NFL Picks Week 6: Dark-Horse Contenders That Will Secure Critical Wins

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 11, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 06:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates his pass reception touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Entering Week 6 of the 2013 NFL regular season, three teams are undefeated and three division winners from 2012 boast records below .500. This unpredictable season has numerous dark-horse contenders emerging as potential postseason teams, as the favorites battle to live up to expectations.

But which of those squads will secure critical victories?

 

Detroit Lions (3-2)

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 06:  Joique Bell #35 of the Detroit Lions takes a handoff from Matthew Stafford #9 during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 6, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Opponent: at Cleveland Browns

Date: Sunday, Oct. 13

TV: FOX

Prediction: 23-13, Lions

The Detroit Lions have started the season strong, but they suffered a critical 22-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers during Week 4. Detroit continues to own the lead in the division, but with a slim .5-game edge over the Packers, Detroit needs to remain strong until its Week 9 bye.

In Week 6, the Lions will face a Cleveland Browns team that just lost its breakout quarterback.

Having a first-round draft choice as a backup plan isn't too terrible, but Brandon Weeden will have trouble matching Detroit's explosive offense.

The Lions struggled to produce offensively against the Packers, but they were without superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson and No. 2 receiver Nate Burleson. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Megatron is a game-time decision for Detroit's meeting with the Browns.

Even still, it's easier to believe in Detroit's offense than Cleveland's.

Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon will keep things interesting for the Browns, but Reggie Bush is a force on the ground and Detroit shouldn't be expected to struggle offensively in consecutive weeks. There is an upset alert, but Detroit's defense has been playing well and Weeden has just two passing touchdowns in three games.

It'll be close and competitive, but Stafford trumps Weeden, and that's the deciding factor. 

 

Dallas Cowboys (2-3)

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 06:   Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Opponent: Washington Redskins

Date: Sunday, Oct. 13

TV: NBC

Prediction: 38-34, Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are a high-profile football team that has played as well as any team could en route to a 2-3 record. Due to the fact that Dallas has more losses than wins, fans and analysts are still unconvinced when it comes to the Cowboys' chances to do much of anything in the postseason.

On Sunday Night Football, in front of a nationally televised audience, Dallas will make a statement with a revenge win over the Washington Redskins.

The Cowboys lost a thriller to the Denver Broncos during Week 5, falling 51-48 in an instant classic. Tony Romo was 25-of-36 for 506 yards, five touchdowns and a costly interception, and he led the Cowboys back from a 15-point second-half deficit.

Against a Redskins defense that's 28th in pass defense, 31st in run defense and 26th in scoring defense, Romo and company should have no trouble moving the football.

The key in this game is that Washington defeated Dallas twice in 2012, including a Week 17 clash that eliminated the Cowboys from the playoffs. With revenge on their minds, the Cowboys will come out firing against Washington.

It'll be a strong game, but Dallas will win.

 

Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 24:  Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass during warmups before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 24, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)
Brian Cleary/Getty Images

Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Date: Sunday, Oct. 13

TV: FOX

Prediction: 28-19, Buccaneers

The Philadelphia Eagles may be 2-3, but entering Week 6, they're tied with the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. Philadelphia bounced back in Week 5 after losing three consecutive outings and will look to continue that success against a winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.

With a win, Philly would get back to .500.

This will be a meeting between young quarterbacks who are under a large amount of pressure. The Bucs released franchise player Josh Freeman and will now start Mike Glennon, while Nick Foles gets the nod over an injured Michael Vick for the Eagles.

Look for Foles to be in his comfort zone.

Darrelle Revis might make his day a little unpleasant, but Tampa Bay is about to face the NFL's top rushing offense.

LeSean McCoy leads a rushing attack that's averaging 186.6 yards per contest, which will tire out a very strong Bucs defense. Should Tampa make stops, it'll be on an unproven rookie, Glennon, who will need to shine against an opportunistic Eagles defense that has nine takeaways.

This one won't be pretty, but Philadelphia will secure a much-needed victory.