By Drew Farmer
After five weeks of NFL action, things haven't turned out the way they were predicted. The New England Patriots, expected to go 16-0 this season, are now 3-2. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs are a perfect 5-0. In the NFC, the New York Giants, expected to finish in a playoff place, are yet to win. This NFL season looks destined for many of the league's teams to finish 8-8.
NFL Week 6 Picks, Previews and Odds
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Carolina Panthers
Both teams come into this game with identical 4-1 records, and sit atop their respective divisions. Both teams' defenses are playing well. Carolina is giving up just 18.8 points per game. That's the ninth best D in the NFL. Philadelphia isn't far behind, and have given up just 19.8 ppg. The key to the Eagles, however, is the team's ball control. Philadelphia leads the league in possession (35-plus minutes a game) and third down conversion (53%). Carolina's Cam Newton has been red hot. He has completed 68% of his passes. The Eagles must stop him, and keeping the ball for long periods can do it.
Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Bears head to Baltimore with a 1-4 record to play the 3-2 Ravens. NFL pundits are high on Baltimore at the moment. The team beat the Raiders in week 5 and face off with the Bears and Dolphins next. The Raven don't score a lot of points (18 ppg), but that's okay as the Bears don't either (15.6). Chicago started rookie Mitchell Trubisky last week against Minnesota. It was a narrow loss, 20-17. Bears fans can expect growing pains as the rookie will have his ups and downs. He is someone to look forward to as the Bears are on target to miss the playoffs again.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans
It is another terrible start for the Cleveland Browns. The team is 0-5 and head to Houston to play the 2-3 Texans. Houston has been pushovers at home this season posting a record of 1-2. However, the Texans are playing the franchise considered the worst in the NFL. The Browns offense has average the second fewest ppg in the league (15.4). Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson is an exciting rookie that has the potential to take Houston to a Super Bowl. Last week, Watson threw for five touchdowns in a losing effort against the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, he was sacked three times. Houston's O-line need to protect him far better.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
It's an NFC Central match up when Green Bay head to Minnesota. The Packers are 4-1 this season with their one loss coming on the road to Denver. Aaron Rodgers is in great form once more. He has thrown for 13 touchdowns in five games for 1,367 yards. He is also completing 66.7% of his passes. What makes him even more dangerous is the six fourth quarter touchdowns he has tossed this season. Minnesota has quarterback health concerns once more. Sam Bradford is an injury worry, although back up Case Keenum could provide a spark.
Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints
The Saints have come on strong winning their last two. The defense is playing well and allowed just 13 points combined in the last two weeks. Defense is the key for New Orleans, if the team hope to move its win streak to three. Detroit's O-line has been Swiss cheese, allowing defenses to sack quarterback Matthew Stafford 18 times (third most in the NFL). New Orleans defense should be able to get to Stafford, which could force him into mistakes.
Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Dolphins offense is terrible, and average the fewest points ppg in the NFL (10.2), and quarterback Jay Cutler has the second lowest quarterback rating. Miami has the most difficult schedule to play in the NFL, according to league number crunchers. Atlanta will welcome Miami to its state-of-the-art new stadium. Unfortunately, the Falcons lost there last time out, 23-17 to Buffalo. With Miami struggling, however, the Falcons should bounce back.
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
The New England's defense has been very un-Patriots like. The defense is giving up the most yards per game in the NFL (447.2) and the second most ppg (28.4). At least Tom Brady and the offense are able to carry the load. But if the Patriots don't sort out their defense soon, there will be no Super Bowl repeat. At 3-2, the Jets have surprised many. Yet, New England is still the strongest team in a weak division. Sunday's showdown in NYC will prove which team is a pretender and a contender.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Washington Redskins
San Francisco is challenging for the trophy of worst team in the NFL. Meanwhile, Washington has had a decent 2-2 start. The 49ers maybe getting beaten, but at least the team is keeping it close. Four of San Francisco's losses have been by three points. Washington is being touted as a playoff contender thanks to its easy remaining schedule. The team's losses came against division leaders Philadelphia and Kansas City. There's no shame in that.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have had difficulty getting their running game started. That has influenced the team to hit the trade market. Ahead of week 6, Arizona acquired Adrian Peterson from New Orleans. The move should improve the ground game and give Carson Palmer the help he needs. The Bucs are hitting the road for six of their next eight games. The schedule only gets more difficult for the team. Tampa Bay just needs to keep scoring (21.2 ppg) as the Cardinals are giving up the sixth most ppg (25).
LA Rams vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Rams have started well at 3-2 and average the second most ppg in the NFL (30.4). The Jags are also 3-2, and NFL number crunchers state the team has the easiest schedule to play this season. This game should be a shootout as Jacksonville's offense is no pushover. The Jags are fifth in ppg with 27.8.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
What a game this will be at Arrowhead. Kansas City has been brilliant. The team leads the NFL in scoring. The team has had just one turnover, and without making mistakes, the Chiefs are forcing teams to beat them. Which they aren't. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off one of his worst ever games against Jacksonville. He threw five interceptions in a loss against the Jags. He needs to play much better, but the Chiefs defense is strong.
LA Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders
After a 2-0 start, the Raiders have lost three straight games. Derek Carr is injured and the Raiders have no hope in the AFC West. The Chargers are coming off of their first win of the season, beating the Giants last weekend. This game may not be pretty, but it could spark one team onto a better second half of the season.
New York Giants vs Denver Broncos
The Broncos are 3-1 and have the NFL's stingiest defense. The Giants are just bad. Denver's offense is middle of the road when it comes to yards and points, but that is still better than what the Giants offer. Making New York's attempt at a win even more difficult is the injury to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
Both teams have identical records coming into NFL week 6. But that's okay because the other two teams in the AFC South do as well. A win could propel either the Colts or Titans to playoff contention. A loss and fans can think about 2018. The Colts have the NFL's worst points difference at –62. The Titans need quarterback Marcus Mariota healthy, and reports indicate Tennesse will make a decision whether to play him or not on Monday. If he does, the Titans chances for a win improve greatly.