattle team that I think is among one of the very best in the league.  Of course this game is in Seattle, which is always a tough place to play.  Sure, it has been a bit more tolerable over the past year, but that still doesn’t change the fact that the crowd will be rocking and giving Matt Ryan a tough time with communication.  Richard Sherman versus Julio Jones should be a hell of a match-up to watch.  Don’t be surprised if Julio has a nice game though.  I like his physicality over Sherman’s and his speed is elite.  The Stanford corner struggles against players like Jones.  Anyways, Russell Wilson, like Ryan, is in the discussion for the league MVP early in the season.  After Seattle scored 15 points in two games, they have come out and scored 30+ in back-to-back weeks before their early BYE.  Wilson has been lights out in those game and the Seahawks haven’t had the running game that they’ve had in years past.  He is showing that he can make throws from within the pocket and that is only going to elevate his game from this point forward.  Let’s not discredit a thing that Atlanta has done to this point.  They are the clear favorites in the NFC South and have an amazing offense, but I think heading to Seattle will knock them down a peg.  This team has the chance to go up two games in the division, which is important because the Cardinals might be preparing to go on a bit of a run soon.  And oh by the way, Jimmy Graham is back, and he’s had some nice success against Atlanta with his time in New Orleans.  Give the the ‘Hawks in a dominant home win.

Seattle 30, Atlanta 16

Sunday, October 16th, 8:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Houston Texans (3-2)

In what is arguably the hardest game to call this week, the Colts will go down to Houston to take on the Texans, a team that has been a lot better at home than on the road to say the very least.  The defense is allowing just 14.3 points per game in Houston as opposed to their road games where they allow 29 points per game.  Offensively, the Texans score 23 points per game at home and only 6.5 points per game on the road.  The offense has really sputtered to this point in the season and the team is yet to put together a sound game on that side of the ball.  DeAndre Hopkins has disappeared lately and it is no coincidence that the team is 1-2 in their last three games.  We will have to see if he has a reemergence against the Colts’ banged up and inexperienced secondary this weekend.  I say he comes out in a big way and dominates the game. DeAndre Hopkins Now the Colts have won two out of their last three games, but they came against two one win teams.  It is hard to put faith into these guys because of the fact that they have given Andrew Luck no help with an offensive line or run game.  To ask Luck to go into Houston and win all on his own is preying for a lot, but not too much I think.  The Texans are a very flawed three win team and have not had the best of luck playing in prime time.  I think the Colts come to town and win this one despite what could be a monstrous effort from DeAndre Hopkins.  This game pick says more about what I think of the Texans rather than what I think of the Colts.  Somebody has to win it though, and I’ve gone back and forth with this pick, even as I have written this column, but in the end I like Luck to take his team to victory under the lights on Sunday night.

Indianapolis 28, Houston 19

Monday, October 17th, 8:30 e.t.

New York Jets (1-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-3)

Ever since their impressive win in Buffalo in Week 2, the Jets have fallen to 0-3 and have looked bad doing it.  The offense had been turning the ball over and the defense is giving up big plays.  Now they are staring at the Cardinals, a team that does two things very well: creating turnovers and making big plays.  Todd Bowles may not like his return to Arizona so much if this game plays out the way it looks like it will on paper.  Nobody ever really thought that the Cardinals were a bad team, despite being 1-3 this time a week ago.  The offense did not look overly impressive with Drew Stanton leading the way in San Francisco.  In fact, the team picked up only 288 yards in that game, only 30 of which came from players not named Larry Fitzgerald or David Johnson.  I am not joking.  If Carson Palmer plays in this game, which it looks like he will, I have no problem rolling with the Cardinals as he will be sure to take shots down the field against a team that has really struggled to defend the deep-ball (giving up five touchdowns of over 40 yards this season).  If Stanton does play I may reconsider here, but as of now I am definitely taking the Cards.  Their defense should swarm and they have one of the best running backs in football to hang their hat on in David Johnson.David Johnson

