NFL Picks for Week 6
by John Canton(NFL)
Posted on October 13, 2006, 12:22 PM
John: Welcome to week six of our weekly NFL picks column. Last week was a crazy week in the NFL because every favored team won every single game and that's not a common occurrence in the National Football League. Personally I went 12-2 and I really could've went 14-0 except that I wanted to pick two upsets (Detroit and Pittsburgh) just to be different. I thought, "no way all the faves win this week." Well, I was wrong there. This week is different. There's thirteen games instead of fourteen and with some close matchups I doubt there's going to be many perfect weeks this time. Before I pass it on, I'd like to apologize in advance for my work this week because it's not going to be as thorough as normal for me. In other words, I'll be keeping my Raiders jokes to a minimum. Sorry Raiders, but I hope you know I still think you suck.
drq: Well, you usually expect one or two of your longshots to come through, and to catch a break here or there... but last week was evidently neither the time nor the place. Although I went 9-5 and continue to meet my season goal of .500 or better, (lofty, I know) I really could've done without that Reggie Bush punt return to cripple the Bucs or the Charlie Frye INT coming back on the Browns for a touchdown. If either one of those plays goes the other way, I make up for my idiotic pick of New York over Jacksonville in a heartbeat. I'm not going to quit taking risks, though, and I'm going to continue to trust my gut with my picks going forward. I figure, in an NFL preview column it's better to have two guys who know what they're doing and one guy who's a little bit out there than three exact duplicates of one another. If anything, I'll make the readers feel a little better about their own picks. After all, I'm fairly certain I'm all alone in choosing the wrong end of a 41-0 shellacking, two weeks in a row. Man, talk about rotten...
John: No intro from Mr. Perfect Berliner, so here's how the current standings are looking:
Last Week: John Canton: 12-2
Brett Berliner: 14-0
Brett extends his lead some more as we head into the week six picks.
Note: The following teams have byes this week: Cleveland, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England
Buffalo at Detroit 1:00 p.m. drq: The Lions shut down Shaun Alexander to start the season, and Willis McGahee is the only real threat the Bills have in their arsenal right now. I like Buffalo's defense to keep them close, but a few long Detroit possessions late in the game will ultimately be their undoing. Detroit: 17 - Buffalo: 10
Brett: This is a real tough game for me to pick. On one hand, I really think the Bills are a better football team than the Lions, by far, but Detroit isn't so terrible that they will NEVER WIN A GAME. They have some talent and are playing hard. Yeah, they got blown out by the Bears, but so did everybody else. Other than that, they have been in every game. In fact, if you ignore the Bears game, their scores make them look like a good team. Obviously, they're winless, so they aren't, but the fact is, they can at least keep it close, which makes nearly every game winnable. I feel kind of bad for Buffalo, because I think they're going to be Detroit's first win, but they're a better team than their record shows. Sometimes young teams lose games they should win, and that's what I think is going to happen here. Detroit 19, Buffalo 16
John: As a resident of southern Ontario these are my two local teams. Detroit is two hours west, Buffalo is two hours east and if I didn't have Sunday Ticket I'd be subject to all their games every year. In other words, I hate these franchises. I have picked Detroit a couple times to get their first win. I like their offense, what can I say. As a Rams fan I'm used to the Martz offense and I think Kitna's doing a good job leading it. The problem is the defense blows. I'm not sure about the Bills. I don't have any sort of handle on them. So I'll just go with the Lions at home even though everybody in Detroit cares about the Tigers right now, with good reason. Lions 20-17
