NFL: Week 4 Picks

5 undefeated teams remain as we head into week 4 of the NFL season.  I went 9-7 a week ago, bringing my season total to 26-22.

Bye Week: Philadelphia and Green Bay

Thursday Night Football

  • Dolphins @ Bengals: Miami barely squeaked by the Browns last week, while the Bengals were beat down by the defending champs at home.  The Dolphins got a big day from Jarvis Landry, but inconsistency continues to plague Ryan Tannehill, who threw a pick six in the win. Cincinnati got their running game going, but still lost to 1-2 for the first time in five years.  After two very good weeks, Andy Dalton couldn’t do much against the Broncos defense. I like the Bengals at home with another good rushing game to get their second win of the season. CINCINNATI WINS

Sunday Morning Football 

  • Colts @ Jaguars: London here they come! Indianapolis got their first win of the season last week, while Jacksonville is still looking for theirs.  Andrew Luck has the uncanny ability to turn a bad day into a big day passing the ball, but the Jaguars defense isn’t the problem so far, so he’ll need help.  Blake Bortles on the other hand, has been pretty awful for Jacksonville in his third year under center. So what happens this weekend across the pond? Give me a cleaner day from Luck to lift the Colts. INDIANAPOLIS WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Bills @ Patriots: Three different quarterbacks have started for New England, but that hasn’t stopped the winning.  And as for the Bills, they got their first win over a team many think, myself included, are a playoff team destined for a deep run.  Both teams got big two-touchdown games out of their number 1 running backs, so look for another day of running the clock. The Patriots have to get through one more week without Tom Brady, and while they’ve done a great job doing so, and are very, very good at home, I’m taking the road team in this one. BUFFALO WINS
  • Titans @ Texans: It was a very bad week for Houston, who not only lost their Thursday game versus New England 27-0, they learned that JJ Watt re-injured his back and will be out the rest of the year.  Tennessee’s week wasn’t much better, as they scored just 10 points in their loss to Oakland. Both teams enter action having scored the same amount of points through 3 games, but of course that’s skewed with the Texans O-fer last weekend. Marcus Mariota and Brock Osweiler have both thrown 4 interceptions so far this season, so whoever can limit mistakes has the edge. A Titans win puts them in a tie for the division early.  But I don’t think they get it, because I like the Texans skill position players better. HOUSTON WINS
  • Lions @ Bears: The Lions are 1-2, but haven’t struggled in the passing game, as Matthew Stafford has found a new weapon in Marvin Jones after Calvin Johnson called it a career in the off-season.   The silver lining there for the 0-3 Bears is that their defense has actually done okay against the pass so far this season.  Chicago got a pretty good game out of Brandon Hoyer, who finished 30-49 for 317 yards, though most of that came with the game out of hand already. Both teams have the ability to get the points in the air, and with two middling defenses, that shouldn’t be a problem.  So this game will be won in the trenches, and the edge there lies with the Lions. DETROIT WINS
  • Panthers @ Falcons: Carolina is another team I thought would have a great season, but has disappointed so far.  Thanks to the struggles of the Panthers and the rest of the NFC South, Atlanta finds themself atop the division early on in the season.  This dispite allowing 31, 28 and 32 points in their first three games.  The Falcons may not be getting sustained success in their ground game early, they are getting it when it counts.  Tevin Coleman has just 110 yards on the ground, but has 4 rushing touchdowns, including 3 on Sunday in New Orleans. Carolina entered action red-hot at home dating back to 2014, but we shut down by a red-hot Vikings defense a week ago.  I still believe in the Panthers defense, and as hot as Atlanta has been, I think Carolina gets the win on the road. CAROLINA WINS
  • Seahawks @ Jets: The good news for Jets fans? Ryan Fitzpatrick can only be better than he was a week ago. The bad news? He has to be a lot better against the top defense in the league. After scoring just 3 points against L.A. in week 2, the Seahawks exercised some demons putting up 37 against the Niners.  Russell Wilson was hobbled in the game, but still managed to leave with a nice lead.  Big games from Christine Michael and Doug Baldwin helped get the offense back on track.  New York can solace in the fact that they have had a pretty good run game all season, and while some of it came in garbage time, Seattle did allow the Niners to get over 130 yards on the ground, finding pay dirt twice.  This shouldnt be as ugly for the Jets as it was last week, but it will still be a loss. SEATTLE WINS
  • Raiders @ Ravens: Baltimore finds itself among the undefeated teams heading into week 4, in large part thanks to their defense and a good day from kicker Justin Tucker.  The Ravens are second in total defense through 3 weeks of play.  Their opponents won their 2nd game by  forcing three turnovers, with a sack after entering week 3 having allowed the Saints and Falcons to walk all over them.  So based on defenses, Baltimore should have an easy win.  But I actually like Oakland’s offense a lot more, and as someone who thinks this is a playoff team, I’ll take the Raiders in the upset. OAKLAND WINS
  • Browns @ Redskins: Cleveland should’ve gotten their first win of the season in Miami a week ago, but an inability to stop the air attack, and three missed field goals left them at 0-3. They gave themselves a shot, but couldn’t take it.  Cody Kessler’s first career start wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good for Cleveland, though at this point, coming out healthy is huge for the Browns. Washington did get their first win, taking down the Giants on the road. After a couple lackluster offensive weeks, Kirk Cousins let it loose and got a number of big plays in the passing game to help get that first win and move back in the right direction to defend their NFC East title.  So can the Browns get their first win this week? Yes. Will they? I don’t think so. They stayed in last week thanks to mistakes by Tannehill, but Cousins won’t make those same mistakes. WASHINGTON WINS

Sunday 4/425PM Games

  • Broncos @ Buccaneers: The Superbowl Champs are showing no signs of slowing down as they look to start the season 4-0.  Denver got off to a slow start last week against the Bengals, but came on strong late thanks to a big day from rookie quarterback Trevor Siemian.  Siemian threw four touchdown passes, including two in the fourth quarter for the win.  Not to be outdone, the Broncos are a top flight defense that held down Andy Dalton and their rushing attack.  They’ve got another tough test when they take on Jameis Winston this weekend.  The Bucs 2nd year quarterback is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes so far with 8, though he has thrown six picks to.  It won’t be a blowout, none of Denver’s games really have been, but it will be another win for the Broncos. DENVER WINS
  • Rams @ Cardinals: I’m shocked at the start the Cardinals are having at just 1-2. Carson Palmer has had a bad TD-turnover ratio through 3 weeks.   Arizona isn’t getting quite out of David Johnson on the ground, while their defense is allowing the 5th most rushing yards per game.  This is as good a week as any to get back to what they want to do in all phases as they take on their division rival Rams, who find themselves tied atop the division at 2-1.  Los Angeles has rebounded nicely from a shutout on opening day, winning their last two games.  The Rams tend to play up or down to their opponents, evident by a 9-3 home win over Seattle and a 37-32 shootout on the road in Tampa Bay.  Going off those results,  I’ll take the Cardinals at home in what should be a close game throughout between these two West foes. ARIZONA WINS
  • Cowboys @ Niners: Dallas couldn’t have asked for more from rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot through three weeks.  The Tony Romo-less Cowboys were a game-winning field-goal away from being 3-0 right now. Dez Bryant has a hairline fracture in his knee but is still expected to play this weekend.  San Francisco was manhandled in week 3, and still isn’t making a change back to Colin Kaepernick.  The biggest thing the Niners have going for them is Carlos Hyde has looked pretty good.  I like what the Caowboys have done this season, but I have a feeling about San Fran this week. It might be a bad feeling, but I’m rolling with it. SAN FRANCISCO WINS
  • Saints @ Chargers: It’s still early, but the Saints need to start picking up some wins quickly if they want to make the playoffs as I predicted they would as a wildcard team in the NFC.  The offense hasn’t been the problem.  Drew Brees is already over a 1,000 yards passing, with an 8-1 touchdown to interception ratio, though that one interception last week was a fourth quarter pick six for Brees.  New Orleans defense hasn’t been been able to stop anyone, as they’ve allowed the 2nd most total yards.  Worst at stopping the run, that’s where the Chargers will need to take advantage this week.  But without Danny Woodhead, San Diego needs Melvin Gordon to get going, so this is the perfect opportunity for that.  I like Philip Rivers, but I like Drew Brees more.  Give me the road team to get win number 1 this week. NEW ORLEANS WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Chiefs @ Steelers: What a defensive performance put on by the Chiefs this past week! Two defensive touchdowns and six interceptions helped Kansas City get the easy win over the Jets.  The offense wasn’t great, but they didn’t need to be with that showing on defense.  Alex Smith continued to show his game management skills, and why Travis Kelce is one of the better tight ends in the league right now. They’ve got a desperate Steelers team thsi week, who didn’t score a touchdown in a week 3 beatdown by the Eagles.  After two very good weeks, DeAngelo Williams was stymied on the ground, so the rushing attack will gladly welcome back Le’Veon Bell from suspension this week. The biggest test for the Kansas City defense will be stopping Antonio Brown, but I don’t think it will matter much even if he does have a big day. KANSAS CITY WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Giants @ Vikings: This should be a battle of two unbeatens, but a late game collapse left the Giants at 2-1 heading into today.  Too many penalties, a couple late turnovers and allowing Washington to open up the field multiple times led to the home loss for New York.  They lost Shane Vereen to a triceps injury as well.  Eli Manning and company need to do more in the passing game, and they have the capability with three wide receivers.  The bad news for New York is that the Vikings are running on all cylinders right now.  Their defense has been relentless through three weeks, and despite losing starting QB Teddy Bridgewater before the season started, the offense has been very good.  Sam Bradford has come in and fit in better in two weeks then he’s done in the first few seasons of his career.  It’s going to be tough for the Giants on the road, but I like New York will figure things out and get back in the win column.  NEW YORK WINS
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NFL: Week 3 Picks

