Week 5’s upsets really messed up my picks. Not that I can complain as a Bears fan that the Falcons upset the Packers. But the Vikings’ upset over the Saints irks me as a fan and a prognosticator. I regretted picking Buffalo to beat Arizona even before the Cardinals shellacked the Bills, 41-17. And somehow, some way, the Redskins and Dolphins continue to find ways to win.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Last Week: 7-7
This Week: 7-6
Chicago (3-2) at Atlanta (3-2)
The Falcons have the leading rusher in the league and a rookie quarterback who has managed the game and hasn’t made too many mistakes. The key to the Bears winning is to get pressure on Matt Ryan and rattle his confidence. The Bears’ fourth-ranked run defense should have some success against Turner.
Prediction: Chicago 24, Atlanta 20
Actual Score: Atlanta 22, Chicago 20
Miami (2-2) at Houston (0-4)
I don’t know how the Dolphins have beaten both the Patriots and Chargers, two would-be AFC powerhouses. Actually, I do. It’s because of that college offense they’ve employed with Ronnie Brown taking direct snaps in the backfield. Someone will put a stop to it, and it could be this week.
Prediction: Houston 24, Miami 17
Actual Score: Houston 29, Miami 28
Baltimore (2-2) at Indianapolis (2-2)
The Ravens have the No. 1 pass defense, No. 1 run defense, and No. 1 overall defense. The Colts just don’t seem to be themselves this year. I think the Ravens pick one up on the road.
Prediction: Baltimore 23, Indianapolis 20
Actual Score: Indianapolis 31, Baltimore 3
Detroit (0-4) at Minnesota (2-3)
Minnesota picked up a level of confidence in last week’s win in New Orleans. This week, they’ll beat up on the Lions and gather more confidence as they head into next week’s game against the Bears.
Prediction: Minnesota 27, Detroit 16
Actual Score: Minnesota 12, Detroit 10
Oakland (1-3) at New Orleans (2-3)
Te only team that can beat the Saints in this game is the Saints themselves. Their offense didn’t skip a beat last week but they lost due to turnovers. The Raiders, under their new head coach, Tom Cable, will still have some growing to do.
Prediction: New Orleans 30, Oakland 20
Actual Score: New Orleans 34, Oakland 3
Cincinnati (0-5) at NY Jets (2-2)
The Bengals showed a little more offense last week against the Cowboys than they did in the previous four games. If Palmer were playing in this one, I’d say they have a shot. But he’s not; so they don’t.
Prediction: NY Jets 28, Cincinnati 13
Actual Score: NY Jets 26, Cincinnati 14
Carolina (4-1) at Tampa Bay (3-2)
The Panthers are red hot this year, looking like one of the teams to beat in the NFC. The Buccaneers have had some success as well and this is definitely a game I’ll be tuning in to see. I think this game comes down to defense. They have comparable run defenses, but Carolina’s pass defense is third in the league.
Prediction: Carolina 23, Tampa Bay 20
Actual Score: Tampa Bay 27, Carolina 3
St. Louis (0-4) at Washington (4-1)
I think what sums this game up best is that while viewing fan predictions for this week, on one site, I saw 99% of users predicted the Redskins would win. Fans can often be wrong, but if the Rams were to win this game, it’d be a colossal upset.
Prediction: Washington 27, St. Louis 13
Actual Score: St. Louis 19, Washington 17
Jacksonville (2-3) at Denver (4-1)
I can’t figure out the real Jacksonville. They don’t play with any consistency from week to week. Denver, meanwhile, has a great offense but their defense has serious deficiencies. However, since Jacksonville is not an offensive juggernaut, I can’t see them keeping up with the Broncos.
Prediction: Denver 31, Jacksonville 23
Actual Score: Jacksonville 24, Denver 17
Dallas (4-1) at Arizona (3-2)
We haven’t seen this type of excitement for a Dallas-Arizona game since the two teams met in the 1998 playoffs. After what I saw from the Cowboys last week against the lowly Bengals, I think the Cardinals are primed for an upset.
Prediction: Arizona 31, Dallas 27
Actual Score: Arizona 30, Dallas 24
Philadelphia (2-3) at San Francisco (2-3)
The Eagles got off to a hot start this season but have since cooled off significantly. In fairness, Brian Westbrook has missed time due to an injury and will not play this week. Normally, I’d say that spells impending doom, but the 49ers just aren’t worldbeaters. I think it’ll be close, but Philadelphia’s defense could play the difference in this one.
Prediction: Philadelphia 26, San Francisco 21
Actual Score: Philadelphia 40, San Francisco 26
Green Bay (2-3) at Seattle (1-3)
Matt Hasselbeck will not play in this game, which should offset Green Bay’s sagging defense the last few weeks. I think the Seahawks will have to play solid defense in order to stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing attack, and I don’t know if they’ll have the energy if their offense keeps them on the field too long.
Prediction: Green Bay 28, Seattle 20
Actual Score: Green Bay 27, Seattle 17
New England (3-1) at San Diego (2-3)
I think the Patriots have gathered some offensive momentum after struggling early under Matt Cassel’s watch. The Chargers have played erratic all season and have the worst pass defense in the league.
Prediction: New England 23, San Diego 21
Actual Score: San Diego 30, New England 10
NY Giants (4-0) at Cleveland (1-3)
Browns tight end Kellen Winslow could miss this game with an undisclosed illness. That would take a huge dimension out of the Browns’ offense. As it is, the Giants play sound football on both offense and defense and I don’t see them having much of a chance to win with or without Winslow. Do you think the NFL is regretting scheduling the Browns for 5 prime time games this year?
Prediction: NY Giants 34, Cleveland 17