Carolina at Baltimore 1:00 p.m. drq: The Ravens saw their supposedly-improved offense exposed last week in Denver. With a terrible pick in the endzone at the end of the first half and turnover near the end of the fourth in Bronco territory, Steve McNair has to shoulder a lot of the blame, especially considering how close the game was at both moments. A field goal before the half would've given the Ravens a lead to protect, yet he tried to force the ball into the end zone in Champ Bailey's territory. Even late in the game, the Denver defense appeared to be on its heels and the Ravens offense was finally beginning to move the ball with some urgency. Then McNair threw a horrible pass into triple coverage, and the game was under wraps. To be fair, I don't think the Panthers' defense is nearly on the same level as the Bronc's this season, but the former co-MVP is going to need to put a little more thought into his actions going forward if he wants this early success to continue with any kind of consistency. The Baltimore D has been absurdly good this year, though, and with the kind of mistakes I've seen Jake Delhomme making in Carolina, I have to think that's all the edge the birds need here. Baltimore: 14 - Carolina: 10
Brett: Okay, yes, the Ravens are 4-1, but I was right. Steve McNair hasn't changed that offense at all. They don't play aggressively on offense, and they can't run the ball - even with Jamal Lewis and Mike Anderson - like they used to. A good, well coached team should be able to beat the Ravens nearly every time. Carolina is that team. The Ravens D is pretty good this year, but it's not as good as it was when they won the Super Bowl, and Carolina's tough D should be able to get to and rattle McNair, if not put him out. If Kyle Boller comes in.. well.. yeah. Carolina 24, Baltimore 13
John: I don't really believe in the Ravens. Their running game isn't good, McNair is not the savior that some in the media would have you believe and they have looked great defensively against inferior teams. Even though I think Carolina is generally overrated by most fans and media members I think they're better than Baltimore in all facets of the game. Panthers 17-13
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay 1:00 p.m. drq: I really liked what I saw out of rookie Bruce Gradkowski last week. He didn't throw very many long bombs, as his arm strength had been one of his main criticisms on draft day, but he did manage the offense efficiently, show tremendous poise for a QB in his first pro start, and (perhaps most importantly to Bucs fans) manage to get the ball over the line on a regular basis. Cadillac Williams finally awoke from his lengthy slumber last week, as well, rushing for more than 100 yards for the first time this season. In almost any situation, I'd say this is still a team that can compete this season, even after an 0-4 start. For the Bucs, unfortunately, that can't be the case. This team has possibly the most difficult schedule in the league this season, with upcoming games against Philadelphia, New England, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle and the Giants. If the Bucs can hang with the Bengals this week, they may have a prayer of sniffing .500 by the end of the year. I don't have a lot of confidence. Cincinnati: 34 - Tampa Bay: 21
Brett: Holy cow. This could be nasty, but I don't think it'll be quite so bad. For one, the Bengals often don't show up. They're a dangerous team, but they tend to play down to their opponents, especially when, going into the game, it looks like they're going to kill a team. They're also dealing with plenty of distractions. But I don't think that will be enough to stop the Bengals, especially against a rookie QB. Gradkowski isn't a bad player, but he's not good enough to outduel Carson Palmer yet, either. Cincinnati 31, Tampa Bay 20
John: I'm very confident in the Bengals here because their last game was spent being creamed by the Pats before they had their bye. They've been sitting at home for two weeks itching to prove that they're a legit contender in the AFC and I think they're facing just the team for it because the Bucs, even though they almost won last week, have problems all over the place. I like the Bengals comfortably. Bengals 31-16
Houston at Dallas 1:00 p.m. drq: For all of their problems last week, between the O-Line's horrendous play, TO's attitude, the early blocked punt, Bledsoe's inaccuracy and immobility... the Cowboys were still in the Philadelphia game until the final buzzer. This is a team that knows how to hang in against the good teams and (as evidenced by their destruction of the Titans two weeks ago) obliterate the bad ones. I think both lines come out with a chip on their shoulder and absolutely maul the poor Texans this weekend. David Carr and Andre Johnson have been playing phenomenally so far this season, but this Dallas squad is talented and pissed off. They want to send a message, and Houston is their postage. Dallas: 20 - Houston: 6
