It's the sixth week of the NFL season and very few fan bases have completely lost hope. Even those with only one win have some reasons to hope (i.e. Cam Newton's talent emerging in Carolina). Is Philadelphia done for the year? Can Atlanta rebound? How real are the Bills, Redskins and Bengals? Can Detroit stay undefeated? These are all questions worth asking and some of those answers could become a bit clearer this weekend.
Here are the Week 6 Picks and Predictions:
Carolina @ Atlanta
This is a must-win for Atlanta. That might sound funny so early in the season, but imagine if the worst team in the division knocks the Falcons to 2-4. They won't recover from that and this is a team that needs to establish some sort of a run. Cam Newton is always dangerous but each week teams find way to overcome his near-heroics to beat the Panthers. The Falcons need to be the next to do so.
Falcons 24, Panthers 21
Indy @ Cincinnati
The Colts are clearly on the path to lose out the remainder of this season. In fact, watching the defense from last Sunday's loss to the Chiefs, the Colts seem more committed to go 0-16 than they did 16-0 just a few seasons ago. Cincy isn't this good, but my guess is that the Bengals will be 4-2 in Andy Dalton's rookie season.
Bengals 17, Colts 14
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh
Somewhere along the way, the Jags went from respectable fringe contenders to a lifeless doormat. The spark is gone from the team. The defensive identity has flopped. Blaine Gabbert has been thrown to the lions (and handled himself decently). The Steelers displayed a needed defensive toughness last week against Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans, and the Jags won't even come close to challenging here.
Steelers 24, Jaguars 10
Buffalo @ New York Giants
The Bills continue to roll each week but much of it can be attributed to the opposing team falling apart. The win over the Eagles certainly had more to do with the Eagles losing the game and the Bills winning it and that's something the Giants seem prone to do as well. The Bills will be in position to win this, but it's up to Eli Manning whether or not the Giants will win or lose. The Bills will lose their second here.
Giants 30, Bills 24
San Francisco @ Detroit
Who would have thought this match-up would featured teams at a combined 9-0? That notion is ridiculous, but both the 49ers and Lions have shown themselves much more formidable than anyone would believe. At least one of them has to be a pretender, right? If a bubble is going to burst, it will be the Niners who have the same offensive core that's merely been offensive the last six years or so. Alex Smith and Frank Gore cannot continue to win 80 percent of their games.
Lions 30, 49ers 10
St. Louis @ Green Bay
Just when the Rams get a bye week to heal a bit, refocus and come out strong... oh, yeah, the Packers are next. The Rams cannot be this bad, but Sam Bradford doesn't even look good in losing efforts. Something is majorly wrong with St. Louis and even if the team loses this game, Bradford and company must look good doing so. And that's about as much as you can ask this Rams team against the juggernauts of the NFL.
Packers 34, Rams 21
Philadelphia @ Washington
I've said it before and I'm restating it here: the Eagles will win their division. Even at 1-4, the team is too talented and there's no reason to panic when the team has exhibited so much success in the past. Some assistant coaches should probably take the fall (here's looking at you, Juan Castillo), but the Eagles will be fine. The opposite point could be made about the Redskins. The talent's not there to lead this division (maybe the NFC West). It's time for the tables to begin to turn.
Eagles 28, Redskins 0
Cleveland @ Oakland
The Ghost of Al Davis did something magical last week, but the Raiders talent should be able to take care of a team like the Browns themselves without any emotional or spiritual help from the powers-that-be. The Browns should have taken advantage of a very easy schedule early on, but apparently the Bengals got the memo instead. Within a division like the AFC North, if you don't take advantage of every opportunity, you're picking in the Top 10 of the draft again.
Raiders 30, Browns 14
Houston @ Baltimore
The Texans hope to bounce back from injuries and maintain their goal and pace of winning the AFC South. The Ravens look to be one of the top teams in the NFL however, and it's hard to imagine the Texans having enough in the tank to win on the road. If they do, the Texans enter the "contender" conversation. That's not likely to happen just yet.
Ravens 20, Texans 17
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay
Is Tampa Bay for real or not? Josh Freeman and company laid an egg last week against the 49ers, and the Bucs are hard to figure out at this point. One week they're a hot young team on the rise. Then comes the Niners contest. The Saints hold all the cards in the division, and Brees will make sure they don't overlook this easy road trip south. Things aren't looking up for the Bucs.
Saints 37, Bucs 31
Dallas @ New England
The best match-up of the day features a tale of two talented quarterbacks -- one who can do no wrong, one who can do no right. But Romo isn't as far off of Brady as one might think and this should go down to the wire. If you're smelling an upset in Week 6, this isn't a bad one to call. In fact, let's go for the "I told you so" factor here.
Cowboys 30, Patriots 24
Minnesota @ Chicago
The end of Donovan McNabb's career is rather sad for a player who's been a great NFL quarterback for quite some time. This Vikings team has more talent than they realize, which might point some fingers to Leslie Frazier. If so, whoever is in charge of hiring head coaches for the Vikes needs to be fired himself. The Bears should rebound well, however, from the Lions defeat and even things out. If not, heads will roll in Chicago and it's not quite time for that yet.
Bears 14, Vikings 10
Miami @ New York Jets
The worst match-up of the week and it's on Monday Night Football. Go figure. The Dolphins are unabashedly headed for a new head coach and quarterback, so this isn't even worth writing about. If the Dolphins score more than 7, Sparano still has the locker room.
Jets 40, Dolphins 3