Updated Team Win-Loss Predictions for NFL Week 6

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIOctober 10, 2012

Updated Team Win-Loss Predictions for NFL Week 6

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    After five weeks of the 2012 NFL season, a few things have changed the way the rest of the season will pan out.

    Every year, there are surprise teams that rise up and become legitimate contenders. This season, the Minnesota Vikings are the surprise team of the league. Their 4-1 start has been a huge shock. Can they maintain their tough defense and continue to win with with their remaining schedule?

    Will the undefeated Houston Texans (5-0) continue to build on the best start in franchise history?

    How about the defending Super Bowl champions? Do the New York Giants have the depth to overcome the injuries that have plagued them?

    Take a look inside at win-loss predictions for all 32 teams now that there's a better idea of who is for real and who's just pretending.

Arizona Cardinals

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    The Arizona Cardinals got off to a faster start than anyone could have predicted. Huge wins over the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles proved that tough defense still wins game.

    Unfortunately for the Cards, their defense isn’t infallible, and it’s not going to be enough to compete in a surprisingly competitive NFC West division. Without a running game because of injuries and offensive line struggles, Arizona will continue to perform in the bottom third of the NFL in offense.

    That will force some close games, which have gone in their favor so far. But it will not likely be enough to consistently beat more well-rounded teams. In Week 5, the St. Louis Rams handily shut down the Cards offense and weren’t forced to do much offensively to get the win.

    Record Before Week 6: 4-1

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 8-8 (Wins over BUF, STL, NYJ, DET)

Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons are one of two undefeated teams in the NFL after five weeks of action. They’ve had some close games, but have shown that they have the will to win whether they are trailing down the stretch and storming back or winning and holding on.

    New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Carolina have all started out slow, but are familiar foes that will test Atlanta multiple times before the season is over. In Week 4, the one-win Panthers took them to the wire and, if not for an epic final-minute drive, would have given the Falcons their first loss of the season.

    The Falcons are a good team, yes, but they are flawed. The NFL may be transitioning to a “passing league,” but in order to win championships, you have to be able to both stop and run the football.

    Record Before Week 6: 5-0

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 13-3 (Losses to DAL, NO, TB)

Baltimore Ravens

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    The Baltimore Ravens have the offense and a good enough defense to be playoff contenders in 2012. After a Week 1 blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals, they looked as if they were poised to explode offensively this season.

    That hasn’t exactly happened in recent weeks against subpar opponents.

    A team isn’t judged by one or two performances, though.

    Baltimore’s new-look offense under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron incorporates a larger emphasis on big plays than on pounding running back Ray Rice. Rice is still a vital cog of the Ravens machine, but they’re taking more shots downfield and running an up-tempo offense.

    If they can continue to keep games close with their digressing defense, they’ll continue to win ball games and find themselves in a favorable situation in January.

    Record Before Week 6: 4-1

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 13-3 (Losses to HOU, PIT)

Buffalo Bills

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    The Buffalo Bills have won two games through five weeks of NFL action. In the team’s three losses, the Bills have surrendered a total of 145 points and scored just 59. Their only victories have come over the Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) and Cleveland Browns (0-5).

    What does that mean for the Bills moving forward?

    Somewhere along the line, Buffalo is going to need to be able to play defense for a full four quarters. After building a 14-point lead on the New England Patriots in Week 4, the team absolutely blew it by allowing 35 consecutive points to New England.

    Not playing defense is going to result in a long season for this inconsistent Buffalo team.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 5-11 (Wins over TEN, JAX, IND)

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have proven that they can, at times, be an explosive offensive unit. At other times, though, they’ve looked completely inept and unable to finish drives—or even sustain them, for that matter.

    It would be nice to see them reach their potential this year, but it may take an attitude adjustment and some maturation on Newton’s part before the Panthers can turn the corner as a franchise.

    Record Before Week 6: 1-4

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 4-12 (Wins over TB, KC, OAK)

Chicago Bears

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    After the Chicago Bears’ Week 2 thumping by the Green Bay Packers, it looked as if the team was ready to implode. Jay Cutler went off on his teammates, specifically the offensive line, and exacerbated matters worse in the media in the game’s aftermath.

    Luckily for the Bears, they don’t need Cutler to carry the burden of guiding this team to the playoffs and possibly beyond. Running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush form one of the best complimentary back duos in the NFL, and the team’s defense is playing out of its mind in overall yardage and scoring.

