NFL Week 6 Predictions: Projecting Best, Worst Sunday Performances
Have you recovered from the Arlington Shootout yet?
Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tony Romo waged one of the most memorable duels in recent memory last week, the fireworks lasting late into the game. Will we see anything even close to that this week?
Here are this week's best and worst performers at offensive skill positions, as predicted by me.
*These predictions are based on offensive skill players who are expected to start or garner a significant amount of game action. You wouldn't expect a fourth-string receiver to have a good game—those predictions are implied.
Statistics and rankings courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
Best at Quarterback
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Last week was an abomination for Cam Newton and his fantasy owners. He threw for 300 yards but couldn't get into the end zone, and the Panthers laid an egg on the road.
Of course, upon closer inspection, Newton should have at least had a better stat line. Had receivers Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell not dropped key passes—including one in the end zone—that game would have turned out differently.
This week Newton gets a chance at redemption against a soft Minnesota defense, which is among the worst against the pass on average.
Prediction: 275 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception—55 rushing yards, 1 touchdown
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
The National Guard has been called in ahead of the impending Jaguars disaster in Denver.
Prediction: 375 passing yards, 3 touchdowns
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
A week after shredding that Denver defense for over 500 yards passing and five touchdowns, Tony Romo gets an easy matchup. Is he in for 600 yards passing?
Not quite—500-yard days don't grow on trees, after all. But Washington doesn't have a great pass defense, and this figures to be another shootout.
Prediction: 350 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
Robert Griffin III, Washington
He has had slow starts in his games this season, but Robert Griffin III has been a garbage time hero thus far.
He is coming off a bye week and hopefully had some time to collect himself a bit and get over those early-game jitters he seems to get. The Cowboys also present a weak pass defense, which is second-worst in the league at the moment.
Prediction: 325 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception—40 rushing yards
Worst at Quarterback
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Assuming he plays—Michael Vick managed to practice all week despite initially being ruled out for Week 6—Nick Foles seems like a decent start this week. He's not.
The Buccaneers actually have one of the top pass defenses in the league. They have bottled up the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees—relatively speaking, of course—and have allowed just 238 passing yards per game.
Foles is going to have a tough time moving the ball this week.
Prediction: 225 passing yards, 1 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
This is largely contingent on whether receiver Calvin Johnson plays, but Matthew Stafford doesn't have a great matchup either way.
The Browns defense has quietly been good this season thanks to a nice pass rush and a secondary anchored by elite cornerback Joe Haden.
Prediction: 275 passing yards, 1 touchdowns, 1 interception—15 rushing yards
Best at Running Back
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
It's been a relatively quiet couple of weeks for DeMarco Murray after his huge game against the Rams. He had a touchdown last week, but just 48 total yards on the day.
This weekend he gets a Washington defense that is allowing 142 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown per game. Murray is going to be the reason Tony Romo doesn't completely go off.
Prediction: 20 carries, 115 yards, 1 touchdown—3 receptions, 25 yards
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
The Human Joystick is tough to stop. The Buccaneers are going to find that out the hard way today.
Prediction: 15 carries, 105 yards, 1 touchdown—5 receptions, 55 yards
Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Last week didn't go as well as expected for Maurice Jones-Drew against a Rams defense that has been awful against the run. Arian Foster won't be so unlucky.
The Rams are still giving up 128 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown on average this season. The way things have been going for Matt Schaub lately, the Texans might run the ball 45 times between Foster and Ben Tate.
Prediction: 25 carries, 110 yards, 1 touchdown—3 receptions, 20 yards
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite the chagrin his fantasy owners have felt over Doug Martin's disappointing output, the second-year running back is currently ninth in rushing this season. That includes sitting out a week because of the bye, to boot.
He has had trouble getting into the end zone, but that sieve-like Philadelphia defense should oblige.
Prediction: 25 carries, 95 yards, 1 touchdown—4 receptions, 40 yards
Worst at Running Back
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Unlike the Vikings—Le'Veon Bell's previous opponent, against whom he had a fantastic rookie debut—the Jets are among the best in the league at defending the run.
New York is allowing just 76 rushing yards per game to opponents this season. That defense has a mean defensive line that is going to be tough to overcome for Pittsburgh.
Prediction: 13 carries, 45 yards—1 reception, 10 yards
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Were it not for a 49-yard touchdown reception that came on a broken play, Chris Johnson's Week 5 line would have looked far worse—31 total yards on 20 touches.
