This Sunday an old non-divisional rivalry will be renewed

by Ryan Meehan and Ryan Spickler
Meehan:  This week we are going to start doing something a little bit different.  Coach Ryan is usually our hockey guy, although he’s a huge fan of the NFL.  If you’ve heard anything regarding the NHL as of late, you’ll know that the odds of that league putting together a season at this point are about as good as everyone who writes for this website winning an Oscar for Best Supporting actress.  So from this point forward we may just do the articles in this format, providing insight on the games from two different angles.  The way I look at it, it’s a good thing and now finally somebody around here might get some of these picks right for a change.  

Coach Ryan:  After one week of predictions, I went 9-5 (not counting the spread) and in typical NFL fashion confirmed some things about some teams and got more confused about others. After a quarter of a season we are starting to figure out which teams seemed prime for a run at early February football and we still haven’t been answer the biggest question of them all; when will the Cleveland Browns win a game? Going into this week there is a lot of concern in Washington after RGIII left with a concussion plus you have to think teams like the Jets are in pure panic mode, and can the Saints possibly turn their season around after beating the first place San Diego Chargers? Really I have no idea but I am going to pretend like I do in this week’s version of Meehan’s and Coach Ryan’s Predictions. By the way if anyone is going to win Best Actress, it’s definitely me.  Here’s what’s going down in week six…

Thursday Night Football:  Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-4)

Our week once again starts on Thursday…

Meehan:  All joking set aside, it’s a music city miracle that the Titans have one hashmark in the win column when you consider how bad they are collectively on both sides of the football.  While most fans (including myself) are usually bitching about how stupid the Thursday night games are, I didn’t hear one peep out of any of them the first half of the week suggesting they were upset they might miss this game.  The Steelers looked alright in their win over the Eagles last week, and they could get away with such mediocre play and get away with it again on Thursday.  But Mike Tomlin knows this league is way too tough to get a lot of Seattlesque wins, so no matter what happens after this week he’s going to make sure they are well aware this is no cakewalk.  But in this one, they win hands down. 
Meehan’s Pick:  Steelers 23, Titans 7
Coach:  The NFL has blessed us again with another epic Thursday night matchup that surely will captivate parts of two states out of the US and give ESPN great morning ratings; the Steelers and Titans. Although I stated last week that the Steelers may be past their prime they seemed to look like a completely different team with Mendenhall back in the lineup. Even though once again they have lost Troy Polamalu to injury there seems to be a certain confidence back in Pittsburgh now that their star running back has returned. Mendenhall still shows that he can run between the tackles and outrun backs on the outside, his return is definitely a huge momentum swinger for the black and gold. If Pittsburgh has reinstated some confidence, then the Titans just lost a little more. I don’t see anyway that Tennessee will be able to contain the Steelers’ running game and seeing as how the Titans are without Jake Locker there will be no way Matt Hasselback will be able to get much going against the 3rd rated passing defense in the league. If Tennessee fans are hoping for a return to form from Chris Johnson, they will be sick to their stomach when I remind them that he had 15 carries for 24 yards last week against the great run defense of the Vikings. Unfortunately for Titans fans, Pittsburgh’s defense currently is only letting up 95.3 yards a game. Surprisingly with this being a home game for the Titans (yeah I’m sure there won’t be any bandwagon Terrible Towels in the stands) the spread on this game is 6, and I expect the Steelers to cover easily. If you’re looking for a fantasy tip here you go, start your Steeler players and rest your Titans this could get ugly quick!

