Good morning Sports fans, and welcome to another edition of The Sports Nerd NFL Week preview. Lets recap last weeks results first shall we. I went 2-3 last week, losing to the Bears, Steelers, and Eagles. Overall for the season I am now 5-5, and an even .500 for the season thus far. So here we go now and lets get on with week 6. First let me say congrats to the Saints for lulling me into a false sense of futility, not thinking at all about past games in The Superdome between those two teams and not believing the magical presence of Steve Gleason would take over and fire them up and go after Atlanta from the opening gun. The Saints dominated the entire game and although the Falcons did not give up and they showed small signs of the Falcons team we have been accustomed to seeing this year, they had no way to counteract the Saints in the dome. So without further ado, lets get on with week 6.
Here are five games I am watching this weekend:
Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills – 1pm Eastern – All of a sudden it appears that Rex Ryan is on the hot seat in Buffalo. He is doing typical Rex, mouthing off and doing all the talking, but its just words and it appears his team cant back it up. Here we come to week 6, the Bills are 3-2, Tyrod Taylor is hurt, and E J Manuel is going to make his first start in over a year. The Bengals come in 5-0 for the first time since they last went to the Super Bowl, and Andy Dalton is on fire. He brought the Bengals back from 17 points down to the Seahawks last week and won in overtime. Dalton has only two picks this entire season, while throwing for 11 Td’s and having the third best passer rating in the NFL, trailing only behind Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers. The Bills will get Shady back this week, and their inept running game can use it. McCoy is the spark the offense needs to get going, and the Bengals rank 21st in the league in rushing defense, so there may be some yards to get this week. There is also a bit of unrest in the locker room with the revelation that Sammy Watkins isn’t happy with his targets, so we’ll see if the Bills can get him the ball or if Rex stays with his Run first pass later style of offense. The Bills defense is ranked 4th against the run, but their secondary has given up big plays and are just 23rd in the league against the pass. I’m going with the Bengals on this one, because until someone shows they can beat them, why go against them? BENGALS 24 BILLS 17
Arizona Cardinals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 1pm Eastern – In a rematch of Super Bowl XLIII ( means nothing but its adds a sense of drama…or not..) the Cardinals come into Pittsburgh in control of the NFC West. I looked at this team in the beginning of the season, looked at the other three teams and believed that if there was any one team that can dethrone the Seahawks, it was this team. Bruce Arians is proving he is in the top tier of NFL head coaches with the way he has this team playing, and Carson Palmer is looking for that ”comeback player of the year” award after coming off a torn ACL last year. The defense is stifling and Larry Fitzgerald is having a resurgence in his game with a healthy Palmer under center. With all that being said, maybe the biggest surprise is Chris Johnson, as he leads the team with 405 rushing yards. Pittsburgh on the other hand is still limping into this game with the glaring injury to Big Ben. According to reports he did participate in 7 on 7 drills this week and wanted to play in this game, but Tomlin said no, and he will once again be in street clothes watching Mike Vick run the offense. Martavis Bryant should return after his suspension and a minor injury last week during practice, but the question remains is can Vick get the ball to him or Antonio Bryant. He hasn’t really been that effective, even though he has shown that great arm strength and ability to throw long downfield, it’s the short to intermediate throw he has a problem with. The Steelers added a new twist to their offensive attack last week with the direct snap, and yes it worked, as Le’Veon Bell took a direct snap on the last play of the game last week to beat the Chargers last Monday Night. With all that being said, I am going to go with the Cardinals, I just think they have too many weapons for Pittsburgh. CARDINALS 31 STEELERS 21
Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks – 4:05pm Eastern – Carolina is one of the six remaining undefeated teams left in the NFL. They are coming off a bye week, so they are rested, confident and Cam Newton is playing in midseason form. The problem I see with Carolina though, is who they have beaten in those first 4 games. They have beaten the Saints, Jaguars, Texans, and Bucs, none of which have a winning record. Only two of the wins were by more than one score, and they really have not faced a decent team all season. So I expect this game to show us exactly what this team is made of, and there is no bigger test than in Seattle facing the Seahawks and the 12th man. I am not a believer in the Panthers yet, only because of their four previous games and who they have played. Seattle is coming off a tough loss in Cincinnati in OT after being up as much as 17 points against the Bengals. The Hawks have not shown the dominance they have had in past seasons, especially for a two time defending NFC champion. However, the Hawks are tough to beat at home, and may have the best home field advantage in the league after the Packers. They have a weak offensive line and Russell Wilson has been on his back more this season than any other season in his short career. The Panthers love to blitz, and they love to get after the QB, so this is going to be interesting. Ill take the home team, just because of that advantage and because Carolina hasn’t been tested by a good team yet this season. SEAHAWKS 14 CAROLINA 10
New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts – 8:30pm Eastern – The grudge match is here finally and this has been the game everyone has been talking about since January of 2015. I’m not going to discuss the particulars but you all know what it is. New England comes into Indy hot off a drubbing of the Cowboys in Dallas last Sunday and the Colts have limped into this week after last minute heroics by Matt Hasselbeck against the Texans on Thursday night last week. The Colts get Andrew Luck back this week, but he has not had a good start to his season thus far and the Indy offense has not shown the explosive capability as they have in past years, despite adding Frank Gore and Andre Johnson they just have not lit it up like we expect. They have lost big to the Bills and the Jets, while beating perennial doormats Jax, Hou, and Tenn by one score. I don’t see how they can possibly win this game, I cant see the Indy defense stopping Tom Brady or Gronk, and I cant see why this game is so hyped other than the aforementioned ”grudge”. These two teams are headed in opposite directions, and the Patriots are not going to make it pretty. Expect them to run up the score if they have the opportunity, and expect Luck to be rusty in is first game back. PATRIOTS 40 COLTS 14
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles – These two teams really hate each other, and it shows. The Giants are currently in control of the division, not that its saying much since the NFC East is probably the worst division in football right now, because it seems no one team is consistent on a weekly basis. They are all Jekyll and Hyde personalities and they can’t seem to get out of their own way. The Giants are without Victor Cruz once again and Odell Beckham Jr. may not play, as he is listed questionable as of this writing. What I see happening here is the winner of this game will have the inside track on winning the division, and its gonna be about who wants it more. The Eagles seemed to have found their offense last week against the Saints, but then again, it was the Saints so that isn’t saying much, since the Saints hate playing away from home and they don’t play well outside. This may end up being the best game of the week, and it is a shame that we have to wait until tomorrow night to see it. Eli Manning has shown that he still has the magic, and yet he has also shown that he has shown his choking ability as well. The Giants are coming of their third victory in a row after starting 0-2. they were in this very position last year coming into the game vs. the Eagles in Philly last year and got spanked, staring a free fall that they never recovered from. It will be up to the defense to slow that Eagles offense down and then Eli’s job will be to manage long drives to keep that defense fresh. I think the Giants overcome their demons in Philly and beat the Eagles in prime time. GIANTS 21 EAGLES 20
Well that’s it for week 6. I am really enjoying writing these, and I hope you enjoy reading them. I will have my thoughts and observations on week 6 Tuesday, so stay tuned and if you have not subscribed to this blog please do so so you can be notified when new posts are up. Remember to join Brian “Scooter” Cullen, Robert Arnold and myself for The Sports Nerds tonight at 7pm on Blab. We will discuss todays games, the college games from yesterday and most definitely we will be talking MLB Playoffs. I hope you can join us, have a great Sunday!!
Scott Wright “The Sports Nerd”