Arizona 31, New York 16

Week 6 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (3-1): New England over Cincinnati

Upset of the Week: Dallas over Green Bay

Offensive Player of the Week: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

Defensive Player of the Week: Bobby Wagner, LB, Seahawks

Rookie of the Week: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

Best Quarterback: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

Best Running Back: DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans

2015 Season: Week 6 Predictions

It is Week 6 and we still have six undefeated teams.  We certainly will not be saying the same thing at the start of next week.  In fact, my bold prediction of the week is that at least three of those six teams (Bengals, Broncos, Falcons, Packers, Panthers, and Patriots) will fall for the first time this season over the weekend.  Find out who they are and much more below in my Week 6 predictions!

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 43-34

Thursday, October 15th, 8:30 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (5-0) @ New Orleans Saints (1-4)

The Falcons barely escaped an upset at home against the Redskins and now they will move on to face the New Orleans Saints, a team they swept last season.  The Saints looked awful on the road against the Eagles, but there was a ray of hope when Willie Snead got going for the black and gold.  At home in front of a loud crowd on a Thursday night, I say the Saints grab the “W”.  As long as they can protect Drew Brees better than they did against Philly, New Orleans is primed for the upset.

New Orleans 23, Atlanta 21

Sunday, October 18th, 1:30 e.t.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-0) vs. Buffalo Bills (3-2)

Joining the Falcons in the loss column will be the Bengals this week.  How will that happen?  I say the defense of Buffalo makes things really tough on Andy Dalton and company in Orchard Park.  I see the unit forcing three turnovers (two of them being picks, and one a pick-six) and completely smothering the run game.  Meanwhile, the Bills do just enough on offense to get by.  It will be a defensive battle in this one with Buffalo coming out triumphant.

Buffalo 19, Cincinnati 13

Washington Redskins (2-3) @ New York Jets (3-1)

Fresh off of a BYE, the Jets are going to be well-rested, and that spells bad news for the ‘Skins.  Kirk Cousins (outside of a stinker against the Giants) honestly hasn’t been that bad this year, but the New York defense is something to marvel at.  They have made all quarterbacks they’ve faced this year look average at best, and since Cousins already is an average quarterback, they have the capability of making him look really bad.  Not to mention, the Redskins have struggled to run the ball since Week 2, something that does not bode well for them entering this contest against a stingy defense.

New York 23, Washington 10

 Chicago Bears (2-3) @ Detroit Lions (0-5)

The Lions were flat out embarrassed at home against the Cardinals last week and really need a win to give themselves some positive momentum.  I see it coming this week against the Bears.  Chicago has played relatively well with Jay Cutler under center (believe it or not), but he’s due to have a bad game, isn’t he?  I’ve been burned before by saying this, but the Lions just have too much talent to lose yet another game.  They have to win now.

Detroit 29, Chicago 22

Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) @ Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

If only Jamaal Charles were healthy for this game, then we’d see two of the NFL’s best runningbacks going at it.  Instead, we are going to be treated to a Knile Davis versus Adrian Peterson showdown.  Peterson wins that one all day, and so too do the Vikings.  At home coming off of a BYE, they should handle the Chiefs who have little to offer on offense outside of Jeremy Maclin and the occasional outburst from tight end Travis Kelce.

Minnesota 32, Kansas City 19

Denver Broncos (5-0) @ Cleveland Browns (2-3)

Nobody has passed for more yardage over the last three weeks than Josh McCown (betch’a didn’t see that one coming).  He has taken it to some fairly average defenses.  However, the Broncos don’t have an average defense.  They have a great one.  In fact, these guys remind me of the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers “D” with the way they are taking the ball away and carrying the team for a few of their games.  Even though Peyton Manning has been fading fast, I still trust that he can have a better day than McCown can.  Denver remains perfect.

