Week 6 NFL Analysis

Brad JamesCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2008

It's surprising that we've already reached Week 6 of the NFL season. The good news is there's still 11 weeks left, so without further redo, I'll make some selections.


Dallas vs. Arizona:

Before the Cardinals moved to the greater Phoenix area in 1988, the American southwest was primarily Cowboys country, with a few factions of Chargers or Broncos fans. Thus, for years when the Cards played at Sun Devil Stadium, there were more jerseys, with blue, silver and white, then there were in red and gold.  One thing we can count on, though, is that the Cardinals, sporting a 3-2 record, should have more of their loyalists in the stands in Glendale, Ariz., and the game should be a shootout as Arizona's passing offense is third in NFL annals, while the Cowboys check in at fourth. I'm bold enough to pick the Cards in this one, and I will. Cardinals 34 Cowboys 28


Chicago vs. Atlanta

This is the early game in our window in the Salt Lake City market, and I'm looking forward to see how the high-flying Falcons fare against a dominant defense, such as Chicago's.  It's important to note, as Sterling Sharpe so astutely stated on NFL Network's Playbook program, that the Falcons' offense consistently dominates weak defenses (see Kansas City and Detroit), while it struggles against stout defensive teams (Tampa Bay). The Bears' defense definitely fits in the "stout" category, so the Falcons have their work cut out for them. Kyle Orton (801 yards, 7 TD's in his last three games), while Falcons' tailback Michael Turner currently leads the NFL with 543 rushing yards. The Bears should be able to contain Turner, and force rookie phenom Matt Ryan to make many big plays. Chicago has taken eight of the past nine from the Falcons and I fully expect it be nine of 10, so I'll take the Bears. Bears 27 Falcons 17


Baltimore vs. Indianapolis

This is one of the better matchups of the week, as the Ravens, by virtue of their solid defense and remarkable play (for the most part) from rookie quarterback Joe Flacco are relevant in the AFC once again. The game against the Titans had a controversial ending, but I'm certain that Jeff Fisher was impressed with the Ravens for putting up such a good fight. This team will only get better as Flacco gets more experience under his belt. As for the Colts, while their victory against the Texans was highly improbable, they are a veteran team, with the best quarterback of all time on their side, so panic is something they don't succumb to. While Peyton Manning will face a stiff challenge from Baltimore's elite defense, he'll make enough plays and if the game is close down the stretch (which is highly possible), Manning will rip the Ravens' hearts out. I'll take the Colts in a tight one Colts 28 Ravens 24


Carolina vs. Tampa Bay

The Buccaneers are at a crossroads. The much-maligned defense of my Denver Broncos had great success in harassing Brian Griese and Jeff Garcia consistently, while Tampa Bay's offense showed how much it misses Joey Galloway.  Because of the Broncos' success in rushing the passer against the Bucs, Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers has to be licking his chops as he has three sacks in the last three weeks. The Panthers have benefited from the resurgence of Jake Delhomme (1,096 yards, 5 TD's), while their multi-faceted backfield of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart has combined to run for nearly 600 yards and six scores thus far. The Buccaneers' defense will give Tampa Bay a shot, and I believe the Raymond James crowd will prove to be a decisive factor as well. Ronde Barber will make a play to win this one, I feel it in my bones. Buccaneers 23 Panthers 20


Cincinnati vs. N.Y. Jets


The old adage, you're only as good as your last game, should bode well for both of these teams as the Jets' last game against Arizona was remarkable, while the Bengals nearly upset the Cowboys at Irving, Texas last week and were the better team for much of that game. With that said, Carson Palmer finally seems to be getting his groove back, and the Jets' defense has surrendered 81 points in their last two games. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is really emerging in the Cincinnati offense, with 25 receptions and three scores in the Bengals' last three games. This should be a shootout and I'll take a healthy Palmer over Brett Favre any day. Bengals 38 Jets 31


Jacksonville vs. Denver


The Broncos are a bit banged up, with Selvin Young and Tony Scheffler sitting this one out, but with Jay Cutler (1502 yards, 10 TD's, 4 INT's) calling the shots, the Broncos should find numerous opportunities to excel against a porous Jaguars' pass defense which enabled a wounded Ben Roethlisberger to exceed the 300-yard plateau in last week's loss to Pittsburgh. The Jaguars will try to establish the running game with their dynamic duo of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor against a defense which ranks 25th against the run. If the Broncos can force a few key stops and put pressure on the quarterback, like they did against the Buccaneers, Denver will be tough to beat. The Broncos are better than they were last season when the Jaguars manhandled them, and I expect this to be reflected on the scoreboard. Broncos 38 Jaguars 19


