NFL Week 6 Picks: Last-Minute Expert Predictions from Around the Web
It's Week 6 of the 2013 NFL season, and this week features something for everyone.
Like division rivalries? The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys should be right up your alley.
Want a possible Super Bowl preview? Check out the game between the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.
Want to see a closely contested affair that will go down to the wire? For God's sake, don't watch the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos. That game hasn't started yet, and it's already over.
Here's a look at how experts from around cyberspace expect Week 6 to play out.
Experts Roll Call
Before we move on to Week 5's games, let's take a look at our panel of experts.
ESPN: ESPN's picks are a combination of the selections of 13 experts. Those experts include writers like Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter as well as former players such as Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson.
CBS Sports: The CBS Sports picks feature eight writers, including senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco and NFL insider Jason La Canfora.
USA Today: As with the other sites on our panel, USA Today uses a committee approach, with seven writers offering their picks for this week's games.
Bleacher Report: I would be remiss not to include the prognostications of my esteemed colleagues here at Bleacher Report. This year's starting lineup for Bleacher Report's picks team features each of the national lead writers as well as the lead writers covering the NFL's divisions.
There you have it: over 40 NFL experts (plus one computer) all giving their takes on this week's games.
Week 5 didn't go so well for the experts, who barely stayed above .500.
Last Week: 7-6
Carolina Panthers (1-3) at Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
Final Verdict: Maybe, given all that's happened to the Vikings this week, their hearts just weren't in this one.
Maybe the Carolina Panthers circled the wagons after last week's embarrassing loss in Arizona.
Maybe it was a little of both.
Whatever the reasons, this game was all Panthers, with Carolina quarterback Cam Newton playing his best game of the year in a 35-10 rout.
ESPN: Vikings (11-2)
CBS Sports: Vikings (7-1)
Fox Sports: Panthers (4-1)
USA Today: Vikings (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Vikings (8-4)
Overall: Vikings (33-12)
The Minnesota Vikings were a playoff team last year, but it took a switch at quarterback and a trip to London for the Vikings to get their first victory in 2013.
There may well be another change coming soon under center in the Twin Cities with the signing of Josh Freeman, but when the Vikings host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, it will be Matt Cassel at quarterback for Minnesota.
This game took on an unbelievably sad tone on Friday, when, as reported, the two-year-old son of Vikings running back of USA TodayAdrian Peterson died from injuries allegedly sustained at the hands of his mother's boyfriend.
Dave Campbell of the Associated Press (via MPRNews) reports that Peterson intends to play in Sunday's game.
St. Louis Rams (2-3) at Houston Texans (2-3)
Final Verdict: If the Houston Texans were scuffling before, they're reeling now.
Quarterback Matt Schaub was forced from Sunday's game with the Rams by an injury. The Fans cheered.
They weren't cheering when his replacement threw a pick-six (the fifth straight game in which a Houston passer has thrown one) on his fifth pass.
38-13 Rams, and the defending AFC South champions are in big trouble.
ESPN: Texans (11-2)
CBS Sports: Texans (8-0)
Fox Sports: Texans (5-0)
USA Today: Texans (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Texans (12-0)
Overall: Texans (43-2)
Poor Matt Schaub.
The Houston Texans quarterback can't catch a break. After throwing a pick-six in his NFL-record fourth-straight game, Schaub was benched last week. Houston restaurants are naming sarcastic sandwiches after him. Outraged fans are showing up at his house to berate him.
The first one is funny. The second one isn't even a little bit.
Head coach Gary Kubiak has stated that Schaub will remain the team's starter when they host the St. Louis Rams in Week 6.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman thinks the Rams are just what Schaub needs to get back on track.
"Nothing cures a quarterback slump," Freeman said, "like the sorry Rams."
Detroit Lions (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (3-2)
Final Verdict: Superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson returned to action in Week 6 after missing the previous game with a knee injury.
"Megatron" clearly wasn't himself, but it turned out the Lions didn't need him.
Young tight end Joseph Fauria caught three touchdown passes, and the Lions left Cleveland tied for first place in the NFC North after a 31-17 win.
ESPN: Browns (7-6)
CBS Sports: Tied (4-4)
Fox Sports: Lions (5-0)
USA Today: Lions (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Lions (8-4)
Overall: Lions (27-18)
Week 5 was bittersweet for the Cleveland Browns, who won their third straight game but lost starting quarterback Brian Hoyer to a torn ACL.