Johnson is now headed to Seattle to go up against that fearsome defense. May the football gods have mercy on his stat line.
Prediction: 15 carries, 40 yards—2 reception, 15 yards
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco hasn't exactly featured the same stout defense it has had in recent years this season, but the 49ers are still no pushovers. They also aren't facing Marshawn Lynch or the surprising Indianapolis attack.
Rashard Mendenhall is retaining his workload by sheer stubbornness, but Andre Ellington has been far more effective this season. The rookie is averaging 6.7 yards per carry to Mendenhall's 3.2, and he will continue eating into Mendenhall's playing time even if Bruce Arians isn't ready to feature him more.
Unless Mendenhall is fortunate enough to get a goal-line touchdown, it's not looking like a great day is in store.
Prediction: 10 carries, 40 yards
Best at Wide Receiver
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
We have yet to see A.J. Green really crank up the volume on 2013.
Part of that has been the average play of his quarterback, Andy Dalton. Part of it has been the excessive attention opposing defenses have given him.
Neither should be a problem this week as Green goes up against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Sure, Buffalo has created turnovers this season, but the Bills have also given up the third-most yards and second-most touchdowns to wide receivers thus far this season.
It's Feast Day for Green.
Prediction: 8 catches, 115 yards, 2 touchdowns
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles have one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Dez Bryant has been producing regardless of matchup. This seems like a match made in fantasy football heaven.
Prediction: 7 catches, 150 yards, 1 touchdown
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
It seemed like everyone except Demaryius Thomas got in on the Week 5 fun in Dallas. He was the only starting skill player not to get into the end zone—even Peyton Manning scored a rushing touchdown.
Look for him to rectify that today.
Prediction: 6 catches, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
He's only had one huge game—that 166-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Bills—but Torrey Smith is quietly ranked third in receiving thus far in 2013.
He is going up against a Packers defense that has allowed 740 yards and six touchdowns to wide receivers in just four games thus far.
Prediction: 7 catches, 115 yards, 1 touchdown
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The trouble Tampa Bay has brewing this season has thrown the team into disarray. Vincent Jackson hasn't been spared, his stat line decreasing with each passing week. He hit a low point with rookie Mike Glennon making his first start two weeks ago.
Fortunately for Jackson, the Bucs will play one of the worst pass defenses in the league when they face the Eagles at home today. Jackson should bounce back in a big way.
Prediction: 6 catches, 100 yards, 1 touchdown
Worst at Wide Receiver
Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills
The Bengals are quietly sporting one of the top-10 pass defenses in the league—by average yardage at any rate—heading into Week 5.
Steve Johnson is coming off an injury he suffered in Week 5's Thursday night game, and he has new quarterback Thad Lewis slinging the ball. It's going to be a long day for Johnson, if he even plays.
Prediction: 3 receptions, 30 yards
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
It has been a renaissance of a year for DeSean Jackson, who has been revitalized in Chip Kelly's new offense. But he runs into a brick wall this week when he faces Darrelle Revis.
Granted, Revis hasn't quite himself this season, though scheme is partly to blame. Still, you think Revis is going to take Jackson's smack talk lying down?
Also, quarterback Nick Foles is likely making his first start of the season on the road. He has made some big plays for the Eagles, but this won't be a walk in the park against a defense that is tougher than the team's record would indicate.
Prediction: 4 receptions, 45 yards
Best at Tight End
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
After three down weeks following his huge Week 1 output, Jason Witten and quarterback Tony Romo are clicking once again. The veteran had a big day against the Broncos last week, tallying 121 yards and a touchdown in the heartbreaking loss.
This week, Witten goes up against that awful Washington defense. It should be another nice day.
Prediction: 8 catches, 70 yards, 1 touchdown
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
His name is etched in stone here, emblazoned with the words, "Best Tight End in the League."
Prediction: 6 catches, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
After a couple of decent games against opposing tight ends, the Ravens let Charles Clay score a touchdown last week. They will have their hands full dealing with the complement of receivers Aaron Rodgers has at his disposal.
Prediction: 5 catches, 75 yards, 1 touchdown
Worst at Tight End
Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
This weekend is simply not shaping up to be a great one for the Cardinals.
There was some hype behind Rob Housler this past offseason, but an injury slowed him down until recently, and he has simply not gotten things going this season. He has just two catches through three games this season.
It's difficult to see him getting going in San Francisco, though he could easily match his season output.
Prediction: 2 receptions, 15 yards