Brett: I feel like this could easily be the ol' upset special of the week. For one, the Texans are playing pretty decent ball. They still don't protect David Carr well, and that could be trouble against DeMarcus Ware this week, but I like the Texans to get to Bledsoe a few times and further shake everyone's confidence in them. I would love to hear "Wow, the Cowboys are bad.. they got beat by the friggin' Texans" all week. Houston 20, Dallas 19
John: Ah, the Cowboys. I hate them with a passion. They're an average team that gets way too much pub because they've got an owner that won't shut up, a grumpy coach and a star receiver that is the biggest media whore in the history of professional sports. Still, the Texans have too many defensive problems to win this game, so the Cowboys should probably come out on top. Cowboys 27-10
N.Y. Giants at Atlanta 1:00 p.m. drq: It's more than realistic to believe that one of these teams won't be making the playoffs this season. Looking back in late December, I've got a hunch that this game will be fairly important in one squad's playoff bid, and crippling in the other's. Atlanta's the home team, has a potentially explosive running attack and a defense that's been impressive all season. The Giants, on the other hand, have struggled against almost every game they've played this year. It seems that every week, one or two of their key players have underachieved, essentially crippling the team. All the signs are pointing to a big win for Atlanta here, and another tough setback for the reigning NFC East champions, but I've noticed some cause for concern with Atlanta's ability to close out a game at the end. That's one area where the Giants have certainly succeeded - the two minute drill with the game on the line. I see the Falcons jumping out to an early lead, blowing a couple opportunities to close the game out in the third quarter, and finally collapsing in the fourth. New York Giants: 17 - Atlanta: 13
Brett: Tough game to call, here. On one hand, the G-Men haven't played that great this season.. they have a team I really like, but they haven't really shown it yet. On the other hand, Michael Vick against a tough defense. Neither team is really doing much to make a case for me here. I tend to think the G-Men are a better team than they show, but I don't think they're going to get untracked yet. I think this is the start of the "Tom Coughlin unravel" we saw in Jacksonville, unfortunately, but if a team repeatedly plays under their talent level, isn't the coach usually the first to go? Atlanta 30, N.Y. Giants 21
John: Definitely a tough call here as my buddies have mentioned. I think they're evenly matched teams except Atlanta has two things going for them, which makes me want to pick them. They're coming off a bye and they're the home team. Those are the main reasons, plus I don't have much faith in the Giants run defense against an Atlanta team that loves to run it down their opponent's throats. It should be close, though. No doubt. Falcons 23-20
Philadelphia at New Orleans 1:00 p.m. drq: Both of these teams are extremely spirited surprise stories in 2006, and I love the way their defenses have been playing this season. Both clubs are similar in a lot of ways, finding offensive success both on the ground and the air, playing in front of frenzied home crowds and whipping teams that would have dominated them last year. I expect Reggie Bush to really start coming out of his shell, now that he's achieved that storied first touchdown, but the Eagles are just a bit more complete of a team at this point and McNabb's been playing too well to look past. Philadelphia: 21 - New Orleans: 17
Brett: I saw somebody call this game "a matchup of unlikely division leaders". Don't quite get that one - I was on the Eagles train early. I didn't predict them for the Super Bowl or anything (honestly, I'm not positive, I don't think I did pick a Super Bowl), but come on.. obviously, the team lives and dies with McNabb. He's their leader and best player, and last season's failures were largely a part of McNabb being hurt. He's healthy, he has some talent (not a ton, but light years more than what he did have) at WR, and the Eagles are rolling. The Saints are exceeding what I could have expected from them. They're a hell of a team and it's going to be hard to beat them at home, but I think the Eagles have the horses to do that. Philadelphia 31, New Orleans 25
John: I think the Saints have shown a lot this year, especially by the way they play at the end of close games. They're pulling some wins out of their hat that I didn't see coming. I just think the Iggles are on another level, though. Everybody talks about the Bears as the class of the NFC (with good reason), but I think Philly is right there. It's just hard for me to pick against McNabb with the way he's going this year. Eagles 26-14
