Check out more from me, including movie reviews & movie trailers, at Archer Avenue (archeravenue.net). Also, follow me on Twitter @OlieCoen for sports & movie talk.
Here are my NFL Week 6 Picks
(7-7 last week, 41-36 for the season)
Bye teams: Vikings, Buccaneers
Den @ SD – The Broncos hit a road bump last week, or should I call it a home bump, losing to the Falcons in Denver in what was a great matchup of strength vs strength. The Denver D played well for the most part, shutting down Matt Ryan & Julio Jones, limiting Atlanta’s #1 scoring offense, and forcing them to run the ball. But when the Bronco offense couldn’t stay on the field, punting the ball time & time again, eventually Atlanta was going to score. Blame the O-line, blame Lynch for not being prepared, but either way this team will be happy to have Siemian back at QB this week as they prepare for a game on short rest. Coach Kubiak won’t be present, he’s having a health issue, but this team will fair well under its coordinators. Denver is still a solid team who should be able to turn it around this week. Especially since their game is against the hapless Chargers, who are quickly running out of ways to lose in the 4th quarter. Let’s hope they have at least one more idea though, so they can use it on Thursday Night and fall to their bitter rivals. I’m looking forward to this color rush game, it should be quite fun.
SF @ Buf – After a rough start to the season, in which I’m barely predicting over .500, I have a fairly good feeling that things are starting to shake out, that teams are revealing what kind of squads they are. We’ve seen either 4 or 5 games from each team, we understand who they are, and although things can surely change, perhaps we have some gauge on 2016 now. I’d like to start picking 2/3 correct per usual, and I hope it can start this week. This game, for example, seems pretty clear. The Niners have lost four straight after winning their opening game, and have looked pathetic in so doing. They make the switch at quarterback, going forward with Colin Kaepernick, and, however you might view the guy politically, he at least gives the team a shot in the arm. The Bills, meanwhile, have won their last three after starting 0-2. They seem to have found a bit of consistency after firing a coordinator, and are perhaps trending in the right direction enough to give fans hope. If we understand these two teams correctly, picking the Bills to win, especially in Buffalo, is an easy choice and might begin a positive process for me.
Jax @ Chi – Here’s about as terrible a matchup as you could conjure up, the hapless Jags against the hapless-er Bears. At least Jacksonville won a game recently, and had a bye week, so perhaps they’ll be ready to string along a couple victories, which will be made all the easier by playing teams like Chicago. The Jags just haven’t lived up to expectations, and the time to hope that they turn it around this season is over. Maybe next year, sure, they have the young talent to do it, but don’t expect anything much out of 2016, even if they can win this crappy game, which I believe they are capable of. The Bears, yeesh, I don’t know where to start. It’s not like they’ve become bad overnight. It’s been a slow process of general decay; first the defense getting old, then the commitment to Cutler looking worse & worse, now the poor coaching choices starting to reveal themselves. It’s been kinda awful, and picking up scraps from other, more successful teams isn’t the way to get back your former glory. Chicago needs to start over with a new regime, QB, recipe, you name it, but that process isn’t starting any time soon.
LA @ Det – I’m not exactly sure how the Rams got to be 3-2, because they aren’t very good. Their coach is bad, their QB is bad, their defense isn’t playing as well as expected, and their young RB is just starting to warm up in his second year. LA is having trouble scoring points, which is a major problem for a team whose defense isn’t playing consistently. And just going by the eye test, this isn’t a special squad, it’s one that’s been a little lucky. I expect that luck to run out soon, and I don’t know if the Cardinals can right the ship enough to challenge anyone for a playoff spot, but when you have Seattle sitting at the top of the division, you need some magic if you want to be around in January. The Lions had a little magic of their own last week, beating the unbeaten Eagles, something I didn’t see as very likely. Detroit scored points against a team that was only allowing 9 a game up until that point, so give Stafford & Co. credit for a job well done. Can they continue that into Week 6? Sure, especially since the Rams are no Eagles and the Lions get to stay at home to prepare. Both teams should leave this game at .500.
Pit @ Mia – With only one blip on their schedule so far, and that being on the road against a Philly team that is now quite respected, the Steelers are having an otherwise Super Bowl caliber season. They look solid on all sides of the ball, this offense is scary, and it just feels like Pittsburgh will be there late in cold weather games deep in the playoffs. With Baltimore sliding back down where they belong, with Cincy playing predictably bad, and with the Browns being, well, you know, the Browns, the AFC North is ready for the Steelers to claim right now. As long as nothing shocking happens, I see Pitt staying at #1 the rest of the season. Miami shouldn’t be a team that can stop them, since so far they haven’t been a team that can stop much of anybody. They’re 1-4 on the season, but it should be said that they’re 1-1 at home, with their only win coming against an AFC opponent in Miami. I don’t think that will be enough, I just think it’s worth noting, and the Steelers should remember that so that they don’t look past this game. That said, I think the Steel Curtain comes down hard on the Dolphins in Week 6.