    The road to the postseason is not going to be easy for Cutler’s Bears. But they’ll get there because of that defense's ability to create turnovers and the offense’s ability to control the clock by sustaining drives and putting up points.

    Record Before Week 6: 4-1

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 11-5 (Losses to MIN, GB, DET, HOU)

Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Cincinnati Bengals play in the tough AFC North and have done relatively well through the first five weeks of the 2012 season. Competition has been limited, though, and the team’s loss to Miami in Week 5 exposed some concerns about the offense when matching up with a stout defense.

    Running the football has to be the biggest concern for this team moving forward. The Bengals defense shows up at times, but has been hurt by injuries. The team has definitely taken a step back in both of these areas this season.

    Record Before Week 6: 3-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 9-7 (Losses to CLE, DEN, PHI, PIT, BAL)

Cleveland Browns

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    There’s not much to say about the only winless team in the NFL through five weeks. The Cleveland Browns are who everyone thought they would be in 2012: a young, competitive yet unsuccessful football team.

    Despite five losses to start the season and 11 straight dating back to 2011, the Browns have been competitive and have shown flashes of a more well-rounded football team. It’s just going to take time and better coaching for these youngsters to begin to put some W’s in the win column.

    Look for them to break that losing streak at home against the Bengals in Week 6. Cincinnati is coming off of a tough loss to Miami and will be susceptible to the upset by the Browns, who played them closely in their Week 2 matchup.

    Record Before Week 6: 0-5

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 4-12 (Wins over CIN, IND, KC, OAK)

Dallas Cowboys

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    The Dallas Cowboys have relied on an overhauled secondary and pass defense in order to win two games over the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, when tested by tough defenses, Tony Romo has caved under the pressure, and the team has been unable to do anything offensively as a result.

    The key for Dallas’ success is not Romo and the passing game, though. Getting the ball into the hands of explosive running back DeMarco Murray and establishing a running game will help create balance in the offense.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 8-8 (Losses to BAL, PHI, WAS, NYG, CIN, PIT)

Denver Broncos

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    Peyton Manning came to the Denver Broncos to help put them over the top when it comes time for the playoffs. Things just aren’t panning out that way so far through five weeks of the 2012 NFL season.

    Slow starts have killed the balance that the Broncos are searching for. John Fox doesn’t want to lean solely on Manning, but he has had to do so, as his team has fallen behind quickly and significantly and been forced to ride late-quarter comebacks that have fallen short for the most part.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 10-6 (Wins over SD, NO, CAR, KC, KC, TB, OAK, CLE)

Detroit Lions

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    It would be a huge understatement to say that the Detroit Lions have had some bad luck with injuries. Their secondary is decimated, and the team has been unable to keep up with opponents because of its one-dimensional but high-powered pass-oriented offense.

    Matthew Stafford is lighting it up as usual with his ample stable of offensive weapons. However, he’s making too many mistakes to continue to bring his team back from them. If not for the comeback he orchestrated in Week 1 against St. Louis, the team would be winless heading into Week 6.

    Chances are that Stafford will get his form back and that things will even themselves out as the Lions get healthy during their Week 5 bye week. They’re just too talented on offense to continue to struggle as they have so far.

    Record Before Week 6: 1-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 7-9 (Wins over JAX, MIN, IND, CHI, SEA, GB)

Green Bay Packers

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    If not for a terrible call by the replacement referees on Monday Night Football, the Green Bay Packers would be 3-2. A second-half collapse against rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts also cost the Pack another win.

    What’s going on in Green Bay? Is it panic time for Packers fans?

    It’s a little too soon for that, but the current rash of injuries is somewhat alarming. Despite the 2-3 start and injury concerns, Green Bay still maintains one of the most capable offenses in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers has proven he can put his team on his shoulders, and the rest of this season is going to come down to that.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 11-5 (Wins over HOU, DET, NYG, ARI, STL, JAX, MIN, TEN, CHI)

Houston Texans

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    The undefeated Houston Texans have ridden a stifling defense and an effective rushing game starring the superb combination of Arian Foster and Ben Tate to the first 5-0 start in the young franchise's history.