That injury thrusts former first-round pick Brandon Weeden back into the starting lineup for the Browns, and it also swung the expert vote in the direction of the visiting Detroit Lions this week.
However, there are those that feel the home team will win their fourth in a row, among them Bleacher Report AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst:
The Lions are too unpredictable. When they're good, they look unstoppable and when they're bad, they are a punchline. Much depends on which Lions team shows up in Cleveland to take on the Brandon Weeden-led Browns, but I'm going with the comedy-of-errors version. The Browns defense is the real deal and won't let the Detroit offense get going for the second straight week.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) at New York Jets (3-2)
Final Verdict: The Pittsburgh Steelers had an extra week to prepare for the New York Jets and try to end their four-game losing streak.
That extra week appears to have served them well.
The Pittsburgh defense harassed rookie quarterback Geno Smith all game long, forcing a pair of interceptions in a 19-6 Steelers win.
ESPN: Jets (8-5)
CBS Sports: Jets (6-2)
Fox Sports: Steelers (4-1)
USA Today: Jets (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Jets (8-4)
Overall: Jets (27-18)
The New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers have been just full of surprises in 2013.
The Jets, a team many believed would be in the running for the first pick in the 2014 draft, have won three of their first five games and are coming off a huge win over the Atlanta Falcons.
The Steelers, on the other hand, have yet to taste victory this season.
Sixty percent of the experts think that Pittsburgh's early-season woes will continue this week when the Steelers visit the Big Apple, including Bleacher Report AFC West Lead Writer Tyson Langland:
The Jets defense is for real, and Geno Smith is progressing nicely week in and week out. Pittsburgh has too many problems on the offensive side of the ball. This, in turn, has hindered its ability to play consistent football.
NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey, on the other hand, believes that Pittsburgh will break into the win column in Week 6:
Wow, I really don't want to pick the Steelers here after the Jets just beat the Atlanta Falcons, but I trust Dick LeBeau to have spent his bye week wisely. Geno Smith won't know what (or even, at times, who) hit him.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-3)
Final Verdict: Well, the experts got this one right...sort of.
Yes, the Cincinnati Bengals emerged victorious.
However, the strong play of reserve quarterback Thaddeus Lewis made it a much closer contest than a unanimous vote would indicate.
The Bengals won 27-24, but it took overtime to get it done.
ESPN: Bengals (13-0)
CBS Sports: Bengals (8-0)
Fox Sports: Bengals (5-0)
USA Today: Bengals (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Bengals (12-0)
Overall: Bengals (45-0)
Week 5 went very well for the Cincinnati Bengals, who not only got a badly needed win but also dealt the New England Patriots their first defeat of the season.
It was a much different week for the Buffalo Bills. Losing to the Cleveland Browns was bad enough, but the Bills also lost quarterback EJ Manuel to a sprained knee.
That injury leaves Thaddeus Lewis as the Week 6 starter for Buffalo. Bleacher Report AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz thinks the Bills made the right call under center, although he doesn't know that it will make much difference:
The Bills are making the right choice going with Thad Lewis over Jeff Tuel, who was about as much of a fit for their scheme as salsa is a fit on breakfast cereal. The Bengals defense is riding high off its huge performance against the Patriots, and the Bills defense is still too banged up.
Oakland Raiders (2-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
Final Verdict: Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs are loving life right now.
In fact, they're loving it so much that during Sunday's 24-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders a Guinness world record was set for the loudest stadium ever.
The Chiefs roll to 6-0.
ESPN: Chiefs (13-0)
CBS Sports: Chiefs (7-1)
Fox Sports: Chiefs (5-0)
USA Today: Chiefs (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Chiefs (12-0)
Overall: Chiefs (44-1)
There isn't a more surprising team in the NFL than the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs, who held the first overall pick in April's NFL draft after winning all of two games in 2012, have yet to lose a game.
That's due in large part to a defense that leads the NFL in points allowed, and Bleacher Report AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz thinks that defense will be instrumental in Kansas City's winning streak continuing:
The Chiefs defense may be the only thing standing between the Broncos and an undefeated regular season. They're that good. Because of that defense, they're hard to beat when Alex Smith is efficient with the football. He has been all season, and I don't see the Raiders' retooled defense stopping him in Kansas City.