Cin @ NE – Oh god the Bengals are going to get crushed. This has not been their year, and since not many of my predictions have come true this season, I’ll hang my hat on this one; I knew that Cinci would take a step back. I still thought they might scrape out a playoff win, and the season is far from over, but so far it hasn’t looked good. Dalton and the offense relied heavily on Hue Jackson, like they did Jay Gruden before him, because Marvin Lewis focuses on the defense. Oh, and because he’s a generally awful coach who doesn’t seem to care one way of the other about wins or championships. He seems fine being fine, but perhaps this year will be bad enough to finally get him fired. The Patriots, meanwhile, can do no wrong, winning 3/4 in Brady’s absence, setting the ball on fire when he came back, and probably rolling through this one as well. I hate the Patriots, as do most of the sane football fans in the NFL world, but man are they tough to beat. They cheat a little, game plan a lot, beat you in ways you never even saw coming, and don’t seem to be slowing down. Pats win big here and Bungles fans officially give up.
Car @ NO – Since the Panthers haven’t won on the road this season and the Saints haven’t won at home, something’s got to give. Both of these teams can score, neither can defend, but that’s only surprising for one club, and that’s the Super Bowl Hangover-effected Carolina Panthers. It’s well documented that the loser of the big game has problems the next year, and also that a QB who has that kind of season, especially one who also runs, can’t repeat that performance. But no one expected to Panthers to fall off quite so much, especially on the defensive side of the ball, a former strength that has been embarrassing this year. Not that the Saints are any better, but at least the expectations we had for New Orleans were much lower, allowing us to give them a pass. And, if they can manage to win this game, the Saints have a glimmer of hope, whereas if the Panthers lose, their season is sunk. This game will be a tossup, and Carolina will be playing better behind Cam Newton who returns from a concussion. But I just think Brees has a little magic left in him, and that it just might come out in Week 6.
Bal @ NYG – It’s put up or shut up time for these two teams, both who desperately need to stop the slide before they vault over the edge. The word on Baltimore early in the season was they they were pretenders, winning only because their competition was so poor. But they kept on winning, earned some respect, and then tanked, losing their last two games, coming in now with a 3-2 record. Can they get back on track or is this just the real team, the one that we were waiting to show up? And for the Giants, the same question applies; which team is the real team? I predicted that the G-Men would have an easy season, that Eli would set personal records, that Odell would go off. Absolutely none of that has happened so far, and time is running out. The Giants have lost their last 3, are now 2-3 on the season, and find themselves at the bottom of the NFC East. If they want to stop the bleeding, now would be the time to do it. They’re at home, where they’ve gone 1-1, they get a mediocre team in the Ravens, the pressure is on, and I think this team steps up. Baltimore is 2-o on the road though, albeit against sub par competition.
Cle @ Ten – Eww, what a gross game. I would only watch this game were I paid to do so, and I really, really hope it isn’t on TV here in Ohio, because so far no one has offered me any money. The Browns are more than pathetic, they are cursed, the universe hates them. And, don’t forget, they only hire idiots to make their decisions, so there’s that. When you look at the laundry list of players the Browns could have drafted since they always pick so high, it’s daunting. Someone is a moron, or a lot of someones, but really, those players would probably have failed in Cleveland anyway, since it’s the place talent goes to die. I don’t know what else they could do to be worse, and I don’t know if they’ll ever win a game again. The Titans, who got off to an equally shaky start, are at least improving behind their talented young QB and their solid running game. I’ve said all along that Tennessee should be better than they are, and perhaps they’re just now finding their groove. 2-3 isn’t excellent, and they still need to score points more consistently, which is easier said than done, but this team has a bit of promise.
Phi @ Was – I’m afraid that the proverbial blueprint has been drafted and that now teams know how they might beat the Eagles. Philly looked untouchable early on, with Wentz playing near perfect ball, with the defense playing lights out. I know one game doesn’t mean the team is ruined, but other NFL clubs can now take note of what went right and try to apply that to the next time they see the Eagles. Wentz is still a rookie, the defense has holes, and this team will take more losses before the season is over, they just need to try to hold on to their lead at the top of the division, finish at 10-6 and try to play their best football in the playoffs. I don’t mean to sound defeatist, I just think that the Redskins will find a way to weasel in a win. Washington is hot right now, winning their last three games. They aren’t perfect by any means, but they keep winning unlikely games, keep fighting when no one is picking them. Surprisingly, and the opposite of last year, the Redskins are better on the road than they are at home, giving me pause in this matchup. But I’ll still pick ’em; let’s see how the Eagles handle this week.