We’ve reached week 3 of the season, and still have 8 undefeated and 8 winless teams. There have also been a lot of big injuries early that will have a big impact on week 3 and beyond.  As for my picks, I’m 18-14 through 2 weeks. Here’s what I’m thinking going into week 3.

Thursday Night Football

  • Texans @ Patriots: Jimmy Garoppolo left with a shoulder injury for New England, who still managed to move to 2-0.  This was thanks in large part to Garoppolo’s 3 touchdown passes before his injury as well as a big performance from LeGarrett Blount in the run game. The Texans took down the Chiefs on the strength of their defense to move to 1-1, a stark difference from their 33-0 loss to Kansas City in the playoffs.  Without Garoppolo, I think the Texans will do enough to get another win to start off the week 3 action. HOUSTON WINS

Sunday 1pm Games

  • Ravens @ Jaguars: Baltimore got very lucky in week 2, as they overcame a 20-0 1st quarter deficit to improve to 2-0.  Cleveland never scored again, while Joe Flacco brought his team back with a 25-45, 302 yard performance.  Their opponents have been disappointing to me so far.  While I didn’t think the Jaguars were going to make the playoffs this season, I thought they’d be better than they’ve shown, starting 0-2 again after They crossed midfield only six times and committed three turnovers. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Lions @ Packers: Both teams enter 1-1 after losing in week 2, and are looking to keep pace with the 2-0 Vikings.  The Packers lost their game in the 4th quarter, turning the ball over twice, while allowing Rodgers to be sacked 5 times. Detroit also lost their game in the 4th quarter when they were outscored 13-0 by the Titans, including a 93-yard game winning drive.  The Lions didn’t have a go to back in week 2, losing Ameer Abdullah to an injury.   So who gets back in the win column this week? I’ll take the Packers at home with a much-needed big day from Eddie Lacy. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Redskins @ Giants: Washington won the NFC East a year ago, but have opened up this season 0-2.  Struggles in the red zone and an inability to force turnovers meant a loss in a back-and-forth affair with Dallas last week. New York’s offense moved up and down the field pretty easily on Sunday, but also struggled in the redzone, and had too many turnovers in the 1st half.  But the defense and special teams stepped up and they moved to 2-0. So who takes this division matchup?  Give me the home team to get over their redzone struggles and take advantage of Eli Manning’s league leading completion percentage, which should be even better as the Giants receiving core dropped at least 5 balls in week 2. NEW YORK WINS
  • Browns @ Dolphins: For the 5th week in a row (dating back to last season), Cleveland will be starting a different QB.  Someone should tell them this isn’t baseball, there’s no starting rotation in football.  Even with the QB carousel, the Browns almost, and should have, pulled out their first win in week 2.  They were up 20-2 on the Ravens, thanks in big part to their ground attack, but fell late.  Miami isn’t in any better a position than their week 3 opponents, as they enter action at 0-2 as well.  The Dolphins were down big early to the Pats, but made a comeback after Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury.  Cleveland will be in this game until the end because Miami has had issues stopping the run early.  But even of Isaiah Crowell goes big on the ground, I still think they pull out the win at home. MIAMI WINS
  • Vikings @ Panthers: Minnesota will now be without their starting QB and running back for the rest of the season after Adrian Peterson went down in their game on Sunday night. The Vikings defense looked stong against Aaron Rogers in week 2. As for Carolina, they rebounded offensively in week 2, but they still struggled a bit on defense, allowing the Niners to score 27.  They’ll be without their running back Jonathan Stewart, but were picked up by Fozzy Whittaker on the ground.  Despite the 27 points allowed, I like the Panthers chances of stopping Sam Bradford and the new Vikings weapon and league receiving yards leader Stefon Diggs. CAROLINA WINS
  • Broncos @ Bengals: Andy Dalton has gotten off to a nice start this season, leading the league with 732 passing yards, so here’s a good test for the Broncos league leading defense.  CJ Anderson is having a good start to the season, and we’ve seen the Bengals give up the most rushing yards per game to start the season, so he should be able to help eat a lot of clock for Denver. DENVER WINS
  • Cardinals @ Bills: Arizona rebounded from a tough week 1 loss by handily beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Cardinals led the league in total offense, while the Bills dropped to 0-2 despite putting up 31 points of their own in week 2. Buffalo has let their offensive coordinator go, so they really need this game.  Too bad I don’t think they’ll get it.  Look for a big game from running back Daniel Johnson. ARIZONA WINS
  • Raiders @ Titans: Oakland has not been able to stop anyone through two weeks, something I wasn’t expecting, allowing 70 points so far.  Tennessee has actually done a very nice job on defense.  Both teams are 1-1 heading into this game, but I still like the Raiders better.  The Titans offense hasn’t shown the big play ability the Raiders have, so Oakland should be able to hold them down better than they did with New Orleans and Atlanta. OAKLAND WINS

Sunday 4/425pm Games

  • Rams @ Buccaneers: LA’s defense showed up in week 2, Tampa’s did not.  The difference between these two teams is the offense.  While the Bucs went from scoring 4 TDs to 1, I feel more confident about their offense than the Rams, who have scored just 9 points in two games.  The best chance the Rams have is if their defense can do what it did a week ago, and good game out of Todd Gurley. That being said, I’ll take the home team in this one. TAMPA BAY WINS
  • 49ers @ Seahawks: This is a big (albeit early) NFC West battle between two 1-1 teams.  San Francisco followed up a surprise week 1 win with a defensive breakdown against Carolina.  Seattle had one of their worst offensive games in this recent stretch of Superbowl quality teams, scoring just a field goal against the L.A. Rams. I can’t see the Seahawks being held down again, especially by the Niners.  Russell Wilson should be able to dominate in this one. SEATTLE WINS
  • Steelers @ Eagles:  I never thought this would be a game where both teams have a chance to move to 3-0, but here we are.  DeAngelo Williams has been huge for Pittsbrgh in the abscense of Le’Veon Bell, who is out one more week due to suspension. Philadelphia has gotten about as good as you can ever hope to from a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz, who hasn’t turned the ball over yet. It should be a good game, but I will go with the experience in this one. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Jets @ Chiefs: Two teams I picked to make the playoffs in the AFC face off in Kansas City this weekend.  New York picked up their first win last week, thanks to the offense.  Off-season acquisition Matt Forte finished with 100 yards rushing, and three rushing touchdowns. Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall both finished with 100 receiving yards as well.  The Jets defense wasn’t as impressive as it was week 1.  The Chiefs hope that’s the case again this week, as they couldn’t get much of anything started against Houston. A lot went right for New York last week, and I can’t see them doing quite that well against Kansas City’s defense as they did against Buffalo.  If this were a home game for the Jets I might choose differently, but it’s a home game for the Chiefs, so I’ll go with them this week.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Chargers @ Colts: San Diego is 2-0, Indianapolis is 0-2.  I really thought that the Colts would be able to do better than they have on defense, but they haven’t. San Diego has looked very good on offense to start this season, Indy has been very up and down. INDIANAPOLIS WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Bears @ Cowboys: Chicago is 0-2 despite holding early leads in both week 1 and week 2.  And now they’ll be without starting quarterback Jay Cutler due to a thumb injury.   Their best hope to beat the Cowboys is to continue limiting the passing game, as the Bears rank 4th in the NFL allowing 224 yards a game.   As for Dallas, they picked up their first win thanks to another clean day from Dak Prescott and a big night on the ground. The Boys were already a better team than the Bears before the Cutler injury, so give me Dallas at home to move to 2-1. DALLAS WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Falcons @ Saints: Atlanta picked up their first win against an impressive Raiders team in week 2, while New Orleans dropped to 0-2 after a game winning field goal by the Giants.  Atlanta hasn’t had any problems scoring this season, but their defense has struggled at times.  New Orleans’ defense was much better in week 2, forcing 3 turnovers, but it wasn’t enough.  I picked the Saints to make the playoffs, so this is a huge game for them.  If they want to get their first win, they have to figure out how to run the ball.  The Falcons tend to be very inconsistent, so give me New Orleans at home in a shootout. NEW ORLEANS WINS

