Six in the mix
The sixth week of the NFL is here, and it looks to be a fantastic week for football. Great match-ups and rivalry games are sprinkled here and there: the New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints game (a battle between two undefeated teams), the Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons game (featuring two of the league's best young quarterbacks) and the Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals game (it may turn out to be another nail-biter for the Cardiac-Cats) are among the top. Many of these match-ups could surprisingly cause some fantasy football players to get upset. Don't see any potential rabble-rousers? Look closer. The Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay game could be a heated competition. Detroit is facing the team that cemented their winless status last season, but the Lions may be able to fight - they put some numbers up on the scoreboard against Pittsburgh last week. Can they do the same against the Packers?
Football is a helmet-clashing, gridiron game whether it's the first week, 14th or sixth. Even though attempting to pinpoint a week is nearly impossible, Chips is offering expert predictions yet again. This week should be interesting.
Sunday, Oct. 18
Houston Texans (2-3-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-1-0)
Rose - Cincinnati
Dennis - Houston
Ava - Cincinnati
There's a long history of mockery and shame that comes with the Bengals name, but the 2009 NFL season has managed to bring about greater respect for this hard-hitting team. So far, Cincinnati has beaten three of their four greatest division rivals, and is looking to add another impressive "W" to their increasingly notable record. With their recent inability to stand up to Arizona defense, the Texans are looking at another disappointing loss.
The Cincinnati Cardiac-Cats, otherwise known as the Bengals, put on quite a show last game - they managed to upset the Baltimore Ravens to take the spot of AFC North Division leaders. But Houston does not seem short of heart either, and WR Andre Johnson's explosion might be too much for the Bengal defense to handle. The Texans for the win.
The Bengals will take this one. They haven't lost since their first week blunder against the Broncos, and will be especially pumped at home. Though they should win, Cincinnati's defense will have a tough time taking down superstar Matt Schaub, who had 371 yards last week and already has 10 touchdowns this season.
Detriot Lions (1-4-0) at Green Bay Packers (2-2-0)
Rose - Green Bay
Dennis - Green Bay
Ava - Green Bay
There has to be some pity in our hearts for the complete and utter failure of the Lions this season. While it may be difficult for any team to beat a defending Super Bowl champion, the Steelers haven't really been living up to last year's prestige this season. Detriot coach Jim Schwartz says it all: "We were poor on offense, we were poor on defense, we were out-coached, we were out-played." Sorry, Lions, looks like your roar won't quite be powerful enough.
Though their record doesn't show it, the Detroit Lions have been progressing as a team and had an opportunity to upset a few of the teams they've played so far, including Pittsburgh last week. A win here would be nothing short of a terrific upset, but QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers won't be fazed this week. Let's just hope the Packer O-line steps it up.
Green Bay at home? Refreshed after a restful bye week? Against Detroit? Enough said; it'll be the Packers.
St. Louis Rams (0-5-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3-0)
Rose - Jacksonville
Dennis - Jacksonville
Ava - Jacksonville
St. Louis is the one of the few teams that ranks behind the Lions. That embarrassing zero on their win record is one of only three season-wide. But the Jaguars have problems, too; the team didn't look too hot during their 41-0 loss to Seattle last week. The team had two fumbles, a failed fourth-down conversion and seven three-and-out possessions. Defense was clumsy, and the team had a 400-yard loss. Regardless, the Jaguars have managed to rough up their opponents to some extent; the Rams have no chance for a win,
St. Louis is winless for a reason. They turn the ball over more times than anyone can count with their fingers, and RB Steven Jackson seems like the only trace of a pulse left on the Rams. Jacksonville, on the other hand, will be getting talented WR Mike Sims-Walker this week after breaking a team rule. Jaguars are in it to win it.
Look for the Jags to be roaring to go after Seattle beat them hard last week. They'll come up big against the 0 – 5 Rams. Sure, last week was a pretty bad upset, but the Rams are worse than the Seahawks. St. Louis needs to put last week behind them and jump-start their season because .500 is better than what they've got now.
Baltimore Ravens (3-2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0-0)
Rose - Minnesota
Dennis - Minnesota
Ava - Minnesota
Minnesota wide receiver Percy Harvin is back from a brief hiatus that kept him out of practice but, to be entirely honest, who really cares? Brett Favre is still alive and well, which means Baltimore is in for a tough game. The Vikings's sparkling 5-0 record will glimmer with yet another win after this game.
Baltimore, previously believed to be among the best in the league, is on the hot-seat right now for losing two games in a row. They need to remind themselves that their smash mouth football is their biggest offensive strength, and let RB Ray Rice work. Also, Minnesota is going to have a harder time protecting QB Brett Favre from the dominant Ravens's defensive line. Still, Favre has been playing like he did a decade ago and is leading the Vikings to some victories. This game will just be another win under his belt.
As I'm sure Blazers know, the Ravens are coming off a tough loss at home. This week, one of two things will happen: either the Ravens will come out strong and itching to beat the undefeated Vikings, or Minnesota will capitalize and take advantage of the Ravens just like Cincinnati did. I think the second situation is more likely, but even with Minnesota's record the win isn't a lock. Only one thing is for sure: there's going to be a lot of purple at the Metrodome on Sunday.
New York Giants (5-0-0) at New Orleans Saints (4-0-0)
Rose - New Orleans
Dennis - New York
Ava - New York
The Giants are clearly on a winning streak, but RB Brandon Jacobs is still unhappy with his personal statistics. He has only managed 355 yards on 100 carries this season, which is an average of 1.45 yards less than his average last season. On the other hand, QB Eli Manning has finally overcome his plantar fasciitis and will be back on the field this Sunday. But can he successfully buck against the Saints? It's unlikely. After a bye week, New Orleans will be rejuvenated and ready to take on another undefeated team.
It seems like if anyone is going to beat New York, it's going to be New Orleans. The Giants have played outstanding football on both sides of the ball, and have completely manhandled past opponents. The Saints are also unbeaten and their running game with RB Pierre Thomas is looking to be a useful compliment to QB Drew Brees. The G-men are simply playing at a level that's too high for any team to beat right now, so they win it.
I may seriously try and convince my parents to get DirectTV just so I can watch the Ravens and the Giants play at the same time. Both games are so early in the day, it's really a shame. But the Giants should get the "W" for this one. Drew Brees might help the Giants this week as he's currently stuck in a slump. We'll see if his offense made any adjustments during their bye week.
Cleveland Browns (1-4-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-0)
Rose - Pittsburgh
Dennis - Pittsburgh
Ava - Pittsburgh
In the past, the Steelers have won 11 consecutive games against the Browns, and will seek to add another win to their total of 16 against the team. However, Pittsburgh RB Rashard Mendenhall's flu-like symptoms caused him to miss practice Thursday, forcing Willie Parker to take over despite his recent toe injury and two-week hiatus. The Browns are still too incapable to use these potential weaknesses to their advantage; they'll face another loss.
In this AFC North division rivalry game, the defending champions in Pittsburgh are set to take on Cleveland. The Steelers's QB Ben Roethlisberger leads the league in passing accuracy, while the Browns's QB has shown increasing efficiency in past games. Eyes will be on Pittsburgh's FS Troy Polamalu - he's playing his first game since his knee injury in week one. The Steelers take the easy "W."
I'll go with the Steelers on this one; the Browns aren't doing well. One of the worst wins this season was Cleveland's 6 - 3 victory over Buffalo last week. Blazers get three days off, Pittsburgh gets the Browns. I'd say that's a good weekend all around!
Carolina Panthers (1-3-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5-0)
Rose - Carolina
Dennis - Carolina
Ava - Tampa Bay
We could say that the Panthers have bragging rights as they face the winless Buccaneers this week because they have at least one win on their record. But this isn't really true - Carolina only broke their season-opening losing streak last week against the Redskins in a close 20-17 game. Really, there's no obvious victor taking the stage in this game. But the Panthers were able to defeat Washington, which can't be said for the Buccaneers. Carolina goes 2-3.