Coach’s Prediction: Steelers 24, Tennessee 9

Oakland Raiders (1-3) at Atlanta Falcons (5-0)

Raiders QB Carson Palmer looks for six other guys who are willing to take the field without laughing hysterically

Meehan:  The Falcons are still undefeated, but may have shown some weaknesses as they just barely beat below average teams in consecutive weeks.  This matchup gives them another opportunity to provide us with a nail biter of a finish, but I suspect that the Raiders might be below average and are developing their own category of suckitude and/or irrelevance.  Atlanta could really make a statement to the other elite teams in the league that their undefeated record is no fluke by going out and wiping Oakland in this one, which is a legitimate possibility.  However I believe the Raiders will make it game, but the Raiders will pull away at the beginning of the fourth quarter. 
Meehan’s Pick:  Falcons 31, Raiders 20
Coach:  Yes, I realize that I picked the Falcons to lose last week in Washington and they won by a touchdown which also covered the spread. Could things have been different if RGIII stayed in the game? Possibly, but one thing is for sure – Atlanta is a force to be reckoned with. If there is one part of the Falcons’ game that seems to be struggling it surprisingly enough is their running game. Currently the Falcons are 21st in the league, averaging a little shy of 100 yards a game. Sure much of this can be contributed to Atlanta and their high-powered passing offense, but Turner is averaging 64.8 yards a game and has only one touchdown for the year. With Oakland ranked 24th in rushing defense one can only wonder if this will spark some kind of big output from Turner. Personally I would only use him in a flex position. The spread on this game is 9, which is the biggest in the league and one of the harder games to pick. Because the game is in Atlanta I’m going to take the Falcons to cover but just barely because I just don’t think Oakland matches up well on any aspect of the game vs. the Falcons and yes I remember that the Raiders beat the Steelers but this isn’t the Black Hole.

Coach’s Prediction: Atlanta 21, Oakland 10

Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (0-5)

Cleveland will have to step up their defense to avoid going 0-6

Meehan:  The Bengals managed to lose to Miami at home last week, so a lot of fans in Cincinnati are pressing the panic button.  I’m not ready to hit it myself just yet but if they can find a way to blow this one I might end up breaking it.  I can’t see that it turns out that way, because although the Browns did give them a run for their money in the first meeting of the season they are also the only remaining NFL team that hasn’t won a single game.  And even that isn’t an accurate assessment of how bad they really are – Cleveland is full of rookies that don’t have a clue what’s going on, and one of them just so happens to play the most important position on the field.  This game won’t be nearly as high scoring as the first, but I still think the result will be the same. 
Meehan’s Pick:  Bengals 21, Browns 17
Coach:  I would like to personally thank everyone that sent me messages, e-mails, and told me how awful the Browns are and how wrong I was after last week’s debacle against the Giants. No really, I had no idea the Browns aren’t a good team. But if you watched the game last week until about halfway through the second quarter, you would have thought the Browns were going to win and that I was a prediction genius. That being said, instead the Giants went on a 20 to 3 run and by halftime my Browns were down 27-17. If there was a highlight for the rookie heavy Browns it was Brandon Weeden tying to throw a touchdown using two forward passes. Yes you learn that in PeeWee football, but that was a long time ago for the 28-year-old rookie qb!  Ok, I’m done with last week, onto the second “Battle of Ohio” of the season. These two teams met in week one in Cincinnati and it was a closer game than what people may remember. Both quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards and it was Trent Richardson’s first game with over 100 yards rushing. The Bengals won by 7 as the Browns ran out of time although it was a game that without a few big plays (Adam Jones’ 81 yard punt return) that could have gone either way. If you have T-Rich in fantasy be sure to start him as I see him once again rushing for 100 yards with a possibility for multiple touchdowns against the Bengals’ 19th ranked run defense. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green once again will hook up for a touchdown but I believe the return of Joe Haden will be the difference maker in this game as I have the Browns overcoming the 2 point spread and getting their first win of the season on an overtime field goal by Phil Dawson.

Coach’s Prediction: Browns 27, Bengals 24 in OT.

St. Louis Rams (3-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-3)

Will Ryan Tannehill be the man of the hour?

Meehan:  Both of these squads beat playoff caliber teams last week, but right now I just love the scrappiness of the Rams.  They did lose WR Danny Amendola, which is a crying shame because up until last week he was having a great season.  St. Louis can find all sorts of ways to beat you, and that’s one characteristic of a team that’s on its way to success.  I haven’t really decided what the Dolphins are yet, but they have shown a lot of improvement for a team that had no expectations in that division.  (Look at it this way – they look better than Buffalo does, don’t they?  And look at how many analysts had them going to the playoffs)  Since Miami’s pass defense isn’t the greatest, this might be one of those games where Sam Bradford throws the ball 45 or 50 times if that’s what it takes to get the job done.  The Dolphins will keep it close but I still have to take St. Louis to win here, and I do believe that this is the week that Miami begins what could be a very long and tiresome losing streak. 
Meehan’s Pick:  Rams 22, Dolphins 20
Coach:  I must admit I picked the Dolphins to lose last week, and I didn’t really think much about it. I was wrong and I am fine admitting when I am wrong, for example take my stance on Cam Newton last year. Even though I have some friends down here in Florida who are Dolphins fans they’re one of the teams that I honestly don’t know a lot about other than they haven’t been good. Their fans (along with Jags and Bucs fans) are huge bandwagon jumpers who get more games blocked out than get shown. Although the Fins have a wretched pass defense, their run defense is top in the league and they are averaging over 136 rushing yards themselves. I can’t believe I’m saying this but if Tannehill continues to improve the Dolphins may win a few games this year, especially if the Bills and Jets continue their struggles.  St. Louis is another team I must apologize to. Last week I called them “The Mediocre Show on Turf” and on my bad that came from writing my first prediction piece and not really being that knowledgeable about what they’ve done this year. So far the Rams have lost to the Bears and Lions (two good teams) and have beaten Seattle and Washington, who are also good teams along with beating a hot Arizona squad. I am at fault for looking at how they have ranked thus far in offensive categories without realizing they have played some of the stingiest defenses in the NFL. So I’m stuck with two teams who I didn’t give enough credit to and am expected to pick one. The spread this week is 3.5 favoring Miami and I will take them with the points at home over the Rams. I will give the Fins home field advantage for at least the 30,000 fans in attendance due to the fact that they have a good running game and Steven Jackson has been struggling which is what you don’t want to have happen when you go against a good run defense.
Coach’s Prediction:  Dolphins 17, Rams 13

Indianapolis Colts (2-2) at New York Jets (2-3)

When you’re not even the best QB on your team, people are going to wonder why you’re starting

Meehan:  The Colts showed an unexpected sense of resilience last week when they beat the Green Bay Packers at Lucas Oil Stadium.  They indeed showed that they were Chuckstrong, and it made for a very emotional scene in Indy.  And for their sake, I hope it continues.  Then there’s New York – where do I even start here?  Everybody is praising them for keeping it close in the Houston game (which I admit they did show some signs of temporarily stability) but they still lost.  And not only did they lose, Mark Sanchez had yet another huge opportunity to prove his doubters wrong against a powerful team on national television, and he still couldn’t do it.  That game was his to win – they were down by six points and had a decent amount of time to get down the field and put that thing away even if it was just by an extra point.  What does that tell you?  I know that I haven’t been tossing a ton of stats around (as I usually don’t this early in the season) but there isn’t a single stat in the world that can prove a guy like Mark Sanchez should be starting for a high profile team like the Jets.  This could be the beginning of the end for Rex Ryan – he’s in a rough spot because if they miss the playoffs this year people will likely be calling for his head and they’ll probably fire him.  Think about it – When would be a better time to let the guy go:  1)  At the end of the year when yet again they fail to play up to what were probably unrealistic expectations to begin with and fail to finish with a better record than New England while everyone wants him gone, or 2) After giving him another shot next year canning him in the middle of a season where their home stadium is hosting the Super Bowl and the Giants will once again be contenders to play in that game?  I’ll give you zero guesses to figure out which one of those is a better public relations move.  Even after spewing all of that hate for Gang Green I still think that the Jets are the better team here, even if just barely.  So what did we learn here today?  Nothing, other than the fact that I’m a total hypocrite. 
Meehan’s Pick:  Jets 24, Colts 21
Coach:  One thing I won’t apologize for is calling the Jets a disaster, granted they played the Texans better than I thought but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a team in disarray. The only thing they seem to have going for them is nobody went down on Monday Night with a season ending injury. The M-E-S-S is hosting one of the biggest surprises of week 5 in the Indianapolis Colts who are coming off a monster upset of the Green Bay Packers that nobody outside of Lucas Oil Stadium saw coming. Yes I think everyone knew that the Colts were ready to play their ass off for Chuck Pagano, but I never thought they would keep it close let alone defeat the Packers. The Colts on one hand have seemed to step it up against good teams such as Green Bay and Minnesota where the Jets have only won division games thus far. One thing about the Jets is as much as they seem to be struggling they also haven’t benefited from an easy schedule. All three of their losses have come from playoff caliber teams. The spread on this game is 3 points and although I don’t think the Jets are a good team by any stretch of the imagination, I also don’t think they are one of the worst either. I am picking the Jets to actually win a game although not cover the spread, and I expect the impressive Andrew Luck to put up some good numbers against a very banged up New York secondary.

