Welcome to the Chat Sports Week 6 Breakdown! We’ll preview and predict the score of every game being played this weekend, while helping you decide which games are worth watching and which games you shouldn't waste your time with.
NY Giants at Chicago
The New York Giants should be sending thank-you notes to the Jacksonville Jaguars - if it wasn't for the miserable Jags, the G-men would be far and away the worst team in the NFL. Eli Manning has somehow thrown 12 interceptions already - that's more than Tony Romo, Alex Smith, Brandon Weeden, and Michael Vick COMBINED. Eli being terrible wouldn't kill the Giants if they had a rushing game, but they're only getting 56.8 yards per game on the ground - that's LESS THAN HALF of what the Oakland Raiders are putting up.
The once-vaunted Giants defense is also a total mess, giving up 36.4 points per contest. Chicago isn't a great team, but on Thursday night they won't have to be - this one could get ugly. Da Bears in a rout, 35-7.
Sunday – 1:00 Games
Oakland at Kansas City
The Raiders aren't a very good football team, but they're light-years ahead of where anyone expected. A 2-3 record isn't anything to write home about, but they almost shocked the Colts in Indy in week 1 (the game came down to the very last drive) and the loss to Washington would never have happened if Terrelle Pryor had been able to play (there's a very good reason why Matt Flynn is currently unemployed).
Unfortunately for Oakland, none of that changes the fact that Kansas City is a better team with much more talent on both sides of the ball. Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders will make this one interesting, but they don't have enough quality or depth to pull off a road win in Arrowhead. Kansas City wins this game, 28-20.
Cincinnati at Buffalo
Buffalo will start Thad Lewis, who was on their practice squad last weekend, and that should tell you everything you need to know about how this game is going to play out. It's hard to root against a scrappy underdog like the Bills, but if the Bengals can shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots (Tom's first game without throwing a touchdown in approximately 29 years), that can't be very good news for Mr. Lewis, who lost out to Kellen Moore for Detroit's third-string job last season.
Cincinnati's inexplicable 17-6 loss to Cleveland means we won't be confident about picking them for the rest of this season, but betting on a practice squad QB on the road against a good secondary is even less appetizing. Bengals take this one, 21-13.
Detroit at Cleveland
The Browns have won three straight games on the bounce, and we're starting to wonder if the Mayans were just a year early. Of course, the Browns revel in the misery of their fanbase, so they're thinking about trading their one remaining competent offensive player. If Josh Gordon is still around on Sunday, Cleveland has a chance to keep up with the Lions, who still aren't sure if Calvin Johnson will be healthy enough to play.
Detroit looked bad on the road in Green Bay, but no one looks good on the road in Green Bay, so we can't count that against them too heavily. Cleveland has the most underrated defense in the NFL right now, BUT they'll be missing Brian Hoyer for the rest of the season. Brandon Weeden is...well, Brandon Weeden, and that doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. This game could go both ways, but betting against Cleveland hasn't let us down for the past few decades - why stop now? Detroit wins, 24-17.
Carolina at Minnesota
Ugh. This matchup of 1-3 teams might be the worst game in an awful slate of 1:00 matchups. Both these teams feature weapons on offense (Adrian Peterson vs. Cam Newton sounds good on paper, or at least it did in 2011). Both teams have only won against the real bottom feeders (Carolina crushed the Giants, Minnesota barely beat Pittsburgh). The offensive game plan on both sides seems to be "give it to Adrian/Cam and hope he does something cool".
The Vikings now have Josh Freeman as an option at QB, but it doesn't sound like he'll be ready to go by Sunday. That means Matt Cassel (ugh) or Christian Ponder (double ugh) will probably start...and that doesn't bode well for Minnesota's chances. We'll hold our nose and pick the Panthers, but again...ugh. 21-13, Carolina.
Pittsburgh at NY Jets
The Jets are coming off an impressive Monday Night win over the Falcons, and the Steelers are coming off a bye after their first 0-4 start in 45 years. Even with the extra rest, Pittsburgh won't win this game - everyone on the Steelers hates Todd Haley with a passion, and it sounds like Antonio Brown is ready to start actively scoring for the other team if it means Haley gets canned sooner.
The Jets aren't legit contenders - they're more of a fuzzy, feel-good story, and it's kind of nice to see Rex Ryan's team doing okay when everyone thought they'd be 0-5 right now. Pittsburgh is going to get worse before they get better, and while it's going to be weird for the Jets to go into a game as heavy favorites, we don't think they'll have any problems with a Pittsburgh team too busy imploding to play football. New York wins at home, 31-17.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay
As dysfunctional as this 0-4 Bucs team is, there are still three or four teams with more glaring problems. Now that they've cut Josh Freeman loose, Tampa Bay can worry about their other problems - like the lack of an effective ground game (Doug Martin rumbling for 3 yards per carry isn't going to win any football games) or the fact that they have exactly one healthy tight end (rookie Timothy Wright out of Rutgers).
DeSean Jackson might have given the Bucs some bulletin board material by saying he's "too fast" for Darrelle Revis, but even if Revis manages to lock down Jackson (which is unlikely), the Eagles have plenty of other weapons they can hurt Tampa Bay with. LeSean McCoy will have a huge game, and Philly will get back to .500 with a comprehensive 37-16 win.
Green Bay at Baltimore
This is easily the best 1:00 matchup, and unless your team is playing in one of the other 1 p.m. games (in which case, sorry about that), this is the game you should be watching. Both teams had hiccups early in the season, but last week they looked like they'd righted the ship.
