NFL Week 6 Predictions
Week 6 has it all. A rematch of last year's epic NFC Championship game. A clash of coaching cultures in Seattle. Another Sunday of "Will They, Won't They?" at the Meadowlands. Here's how we think these great matchups will go down:
Dallas Cowboys @ Baltimore Ravens
Jeremy Bergman: Ravens 27, Cowboys 14
These aren’t your older cousin’s Ravens, no sir. This Baltimore club is no longer reliant on its defense to win games; in fact, the Ray Lewis-led unit ranks 24th in average yards given up this season. Instead of overpowering opponents with jaw-breaking hits and intense pressure, they’ve become a bend, don’t break unit, which will confuse Tony Romo whose last performance was somewhere beyond bent and broken.
Evan Budrovich: Ravens 28, Cowboys 13
The Baltimore Ravens will stifle Tony Romo all afternoon by forcing numerous turnovers. Joe Flacco is ready to explode, and will use his high-tempo offense to devour the Cowboys defense. Expect the Ravens to run away with this game with the ground game and passing attack.
Aaron Fischman: Ravens 27, Cowboys 24
Coming off a bye week, with the embarrassing Week 4 Monday night defeat fresh in their minds, the Cowboys will be the trendy pick. I just don’t see it happening. Running back DeMarco Murray should have a decent game, but it’s worth noting that he’s averaging just 35.3 rushing yards over his last three games.
Jacob Freedman: Ravens 20, Cowboys 16
After throwing five interceptions on Monday Night Football, Tony Romo and the Cowboys return back this week to face the Ravens in Baltimore. That would seem like a difficult match-up, but the Ravens looked downright pedestrian last week in their SEC-esque 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. I expect Demarcus Ware to make Joe Flacco’s day uncomfortable, the Ravens running game will step up and lead the squad to a gritty win.
Max Meyer: Cowboys 27, Ravens 21
The Cowboys are coming off their bye, and off a very embarrassing loss to the Bears. The Ravens haven't looked very impressive this season, as evidenced by their 9-6 win against the lowly Chiefs. Tony Romo will turn it around against a defense that has not made the same impact as in years past.
Law Murray: Ravens 16, Cowboys 13
The Ravens have never lost to the Cowboys (3-0) in franchise history, and though I'm not expecting two 4th quarter TD runs of 75+ yards like the last time these two teams met, I do believe we will see more of RB Ray Rice in an effort to keep the Ravens defense off the field. Of course, when the Ravens defense is on the field, they'll be looking to force the Cowboys' dysfunctional offense into more errors. The Ravens have only allowed 2 TD passes so far this season after allowing the fewest TD passes in the league in 2011 (11).
Matthew Tufts: Ravens 20, Cowboys 17
Four of the Raven's first five games this season have been determined by seven points or less; expect this game to be similar. Despite their poor reputation, the Cowboys have one of the best passing offenses and defenses in the league. They will stay in this game until the end, but their lack of a running game, combined with Baltimore's ability to use Ray Rice, will keep the Cowboys from being able to control the clock.
Bergman: Patriots 20, Seahawks 9
I believe in Tom Brady. I believe in Bill Belichick. I believe in the 12th Man. I do not believe in Russell Wilson. In what will be the biggest game of his young career, Wilson will slip and slide farther away from maintaining his starting role on a wet Sunday in Seattle, overwhelmed by the pressure brought by his draftmates Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower.
Budrovich: Patriots 17, Seahawks 16
In a tight affair, Tom Brady will carry his team back against the 12th man for the victory. Expect Rob Gronkowski to gash the Seahawks elite secondary, giving Brady the security blanket to lead a late game-winning drive. Russell Wilson has struggled over the last few weeks and will continue to do so against the Pats improved pass rush.
Fischman: Patriots 24, Seahawks 17
Seattle won’t wow you with its offense. It’s a scrappy team that plays suffocating defense and tends to win close games at home. If Aaron Hernandez plays, the Patriots will win. If he doesn’t, I’m taking Seattle.
Freedman: Patriots 24, Seahawks 19
The last time a Super Bowl favorite came to Seattle, we ended up with the regular NFL officials back. What big changes will we see if the Seahawks pull off an upset again? Bill Belichick in a suit on the sidelines? Pipe dreams aside, I don’t see magic in Seattle happening again this week. The Patriots offense has actually been consistently good in this young season, and I expect Tom Brady to lead a balanced(!) Pats offense to a 5-1 start.
Meyer: Patriots 31, Seahawks 17
The crowd will be a factor against the Patriots' no-huddle offense, but the Patriots have too many weapons to not succeed. I think this will be Russell Wilson's last game starting as well, because Seahawks' fans will be booing when Wilson struggles against the improved Patriots' defense.