Seattle at St. Louis 1:00 p.m. drq: I think the Seahawks are in serious trouble right about now. Shaun Alexander's continued absence has only served to further highlight Matt Hasselbeck's subpar play this year, and I can't see that improving against an invigorated and improved St. Louis defense. Factor in the potential loss of one of his starting receivers in Bobby Engram, and you've got a major problem in Seattle. The Rams have looked too good on offense, with Marc Bulger on an absolute tear, and they're on their home turf. The blue and gold take the division lead this week, with a convincing win against a struggling former Super Bowl contender. St. Louis: 35 - Seattle: 17
Brett: This is a textbook "Super Bowl hangover". Sure, the Hawks haven't been terrible, but would ANYBODY put them in the title game at this point in the season? They look utterly beatable, and not particularly tough. The Rams are hard to judge. Yeah, they're 4-1, and yeah, they've looked good, but you never can tell. Some weeks their D looks great, others, not so much. Some weeks their O looks great, others, not so much. They tend to play the Hawks hard, and I think the hometown advantage will be enough. St. Louis 30, Seattle 26
John: I don't know who to pick here, honestly. My heart says the Rams of course, but my mind says the Seahawks have had two weeks to prepare for this game because of the bye. Here's why I think the Rams will win: The offense is playing at a really high level. Now granted the quality of their opponents hasn't been great, but Marc Bulger hasn't thrown a pick all year, Steven Jackson is leading the league in rushing and the WRs are as good as ever. Throw in the fact that they're forcing turnovers at a rate better than anybody else (+12 on the year, ahead of the Bears at +10) against a team without the league MVP and I got the feeling that they'll get the ball from the Hawks. My worry is the lack of TDs in the redzone. Against Seattle you have to put the points on the board because I think the Hawks are going to do it to the Rams. Should be fun. The worst part? Due to a prior commitment I'm going to miss this game. Sigh. Rams 30-28
Tennessee at Washington 1:00 p.m. drq: The Titans turned a few heads last week, giving the Colts the scare of their lives and showing more than a few glimmers of offense on the ground. I'm not entirely sure the praise was justly deserved. They came into the game with a simple, effective game plan - run the ball at Indy's suspect ground defense, grab a lead before they can adjust, and try to sit on it for three quarters. They achieved the first two goals, but ultimately failed at the fourth. It doesn't take a good team to go after a team's obvious weakness, just some heads-up coaching and a few missed tackles. Against the Redskins, who I'd label as a more effective defensive unit, but a worse overall team, I don't think gameplan will be quite so easy to formulate. The Titans aren't a good team this year, no matter how close they came to surprising the perennial division-leaders last Sunday. Washington: 21 - Tennessee: 10
Brett: Okay, so, to be fair.. I don't like to pick against the spread, and last week, I said to take the spread. And I know the Titans played the Colts tough, and a lot of that had to do with surprise. Vince Young is very good, already, too. He needs polish, but it is there. I don't think much of the 'Skins, but they're at home against a bad defense and a bad offense. The Titans will keep it close, but they aren't cohesive or good enough to win this game, yet. Washington 18, Tennesee 10
John: One of these weeks Vince Young is going to have some game where he throws for 200 yards and 2 TDs, then runs for another 80 with another TD as he dominates the game like he did in college. This ain't going to be that week, though. Redskins 24-17
Kansas City at Pittsburgh 4:15 p.m. drq: A tough game to call, especially considering the two guys under center. Roethlisberger has been struggling mightily this season, and I don't even know how to pronounce the guy's name in Kansas City, but from all indications he's been handling the stress of a sudden starting job pretty well. The Steelers are playing like they've been beat before the game even begins, and if they continue that trend here it'll be lights-out before the end of the half, but I think the home crowd will give them the boost they need to keep things competitive and even surprise the Chiefs on more than one occasion. The fabled Steeler D is still alive, as evidenced by their complete shutting-down of Ladanian Tomlinson last week, and a Chiefs team without Larry Johnson to fall back on is a Chiefs team with a major problem. I've flip-flopped several times already on this decision, but I like the Steelers. Pittsburgh: 17 - Kansas City: 13
