Last week I started a prediction article covering just the prime time and local teams. This week and from here on out it will be a joint effort by the Arch City Sports writing staff to predict every game of the week, starting with Thursday Night Football all the way to Monday Night Football.
Thursday Night Football
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
This Thursday night game features an AFC South matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at the Houston Texans. Both teams come in with a record of 3-2 and leaving the division up for grabs to the victors of the game. The key for this game is which team can establish the running game. It’s a more important for the Texans as Arian Foster to get established. Foster as expressed his displeasure in playing Thursday night games in which Houston is 1-3 in those games. For the Colts, you have to keep QB Andrew Luck upright and clean. The Texans obviously have the scariest and arguably the best defender in the game in J. J. Watt. The O-Line has done a good job in recent games allowing only 6 sacks in the first 5 games. I think Luck has a little rough night but still able to get the job done. The offensive attack of the Colts will be too much to handle for the Texans.
Final Score: Colts 27 Texans 20
Browns/Steelers (at CLE):
In Week 1, these two teams faced off, and Cleveland nearly pulled off an amazing comeback, but falling 30-27. The Steelers were able to bounce back from a upset loss to the Buccaneers two weeks ago, by defeating the Jaguars 17-9 in Week 5. As for Cleveland, with Brian Hoyer at the helm, the Browns are 2-2 and very much in the AFC North race, with each game being decided by three or fewer points.
Prediction: It will be a heated back and forth battle, and once again will come down to the wire. With Joe Haden injured, Antonio Brown has a shot to have a breakout game. But the Browns offense isn’t to be overlooked. I have Cleveland winning in a classic battle.
CLE over PIT
Packers (3-2, 1-2 away) at Dolphins (2-2, 1-1 home)
Aaron Rodgers (1155 yards and 12 TD’s) and the Green Bay Packers head to Miami to take on the streaky Dolphins in search of their third consecutive win. Jordy Nelson has 525 receiving yards accompanied with 4TD’s. Expect him and Rodgers along with Eddie Lacy, who finally broke out last week against the Vikings with 105 rushing yards and 2 TD’s, to lead the Packers to victory. Even with Knowshon Moreno looking to suit up again for the Dolphins, their offense is nothing to be proud of. Mike Wallace leads the team with 246 receiving yards through the first month and Ryan Tannehill has a 6 TD 3 Interception stat line.
Packers 42, Dolphins 17
Ravens/Buccaneers (at TB):
Both teams have really struggled this season. Even though Baltimore is 3-2, they have under-performed badly this season. The Buccaneers nearly pulled off their second straight upset, but came up short in OT against the Saints.
Prediction: Look for Baltimore to take it to Tampa Bay early, and use their running game to expose holes in the defense. Mike Glennon will play well, but it’s still hard to see the Buccaneers win this week.
BAL over TB
Denver At NY Jets
Peyton Manning could pound another nail into the Rex Ryan coffin if he walks in here and fires 4-5 touchdowns and leads Denver to a route. It is becoming more likely that Ryan may be moving from the hot seat into the temple of doom as his Jets find new ways to lose every week. To me, this is an easy layup for Peyton and the charging Broncos offense. If Denver isn’t up 30 points at the half, something is wrong.
Lions @ Vikings
The Detroit Lions (3-2) will head to Minnesota to take on the Minnesota Vikings (2-3) this weekend. The Vikings, who suffered a brutal loss to Green Bay last week 42-10, are looking for a rebound win at home to bring them back to .500 in the season. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is scheduled to return and start on Sunday so that’s some good news for Vikings fans. Bridgewater, who suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter victory against the Falcons, is certainly an upgrade over the erratic Christian Ponder. Minnesota’s opponent, the Detroit Lions are looking to bounce back from a loss against the Bills this past week. So far it’s been a rather average season for the Lions with their only quality win coming against the Packers in week three. Matthew Stafford could be without his top target in Calvin Johnson as he nurses a tender ankle. So for all you fantasy buffs out there it might be a good week to play Reggie Busch or Golden Tate, as they should both see and increased number of targets. Also on the Lions personnel front, Joique bell was a full participant in practice this week and Matt Prater after being released by Denver was signed to a one-year deal with the Lions. Hopefully this alleviates some of the troubles Detroit has faced in the kicking game as I see the Lions coming away with the road victory 27-17.
Panthers @ Bengals
This is one of the more intriguing games of the week. The Panthers scored ten unanswered points in a big comeback win against a Bears team that is trying to find a way to the top of the NFC North. The Bengals are coming off a Sunday night trouncing from the Patriots. These teams play in very different divisions, the Panthers are the only team in their division with a winning record, meanwhile the AFC North doesn’t have a team with a losing record. Neither defense is particularly good, and the Bengals have a clear advantage on offense. The only positive thing I can say about the Panthers is Cam Newton. The Panthers have no run game sitting at 30th in the league. The Bengals are much better than the Patriots made them look and on paper outperform the Panthers in almost every category. I can’t see a scenario where the Bengals drop another game after being embarrassed on Monday Night. Bengals 28-17.
Patriots/Bills (at BUF):
Buffalo’s QB situation has been a disaster this season, but overall, they haven’t actually played that bad. Despite injury issues, WR Sammy Watkins is starting to show the talent he can bring onto the field at the NFL level. Speaking of QB’s, Tom Brady had himself a great bounce-back on SNF following the MNF debacle two weeks ago. On a short week, the Patriots ended the Bengals’ undefeated streak, winning 43-17.