Murray: Patriots 16, Seahawks 10
This game has so much intrigue. For one, Pete Carroll finally gets to face his former NFL employer and the man who replaced him in New England, Bill Belichick. Second, Tom Brady's TD pass streak might be in some jeopardy against a secondary that has allowed only 3 TD passes and a league-low 5.4 yards per pass attempt. Throw in the 12th man and a defensive front that has speed (16 sacks) and muscle (allowing only 3.2 yards a rushing attempt), and you can see where this gets tricky for New England. I'll pick New England to pull out a close game if only because the Patriots are a poor bet to struggle defensively against rookie QB Russell Wilson and former Bills RB Marshawn Lynch.
Tufts: Patriots 31, Seahawks 21
The Patriots offense has really come alive in the past few games, scoring 30 or more points in their past three games. The Seahawks have not scored over 30 points in any game this season, putting a lot of pressure on the Seattle defense. Seattle won't be able to generate enough pressure on Tom Brady to stay in this game, but they will keep it from becoming a major blowout.
Bergman: 49ers 34, Giants 19
San Francisco has been pining for this rematch with the Super Bowl champs ever since You-Know-Who muffed that punt last year. And this time, the Niners are the better team, the much better team. Playing at home with an explosive offense that dropped 600 yards on Buffalo last week, San Francisco will have no problem moving the ball on the G-Men’s secondary. All that and I haven’t even mentioned the San Fran defense yet…
Budrovich: 49ers 17, Giants 14
These two teams are dominating in separate fashions but on this week, the Niners top-ranked rushing attack will win out. Eli Manning will continue his torrid passing trend, which will keep his team in the contest. Ahmad Bradshaw will not repeat his 200-yard performance this week against the elite 49ers defense. The Giants defense will also wreak havoc on the recently hot Alex Smith, making this game a tight defensive battle.
Fischman: 49ers 28, Giants 20
I’m excited to see the third-best passing offense (309 yards/game) take on the second-best passing defense (181 yards/game). It’s also a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game. Expect San Francisco to disrupt Eli Manning’s passing attack. He’ll get 240 yards, but he won’t enjoy himself. While Alex Smith’s middle finger injury is “very much of a concern,” according to coach Jim Harbaugh, the running game and defense will be enough to lead San Francisco to the home W.
Freedman: 49ers 21, Giants 17
*Insert bit about revenge and unfinished business here*. The Giants passing offense looks to chugging along, with Victor Cruz and company salsa dancing their way into opponents’ end zones with ease. The TD train stops here. The 49ers rank second in the NFL in passing defense and have the defensive personnel on the line to make Eli Manning uncomfortable all day. The 49ers will reverse the result of last January’s NFL Title Game and take this one at home.
Meyer: Giants 24, 49ers 21
There were two incredibly close games between these teams last season, and I don't expect this game to be decided by more than a field goal. The Giants always thrive when they are road underdogs because coach Tom Coughlin always presses the right buttons. Expect Eli Manning to have a big fourth quarter.
Murray: 49ers 26, Giants 21
The Giants are a drastically different offensive football team when playing against a defense with a clue. While they have obliterated bad teams offensively (41 points against TB, 36 points at CAR, 41 points against CLE), they were one-dimensional against the Cowboys and Eagles. The 49ers haven't slipped defensively, and all of those ridiculous acquisitions for skill players, including former Giants WR Mario Manningham and RB Brandon Jacobs, was with NFC Championship revenge in mind. Whether or not Jacobs is active for the first time this season, expect the Giants front seven, a favorite of all running backs, to see plenty of the 49ers run game.
Tufts: 49ers 28, Giants 17
San Francisco has rolled in their past two games since being upset by Minnesota, largely because of the number one ranked rushing attack in the NFL and the second best pass defense in the league. The Giants have also been able to put up some big numbers on offense this year, but have been led by their passing game. Look for the 49ers to turn this game into an old-fashioned ground and pound matchup, and to come out with the win thanks to a great running game and shutdown defense.
Bergman: Texans 27, Packers 21
As the anti-Denny Green would say, “They’re not who we thought they were!” The Green Bay Packers – 15-1 last year – are 2-3 through five games and 0-2 on the road. They can’t close – see last week. They can’t contain a balanced offense – see the Niners game. Safe to say, the Pack are in trouble, with no discount-double-check in sight to cling to. In other news, J.J. Swatt is good, real good.
Budrovich: Packers 24, Texans 14
In the upset of the week, Aaron Rodgers will lead his Green Bay Packers to a sound victory over the Houston Texans. The loss of Brian Cushing will be exposed this week as Rodgers will dissect the Texans defense and prove why he is still the best QB in the league. The Packers defense will improve from last week’s late game debacle by limiting Arian Foster. This will allow Clay Mathews to put relentless pressure on Matt Schaub, eliminating their play-action passing game.
