Two undefeated teams remain, as the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans sit at 5-0. The Falcons have opened a 3½ game division lead, as the Bucs, Panthers and Saints all have just one victory heading into the sixth week of the NFL season.
This week, Atlanta hosts the 1-3 Raiders and head into the game as a heavy favorite. Meanwhile, the Texans will have a major test against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Over in the “Pick Your Knows” department, I have managed 19 victories over the last two weeks. But the hot streak took a minor jab on Thursday, as the Titans completed a fourth quarter comeback to knock off the visiting Steelers. With four teams on a bye, I’ll need seven victories to hit the .500 mark for the week.
Last Week: 8-6
This Season: 40-37
Last Two Seasons: 144-112 (2010) and 131-125 (2011)
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 6’s scheduled games (with spreads as they appear through CBSSports Fantasy).
Pick Your Knows: 2012 NFL Week 6 Picks Against the Spread
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans (+5.5) – Final: Titans 26, Steelers 23
The Steelers will be without LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu on defense this week, while Jake Locker is questionable at QB for the Titans. If Locker can’t play, the start will again go to veteran Matt Hasselbeck. Pittsburgh’s pass offense is ranked in the top ten, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing 9 TD’s with just 1 INT. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s pass defense is ranked 25th in the league, giving up 12 TD’s on the year, while managing just 3 INT’s. The Steelers should have no problem moving the ball down the field. Pittsburgh covers on the road.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
The Chiefs gave the Ravens a tough test last week, and have fed off a second-ranked rushing offense that averages 180.8 yards per game. Matt Cassel is doubtful due to a concussion, which likely means that Brady Quinn will get the start. Tampa Bay’s pass defense is ranked last in the NFL, but again, it’s Brady Quinn, who has a career 67.3 QB rating and 52.5% completion percentage. The Bucs’ rush defense is ranked fourth in the NFL, and will be challenged. Kansas City’s one-dimensional offense may have a tough time on the road in Tampa Bay. Bucs cover.
KP’s Pick: Tampa Bay
Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
The Dallas offense has struggled and Tony Romo has been a big reason why, recently throwing five picks against the Bears. The Cowboys’ defense is ranked fourth overall in the NFL, and will throw a lot at Baltimore’s balanced offense. The Ravens managed just 9 points last week against the Chiefs, but are undefeated at home. Dallas is coming off a bye, and has had plenty of time to prepare for the Ravens. Normally, I would go with the Ravens at home, but with a week to rest and prepare, combined with its strong defense, I’m taking the Cowboys and the points.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
St. Louis Rams at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
Both the Dolphins and Rams have 15 sacks on the season and could provide significant pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. St. Louis is one of two teams to have zero rushing touchdowns this season. Miami has the league’s top run defense, allowing just 61.4 yards per game. The Rams will likely miss Danny Amendola in the passing game, and another receiver will have to step up. St. Louis has a solid kicking game and Miami has been caught in close games in each of its last three contests. With that in mind, bank on the Rams to keep this one close. This one comes down to a fourth quarter field goal.
KP’s Pick: St. Louis
Oakland Raiders at Atlanta Falcons (-8.5)
The Oakland defense has just three sacks on the season, and therefore, Matt Ryan could see plenty of time to throw to his numerous offensive weapons. Oakland is coming off its bye week, but will still have trouble playing on the road versus the undefeated Falcons. Matt Ryan (106.1 QB rating) should torch Oakland’s defense, much like Peyton Manning did a few weeks back. Atlanta’s run defense (27th in the NFL) is vulnerable, and if Darren McFadden can have a huge day, Oakland may have a chance. But if not, Atlanta will cruise. Falcons cover.
KP’s Pick: Atlanta
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5)
Detroit is coming off a bye week and has had an extra week to prepare for Mike Vick and the Eagles. The Eagles are coming off an emotional loss to the Steelers. Detroit’s defense has yet to pick off a pass, and has allowed a 101.3 rating to opposing quarterbacks. But with weapons like Calvin Johnson and a week of preparation, I’m banking on the potent Lions to find a way to keep this game close. Take Detroit and the points.
