Week 6 NFL Picks: Predicting How Each Underdog Can Spring an Upset
The NFL is a beautiful thing to watch every single weekend because the phrase "any given Sunday" can always be applied. During any given week, each of the teams that are playing can win a football game.
Many times, that simple reality leads to wide-scale upsets.
Below, we predict how each underdog in Week 6 of the NFL season can spring an upset.
Note: Underdog is italicized in every subheader.
Oakland Raiders (1-3) at Atlanta Falcons (5-0)
Run it down Atlanta's throat.
The only way the Raiders snap their current nine-game losing streak after bye weeks is if the run game controls this contest.
Atlanta loves controlling the tempo of games by hoarding time of possession, but if Oakland can flip the script, it would minimize what the Falcons can do against the Raiders' suspect pass defense.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (0-5)
Rattle Andy Dalton.
Getting back cornerback Joe Haden (suspension) is a big factor for Cleveland. Frustrating Dalton is the key, as the Bengals quarterback is a perfect 3-0 against the Browns in his young NFL career. If Dalton is near his 114.0 career passer rating against the Browns Sunday, the Bengals win on the road.
If Cleveland can force a turnover or two and keep Dalton in check, Cleveland can finally get in the win column.
St. Louis Rams (3-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-3)
Defense, defense, defense. To win in Miami, the Rams have to use defense.
Few are expecting this to be a high-scoring game, so St. Louis has to be one step better on that side of the ball to win on the road. Rookie Ryan Tannehill can be turned over, especially in crucial situations down the stretch.
Whoever forces the game-changing turnover in the second half probably wins this game.
Indianapolis Colts (2-2) at New York Jets (2-3)
Ride the emotion wave, again.
The Colts have to bring the same emotion they had in last week's second half on the road to the New York. Feeding off the loss of head coach Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis outscored the Packers 25-6 over the final 30 minutes in Week 5.
Bringing that same kind of energy level will be difficult two weeks in a row, but the Jets aren't as difficult a matchup for Indianapolis as Green Bay was last week.
Detroit Lions (1-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)
Rediscover Matthew Stafford.
Detroit has to get quarterback Stafford back into his 2011 groove. After throwing for 41 touchdowns last season, Stafford has just three in 2012—good for 32nd in the NFL.
Having a reliable running back option in Mikel Leshoure should again help, but Stafford has to get the ball in the end zone for Detroit to avoid a 1-4 start.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)
Stick to a simple game plan.
A year ago, when the Chiefs upset the Green Bay Packers with Kyle Orton under center, Kansas City ran the ball effectively and kept Orton out of dangerous down-and-distances. He responded with a smart game managing the offense.
The defense bringing pressure off the edge is another important factor, but Brady Quinn is the key. No turnovers should mean the Chiefs are right in it on the road Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (4-1)
Stay balanced on offense.
The Ravens have been shaky against the run, but play-caller Jason Garrett has been known to shy away from the running game early.
That can't happen Sunday afternoon.
If Dallas stays balanced on offense and Tony Romo avoids that one head-shaker moment, the Cowboys can spring the upset on the road.
Buffalo Bills (2-3) at Arizona Cardinals (4-1)
Get after the quarterback.
If the Bills can't do it this week, they won't be able to all season. The Cardinals have allowed 17 sacks the last two games, but the Bills defensive front has been nothing more than a cardboard cutout the last two Sundays.
Mario Williams and company have to get Kevin Kolb on the ground for the Bills to get back to .500.
New England Patriots (3-2) at Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
Play at Seattle's pace.
The Patriots' breakneck offense will be hard pressed to execute in a loud atmosphere. That plays right into Seattle's hands.
Pete Carroll wants his offense to control the pace, run the football and play it safe in the passing game. On defense, Seattle gets after quarterbacks because the secondary is elite.
An upset is in the makings here.
New York Giants (3-2) at San Francisco 49ers (4-1)
Find a way on the ground.
The 49ers are the best team in football at stopping the run, but that doesn't mean New York can abandon it Sunday. When teams get one-dimensional against San Francisco, quarterbacks gets teed off on.
Ahmad Bradshaw (over 200 yards in Week 5) has to be at or near his 72 yards rushing from the NFC Championship Game.
Minnesota Vikings (4-1) at Washington Redskins (2-3)
Match Minnesota's physicality.
The Redskins can't get pushed around by a team that has thrived on physical play the last four weeks. If the Vikings control the lines, this game is over.
Running the football and making Christian Ponder beat the Redskins defense with his arm is a recipe for success in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers (2-3) at Houston Texans (5-0)
Find an identity.
The Packers haven't established their footing on either side of the ball this season. With this combined with a tough schedule, Green Bay now finds itself at 2-3.
This team needs to play with its back to the wall, which is something Mike McCarthy has gotten out of these kind of situations in the past. McCarthy's offense especially needs to get in rhythm against one of the NFL's most balanced football teams.
Denver Broncos (2-3) at San Diego Chargers (3-2)
Attack a struggling defense.
The Broncos are getting better every week on offense under Peyton Manning, but the defense continues to be a problem. The Patriots controlled Denver in Week 5 because the defense couldn't get off the field.
If the Broncos find a way to play better defense moving forward, this is a playoff team.
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