Fischman: Texans 31, Packers 24
Cushing’s injury could significantly hurt the Texan defense. The linebacker, who currently leads Houston in tackles, will have to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Because of Cushing’s absence I’m tempted to pick the Packers, but Green Bay’s secondary is horrendous, it is the most penalized team in the NFL and the Texans still look to be pretty balanced.
Freedman: Texans 28, Packers 24
Call me retro, but I love me a balanced offense. The Texans have two of the best skill players in the league with Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, while the Packers running game is bringing out Alex Green and James Starks. I'm not sold. Greg Jennings is out again and Jermichael Finley is banged-up, so the Packers invincible passing offense will be hampered once again. The Texans defense will miss Brian Cushing sorely, but will step up and limit an increasingly-less impressive Packers offensive attack.
Meyer: Texans 28, Packers 24
When running back Cedric Benson went down for the Packers, their offense stalled. He's out this week, and Aaron Rodgers will have a tough time leading a one-dimensional offense against an elite Texans' defense. Also, the Texans' pass rush led by JJ Watt will have a field day against a weak Packers' offensive line.
Murray: Texans 28, Packers 24
I wasn't sure about this game until I thought about what we just saw out of the Packers this past Sunday. The Colts, high on ChuckStrong emotion, came out of halftime to snowball Green Bay. If the Packers had issues with Andrew Luck to Reggie Wayne and a relatively pedestrian running game, how will they fare against the Texans' triplets of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Arian Foster? And while it remains to be seen how the Texans defense will look without ILB Brian Cushing (ACL), just remember that the Packers weren't looking great at RB even before the injury to Cedric Benson.
Tufts: Texans 24, Packers 13
The Texans defense has been phenomenal this year, led by defensive end J.J. Watt. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense have been lackluster so far this season, and are coming off a disappointing loss to Indianapolis. Expect the Texans' D-line to pressure Aaron Rodgers against a Packers' offensive line that has surrendered over four sacks per game on average.
Bergman: Broncos 32, Chargers 28
Save for that one embarrassment against Atlanta, the Chargers were surprisingly competitive in September; but recently, they have slipped. Denver has lost one more game than their AFC West rivals, but at least they’ve been in every game that they’ve dropped. This one will be tight down to the wire, but I expect the Neck to run a perfect two-minute drill to close out the game and supplant himself and the Broncos atop the division.
Budrovich: Broncos 34, Chargers 27
In the matchup for AFC West supremacy, expect the Denver Broncos to take home the victory. The Chargers played poorly last week and looked more like the team of 2011. Expect that trend to continue against the Broncos. Peyton Manning will put up huge numbers, which will be just enough to defeat his counterpart Phillip Rivers.
Fischman: Broncos 30, Chargers 27
These AFC West rivals are each coming off a loss. If Willis McGahee can hang on to the ball this time, the Broncos will be in good position to notch a road win against the Chargers. Keep an eye on Ryan Matthews, however. The Charger RB may just be hitting his stride after a strong performance last week. Then again, he did play the Saints, so I’ll reserve judgment for now.
Freedman: Chargers 31, Broncos 27
It's time for this week's edition of Good Chargers/Bad Chargers. Despite losing to the Saints last week, the Chargers showed semblances of a running game with Ryan Mathews racking up 139 offensive yards to go with balanced performance from the wide receiving crew. Peyton Manning will get his, but I'm going with the Chargers to defend home turf (for once) and leave the Broncos stumbling at 2-4.
Meyer: Broncos 24, Chargers 17
This was the game I had the most difficulty choosing, but I simply cannot trust the Chargers against good teams. I just see Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil to have a monstrous game against a beat up Chargers' offensive line.
Murray: Chargers 27, Broncos 24
The Chargers lost to the Broncos in OT the last time these two teams met, but before that, the Chargers had beaten the Broncos four straight times. And don't think the Peyton Manning factor helps the Broncos all that much, as Manning has lost to Ryan Leaf's former team five of the last six times, including twice in the playoffs. The game is in San Diego, which should do the Chargers some good after basically being served up a loss as soon as it became clear that Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome would double as a Drew Brees celebration event. The key for this game will be the Chargers offense getting off to a fast start against an underwhelming Broncos defense; they need to get Ryan Mathews well over 20 touches.
Tufts: Chargers 24, Broncos 20
Both teams come into this contest after suffering tough defeats in Week 5. Peyton Manning has historically struggled against the Chargers, but gets his first chance to face them with a new team. In the end the running game will make the difference however, and San Diego will expose the same holes in the Broncos defense that Stevan Ridley of the New England Patriots revealed last week.
Law Murray 11-4
Jacob Freedman 18-8
Matthew Tufts 18-8
Max Meyer 17-9
Evan Budrovich 15-11
Aaron Fischman 15-11
Jeremy Bergman 14-12