AFC week 6
Sports Analyst Tim Carroll
Tim is a freelance Sports Reporter with previous work in the Daily Vidette at Illinois State University.
Last week: 10-4, 18-11 overall.
Washington Redskins (2-3) at New York Jets (3-1)
The New York Jets are coming off their bye week brimming with confidence. The defense has been solid, and – as usual – Brandon Marshall is doing Brandon Marshall things. He has 400 receiving yards (100 rpg) and 3 TDs already this season. He may have that lateral incident to answer for, but he remains a fantastic player. The Redskins continue to hover around mediocrity. The hung in there against the Falcons last week, but ultimately, Atlanta was too much for Washington to handle. Kirk Cousins is continuing his turnover heavy ways, and already has more interceptions than touchdowns for the year. The running game that was thought to be able to carry Washington through the season seems to be gone already, and the Jets love an offense that can’t move the ball on the ground. The front seven will get to pin their ears back and really get after the QB. This game should be fun to watch for that reason alone.
Prediction: New York 24, Washington 14.
Arizona Cardinals (4-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
The Arizona Cardinals got back into the win column last week with effectively a tune-up game against the Detroit Lions. Arizona has been very good early this season, as all their wins have come with a margin of 12 points or more, and three have been by 25 or more. A narrative may start that they can’t win close games, but we’ll let them play a few more close games before we pass judgment. The Steelers also look like a really good team, when Ben Roethlisberger gets back. Michael Vick is passable for a few games as a backup quarterback. But eventually, his flaws will be brought back to the forefront. The fact of the matter is, when Michael Vick doesn’t have time, he ends up making mistakes. He used to take off almost too quickly when in Atlanta, and it made him an exciting player. Ever since his 2010 MVP-caliber season, he’s made a point to stick it out in the pocket much more often, but since that year it’s somewhat backfired, sitting in the pocket seemingly oblivious to the pressure, which leads to big hits and sack-fumbles. If the Cards get after him, it’ll be a long day for Steeler fans.
Prediction: Arizona 30, Pittsburgh 20
Cincinnati Bengals (5-0) at Buffalo Bills (3-2)
After initial reports that Tyrod Taylor would be forced to sit due to a knee injury, it looks like he plans on playing. But the Bills are now in this apparent back-and-forth between going with EJ Manuel or Taylor. Sunday’s game will be a tough one either way, as the Bengals are rolling. Even if Taylor plays, he won’t likely have the mobility that makes him such a threat. EJ Manuel, meanwhile, has done nothing in his career to indicate he’s the answer, and lost the starting job to Taylor for a reason. The Bengals would love nothing more than to put pressure on Manuel all day, forcing turnovers and allowing their offense to rack up the points. Andy Dalton has been garnering early season MVP talk, and while he’s not likely to keep up his current pace all year, is definitely looking great. Dalton has plenty of explosive weapons in AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. Whichever quarterback ends up seeing the field (it could be both), it may be a long day for who’s behind center.
Denver Broncos (5-0) at Cleveland Browns (2-3)
Josh McCown got his first victory of the season as the starter for this Browns team. Who does he have to play for his encore? Just the Denver Broncos, the second best scoring-defense in the league. The Broncos defense looks like it can carry a team to the Super Bowl right now. The Browns can get on a roll, and have some underrated skill-players, but the talent of the Broncos D will be too much for them to handle. The Broncos offense, on the flip-side is causing much concern with Peyton Manning not looking like his usual self. With that being said, Peyton Manning is still capable of putting together enough scoring drives. McCown could get on a roll, however, but it’s not likely to start this week. Watch for Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware to get after McCown early and often.
Prediction: Denver 34, Cleveland 13.
Houston Texans (1-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
In the game that will have more fantasy football implications than NFL playoff implications, the Texans head to Florida to take on the Jaguars. Most will be watching TJ Yeldon (as I will be) and DeAndre Hopkins looking for touchdowns for their boxscores. One of these teams will try and convince themselves the victory will be a springboard to future victories, but not likely. The Texans still have nice talent, but their quarterback play continuously holds them back. Houston fans may be cursing the name of Matt Schaub after his breakdown 2 years ago, but there’s no doubt they miss the Schaub glory days. The Jaguars have been perpetually rebuilding since the last days of David Garrard. He may have not been good anymore, but he could’ve remained a stop-gap until they figured something else out. JJ Watt is still easily the most talented player in the NFL, but his impact hasn’t been felt, and rumors of believing his own hype are swirling. If he can make his trademark impact, this game will be the Houston’s for the taking.
Prediction: Houston 21, Jacksonville 17.
Miami Dolphins (1-3) at Tennessee Titans (1-3)
In another matchup of 1-3 teams, you have hope on the horizon for these squads. Hopefully Joe Philbin’s firing will light a fire under the Dolphins’ belly. Ndamukong Suh and Co. should be a feared defense, and a new voice leading the way could be just what this team needs to live up to their potential. The Titans, meanwhile, have a pretty solid defense and a young QB in Marcus Mariota to watch out for. The key matchup will be between the defensive line for the Dolphins and the offensive line for the Titans. If Suh and Cameron Wake are held in check, then Mariota can get the ball moving and put up enough points to win this game.
Prediction: Tennessee 21, Miami 20.
New England Patriots (4-0) at Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
In a rematch of the previous AFC title game (or the Deflategate game, depending on your Deflategate position), the Colts will look to prove they weren’t overrated coming into the season. The Colts were a popular Super Bowl pick, as Andrew Luck was expected to breakout in a big way this year, even if you considered last season AFC title trip a breakout. But with Luck missing two games (2 wins, need I remind you), the Colts offense hasn’t been able to find a real rhythm with their starting quarterback. This week against the Patriots will prove to be a daunting task despite being at home. The Patriots don’t go down if they’re the team not making mistakes. It’s just that simple. Andrew Luck will have to be nearly perfect, because that defense doesn’t appear to be as stellar as Chuck Pagano would like. The Patriots meanwhile, are rolling with Brady to Gronk, Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, or anyone else. Left tackle Nate Solder may be out for the year, but Brady knows how to handle offensive line injuries. Unless Luck breaks out and has a vintage Andrew Luck game, this one will be over quickly.
Prediction: New England 34, Indianapolis 27.
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