NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 6

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Pittsburgh @ Tennessee (+4½)

The Steelers edged the Eagles 16-14 last week, winning on Sean Suisham's 34-yard field goal as time expired. Pittsburgh is now 2-2, but may be without Troy Polamalu on Thursday in Tennessee, after re-aggravating his calf injury.

"That is one temperamental calf," Mike Tomlin said. "It gets aggravated so easily. Obviously, Troy won't play Thursday, because he can't play on one leg. But I expect the 'Samoan Kickstand' to heel fast.

"Our goal is to contain Chris Johnson. He's off to a slow start, but he could break one at any point. And by break 'one,' I mean a one-yard run."

The Titans dropped to 1-4 after last Sunday's 30-7 loss in Minnesota. Johnson continues to struggle, and the Tennessee passing game has suffered as a result.

"This team is eager to win," Mike Munchak said. "No one's been this hungry in Tennessee since LenDale White formed the larger half of the 'Smash and Dash' duo. I guess 2,000's out of the question for Chris. Maybe he should set his sights on 1,000. It appears Chris gives the term 'running back' its most literal meaning."

To compound the Titans offensive issues, the NFL is investigating a bounty scandal on the defense. It's a relative certainty that players aren't involved in a bounty program; it's an absolute certainty that, if they were, none of them would have collected.

Pittsburgh wins, 27-20.

Dallas @ Baltimore (-4½)

The Cowboys have had two weeks to contemplate their miserable 34-18 loss to the Bears, and now face the unenviable task of a road game in Baltimore, where the Ravens have won 13 straight.

"Joe Theismann said I wasn't very good" Romo said. "That's Joe. He gets paid to criticize people. He's cracked on other players before, like Lawrence Taylor.

"Criticism doesn't bother me. I thrive on it. As such, I'm thriving. I'm thick-skinned, much like Jerry Jones before his facelift. He's like a football — leathery, and can't stay off the field. Jerry's quite fond of facelifts. He gives the team one every three years."

With their offense struggling, the Ravens' defense carried the load last week in Kansas City, where Baltimore won a 9-6 defensive struggle. The Cowboys will certainly present more of a challenge, and Romo is eager to erase the memory of his five interception day against the Bears.

"That game is in the past for Romo," Ray Lewis said. "You have to have a short memory, especially when every other game is forgettable.

"We just have to come out and play our game. We're still trying to figure out exactly what that is, a 41-38 shootout, or a 10-9 slugfest. Make no mistake, though, this is Joe Flacco's team. Joe's a lot like Trent Dilfer in that he makes few mistakes and doesn't try to do too much. Flacco also reminds me of Dilfer because Joe can't win a Super Bowl without the 2000 Ravens' defense."

The extra week's rest does the Cowboys some good, and extra work in the film room uncovers weaknesses in the Ravens' line that DeMarcus Ware exploits for two sacks and a forced fumble. Romo throws for 2 scores and the Cowboys silence their critics until their next loss a week down the road.

Dallas wins, 24-21.

Cincinnati @ Cleveland (+3)

The Browns are the NFL's last winless team, standing at 0-5 in the AFC North. They'll try to get in the win column when the 3-2 Bengals visit the Dawg Pound.

"Brandon Weeden's career is off to a rough start," said Pat Shurmur. "You could say the 'Brandon Weeden era' is as auspicious as the 'Brandon Weeden ERA.' But he's resilient. He's been 0-5 before. In another job in which throwing was imperative."

Cincinnati is coming off a tough 17-13 loss to Miami at Paul Brown Stadium, as three turnovers eventually did in the Bengals. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will face a Browns' defense that gave up 502 total yards to the Giants last week.

"I should have a field day against the Browns' secondary," Green said. "Coverage certainly is not their bread and butter. That's great, because I like my toast 'Brown-ed.'"

Cincinnati wins, 30-21.

St. Louis @ Miami (-2½)

The Dolphins ended a streak of two straight overtime losses with a 17-13 win over the Bengals. Miami is 2-3 in the AFC East, only one game behind the division-leading Patriots.

