NFL Predictions Week 6: Picks for Key High-Profile Matchups
Five weeks of NFL action are now complete, but there are still plenty of questions to be answered as many highly touted teams struggle to pull away from the pack. The muddled middle includes last season's Super Bowl squads, the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
Each week, a group of key games will start separating the contenders from the pretenders. Until that happens, however, the parity across the league makes for intriguing action pretty much every weekend.
With that in mind, let's examine the top games on tap for Week 6 and make predictions for which team will come out on top in each matchup. For a complete look at the week's schedule, visit the league's official site.
Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens
If the Green Bay Packers qualify for the playoffs, it will be extremely difficult to find a more battle-tested team. The Ravens are the latest tough opponent on a schedule with very few lulls, which will seriously test Aaron Rodgers and Co.
It isn't all bad news for Green Bay, though. The team has finally found some balance on offense, giving the team a better chance of emerging from the difficult slate with a winning record. It ranks fourth in passing and fifth in rushing—good enough to challenge any defense.
The Ravens are going to test the Packers. After getting carved up by Peyton Manning in the opener, Baltimore's annually stout defense has returned to normal. The unit is giving up fewer than 16 points per game since that forgettable performance.
With the defense trending in the right direction, getting the running game going is the next key. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are both averaging fewer than three yards per carry. Their task doesn't get any easier against the fifth-ranked run defense, giving Green Bay the slight edge.
Prediction: Packers 24, Ravens 23
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots
Last season's struggles are now a distant memory for the New Orleans Saints. The defense hasn't allowed more than 18 points in any game, Drew Brees is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, and Jimmy Graham has been virtually impossible to slow down.
Which game are you most looking forward to in Week 6?
The result is a 5-0 start, including victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears. Going out on the road for a second straight week to face the 4-1 New England Patriots is the toughest test to date, though. By Sunday night, the Saints will either legitimize their unbeaten record or have new questions to answer.
The Patriots faced a similar situation over the weekend. They looked out of sorts, especially offensively, during a second straight tough road game, and the Cincinnati Bengals took advantage. The lack of efficiency in the passing game was the most worrisome issue.
Ultimately, it's tough to imagine Tom Brady having two straight clunkers, and the Saints are due to take a step back after a red-hot start. New Orleans' outlook is still very promising, but the Patriots should find a way to escape with the win at home.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Saints 28
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
The NFC East is wide open. Even the winless New York Giants are just two games off the pace. So whichever team is able to formulate some level of consistent moving forward is going to earn a ticket to the postseason.
For the Washington Redskins, those chances rest heavily on Robert Griffin III. He's averaging just 18 yards per game on the ground, a decrease of more than 30 yards from last season. Washington's offense simply isn't as dynamic.
By contrast, the Dallas Cowboys offense went drive for drive with the Denver Broncos but came up just short. That should be the model for the rest of their season—attack defenses with a fast pace, because it's clear they have the talent to do so.
It will be difficult to pick the Redskins in big games like this until Griffin showcases his previous all-around ability. The Cowboys should be able to build off their near-upset of the Broncos and gain some traction in the division race.
Prediction: Cowboys 35, Redskins 27
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