Miami Dolphins vs Houston Texans – The Texans went zero for the month of September and began the second month of the season last week by falling flat on their face in the fourth quarter versus the Colts.
Matt Schaub returns to the line-up this week after missing last week's debacle with a viral infection and along with the receiving ability of wide receiver Andre Johnson, tight end Owen Daniels and rookie running back Steve Slaton, helps form a very potent offensive unit.
The Dolphins on the other hand, over the past two weeks have completely dominated quite possibly the two top football clubs (Patriots and Chargers) in the AFC.
Coach Tony Sperano and his staff, deserve a great deal of credit for the Dolphins quick turn around this season, but the truth be known, this club still has far too many holes for this good fortune to last. Chad Pennington, has shown once again that he can manage a football game and if Ronnie Brown can stay healthy, he can certainly carry the rock, but I really don't see enough offensive weapons to win consistently in this league.
It's going to be another close one, but once again I like the home team Texans chances of picking up their first victory of the season.
Texans 17 – Dolphins 13
Chicago Bears vs Atlanta Falcons – I would never have predicted that in week number six of the 2008 season, both the Bears and Falcons would be sporting winning records. Both clubs have been hot and cold at the quarterback position and feature two running backs who have really improved their offensive playing production.
The difference in this one I believe should be the play of the defenses and even on the road; I give the Bears a decided advantage in this area versus. This week the Bears welcome back their top interior defender Tommie Harris. Good news for the Bears, but not so good for the Falcons and their outstanding rookie quarterback Matt Ryan.
Bears 23 – Falcons 17
Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings – It really doesn't get much worse for this Lions club. Quarterback John Kitna missed three days of practice this week and may not play this week versus their division Vikings. Their two top receivers (Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson), were both limited in practice and listed as questionable. On defense, for the season the club has zero pass interceptions and has recovered just two fumbles. They also have allowed eight touchdown receptions thus far in the season and seven more on the ground. The Lions offense on the season is averaging 16.5 points a game while surrendering an embarrassing 36.75 points a game. Last season up in the Metrodome; the Vikings led 35 to 10 over the Lions at halftime on their way to a 42 to 10 victory and have not tasted victory up in Minnesota in eleven years!
Oh yeah I almost forgot the Vikings! Unless they are not focused and are looking ahead to next week's key encounter versus the Bears up in Chicago, this one should be easy. Look for a steady diet of Adrian Peterson early on followed by Chester Taylor in the second half.
Vikings 37 – Lions 20
Baltimore Ravens vs Indianapolis Colts – On paper, through four games, quarterback Peyton Manning's passing numbers look rather pedestrian, but in my opinion, he is the only reason the Colts are not looking at an zero and four start for the 2008 season.
Thus far, the Colts just can't seem to stop the run and have had a very difficult time running the football; not a particularly good statistic when matched against a very tough Ravens defensive unit. If the Colts are to remain in contention for the AFC South division title, those two very important aspects of the game must be fixed very quickly.
The Ravens on the other hand, offensively have yet to hit their stride, but with a healthy McGahee and a rookie quarterback (Joe Flacco) gaining in confidence with each passing week, that day may not be far ahead.
Thus far, Lucas Oil Stadium has not proven to be much of an advantage for the home team Colts as they have dropped both games during the regular season and two additional games in the preseason, but I believe that streak will be laid to rest this week. It might well take another Manning led come from behind victory to do so, but the struggling Colts will take anything at this stage to keep pace with the surprising Titans.
Colts 17 – Ravens 13
Oakland Raiders vs New Orleans Saints – The Tom Cable Raiders era begins this week in the Big Easy" and lets hope for the sake of the great fans in Oakland, that the wins come a bit easier than they did in Cable's last head coaching stint at the University of Idaho (11 wins and 35 losses).
