People around DC are all wrapped up with the Philadelphia Eagles trying to save their season against the Washington Redskins. However, the rest of the country and myself knows that the true game of the weekend takes place in Detroit. The resurgent 4-1 49ers take on the resurgent 5-0 Lions. I can name exactly no one that would have picked this as the game of the week six weeks ago. Also, for those of you that read last week, I did end up going apple picking and it actually way more fun that I expected. No, I will not turn in my man card.
Week 6 - Sunday, October 16
Carolina (1-4) at Atlanta (2-3), Atlanta favored by 4 1/2
The Panthers continue to remain competitive, but also continue to find ways to not turn that competitiveness into wins. The Falcons came out on fire against the Packers then meekly did nothing after building a 14-0 lead at home, and were once against thrashed by Green Bay. The Falcons haven't looked right all season, with the offense struggling, mostly because the offensive line is struggling. The Panthers defense hasn't shown it can slow anyone down, unless its playing Jacksonville in a monsoon. Expect a familiar script for Carolina, Cam Newton will keep them in the game, until they lose late.
Prediction: Atlanta 27, Carolina 24
Indianapolis (0-5) at Cincinnati (3-2), Cincinnati favored by 7
Will the Colts ever win a game? Curtis Painter looks like a massive upgrade over Kerry Collins but the Colts still blew a 17 point lead at home to the Chiefs. The Bengals are actually pretty decent and nowhere near the awful team I expected them to be. Their draft class of AJ Green and Andy Dalton are both playing pretty well and is promising for their future. However, its the Bengals so I am sure things will fall apart at some point. Not this week though.
Prediction: Cincinnati 20, Indianapolis 14
San Francisco (4-1) at Detroit (5-0), Detroit favored by 5
Well I didn't see a 48-3 butt whooping of the Bucs happening last weekend, but sure enough it did. QB Alex Smith is avoiding mistakes and making plays, Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter are running the ball well, and the defense is forcing turnovers and making stops. Carlos Rogers, who couldn't catch anything in Washington, now has three interceptions this year and is looking like one of the better corners in the league. All these good vibes have a chance to be taken down a notch with the Niners having to travel to Detroit. The Lions sputtered out of the gates on Monday Night, but then in the second half, took control of the game to improve to 5-0. I admit to being biased but I think the Niners can pull the upset. Their offensive line is better than the Bears, so the Lions won't get the kind of pressure on Smith that they did on Jay Cutler. I don't think Jahvid Best will be breaking any really long runs, and if the Niners can hold Calvin Johnson to just one touchdown this game, that would be a victory. I also think the Lions could experience a bit of a let down after all the hype that went into last Monday's game. The Niners will have to play a great game but I think they are the team to end the Lions undefeated run.
Prediction: San Francisco 24, Detroit 23
St. Louis (0-4) at Green Bay (5-0), Green Bay favored by 15
The only reason this game won't be any uglier is because Green Bay will probably pull most of their starters early. The Packers are a machine right now and clearly the best team in football.
Prediction: Green Bay 30, St. Louis 14
Buffalo (4-1) at New York Giants (3-2), New York Giants favored by 3 1/2
The New York Giants have been averse to success the last 2 1/2 seasons. They were surprising everyone with their 3-1 start, look primed to go to 4-1 with the Seahawks coming to town, and then laid an egg. Eli Manning continued to show the inconsistency that has plagued him in his career. He can have a few good games but then he always reverts back to one of those 3 interception stinkers. The Bills had the good fortune of playing the mistake prone Eagles and improved to 4-1. The defense seems to be following a 2009 Saints model of bending, not breaking and also creating points through turnovers. All that being said I'm still not sold on them going on the road and winning a tough game.
Prediction: New York Giants 28, Buffalo 27
Jacksonville (1-4) at Pittsburgh (3-2), Pittsburgh favored by 12
So the Steelers aren't quite ready to have their obituary written. They played inspired football against the Titans, and Big Ben finally woke up, throwing 5 TDs. Jacksonville is just atrocious and Jack Del Rio is probably hoping he can be put out of his misery.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, Jacksonville 12
Philadelphia (1-4) at Washington (3-1), Philadelphia favored by 1
Vegas obviously still believes in the Eagles and crazy as it may sound I do as well. The Eagles have some flaws that aren't correctable, namely their linebackers suck. However, the reason for their four losses has mostly been self inflicted wounds. They have made dumb plays, like Jaqua Parker being stupid enough to fall for Ryan Fitzpatrick's hard count at the end of last week's game. They also have been killing themselves with turnovers, especially in the Red Zone. This is still a very talented team, with one of the fastest, dangerous offenses there has been in a long time. They are too good not to come together and have a strong effort. The Skins are coming off their bye and sit alone in first place. They have a great chance this weekend to get a firm hold on the division with a win, and knock the Eagles out of contention in the process. This is the type of game though that Redskins fans have expected them to lose. If this truly is the start of a new era for the Redskins, a win in this game would go a long way in convincing the fans of that. Alas, I am a pessimist and I expect the Skins to revert to what they know, underachieving. Kyle Shanahan will likely get too cute and instead of exposing the Eagles weaknesses stopping the run, he will inexplicably have Rex Grossman throwing the ball too much. Rex throwing mostly leads to bad things.
Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Washington 20
Cleveland (2-2) at Oakland (3-2), Oakland favored by 6
I only mostly experienced kooky Al Davis, and didn't get to see much of the guy that was a visionary and successful in the NFL. But watching Hue Jackson get so emotional after the Raiders beat the Texans was pretty touching. The Raiders are looking more and more legit each week. If they can at least cut the penalties in half they would be on the upper echelon of the league. The Browns are going to be walking into an emotionally charged environment. Things could get ugly for young Colt McCoy. No word yet if Peyton Hillis' agent will advise him not to play with a headache this weekend.
Prediction: Oakland 26, Cleveland 16
Houston (3-2) at Baltimore (3-1), Baltimore favored by 7 1/2
The AFC South seemed right their for the taking for the Texans. The Colts are without Peyton Manning, the Jaguars are poop, and the Titans figured to be rebuilding. But now things are slowly falling apart for Houston. They are without WR Andre Johnson, which exposes Matt Schaub for the mediocre QB he is, and now they lost Mario Williams for the season on defense. Despite that, I think they can keep it close with the Ravens. Joe Flacco has been very shaky this season and the Ravens are looking like the old school Ravens that won simply because they were so outstanding defensively. To me that is one of the bigger surprises this year, as I thought the defense would finally start showing their age.
Prediction: Baltimore 21, Houston 14
Dallas (2-2) at New England (4-1), New England favored by 7
I am looking forward to watching this game, as it is filled with playmakers on both sides of the ball for each team. Tony Romo has to avoid the killer mistakes because he can definitely torch the Patriots awful passing defense, especially with the return of his favorite target WR Miles Austin. I expect the Patriots and Tom Brady to go out and do what they do every week, make it look easy. They have scored at least 30 points in 13 straight regular season games, after Sunday it will be 14.
Prediction: New England 31, Dallas 21
New Orleans (4-1) at Tampa Bay (3-2)
The Buccaneers have to show whether them losing to the Niners that badly was a case of a short week and a cross country trip, or if they are simply just not ready for prime time. Josh Freeman has started slowly, while WR Mike Williams has been practically non-existent. The Saints are riding a four game winning streak and would take control of the NFC South with a victory. Drew Brees is playing very well this season, and looking more like the Brees from 2009, then the interception happy one from 2010.
Prediction: New Orleans 33, Tampa Bay 23
Minnesota (1-4) at Chicago (2-3), Chicago favored by 3
These two are lagging far behind in the NFC North and the loser of this game can pretty much throw in the towel for the season. The Vikings, and especially Jared Allen will have a great chance to wreak havoc against the Bears laughably bad offensive line. Problem is, even when the Vikings were good, they could never win in Chicago. Another problem is Donovan McNabb remains the quarterback and can't pass for shit. The Bears defense is better than the Cardinals so I don't expect Adrian Peterson to be able to rack up 3 TDs in one quarter. This will probably be a defensive struggle, with the Bears making one more play than the Vikings to get the win.
Prediction: Chicago 21, Minnesota 17
Monday, October 17
Miami (0-4) at New York Jets (2-2), New York Jets favored by 7
The Matt Moore era begins in Miami! Chad Henne has been lost for the season, so Moore, who failed in Carolina last season, gets a chance in Miami. For some reason, Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall says he wants to get ejected by the 2nd quarter with the reason being he is a complete lunatic. Or maybe he just doesn't want to be on the field when the Dolphins fall to 0-5. The Jets are in disarray, having lost three in a row and trading away WR Derrick Mason due to him causing problems in the locker room. It shouldn't be time to completely panic for the Jets as their three game losing streak came against good teams and on the road. They shouldn't assume this is a win though because the Dolphins have won at New York for three straight seasons. I expect Miami will keep it close but have no confidence in their ability to win a game.
Prediction: New York Jets 19, Miami 17
Last Week Straight Up: 8-5
Overall Straight Up: 48-29
Last Week Against the Spread: 7-6
Overall Against the Spread: 40-35-2