"No one expected us to be here," Joe Philbin said. "Not with a rookie coach, a rookie quarterback, and Dan Carpenter. Luckily, Carpenter's missed field goal didn't cost us the game. He may be a 'Carpenter,' but one thing he can't build is a lead.

"But there hasn't been a buzz like this in South Beach since the Heat won a scrimmage against the Golden State Warriors in October of last year."

The Rams knocked off the previously unbeaten Cardinals 17-3 last Thursday, paced by a defense that sacked Kevin Kolb 9 times. The Dolphins fell to Arizona 24-21 in overtime in Week 4.

"We're 3-2," Jeff Fisher said. "This is the first time the Rams' record and Sam Bradford's completion percentage have simultaneously been over .500."

The Miami defense comes up big, with four turnovers, and Carpenter nails all three of his extra point attempts.

Miami wins, 21-13.

Indianapolis @ NY Jets (-2)

Andrew Luck won his personal battle with Aaron Rodgers, as the Colts outgunned the visiting Packers 30-27 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy is 2-2, and in sole possession of second place in the AFC South.

"I feel like I played up to the standards set by Peyton Manning," Luck said. "Rodgers fell at the mercy of replacement officials in Seattle; now, he can say the same about a replacement quarterback.

"In MetLife Stadium, my task is to outplay whomever the Jets' play at quarterback. I think I could do that handcuffed, which is what Rex Ryan must feel when choosing a starter."

The Jets tested the undefeated Texans before dropping a 23-17 decision in MetLife Stadium on Monday night. Mark Sanchez struggled after throwing an early touchdown pass, and finished 14-31 for 230 yards with one TD and 2 interceptions.

"That's was what they call a 'moral' victory," Ryan said. "Guess what? As is usually the case, there's an 'L' in 'moral.'

"Sanchez is still my quarterback. The time is not right for Tim Tebow. That would be premature. Before Tebow can become my quarterback, he has to become a quarterback."

Jets win, 23-20.

Oakland @ Atlanta (-7½)

After a 24-17 win in Washington, the Falcons are 5-0 and well ahead in the NFC South. Matt Ryan threw for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns, and the Falcons knocked Robert Griffin III out of the game in the second quarter.

"RG3," Mike Smith said, "meet 'TK0.' Griffin has a great career ahead of him, and will probably be the NFL's best quarterback one day. Until that time comes, we'll just consider this his first official 'crowning.'

"We're pleased with the win. The last time we played an NFC East opponent on the road, in chilly weather, and one team scored 24 points, we didn't win."

The Raiders are 1-3 and are averaging a paltry 17 points per game while giving up 31 per game. Rested after a bye week, head coach Dennis Allen knows the Raiders will have their hands full with the Falcons' offense, who average 30 points per game

"A successful turnaround falls on my narrow shoulders," Allen said. "Some say I don't have it in me. Some say I look to nerdy to be an NFL coach. Some call me 'Dweeb Ewbank.'"

The Raiders put up a fight, and Darren McFadden keeps them in it. But the Falcons' aerial game decides the outcome, as Ryan tosses 3 touchdown passes.

Atlanta wins, 34-28.

Detroit @ Philadelphia (-5)

Turnovers again spelled doom for the Eagles, as two Michael Vick fumbles contributed heavily to Philly's 16-14 loss in Pittsburgh last week. Vick leads the NFC in turnovers with 11, and ball security will be a major factor against a Detroit defense that needs to create turnovers.

"Vick's issues are certainly correctable," Andy Reid said, "so we're sending him to a 'correctional facility.' There, he'll need to work on two things: tightening his grip, and tightening his jock strap, because ball security is imperative.

"It would be hasty to bench Vick. He gives us the best chance to win; however, he gives us a better chance to lose."

The 1-3 Lions are perilously close to falling too far behind in what has become a competitive NFC North division, made even tougher by the emergence of the Vikings. A loss at Lincoln Financial Field would drop the Lions to 1-4 and a likely four-game hole in the division.