Prediction: The Patriots have been one of the biggest disappointments this season (as far as expectations are concerned). Despite that, Brady has picked apart Buffalo for over a decade, and it seems likely he will do so once again this Sunday.
NE over BUF
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans
The 0-5 Jaguars make a trip to Tennessee to face the 1-4 Titans in another AFC South matchup. The Titans are coming off a disheartening loss in which the Titans were leading the Cleveland Browns by 25 points before the Cleveland Browns scored 26 unanswered points to win 29-28. Rookie QB Blake Bortles will get to start his third ever NFL game. Bortles has just one TD and 4 INTs in his first two starts. The Titans will be without safety Bernard Pollard, who was lost to a season ending Achilles injury. It is yet just another setback to an already pretty poor secondary. All three of Jacksonville’s running backs missed some amount of time on Sunday and could lead to missing more time during this game. This game is not going to be a fun one to watch. Final Score: Jaguars 13 Titans 20
Chargers @ Raiders
As it stands right now, the Chargers dropped one game this season to a tough Arizona team, while the Raiders have lost every single game. I am going to sum this one up real quick. The Chargers are in the top ten in allowing points, pass, and rush yards. The Raiders offense is dead last in scoring, yards gained and rushing yards. The only thing the Raiders have going for them is a strong secondary who ranks 4th in pass yards allowed. Maybe the Raiders can force Philip Rivers to make mistakes but Rivers is having one of the best seasons in his career. No way Raiders steal this one, even if it is at home. Chargers 35-3.
Chicago At Atlanta
This is going to be a good game. Two teams sitting at 2-3 looking up the division leading teams who have a 3-2 record. Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan have put together solid seasons and their running backs, Matt Forte and Steven Jackson, have done a fair job of support. This comes down to which defense can place a stranglehold on the other offense. I am talking limiting and not stopping in their tracks. I expect this game to enter overtime and be decided by the legs. Robbie Gould hasn’t made a 50+ yard field goal yet but Atlanta’s Matt Bryant has booted a pair of 50+ yard 3 pointers. I expect a 30-27 Falcons win.
Washington @ Arizona
Washington is playing much better than their 1-4 record shows. They were able to pull within seven points of a strong Seahawks team and make that game much closer than I thought it was going to be. Arizona has beaten some top teams so far in the Chargers, Giants and 49ers. The only loss comes against the Broncos and even then they came within four points until the 4th quarter when the Broncos were able to pull away. There is nothing about Arizona’s stats that stand out to me except the offense is ranked towards the back in the league and their secondary has allowed the second most pass yards, but that may be due to playing top quarterbacks like Manning and Rivers. While Washington seems to have stars in waiting, Arizona is a very good team. And I think that, and playing at home, carries Arizona to another big win. Arizona 20-14.
Dallas At Seattle
A red hot Dallas Cowboys team walks into the toughest place for an opposing football team to play, Comcast Stadium, home of the Seahawks. The defending Super Bowl Champions are 3-1 and host a streaking Cowboys team that comes in 4-1 and looking unbeatable since the St. Louis Rams woke them up two weeks ago. Tony Romo will get tested against a defense that constantly brings pressure and gives a quarterback several different looks. The rugged surprising Dallas defense has to deal with Russell Wilson and the high flying Seattle attack. Coming into the game, Dallas is hanging with Seattle in rushing and passing yards per game. This is where we see if Dallas is for real. The Seahawks stopped Peyton two weeks ago. Now they try to bring Romo back to earth. I think Seattle will get the job done. If Romo and the Cowboys had issues in the desolate Edward Jones Dome, they will self destruct in Seattle. A final of 35-17 for the Seahawks is being nice.
Sunday Night Football
Giants (3-2, 1-1 away) at Eagles (4-1, 3-0 home)
The New York Giants have won three straight and travel to Philadelphia to take on the preseason pick to win the NFC East. Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense looks to outduel the Giants defense, who have allowed just over 22 points per game this season thus far. But, Eli Manning has a new offensive toy in Odell Beckham, Jr. If the Giants can somehow get Victor Cruz back to his normal self with Rashad Jennings’ sprained MCL taking a toll on their running game, look for New York to rack up some points on an Eagles defense that allows over 26 points a game, the most recent being to the Rams last week allowing 28 points. But, the Eagles make up for their defense by putting up some big offensive numbers. Expect Foles, Shady, Maclin, Sproles & Company to rack up some points.
Eagles 35, Giants 27
Monday Night Football
49ers @ Rams
After falling to the Eagles 34-28 this past week the St. Louis Rams (1-3) travel home to take on the San Francisco 49’ers (3-2) on Monday night football. The 49’ers swept the season series last year against the Rams and will look to do the same this weekend. Despite their record the Rams have played well so far this season under third string quarterback Austin Davis. Davis threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to the Eagles and has shown signs of improvement each week. The determining factor for St. Louis will be how the offensive line can hold up against the San Francisco pass rush. The Eagles sacked Davis a total of four times and forced two fumbles on the day, which was the difference between a win and a loss for St. Louis. For San Francisco a big win last week on the road at Kansas City gives them a good boost of momentum as they head in to Monday night. Colin Kaepernick has commanded the offense well throwing over 1,000 yards through the first five games. The 49’ers also rank third in rushing yards per game, which should be a solid test for them against the stout St. Louis defensive line. This game should be a great one to watch and I see St. Louis edging out San Francisco by a touchdown 28-21.