Denver 20, Cleveland 8

Miami Dolphins (1-3) @ Tennessee Titans (1-3)

The Dolphins have had an extra week to hang their heads over a loss to the Jets in London.  A lot has changed since then.  They have fired Joe Philbin and replaced him with Dan Campbell.  Also, gone is defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and in comes DB coach Lou Anarumo to fill the vacancy.  I think this somehow gives Miami a second wind and they take the fresh changes to Nashville and ride them to a victory.  I’m feeling a bit of a shootout here.

Miami 37, Tennessee 29

Arizona Cardinals (4-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)

The Cardinals outscored the Lions in Detroit 42-10 from the second quarter on last week and both the offense and defense looked very good in doing so.  Now they will take on the Steelers who were able to win on the road in San Diego on the last play of the game.  With Michael Vick running the offense, we have seen a slight uptick in the play of Le’Veon Bell and a huge falloff for Antonio Brown.  That is not a good combo when going against an Arizona defense that has been hard to run the ball against this season.  I think they shut down Bell and force Vick to beat him with his arm.  That simply won’t happen.

Arizona 31, Pittsburgh 15

Houston Texans (1-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)

This is probably the hardest game to pick on the week.  Blake Bortles has actually been pretty solid after looking pretty bad against Carolina in Week 1.  The similar statement can be said for Brian Hoyer, although he did throw a costly pick at the end of the game on Thursday night against Indy.  What will happen down in Jacksonville this week?  A whole lotta craziness that’s for sure.  Who’s in for another shootout?  Maybe not so much of a shootout as an entertaining game.  Bortles pulls the victory out at the last second when he unloads a deep pass to Allen Hurns for the win.  Houston’s defense has been bad this year.

Jacksonville 28, Houston 24

Sunday, October 18th, 4:05 e.t.

Carolina Panthers (4-0) @ Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

The Panthers will be heading up to Seattle to take on the Seahawks coming off of a BYE.  Carolina has been known to play the ‘Hawks pretty tough and when these teams meet you can be sure that a slugfest is going to follow.  The Seahawks choked away a game in Cincinnati and will now have to prove that they are a Super Bowl contender once again at home against an undefeated team.  Seattle is 2-0 at home and 0-3 on the road.  They should go to 3-0 at home behind a valiant effort from their defense.

Seattle 26, Carolina 10

Sunday, October 18th, 4:25 e.t.

San Diego Chargers (2-3) @ Green Bay Packers (5-0)

Aaron Rodgers finally threw a pick at home last week against the Rams.  In fact, he threw two.  Green Bay still won the game though.  The Packers’ defense has been surprisingly solid this year while the offense hasn’t completely taken off yet.  This week that should change.  This is a San Diego defense that got torched on the road in Minnesota a few weeks back and one that was picked apart by Josh McCown.  Aaron Rodgers will play master surgeon this week and lay a big hurting on the Bolts.

Green Bay 37, San Diego 20

Baltimore Ravens (1-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-4)

Remember when these two teams met in the Super Bowl a few years back and played a classic game?  Now look at them.  The squads are a combined 2-8 and are fighting for their lives in the sixth week of the season.  I wanted to take the Ravens here, but I don’t think I will for two reasons.  #1: Baltimore is too banged up and Joe Flacco is just not good enough to do it all himself.  #2: The 49ers actually have been pretty solid at home defensively.  Put those two together and I think the Niners notch the “W”.

San Francisco 21, Baltimore 13

Sunday, October 11th, 8:30 e.t.

New England Patriots (4-0) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-2)

The Patriots have been too good to pick against this season, so I feel like it’d be silly for me to do it here.  I almost pulled the trigger, but then I remembered how New England could just run it down the Colts’ throat.  They did it twice last season and dominated the game both times.  Andrew Luck will definitely be a go for this game, but it won’t matter.  LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis will each get a number of carries and the Pats dominate the clock en route to a satisfying win.

New England 34, Indianapolis 14

Monday, October 12th, 8:30 e.t.