    However, it’s worth noting that the combined record of the teams they have beaten is 10-20. That doesn’t exactly minimize what they’ve been able to do, but it should put it into a slightly different context. With the defense much improved and the offense firing on all cylinders behind a healthy Matt Schaub and Arian Foster, the sky is the limit for this Texans team in 2012.

    Despite some challenging games coming up, the Texans should be able to handle most of them and be in excellent position before the postseason. Well enough off to rest their starters in the final week of the season and head into the playoffs with a 13-3 record.

    Record Before Week 6: 5-0

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 13-3 (Losses to GB, NE, IND)

Indianapolis Colts

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    The Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts have already matched their 2011 win total after only four games. Not that it was too hard to improve on that atrocious season, but it’s a real positive sign for the Colts faithful that they’re seeing instant results from their rookie quarterback.

    If not for a letdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3, the Colts could be in a very positive position after beating the Green Bay Packers in Week 5. Momentum is high, and the team is emotionally charged by the health concerns of head coach Chuck Pagano.

    Bruce Arians has taken over the team in his absence.

    Luck hasn’t been perfect, far from it for sure, but he’s been gutsy and has done the right things it takes to win football games when it counts.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 8-8 (Losses to CLE, MIA, NE, DET, HOU, BUF)

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    There isn’t much to say about the Jacksonville Jaguars at this point in the season. They’re coming off of a huge letdown against the Chicago Bears. Heading into halftime, the Jags had kept the game neck-and-neck and then completely and absolutely melted down in the second half.

    Blaine Gabbert, the team’s first-round selection in 2010, has been awful at quarterback despite an encouraging opening-day performance in an overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

    If things continue down this path, and it looks like it will, Jacksonville could be looking for another quarterback in the 2013 NFL draft.

    Record Before Week 6: 1-4

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 2-14 (Win over TEN)

Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs weren’t expected to be a powerhouse this year, but they were generally thought to be improved at the very least. However, they’ve been outscored 44-6 in the first quarter after five weeks.

    With Matt Cassel expected to miss time after suffering a concussion in Week 5, the Chiefs will need to continue to rely on the legs of Jamaal Charles.

    Charles is currently leading the NFL in rushing yards with 551. That hasn’t helped Kansas City win any games, though.

    Record Before Week 6: 1-4

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 3-13 (Wins over OAK, OAK)

Miami Dolphins

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    The Miami Dolphins were widely criticized for selecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the top 10 of the 2012 NFL draft. They were also criticized for letting wide receiver Brandon Marshall go and for not bolstering their secondary.

    Through five weeks, they have competed in every single game and won two of them. In two of their losses, the 'Fins forced overtime against the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. Wins came over the Oakland Raiders in blowout fashion and in a close, hard-fought battle over the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Not many expected this type of success this early for this Dolphins team. It’s come mostly from the team’s ability to stop the run and Reggie Bush’s ability to extend plays and take some of the pressure off his rookie quarterback.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 8-8 (Win over NYJ, IND, TEN, BUF, BUF, JAX)

Minnesota Vikings

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    If there is a team that qualifies as the “surprise” team of the 2012 season thus far, it would have to be the Minnesota Vikings. They’ve started out hot under sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder and a healthy Adrian Peterson in the backfield.

    Even more surprising is the fashion in which they manhandled the powerhouse San Francisco 49ers at home in Week 3. That decisive victory is one that will help propel them from a borderline team to a contender as they approach a difficult NFC North schedule.

    If the Vikes can keep up the tough defense and Ponder can continue his early success, the playoffs are not far-fetched this season, not just in the future.

    Record Before Week 6: 4-1

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 10-6 (Losses to CHI, DET, GB, HOU, STL)

New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots are running the football as well as anyone this season. Their rush offense is averaging a third-best 165.4 yards per game, and Tom Brady is currently ranked ninth in the league with 274 yards per game through the air.

    After being beat, again, by the New York Giants pass rush in the Super Bowl, Bill Belichick went out and improved both his run game and rush defense.

    They’ll lose some games because of their Swiss-cheese secondary, but will be competitive each and every week because of the offensive juggernauts they are on the other side of the ball. Tom Brady with an effective running game is and will continue to be as deadly as ever.

    Record Before Week 6: 3-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 11-5 (Losses to SF, STL, SEA)

New Orleans Saints

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    Reeling from the bounty scandal that rocked their organization, the New Orleans Saints realized the hard way that you have to be able to play some defense to win in this league.

