Six weeks into the 2013 NFL regular season, only three undefeated teams remain. The postseason picture is up in the air, and while name value may paint the picture of a contender, very few have the look of a Super Bowl team.
The question is, which team will win the Week 6 games with the most significant long-term impact?
Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 13
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Prediction: 26-20, Packers
The Baltimore Ravens are the defending Super Bowl champions, and the Green Bay Packers are perennial favorites. Somehow, both teams have started off slow with the Packers going 2-2 and the Ravens at 3-2.
Joe Flacco isn't playing anywhere close to the value of his contract, Aaron Rodgers is struggling during the fourth quarter and both teams are in a tight race for their respective divisions.
In the NFC North, the Packers trail the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears by .5 games after having a Week 4 bye. After losing by a combined 10 points to the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, the Packers continued their home dominance with a 22-9 win over Detroit during Week 5.
Now, Green Bay will need to avoid an 0-3 start on the road to earn an above .500 record for the first time this season. They'll need Rodgers to rediscover his late-game heroics.
We know he's capable, but Rodgers has faltered in a major way.
As for Baltimore, Flacco continues to be an average-at-best regular-season quarterback, with five touchdowns to eight interceptions. For those who think he'll make significant improvements, Flacco hasn't completed at least 60 percent of his passes since 2010 and has never topped 4,000 passing yards.
This all adds up to Baltimore continuing to rely on Ray Rice and the defense to shoulder the workload.
Green Bay may be struggling on the road, but Rodgers tops Flacco and that's the deciding factor. Green Bay is entering desperation mode during Week 6, and with Baltimore's offensive inefficiencies, that opens the door for a long-awaited away win.
Either way, this will be one of the best games of the week.
Arizona Cardinals (3-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-2)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 13
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Prediction: 27-17, 49ers
If you were told that the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers would have the same record entering Week 6, you'd likely have scoffed at that idea. If someone had told you that both Arizona and San Francisco would be 3-2, you'd like dismiss the notion.
Well, that's how it is.
Both Arizona and San Francisco are one game back in the NFC West, using Week 5 victories to move above .500. With the Seattle Seahawks falling to 4-1 during Week 5, the time is now for one of these two teams to rise up and secure a monumental victory.
It'll all come down to which quarterback can develop consistency.
Since topping 400 yards during Week 1, Colin Kaepernick has thrown for 557 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions with a completion percentage of 50.5 in four games. His high in those outings was a 167-yard passing performance against the St. Louis Rams.
That level of play just won't be enough for San Francisco to win a Super Bowl, and injuries to wide receivers don't get him off the hook.
Carson Palmer is a dramatic improvement over what used to be in Arizona, but he has two touchdowns to seven interceptions during the past three games. He's led a number of fourth-quarter scoring drives, but Arizona needs four full periods of quality work.
San Francisco has more talent and the home-field advantage, so if anyone can win in spite of lackluster quarterback play, it's the 49ers in a defensive battle.
Washington Redskins (1-3) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 13
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: 38-34, Cowboys
The Washington Redskins are a 1-3 football team that hasn't looked impressive in any of its four games. The Dallas Cowboys are 2-3 and came within a 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos of resting above .500.
Somehow, the Redskins would move into first place in the division if they defeat Dallas and the Philadelphia Eagles lose.
Say what you will about how dreadful the NFC East is—none of the teams are above .500—but this game is critical. The winner will be in control of its own destiny as the pursuit of the NFC East title resumes.
The only true reason for encouragement is that Dallas has one-point and three-point losses to two of the only three undefeated teams in the NFL, the Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.
The Cowboys have one of the best passing attacks in football and a smothering run defense. Fans can jest about Tony Romo all they want, but when it comes down to it, he's better than a vast majority of the NFL quarterbacks across the league.
Only Romo can throw for 506 yards and five touchdowns, lead his team back from the brink of a blowout and still end up being criticized.
The Redskins look good statistically, but the lofty offensive numbers have come from the games in which Washington played from behind. To make matters worse, Robert Griffin III has six touchdown to four interceptions and three fumbles through four games.
Washington has a genuine opportunity to win and should be considered a postseason threat, but Dallas has been playing strong football. The Cowboys take a revenge win.