KC @ Oak – Many people thought that, if the Broncos stumbled at all, it would be the Chiefs taking over control of the division. But that has not been the case, as Kansas City hasn’t played well enough to be considered anything special at all. They are completely average, going 2-2, with two home wins, two road losses, scoring just about as many points as they allow, and completely underwhelming their opponents. Now, they do get Jamaal Charles back fully this week, which should help, but their running game hasn’t been their problem. This is just a mediocre club, has been ever since the marriage of Smith & Reed, the most boring pair of football minds in the league. The exact antithesis of that? Carr & Del Rio, guys with their pants on fire more often than not. It’s the Raiders, shockingly enough, who find themselves on top of the AFC West after the Broncos drop a game, tied with Denver at 4-1. Oakland can score points, but their defense is awful, showing a chink in the armor of what is amounting to a good team. I think the Raiders win more games, but I think the Broncos ultimately take the division.
Dal @ GB – The Cowboys are the league’s most exciting team right now, with a record of 4-1 and making every game fun to watch. Behind Dak & Zeke, this offense is young, fast, exciting, and can put up some points. The word on the street is that Romo is still the guy in Dallas, but that’s hard to imagine, and even if it’s true, it won’t last long. No, the future is now for the ‘Boys, and the future is bright. The defense is still just OK, which is a concern, but it’s not bad enough to mess up the rhythm that the offense currently has going. Also, Dallas is 2-0 on the road, making this an interesting matchup. The Packers, conversely, are 2-0 at home, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Now that Rodgers is mostly back to being his Rodgers self, things have returned to normal in Green Bay. The Pack are 3-1, playing well, the defense is holding its own, and if the offense isn’t lights out, it’s still pretty good. I like GB to eventually win the division, even though the Vikings are currently sitting at #1. I have to think that Bradford will eventually show his true colors, and that Rodgers will be there to take his place as MVP of the division.
Atl @ Sea – I’d hate to think that the Seahawks could do something that the Broncos couldn’t, that being stop the Falcons high-flying offense, but I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Atlanta has been incredible as of late, even taking their awesome offense on the road to Denver and getting the job done. The Broncos stopped Ryan & Julio, but couldn’t stop Freeman & Coleman, something that Seattle will have to learn from. Actually, Atlanta is 3-0 on the road, 1-1 at home, so their offense travels, which goes against conventional wisdom. Add that to the fact that the Falcons started 6-0 last year only to crash & burn, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a winning streak coming to an end. I think that streak stops right here in Seattle. The Seahawks, coming off a bye and having the luxury of watching how the Broncos lost, will be completely ready for this game. Wilson is feeling better, Graham seems to be himself once again, Michael is running well, the defense only allows around 13 point a game; this is another strength vs strength matchup, but I think the home team gets the job done this time.
Ind @ Hou – This game is an easy one to pick, though there’s no guarantee it goes as smoothly. The Colts haven’t had the season they were hoping for, although their offense has been picking it up somewhat lately. Luck is still getting banged around, the defense is still atrocious, but there’s some hope that the team makes it out of this rut. They’re only a game out of the division lead, play well at home, and can make a run, so don’t count this team out too early. But they are winless on the road this season, winless within the AFC South, and not doing well in the conference in general. I think that trend continues here, despite some improvement from the club as a whole. The Texans can’t be counted out of the playoffs despite a bit of a bumpy road for QB Brock Osweiler. Perhaps he’s not the perfect specimen the Texans thought they got, but he’s still a good young player, it’s not time to give up on him quite yet. Also, this team doesn’t lose at home, so count on them to put up points against a terrible defense and get back on track on top of this division.
NYJ @ Ari – It’s officially time to call it; the Jets are grounded. They are now 1-4, have lost three in a row, just placed Decker on IR, couldn’t possibly hope to catch the Patriots for the division, and probably can’t catch the Broncos/Raiders for the Wild Card. They’re done, and it’s shocking, given how well the defense & Ryan Fitzpatrick did last season. This season though, everything sucks, and it’s time to write this team off. They’ll have a new QB next season, a new few other things too I’m sure; coaches, players, GMs, who knows. This is a pretty major disaster, and in New York that doesn’t fly. The Cardinals were in danger of being a disaster themselves last week, until they pulled out a win behind a backup quarterback and saved their season. Sill, 2-3 isn’t good, but 3-3 will be better, and I fully expect them to reach that goal. David Johnson is a legitimate beast, and Larry Fitz never ages. With Carson Palmer back from injury, this team will look to build on momentum and try to reach the playoffs the hard way. I think they can do it, but winning this game is a definite must.
Check out more from me, including movie reviews & movie trailers, at Archer Avenue (archeravenue.net). Also, follow me on Twitter @OlieCoen for sports & movie talk.