The good news for the Raiders thus far into the 2008 season has been the running of rookie Darren McFadden and that second year quarterback JaMarcus Russell has thrown just one interception in 99 passing attempt. The bad news is that McFadden has been slowed for the past two weeks due to a toe injury and Russell's passing statistics are very much the product of the glorified hand-off system of play that the Raiders now refer to a passing offense.
The two and three Saints have been to say the least a major disappointment and were termed last week by long time Saints super fan Roland Fournier, after their loss to the Vikings as simply, the same old Saints.
With a key division contest on tap for next week versus division rival Carolina and a trip over the pond in store for the Saints versus the Chargers the following week, if they are to turn this season around and make some noise in the highly competitive NFC South Division, they are going to have to do it in a hurry.
Quarterback Drew Brees has been the shining star for the Saints this season, but it's just too darn bad he also doesn't play defense. The Saints have averaged 406 yards of offense thus far in the 2008 season but the defense has allowed a whopping 351 yards per game.
With rookie defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis missing from action for at least the next two to three weeks, and with the poor play of the Saints secondary, the task is not going to be any easier.
The Raiders have some talented young players but the team lacks leadership at all levels and I believe wins are going to be awfully hard to come by for the remainder of this season.
Saints 33 – Raiders 24
Cincinnati Bengals vs New York Jets – The Bengals have played decidedly better in the last two to three weeks, but don't expect any mid-season turn around. They really don't run the football particularly well and the passing game, better in the past week, has been very inconsistent. On defense the Bengals have just three sacks, two interceptions and have allowed better than twenty-five points on the season thus far; three statistics that don't bode well for teams that hope to become consistent winners at the professional level.
The Jets on the other hand have put some points on the board, but have also given up 29 points per game in compiling a two up and two down record.
The Bengals last season rushed for a hundred and thirty-seven yards in a 38 to 31 victory over the Jets, but I really don't envision the running back tandem of Chris Perry (2.8 yards per carry and give fumbles) and newly acquired Cedric Benson (10 carries for 30 yards), coming anywhere near that figure this time around. If Carson Palmer can't go in this one, I really don't see the Bengals as having any real chance in this one.
I'm not a big favorite of either one of these teams, but the Jets coming off a bye week, playing at home, with Bret Favre under center, should be enough to hand the Bengals their sixth loss in as many outings on the season.
Jets 34 – Bengals 24
St. Louis Rams vs Washington Redskins – The once high flying Rams offense have failed to score better than 14 points in any of their four losses, have been out gained by more than a 165 yards per game and have converted only 22.4 of third down opportunities. Former Saints head coach and current Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett (I guess the brain thrust felt that the Rams defense was better than Al Saunders offense) takes over for beleaguered head coach Scott "Murphy's Law" Linehan and based on what I have seen to date, it might be the longest twelve weeks of his life.
The Redskins on the other hand have won four straight after a season opening loss to the Giants up in the Meadowlands. On 153 throws on the season, Jason Campbell, the most improved signal caller in the NFL, has yet to throw a single interception. Over the last three seasons, I have also developed tremendous amount of respect for the talents of Clinton Portis, a complete back with both speed and power.
The Rams will play hard for Haslett, an emotional, high energy coach, but this ship has taken on a great deal of water and is sinking very quickly.
Redskins 34 – Rams 16
Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The four and one Panthers have won five straight times at Raymond James Stadium. They have played excellent football primarily based on the strength of an outstanding defense and a very balanced offense attack.
The Buccaneers, have sandwiched three wins in between a season opening loss to the Saints and disappointing loss last week to the Broncos in Denver. I have been impressed with their offensive showing to date an in particular with the running of Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn. An injured elbow to Brian Griese will likely mean that former starter Jeff Garcia, the thirty-eight year old gutsy little guy, will be under center for Tampa Bay this week.
In a game that well might well be the best match-up of week number six, I see two evenly matched clubs with a great deal riding on the outcome. I went back and forth a few times in this one, but in the end I went with the club with the more stable passing game and better receiving group over the more consistent defense and home team advantage.
Panthers 20 - Buccaneers 16