Detroit vs. Minnesota

I feel terrible for the Lions, and their fans, and perhaps they're realizing just how good of a quarterback Scott Mitchell was, and just how good of a coach Wayne Fontes was as while they weren't dominant teams in the mid 90s, they were a playoff team nearly every year. The Vikings, despite being outplayed by New Orleans for the most part made enough plays to win last Monday evening and that's all that matters. On paper, as the cliche' goes, the Vikes should win going away. However, because of the Lions' explosive talent at wideout in Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson, should be able to keep things close, primarily because of Minnesota's conservative play-calling (listeners to KFAN-AM in Minneapolis/St. Paul call Vikings head coach Brad Childress, "Bad" Childress repeatedly). Still, Gus Frerotte is a quality veteran and won't lose this game. In a game closer than expected, Minnesota will take it. Vikings 24 Lions 21


Green Bay vs. Seattle

This has to be the game of the weekend where the teams have been the most disappointing by far. Both the Packers and Seahawks had great expectations heading into this season, but injuries and erratic play for both squads has caused mediocrity. Because of the Seahawks' awesome home field advantage and the element of the 12th man, they'll find a way to pull this out. Matt Hasselbeck will capitalize on having Bobby Engram and Deion Branch in the lineup with him and Green Bay's struggles will ensue, while Seattle sees light at the end of the tunnel. Seahawks 34 Packers 16

Miami vs. Houston

The Dolphins are easily the greatest feel-good story this season as their seamless efficiency in the "Wildcat" formation has led the once-mighty Patriots and Chargers to ruin. Miami is on Cloud 9, while the Texans, after their well- chronicled struggles against the Colts in the closing stages, will be hard to rebound from. Chad Pennington is not the flashiest signal-caller out there, but he is the NFL's all-time efficiency leader and will not throw the game away. The Dolphins are a team ascending to greater heights all the time, while the Texans, simply put are not. I think this will be the blowout of the week. Dolphins 41 Texans 10

New England vs. San Diego

The Patriots, while excellent all the time throughout their recent run of success, have been exceptionally good in October of late as since 2003, they're 20-3 in the NFL season's second month. Still, they face a stiff challenge as they've been away from Foxborough, Mass. for the entire week, electing to stay out west after a victory over San Francisco last Sunday. When the Chargers are at their most desperate stages, they've proven themselves to be their most dangerous and things should be no different here. With an electrified crowd (no pun intended) and the glow of prime time descending upon them, I'll take the Chargers. Chargers 35 Patriots 24

Oakland vs. New Orleans

This is a really bad week to be the Raiders, even more so than usual. This is because they face a team in the New Orleans Saints, which is as explosive as anyone else in the league. Additionally, they'll be infuriated after losing a game they should have won against Minnesota. The Raiders do (allegedly) possess an excellent pair of cornerbacks in DeAngelo Hall and Nnamdi Asomugha, but even as Jay Cutler dissected them in Week 1, Drew Brees (1,673 yards, 9 TD's) should do likewise, especially if Jeremy Shockey and Marques Colston return to the lineup. The Superdome will be rockin' and an underrated New Orleans defense, provided they can contain Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas should be able to key off on JaMarcus Russell all afternoon long. Because New Orleans' pass defense isn't up to par, the Raiders have a chance, but if you're not named Jay Cutler, it's futile to beat the Saints in a shootout. Saints 48 Raiders 27

Philadelphia vs. San Francisco

The Eagles are on a mission to prove themselves. After consecutive disappointing losses at the hands of Chicago and Washington, look for Mac-5 and his explosive teammates to make life hell for the 49ers. The key for the Eagles' success rests in playing keep away from a San Francisco offense which wants to pound the ball with Frank Gore (423 rushing yards on the season). If the Eagles can control the ball and rely on big plays from Donovan McNabb, then they should cruise in this game. I'll think that's how things will play out because the Eagles are much better than their 2-3 record. Eagles 31 49ers 14

St. Louis vs. Washington

All right, I admit it, I lied. This will be a blowout as well. With all due respect to the Carolina Panthers, judging by strength of schedule, there is no one playing better football than the Washington Redskins. What are the Rams going to do about it? To answer my rhetorical question, probably nothing. This is such a mismatch, and the multi-faceted talents of the Redskins should put this one out of reach quickly. I expect Jason Campbell to have a 400-yard game (if this has ever happened in his career before, please let me know, I'm a statistician who searches NFL archives voraciously and can't find a record of him eclipsing that plateau) while Santana Moss, Chris Cooley and Antwaan Randle El should each have great games. Redskins 40 Rams 17


N.Y. Giants vs. Cleveland

Monday Night Football in C-Town. I don't advise anyone to get drunk, but Browns fans may deem this to be a propitious activity as the defending Super Bowl champions come into Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Browns are like the "hot" girl we all knew in high school who took off her makeup at the most inopportune time. While the Browns look bewitching from a distance, much like that girl, they're not the real McCoy. The Giants, of course, are and should benefit from the return of Plaxico Burress (14.4 yards per reception) while Eli Manning should shed the Browns' secondary continually. This is why flex scheduling was implemented, to weed out the Browns after a miracle 2007 season. I'm convinced of this. Giants 41 Browns 20