All but one of the experts agree.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
Final Verdict: Don't look now, but we may have the makings of a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia.
The Eagles move to 3-2 with a 31-20 win, while the winless Bucs drop to 0-5.
ESPN: Eagles (11-2)
CBS Sports: Tied (4-4)
Fox Sports: Eagles (5-0)
USA Today: Eagles (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Eagles (7-5)
Overall: Eagles (31-14)
This is the game that almost wasn't.
As ESPN's Trey Wingo (via Adam Schefter) reported, as recently as Friday, there was talk this game could be postponed or even cancelled due to an outbreak of MRSA in the Tampa locker room.
However, the show must go on and the game will proceed, with the Eagles looking to keep pace in the NFC East while the Buccaneers search for win numero uno.
It's hardly a landslide, but the consensus doesn't see that happening this week.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller is among the majority who picked the Eagles, although Miller cautioned that this game doesn't exactly have "instant classic" written all over it.
According to Miller, "Nick Foles vs. Mike Glennon. Not the most exciting matchup ever, but Foles is efficient enough to get the Eagles a lead against a very good Tampa defense."
Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Final Verdict: The Green Bay Packers got a 19-17 victory on the road in Week 6, but that victory may have come at a staggering cost.
Both injuries appeared relatively serious, leaving this a game where Green Bay may well have lost even in victory.
ESPN: Packers (9-4)
CBS Sports: Packers (5-3)
Fox Sports: Packers (4-1)
USA Today: Packers (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Packers (10-2)
Overall: Packers (34-11)
One would think, looking at the vote for this game, that the Green Bay Packers were the defending Super Bowl champions, or that this week's matchup with the Baltimore Ravens was at Lambeau Field.
However, the game is in Baltimore. Granted, the Ravens have hardly been a juggernaut so far this season, but Baltimore still got surprisingly little respect from our experts.
That's especially true with the Packers banged up on defense, although Bleacher Report NFC North Lead Writer Zach Kruse feels the Pack will overcome those injuries:
Not having Clay Matthews (thumb) is obviously a big deal, but both Nick Perry and Mike Neal are coming off career-best games. The Ravens also aren't good enough running the football to really make Matthews' absence hurt.
NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey, however, spoke for the minority:
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) at Denver Broncos (5-0)
Final Verdict: It's hardly a surprise that the Denver Broncos defeated the winless Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday to move to 6-0 on the season.
However, the Jaguars were in this game until the fourth quarter. If you believe in moral victories, then even in losing 35-19 the Jags may have won after a fashion this week.
ESPN: Broncos (13-0)
CBS Sports: Broncos (8-0)
Fox Sports: Broncos (5-0)
USA Today: Broncos (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Broncos (12-0)
Overall: Broncos (45-0)
The Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars sit at opposite ends of the NFL spectrum, the holders of the best and worst point differential in the NFL
It's no real surprise that the Broncos are overwhelming 26.5-point favorites, nor should it shock anyone that not a single expert picked the Jaguars to win this game.
In the words of Bleacher Report NFC West Lead Writer Tyson Langland, "Not much analysis needed here. The Jaguars offense is laughable and Peyton Manning is in a league of his own. Denver will have this game wrapped up by halftime."
Tennessee Titans (3-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-1)
Final Verdict: The Seattle Seahawks beat the Tennessee Titans 20-13 to move to 5-1 on the season, but as is often the case with the Seahawks they didn't earn many style points in the process.
Style points won't get you any closer to the Super Bowl.
ESPN: Seahawks (13-0)
CBS Sports: Seahawks (8-0)
Fox Sports: Seahawks (5-0)
USA Today: Seahawks (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Seahawks (12-0)
Overall: Seahawks (45-0)
To say that the Seattle Seahawks are tough to beat at CenturyLink Field would be something of an understatement.
The Seahawks, who dropped their first game of the year last week against the Indianapolis Colts, haven't lost at home since December 24, 2011 versus the San Francisco 49ers.
That's good enough for Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter. "Nobody's given the Seahawks a game at CenturyLink Field so far this season," Schalter wrote, "and the Titans aren't going to be the first."
New Orleans Saints (5-0) at New England Patriots (4-1)
Final Verdict: Wow. Just....wow.