Coach’s Prediction: Jets 21, Colts 20

Detroit Lions (1-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

Sometimes Google images and I aren’t on the same page, other times we’re on the exact same page

Meehan:  The Detroit Lions are coming off a bye week and returning to an NFC in which they’d be ranked 13th if the season ended today.  Needless to say, they haven’t met expectations and one of those three losses were to the Tennessee Titans who probably couldn’t beat California Polytech if they played them in a scrimmage.  All of the Eagles three wins have been by one or two points, and with an offensive line that is porous now I’m starting to wonder if maybe Andy Reid saw something that Buffalo didn’t when he got rid of a much pudgier Vince Young.  I laugh at all of their fans who say “Well, they still have Michael Vick”.  No shit – It’s a good goddamn thing that they do because the way it stands, his ability to scramble is the only reason he isn’t currently paralyzed from the neck down.  I’m taking the Lions to pull off the upset – maybe it’s just wishful thinking, or maybe it’s common sense coming to chase me down after the thirty some years I’ve been running away from it screaming at the top of my lungs.  (Editor’s note:  I still have to say that even though I disagree with the outcome of Coach Ryan’s prediction, he might be right because the Eagles have been involved in several low scoring affairs this year) 
Meehan’s Pick:  Lions 25, Eagles 17
Coach:  The Detroit Lions may be the most disappointing teams of the first quarter of the season. I’ll give them a pass for losing to the San Francisco 49ers and even the Vikings, but the Titans? I can promise everyone that it was not a restful bye week for the team from the Motor City, and they have to travel on the road to an Eagles team nobody can quite figure out yet. This is a huge game for both teams as Philly is in a very tight division and the Lions are in a must win game. If the Lions lose this game it’ll drop them to 1-4, extend their losing streak a very ugly four games, and all but eliminate them from any chance at their division or a Wild Card birth. The Lions still have five division games left and four of those are against the Bears or the Packers. The Eagles definitely want to take advantage of a frustrated Lions team, and need to keep their ninth ranked passing defense going as the Lions have had no luck rushing the ball. In the end Detroit needs to have a monster game from Megatron, and for fantasy purposes there’s no reason to think he won’t get into the end zone at least once. I still think that the lack of talent running the ball is going to be the Achilles Heel for Detroit, and unfortunately for Lions fans I think Philly will drop Detroit to 1-4 – although I think it’ll be closer than you think and I’m not expecting Philly to cover the 5 point spread.

Coach’s Prediction: Eagles 14, Lions 10

Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) at Tampa Bay Bucs (1-3)


Meehan:  In the battle of “I couldn’t give a shit less”, it’s hard to make an accurate prediction because let’s be honest:  Nobody is paying a whole lot of attention to either of these teams.  Kansas City offensive lineman Eric Winston chastised Chiefs fans for booing Matt Cassel, who left with a head injury in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens.  As for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they are 1-3 but still in second place in a disastrously underachieving and almost unbelievable disappointing NFC South.  They haven’t shown much initiative, and what’s worse is they looked the best against the Giants – a game that they ended up losing.  I’ll take Tampa here only because they’re at home, and if your bookie can provide you with a line that simply reads “not very fucking exciting” take both of these teams to cover that spread. 