    None of the Saints' losses have been by more than eight points, two of them coming within a field goal. That may have something to do with the absence of head coach Sean Payton and his relationship with Drew Brees.

    Whatever the case for the struggles, they’re not going to go away overnight. Despite having just one win to this point, the Saints will get a handful more, as their high-powered offense will be capable of out-dueling some of their remaining opponents.

    Record Before Week 6: 1-4

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 5-11 (Wins over TB, CAR, OAK, ATL)

New York Giants

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    Eli Manning has continued to make his case as one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. He’s done it so far by posting over 300 yards per game passing and leading his team to a 3-2 start to the 2012 season.

    The New York Giants pass rush, however, isn’t getting at the quarterback as quickly because the team’s secondary is hurting badly. This is giving teams a chance to quickly get rid of the football and keep those aggressive pass-rushers at bay.

    If the Giants can get and stay healthy, they may finish better than expected. But their schedule and NFC East rivals are going to be huge obstacles to overcome if they hope to return to the postseason.

    Record Before Week 6: 3-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 8-8 (Wins over WAS, WAS, PHI, PIT, DAL)

New York Jets

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    Rex Ryan and the New York Jets are just 2-3, but they still remain in the brightest of media spotlights at this point in the year. Legitimate questions about whether or not Mark Sanchez is a franchise quarterback have sparked discussions around the league about the possibility of taking a chance with the polarizing Tim Tebow.

    The media situation in New York is a match made in heaven for the Tebow dilemma.

    On one hand, you have a former top-five pick in Sanchez, and on the other, you have a mobile quarterback who can help sell tickets and jerseys.

    If the losing continues and the heat gets too hot for even Rex Ryan, the change may be made, and it could be enough to spark the team’s poor running game. Tebow’s skills would certainly help the offense, as they seem to be completely lost through the first five weeks, especially on the ground.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 5-11 (Wins over JAX, TEN, BUF)

Oakland Raiders

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    The Oakland Raiders are dead last in rushing yards despite the services of Darren McFadden, Carson Palmer hasn’t wowed anyone with his mediocre play, and the team’s defense is allowing 31.25 points per game.

    That’s a huge problem because, for the most part, the team has been unable to score.

    The season’s not over yet for the Raiders, as the AFC West usually ends with some more parity by season's end. However, as a whole, the division looks to be falling in terms of its overall strength.

    Record Before Week 6: 1-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 4-12 (Wins over TB, JAX, SD)

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Despite Michael Vick’s propensity to throw the ball to the other team and fumble it as much as possible, the Philadelphia Eagles are 3-2 as of now. Vick has played clutch down the stretch of games and has, for the most part, made up for his errors.

    His fumble in the end zone resulted in a touchback and, ultimately, a 16-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5. However, in Weeks 1, 2 and 4, Vick drove his team down the field with little time left to play for game-winning drives.

    The Eagles are definitely on the right track, but they will need Vick to minimize mistakes and begin to take advantage of their opportunistic defense in order to win the turnover battle and put teams away with a little more conviction.

    Record Before Week 6: 3-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 10-6 (Wins over DET, NO, DAL, WAS, CAR, TB, CIN)

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers looked rough heading into their Week 4 bye. However, getting running back Rashard Mendenhall back in Week 5 seemed to energize the offense by giving it a legitimate and dynamic rushing threat that it didn’t have in his absence.

    It didn’t lead to an offensive explosion, but Mendenhall’s presence definitely helped the Steelers play competitive football and kept them in the game until the very end. Ben Roethlisberger was doing way too much in Mendenhall’s absence.

    If the Steelers can get completely healthy and establish a healthy balance on offense, they will be a tough team to beat down the stretch and into the postseason.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 10-6 (Wins over TEN, WAS, CIN, KC, BAL, CLE, CLE, SD)

San Diego Chargers

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    Despite some struggles against the Atlanta Falcons, the San Diego Chargers have learned that life goes on without Vincent Jackson.

    However, injuries have plagued former first-round running back Ryan Matthews to this point in his young career. Antonio Gates has also continued to struggle with injuries, and it's cost him playing time already.

    The key for the Chargers will be establishing Matthews and scheming their secondary more toward their strengths. If Matthews can play consistent football and give the team a solid option other than dialing up a Phillip Rivers pass, they may be able to duplicate the success they’ve displayed in their three wins.