Brett: There are few things in my life that I love more than watching the Steelers suck. Let's hope it continues. I don't see them in a season long funk, though, ending in a 5-11 record. They have too talented of a team, and they've played together too long to be awful. 8-8, I could see. The Chiefs have actually been relatively impressive so far this season. They have played a lot better on defense (in no small part thanks to Ty Law), and their offense has been alright, considering Damon Huard has been their signal caller. They should win this game, but the Steelers play better when their backs are against the wall... Pittsburgh 24, Kansas City 17
John: I was wrong on the Steelers last week against San Diego and previously against Cincy as well. This week I feel confident in picking them because I think they will be able to run the ball on the Chiefs. I also think the Steelers will be able to stop a Chiefs offense that has a backup QB and a banged up stud RB in Larry Johnson. I also hope they cover the spread for betting purposes. At some point Pittsburgh's offense will wake up. I think this is the game. Steelers 27-13
Miami at N.Y. Jets 4:15 p.m. drq: Losses to both the Texans and the Jets early in the season? Before week one, that would've been a laughable proposition to the Miami Dolphins, but it's a very real possibility this Sunday afternoon. The Fins are spiraling out of control right now, with an O-Line that isn't carrying its own weight, a disheartening quarterback controversy and a disappointing running game, while the Jets have only recently come back to Earth after an impressive first four weeks. New York's a better team than they showed against the Jaguars last week, which isn't saying much, but I think they've got enough to continue Miami's woes. New York Jets: 14 - Miami: 10
Brett: Every year, people jump on the bandwagon of two types of teams - those who had decent offseasons and those who play some good teams tough early. Clearly, both of these teams have been overrated this year, and since I don't like them, that is great for me. I feel the Jets are really, really, really young. They have a shot to be a good team next year, but they have some major additions that need to be made (defensively, mostly). Miami, I don't know what's up with them. I don't think they are good. Jets win at home. N.Y. Jets 20, Miami 10
John: I like the Jets. Last week's drubbing by the Jags aside, I think they're well coached, they don't give up the big plays and they are getting some very good QB play out of Chad Pennington. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are in the kind of funk that I did not forsee. I don't understand what their problems are. The talent is there even with Harrington at QB. They're just not playing good. So I'll take the Jets here. Jets 16-10
San Diego at San Francisco 4:15 p.m. drq: The Niners are overmatched. San Diego's defense is big, fast and angry after subpar performances the past two weeks. Ladanian Tomlinson should be ready to explode this week, following a miserable game against Pittsburgh in prime time last weekend. Philip Rivers proved that he's more than just the other side of the Eli Manning trade against the Steelers, and should have a much easier time shredding the San Fran secondary. It's all beginning to align for the Chargers, which should be a scary proposition for the entire AFC West. There's been a 41-0 game for two weeks running now, and I've picked the team on the wrong side of it each time. I like San Diego's chances to continue one trend, while derailing another. I'm not getting the blowout wrong this week. San Diego: 41 - San Francisco: 0
Brett: So, I think the 49ers are a better team than they were last year, and I don't know about the Chargers yet, but I don't think this is much of a choice. The 49ers won't beat good teams until they get Click Clack back. This won't be harsh enough to fix the hurting from the Super Bowl, though. San Diego 30, San Francisco 14
John: I'm not sure if I'm ready to anoint the Chargers as the best team in the AFC because they are coached by Marty "screw it up in the playoffs" Schottenheimer after all. They are a class above the Niners though. San Fran thrives on the running ability of Frank Gore. Against San Diego they can't do that. You can't run on that team. That means lots of pressure on Alex Smith, so I like the Chargers to win it rather comfortable. Chargers 31-13