Meehan’s Pick:  Buccaneers 14, Kansas City 12
Coach:  Thankfully, for this game the Chiefs are able to play a game outside of a hostile environment. Of course by that, I mean they are on the road away from their fans who booed the injury to Matt Cassel. How bad is it in Kansas City? They were cheering their quarterback injury in favor of Brady Quinn. Listen Chiefs fans, as a Browns fan I am extremely knowledgeable on seeing Brady Quinn run a Romeo Crennel offense and you don’t want to see it. As a matter of fact how Romeo Crennel is back in a head coaching role at all is beyond disturbing but if Brady Quinn is what you want then that might just be what you get. If there is a bright spot for the Chiefs it’s Jamaal Charles who is able to be a top runner with no support around him. The most intriguing part of this matchup is definitely how Charles can do against the Bucs run defense which has been really good because no matter who KC starts at quarterback, they aren’t going to put up 300 yards although being how TB has the lowest passing defense in the league they probably will be able to put one or two in. I’m going with Tampa Bay to somehow squeak by in this one although not covering the 3.5 point spread. As far for fantasy tips go I would obviously start Charles, and I’d use Bowe sparingly if you have to but with the mess at qb don’t expect a huge day.
Coach’s Prediction:  Bucs 13, Chiefs 10
Dallas Cowboys (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (4-1)

Tony Romo will try to stay upright on Sunday against the Ravens

Meehan:  Conventional wisdom tells me that this game should be a blowout, but I’m not so sure that will happen.  Don’t get me wrong, I hope it will but I am suspicious that this is one of those Vegas trap games.  Everyone is still very high on the Ravens but I want to warn those individuals to be cautious as Baltimore could bail on everyone at any point in time.  I wasn’t impressed with the fact that they were only able to score 9 points against the Chiefs and failed to get in the These two teams are more alike than one might think, however at least Flacco’s done something in the playoffs so I’m taking Baltimore albeit just barely.  Wow, I just realized that I almost got through this entire paragraph without laying into the Cowboys – it won’t happen again and here we go…I must say that I’ve always been surprised by some of the zone defense looks I see teams put out there when they are facing a playoff team, but I was blown off of my couch when I saw some of the things I saw on TV during that Monday Night game against the Bears.  There’s a difference between zone defense and everybody not having an idea where they are supposed to be, and what you saw from Dallas that night wasn’t the first of those two things.  For a guy who comes from such a long line of defensive masterminds, Rob Ryan either isn’t having his guys watch enough film or they have just stopped listening to him altogether.  Funny that I just laid out the fact that the Jets might be headed for some personnel changes in the offseason, because if the Cowboys can’t pull together some kind of run that justifies building one of the most ridiculously unnecessary stadiums in the history of all of sports the fire sale down in Arlington may come sooner than originally expected.  I guess my thing with Tony Romo is – If you’re Tony Romo and Tony Romo is good, where the hell is Tony Romo?  Show me something here.  Nothing that I have seen so far since the opening kickoff of last season has showed me that he is a top ten quarterback.  And for all of those chuggers who believe he still might be an elite quarterback, that sound you’re hearing is the sound of you being wrong.  I would definitely recommend following a much more interesting team in the future, one who’s put together recent successful playoff appearances and doesn’t continuously bring up their success in the 1970s and 1990s. 
Meehan’s Pick:  Ravens 24, Cowboys 20
Coach:  It’s probably a good thing I was on a blogging hiatus when Art Modell passed away and I have still considered writing something but out of respect to this website I won’t. That last statement has nothing to do with this football game, just wanted to get it off my chest as a Browns fan before writing about Baltimore. How are the Ravens? Very Good. How is Dallas? Ok, although not nearly as good as Jerry Jones thinks they are. Still, this is going to be a great defensive battles as both these teams have good looking defenses. The most surprising part this season is that Dallas’ defense is looking far superior to that of the aging Ravens. Dallas is top in the league at passing defense limiting opponents to under 170 yards a game, although if you look closely they have struggled against teams with good quarterbacks. That brings us to Joe Flacco, as the Ravens qb is averaging an impressive 281 yards a game. Jerry Jones will tell you his team is primed for a Super Bowl with an extremely overrated Tony Romo, but Joe Flacco will be the one tossing for around 300 yards as he rebounds from a terrible outing in Kansas City. I’m picking the Ravens to win, covering the 3.5 point spread.
Coach’s Prediction: Ravens 23, Cowboys 17
New England Patriots (3-2) at Seattle Seahawks (3-2)

