Last-Minute Predictions for NFL Week 6
Week 6 of the NFL season features a number of fascinating contests that should provide a clear indication as to which teams are contenders and which are pretenders.
It's always a daunting proposition to make predictions in what's an increasingly unpredictable sport, but I'm giving it my best shot.
One prediction that won't be featured is my take on the Jacksonville Jaguars/Denver Broncos matchup, but I'll give you my take on this "David vs. Goliath" matchup right here.
No, I'm not going to predict Jacksonville pulling off the biggest upset since Under the Dome was renewed for a second season; in fact, I'm predicting that Denver will cover the 28-point spread.
With that out of the way, here are my last-minute predictions for NFL Week 6.
The Bengals Defense Will Suffocate the Bills Offense
The Cincinnati defense was masterful last Sunday, holding the high-powered New England attack to only six points as the Bengals improved to 3-2.
This Sunday, its task is exponentially easier, as it will face quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.
Lewis is starting in place of the injured EJ Manuel, and facing the Bengals' elite defensive unit is a daunting task he won't be able to overcome.
While Buffalo's defensive front is underrated and will cause problems for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, Cincinnati's offense won't have to win the game.
Much like last week against New England, the defense will do the work. Look for Cincinnati to hold Buffalo to under 250 yards of total offense as the Bengals move to 4-2.
The Raiders Will Keep It Close Against the Chiefs in Kansas City
The Kansas City Chiefs are 5-0 and welcome the 2-3 Oakland Raiders to Arrowhead Sunday. Most assume Kansas City will run away with the game and easily improve to 6-0.
That won't happen. Oakland, led by its dazzling quarterback Terrelle Pryor, will be in it until the very end.
Pryor has been impressive since being named the team's starter, completing 68.3 percent of his passes and throwing four touchdowns against two interceptions. His play has injected hope into a franchise and fanbase absolutely starved for it, and he has the playmaking ability to keep Oakland in this contest.
Yes, the Chiefs defense has been phenomenal. The unit has forced 15 turnovers and has a league-high 21 sacks. But Pryor has that "special" feel about him. He won't dominate, but he won't allow Oakland to get crushed either.
While Kansas City should eventually come out on top, its victory won't be of the blowout variety. Pryor will make sure of that.
Matt Schaub Won't Throw a Pick-Six Against the Rams
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has suffered through a nightmarish month, setting an NFL record by throwing a pick-six in four consecutive games.
While coach Gary Kubiak is sticking with Schaub for Sunday's game against St. Louis, he conceded that it was a "tough decision" to roll with the embattled signal-caller, according to Drew Dougherty of HoustonTexans.com.
With questions swirling around Schaub's future with Houston, both immediate and otherwise, expect him to bounce back against the St. Louis Rams.
St. Louis has the 28th-ranked rushing defense in the league and will be force-fed a steady diet of Texans running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Kubiak will limit the potential for Schaub to make mistakes, and Schaub will hold onto his job...at least for another week.
Aaron Rodgers Will Throw Three Touchdown Passes Against the Ravens Defense
Since being eviscerated on opening night in Denver by Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens defense has played much better, sacking Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill six times last Sunday to help Baltimore to victory.
Sunday, the unit won't find as much success, as they face the best player in the league: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers will connect early and often with receivers Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones as Green Bay rolls to a double-digit win in Baltimore. Even without star linebacker Clay Matthews, the Packers are a better team than the Ravens and will ride an avalanche of points to victory.
Green Bay has had a win streak of at least four games in every season since 2009, and this will be the second straight win for the team with games coming up against Cleveland and at Minnesota.
Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson Will Dominate the Steelers Offensive Line
The New York Jets have been one of the NFL's biggest surprises. Many experts predicted they would be bottom-dwellers in the AFC, yet they find themselves just one game out in the suddenly competitive AFC East.
Much of their success can be directly traced back to the play of their defensive line, specifically that of Muhammad Wilkerson and rookie Sheldon Richardson.
Gang Green has the league's fifth-ranked defense, and Wilkerson and Richardson have looked dominant at times. Both players were outstanding in Monday night's upset victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Conversely, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been surprising for all the wrong reasons, as the team sits at 0-4. The offensive line has been unable to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, as he's been sacked 15 times.