New York Giants (3-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)

The Giants and Eagles each picked up over 500 yards of offense last week in home wins against inferior teams.  Now, with first place on the line in an Monday night showdown, it will come down to who can win the battle at the line of scrimmage.  One might think the Giants have the edge in that department, but Philly really got it going with their offensive line last week.  If they do it again, a win is certainly in the forecast.  If not, the Giants will take it and nab a nice two-game lead in the division.  Chip Kelly is 3-1 against the G-Men though and nobody ever runs away with the NFC East.  That’s why the Eagles should find a way to win this one.

Philadelphia 28, New York 23

Week 5 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week (0-5): New Orleans over Atlanta

Sure Bet of the Week (4-1): Green Bay over San Diego

Rookie of the Week: Ty Montgomery, WR, Packers

Offensive Player of the Week: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings

Defensive Player of the Week: Mario Williams, DE, Bills

Best Overall Offense: Green Bay Packers

Best Overall Defense: Denver Broncos

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 6 Predictions

The landscape of the NFL is constantly changing as we flip the pages through the weeks.  After a wild Week 5, you would be hard-pressed to find out who is in control of the surprisingly weak NFC South.  Likewise, the NFC East is looking strong.  Speaking of the Eastern divisions, the AFC’s version of this division is up for grabs this weekend when the Bills and Patriots duke it out in Buffalo.  Mirroring that strong match-up is a prime-time fight between the Eagles and Giants for (what will likely be) control of their respective division.  That is only if the Cowboys lose up in Seattle though.  Fans of the Chiefs and Saints can exhale for the week as they are each on a BYE.  Other than that, everybody is throwing down in the league, making for some great action!  Last week I went 11-4 with my picks and look to better that with these fifteen games.

Thursday, October 9th, 8:25 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts(3-2) @ Houston Texans (3-2)

The Colts prevailed over the Ravens in a dog-fight last week and now look to defend their three-game winning streak on the road in Houston against a team that barely lost in overtime to their Texas neighbors.  I look for line play in this one.  If Indianapolis can win the battle up front, they should have no trouble defeating the Texans here.  Look for J.J. Watt to get his paws on Andrew Luck a couple of times throughout the course of this game.  Arian Foster should tote the rock 25 times here too, and he will sniff 130 yards with a touchdown.  That said, I don’t think it will be enough.  #12 is going to lead his team late in this one for the win, as he has become accustomed to doing.  How about a close game on a Thursday night for once?  We can only hope.

Indianapolis 27, Houston 23

Sunday, October 12th, 1:00 e.t.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) @ Tennessee Titans (1-4)

This is a tough game to call.  The Titans looked like the Week 1 version of themselves in the first half last week against Cleveland; taking a 28-3 lead in the first half.  However, it all came crashing down on them as they allowed the Brownies to mount the biggest road comeback in NFL history (regular season).  I think they really showed their true colors in that second half.  These Titans just don’t look very good, but then again neither do the Jaguars.  The one thing Jacksonville does have going for it is the fact that they seemingly always play Tennessee tough.  I expect this one to be close and low-scoring with the winner capitalizing on a handful of turnovers.  Now the question: who will the winner be?  Hmmm…  After a great deal of pontificating, I have decided to side with the home team here.  My reason for backing the Titans is that we have seen them dominate a good team on the road this year.  We know they are capable of playing well.  For the Jaguars, who knows?  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win, but I’m not convinced they have enough offensive firepower to spark a win on the road.

Tennessee 19, Jacksonville 16

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4)

The Ravens saw their three game losing streak snapped on the road in Indy last week.  However, the Colts are a quality team and the Ravens have looked solid this year.  The same cannot be said about the Buccaneers, even though they have looked much better with Mike Glennon under center.  A small part of me wanted to take Tampa Bay here, but then I remembered that Joe Flacco was going to throw for 340 yards with a trio of touchdowns.  Steve Smith Sr. hauls in at least one of those as well, helping the Ravens to a healthy road victory.

Baltimore 24, Tampa Bay 16

New England Patriots (3-2) @ Buffalo Bills (3-2)

The Patriots silenced many critics in Week 5 with a prime-time whipping of the Bengals in Foxboro.  Now they take their show on the road to Ralph Wilson Stadium to face the 3-2 Bills for the AFC East division lead.  Buffalo is coming off of a shocking win against Detroit.  They were able to pick up the “W” in large part because of what their defense did.  Their six sacks and two forced turnovers helped the team keep the game close until the end when Dan Carpenter nailed a 59 yard field goal to seal the deal.  They are going to need another performance like that this week if they hope to corral the Patriots.  Call me crazy, but I say New England reverts back to Week 4 form with another stale performance.  Tom Brady will experience pressure early and often in this one and Buffalo steals a win in a thrilling game.

Buffalo 20, New England 19

Detroit Lions (3-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-4)

Christian Ponder’s Vikings looked like a dumpster fire last week on the road in Green Bay.  For the sake of all Vikings fans, let’s hope that Teddy Bridgewater is healthy for this one.  That dude is fun to watch.  Speaking of fun to watch, this Detroit offense can be electric.  However, there is a real chance that Calvin Johnson doesn’t even suit up for this one.  Even so, the Lions should triumph here.  Golden Tate broke out and showed that he is capable of being a legitimate threat in this offense.  The running game should have a chance to get going as well.  Eddie Lacy ripped this unit apart last week and the Lions will use their backfield-by-committee approach to shorten this game.  I like the road team here.

Detroit 28, Minnesota 17

Carolina Panthers (3-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)

The Bengals came back down to earth last week when they lost big to the Patriots on Sunday night.  But now they return to the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium (a venue in which they have not lost at in the regular season since 2012) to take on a Carolina Panther team that has gotten shellacked by AFC competition this year.  I say that trend continues.  The Cincinnati defense made Matt Ryan look quite average in week two and I see them doing the same to Cam Newton.  Plus, this Bengal running game should get going after it was abandoned early last week.  People have been able to run on the Panthers this season.  I like the match-up for Cincy at home in this one, therefore I am picking them to win it.

Cincinnati 33, Carolina 16

Denver Broncos (3-1) @ New York Jets (1-4)

I keep sticking to my guns with the New York Jets; they are going to pull of a shocking upset at some point this year.  Will it be this week?  No way.  Peyton Manning should carve this secondary up on Sunday.  It is clearly the weak-point of their defense.  Furthermore, there is no way Geno Smith (or Mike Vick, should he see playing time) will be able to hang points with the Broncos.  Denver wins in a rout.

Denver 45, New York 14

Green Bay Packers (3-2) @ Miami Dolphins (2-2)

The Green Bay Packers are finally beginning to look like the team I thought they would be this year.  Aaron Rodgers has been on fire over the past two games against divisional foes and he now has 12 touchdown passes on the season against only one interception.  The Pack will take on a Miami team that is fresh off of a BYE and a satisfying Week 4 win.  It will be interesting to see if Ryan Tannehill can play as well as he did against Oakland two weeks ago.  He will have to if he hopes to keep pace with Green Bay’s clicking offense.  I don’t think he will, though. Randall Cobb scores twice in this one (he already has six receiving touchdowns this year).  Rodgers runs one in as well as the Packers improve to 4-2.

Green Bay 34, Miami 21

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) @ Cleveland Browns (2-2)

This is a tough game to predict.  Two weeks ago the Steelers looked like the 2008 version of themselves when they were 3-1.  But after losing to Tampa Bay at home and then only managing 17 points against the Jaguars, this team has some serious soul-searching to do.  They will be forced into doing it on the road against a Cleveland team that (as I mentioned above) successfully completed the biggest road comeback in the regular season in NFL history.  Even though these don’t look like your daddy’s Browns this year, I don’t think they win this game.  After-all, they did fall behind by 25 points to the Tennessee Titans.  They had a similar deficit to overcome on the road in Week 1 against these same Steelers, and were unable to do it.  This week, there will be no comeback of any sort.  The game should be close, but methinks Pittsburgh crams Le’Veon Bell down the Cleveland defense’s throat.  He should finish with 28 carries for 163 yards with a score.  That will help them notch the road victory.