Oakland at Denver 8:15 p.m. drq: If there's anybody out there still debating their survivor pick for this week, rest easy that one of the two late night games will provide an easy answer. Denver looked like a team on a mision in shutting down the Baltimore offense last week, and despite a few bad decisions, Jake Plummer was fairly reliable once all the chips were on the table in the fourth quarter. The Broncos are here to compete in 2006, and even if they weren't, I don't think Oakland would prove to be too much of a challenge. The Raiders may already be looking ahead to their face-off with Houston in week 13, their next serious shot at a victory this year. Denver: 34 - Oakland: 3
Brett: I know the rules, but man, this is the one thing that bugs me most about the NFL. Well, first, they should have had the foresight to determine that the Raiders weren't going to be good this season, and not put them on Sunday night. But second, games like this happen way too much. It kills Monday Night Football. I don't get excited for those games, because they aren't usually very good! Weak. This is going to be nasty. In Denver, Sunday night, national game? Over/under on Art Shell tears has to be at 50. Denver 35, Oakland 10
John: Screw talking about the game. You know what's going to happen. I know what's going to happen. The players know what's going to happen. What I'm going to talk about is the networks that show teams like the Raiders and Packers on primetime even though they suck so bad you wonder if they're going to get demoted to the CFL or the Arena League after the year. Look, we know the Raiders were good 30 years ago. They suck now, though. Do not force me to watch them by putting them on primetime. You realize this is the first of THREE Raiders primetime games this year? I beat you're all excited about the Monday night tilt at Seattle in a few weeks. So glad they got the Raiders on! Meanwhile my Rams, at 4-1, get just one? Whatever. Broncos 30-3
Chicago at Arizona 8:30 p.m. (Monday) drq: Chicago is just rolling right now, and the media's beginning to eat it up. I love it when analysts pick week six to begin serious talks about a perfect season, and that subject was broached with the Bears even before their week five kickoff. If the Cardinals had an offensive line to protect Leinart and both of their weapons at WR, (Larry Fitzgerald will be sitting this one out) they might have enough fireworks to keep the Chicago D on its heels, but in their current state I can't even realistically expect Arizona to cover the spread. The Bears will lose at some point this season, that stretch in the middle of their schedule is too tough not to, but at this point it would appear that they're the real threat the NFC's been lacking for so many years.Chicago: 28 - Arizona: 13
Brett: I guess I should have saved my prime time rant for here? The Bears are too good of a team, and Arizona's better, but they aren't there yet. Bad early test for Matt Leinart. The Bears are going to swallow him. Chicago 30, Arizona 16
John: I love the fall of the Cards because I knew it was coming. As for the Bears, what can you say other than they look like the best team in football right now by a lot. Championships aren't won in October, though, so we'll have to see if they can keep it up. For the record I don't see them going undefeated. It's too hard in today's NFL. Bears 27-7
JC vs. The Spread I'll use the line that TheGreek.com provides and I'll pick four games that I think you should bet on for the week. Why TheGreek.com? Because that's where I place my bets. I'm Greek. That's where I belong.
Last week: 2-1-1 - Just like the previous week. Better than being under .500 right?
Cincinnati (-5.5) over Tampa Bay The Bengals are a good team that's pissed off while coming off a bye. I like those odds.
Philadelphia (-3.5) over New Orleans I like the Eagles too much right now to not pick them.
NY Jets (-3) over. Miami I can't really figure out either team, but I like the Jets at home and I've really soured on the fish this year.
Pittsburgh (-7) over Kansas City I should have bet on Monday when the spread was 6.5 rather than 7, but I still like the champs here.
Thatís it. I didn't touch the Broncos, Bears or Chargers even though I see them all winning. I just don't like betting on games with spreads that high.
Until next week, for Drqshadow and Brett Berliner this is John Canton saying enjoy the games. You know we will.