    Record Before Week 6: 3-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 9-7 (Wins over DEN, CLE, KC, KC, CAR, NYJ)

San Francisco 49ers

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    The 2012 San Francisco 49ers are exactly as advertised. They’ve continued to play dominant defense and establish an exceptional rushing attack anchored by the reemergence of Frank Gore. They’re currently first in the NFL with 195.8 yards per game on the ground.

    Oh, by the way, quarterback Alex Smith is the top-rated quarterback in the entire league with a 108.7 quarterback rating through five weeks.

    It’s hard to imagine any defense playing the Niners as good as the Minnesota Vikings did. Stopping the run neutralizes a lot of what Alex Smith can do on the play-action.

    Record Before Week 6: 4-1

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 14-2 (Loss to CHI)

Seattle Seahawks

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    Despite an excellent defense, the 2012 Seattle Seahawks just do not have enough firepower on offense in order to contend this year. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has proven to be limited, and the ‘Hawks offense has been one-dimensional.

    Marshawn Lynch is a good back, currently third in the league with over 500 yards rushing. However, the team cannot continue to rely solely on him for offensive production. That’s especially true because of the caliber of rush defenses they will face from here on out.

    Record Before Week 6: 3-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 9-7 (Wins over MIA, NE, ARI, BUF, STL, NYJ)

St. Louis Rams

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    Another surprising NFL team in 2012 has been the St. Louis Rams. They haven’t been able to do much on offense, but they haven’t had to. Their shockingly adequate defense has allowed just 18.8 points per game. That’s mostly due to a much improved secondary led by free-agent acquisition Cortland Finnegan.

    Sam Bradford has been moderately successful but hasn’t had a statement game yet this season. He’s done OK with managing the offense, but the offense has struggled in doing much of anything because of its offensive line.

    True success is still a little bit down the line for the Rams, but there are definitely positive signs beginning to emanate from St. Louis.

    Record Before Week 6: 3-2

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 9-7 (Wins over MIA, NE, NYJ, BUF, MIN, TB)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano has tried to run the football down his opponents’ throats to no avail. First-round pick Doug Martin has shown he’s a decent runner, but he hasn’t flashed anything out of the ordinary.

    Is it because of the offensive line, the play-calling or because Martin just isn’t as special as the Bucs thought when they traded back into the bottom of the first round to select the former Boise State standout?

    One thing is certain: Quarterback Josh Freeman is struggling with the new playbook, his third since being drafted by the Bucs in 2009. Is this a sign that he’s not the long-term answer for the Bucs, or does he need more time to adjust and will succeed down the line once he's given some stability?

    Freeman’s situation seems similar to Alex Smith in San Francisco, who is finally getting the benefit of continuity with his coordinators and their scheme.

    Record Before Week 6: 1-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 5-11 (Wins over ATL, NO, SD, KC)

Tennessee Titans

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    The Tennessee Titans are playing very, very poor defense right now, and their offensive struggles have prompted former standout running back Chris Johnson to point fingers at everyone but himself.

    Second-year quarterback Jake Locker has been sidelined by shoulder injury, and Matt Hasselbeck has taken the reigns once again. It hasn’t made much of a difference.

    Things could continue to trend downward and get a lot worse before they get better in the Music City.

    Record Before Week 6: 1-4

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 2-14 (Win over JAX)

Washington Redskins

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    Robert Griffin III has exceeded even the lofty expectations many had for him after being selected No. 2 overall in the 2012 NFL draft. He’s helped turn the Washington Redskins into a contending team in the early stages of the 2012 season.

    He has been asked to play a larger role in the run game than is considered wise for an NFL quarterback. That ended in a tough realization when he was knocked out of his team’s Week 5 game against the Atlanta Falcons. But according to the Washington Post, he is cleared to practice and may play in Week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings.

    There’s one thing that’s for sure: The Redskins need RGIII to stay healthy if they have any legitimate hopes of contending this season or in the future. Without him, they’re just a mediocre team that can’t play any defense. When he’s in the game, though, the 'Skins have the ability to put up points in droves, and that makes them dangerous.

    Record Before Week 6: 2-3

    Projected Final 2012 Record: 6-10 (Wins over CAR, PHI, DAL, CLE)

    Mike Hoag Jr. is a Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report and also covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for the site.