"It's like Ndamukong Suh says," Jim Schwartz said. "We've got to 'step' on it. Otherwise, we'll be left in the dust.

"An anonymous league general manager called us 'overrated.' I resent that. This team believes in itself with conviction. When we play with passion, we mean it, because we love ourselves."

The Lions play with reckless abandon, blitzing Vick mercilessly and going for the home run pass time and time again. Jason Hanson's late field goal gives the Lions the huge win.

Detroit wins, 25-22.

Kansas City @ Tampa Bay (-3)

It's Sunday's "Game of the Weak," as the 1-4 Chiefs travel to Tampa to face the 1-3 Buccaneers. Matt Cassel threw 2 interceptions and lost a fumble before leaving the game with a head injury in the fourth quarter in a game the Chiefs eventually lost 9-6 to the Ravens.

"The Ravens were a lot like our disgruntled fans," Romeo Crenel said. "They both 'tee'd off' on Cassel.

"Cassel was suffering blurred vision and disorientation. And that was before he got hit. But I think it's time for a change, which means Brady Quinn will get the nod. Quinn played at Notre Dame with Jesus watching over him. Apparently, Quinn is not on Twitter, because Jesus didn't 'follow' him to the pros."

The Bucs spent their bye week trying to correct the problems that have contributed to their 1-3 start, such as a sputtering offense and inconsistent play from Josh Freeman.

"Josh lost 20 pounds during the offseason," Greg Schiano said. "Now, he's a leaner and lighter version of a mediocre quarterback.

"I like our matchup against Quinn. Playing 'BQ' is like a visit to 'DQ' — there's 'soft' serve."

Tampa wins, 20-14.

Buffalo @ Arizona (-3½)

The Cardinals' unbeaten record came to a crashing end in a 17-3 loss in St. Louis last Thursday night. Arizona's offensive line play has been atrocious, giving up 17 sacks in the last two weeks. Kevin Kolb has been sacked a league-worst 22 times this year.

"Our line is not giving Kolb time to pass," Ken Whisenhunt said. "On the plus side, they're giving him plenty of time to run. Unfortunately, it's for his life."

The Bills face an NFC West opponent for the second week in a row. Last week, Buffalo was smashed 45-3 in San Francisco, and is surrendering over 30 points per game, including 97 in their last two games.

"We've lost by an average of 33 points in the last two weeks," said Chan Gailey. "Indeed, it's time to circle the wagons, because they're the only thing that's 'covered' anything lately.

"Amazingly, we're only a game out of first in the AFC East. We strive to be the Patriots. Not because they lead the division, but because they can win with a terrible defense."

The Cards' offensive line impresses, not because they're good, but because they're playing the Bills. Kolb has time, and finds Larry Fitzgerald 10 times for 138 yards and 2 scores.

Arizona wins, 31-24.

New England @ Seattle (+3)

The Patriots jumped on the Broncos early, and repelled Denver's comeback attempts in a 31-21 win last week. New England leads the AFC West with a 3-2 record.

"We know it will be tough at CenturyLink Stadium," Tom Brady said. "It's called 'CenturyLink' because the Seattle offense has set the game back 100 years.

"Seattle's home crowd may be the loudest in the NFL. But answer me this: does the '12th Man' refer to the fans or the officials?"

The Seahawks nipped the Panthers 16-12 in Charlotte last week, winning another defensive struggle after cam Newton's fourth-down pass in the end zone fell short. The Seahawks have scored more than 16 points in only one game this year, and will likely need more against the visiting Patriots.

"Who short arms a 12-yard pass?" Pete Carroll said. "Newton can't be Superman; Superman wears a cape, not a skirt.

"Russell Wilson is averaging only 6.52 yards per passing attempt. That's 29th in the league. We have to improve our downfield passing attack. I hate to say this to a 5'10" quarterback, but Russell, 'You've got to get vertical.'"

Which was the more awful officiating call, the Seattle "Hail Mary" against the Packers, or the "Tuck Rule?" Like much of America, Charles Woodson is undecided.

