Photo courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth
Parity, sweet parity. We finally saw some on Thursday Night Football. Following the Colts win, I’m now 46-31 on the season. Have at my week six predictions with a strong dose of confidence!
14. San Diego at Oakland
Yawn. Roll out the blowout carpet. The Chargers may not shut out the Raiders like they did the Jets, but that may simply mean surrendering just seven points as opposed to zero. Phil Rivers will prove too much for a mediocre Raiders defense. Without any ability to respond on offense, this one will be one sided from the word go.
Chargers 28 Raiders 7
13. Denver at NY Jets
The only entertaining aspects of this game will be how many fantasy points various members of the Broncos offense put up and dare I say when Peyton Manning ties Brett Favre’s all-time passing touch down record. Manning currently trails the journeyman gunslinger by 5. I don’t think Peyton will put up six, but let’s not keep anything off the table against a Jets team in shambles. With a mess at QB, no consistent running back and an awful secondary, there are really very few positional match ups that the Jets don’t lose in this one.
Broncos 37 Jets 14
12. Jacksonville at Tennessee
Both teams stink, sure, but like last week against the Browns, the Titans are a competitive match up against most of the league’s below-average teams. Jacksonville probably plays second fiddle to Oakland as the worst team in the league, but they have a chance to break their winless streak with Blake Bortles another week wiser. While it’ll have no playoff implications, expect this one to be a back-and-forth affiar.
Jacksonville 23 Tennessee 20
11. San Francisco at St. Louis
Though the Rams have given San Fran fits in the not so distant-past, and though Austin Davis has been surprisingly decent, this 49ers team is head and shoulders above the Rams. Though Kaepernick has remained a tad inconsistent, the running game and defense have buckled down and done a fine job carrying this team in the past few weeks. Zac Stacy has his work cut out for him and subsequently, so too do the Rams.
49ers 30 Rams 17
10. Green Bay at Miami
This one is relatively one-sided. The Packers have shaken off their early season funk and Miami is really only a few quality players and a whole lot of yuck. Cameron Wake is the biggest threat to disrupting Green Bay’s versatile offense. The pass rusher has just two sacks and seven tackles this season but he must always be accounted for and has a knack for forcing turnover opportunities as evident by his two forced fumbles this season. With question marks at quarterback and not much else to speak of on defense, the Dolphins’ chances don’t look to great in this one.
Packers 30 Dolphins 23
9. Detroit at Minnesota
With Teddy Bridgewater back in action and Calvin Johnson doubtful to play, this game stands to be a lot more competitive than after first glance. Reggie Bush is questionable as well, potentially robbing the Lions of further firepower. The Vikings aren’t all that well off themselves with Cordarrelle Patterson gradually becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of touches being sent his way. That said, if the quarterback play can improve the result may be the return of Patterson’s game-breaking ability. I think this has the potential to be a good one.
Lions 27 Vikings 23
8. Baltimore at Tampa Bay
On one hand, this looks like it has the makings of a blow out win in favor of Baltimore, on the other I’m starting to like the smell of what the Buccaneers are cooking in the sense that they’re not the complete pushover they looked like at the beginning of the year. Mike Glennon was the quarterback this team should have committed to from week one. In addition to beating Pittsburgh, the second year pro has thrown for more touchdowns than interceptions in all three of his appearances this season. The question of Vincent Jackson’s health will need to have a positive answer if Glennon is to sustain his success. That all said, this is the Raven’s game to win. They need to have players not named Steve Smith step up, sure, but Tampa doesn’t have the necessary pieces on defense to completely stop the Ravens.
Ravens 30 Buccaneers 20
7. New England at Buffalo
I don’t think the Patriots will produce the blowout win we saw them unleash on Cincinnati. Sure the Bills are worse than the Bengals, but they’re also very familiar with the Patriots. The questions about New England’s inconsistencies through the first quarter of the season will be answered if they handle their business and come away with a win. Against a Kyle Orton-led offense, I believe that’s very possible. If they come up empty than batten down the hatches for another New England media firestorm.
Patriots 28 Bills 17
6. Washington at Arizona
Why so high? Washington has been competitive in almost every game this year save for their Thursday night match up with the Giants. The Cardinals appear to have Carson Palmer back so matters figure to improve, but I still question the actual potency of this defense. Without much of a pass rush and a secondary fresh off a beat down at the hands of the Broncos, I’m not sure I believe Arizona can contain DeSean Jackson. Kirk Cousins will need more help from a running game that was shut down by Seattle last week, but the upstart QB will be in prove-it mode as reports indicate RGIII could be healthy enough to return by week eight.
Washington 24 Cardinals 20
5. Pittsburgh at Cleveland
This one figures to be a barn-burner. Every Cleveland game has been decided in the last two minutes of play, including a loss to the Steelers in week one following a 24-point comeback to tie the game. Cleveland has been able to run the ball effectively all season and Brian Hoyer has even gotten ESPN to tone back their Manziel Mania. That said, Big Ben owns the Browns. An 18-1 career record against Cleveland combined with the fact that the Steelers are actually underdogs in this game erases the “trap-game” mentality that the Steelers can’t seem to get over. With massive AFC North implications, this game is must-see TV.
Steelers 30 Browns 24
4. Chicago at Atlanta
There’s a consistent theme to this game, or rather, this game is consistent in the fact that there will be no defense. I of course mean that figuratively, but the punch-less Falcons defense is squaring off against the talented receiving duo of Marshall and Jeffrey with Forte coming out the backfield and Bennett splitting the seam. Likewise, the Bears defense can’t be saved by Kyle Fuller alone, especially when facing Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. If you’re craving a high-scoring slug fest, kick back and watch the fantasy points accumulate.
Bears 34 Falcons 31
3. Carolina at Cincinnati
If past games against the AFC North are anything to go off of, the Panthers may as well not show up. That said, there’s a reason the game is played, and after an inspiring, comeback win against Chicago last week, there’s life in Carolina once more. Add into the equation that the Panthers are optimistic that Jonathan Stewart will be back and the Panthers may actually may have some semblance of a balanced offense. They’ll also have the added bonus of not having to face A.J. Green whose practice aggravation of his turf toe will cause him to miss this game. Without Green, Cincy’s offense will be largely run based. On one hand that’s good news for the Bengals; the Steelers and Ravens combined to rush for 391 yards in their two games against the Panthers defense. On the other hand, Carolina’s other three opponents combined for just 257 yards or an average of just 85.7 YPG. With no Green, Carolina will be able to cheat a little more in the box, which should make running against the likes of Luke Kuechly tough sledding. Look for them to compensate by trying to get the defense to commit to the play action.
Panthers 24 Bengals 21
2. Dallas at Seattle
Do I doubt that Dallas can move the ball on this vaunted Seattle defense? No. Do I think they can stop Seattle’s vaunted offense? Absolutely not. DeMarco Murray better hold onto the ball he’s fumbled in four of five games. He’ll be hard-pressed to run against the league’s best run-defense, one that allows just 62.3 YPG. In a dogfight, I trust Seattle’s defense to come up with a few more stops than Dallas’ and that, coupled with the fact that this game is being played in Seattle has me leaning towards the Seahawks in this one. If however Dallas can prove me wrong and pull out a win here then they are absolutely for real.
Seattle 31 Dallas 20
1. NY Giants at Philadelphia
This is it; the game for a good portion of the NFC East’s marbles. The Giants are surging of late and the Eagles seem to make or allow a massive comeback in every game they play. The Eagles may be slightly more talented, but their secondary is Swiss cheese. The Giants are a bit better in that department, ranking 24th to Philly’s 29th, and that bodes a little better against a talented Chip Kelly passing attack, ranked 9th in passing yards. The advent of Odell Beckham’s career will certainly aid an already talented Giants offense, as the rookie showed his potential in a four-catch, one touchdown performance against the Falcons last week. The real story however is how rookie Andrew Williams will fill the shoes of Rashad Jennings. Williams is currently only averaging 3.1 YPC, but he’ll go against an Eagles defense that allows 132 yards a game on the ground. Whomever emerges the victor in this game will be my new favorite for the division provided Dallas loses in Seattle.
Giants 30 Eagles 24
Tim Mullhaupt (@TimakaHines) is the editor of The Buckets Blog.