Even though the NFL has completed almost a third of the regular season, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding several teams. Many of them have tough contests in Week 6 that will allow them to rise to supremacy or fall out of favor in the weekly rankings.
Following are four games featuring teams with playoff expectations.
Included is an overview and potential impact to the power rankings from each game. Spreads were taken from Bovada.
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks
When: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Where: CenturyLink Field
Spread: Patriots -4
The Seahawks and Patriots both enter this game at 3-2. New England is riding a strong wave following wins over the Buffalo Bills and the Denver Broncos, while Seattle's record is being discounted due to their controversial win over the Green Bay Packers.
The Seahawks aren't going to be taken seriously until they notch another statement win. A road win over the Carolina Panthers isn't impressive, and their 27-7 dominance over the Dallas Cowboys was overshadowed when Jerry Jones' team was blasted by the Chicago Bears 34-18.
The upcoming schedule isn't kind to Seattle, but they will have two opportunities in five days to announce their arrival. The Seahawks travel to San Francisco for the Thursday night game.
Seattle will continue to show that a dominant defense can limit an elite offense. Their problem on Sunday, though, is that the weakness of their top-ranked unit has been covering tight ends.
The Patriots have two guys at that position that are pretty decent. If Aaron Hernandez is able to play on Sunday, he'll be the difference-maker in the game.
Prediction: New England 17, Seattle 13
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
When: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Where: Candlestick Park
Spread: 49ers -6.5 (via SportsBook.com; line closed on Bovada)
San Francisco had their wake-up call when they lost to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3. They've outscored their opponents 79-3 since that time to improve their record to 4-1.
Power rankings have the 49ers flirting with the top spot, while the Giants (3-2) are trying to establish themselves as a solid top-10 team.
At this point, both teams are lacking a statement win against a team with a winning record.
The 49ers wins came over teams with a combined record of 8-12. The Giants victims are just 2-12.
The two teams from last season's NFC Championship game can earn some credibility on Sunday. But after Sunday, both teams will still lack a victory over a team with a winning record.
Prediction: San Francisco 31, New York 20
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans
When: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Where: Reliant Stadium
Spread: Texans -3
The Packers (2-3) are still finding their way into the top 10 of some power rankings. The flawed logic is they deserved the win in Seattle.
This ignores several important factors, though. A botched call also gave the Packers a touchdown instead of a punt earlier in the game, and good teams should find a way to win close games.
All Green Bay needed against the Seahawks was a first down to secure the win. Last week, they needed a defensive stand against a rookie quarterback. They failed in both games.
The Packers can still stake a legitimate claim as an elite team with a win over Houston (5-0) on Sunday night.
A win by Houston should make the Texans the clear top choice in the power rankings...and put Green Bay's playoff hopes in jeopardy.
Prediction: Houston 20, Green Bay 17
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
When: Monday, Oct. 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Qualcomm Stadium
Spread: Chargers -1.5
This is as good a game as fans could hope for on a Monday night. The two top teams in their division take to the field to establish supremacy.
So why is it so hard to get excited for the matchup?
It could be that both teams looked suspect in losses last weekend. The Chargers dropped a road game against a then-winless team, while the Broncos were in a 31-7 hole against the Patriots.
Someone needs to win this game, and that team will have a temporary claim to being the best team in the AFC West. That won't be saying much if one of these teams doesn't find a jump-start.
Prediction: Denver 31, San Diego 19
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.
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