KP’s Pick: Detroit
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (+2.5)
The Bengals have won seven of its last eight games against the Browns. Cleveland CB Joe Haden’s suspension has been lifted and is listed as questionable for the game. Haden could come back and cover Bengals star receiver A.J. Green. Tackle machine D’Qwell Jackson is doubtful for Cleveland with a concussion, which could open up some offensive opportunities for the Bengals. The Browns are at home, but the Bengals have more talent. That, plus Cincy’s league-leading 18 sacks will provide pressure on Brandon Weeden and the Cleveland pass game. Cincy covers on the road.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati
Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets (-3.5)
Andrew Luck posted the biggest win of his young career last week during Indy’s huge comeback win against the Packers. Reggie Wayne has been a nightmare for opposing defenses, and the New York secondary will have their hands full with Revis out. Indy’s pass defense is no slouch, and Mark Sanchez has been struggling. The Jets may be at home, but the Colts have made a believer out of me.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals (-5.5)
Buffalo’s defense is ranked 31st in the NFL. Arizona’s offense hasn’t been a juggernaut, and is clearly one-dimensional, with so many injuries to its running game. But the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, who will likely have a big day. Arizona also plays well at home, and has had a few extra days rest after playing last Thursday. Arizona has allowed a league-leading 23 sacks, but Buffalo’s pass rush has only managed 10 total on the year. The Cards and its passing weapons will prove to be too much playing at home. Arizona wins by a touchdown.
KP’s Pick: Arizona
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks (+3.5)
Here’s an interesting matchup between the NFL’s top offense (Patriots, 439.4 ypg) and its top defense (Seattle, 258.6 ypg). Something’s gotta give, right? The Seahawks have been a great home team for years, and the 12th man will pose a challenge for any opponent, including the Patriots. But New England’s offense is really clicking, plus it’s very balanced. Ridley and Woodhead have been strong in the run game, while Welker has exploded after a slow start. With the way the Pats are scoring in bunches, it would be hard to pick against them. New England covers.
KP’s Pick: New England
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-5.5)
The Giants continue to suffer through injuries on offense. Hakeem Nicks is questionable with a foot injury, Andre Brown is doubtful with a concussion and Martellus Bennett is questionable with a knee injury. Still, the Giants keep moving the ball down the field, and currently sit with the league’s second ranked offense (429.2 ypg). Much like the New England – Seattle game, the Niners counter with the league’s second ranked defense (262.6 ypg). Sanchez, Ponder and Fitzpatrick are the last three QB’s that San Francisco has faced. This is Eli Manning. Therefore, take the Giants and the points.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins (-2.5)
Both Minnesota and Washington’s run defenses are ranked in the top ten and each will have a major challenge this week. Minnesota will look to get Adrian Peterson going, while the Redskins will counter with Alfred Morris and possibly QB Robert Griffin III, if he’s able to play after suffering a mild concussion last week versus Atlanta. This game could wind up being a low-scoring battle that will rely heavily on special teams. Washington is in the midst of replacing its kicker with a new one. Bank on Minnesota to be aggressive on defense, while also winning the special teams battle. Vikes win.
KP’s Pick: Minnesota
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans (-5.5)
The Packers are a surprising 2-3 heading into Houston to take on the undefeated Texans. Green Bay is dealing with a number of injuries on offense, specifically to Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and Cedric Benson. Benson is out for the year, and will likely be replaced by Alex Green. Houston is one of the most balanced teams, coupling strong defense with a balanced offense that features major weapons in Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. Still, the Texans could not pull away against the Jets, and this week, Houston gets Aaron Rodgers. In order to stay in this game, Green Bay (21 sacks allowed) will have to protect its star QB better. Houston has allowed a league low of three sacks, but has yet to see a pass attack like Green Bay has. In fact, the Packers are tied for the league lead with 18 sacks. This is one of the best matchups of the week and one that should live up to its billing. Packers keep it close.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (-2.5)
The Broncos are battle tested, facing the Patriots, Falcons and Texans in three of its last four matchups. Drew Brees exploded on the San Diego defense last week, and the same could happen for Peyton Manning (11 TD, 3 INT). San Diego’s defense has allowed 11 passing TD’s on the year, plus 4 plays of 40 yards or more. Denver might be in a must-win situation after falling to 2-3, and these Monday night games are a stage made for Manning. Philip Rivers will push this into a shootout, but his best target – Antonio Gates – has struggled. I give the edge to the Broncos in what should be a high-scoring and close game. Denver wins by a field goal.
KP’s Pick: Denver
Bye Week: Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars