The National Football Post’s Matt Bowen makes his picks for the Week 6 action in the NFL.
Kansas City at Washington (-6)
The Chiefs started to look more organized as a football team last week in their overtime loss to Dallas at home, but they are still struggling with their tackling on defense and scoring points will continue to be an issue on Sunday in D.C. Clinton Portis will struggle again to find running room, but Washington finds a way to get that one explosive play in the second half and holds on for the win at home—and Zorn keeps his job for another week.
Redskins 16, Chiefs 10
NY Giants at New Orleans (-3)
You won’t find a bigger early season matchup than this one down in New Orleans between two undefeated teams and two big-name quarterbacks. While Drew Brees and Eli Manning have been great, this game comes down to defense. Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will have a game plan specifically designed to force turnovers and Brees will get enough short fields to work with against a very good Giants defense. I like the Saints any time they play in the Superdome.
Saints 27 Giants 23
Carolina (+3) at Tampa Bay
The Bucs have struggled because the running game has vanished in Tampa. Despite the flashes we saw from Bucs QB Josh Johnson last week, this club will have issues any time it puts the ball up in the air 50 times. Carolina sticks to the running game and plays coverage on defense—forcing Johnson to make plays. Not enough firepower or defense yet in Tampa, as they stay winless at home.
Panthers 17, Buccaneers 13
Houston at Cincinnati (-5)
The question isn’t whether or not the Texans can score points, but whether or not they can play with a physical team like the Bengals. QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson will make some plays, but the Texans aren’t built to win up front in the fourth quarter. Look for Cincy to ride Cedric Benson yet again and control the clock in the second half. I am taking the Bengals to win and stay atop the AFC North.
Bengals 26, Texans 21
Baltimore at Minnesota (-3)
Despite last week’s performance against the Bengals, the Ravens will have to go into Minnesota with a game plan that is designed to stop the running attack of Adrian Peterson. If Baltimore can force the Vikings into third-and-long situations, look for this defense to bring pressure in their sub packages and force Brett Favre to make throws to beat them—with Ed Reed in the middle of the field. The Vikings are tough at home, but the Ravens are too good of a football team to lose three in a row. RB Ray Rice makes a play in the second half to win it for Baltimore.
Ravens 19, Vikings 17
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-14)
The Steelers racked up seven sacks last week in their win over Detroit, and with safety Troy Polamalu coming back to the lineup, this defense once again becomes a play-making unit. The Browns simply do not have enough weapons or solid quarterback play on offense to score points, and Rashard Mendenhall keeps Willie Parker on the bench in a typical Steelers victory at home.
Steelers 20, Browns 3
St. Louis at Jacksonville (-10)
The Jags have been the type of team that seems to be caught in transition. They are up one weekend and down the next, but look for Maurice Jones-Drew to get enough touches to keep him happy and QB David Garrard to have a big day. The Rams just don’t have enough talent on either side of the ball and are averaging less than seven points per game in ’09. I am taking the Jags at home.
Jaguars 29, Rams 10
Detroit at Green Bay (-14)
The Lions have been able to score points this season, but with WR Calvin Johnson not likely to suit up and a questionable Matthew Stafford, I don’t see how the Lions can keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay will be able to move the ball and excel in the return game against a below-average coverage unit for the Lions. I like the Packers to win at home coming off the bye week.
Packers 31, Lions 14
Philadelphia (+14) at Oakland
Donovan McNabb has enough playmakers on offense to have his choice of options every time he drops back to pass, and I don’t expect that to change out in Oakland. The defensive line for the Raiders was keeping them in games, but after last week in New York, they present just another issue for a team that can’t put together a complete game. JaMarcus Russell will be pressured early and McNabb could see some rest in the second half. I am taking Philly to roll.
Eagles 34, Raiders 9
Arizona at Seattle (-3)
With Matt Hasselbeck under center in Seattle, the Seahawks look like a new team. But this game comes down to which team can run the ball in the second half. Arizona is still too pass happy and can’t find a balance with RB Beanie Wells. Neither of these defenses impresses me, but I like Hasselbeck to spread the ball around in the intermediate passing game and for Julius Jones to wear down the Cards in the second half in front of the home crowd.
Seahawks 28, Cardinals 19
Tennessee at New England (-9 ½)
This game looked like a great matchup in August, but the Titans are still struggling on defense and can’t generate enough production on offense to stay in games. Tom Brady hasn’t been able to connect down the field with Randy Moss, but they won’t need it to beat the Titans at home. A steady dose of Sammy Morris in the running game and getting Wes Welker involved early in the passing game should be enough to hold off Tennessee. Chris Johnson of the Titans will be able to break an explosive gain against this Pats defense, but it won’t be enough. Brady and the offense grind out another win.
Patriots 23, Titans 16
Buffalo at NY Jets (-10)
The Jets’ defense looked average against the Dolphins on Monday night because they were beat up front at the point of attack. The Bills, however, don’t have that same talent along the offensive line and still cannot find a way to get WRs Lee Evans and Terrell Owens involved in the vertical passing game. I expect Rex Ryan to challenge his defense and pressure Buffalo QB Trent Edwards all game long, and to use WR Braylon Edwards down the field against the Bills’ Tampa 2 scheme. The Bills drop to 1-5.
Jets 20, Bills 7
Chicago at Atlanta (-3 ½)
I want to pick the Bears, but looking at this game from a scheme perspective, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has the arm strength to thread passes against the Bears’ Cover 2 looks and exploit the middle of the field with TE Tony Gonzalez when the Bears drop seven into coverage. Jay Cutler will put up points against the Falcons’ young defense, but it won’t be enough on the road. I see this game turning into a shootout in primetime, with Ryan and the Falcons going to 4-1.
Falcons 34, Chicago 27
Denver at San Diego (-3)
The problem with San Diego isn’t their ability to score points, but their ability to stop the run with their front seven. Denver’s offensive line is good enough to force the Chargers to bring an eighth defender into the box to stop RB Knowshon Moreno, giving Kyle Orton plenty of room to work on the outside with WRs Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. The Broncos are too hot right now for me to pick against them, and I see them using the same game plan as last week to beat the Bolts on Monday night.
Broncos 23, Chargers 19
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