NFL: Week 16 Predictions

15 down. 2 to go. I can’t believe we’re down to just two weeks of the regular season already, and so much is yet to be decided. It’s a football fan’s dream finish.

No more Thursday night games, so you have to wait til Sunday, but that just means more fun jam-packed into the weekend.

1PM Sunday Games

  • Miami @ Buffalo: Don’t look now but the Dolphins have come back to life, and are currently a spot out of an AFC Wildcard.  The Bills are just playing out the season, and I think Miami keep things interesting, and force other teams to eliminate them from playoff contention. MIAMI WINS
  • New Orleans @ Carolina: It’s the game that could ultimately decided the NFC South.  A Saints win wraps it up by virtue of winning the season series.  A Panthers win would give them their first lead in the division of the season, and would ensure at least a tie.  The Saints had a very bad game against the Rams on the road a week ago, as they continue to play poorly away from home.  The Panthers defense can beat anyone.  I know this might not be fair, but this will be Carolina’s 1st playoff game of the season.  They played poorly in New Orleans, and while they’re at home, Drew Brees knows how to turn it up and win the big game. Cam Newton has played well all season, but I want to see him do it this weekend. They make the playoffs, but I’m not sure they do it as division champs. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Minnesota @ Cincinnati: Just when the Bengals looked like they were going to cruise to an AFC North title, the Ravens are now a game back.  They take on a Vikings squad that has looked much better in the 2nd half of the season under Matt Cassel at quarterback.  But I think Cincy will find a way to right the ship at home and keep their lead in the division, and lock up a playoff spot.  CINCY WINS
  • Denver @ Houston: The Broncos have a playoff spot locked up, but still have a lot to play for after a loss to San Diego last week.  The division and the number 1 seed are still there for the taking, so Denver can’t look past a Houston team on a 12-game losing streak.  Matt Schaub will start under center for the Texans who look to at least find a way to get to 3 wins before the season ends.  But I don’t think the change back to their Opening Day starter changes things for a hungry Broncos team. DENVER WINS
  • Tennessee @ Jacksonville: The Titans had a shot at a playoff spit, but that’s gone now.  As for the Jags, they’ve shown great fight the second half of the season, giving fans in Florida some hope for the future.  And I think those good feelings continue at home for the jags. JACKSONVILLE WINS
  • Indianapolis @ Kansas City: The Colts need this one badly.  The Chiefs still have a great shot at the division, but are ensured a playoff spot no matter what.  I know it’s a road game for the Colts, but I think they find away to get back on track and secure their spot in the postseason.  Andrew Luck has shown he can come up big in big situations. INDY WINS
  • Dallas @ Washington: This is a case of a really bad team in Washington, versus a really bad December team in Dallas. The Redskins have been stuck on 3 wins for what feels like forever, and have benched RGIII.  The cowboys continue to waste a talents roster and golden opportunities.  But I think the boys, even if it’s against a bad team, get a December win and force week 17 against Philly to mean playoff or bust. DALLAS WINS
  • Cleveland @ New York Jets: A week after coming back to life, the Jets were shutdown by Carolina, while the Browns lost a win in the final seconds to New England.  I think the browns defense can handle the inconsistent New York offense, so that’s why I have them picking up the road win. CLEVELAND WINS
  • Tampa Bay @ St. Louis: Much like the jags, the Buccaneers have put together a nice 2nd half, in relation to their awful start.  As for the Rams, they’ve been up and down all year, but have a defense to build around,  giving them much hope for success in the not-so distant future.  Give me St Louis in a close one at home.  ST LOUIS WINS

4:05PM Sunday Games

  • Arizona @ Seattle:  A win ensures the road to the Superbowl in the NFC  lies in Seattle. And for that to happen would at home would be huge for arguably the best hoe field advantage league wide.  The argument can be made for the Superdome, who’s inhabitants, like the Seahawks, are light years better at home, that’s huge.  The Cardinals have something to say here, looking to clinch their own postseason berth.  It’s going to be a good game, but the 12th man comes into play, as it will throughout Seattle’s postseason run. SEATTLE WINS
  • New York Giants @ Detroit: It’s just the 2nd losing season under head coach Tom Coughlin, and it’s been a rough one.  On the other side, you’ve got a Lions squad that doesn’t do well with prosperity.  They held the division in their hands, and have let it slip.  I think with this game benign at home, and the state of the Giants, a Detroit goes off for a big win. And if they don’t, look for head coach Jim Schwartz to possibly be on the hot seat. DETROIT WINS

4:25PM Sunday Games 

  • New England @ Baltimore: The AFC Championship game rematch pits two teams that haven’t locked up a playoff spot yet, but that both currently sit in position to do so.  The Pats can wrap up the AFC East with a win, while the defending Champs can help out their cause as well.  I know it’s a home game for Baltimore, but their offense just hasn’t been up to snuff of late. They only won last week because Justin Tucker is automatic on field-goal attempts.  The Pats have been inconsistent this year, but I think they find a way this week. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Oakland @ San Diego: The Chargers inconsistent season has them at 7-7, and they remain the hunt for a playoff spot.  While I don’t see them getting in, I also don’t see them knocking themselves out.  Oakland has fallen off from a pretty solid start, but I just don’t see them getting the win this week. SAN DIEGO WINS
  • Pittsburgh @ Green Bay: Matt Flynn continued to show a lot of good things last week in their big come-fro-behind win over Dallas.  The Steelers were shut down by the Ravens, and were beaten by a kicker in week 15.  Aaron Rodgers could be back under center this week, and at home, that would give this team a huge lift, but even without A-Rod, I see the Packers keeping the pressure on Chicago in the North.  GREEN BAY WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Chicago @ Philadelphia: Both teams have a spot in the playoffs in their sights, as division leaders heading into action.  It all depends on what happens earlier in the day, but a win by either team ensures at least a tie heading into the final week of the season.  Nick Foles has had a fantastic year to get the Eagles to this point, but I think the return of Jay Cutler revitalized the Bears and they make things easier on themselves playoff wise.  CHICAGO WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Atlanta @ San Francisco: Depending on what happens on Sunday, the Niners could still have a shot the division.  But even if the Hawks do wrap it up, they still hold the edge for a wildcard spot, and we all know that San Francisco knows what it takes to go on a playoff run.  The Falcons are a team many, myself included, would have a shot at a Superbowl run, but instead they are just a game ahead of the Skins for the worst record in the NFC.  Atlanta will attempt to play spoiler, but at home, I don’t see the 49ers falling prey. SAN FRAN WINS

That’s it. Enjoy all the playoff clinching, playoff heartbreak fun that will ensue in week 16.

NFL: Week 11 Thoughts

11 down. 6 to go. And playoff races are starting to heat up.  The final undefeated has fallen, while leads atop divisions have shrunken, grown and switched hands.  Everything you could hope as the days inch closer to the holidays.

2 more teams were off this week: the  Cowboys and the Rams.

NFC EAST (The Birds Are All Alone Atop the Division… For Now)

  • Eagles: A 3rd straight victory snapped a franchise record 10-game home losing streak.  Up 17-0 at the halftime break, the defense was able to hold off a 4th quarter comeback.  The offense looked great in the 1st half, but only scored once in the 2nd half.  Nick Foles used his legs, not his arm, to find the end-zone this week.  Philly’s new top gun ran in for a score, while LeSean McCoy did the rest, finding pay-dirt twice on the afternoon.  Foles threw no TDs, while continuing his streak of no interceptions in tack as apart of a 298-yard passing day.  They became the 8th team in NFL history with at least 2,800 passing yards and 1,600 rushing yards through it’s first 11 games. With Dallas off, Philly takes over sole possession of 1st in the East, but they have already lost once to the Cowboys with another match-up ahead. (6-5)
  • Cowboys: Bye Week. (5-5)
  • Giants: 4 straight wins for the Giants, and this was the best all-around game in the stretch.  Eli Manning looked as good as he has since week 1 (the part after those 3 interceptions to start the year).  The struggling 2-time Superbowl MVP threw a 26-yard touchdown to Ruben Randle in a game where he completed 25 of 35 passes for 279 yards.  Running backs Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs did their thing on the ground, combining for 75 yards and a score.  The defense allowed just the 2nd touchdown in their last 18 quarters, and they continued to shut down opposing backs.  Up just 7 in the 4th, Jason Pierre-Paul sealed the win with a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown. (4-6)
  • Redskins: The offense couldn’t do anything right until the 4th quarter.  Down 24-0, Robert Griffin III threw TD passes of 62 and 41 yards to Darrel Young and Aldrick Robinson, while converting on both 2-point conversions to get within 8.  With one final drive, Griffin drove Washington all the way to the Eagles 18 before a Brandon Boykin interception sealed the loss. Griffin and Alfred Morris combined for 137 yards on the ground, but two RGIII turnovers proved too costly in the end. They’re now alone in last place, with two against the Giants left to be played. (3-7)

NFC NORTH (It’s Crowded at the Top)

  • Lions: A golden opportunity to at least hold onto their 1 game lead, they got off to a slow start in Pittsburgh and never recovered. They now have company atop the division, though should they end in a tie with Chicago, they hold the tiebreaker.  Matt Stafford did become the franchise’s leading passer thanks to his 362-yards passing.  And Calvin Johnson put up monster numbers again, with 179 and a score.  But much of their damage came in a 27 point 2nd quarter.  Detroit was shutout in the 2nd half, while the defense surrendered 4 Steelers touchdowns and 3 field-goals.  (6-4)
  • Bears: A long weather delay gave Chicago new life, leading to an overtime win on the strength of a 38-yard Robbie Gould field-goal.  Down 10-0 with 4:51 in the 1st, play was stopped because of tornado warnings.  Nearly 2 hours later, play resumed, and the Bears woke up. Josh McCown connected with Matt Forte on his lone TD pass of the day.  Forte added 83-yards on the ground to that receiving touchdown.  Defensive end David Bass added a score on defense with a 24-yard interception return of Joe Flacco in the 2nd quarter. (6-4) 
  • Packers: Scott Tolzien had a chance to tie in the 4th quarter, but a pick 6 sealed a 3rd straight loss since losing Aaron Rodgers and then Seneca Wallace. Despite nearly 350 yards passing, the team couldn’t recover from Tolzien’s 3 interceptions, including the game sealing  pick 6. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy was all but shutdown, managing just 27 rushing yards and a score that turned into nothing more than window dressing.  All hope is not lost, with Rodgers back to practice and match-ups against all three division foes left on the schedule. (5-5)
  • Vikings: Neither Christian Ponder, or Matt Cassel could solve the Seahawks defense, combining for 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a lost fumble on Sunday.  Toby Gerhart and not Adrian Peterson led the team in rushing yards, but the 132 combined yards on the ground didn’t help stave off defeat.  Just about the only things they did well were to keep it close at half, and limit Lynch everywhere but the redzone.  (2-8)

NFC SOUTH (The Saints Keep Marching On)

  • Saints: It was a defensive struggle in the 2nd half, but 9 points in the 4th gave New Orleans the come-from-behind home victory over San Francisco.   Tied late, Marques Colston finished off a record day with a 20-yard catch to set up Garrett Hartley’s 31-yard game winning field goal as time expired.  The wide-receiver out of Hofstra finished the day with five catches for 80 yards to become the Saints all-time leader in yards receiving with 7,922. It wasn’t the Saints best day offensively, but it was enough thanks to the play of the defense.  3 sacks and a pick of Colin Kaepernick gave Drew Brees and company enough time to get 3 scoring drives in the 4th. (8-2)
  • Panthers: Maybe now is the time to start talking about this team as a threat. A 4-point win on Monday night gives them 6 straight, and back-to-back statement wins.  Cam Newton threw for 3 touchdowns for the 3rd time this season, something he did only twice his first 2 seasons in the league.  He spread the wealth, hitting 3 different receivers for scores, while 3 finished with at least 50-yards receiving.  Ted Ginn Jr was the recipient of the game winner with just over a minute to play in regulation. Newton was also the only real threat in the run game, leading the way with 62 on the ground to go with 209 in the air.  The defense forced two turnovers, including a Brady INT in the end-zone as time expired.  According to the Panthers PR department, they’re the first team since the 1935 Giants to allow 1 or fewer first half touchdowns over their first 10 games of the season. (7-3)
  • Buccaneers: Don’t look now but the previously win-less Bucs are on a win streak. Waiver wire pick-up Bobby Rainey had himself a day in the place of the injured Doug Martin and Mike James.  162-yards rushing and 2 scores for the 2nd year back out of Western Kentucky.  Not to mention a 3rd touchdown catch for Rainey thrown by Mike Glennon, who finished with 231 and two scores on the day. Vincent Jackson had a monster day, grabbing 10 passes for 165 and a touchdown. (2-8)
  • Falcons: I never thought this team would be at the bottom of the division with all the talent they have, but here they are.  They’ve now dropped 4 straight, and according to NFL.com, they’ve been outscored 135-61 in that stretch.  Matt Ryan threw 2 touchdowns, but also another 2 interceptions.  Harry Douglas had another good game despite being questionable leading up to kick-off, catching 6 passes for 134-yards and a score.  The run game was finally decent, but if you can’t stop the run or get stops in the red-zone, you’re not going to win many games. (2-8)

NFC WEST (The Hawks Are Flying Away With It)

  • Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch didn’t have the monster yardage total he’s accustomed to, but he made his yards count, taking it in for 2 scores, one on the ground and one in the air, in a big win over the Vikings.  Russell Wilson didn’t throw it much, but he did complete 13 of 18 for 230 and two touchdowns.  It was still a game at the half, but the defense did it’s job in the 2nd half, including a pick 6 to help pull away for good.  The win makes them just 1 of 3 teams with just 1 loss, and keeps their 1-game lead for the NFC’s number 1 seed in tact after the Saints win.  Not to mention all but locks up the West after the aforementioned New Orleans win over San Francisco. (10-1)
  • 49ers: Make it two straight losses after a 5-game stretched where San Fran looked nearly unbeatable.  This team doesn’t blow many leads, but they did just that against the Saints. Colin Kaepernick was sacked 3 times, threw 2 touchdowns and an interception.  He nor running back Frank Gore could get much going on the ground.  Aaron Brooks had really the only good game on defense, picking off Brees, getting the teams lone sack and forcing a fumble.  Now they’re tied for 2nd with Arizona. (6-4)
  • Cardinals: Nobody is talking about this team, but they are in a fight for a wildcard thanks in large part to their defense.  They got off to a slow start in the 1st quarter, but then both sides of the ball dominated the Jaguars for the rest of the way. Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards and two scores and no picks for the first time all year.  Receiver Michael Floyd finished with a career-high 193 yards receiving, including a 91-yard touchdown. (6-4)
  • Rams: Bye Week. (4-6)

AFC EAST (The Pats Maintain a Decent Lead)

  • Patriots: They were down 10 early, but rallied back to take the lead in the 4th, but it wasn’t enough. Tom Brady threw for just 1 touchdown, and didn’t get the help he needed from his run game.  He had a shot with 4-seconds left from his own 18, but his final throw was picked off in the end-zone.  Controversy struck when a flag for what New England thought would be defensive holding was picked up.  Brady was visibly upset with the refs as the teams took the field to shake hands. Whether or not the call should’ve been made, the Patriots were once again shutdown by a top flight defense.  Lucky for them the Jets didn’t close the gap.  (7-3)
  • Jets: They’re consistently inconsistent. According to NFL.com, they’re the first team to alternate wins and losses the first 10 games of the season.  Geno Smith looked like a rookie on the road today, with 2 turnovers in the 1st half alone. Things got worse when he was benched in favor of Matt Simms.  Down 20-0 at the half, they could never make a threat on the Bills. Chris Ivory had really the only good day, falling just short of a 100 yards on the ground to go with a score. (5-5)
  • Dolphins: This needed a win for many reasons, and they battled til the end to get one. Their first since the bully scandal broke, Ryan Tannehill led his team to victory.  The 2nd year quarterback threw for 268 yards, including a 39-yard score to tight-end Charles Clay to break a 10-10 tie in the third. Miami also managed 104 yards rushing behind a makeshift offensive line. (5-5)
  • Bills: EJ Manuel led his team to their 1st win in 3 weeks. Manuel was on point, completing 20 of 28 passes for 245 and 2 scores.  The run game didn’t come into play much, but the way the defense stepped up, they didn’t need help on the ground.  Jarius Byrd forced two of the Jets 4 turnovers, while Da’Norris Searcy returned his interception for a score.  The two teams split the season series, each winning at home.  (4-7)

AFC NORTH (The Bengals Pounce, Give Themselves A Big Cushion)

  • Bengals: Nothing like 31 unanswered 2nd quarter points (the largest output in a quarter in team history) to put a bad start behind you.  After losing two straight games in overtime, a rout was what this team needed to get back on track.  Andy Dalton shook off a bad start that saw two of his passes picked off in the 1st quarter, one returned for a score, to put them down 13-0 quick.  But he came back to throw 3 scores, but on just 93 yards passing. It was a good all around game, with both the defense and special teams finding the end-zone, with a fumble recovery and a blocked punt for a score.  (7-4) 
  • Steelers: Don’t look now but they’re technically not in last place anymore after a very slow start to the season.  Big Ben and company had their most impressive day on offense.  Ben Roethlisberger threw for 367 yards, 4 touchdowns and no turnovers.  Add 3 more field-goals for Shaun Suisham and it’s pretty easy to see why this team held off the Lions. (4-6)
  • Browns: They jumped out to a quick 13-0 score.  But then they fell apart on both offense and defense, and you can’t do that against a hungry team like Cincinnati. Jason Campbell threw 3 interceptions, Chris Ogbonnaya lost a fumble and their special teams allowed a score.  And despite creating a couple of turnovers of their own, they couldn’t get any real pressure on Dalton. (4-6)
  • Ravens: Justin Tucker’s 21-yard field goal forced over-time, but it wasn’t enough to save them from the loss. Baltimore jumped out to a quick 10-point lead thanks to a 1-yard Ray Rice touchdown run, and a Tucker 52-yard field goal in the 1st half. But then the weather delay happenedRice finished with his best total of the season, 131 yards and that score.  Joe Flacco ended with 162-yards passing, a touchdown and two interceptions, one of which was returned for 6.  It was a golden opportunity to move into a better spot for a possible wild card spot, instead they fall 3 games back of the division lead. (4-6)

AFC South  (Indy All But Has This Things Wrapped Up)

  • Colts: A slow start wasn’t enough to hand Indy their second straight loss, which would’ve been a first in the Chuck Pagano era.  Andrew Luck and company woke up in the 3rd quarter to rally from a 17-6 half-time deficit and get their 7th win.   The Colts got some much-needed help from Donald Brown, who ran in for two scores for the first time in his career.  Luck added an 11-yard scamper of his own.  Tight-end Coby Fleener had a career high 8 catches for 107 yards. (7-3)
  • Titans: Things looked good early, when Chris Johnson’s 30-yard and 7-yard touchdown runs in the 1st quarter put the Colts’ backs against the wall early.  But if you can’t turn over the Colts, or stop the run in the red zone, you’re in trouble.  Ryan Fitzpatrick had a good day in place of the injured Jake Locker, completing 22 of 28 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown.  But it wasn’t enough in the end.  They started off the season well, but have taken a turn for the worse as they’re losers of 2 straight and 5 of their last 6. (4-6)
  • Texans: Make it 8 straight losses.  Two early turnovers including Case Keenum’s first career interception gave the Raiders two quick drives from their own 16. Oakland scored on both turnovers and put Houston down 14-0 in the 1st.  But 17 unanswered points capped by a career-long 51-yard field goal by Randy Bullock had them up at the half.  Down 21-17 in the 3rd, Houston decided to remove a healthy Keenum for Matt Schaub, who hadn’t seen action since he went down in week 6.  (2-8)
  • Jaguars: They jumped out quick, but it wasn’t enough as they were shutout through the final 3 quarters.  They scored a touchdown (2 in fact) for the first time at home all season.  Maurice Jones-Drew only finished with 23 yards rushing on 14 carries, but he did have one of the two Jacksonville scores.  Chad Henne threw two picks, one touchdown.  The defense sacked Carson Palmer 3 times, but was unable to turn the Cardinals over.  (1-9)

AFC WEST (December is Going to Be Fun in the West)

  • Broncos: In the biggest game of the week, Denver put up the most points on KC of any opponent.  Peyton Manning wasn’t sharp, but the run game was huge in the red zone, while the defense did their best Chiefs impression, with a number of impressive stops and takeaways. Manning extended his record for 300 yard passing games to 81, but threw just one touchdown and lost a fumble in the process. Rookie running back Montee Ball had his best game of the season, capitalizing in the red zone by finding the endzone twice.  A huge reason for the good run game was the offensive line, which prevented a sack-happy defense from touching Manning all night.  They hold the end in the division, for now.  Their 2nd match-up comes in 2 weeks in KC. (9-1)
  • Chiefs: Alex Smith threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns as his team suffered their first loss of the season. They were in the game the whole night, but couldn’t find a way to get over the hump.  Dwayne Bowe had a 57-yards receiving and a` touchdown in a game he could have been out for days after being arrested for speeding and marijuana possession. The defense held down the potent Broncos defense for the most part, but it was still almost 15 points more than their opponents average.  Jaamal Charles had a good day on the ground, running for 78 at 4.9 yards a carry. (9-1)
  • Raiders: Matt McGloin made quite the impression in his first NFL start. 3 touchdowns (2 of which came on turnovers) and no interceptions for the former Penn State QB.  Rashad Jennings continues to make Oakland fans ask Darren McFadden who? with 150 yards and a rushing touchdown to help get his team their 4th win.  The defense forced 3 turnovers, and held late with a goal-line stand in the final seconds to stop the Texans comeback attempt. The win ensures they finish with a better win total than a year ago. (4-6)
  • Chargers: Forever the inconsistent team are these Chargers.  San Diego could only muster one touchdown, coming in the 1st quarter to fall for the 3rd straight game. They stayed in the game til the end thanks to 3 Nick Novak field goals.  But their possible game winning drive ended with an incomplete pass in the end zone.  Philip Rivers fell just short of 300 yards passing, with a touchdown and an interception.  Ryan Matthews was able to get back over 100 yards rushing, but was unable to find the end zone. (4-6)

That’s it.  Week 12 approaches as teams look to continue bettering their playoff positioning.

NFL: First Half Recap

So we’ve seen week 8 come and go, marking the unofficial halfway point of the season.

Sure some teams have already taken their bye, meaning they’ve only played 7 of their 16 game scheduled, but many have played 8.  So I figured I’d take a look back at my picks for the major awards and who was gonna win it all, and tell you who really won the 1st half of the season.

My Pre-season Division and Wild Card Winners

  • NFC: New York, Seattle, Green Bay, Atlanta, Dallas & New Orleans

Clearly I, was very off when I picked the Falcons and Giants to win their divisions.  Sure it could still happen, but it’s very unlikely as they sit in 3rd and 4th respectively.  But Seattle and Green Bay are both sitting pretty atop their respective divisions, and while Dallas and New Orleans aren’t wildcard times, they of course lead their divisions and would be playoff teams, as I thought they would be. I think the easiest division for me to pick had been the North.  But this has become of the of the bigger surprises for me, with both Detroit and Chicago right there heading into the second half.  The Saints, who I thought would be in a dog-fight with the Falcons all year for the South are coasting right now, but as we all know, a lot can happen in a short amount of time in the NFL.  If the playoffs started today, 4 of my 6 pick would make the playoffs.

  • AFC: Patriots, Denver, Baltimore, Houston, Cincinnati, and Indy

Here’s another case of getting the teams right (for the most part), just not picking them high enough.  Let’s talk about Indianapolis, who are showing they are a legit Superbowl contender, having knocked off three of the best teams in the league (Denver, Seattle and San Francisco), and easily at that.  I had them winning the a wild card spot, so I wasn’t really off, but I never thought they’d do this well again.  A lot of their success last year came in 4th quarter comebacks, something I didn’t see them replicating.  Denver I’m not wrong about, but my biggest shock might be in Kansas City.  I knew the Chiefs would be improved, never did I think they’d lead this division.  I figured they’d battle for a wild card.  But here they are the last undefeated team standing.  The Pats hold a slim lead, but things can change quickly if they’re not careful.  Baltimore and Houston have been big disappoints, while the Bengals defense has given them a nice lead in the North.  Just like in the NFC, 4 of my 6 picks would make the playoffs if they started today.

  • My AFC and NFC Championship games probably won’t end up quite the way I picked them, but my Superbowl pick of Denver over Seattle (sure call it chalk) does remain as a real possibility.

And how about my pre-season award winners?  Here is how some of my picks have changed.

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

  • I picked Texans Wide-receiver DeAndre Hopkins.  After a half of football, my vote would now go to Packers Running Back Eddie Lacy, who I put down as an honorable mention.  He’s given the Packers another option on offense, which just makes them more dangerous.

Offensive Player of the Year:

  • I picked Lions WR Calvin Johnson.  After a half of football, my vote would now go to Broncos QB Peyton Manning, another pre-season honorable mention by me.  How could he not be the guy right now? Look at his stats: 29 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. He’s completing nearly 72% of his passes and has only been sacked 11 times in 8 games.  Sure he’s got a lot of weapons but he’s also finding them and making all the throws.  But to be fair to Megatron, he’s having an insane year yet again.

Defensive Player of the Year:

  • I picked Bengals Defensive Tackle Geno Atkins.  After a half of football, my vote would now go to the Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali.  This guy has done a little bit of everything.  4 forced fumbles, 23 tackles, a pick 6 and 9 sacks.
  • Other possibilities: Bills MLB Kiko Alonso, Seahawks CB Earl Thomas or Chiefs OLB Justin Houston.

Most Valuable Player:

  • I picked Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.  After a half of football, my vote would now go to Colts QB Andrew Luck.  This guy has shown he was the right guy to take number 1 last year.  He can outplay the best of them, and can put early game struggles behind him to help his team late.  His numbers aren’t flashy, but he takes care of the ball and is a true leader.
  • Other possibilities: Broncos QB Peyton Manning, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and Lions WR Calvin Johnson.

Coach of the Year:

  • I picked Seahawks Pete Carroll.  After a half of football, my vote would now go to Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid.  When you turn a 2 win team into an undefeated team halfway through the season, you’re going to be considered for awards.
  • Other possibilities: Bengals Marvin Lewis, Colts Chuck Pagano and Panthers Juan Rivera.

And finally my biggest surprises good and bad of the first half.

Biggest Disappointment – Team

  • Houston Texans: This is a team I saw as one of the last two standing in the AFC.  With a running back tandem like Arian Foster and Ben Tate, with a very good defense that got back Brian Cushing to play along side last year’s defensive player of the year in JJ Watt, I thought it was time for this team to take that next step.  But Matt Schaub has regressed, and is now injured, and TJ Yates didn’t do much better backing him up.
  • Dis-Honorable Mention: New York Giants – They collapsed in the 2nd half of 2012, and have carried that bad play into 2013.  Injuries have ravaged the o-line, secondary and running back position, but they still have too many weapons to be just 2-6 in the first half.

Biggest Disappointment – Offensive Player

  • Ravens RB Ray Rice: This is a guy who is usually atop the rushing yards leader board.  But a year removed from helping his team win the Superbowl, Rice hasn’t done much to help his team, and it’s a big reason why they’re just a 2-win team coming out of their bye.  At 26, there should still be something left in the tank, but he hasn’t been producing.  He’s been very good in his career after the bye, so maybe the extra time off will help get him back on track.
  • Dis-Honorable Mention: Redskins QB Robert Griffin III – It might not be fair to say this, as the mobile quarterback is coming off a serious knee injury that knocked him out of the playoffs last year.  But if you’re going to let him play, that means he’s healthy, which means we should be seeing more consistency from last years Rookie of the Year.

Biggest Pleasant Surprise – Team

  • Carolina Panthers: This team is riding on the high of a 3 game win streak that saw their offense put up 30+ points again, and the defense limit its opponents to 13.7 points a game, 2nd only to KC.  This team hadn’t been over .500 since before Cam Newton was drafted.  They are 2nd in a division where the Falcons play.  That means something.
  • Honorable Mention: Kansas City Chiefs – 2 and 14 to 8 and 0.  A sack happy, shutdown defense.  A good run game.  A quarterback who is very good at game management. They get honorable mention because despite a bad record a year ago, this team sent 6 players to the pro bowl, so the turnaround isn’t a huge surprise. This team is primed for a postseason run.

Biggest Pleasant Surprise – Player

  • Cowboys LB Sean Lee: This guy has a nose for the football, tied for 1st in the NFL with four interceptions, one of which he returned for a score.  He also has the most return yards of a defensive player.  He’s also defended 10 passes, recovered a fumble and has a combined 81 tackles.
  • Honorable Mention: Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor – His team only has 3 wins, and his numbers aren’t great, but after a few years of disappointment, he’s shown glimpses. First of all, those 3 wins match Oakland’s win total from a year ago.  He can run with the best of the mobile quarterbacks.  And he wasn’t even supposed to be the starter. Matt Flynn was brought in, and Pryor just flat-out beat him for the job.

So there you have it.  That was fun, looking back at what I thought preseason and seeing how it’s panning out.  Of course there’s still a whole lot of football to be played, and everything I wrote here (or almost everything) could be meaningless come week 9 or 10.   But that’s the beauty of the gridiron, nothing stays the same for long.  So win, lose or draw, let’s go out and enjoy the 2nd half of the 2013 season as much as we did the 1st half.

NFL: Week 6 Thoughts

6 down. 11 to go.  And we still have 3 win-less teams, as well as 2 undefeated squads.

Atlanta and Miami were both on their bye weeks.

NFC EAST (At Least a Couple Teams Are at .500 Now)

  • Cowboys: A big win on Sunday night, but it came with some costly injuries.  Both defensive end Demarcus Ware and running back DeMarco Murray left with injuries.  Ware with a pulled quad muscle, and could miss 3-4 weeks; he’s never missed a start since entering the league in 2005. Meanwhile, Murray, who scored the games first touchdown, left with a knee sprain; he’s expected to miss about a week. Dwayne Harris returned a punt for an 86-yard touchdown and set up another Dallas score with a 90-yard kickoff return.  Tony Romo had just 170 passing yards a week after his 506 in a loss to Denver.  I think he’ll take that trade every time.  (3-3)
  • Eagles:  The offense had a huge day, with LeSean McCoy running for 116 yard, while Nick Foles threw for nearly 300 yards and 3 TDs, while running for a 4th, in place of the injured Michael Vick. Desean Jackson caught 2 touchdowns, while Riley Cooper found paydirt once, while racking up 120 receiving yards.  It was close early, but the defense held Tampa to just a field goal in the in the 2nd half. (3-3)
  • Redskins: Robert Griffin III completed less than 50% of his throws, threw no touchdowns and one pick in their loss to Dallas.  RGIII did rush for 77 yards, but fumbled twice, losing one.  Alfred Morris score their lone offensive touchdown as a part of his 81 yard rushing day.   The defense managed just one sack of Romo, but Rob Jackson did take a pick to the house.  Their special teams play was a killer, unable to stop Dwayne Harris from putting up big return numbers. (1-4)
  • Giants: They played their best game of the season, and still managed to lose.  Eli Manning threw 2 picks in his first 5 pass attempts, but it was the interception thrown on a possible game winning drive in the 4th quarter that sealed their win-less fate.  It was a game that saw Brandon Jacobs run like it was 2008, scoring 2TDs and bringing a much-needed run game back to New York.  When a guy like Jacobs turns back the clock like that, you’ve got to find a way to win.  But no pass rush to go with turnovers hurt Big Blue once again.  It’s the teams first 0-6 start since 1976.  (0-6)