It's "Beauty and the Beast," as Tom Terrific leads the Pats over the 'Hawks and Marshawn Lynch. Brady's three passing scores top Lynch's 167 yards and 2 scores, and the Patriots win, 24-19.

NY Giants @ San Francisco (-3)

Revenge will be the 49ers' motivation when the Giants visit Candlestick Park on Sunday. In last year's NFC title game, the Giants came to San Francisco and left with a 23-20 overtime win.

"That loss was like a hemorrhoid," Jim Harbaugh said. "It didn't sit well with us. And speaking of irritable assholes, Tom Coughlin should have the G-Men well prepared."

The Giants dug an early 14-0 hole last week to the Browns, but dominated thereafter to take a 41-27 win. New York, 3-2, is tied for first in the NFC East with the Eagles.

"Unfortunately," Tom Coughlin said, "that's a nasty habit we've developed. Sadly, the Giants are known for either digging holes for themselves, or shooting holes in themselves."

Last time, the 49ers did the shooting, blasting a hole right in their foot. This time, San Fran limits their errors, and forces a few New York mistakes.

49ers take an emotional 26-20 win.

Minnesota @ Washington (-2½)

The Redskins lost Robert Griffin III to a concussion in last week's 24-17 loss to the Falcons. Griffin was cleared to practice and should start on Sunday.

"Robert will be fine, I think," Mike Shanahan said. "He went from seeing flying colors to passing his concussion test with flying colors. Luckily, he's not missing a start. So, in actuality, he didn't get knocked into next week."

The Vikings are 4-1 and tied atop the NFC South after last week's 30-7 win over the Titans. Percy Harvin scored 2 touchdowns, and the Vikes' seventh-ranked defense stifled the Titans' advances.

"Christian Ponder threw 2 interceptions last week," Leslie Frazier said. "Those were his first two of the year. Hopefully, that won't be a harbinger of more mistakes to come. Unlike a former Vikings quarterback, we hope Christian doesn't 'peter out.'"

Vikings win, 27-19.

Green Bay @ Houston (-2½)

What's wrong with the Packers? Green Bay is 2-3 after blowing a late lead in a 30-27 loss to Andrew Luck and the Colts in Indianapolis. The Packers gave up 464 yards of total offense, and Aaron Rodgers 3 passing touchdowns weren't enough.

"We've gone from the 'What The Hell? Mary' in Seattle," Rodgers said, "to simply 'What the Hell?'

"We can't blame everything on our defense. Our offensive line is guilty of underperforming, as well. If they deserve anything, it's blame. I've been sacked 21 times this year, second-worst in the league. I try to stay positive and tell our lineman we have the league's second-best ground game."

The Texans remained undefeated with a 23-17 win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium last Monday night. Houston's J.J. Watt, the NFL leader in sacks, will give the Packers' much-maligned offensive line a stern test.

"Not only do I lead the league in sacks," Watt said, "I also lead in passes knocked down. You've got to 'hand' it to me, that's pretty impressive. By the way, 'Mitt' Romney approves this message."

Rodgers has taken much of the blame for the Packers' woes. That's his way of telling the rest of the team that they suck.

Green Bay bounces back, and wins 34-31.

Denver @ San Diego (-3)

The Broncos look for their first road win of the year in a vital AFC West contest in San Diego. Denver is 2-3 after last week's 31-21 loss in Foxborough. With a win at Qualcomm Stadium, Denver would forge a tie a 3-3 with the Chargers.

"I'm still getting re-acclimated to how things used to be," Peyton Manning said. "Leaving New England with a loss was certainly a reminder of how things used to be.

"This offense is still a work in progress. It's much like a surgically-repaired neck — it takes a while to work out the kinks."

The Chargers held a 24-14 lead over the Saints early in the third quarter last week, but their offense sputtered, and two Phillip Rivers' turnovers sealed their fate.

"It was a painful defeat," Phillip Rivers said, "but it was refreshing to see Drew Brees break Johnny Unitas' record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. It's too bad Unitas couldn't have been there to see it, but I'm sure he was looking on from above. You could say Brees broke his spirit, and ours."

Denver wins, 33-28.

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