Expect Wilkerson and Richardson to manhandle Pittsburgh's overmatched offensive line and not allow the Steelers offense to get on track. Jets quarterback Geno Smith will make enough plays in the passing game to lead New York to victory.
The Browns Will Ride Willis McGahee and the Defense to a Win Versus the Lions
The Cleveland Browns host the Detroit Lions in a battle of 3-2 teams, with the winner guaranteed at least a share of first place in their respective division.
Expect Cleveland to come out on top thanks to its run game and defense.
The Lions have been atrocious against the run this season, allowing 5.3 yards per carry, and Browns coach Rob Chudzinski surely knows that. With signal-caller Brian Hoyer lost for the season and Brandon Weeden once again under center for the Browns, expect the team to feed running back Willis McGahee.
McGahee found his sea legs last week against Buffalo, carrying the ball 26 times for 72 yards and one touchdown. He will batter and bruise the Lions front, allowing Weeden play-action opportunities downfield to receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron.
Cleveland's defense has been spectacular this season, sacking opposing quarterbacks 22 times, and the unit will harass Lions signal-caller Matthew Stafford all game.
All of this will add up to a Browns win and keep the team in first place in the AFC North.
Tom Brady Will Outplay Drew Brees, and the Patriots Will Beat the Saints
Sunday's showdown in New England features two of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation.
Brees has been fantastic, leading New Orleans to a 5-0 record and throwing 12 touchdown passes along the way. With his team at 4-1, Brady has had a tougher time of it. He has thrown seven touchdown passes as he works with a mostly new receiving corps.
New Orleans won last week in Chicago, and it's asking a lot for back-to-back road victories against excellent competition. Sunday, Brady will get the better of Brees, and the Patriots will come out on top.
While Brees has historically dominated the Patriots defense, New England's unit has played well this season, allowing only 14 points per game. Brees will get his statistics and will be especially successful throwing to tight end Jimmy Graham, but it won't be enough for the Saints.
Even if tight end Rob Gronkowski doesn't make his season debut, Brady will still throw for at least two touchdowns and not make a critical error as the Patriots deal the Saints their first loss of the season.
The Seahawks Defense Will Outscore the Titans Offense
While Jaguars vs. Broncos represents Week 6's biggest mismatch, the clash between the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks in Seattle isn't that far behind.
Simply put, Tennessee has no chance. The Seahawks will win by at least 20 points, and their defense will outscore Tennessee's offense.
Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a turnover machine, and the Seahawks defense is extremely opportunistic, with 15 takeaways on the campaign. That spells disaster for Tennessee.
Add in the factor that Seattle will be looking to get back on track after last week's loss in Indianapolis, and this game has bloodbath potential.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson will throw for one touchdown and run for another, and the Seahawks defense will score at least one touchdown, if not two, as the team rolls to victory.
Washington Will Upset Dallas on Sunday Night
Despite their 2-3 record, many look at the Dallas Cowboys as the top team in the NFC East and expect them to roll over the division-rival Redskins on Sunday night.
That won't happen. Washington will ride a sterling effort from quarterback Robert Griffin III to an upset victory in prime time.
While last year's NFC East champions have disappointed thus far, the Redskins got back on track before their bye week with a 24-14 win in Oakland, their first of the season.
Griffin played his best game of the season against the Raiders and has had two weeks to continue to get healthier from his January ACL tear. Plus, the Cowboys defense has been atrocious, allowing 27.2 points per game on the season and getting shredded in the past two weeks by San Diego and Denver.
Expect a high-scoring affair at Jerry World, with a result that won't be pleasing to the Cowboys owner. Griffin will throw for over 300 yards, including 150 to receiver Pierre Garcon, as the Skins win in a shootout.
The Colts Will Slow Down Philip Rivers in a Monday Night Football Victory
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown for over 400 yards in two consecutive games. No quarterback in NFL history has ever thrown for 400 yards in three straight contests.
The Indianapolis Colts defense will make sure that Rivers isn't the first, and Indianapolis will improve to 5-1 with a seven-point victory in San Diego.
While everyone knows how ridiculously good Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has been, the Indy defense has been equally impressive, allowing 15.8 points per game and only 201 yards per game through the air.
Rivers should break the 300-yard barrier, as he's been tremendous running coach Mike McCoy's uptempo offense, but 400 won't happen.
Rivers will fall short of that mark, and the Chargers will fall short in the game.