When the New England Patriots failed to convert on fourth down with about two minutes left in their game against the New Orleans Saints, it appeared they were toast.
When the Saints added a field goal to go up four points, it looked like the Pats were burnt toast.
However, they don't call him the Golden Boy for nothing, and Tom Brady's masterful desperation drive culminated in a scoring pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds left.
The Saints are unbeaten no more.
ESPN: Saints (12-1)
CBS Sports: Saints (5-3)
Fox Sports: Saints (3-2)
USA Today: Saints (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Saints (10-2)
Overall: Saints (36-9)
One of Week 6's biggest games is a potential Super Bowl preview in Beantown, with the undefeated New Orleans Saints traveling to New England to face the Patriots.
The Saints have no such problem with their superstar tight end, and Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Bowen believes that could be one of the big differences on Sunday:
However, NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon is among the 20 percent of pundits picking the Pats:
The New Orleans defense can't be this good, can it? And Tom Brady is Tom Brady. At home, he and Bill Belichick will find a way to avoid losing back-to-back games, which is something they've always been good at doing. Pats win a shootout.
Arizona Cardinals (3-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-2)
Final Verdict: When a team allows eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns through the air to a single player, their odds of winning aren't very good.
That was the stat line for San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in Week 6, and Davis' huge game was the big story in a 32-20 victory for the defending NFC champions.
ESPN: 49ers (13-0)
CBS Sports: 49ers (8-0)
Fox Sports: 49ers (5-0)
USA Today: 49ers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: 49ers (11-1)
Overall: 49ers (44-1)
Sunday's NFC West showdown between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers features a pair of 3-2 teams who have played very well on defense but sputtered on offense.
With that said, the defending NFC champions are coming off one of their best performances of the year, a blowout win over the Houston Texans in Week 5.
The vast majority of the experts expect the 49ers to keep their winning ways rolling at home against the Cardinals.
In fact, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter was the only person on the panel who picked the Cardinals:
Lost in the 49ers' 3-2 start has been the lackluster play of Colin Kaepernick. Going up against one of the NFL's best pass defenses, Arizona has a great chance to pull off a big upset.
Washington Redskins (1-3) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Final Verdict: Well, the Dallas Cowboys got the win they needed to keep pace with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.
That victory came at a cost.
Dallas defeated the Redskins 31-16 to move to 3-3 on the season, but the Cowboys also lost defensive end DeMarcus Ware (quad) and running back DeMarco Murray (knee) to injuries.
Not the best of news heading into a Week 7 battle for first place with the Eagles.
ESPN: Cowboys (13-0)
CBS Sports: Cowboys (8-0)
Fox Sports: Cowboys (4-1)
USA Today: Cowboys (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Cowboys (12-0)
Overall: Cowboys (43-2)
The NFC East is something of a mess right now. None of the four teams have a winning record.
The Washington Redskins finally broke into the win column two weeks ago, while the Dallas Cowboys suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Denver Broncos in the season's most exciting game to date last week.
The experts expect the Cowboys to avenge that setback at home on Sunday night.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller thinks Dallas quarterback Tony Romo will bounce back against Washington:
Tony Romo will bounce back after another late interception versus Denver, and the Cowboys will find out that the Washington secondary is much like the one they saw last week.
Indianapolis Colts (4-1) at San Diego Chargers (2-3)
Final Verdict: The way this game played out, one would think it was the San Diego Chargers coming off signature wins, while the Indianapolis Colts were trying to rebound from a sloppy loss.
It was the Chargers who ran the ball, while Colts receivers continually dropped it. Whether they were just outplayed or looking ahead to the Broncos, the result is the same.
19-9 Chargers, in a game that was only exciting if you love kickers.
ESPN: Colts (10-3)
CBS Sports: Colts (7-1)
Fox Sports: Colts (4-1)
USA Today: Colts (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Colts (12-0)
Overall: Colts (40-5)
With wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, the Indianapolis Colts have sent a message that they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC.
This week the Colts travel west to face an up-and-down San Diego Chargers squad that has had its share of problems defensively.
It's those defensive issues that Bleacher Report AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen believes will pave the way for a Colts win:
The Chargers had a setback last week against the Raiders on the road. Their defense is very poor, and the Colts should be able to score rather easily. Philip Rivers will battle, but he will have a tough time overcoming his team's shortcomings against a good team like Indianapolis.