NFC NORTH (It’s Crowded At the Top)

  • Lions: Calvin Johnson made his return after a week off with an injury, but didn’t have a big stat day, as he was used as more of a decoy.  Tight-end Joseph Fauria was the beneficiary, catching a career high 3 touchdowns, including the one to seal the victory with 2:01 left to go in regulation.  Matthew Stafford threw 3 of his 4 TD passes in the 2nd half to rally his team to victory and keep a share of 1st place. (4-2)
  • Bears: Brandon Marshall had a huge game in Chicago’s first win since week 3.  The team did everything they could to give New York the game in the 4th except turn the ball over, but in the end they held tough and picked off Manning 3 times in the final frame.  Tim Jennings got Manning twice, including a 48-yard return for a touchdown on the Giants opening drive.  QB  Jay Cutler had a good day, with no turnovers and throwing for two scores.    (4-2)
  • Packers: Outside of a 64-yard touchdown strike to Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers didn’t bring his A game on Sunday.  But Green Bay held on despite a big fourth quarter comeback attempt by Baltimore.  4 Mason Crosby field goals and 120 yards on the ground by rookie rusher Eddie Lacy helped give the Pack just enough cushion.  Despite being without Clay Matthews, their defense held Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense in check, sacking last years Superbowl MVP five times, and holding Baltimore backs to 47 combined yards on the ground.  It was their first road win of the year.  AJ Hawk was a monster, picking up 3 sacks in the win. (3-2)
  • Vikings: it was a trying week for Minnesota as they came off their bye.  Adrian Peterson played days after the death of his son, while Matt Cassel got the start despite the addition of Josh Freeman at quarterback.  Cassel couldn’t make it two wins in a row for his Vikes, throwing 2 interceptions, both of which led to Carolina touchdowns.  (1-4)

NFC SOUTH (The Saints Are Still Running Away With It) 

  • Saints: In a dog fight with New England, they left   Drew Brees had brought them back from an early 10-point deficit to take a 27-23 lead late in the 4th.   But they left too much time on the clock for Tom Brady, losing their first of the year on a last second touchdown.  Tight-end Jimmy Graham had entered action averaging over 118 yards receiving a game this season, but was held catch-less, and pulled up lame late in the game. (5-1)
  • Panthers: They used their bye week well.  Cam Newton was spectacular, throwing for 3 scores, and running for a 4th in a 25-point rout of Minnesota.  Carolina took advantage of turnovers, and carried an 11-point lead into halftime.  (2-3)
  • Falcons:  Bye Week. (1-4)
  • Buccaneers: Vincent Jackson had a huge day, but they still couldn’t pick up win number 1.   The wide-out caught 9 passes for 114 yards and Tampa’s two touchdowns. Mike Glennon didn’t have a bad day either, throwing for two scores and one pick.  They just couldn’t stop the Eagles offense, which combined for 412 yards in the air and on the ground. (0-5)

NFC WEST (The Most Improved Division?)

  • Seahawks: It wasn’t their best performance, but a win is a win.  They won this one on the ground, with Marshawn Lynch running for two scores, and racking up 155 all-purpose yards in the process.  Richard Sherman did what he does, picking off Ryan Fitzpatrick early in the 4th quarter.  Russell Wilson showed once again why he’s one of the top young QB’s in the league, throwing for over 250 yards, no picks and adding 77-yards on the ground.  Seattle has now won 11 straight home games, proving they have one of the best home-field advantages in football.  (5-1)
  • 49ers: Vernon Davis had an absolute monster of a 1st half, 177 yards and 2 touchdowns, finishing with a career high 180 yards receiving.  It was also another banner day for the defense, forcing 4 turnovers for the second straight week.  Add another 100 yard rushing game for Frank Gore and a strong day by Colin Kaepernick, and you have another big win for San Francisco. (4-2)
  • Rams: Talk about a big win.  They played well in all facets of the game, scoring on defense and special teams to go along with 3 TD passes from Sam Bradford.  Alec Ogletree returned a TJ Yates interception 98 yards to push their lead to 38-6.   The defense racked up 5 sacks including 2 by Michael Brockers. (3-3)
  • Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald gave Arizona a 1st quarter 7-6 lead on a 75-yard catch and run from Carlson Palmer.  But then the 49ers took over and the Cardinals couldn’t recover, even getting shut out in the 4th quarter.  They turned the ball over 4 times, and also lost star defensive end Calais Campbell to an apparent right leg injury late in the game. (3-3)

AFC EAST (Brady’s Comeback Puts Some Distance Atop the Division)

  • Patriots: They survived a Tom Brady pick with just over 2 minutes to go.  They got the ball back with just over a minute to go thanks to a good stop by Chandler Jones on 3rd down.  And with 5 seconds left, Tom Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins in the end zone to cap off a 70-yard game winning drive.  It was a big win a week after Brady was shutout in the touchdown department.  Stevan Ridley helped out big time on the ground, finding the end zone twice, and racking up over a 100 yards from scrimmage. (5-1)
  • Dolphins: Bye Week. (3-2)
  • Jets: A step back for Rookie Geno Smith and the Jets in their home game against the once win-less Steelers.  Smith threw two interceptions, barely got over the 200 yard mark and fumbled once.  The offense mustered just two Nick Folk field goals in the first half.  (3-3)
  • Bills: The running game was very balanced on Sunday, with 5 players getting touches, including new starting QB Thad Lewis.  Lewis threw for 2 touchdowns, and ran for another in his second career start.  14 points in the 4th quarter forced overtime against Cincinnati, but they fell by a field goal none-the-less. (2-4)

AFC NORTH (Where Almost Everyone is 3-2)

  • Bengals: it wasn’t pretty, but Cincy got it done in overtime against Buffalo. Up 27-10 heading into the 4th, it looked like it would be an easy win for the Bengals.  But 14 unanswered by the Bills sent the game to OT.  BenJarvius Green-Ellis and not Giovanni Bernard was the featured back, and he delivered 86 rushing yards.  Andy Dalton threw for over 300 yards and broke a two game touchdown-less drought in a big way, finding the end-zone three times.  AJ Green did his thing, going over 100 yards again.  (4-2) 
  • Ravens: The defense wasn’t the problem Sunday in Green Bay.  The offense was shutdown in the first half, and was forced to mount a furious comeback in the 4th, one that came just 2 points shy of being completed.  Ray Rice and the run game was not a factor in this one at all, and though Flacco threw for almost 350 and 2 touchdowns, he also fumbled twice, losing one(3-3)
  • Browns: Brandon Weedon was not good Sunday in Detroit, and with no help on the ground, Cleveland didn’t have enough to get past the Lions. The newly reinstated starting QB was picked off late on a strange shovel pass when the game was not yet out of reach.  Guys like Buster Skrine and TJ Ward had very nice games on defense, while receiver Josh Gordon caught 7 balls for 126 yards.  They let a 10-point half-time lead slip away thanks to a goose egg in the second half. (3-3)
  • Pittsburgh: Steelers fans travel well, and on this day their team played well, picking up their first win of 2013.  The defense was outstanding, holding the Jets to a pair of field goals, and finally turning over an opponent.   They were the only league to not force a turnover through week 5.  With no production on the ground, Ben Roethlisberger had a good game, completing 23 of 30 passes for 264 yards and a score.  (1-4)

AFC South (Houston We Have a Problem) 

