Other than two teams squaring off in prime time on Monday night, the rest of the NFL is already looking ahead to Week 6, where several division games could change the course of the playoff picture.
The undefeated Kansas City Chiefs are doing their best to keep up with the Denver Broncos in the AFC West, and face an Oakland Raiders team coming off a momentous Sunday night win in the division.
Andy Reid's Chiefs undefeated and first team in history to start 5-0 after winning two games or fewer previous year. Threat to Broncos?— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) October 7, 2013
It appears safe to label the San Francisco 49ers among the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl after two straight wins, but a physical test awaits in the NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals.
Another home favorite is the Dallas Cowboys, who are tied atop the NFC East despite a 2-3 record. The Cowboys take on the Washington Redskins after a crushing loss in Week 5.
Below is a closer look at each of those three divisional showdowns and predictions for each game, followed by a complete list of league-wide picks.
Oakland Raiders (2-3) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
Yes, the Chiefs are 5-0 and have the benefit of playing Week 6 in one of the toughest environments in the NFL in Arrowhead Stadium.
But according to Topbet, KC is getting a 10-point benefit of the doubt against an Oakland Raiders team fighting for their 2013 season. That seems a bit unrealistic.
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor is proving himself as a surefire franchise quarterback and is only going to get better. The danger he presents with his unique athletic ability and devastating stiff-arm is beginning to be better complemented by his throwing prowess.
Pryor will be facing the league's 21st-ranked rush defense in Kansas City. Although the Chiefs lead the league with 21 sacks, their opponent this coming Sunday has the elusiveness and power to break free and make plays when everything breaks down.
As many moving parts as there have been on Oakland's own defense that features nine new starters this season, the unit is starting to gel together.
It shut down the San Diego Chargers' running game and forced Philip Rivers into three interceptions on Sunday night in a 27-17 victory.
Raiders, stay the course with HC Dennis Allen and staff. Well-coached team and talent will grow with next off-season. Gotta like Pryor, too— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) October 7, 2013
The Chiefs offense depends on Jamaal Charles' rushing ability and Alex Smith not making mistakes at quarterback, but Smith is coming off an ugly game in Week 5's triumph over the Tennessee Titans.
This is going to be the upset special of Week 6. The Raiders ride Pryor's arm and legs, shut down Charles on the ground and get a massive AFC West win on the road.
Prediction: Raiders 24, Chiefs 20
Arizona Cardinals (3-2) vs. San Francisco 49ers (3-2)
With as many issues as Carson Palmer has had as quarterback of the Cardinals, it's a wonder that the team boasts a winning 3-2 record entering their second divisional clash of the season.
Palmer has chucked nine interceptions this season, but he's not totally to blame. New head coach Bruce Arians dials up a vertical-based passing offense that requires pass protection—a luxury Palmer doesn't often enjoy.
One encouraging development has been the play of rookie Andre Ellington, who had seven carries for 52 yards and caught four passes for 31 yards in a 22-6 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Andre Ellington has touched ball 31 times on offense & has 15 first downs. Among NFL rookies only Hou WR DeAndre Hopkins w more (16)— MarkDalton (@CardsMarkD) October 7, 2013
This trip to Candlestick Park should be a defensive, low-scoring NFC West clash.
The 49ers have the league's No. 2 pass defense and have gotten back to their identity on offense, pounding the rock with Frank Gore on the ground.
With an advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball, look for San Francisco to wear down the Cardinals' second-ranked rush defense and for QB Colin Kaepernick to have his best game since Week 1 to give the Niners a win.
Prediction: 49ers 31, Cardinals 17
Washington Redskins (1-3) vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
The NFC East race is wide open, as the Cowboys failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity to beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday in a devastating 51-48 shootout loss at home.
Next, Washington comes to town fresh off of a bye week and with QB Robert Griffin III primed to break out with a big game for his 1-3 team.
Cowboys signal-caller Tony Romo threw for over 500 yards in the Broncos game, but an interception on his own side of the field cost Dallas the game. It will be interesting to see how he recovers from that amid severe scrutiny.
Romo shouldn't shoulder the blame for a putrid Cowboys defense, but he will as the quarterback of America's Team.
As bad as the Dallas D is, the Redskins' isn't much better, yielding a league-high 440.5 yards per contest. Griffin isn't near the player he was as an electric rookie, and thus won't be able to keep pace with Romo in what should be another shootout in Cowboys Stadium.
Prediction: Cowboys 38, Redskins 27
|Away Team||Home Team||Winner|
|New York Giants||Chicago Bears||Bears|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Buffalo Bills||Bills|
|Detroit Lions||Cleveland Browns||Lions|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Eagles|
|Green Bay Packers||Baltimore Ravens||Packers|
|St. Louis Rams||Houston Texans||Texans|
|Oakland Raiders||Kansas City Chiefs||Raiders|
|Carolina Panthers||Minnesota Vikings||Vikings|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||New York Jets||Steelers|
|Tennessee Titans||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Denver Broncos||Broncos|
|Arizona Cardinals||San Francisco 49ers||49ers|
|New Orleans Saints||New England Patriots||Patriots|
|Washington Redskins||Dallas Cowboys||Cowboys|
|Indianapolis Colts||San Diego Chargers||Chargers|
Source: ESPN.com. Picks are strictly opinion.