Pittsburgh 26, Cleveland 20

Sunday, October 12th, 4:05 e.t.

San Diego Chargers (4-1) @ Oakland Raiders (0-4)

Something about this game feels funky for me.  I feel like the Raiders will play well in this one and give Chargers’ fans a scare for a great while.  However, Philip Rivers takes over in the fourth quarter and fires touchdown passes to Malcolm Floyd and Eddie Royal to propel his team to the win.  Rookie Brandon Oliver should have a positive impact in this one against a run defense that has looked awful at times this season.  Derek Carr, who plans on playing in this game, will do well.  I see him completing 70% of his passes for 267 yards and a touchdown.  In the end it will not be enough though since the Silver and Black has no running game to lean on.  This rookie needs help, and probably a miracle if he and friends hope to clip the NFL’s hottest team.  It should be closer than a lot of people think, though.

San Diego 30, Oakland 24

Sunday, October 12th, 4:25 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (4-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (3-1)

Who saw the Cowboys starting the season at 4-1?  Not me, that’s for sure.  Anyways, they sit three games over .500 and are tied with the Eagles for first place in the NFC East.  A road win over the Seahawks would pretty much ensure that these guys are legit.  However, something tells me this one turns into a disaster for the ‘Boys.  Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett have hinted at reducing the workload for DeMarco Murray.  If this is indeed the case, then they are asking for trouble.  He has been carrying the team to this point and straying from what works would be a mistake.  Speaking of mistakes, I think Tony Romo makes two of them in this game.  Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch should school this Dallas defense on the ground.  Russell Wilson chips in with 45 yards as well.  I like Seattle to throttle the Cowboys at home.

Seattle 38, Dallas 14

Washington Redskins (1-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (3-1)

The Cardinals had things looking interesting up in Denver at the end of the third quarter.  Then things fell apart and Peyton Manning and Demariyus Thomas ripped the defense apart and the Broncos won 41-20.  Now the Cards look to rebound against a team that can look great or terrible at any given time in the Washington Redskins.  To me, it doesn’t matter who Arizona places under center in this one.  The game is going to be in the belly of Andre Ellington and the defense.  They could grab Charlie Checkdown and probably defeat Washington in this one.  I really don’t like Kirk Cousins odds in this one.  He probably makes one too many mistakes and the Cardinals get back on the horse with an impressive win.  Seattle ran the ball like bosses against the ‘Skins a week ago and I like Arizona to replicate that strategy.

Arizona 23, Washington 6

Chicago Bears (2-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

These are two of the toughest teams to get a read on this season.  The Bears looked great during Weeks 2 and 3, but since they have lost two in a row the team confidence has to be shaken a bit.  Meanwhile, this Atlanta team has looked fantastic at home in two games but then less than impressive in their three road contests.  The good news?  This game is being played in the dome, and Matt Ryan tears it up there.  If he can avoid throwing it to Kyle Fuller in this one, he should be fine.  Something tells me this game ends up being a shootout.  If you are looking for an entertaining game to watch this weekend with plenty of aerial assaults, this is the game for you!

Atlanta 38, Chicago 33

Sunday, October 12th, 8:30 e.t.

New York Giants (3-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-1)

If the Cowboys fall to Seattle, then this game is going to be played for the division lead in the NFC East.  It is far more important for the Giants to win here however, since a loss would effectively put the three games behind the Iggles.  Luckily for them they face Philly at a good time.  They are a hot team that could take advantage of the Eagles’ offensive line.  Nick Foles has not been overly sharp this season, and that is in large part due to the fact that pass protection has lacked and the running game has all but disappeared.  Even still, this is a team that will not quit and has every opportunity to improve to 5-1 heading into their BYE.  With that being said, I think the match-ups favor the New York Giants.  Last week, Austin Davis victimized this Philadelphia secondary by throwing it up to his big targets.  Eli Manning has the luxury of being able to do the same thing, and I think he will in this game.  If LeSean McCoy doesn’t get things rolling on the ground, it’s going to be tough for the Eagles to pick up their eighth straight home win.  Seeing as how Philadelphia is hurting in certain areas of their game right now while the Giants are on fire, I think I’ll play the hot hand here.  Give me New York in an upset.

