I was so far off on my Detroit Lions prediction in last week’s column that I feel like I went 0-for-5. But the Bengals’ miraculous comeback, San Francisco’s surprising second half display and New England’s demolition of the Cowboys salvaged an almost disastrous week.
Week 6’s slate of games is headlined by a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. While the sequel to last season’s ‘Deflategate’ scandal certainly promises to be the game of the week, let’s take a look at four more intriguing match-ups as well.
Week 5 Record: 2-2-1
Season Record: 15-9-1
DENVER BRONCOS (-4) at Cleveland Browns
I haven’t hid my lack of faith in Peyton Manning. But despite consistently disappointing performances by the Hall of Fame quarterback, I believe he plays a bit better this week. Joe Haden can’t lock down Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas simultaneously, so one of them should have a huge game. The Broncos defense will continue to make plays, and should capitalize on the always-questionable decision making of Josh McCown. Unless Gary Barnidge makes three more equally ridiculous catches to last week’s “look ma, no hands” touchdown reception, this one won’t be close.
Prediction: DEN (27) – CLE (14)
CINCINNATI BENGALS (-3) at Buffalo Bills
Who would have ever thought heading into the season that Percy Harvin would be the only guy to stay healthy for Buffalo? Between the injuries to LeSean McCoy, Tyrod Taylor, Sammy Watkins and Karlos Williams, I’m not sure the Bills even have a full roster. While Buffalo will certainly be short-handed, Cincinnati will be coming at full force. The Bengals are coming off their unbelievable 4th quarter comeback victory over the Seahawks and should be feeling extremely confident. Playing a Bills team led by E.J. Manuel and other Arena Football League talent, the Bengals will move to 6-0 without breaking a sweat.
Prediction: CIN (24) – BUF (10)
CAROLINA PANTHERS (+7) at Seattle Seahawks
It’s so hard to pick against Seattle when they are playing at home, but their offense has been too putrid to expect them to win by more than a touchdown. With two of the stingiest defenses squaring off against each other, this game should be sudden death (first to score, wins) from the get-go. Cam Newton’s struggles against the Seahawks are well-documented, but it’s not like Seattle’s offense has looked dominant this season. Expect this to be a low-scoring field goal battle that Carolina manages to keep close.
Prediction: CAR (13) – SEA (16)
New York Giants at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-4)
This NFC East showdown has plenty at stake, despite it only being Week 6 in the NFL season. With the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys looking completely inept, this game will go a long way in determining the division winner. The Giants barely got by the San Francisco 49ers, and suddenly look much more vulnerable on defense. Philadelphia seemed to figure some things out in their 39-17 romping of the Saints last week, and will carry that momentum into this one. Sam Bradford only throws one red zone interception, and DeMarco Murray complains less than usual to help lead the Eagles to their first division win of the season.
Prediction: NYG (20) – PHI (28)
New England Patriots at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (+7.5)
In what many were expecting to be Tom Brady’s first game of the season, it is actually Andrew Luck who will be returning to the field. The Patriots have looked unstoppable in their first four games, but road favorites of more than a touchdown tend to struggle to cover in the NFL. The Colts will be fired up to have their franchise quarterback return, and surely want revenge after last year’s AFC Championship game. With the football’s inflation level expected to meet league standards, the Patriots will barely squeak out a win in this barn-burner.
Prediction: NE (34) – IND (31)