This is another tough matchup to get a read on - all we know for sure is that Green Bay will be dangerous if their offense is on the same page. Losing Clay Matthews for a month certainly won't help the Packers on D, but it won't kill them either. Joe Flacco has thrown six interceptions over the last two weeks, so Baltimore's passing game doesn't inspire much confidence (even at home), and the Ravens defense has been almost as unpredictable as their quarterback. We're taking Green Bay in a narrow road win, 27-24, but we aren't putting any money on it.
St. Louis at Houston
Houston looked like a legitimate contender for the AFC South until Matt Schaub suddenly switched bodies with a retired math teacher. Schaub has thrown a pick-six in FOUR STRAIGHT GAMES - and despite the best efforts of Mark Sanchez, that's an NFL record.
A visit from the 2-3 St. Louis Rams might be just what the doctor ordered. The Rams are coming off a big win over Jacksonville (is there any other kind of win over Jacksonville?) and should be the more confident team, but this Houston squad knows they have their backs against the wall and another loss against a bad team (especially at home) will capsize any chances of making it to the playoffs this year. The Rams are ranked 28th in the NFL in rush defense, and the Texans will win this game if they give the ball to Arian Foster and Ben Tate and let them go to work. Houston ends their skid, 31-9.
Sunday – Afternoon Games
Jacksonville at Denver
Ever wanted to see an NFL team score 100 points? This could be your chance. We can't remember a one-sided matchup with this kind of blowout potential in YEARS. The Jaguars just lost one of their four remaining halfway-decent players when OT Luke Joeckel, last year's 2nd overall pick, fractured his ankle over the weekend.
Regular blowouts make for boring television, but this game isn't going to be your garden-variety stomping. If the Broncos are a Ferrari, the Jaguars are a spray-painted shopping cart with one wheel missing and a McCain/Palin bumper sticker. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has every right to say "screw it, we're running nothing but trick plays." Peyton Manning could throw for 800 yards (he probably won't, but only because Denver will be up 50 at halftime). A pissed-off Denver defense (they won't be happy about giving up 48 points to Dallas) could score 28 points all by themselves. The possibilities are tantalizing. We're taking Denver (shocking, we know), 63-3.
Tennessee at Seattle
Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was 0-for-8 with an interception on passes of 15 or more yards against the Chiefs last weekend, and we can imagine Seahawks CB Richard Sherman clapping and jumping up and down in the film room while going through that game tape. This Tennessee offense might have been able to score some points at home against Kansas City, but it won't happen up in Seattle.
The Seahawks dropped a close game in Indy last weekend, and every single player on Seattle's roster came away angry that they didn't leave with a win. Tennessee will be the team that gets punished for Indy's success, and the Seahawks are going to shut the Titans down, 31-3.
Arizona at San Francisco
It's hard to tell who the Cardinals are this season - are they the guys who shut the Panthers down in a 22-6 win, or are they the team that got manhandled by New Orleans 31-7? There are three reasons why the Cardinals are overrated at 3-2: They've beaten up on bad teams, they can't rush the ball (Rashard Mendenhall's 3.2 yards per carry stands out), and Carson Palmer.
Palmer was awful in Oakland, but Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd have masked some of his deficiencies so far. Against the Niners, that won't work (much like it didn't work in New Orleans). The Cards are solid at stopping the run, but this San Francisco team (even without injured wideouts Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree) has too many weapons for them. Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, and Vernon Davis will all have huge games, and San Francisco will take this one, 17-9.
New Orleans at New England
Tom Brady finally had a game without a touchdown pass, but he won't have two of those in a row. The 5-0 Saints have excelled despite an iffy secondary, and this has all the makings of a shootout. The Patriots will finally have Rob Gronkowski back, and the physicality he brings to the table will give the Saints some trouble.
Still, New Orleans has the best offense in the NFL outside of Denver. Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham have been mostly unstoppable, and New England won't be able to keep them quiet. New England's flaws are starting to show (as last week's 13-6 loss in Cincy so helpfully demonstrated), and Bill Belichick's team no longer has the depth of talent to paper over the cracks. The Saints will win this weekend's most interesting matchup, 36-27.
Sunday – Late Game
Washington at Dallas
These NFC East rivalry games are always a blast, but we have a feeling that this one won't be much of a contest. Dallas lost an absolute heartbreaker to the Denver Broncos last weekend, and if Jason Garrett is a remotely competent coach (which isn't a given, but bear with us) the Cowboys will be FIRED UP. Plenty of questions have (rightly) been asked about the Cowboys' mentality in past seasons, but this year's team looks like the most resilient and well-balanced squad they've had in a long time. If Garrett can motivate his way out of a paper bag, the Cowboys should wipe the floor with Washington.
The Redskins know they got lucky in Oakland (Matt Flynn handed them a win on a silver platter), and their defense has been horrendous so far. They'll put some points on the board, but it won't be nearly enough - they'd need eight or nine new starters if they wanted to hang with this Cowboys squad. Dallas runs away with this one, 42-24.
Indianapolis at San Diego
San Diego looked like they'd finally figured out how to win with their roster, but then laid a stink bomb in Oakland on Sunday night. Indianapolis is white-hot, and they've finally integrated T.Y. Hilton into an already-potent offense. Terrelle Pryor was 18/23 against this San Diego secondary, with two touchdowns and no picks, so it seems pretty obvious that Andrew Luck is going to torch these guys.
San Diego's hopes rest on everyone's favorite mentally unstable flamethrower - Philip Rivers. San Diego's training staff has finally wired Antonio Gates back together, and Gates and Rivers have shown flashes of their previous chemistry over the past two weeks. If San Diego can use Gates to move the chains and gets help from their other receivers, they could make this interesting, but that's a tall order against the NFL's 6th-best pass defense. The Colts are going to roll on Monday night, beating San Diego 34-17.
Watchability: BBack to the NFL Newsfeed