Our resident NFL predictions man – Michael Donnelly - takes a look at week 6. Let us know what you think in the comments section at the bottom.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-3-0) @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (5-0-0)
As far as Oakland are concerned the season has had plenty of positives so far. They managed to hold their own against Indianapolis and managed to avoid a blowout score line in Denver, while the emergence of Terrelle Pryor as a more-than-credible starter at quarterback means they can put the pricey options of Carson Palmer and Matt Flynn to bed at least in part. The best news of all is that they are still alive in the AFC West despite being tipped by most as one of the worst prospects for 2013. Meanwhile the Chiefs have set course on an instant success strategy for Head Coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex D Smith in their respective first seasons at Arrowhead. While Smith has maintained his austere style of short-passing and risk averse play, this has allowed exceptional running-back Jamaal Charles to roam free and test defences. The defence of the Chiefs have also proven to be miserly in their approach. With the Broncos double-header still to come for them, these divisional games against the more palatable Raiders and the Chargers are their best chance to either keep pace with the blistering Denver, or at least secure a post-season spot through the wildcard. If Pryor manages to mobilise himself enough on the ground and stay accurate with his passes, the Raiders might cause an upset, but the Chiefs have played almost flawlessly so far and that is likely to continue for another week.
PREDICTION Raiders 13-24 Chiefs
WASHINGTON (1-3-0) @ DALLAS COWBOYS (2-3-0)
Which quarterback will be under the greatest pressure in this game? Perhaps it will be Tony Romo, after an exceptional passing performance almost resulted in an unexpected win over Denver, but was soured by a late interception. Yet it could be Robert Griffin III, much maligned as he makes a progressive recovery from a serious knee injury while simultaneously trying to lead his Washington team to a competitive spot in the somewhat erratic NFC East. Logic would dictate that Griffin will be the fresher of the two after a bye week, but even so, the rest may have come at the wrong time for the team as a whole with very little chance to atone for their poor start to the season. Though the Cowboys will be somewhat shell-shocked after such a draining defeat to the Broncos at home, they are arguably in a much more coherent state of mind, and can rely on the duo of Witten and Bryant to handle the prospect of a divisional game with aplomb. Only risk-takers would predict a win for the visitors here.
PREDICTION: Washington 17-38 Cowboys
TENNESSEE TITANS (3-2-0) @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4-1-0)
Despite a remarkable first four games under the lead of Jake Locker, it wasn’t until an untimely hip injury and the installation of backup Ryan Fitzpatrick that franchise running-back Chris Johnson found the end-zone for his first touchdown of the year. Yet perhaps this highlights more about the expanded offensive strategy for the Titans, with Nate Washington and Kenny Britt seeing much of the scoring possessions, than it does Johnson’s individual form. The Seahawks have strived to keep pace with Denver as the most imposing team in the league but finally found themselves grounded by a loss to the breakout Colts in week five. Though they may be feeling the effects of the hype, the Seahawks still have a mean total package, and their ruthless defence is unlikely to play two under par weeks in a row, particularly when facing Fitzpatrick who has to adapt the offence to his style slightly quicker than he may have hoped. In addition, the former Bills starter will have to do so amidst the noise of the infamous Seattle crowd. Nevertheless, this is unlikely to be a one-sided game, and it may come down to who can keep their errors to a minimum better to determine the winner.
PREDICTION: Titans 13-21 Seahawks
ARIZONA CARDINALS (3-2-0) @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-2-0)
Neither side will be looking past this game as a must-win. As far as divisional rivalry goes, the 49ers will still be looking at the Seahawks as their main priority have to consider the Cardinals a serious threat due to their identical records so far. Arizona have excelled so far under Bruce Arians, with Carson Palmer rediscovering the calibre he once possessed before money came into the equation. However, it is the brilliance of wide-receiver Larry Fitzgerald and rookie Tyrann Mathieu which have been key to the Cardinals finding themselves in contention for the division. They have yet to establish an appropriate threat on the ground with Andre Ellington pushing veteran Rashard Mendenhall for the starting job, but this is one of the few weak links in a side which is channelling momentum. A win in this game for either side, combined with an unlikely defeat for the Seahawks will blow the standings wide open effectively. Expect this one to go the distance.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 27-34 (overtime)
- Bears (3-2-0) @ Giants (0-5-0) Giants win 24-21
- Jaguars (0-5-0) @ Broncos (5-0-0) Broncos win 42-10
- Packers (2-2-0) @ Ravens (3-2-0) Ravens win 27-21
- Bengals (3-2-0) @ Bills (2-3-0) Bengals win 14-10
- Lions (3-2-0) @ Browns (3-2-0) Browns win 17-14
- Rams (2-3-0) @ Texans (2-3-0) Rams win 24-10
- Panthers (1-3-0) @ Vikings (1-3-0) Vikings win 17-13
- Steelers (0-4-0) @ Jets (3-2-0) Steelers win 21-7
- Eagles (2-3-0) @ Buccaneers (0-4-0) Eagles win 35-3
- Saints (5-0-0) @ Patriots (4-1-0) Saints win 27-9
- Colts (4-1-0) @ Chargers (2-3-0) Chargers win 24-21 (overtime)
Byes: Falcons, Dolphins
A fan on fitba, NFL and ruggerby league in that order. Dundee exile, based in Perth. A journalist as well apparently.