An NFC South rivalry, Carolina is looking to make the evenly-matched Tampa Bay their second consecutive win. The Panthers have the benefit of knowing that their star DE Julius Peppers is finally turning on his ignition after tallying two sacks last week. If the Panthers's RB DeAngelo Williams can show a little spark as well, the Buccaneers shouldn't win.
The winless Bucs might actually be able to pull this one out against the Panthers, which would salvage their season. Luckily for Tampa Bay, the game is at home and against one of the top 10 worst teams in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-5-0) at Washington Redskins (2-3-0)
Rose - Washington
Dennis - Washington
Ava - Washington
Last week, SCO Staffer predictions for a 'Skin win went awry. Washington's defeat against the weak and equally loss-heavy Panthers was an embarrassment. But this Chief game will be different. Both teams's reputations rely heavily on this game. Washington must avoid losing to what could be their third winless opponent, while Kansas is in danger of going 0-6 for the first time in franchise history. The odds are against the Chiefs; looks like they'll make notorious history while the Redskins go 3-3.
Washington has been relatively unimpressive as a whole, but the Redskin defense has been standing its own ground. Kansas City does not have the offense to control this kind of defense, even with QB Matt Cassel's consistent play. The Chiefs fall to the Skins.
I'm tired of picking Washington over these low-life teams and being wrong! Unfortunately for my SCO NFL Predictions record, old habits die hard so once again I'll pick the Skins. The only reason that the Redskins are 2 -3 is because they've been playing abysmal teams. But they're still disappointing, to say the least. After Sunday, win or lose, I hope Dan Snyder will wise up and kick Zorn to the curb. But then again Snyder is a problem here, not a solution.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-1-0) at Oakland Raiders (1-4-0)
Rose - Philadelphia
Dennis - Philadelphia
Ava - Philadelphia
The Raiders haven't managed to gain more than ten points in their last four games, and currently rank 31st in the league for points. They're up against the second place Eagles, with an average of 31.8 points. Oakland sees another disappointing loss.
This is a predictable win for Philadelphia. The Eagles exploded offensively last week and showed that they know how to move the pigskin across the field. Oakland's defense is simply incapable of stopping this attack. On offense, QB JaMarcus Russell doesn't have the ability to pick apart the Eagles's ball-hawking defense. The Eagles soar over the Raiders.
Donovan McNabb looks very good for someone just coming off of the bench, so the Eagles should have a nice win on Sunday. On top of that, Oakland has an even worse quarterback and bad management (their head coach is under review for breaking an assistant coach's jaw). The Raiders's franchise is in turmoil, and they'll certainly have a hard time winning this week.
Arizona Cardinals (2-2-0) at Seattle Seahawks (2-3-0)
Rose - Seattle
Dennis - Arizona
Ava - Arizona
This NFC West showdown should be fairly interesting. The Seahawks finally get to reap the offensive benefits of Matt Hasselbeck's return; he hopes to make an impact against a struggling Cardinals defense. But these two teams are well-matched, and it's a close call. We'll just have to go with the statistics on this one: Seattle for the win.
It's another rivalry game, this time with stakes in the NFC West. Seattle's pass rush (led by DE Patrick Kerney) and offensive scheme (with the inclusion of WR T.J. Houshmanzadeh) has seen some major improvement over the past two weeks. The question is whether they can overcome either of the Cardinals's wide receivers at their best. The Cards beat out the Seahawks.
Unfortunately, this game won't be very thrilling. Arizona has proven to be a decent team, and the Seahawks aren't terrific either. Larry Fitzgerald had his best game of the season last week, and hopefully he can keep that streak alive. After all, someone has to help balance out Kurt Warner's years of "experience," and who better than a young, spry wide receiver?
Tennessee Titans (0-5-0) at New England Patriots (3-2-0)
Rose - New England
Dennis - New England
Ava - New England
The Patriots are up against what may be one of 2009's most disappointing teams. One of the three teams with a 0-5 record, the Titans's future isn't looking too bright. Their Patriots encounter should prove futile; New England easily trumps Tennessee.
