There are some really intriguing match-ups in Week 6 of the NFL Season with the marquee match-up being a late kickoff in New England between the Patriots and Cowboys. Can Tony Romo silence his critics with a win in Foxboro?
The Bills and the 49ers have been two of the more surprising teams in the 2011 season. Both teams face tough road tests in Week 6.
Here is a prediction for every Week 6 game.
The phrase "must-win game" is overused in sports today, but this is pretty close to a "must-win game" for the Falcons. A loss in this game would drop the Falcons to 2-4 and into last place in the division.
When you look at the stats for both teams, the Panthers are actually better than the Falcons in just about every category. The only category where the Falcons have the edge is defensively against the run.
It would have been hard to believe a month ago, but the Panthers might be the better team in this game. They have been playing well despite their 1-4 record.
The Falcons will win this game based on the fact that they are home and their backs are against the wall.
Falcons 27, Panthers 24
The Colts are really wishing at this point that they would have gone with Curtis Painter from Week 1. He has given them more life in his 2+ games than Kerry Collins ever did.
They face a Bengals team this week that is quietly having a very good season. The Cincinnati defense has been outstanding so far, only allowing 279.6 yards per game.
The Bengals also have to be very encouraged by the play of rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Those two look like they are on course to be NFL stars.
While the Colts are better with Painter than they were with Collins, they still do not have enough to win on the road in Cincinnati.
Bengals 20, Colts 10
This game features two of the most surprising teams of the 2011 NFL season. There were some people who expected the Lions to take a huge step forward, but most people expected the 49ers to be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
Look for Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson to have a big game in this one. The 49ers defense has been stout against the run, but they are only 23rd in the league against the pass. The Lions feature the sixth-best passing attack in the league based on yards per game.
The best way for the 49ers to slow down the Lions passing attack will be a heavy dose of Frank Gore. The Detroit defense is ranked 17th against the run, and Gore has played much better the last couple of weeks.
The 49ers will keep this game close, but in the end, Stafford and the Lions will make enough plays to get a win.
Lions 30, 49ers 24
The St. Louis Rams have been devastated by injuries this season. They added two more players to injured reserve earlier this week.
This is a "name your number" game for the Packers. The Rams are giving up 404.5 yards per game. The Packers are averaging 428.6 yards per game. That adds up to a blow out.
Sam Bradford looks to have taken a step back in his second season, but it is really just that they have had so many injuries that he does not have many weapons available to him.
This game will be over by halftime.
Packers 49, Rams 13
This game looks a lot tougher for the Giants than it did when the schedule first came out. The Bills head into this contest with a 4-1 record.
This will be a good test for a Buffalo team that has been winning despite giving up some huge yardage totals. They rank 29th in the league against the run and 26th against the pass.
The Bills' biggest advantage is when they hand the ball to Fred Jackson. The Giants are giving up 122.2 yards per game on the ground. The game plan will be to pound the rock in order keep Eli Manning on the sideline.
This game will be fun to watch, because there are going to be a lot of points scored. In the end, the Bills defense just will not have enough to slow down the Giants.
Giants 38, Bills 30
After the way the Steelers hammered the Titans, you probably will not be hearing any stories this week about how the Steelers are done.
This looks like a tough match-up for the Jacksonville Jaguars and their rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The Pittsburgh defense is down a little bit, but they are still good enough to make for a tough day against an inexperienced quarterback.
The Jaguars have been pretty good on defense this season, but the passing attack of Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace will prove too much on Sunday.
Steelers 28, Jaguars 13
When do we stop asking the question "is this the week the Eagles get back on track?" It seems like we just keep waiting for the week it all comes together.
They head into a tough match-up this week with the Washington Redskins. The Redskins are in the top ten in rushing yards allowed and passing yards allowed on the season.
The Redskins also feature the eighth best rushing attack in terms of yards per game in the league. That does not bode well for a Philadelphia defense that is 30th against the run.
The Redskins will give the Eagles a heavy dose of Ryan Torain on the way to a close victory.
Redskins 20, Eagles 17
The key match-up in this game will be Darren McFadden vs. the Cleveland rushing defense. McFadden has established himself as an elite running back this season. The Browns are giving up 124.5 yards per game on the ground.
The Raiders have their problems on defense as well. They are 30th in the league in yards allowed, giving up 422.5 yards per game with their pass defense allowing 299.6 yards per game.
While their are obvious weaknesses with both teams here, the Raiders are better built to take advantage of the Browns' weakness.
Raiders 24, Browns 20
This match-up is one of the best games this weekend. Matt Schaub will be looking to bounce back from a horrific fourth quarter against the Raiders last Sunday.
That will not be an easy task for Schaub as he faces the Ravens and their third-ranked pass defense without the services of Andre Johnson for a second straight week.
Slowing down Ray Rice is a hard task for any defense, but it will be especially challenging for the Houston defense without Mario Williams. Williams was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle in the game against Oakland.
The Texans just have too many injuries to pull off an upset on the road.
Ravens 20, Texans 10
This game will be the most fun to watch on Sunday. Both of these teams feature high-powered passing attacks that rank in the top three in the league.
The Cowboys have an edge when they have the ball because the Patriots have had a lot of trouble against the pass this year. The New England defense is dead last in the league, giving up 326.6 yards per game through the air.
Tom Brady will be put to the test against the Dallas pass defense that ranks 13th in the league. That defense held Matthew Stafford and the Lions to 60 yards fewer than their average two weeks ago.
This game will be a shootout, and you should never bet against Brady in a shootout.
Patriots 35, Cowboys 30
Looking at the numbers, it is hard to see how the Buccaneers are going to be able to stop Drew Brees and the Saints. The Buccaneers defense ranks 23rd in total yards allowed and 20th against the pass.
The key for the Tampa Bay offense will be getting LeGarrette Blount going in this game. He is the perfect running back to grind it out and keep the Saints offense on the sideline (pending his health).
Blount puts up good numbers in this one, but it will not be enough to keep the Buccaneers from falling to 3-3 on the season.
Saints 24, Buccaneers 20
The Chicago Bears have uncharacteristically struggled against the run this season. That means the Vikings will throw a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson at them on Sunday (of course, that is the Vikings only option in any game). The Bears will counter by putting eight or nine men in the box to dare Donovan McNabb to throw the ball.
The Bears are conflicted on offense. Mike Martz loves the deep ball, but the Bears do not have the offensive line that can protect Jay Cutler long enough to let the receivers get down the field. They are a better team when Matt Forte is running the ball, but Martz just cannot help himself sometimes.
The Martz philosophy might pay off in this game, however, because the Vikings are stout against the run.
Peterson will get his yards in this game, but the Bears are a better team.
Bears 17, Vikings 10
ESPN probably wishes they could give this game back.
The only hope the Dolphins have in this game is a sensational effort from rookie running back Daniel Thomas. That is not out of the realm of possibility against a Jets defense that is giving up 134.8 yards per game on the ground.
The problem for the Dolphins is going to be that they cannot throw the ball at all, and the Jets will be able to sell out against the run.
Miami has struggled against the pass all year. Mark Sanchez is off to a pretty slow start, but facing this defense should give him the confidence he needs to get his season on track.
Jets 31, Dolphins 3