New York 30, Philadelphia 28

Monday, October 13th, 8:30 e.t.

San Francisco 49ers (3-2) @ St. Louis Rams (1-3)

The 49ers team and their relationship with head coach Jim Harbaugh have been the topic of conversation lately.  However, the team has begun to look like the same squad that ended up in the NFC Championship game in each of the last three years.  This is, thanks in large part, to their re-commitment to their running game.  Colin Kaepernick is at his best when he doesn’t have to run the whole show.  This week, he won’t have to.  If it weren’t for a late flurry in Philly last week, the Rams would have been embarrassed.  Austin Davis was holding the ball too long in that game, and if he dares to do that again, the Niners’ front four will gobble him up much like the Eagles did.  On top of that, the 49er defense is better than Philly’s “D” and they will prove it by forcing four turnovers and holding the Rams to less than 250 yards.  I like San Fran to win in a statement game here on Monday night.

San Francisco 31, St. Louis 7

Week 6 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: New York Giants over Philadelphia

Sure Bet of the Week: Arizona over Washington

Rookie of the Week: Odell Beckham Jr.

Offensive Player of the Week: Aaron Rodgers

Defensive Player of the Week: Earl Thomas

Best Overall Offense: Atlanta Falcons (at home)

Best Overall Defense: San Francisco 49ers

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

Week 6: San Diego Chargers 19, Indianapolis Colts 9- Post Game Thoughts

This was an old-school football game that took place on the west coast during Monday Night Football.  We saw two adversaries who tried to pound the ball and in the end it was the Chargers who stole a victory away from the Colts.  San Diego was incredibly balanced on this night.  Out of their 69 offensive plays, 34 were run plays and 35 were pass plays.  This perfect mixture allowed the Bolts to hold the ball for an astounding 38:31.  Credit should also be given to John Pagano and the Charger “D”.  This was by far the unit’s best game.  They allowed the Colts to gain only 12 first downs and 267 total yards.  San Diego seems to play better when they are changing up the tempo and controlling the clock.  Look back to their Week 2 victory over the Eagles; this team won in very similar fashion: they held the ball far more than their opponent and were able to control the line of scrimmage.  It isn’t always the most exciting football to watch, but it is effective.  Look for them to utilize this strategy more in the coming weeks.  This loss hurts pretty badly for the Colts.  They are gearing up to take on the Denver Broncos at home and could have really used a win going into that game.  As it stands, they are now 4-2 and have to work on a short week.  Dropped passes and failures to extend drives pretty much sums up the night for Indy.  The lack of a strong running game also played a role in the loss.  All and all, the Chargers were able to play to their strengths and take away what the Colts did best and that is why they won this low-scoring game.

Week 6: San Francisco 49ers 36, Arizona Cardinals 20- Post Game Thoughts

Colin Kaepernick had been producing some ugly stats over the past month.  Outside of his 400 yard performance against the Packers in Week 1, Kap had not been all that effective throwing the ball… until this game that is.  Vernon Davis was his favorite target.  The speedy tight end took seven catches for 171 yards into the half and finished his day with eight grabs for 180 big ones and two touchdowns.  Frank Gore had a pretty big day on the ground; he racked up 101 yards rushing on 25 carries.  Davis and Gore took apart the Arizona defense that had looked so good the previous week.  And Carson Palmer probably wishes he could re-do this game.  His two first half interceptions really killed the Cardinals’ chances to win this game (I found it funny how most of the things worth talking about from this one came from the first half).  Larry Fitzgerald was big with his 6 catches and 117 yards.  Palmer really needs to try and hit this guy up more often.  He is certainly able to do so (since when did Carson ever care about forcing a ball into coverage?).  That said, Arizona actually was not bad on the ground in this game.  They ran the ball, as a team, 19 times for 109 yards.  Look for them to come out next week and emphasize the running game when the team hosts Seattle on Thursday.  This had to be a satisfying win for the 49ers.  It was the first time since Week 1 where they looked like a complete offense, in other words one that could have won this game without a strong performance from their defense (see their Week 5 win over St. Louis).

