Last week was an interesting week in the NFL. A lot of close loses. A lot of teams that won that were picked to lose. The key word in the NFL this season is parity. In saying that, here are the picks for Week 6 in the NFL.
Seattle vs. Chicago
Chicago is coming off one of the ugliest wins in their franchise's history and now they return home to face a rebuilding Seahawk team. The Seahawks must run the football with newly acquired RB Marshawn Lynch. If Lynch is able to make progress on the ground, then the Seahawks will have effectively slowed down the pass rush of the Bears, led by DE Julius Peppers. Also, by running the ball effectively, the Seahawks will create easier matchups in the passing game that QB Matt Hasselbeck should be able to take advantage of. For the Bears offense, an ugly game at QB helped them re-discover their running game. If the Bears are able to run the ball on the Seahawk defense like they did the Panthers last week, then QB Jay Cutler should have a field day. Cutler just has to make sure he knows where super-talented safety Earl Thomas is. He is a ball hawk. Ultimately, I don't think this Seattle team can get it done on the road.
Prediction: Chicago 27, Seattle 10
Miami vs. Green Bay
Green Bay took one on the chin in Washington and returns home to take on a slumping Miami team. The Packers cannot seem to shake the injury bug. Last week, it bit TE Jarmichael Finley and QB Aaron "The Surgeon" Rodgers. Rodgers has been practicing this week and should be a go, given he got cleared by the doctors, but Finley had surgery for a miniscus tear and it was found that there was more damage than was originally thought. He may be out for 8-10 weeks or possibly the rest of the year. Finley's absence means the Packers will possibly go to more 3 WR sets. This set will attack the Dolphins at the weakest part of their defense, their defensive backs. I look for The Surgeon to shred the Dolphins defense with precision. For the Dolphins on offense, QB Chad Henne must get back to valuing the football. Henne must also get the ball in the hands of WR Brandon Marshall as much as possible. He is arguably the best receiver in the NFL. More than likely it will be Marshall vs. Green Bay CB Charles Woodson all day, which should be very interesting. In the end, I think Rodgers and the Packer offense will be too much.
Prediction: Green Bay 27, Miami 13
San Diego vs. St. Louis
San Diego is coming off a disappointing loss to the Raiders and will now travel to the Lou to face the Rams. The Rams offense took a huge hit last week when QB Sam Bradford lost his top target, WR Mark Clayton. RB Steven Jackson now must aide his quarterback and attack the Charger defense. If he is effective, then their may be more spots open for Bradford in the passing game as a result of more people creeping down in the box to stop the run. For the Chargers, they must continue to ride the hot hand of QB Phillip Rivers. If he is efficient like he has been all year, the Chargers will slice and dice the young Rams defense. TE Antonio Gates should have a big day. The only concern I have in this game for the Chargers are the special teams. One week it was the kickoff coverage allowing two touchdowns, last week it was the punt team allowing two punts to be blocked. They must clean up the special teams or risk keeping the Rams in this game.
Prediction: San Diego 31, St. Louis 13
Baltimore vs. New England
The Ravens have been playing like the best team in the NFL so far and will have their medal tested on a road trip to New England. QB Tom Brady will be playing his first game without WR Randy Moss in 3 years. Look for the Patriots to dink and dunk the ball down the field. The running game also needs to be more effective in order for Brady to have favorable matchups for WRs Deon Branch, Wes Welker and company. If the Patriots can run the ball, they will tie up LB Ray Lewis and slow down the pass rush of the Ravens, led by OLB Terrell Suggs. For the Ravens offense, they got back to the ground game with RB Ray Rice last week and I think we will see the same thing again this week. If Rice can keep the Patriots rush defense honest, then QB joe Flacco will have plenty of time to play pitch and catch with WRs Derek Mason, TJ Houshmanzadeh and Anquan Boldin. The Patriots cannot match up with this wide receiver trio. This could be a game of transition for the Patriots as they begin life without Randy.
Prediction: Baltimore 24, New England 13
Detroit vs. New York Giants
The Giants have been impressive two straight weeks and now they return home to face a Lions team that may have finally found their stride offensively. QB Shaun Hill has steadily led the Lions offense in place of an injured Matthew Stafford. Hill showed that he can manage the team and distribute the football. If RB Jahvid Best is healthier than last week for this game, he could cause the Giants problems not only running the ball, but catching the ball as well. When Best is a threat, all the other weapons on this offense like TE Tony Scheffler, WR Nate Burleson and WR Calvin Johnson have easier matchups. The main thing the Lions must do is give Hill some protection. The Giants have been on a tear sacking opposing QBs in the last two weeks. Eli Manning seems to have found his new favorite target, WR Hakeem Nicks. With Nicks being as effective as he has been, now teams have to devote more time to him and less time to putting more people in the box to stop the run. I expect RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to have big days on this Lions defense.
Prediction: New York Giants 27, Detroit 10
Atlanta vs. Philadelphia
Atlanta comes off a hard fought win in Cleveland and now heads to the city of brotherly love to take on the Eagles. It is not yet known whether QB Michael Vick will be back for this game, so I think it will be safe to assume that QB Kevin Kolb will be at the helm. With Kolb, the Eagles will be more of a possession team instead of a big play team. This may hinder what WR De'Sean Jackson is able to do. I expect RB LeSean McCoy and newly acquired RB Jerome Harrison to wreak havoc running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield. For the Eagles on defense, they must take away the running game of the Falcons. If they can stop RB Michael Turner and crew, then the Falcons become one-dimensional and the game falls on QB Matt Ryan's shoulders.
Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Atlanta 21
Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh
Cleveland is coming off a tough loss to the Falcons last week and now has to travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers. QB Colt McCoy gets his first start this week due to injuries to QBs Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. This isn't the best team for a rookie to make his first start against. The Pittsburgh defense has been downright nasty this year and I look for them to stop the running game of the Browns and force McCoy to beat them. The only adjustment that could help the Browns offense is if they put WR/PR/KR Josh Cribbs at QB and run the Wildcat. Anytime Cribbs can get his hands on the ball, positive things usually happen for the Browns. The biggest story of this game is the return of Ben Roethlisberger. His return should open up a very vanilla offense and make the Steelers more explosive. I look for WR Mike Wallace to take advantage of a terrible Cleveland Browns secondary and RB Rashard Mendenhall to keep pounding away at the Browns front seven.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 9
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay returns home after a big win in Cincinnati. They come home to a disappointing Saints team that seems to have lost its mojo. The Saints have been plagued by injuries at the running back position. RBs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were central figures in what they do and it clearly shows that they miss these guys. RB Ladell Betts and newly acquired RB Julius Jones must step up to try and fill the void left by Thomas and WR Lance Moore must step up to fill the versatile role that Reggie Bush played on this team. If these three guys step up against an up-and-down Bucs defense, QB Drew Brees could have another big day. QB Josh Freeman of the Bucs has grown more and more every week. His top target, WR Mike Williams, has shown that being the main receiver as a rookie isn't that hard a task for him. If Freeman can value the football and distribute the ball to Williams, TE Kellen Winslow II and WR Aerilius Benn, the Bucs will do what they haven't done in a while, beat the Saints.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 23, New Orleans 17
Kansas City vs. Houston
Kansas City is coming off a close loss in Indianapolis last week and now goes to Houston. Houston looked like they never woke up last week. They got physically whipped last week versus the Giants, so I expect them to come out fired up and ready to play. Texans QB Matt Schaub must have the running game to be effective against this defense. If the running game is solid, then Schaub will look to attack the Chiefs down the middle of the field. TE Owen Daniels will be key this game as well. The Chiefs must get back to running the ball with force and consistency. If the Texans are able to stop them from running the ball, QB Matt Cassel proved last week that he cannot win a game through the air.
Prediction: Houston 24, Kansas City 13
New York Jets vs. Denver
The Jets, after their win Monday night against Minnesota, take their show on the road to Denver. Denver showed last week that they sorely need a running game. QB Kyle Orton threw and threw and threw all game long and the Broncos didn't even threaten the Ravens. The return of RB Knowshon Moreno should help the running game this week. But, ultimately, this game still falls on Orton's shoulders. He will have a tough task to handle, as the Jets secondary is starting to play well despite the injury to star CB Darelle Revis. Jets QB Mark Sanchez must continue to value the football. The return of WR Santonio Holmes from suspension was huge for the Jets offense. He should see an increased workload this weekend. As for the Jets running game, the two-headed monster of Shon Green and LaDanlian Tomlinson should be able to pound away at this porous Bronco run defense.
Prediction: New York Jets 27, Denver 14
Oakland vs. San Francisco
Oakland comes into San Francisco off an emotional win versus the Chargers. Oakland must continue to value the football and run the football. If they can run on the 49ers, then Jason Campbell can assert himself in the pocket. LB Patrick Willis has to step up on defense for the 49ers. He has been too quiet this year. Its make or break time for the 49er offense. It seems like too many times, they play good in the last minutes of a game to come back, but they don't assert themselves early. In order for the 49ers to be effective offensively, they must value the football and make defenses pay for playing heavy on the run. QB Alex Smith will be a pivotal figure in this game.
Prediction: San Francisco 24, Oakland 13
Dallas vs. Minnesota
These two underachieving teams meet up in Minnesota for the Disappointment Bowl. Both teams have underachieved all year and maybe this game would be able to jump start one of them. The Vikings haven't been very explosive on offense until now. Now they have a top flight receiver in Randy Moss that can stretch the field. The addition of Moss also should help the running game because the Cowboys will have to bracket Moss, keeping one more player out of the box. I look for Adrian Peterson to have a big day. For the Cowboys, they must stop Adrian Peterson and they must run the ball like they did last week versus the Titans. The one thing that they didn't do was value the football last week and they will need to do that in order to win this game on the road. In the Disappointment Bowl, the team who makes the most mistakes is going to lose.
Prediction: Minnesota 28, Dallas 17
Indianapolis vs. Washington
The Colts travel to DC after a very boring win versus the Chiefs last week. The Colts must start to run the ball better. If they don't run the ball against the Redskins, then QB Peyton Manning will have to win the game with his arm, which he is capable of doing. The Redskins must start finishing drives and that all comes down to the QB, Donovan McNabb. He must get the team in the right play and situations so they can be successful. TE Chris Cooley must exploit the Colts lack of a playmaker at safety. Whichever QB has more help will win this game.
Prediction: Washington 23, Indianapolis 17
Tennessee vs. Jacksonville
The Titans make a trip down to their second home to face the Jaguars on Monday Night Football. The Titans must continue to let QB Vince Young pass to set up the run. Young proved that he can make the right decision under pressure and when given more responsibility. If Young is successful attacking a porous Jaguar secondary, then RB Chris Johnson should have plenty of running lanes available to him. QB David Garrard has played well the last two games, but the defense he is facing this week is much better than the last two defenses he has seen. Garrard must manage the offense and take care of the football against the ball-hawking defense of the Titans. The offensive line must also hold up against the constant pressure that Tennessee brings. Maurice Jones-Drew must assist his QB by gaining yards on the ground or else it could be a long night for Garrard.
Prediction: Tennessee 31, Jacksonville 27
Here's what I got for the week! If you have something to add to my analysis or if you flat out don't agree, drop a comment!