Week Six TNF, Early Game Picks

“Man, I wish I was my brother”

Aside from my season preview I haven’t put up any predictions during this NFL season thus far. That’s about to change, as I give my two cents on the early portion what promises to be another entertaining weekend of football kicking off with the New York Giants travelling to Chicago to play the Bears tonight on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.

New York Giants @ Chicago

The 3-2 Bears should have far too much for the 0-5 Giants in this one as they look to pull ahead in the NFC north race. New York looked awful in losing to another poor team in Philadelphia last Sunday so don’t expect them to pull off the upset in this one. New York has eight more turnovers than the any other team in the league, which after four games is an astounding number and demonstrates just how inept they are offensively. Giants 17, Bears 28

Green Bay @ Baltimore

Two of the last three Superbowl champions square off in what figures to be one of the better games this week. Home-field advantage could be crucial as Baltimore look to build off of their narrow win in Miami, while the Packers will attempt to move to 3-2 without injured linebacker Clay Matthews. However even without Matthews the Green Bay D is much improved, and Baltimore’s lack of offensive output so far in 2013 makes me doubtful that they’ll be able to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the high octane Packers passing attack. Packers 34, Ravens 21

Cincinnati @ Buffalo

Coming off a fantastic win over New England the Bengals have an opportunity to make people really stand up and take them seriously by winning back to back games against the AFC east. They’ll benefit from Bills QB E.J Manuel missing out through injury, with Thad Lewis starting in his place. Lewis doesn’t inspire confidence and the Cincinnati defense has played well of late, so unfortunately for Bills fans Sunday could drag a bit. The Buffalo D isn’t too shabby itself so they should keep it close, but that’s about the only positive I can see them taking out of Sunday in what figures to be a low scoring affair. Bengals 20, Bills 10

Detroit @ Cleveland

It’s not all that surprising that Detroit is 3-2. It is, however, surprising that the Browns share the same record. Calvin Johnson’s status is up in the air after he missed the defeat to Green Bay last week and should Megatron miss out again the Browns will really believe that they can reach 4-2. Their defense has been outstanding since Trent Richardson was traded and the play of Quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden has been good enough win three straight games. This game requires some guess work owing to the question mark over Johnson’s fitness, but I have a gut feeling that Cleveland will keep rolling and make it four in a row. Lions 23, Browns 24

St. Louis @ Houston

Matt Shaub is persona non grata in Houston right now following his record breaking ineptitude, but fortunately for him the Rams have equally sucked this year. Beating the Jaguars by two touchdowns at home, as they did last week, is nothing to brag about and the Texans have a great opportunity to move back to .500. The Houston running game is still one of the best in the league so whatever mistakes Shaub makes in this one should be glazed over. I’m going for a bounce back win in the lone-star state for Gary Kubiak’s men. Rams 20, Texans 30

Oakland @ Kansas City

This divisional match-up is an opportunity for the Chiefs to move to 6-0. That’s a sentence I never expected to be writing before the season began, but ‘Chiefs’ and ‘6-0’ are two phrases that I expect to be using a lot more after this game is done. Oakland has been better than expected as well, but they’re not in the same class as KC who have an efficient offense and stifling defense on hand. The rivalry between the two teams should make this a feisty encounter, but don’t expect an upset as the Chiefs continue their unbeaten start in front of the Arrowhead faithful. Raiders 16, Chiefs 24

Carolina @ Minnesota

Josh Freeman was picked up by the Vikings during the week but Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier has said he won’t start in this game, leaving Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel to man the Quarterback position. Neither team has been good this year, in fact both have been woeful, so this isn’t likely to be a classic. I have to choose one team to win though, and because they’re at home and they have Adrian Peterson I’m going for the Vikings. Sorry Panthers fans. Panthers 17, Vikings 21

Pittsburgh @ New York Jets

Alongside the Giants, Pittsburgh has been the most disappointing team in the NFL this year. In contrast the Jets have been surprisingly good. Geno Smith looks competent which is more than could be said for the man he replaced, Mark Sanchez. I still don’t fully trust  the Jets, however, and their roster has enough holes for me to go against them in what appears to be a classic ‘trap’ game following their impressive win over Atlanta on Monday night. I’m picking the Steelers to finally enter the win column in 2013. Steelers 27, Jets 20

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay

Philly just about overcame the Giants in New York last week while Tampa Bay remain winless. Both teams have undergone change at QB with Nick Foles looking likely to replace the injured Mike Vick while Josh Freeman was released in Tampa, enabling Mike Glennon to start in his place. The Eagles aren’t a great team but they are tied for the lead in the weak NFC east, and in comparison to the Bucs they may as well be the 1972 Dolphins. Road win. Eagles 35, Buccaneers 28

So there’s my predictions for the first slate of games tonight and Sunday. I’ll be back with my picks for the late games as well as Sunday and Monday night football. What do you think will happen? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me @fredjstanley.

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