  • Colts: A rare bad game for Indy, who managed just 3 Adam Vinatieri field-goals on Monday Night.  Andrew Luck wasn’t so lucky on this night, with many big drops by his receivers.  And yet he still had a chance in the 4th quarter, to drive his team on yet another comeback.  But it wasn’t meant to be, throwing his only interception of the game with less than two to play.  Reggie Wayne with a nice milestone in the loss, hitting the 1,000 reception mark and passing Steeler great Hines Ward on the all-time receptions list for 8th place. (4-2)
  • Titans:  Tennessee made things tough on the Seahawks, something that’s hard to do in that home-field advantage Seattle boasts.  They had plenty of chances to steal one, but when Ryan Fitzpatrick ties Chris Johnson for the team lead in rushing yards, you know things aren’t going well.  Their lone touchdown came thanks to their special teams, who recovered a bad snap on a field goal to end the 1st half.  (3-3)
  • Texans: Things went from bad to worse in Houston.  Matt Schaub didn’t throw a pick 6 for what would’ve been the 7th straight game, but he did leave late in the 3rd with a right ankle injuries.  The beleaguered starting QB left to cheers from the Houston crowd, and was replaced by TJ Yates, who did throw a pick 6 of his own.  (2-4)
  • Jaguars: It was probably their best game of the year, but in the end the Broncos were just too much for them.  It was just a 2-point game mid-way through the 3rd, despite the crazy 28-point spread put on the game in Denver’s favor.  Justin Blackmon had another good game, 190 receiving yards, thanks to a big day from Chad Henne, who threw for 2TDs and 303 yards.  But the defense couldn’t stop the run game in the redzone, which was the difference(0-6) 

(AFC WEST) Where All the Undefeated Teams Reside

  • Broncos: Peyton Manning with his worth performance of the year, losing two fumbles and throwing his 2nd pick of the year.  And still they won by 16.  The big story was the performance of Knowshon Moreno, who rand for just 42 yards, but scored 3 rushing touchdowns. Talk about taking advantage in the red-zone.  (6-0)
  • Chiefs: This team just can’t lose right now and it’s all thanks to their stellar defense.  10 sacks in one game is a lot no matter who you’re playing, but against a rival Oakland team that boasts a mobile quarterback, that’s just downright impressive.  Tamba Ali racked up 3.5 of those.  Alex Smith wasn’t good, but he didn’t need to be thanks to his defense and two touchdown runs by Jamaal Charles.  Smith completed just 14 of 31 pass attempts for 128 yards, but didn’t turn the ball over, which is exactly what head coach Andy Reid wants.  (6-0)
  • Chargers: Nick Novak kicked 3 big field goals to help bounce back from a tough loss to Oakland last week.  The offense didn’t turn the ball over, and the lone touchdown of the day was thrown to rookie Keenan Allen, who had another big day.  Their lone forced turnover sealed the win late in the 4th quarter.  Ryan Matthews broke a string of 23 straight games without a 100-yard rusher for San Diego. (3-3)
  • Raiders: Terrelle Pryor got little help from his offensive line.  He was sacked 10 times.  Their lone touchdown, a 39-yard strike to Denarius Moore, actually gave them a 2nd quarter lead.  Pryor threw three picks, one for a Kansas City score, and saw his offense shutout in the 2nd half. (2-4)

So that’s a wrap on week 6.  Week 7 kicks off on Thursday Night Football with an NFC West Showdown.  The Seahawks are in Arizona for a date with the Cardinals.

NFL: Week 6 Predictions

Can’t believe it’s week 6 in the NFL already.

We’ve got two more teams on their bye: Atlanta and Miami.

Last week I went 7-7 in my picks, so let’s see if I can top that this week.

Thursday Night Football

  • New York Giants @ Chicago: I need to stop picking the Giants, who are bad in all 3 phases of the game right now.  But here are the Bears, losers of 2 straight where they’ve allowed 66 points.  Both teams are struggling, and their QBs just keep turning the ball over.  I have to give the edge to the home team here. CHICAGO WINS

1PM Sunday Games

  • Green Bay @ Baltimore: Both teams are coming off much-needed wins, but also wins where neither QB looked spectacular.  The run game for both seem to be turning around, but despite it being a road game, Aaron Rodgers has the edge over Joe Flacco in this one. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Cincinnati @ Buffalo: The Bills are down their starting quarterback, while the Bengals defense is on a high following a complete shutdown of the Patriots.  Buffalo will have to rely on their running back tandem of CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson to carry them.  While the Bengals have to hope Andy Dalton can find his rhythm.  CINCINNATI WINS
  • Detroit @ Cleveland: This is one of the more intriguing match-ups this week. Two 3-2 teams that pretty much no one had being over .500 at all this year let alone after week 5.  The Browns lost starter Brian Hoyer, but Brandon Weedon is healthy again.  While the Lions hope start wide-out Calvin Johnson can come back and help an offense which struggled a week ago.  I’m giving the home team the advantage here, thanks to a defense that has looked impressive early. CLEVELAND WINS
  • St. Louis @ Houston: Houston isn’t very good right now, while the Rams are coming off a nice win over the hapless Jaguars.  If the Texans want to make any type of run to get back into the  playoff picture, this is a game, at home, against another under .500 team that they have to win.  And I think they will, despite a possible QB controversy brewing following the benching of Matt Schaub in favor of TJ Yates late Sunday night against San Francisco.  Schaub starts and bounces back in a big way. HOUSTON WINS
  • Carolina @ Minnesota: The Vikings are coming off their bye, while the Panthers are coming off a bad performance against Arizona. Both are looking for their 2nd win of the season.  The Vikings have a new QB on the roster after signing Josh Freeman.  Cam Newton had one of his worst days as a starter Sunday.  The Vikings have log-jam at QB, as they now have Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Freeman as possible starters.  but Freeman is in no rush to take over the reigns, so Cassel will get the start Sunday after leading Minnesota to their first win before their bye week.  I think the uncertainty hurts, and the Panthers will pounce. CAROLINA WINS
  • Oakland @ Kansas City: The Raiders are feeling good after their Sunday Night win, but the Chiefs are feeling better sitting here at 5-0.  They got a scare from Tennessee last week, but at home this team is going to continue their huge bounce back from a disappointing 2012 season.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Pittsburgh @ New York Jets: The Steelers are coming off their bye and looking for win number 1.  But they face a tough test in a Jets team flying off a big win over Atlanta.  Ben Roethlisberger isn’t used to this losing, while the Jets aren’t used to winning.  I honestly can’t see the Steelers going 0-5 but New York’s defense is very good, and Geno Smith continues to grow.  I will probably regret it but I’m taking experience versus hot play. PITT WINS
  • Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay: With the drama surrounding Josh Freeman over, the Buccaneers look to pick up their 1st win of the year against the Eagles who picked up win number 2 last week.  Nick Foles is expected to start for the injured Michael Vick, but that worked out fine against New York, so no worries there.  PHILADELPHIA WINS

4/4:25PM Sunday Games

  • Jacksonville @ Denver: If ever there were a trap game, this would be it.  The beat up 0-5 Jags on the road against the seemingly unstoppable 5-0 Broncos?  Well, you know the saying any given Sunday?  It’s true, I just don’t see it being true on this Sunday. DENVER WINS
  • Tennessee @ Seattle:  This might be my favorite game of the week.  Most people probably didn’t have the Titans winning many games all season, yet here they are at 3-2.  And really they had a chance last week against the now 5-0 Chiefs.  The Seahawks are coming off a tough loss to the Colts, their first of the year.   I think the Titans can hang around again, but that 12th man is going to be the difference again. SEATTLE WINS
  • New Orleans @ New England: Two teams who are a combined 9-1?  Should be fun.  Tom Brady and co are coming off a rare no-touchdown effort, and I see them responding in a big way, handing the Saints their first loss. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Arizona @ San Francisco:  This is another one of the more intriguing games of the week.  Both enter action off big wins and at 3-2 in a much improved NFC West.  If this game were in Cardinals territory I might give them the edge.  But home-field and a Niners team clicking in every facet of the game is too much to pick against.  SAN FRAN WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Washington @ Dallas: An NFC East battle that could help the Cowboys pull away, or just make things more jumbled in a down division.  Tony Romo is coming off the best game of his career, except for the only thing people will remember, which is the poor decision-making late that caused a turnover and led to a loss.  The Redskins are coming off a bye, and look to pick up their 2nd win of the year.  Anything can happen in division games, and I see this one being close until the end, but I think the boys bounce back at home. DALLAS WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Indianapolis @ San Diego: The Colts are really, really good.  The Chargers are very up and down.  If Phillip Rivers can stop with all the turnovers, this team maybe wouldn’t be so inconsistent.  I see it being a fairly close game, but as it tends to happen, Andrew Luck will do something awesome in the 4th quarter.  INDY WINS

So there you have it.  My week 6 picks.  Enjoy all the football action, and I’ll be back Monday with my thoughts on what went down.