I seem to be making a habit out of 4-loss weeks. Aside from that Week 2 .500 mark that I recorded, every week I’ve been fortunate to have just 4 losses. In Week 5, I missed on Cincinnati’s upset over the Ravens in Baltimore, Denver’s shocking victory over the Patriots to advance to 5-0, Seattle’s 41-0 walloping of the Jaguars, and the Dolphins’ wildcat victory over the Jets.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Last Week: 10-4
This Week: 8-6
Houston Texans (2-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)
My first instinct is to say the Bengals will keep rolling behind a solid defense and a dominant run game. But that Texans’ offense is a serious threat. I think if Cedric Benson has a good game, it’ll help to keep Matt Schaub and Co. off the field and keep the pace in favor of the Bengals.
Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Houston 20
Actual Score: Houston 28, Cincinnati 17
Detroit Lions (1-4) at Green Bay Packers (2-2)
The Lions haven’t, and won’t lie down and roll over for anybody. They’ll come out and give the Packers all they have. Problem is, they don’t have enough to give the Packers a loss at Lambeau. I expect the Packers to look a lot better coming out of the bye than they did heading into it.
Prediction: Green Bay 30, Detroit 21
Actual Score: Green Bay 26, Detroit 0
St. Louis Rams (0-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)
Is this a football game? Who cares? The Jaguars should pick up the victory but they’ve been impossible for me to predict this year. Seeing as how the Rams have a lot of holes and the Jaguars at home, I can’t in good conscience pick an upset here.
Prediction: Jacksonville 24, St. Louis 16
Actual Score: Jacksonville 23, St. Louis 20
Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0)
I was encouraged by the fact that the Vikings were playing down to the level of their opponents the first few weeks of the season, but after handling the Packers and destroying the Rams in subsequent weeks, I’m now deathly afraid of this group of purple-wearin’ prissies. Although the Ravens jumped out to a hot start, I think they’re going to drop their third in a row to move to .500 and the Vikings are going to remain unbeaten.
Prediction: Minnesota 24, Baltimore 20
Actual Score: Minnesota 33, Baltimore 31
New York Giants (5-0) at New Orleans Saints (4-0)
This should be a fun game to watch. We get to see perhaps two of the NFC’s three best teams facing off on artificial turf. It should be a fast game — and I mean by performance, not duration — and that definitely helps the Saints. Thanks to an improved defense, I can say the Saints have the slight edge here. But if Brees gets harassed all game by the Giants’ front four, it could just as easily swing in their favor. I’m going with the home team here.
Prediction: New Orleans 27, New York Giants 21
Actual Score: New Orleans 48, New York Giants 27
Cleveland Browns (1-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
What a great rivalry this has become only to be soured by a terrible Browns team and an underachieving Steelers team. Two weeks ago, I would have told you this might have been a little close. But after seeing the Browns’ poor performance last week, the Steelers should look more like they did last year.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Cleveland 10
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 14
Carolina Panthers (1-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5)
Remember in years past when this NFC South matchup was the game to see? What happened? Now these teams have both fallen into mediocrity — or, in the Bucs’ case — defectuosity (yeah, it’s word… look it up). Regardless, one of these teams has to win and the Panthers have just a few more weapons to get the job done.
Prediction: Carolina 21, Tampa Bay 20
Actual Score: Carolina 28, Tampa Bay 21
Kansas City Chiefs (0-5) at Washington Redskins (2-3)
There won’t be much to watch in this one. The Chiefs are playing worse now than they were last year and aren’t showing any signs of improvement. The Redskins are a bad team with little to no direction. I think they’ll sneak out of this one with a win, though.
Prediction: Washington 21, Kansas City 16
Actual Score: Kansas City 14, Washington 6
Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) at Oakland Raiders (1-4)
The Raiders may have home field advantage, but they don’t have nearly enough weapons to put a halt to this streaking Eagles team. Philly should come out and dominate from the beginning and finish strong.
Prediction: Philadelphia 34, Oakland 13
Actual Score: Oakland 13, Philadelphia 9
Arizona Cardinals (2-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-3)
The Seahawks have looked good at home and they obliterated a Jaguars team that, while not exactly a stellar team, was playing good football the prior two weeks. The Cardinals are always dangerous with the football but the defense is not playing as well as they need to.
Prediction: Seattle 23, Arizona 20
Actual Score: Arizona 27, Seattle 3
Tennessee Titans (0-5) at New England Patriots (3-2)
It’s unbelievable that the Titans are on their way to beginning the season 0-6, especially after the kind of season they put together last year. They’ll head into their bye week after this game with their tails between their legs and everybody in the locker room wondering, “Why?”
Prediction: New England 24, Tennessee 14
Actual Score: New England 59, Tennessee 0
Buffalo Bills (1-4) at New York Jets (3-2)
The Bills are going from bad to worse and I’d be shocked if Dick Jauron was not fired at the end of the year, if not sooner. The Jets have dropped two straight, but this is the week that they should get back on track and do so in convincing, confidence-building fashion.
Prediction: New York Jets 28, Buffalo 13
Actual Score: Buffalo 16, New York Jets 13
Chicago Bears (3-1) at Atlanta Falcons (3-1)
The Bears’ best shot to win this game is to get into a shootout. The defense hasn’t played well for a full 60 minutes during any game this season. If the Bears get into a hole, as they’ve done in the first quarter all season, the Falcons will bury them. As long as Cutler is under center, the Bears have a shot to keep games close, which is what I expect them to do in this one, but Atlanta should pull away at the end.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, Chicago 23
Actual Score: Atlanta 21, Chicago 14
Denver Broncos (5-0) at San Diego Chargers (2-2)
I admitted last week that if the Broncos defeated the Patriots, I’d give them their due credit. Well, it happened, and I have to say that I was convinced the Broncos are a good team. Not great. Not as good as a 5-0 record would indicate, such as the legitimately undefeated Giants, Saints, and Vikings. But they have a solid defense and an offense that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Before I’m completely convinced, I want to see them win a divisional game of this magnitude on the road. I don’t think they get it done.
Prediction: San Diego 20, Denver 17
Actual Score: Denver 34, San Diego 23