Week 6: Seattle Seahawks 20, Tennessee Titans 13- Post Game Thoughts

The Seahawks are able to take out the Titans at home in a pretty close game.  Tennessee did mount a bit of a fight up in Seattle and managed to make a game out of this one.  Marshawn Lynch was pretty strong with his two rushing touchdowns.  The team ended up rushing for 151 yards total, thanks in large part to another impressive game from Russell Wilson.  Wilson ran for 61 yards; his third straight week with over 60 yards on the ground.  He is proving to be the most effective runner of the ball out of all quarterbacks in this league.  His dual-threat is becoming tougher to stop each week.  The Titans did not roll over this week despite the barrage of Seattle offense.  In fact, Tennessee has been in all of their games this year.  The fact that they are 3-3 is only a microcosm of how good this team actually is.  Their defense is playing very well and the offense is operating at a rather efficient level.  Ryan Fitzpatrick did throw two interceptions in this game though.  His turnovers over the last two weeks have killed the team.  It is easy to think that the Titans would have stood a better chance at winning if their quarterback was not so generous with the football.

Week 6: Denver Broncos 35, Jacksonville Jaguars 19- Post Game Thoughts

I’ll bet there are plenty of gamblers out there who were disappointed by the result of this game.  The Broncos were favored to win by 27 points in this one.  Reality check, they were only able to muster a 16 point win.  All joking aside, I was surprised that the Jaguars showed up the way they did in Denver; they earn a lot of respect for this effort.  Paul Posluszny’s pick-six at the end of the second quarter nearly brought this game to a tie heading into the half.  Just for giggles, lets assume the Jags made good of that two point conversion and Chad Henne did not throw two picks in this one.  If those stars had aligned, would Jacksonville have had a shot in this one (try not to stay up too late pondering that one).  Peyton Manning and the Broncos did suffer from some uncharacteristic mistakes on Sunday, but all and all it was not too difficult of a win.  Knowshon Moreno found the end zone three times, which alone would have been enough for Denver to down the Jags at home.  Peyton Manning’s two touchdowns were simply icing on the cake.  I admire the determination from Gus Bradley’s Jaguars, but in the end it was too much to ask for them to defeat the best team in football.  At least they were able to hold Denver to its lowest point output of the season.

Week 6: St. Louis Rams 38, Houston Texans 13- Post Game Thoughts

The Rams dominate the Texans?  Is this some kind of conspiracy?  Or could it be that the Texans just aren’t as good as we all thought they were.  Going back to last year, Houston has lost seven of its past ten games (excluding the playoffs).  Is it possible that these guys have lost their touch?  They barely got away with the two wins that they actually earned this season and are coming off of back-to-back squash matches.  Matt Schaub was injured in this game, but he did not throw any interceptions.  T.J. Yates came in and did not look any better than Schaub had over the past month.  He threw for 98 yards and surrendered two picks.  Yates is making Schaubs life much easier with his struggles.  In other news, the Rams are 3-3.  Let’s give Jeff Fisher’s team some credit; they are riding a two game winning streak, Sam Bradford is playing much better, and they have discovered a running game!  Zac Stacy posted 79 yards on 18 carries, a good sign that there is some life emanating from the St. Louis backfield.  It has to be more than a coincidence that the Rams have looked pretty respectable on offense since the emergence of Stacy.  This team should ride the chariot hauled by this rookie out of Vanderbilt.  We will see if that ground game is for real next week when the Rams take on the Panthers in Carolina; a game which is pretty important for each party involved.