It's crazy to think that just a couple of weeks ago, one would have never expected Tennessee to rank among the last in the league with an 0-5 record. There has been some unimpressive play from QB Kerry Collins, and RB Chris Johnson seems to be the only consistent high performer. With great potential on offense, New England won't fall to the Titans. Titans go 0-6?!
At home, New England should definitely get the win. The Titans are discombobulated, and the Pats will be looking for victory after Tom Brady blew a very winnable game last week with two very bad passes. Still, I think the Patriots could have won last Sunday had they won the coin flip. Nevertheless, the OT made for some good TV.
Buffalo Bills (1-4-0) at New York Jets (3-2-0)
Rose - New York
Dennis - New York
Ava - New York
The Bills will need to clarify their offensive strategy for Sunday's game if they attempt to have any chance against the formidable Jets. While their offense has been under criticism, the Jets have also faced disappointment for their loss against the Dolphins. Regardless, the Jets look to continue their harsh defensive strategies against the Bills, which should prove effective. Jets take the victory.
New York lost a hard-fought game against Miami last week, but the Dolphins still manhandled Jets defense. If they're to break their two-game losing streak, LB Calvin Pace is going to have to regain his reputation as a defensive force. On the flip side, WR Braylon Edwards showed signs of play-maker ability last week with his strong impact. Buffalo's offense needs a QB Trent Edwards-led jump start if they want any movement on the ball this week. Jets fly with the victory.
The Jets will get this one. When a team manages less than ten points (a measly three, in Buffalo's case), it's bad news. So far, Buffalo hasn't given me a reason to believe in them.
Chicago Bears (3-1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (3-1-0)
Rose - Chicago
Dennis - Atlanta
Ava - Atlanta
The Bears have not forgotten the loss the Falcons handed them last year, one that was unexpected and completely devastating. Will QB Matt Ryan achieve a similar feat this year? It's unlikely, especially considering the starting FB Ovie Mughelli's recent calf injury, which will probably keep him out of the Bears game. The Bears have the edge on this one.
Last week, Atlanta decisively defeated San Fransisco in what was supposed to be a close game. QB Matt Ryan looked calm and poised in the pocket, and picked the 49er defense apart. He'll be looking to do the same with Chicago. Bears QB Jay Cutler hasn't been looking shabby either, with eight touchdowns already and a passer rating of 100 or greater for three straight games. This is going to be a close one, but the Falcons lead the Bears in about every offensive category. They will ultimately win the game.
Last week Matt Ryan's completion rate was over 68 percent and he had 329 yards. Hopefully he will have another stellar Sunday and lead his team to victory. Though the Bears's defense is a bit tougher than the 49ers's, Atlanta should get the "W."
Monday, Oct. 19
Denver Broncos (5-0-0) at San Diego Chargers (2-2-0)
Rose - Denver
Dennis - Denver
Ava - Denver
As an AFC powerhouse, Denver looks to make more of an impact against the Chargers. Their recent victory over competitor New England leaves them confident and enthusiastic about the upcoming game. Especially with receiver Brandon Marshall's high offseason temper back to its normal state, the Broncos should keep their clean 5-0 record.
Surprise of the year? I think so. Denver is amazingly undefeated with a 5-0 record after their New England victory last week. QB Kyle Orton has been playing efficiently and connected with standout WR Brandon Marshall quite a few times this season. San Diego's running game is down in the dumps, with RB Darren Sproles averaging a pathetic 2.4 yards a carry. Watch for the Broncos to hurdle over the Chargers.
Look for Denver to continue their Cinderella run this week, and for ESPN to continue milking the Broncos's story. Denver should win fairly easily, especially if "star" running back for the Chargers, LaDainian Tomlinson, doesn't put up big numbers. Hopefully coach McDaniels won't lose his mind again when Denver wins. Careful, coach. Your age (or lack there of) is showing.
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