NFL Predictions Week 6: 10 Things You Must See
If the NFL was hoping for parity, it got its wish. Not a single team this season went 4-0 and nearly half the teams in the league are 3-2 or 2-3.
Last week saw surprising blowout wins, last-second upsets and some early Super Bowl favorites fall further out of the playoff picture.
This week there are teams who will already be struggling to stay in playoff contention, teams that are out to prove their fast start is no fluke, and teams trying to overcome a rash of injuries.
Here are the 10 things you must see in the NFL this week.
Will the Parade of Injuries Derail the Packers Season?
The Green Bay Packers are facing a rash of injuries that could cripple their team. Already without running back Ryan Grant, safety Morgan Burnett and linebackers Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar, the Packers Sunday had additional injuries to starters linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, tight ends Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers will be welcoming in the Miami Dolphins, who should be well rested after their bye week. The Dolphins are 2-2 and will be trying to erase the memory of a humiliating loss on Monday Night Football to the New England Patriots.
If either Rodgers or Matthews are unable to go on Sunday, it would be a huge blow for the Packers' chances to deliver a win at home, and dropping to 3-3 could put them two full games behind the Chicago Bears.
The Bears Vs. the Seahawks
After missing last weeks game against the Carolina Panthers due to a concussion sustained in their loss to the Giants, Jay Cutler returns to the Bears to face the Seahawks. The Bears offensive line gave up three sacks to the Panthers, a large improvement over the 10 they gave up to the Giants.
At 2-2 Seattle is in the thick of things in the NFC West, but like almost every team in the NFC, it has not looked spectacular in their wins.
The Bears are atop of the NFC North at 4-1, but still have many doubters. Although a win against Seattle won't silence their critics, it could help keep some distance between them and the Packers.
The Return of Big Ben
The Steelers have been impressive through their first four games, going 3-1 even without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and this week, the Steelers finally get Big Ben back after his four-game suspension.
The Browns will likely be starting rookie quarterback Colt McCoy due to injuries to both Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme.
Roethlisberger may be a little rusty after his time off, but the Steeler defense is good enough to keep the team in any game, especially one where they will be facing a rookie quarterback.
The Ravens vs. the Patriots
Two of the best teams in the AFC face off on Sunday afternoon when the Ravens head to Gillette stadium
Even without wide receiver Randy Moss, who was traded to the Minnesota Vikings, the Patriots still have a very potent offense. Tom Brady will still have wide receivers Wes Welker, Brandon Tate and the newly reacquired Deion Branch to throw to, as well as rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez.
The Ravens defense continues to be the strength of their team as it has been for many years, and should soon get back the services of All-Pro safety Ed Reed.
This is a very important game for both teams. The Ravens can't afford to let the Steelers catch up in the AFC North now that Ben Rothlisberger is back, and the Patriots can't afford to fall further behind the surging New York Jets.
Can The Chargers Get Their Act Together?
At 2-3 the San Diego Chargers are off to their typical slow start, but this year, the Chargers might not be able to recover and win their division, and a loss to the Rams, a team that won only one game last season, could send the Chargers into a tailspin.
The Chargers offense, led by quarterback Phillip Rivers, has looked explosive and currently leads the league in total yards, but untimely turnovers and poor special teams have proven costly.
Even with a loss on Sunday the Chargers are still not out of playoff contention, but you have to wonder how long General Manager A.J. Smith will continue to put up with the team's slow starts.
The Chiefs vs. the Texans
Much to the surprise of many, the Kansas City Chiefs are off to a 3-1 start. The 3-2 Houston Texans have looked both spectacular and awful, sometimes in the same game.
The Chiefs are winning with defense and special teams, while their offense ranks near the bottom of the league. The Texans have a top-five offense, but a defense that ranks toward the bottom of the league.
This will be the Chiefs' toughest test yet on the road and a win would go a long way in proving that their 3-1 record is no fluke.
The Saints vs. the Buccaneers
At the start of the year, the Saints vs. the Buccaneers seemed like it would be a rather one-sided affair, but both teams have been surprising for different reasons.
The 3-2 Saints' offense doesn't look like the potent offense that got them to the Super Bowl last year and the team has struggled against mediocre competition.
The Buccaneers, who are 3-1, have already tied their win total from last year and have done so behind a defense that is in the top 10 in yards allowed, and a young quarterback who is progressing quickly.
Undoubtedly the Saints are the more talented team, but the Buccaneers play so far this season should be a reason for optimism for Bucs fans.
The Falcons vs. The Eagles
The Falcons have been arguably the most consistent team in the NFC so far, and at 4-1 are tied for the best record in the NFL. The Falcons are a well-rounded team that has a defense that is No. 2 in points allowed and an offense that is 10th in points scored.
The Eagles look to be without Michael Vick again this week, which means Kevin Kolb will once again get the nod at quarterback. Kolb looked competent if not spectacular against the 49ers last week, and will need to be at the top of his game against a Falcons team that currently leads the league in interceptions with 10.
The Raiders vs. the 49ers
The 49ers lost another close game on Sunday night, but after the game, owner Jed York sent a text message to ESPN's Adam Schefter saying they were going to win the division.
No team has ever made the playoffs after an 0-5 start, but York's proclamation is not completely crazy. Three of the 49ers' five losses were by three points or less and they play in a division where eight wins could win the division.
If they hope to make the playoffs the 49ers are going to need to start playing up to the level they are capable of playing starting Sunday against a Raiders team that is coming off their first win against the Chargers in 13 attempts.
Dallas vs. Minnesota: Who Will Keep Their Playoff Hopes Alive?
The two most disappointing teams in the NFL face off Sunday in Minnesota.
The Vikings are hoping the addition of wide receiver Randy Moss will add a spark to their offense, but it takes some times to adjust to a new offensive system, so how much of an impact Moss will have after just a week and a half on the team remains to be seen. Quarterback Brett Favre finally got his wish to play with Moss, but elbow tendinitis and off field distractions could impact his play.
The Cowboys looked like they might have started to turn things around after a thrashing of the Houston Texans two weeks ago, but after their bye week, they lost at home to the Tennessee Titans.
This is a desperation game for both teams. The team that loses Sunday will be facing extremely long odds to make the playoffs.