As the season reaches its halfway point, the hierarchy of the NFL's elite teams is seemingly changing week after week. That will only continue in Week 7.
The playoff picture is far from clear at this point, but teams are already starting to jockey for position in their respective divisions and conferences. That will only elevate the level of play moving forward in what has already been a spectacular six weeks of the season.
Let's take a look at each game on the schedule, the biggest matchups and my picks.
|Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals||SEA 34-22, F|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons||Falcons|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions||Lions|
|Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins||Bills|
|New England Patriots at New York Jets||Patriots|
|Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles||Cowboys|
|Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins||Redskins|
|St. Louis Rams at Carolina Panthers||Panthers|
|San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars||Chargers|
|San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans||49ers|
|Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers||Packers|
|Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs|
|Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers||Steelers|
|Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts||Broncos|
|Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants||Giants|
Schedule courtesy of ESPN.com
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
What would this game be without some drama?
Back to football. Since Manning's awkward exit, the Colts have gone from the league cellar to the playoffs in one season under Andrew Luck. So far this year, they're 4-2 and atop the AFC South.
Manning hasn't been shy on success as of late, either. One year removed from being ousted in the playoffs as the Super Bowl favorite, he's seemingly set records each week and has 22 touchdowns through just six games.
The big story from this contest will be the buzz surrounding the return of Peyton to his old stomping grounds—Lucas Oil Stadium, the house he practically built. But don't let that sway you from the game itself, as it's unarguably the most exciting game on the weekend slate.
Unfortunately for Indy, it's coming off a lackluster 19-9 loss to San Diego and displayed a woeful offensive performance. The Colts should be able to generate more success against an awful Broncos pass defense, but not enough to offset Manning's guaranteed three to four touchdowns.
Prediction: Broncos 41, Colts 31
San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans
The 49ers have been one tough book to read this season. They look the part of the contender they were entering the season at 4-2, but painful-to-watch performances against Indianapolis and Seattle earlier in the season leave a lot to be desired.
Enter Tennessee. The Titans are 3-3 on the season and have lost two straight, but those games were against two of the NFL's best (Seattle and Kansas City) and both contests came down to the fourth quarter.
Without Jake Locker, though, the Titans offense has been struggling under Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's thrown four picks—many of which in crucial circumstances—and hasn't led a touchdown drive in nearly five quarters of action.
However, The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt reports that Locker has been practicing and may return for Sunday's game:
Should Locker return, the Titans will get a much-needed boost offensively. But don't expect him to return to his usual ways right off the bat.
The Titans look the part of a playoff team, but they're in the midst of a brutal portion of their schedule that just so happened to come at the same time as Locker's injury.
Prediction: 49ers 20, Titans 17
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles and Cowboys are tied for first in the NFC East at 3-3—that's not a typo.
After an offseason play-calling overhaul on offense, the Cowboys have enjoyed a balanced, yet dangerous attack. Tony Romo has thrown 14 touchdowns to just three picks, while DeMarco Murray has rushed for an impressive 4.7 yards per touch.
However, both teams may end up being without huge contributors on offense.
USA Today's Jason Wolf reported that Michael Vick already ruled himself out of the Week 7 tilt. Meanwhile, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill suggested that Murray is doubtful to play:
Injury report: DeMarcus Ware, DeMarco Murray are doubtful for Sunday's game http://t.co/XmEnG8Drgi— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) October 18, 2013
Given the Eagles' 31st-ranked pass defense, pencil in Romo for a big day offensively as he continues to scorch opposing defenses.
Just as well, the Eagles' rushing attack that ranks atop the league will be noticeably less effective without Vick at the helm.
Prediction: Cowboys 37, Eagles 24
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