In Pete Carroll’s world, everybody gets a trophy

Meehan:  Here we have a battle of two very different 3-2 teams, one of which should be 2-3 and is clown shoes even on a good day and the other which should be 4-1 had it not been for a last second Baltimore field goal a couple of weeks back.  One is a poser and one is the real deal.  If you haven’t figured out which is which by now, now might be a great time to find out what arsenic tastes like when sprinkled on your breakfast cereal.  So, instead of posting the many possibilities about what could happen, I’m going to focus on what SHOULD happen.  I’m going to say that once again the Patriots get ahead early and don’t look back, and their defense holds Seattle to two measly field goals.  Pete Carroll walks off of the field upset and cranky, like a kid who’s bike has just been stolen.  In Carroll’s case, he is extremely pissed off because he figured that no one would steal a bike with pink and purple streamers hanging from the handlebars.  But like so many times before, he’s dead wrong and has to somehow give a postgame press conference without crying.  I dream big, but when I do I make it hurt.  (Editor’s Note:  I do understand that the Seahawks have the twelfth man in their favor as they’ll be playing at home and their defense has put together some good looks, but keep in mind that defense can buckle at any point in time and rarely does an opposing stadium make Tom Brady crack under pressure.)
Meehan’s Pick:  Patriots 34, Seahawks 6
Coach:  NEWSFLASH: The New England Patriots are in first place in the AFC East. Also, the Seattle Seahawks are in contention for the NFC West. Those two things might not be headline worthy, but New England losing back to back games already this year while giving up almost 300 yards passing a game definitely qualifies as such. Speaking of newsworthy, did anyone see that EVERY team in the NFC West is actually above .500? Welcome to Bizarro World, I’ll be your host. I really do believe that New England once again is a contender in the AFC and the Seahawks may be able to make a run at another Wild Card birth. All things considered, it is a long season and this game isn’t going to be a gimme for the 3.5 point favored Patriots. Seattle’s defense can potentially play with any offense, and Seattle has one of the hardest stadiums to go into as a visitor. The difference in this game is a player you may have heard of that goes by the name of Tom Brady. Russell Wilson (although a player I really like) simply can’t keep up with number 12 and New England’s run defense will stop Marshawn Lynch from having a monster game. New England is giving up less than 67 yards rushing a game and although Lynch should be closer to 100 yards with a score, Seattle is just too much of an off balanced team to keep up with the Pats. Look for the Patriots to cover the spread in this one.

Coach’s Prediction: Pats 17, Seahawks 10

Buffalo Bills (2-3) at Arizona Cardinals (4-1)

When you think about it, CJ Spiller is really the only defense the Bills have. Weird.

Meehan:  The Cardinals are looking to bounce back from a disheartening loss at the hands of a scrappy Rams team whose defense wouldn’t let them get over the goal line once.  What they need more than anything in the world is to play a team that can allow them to regain some of the confidence that they had when they won the first four games of the season.  They’re in luck because this week they’ll be hosting the Buffalo Bills who have been giving up 40+ point games like the apocalypse is approaching.  Arizona won’t be able to rack up as many points as San Francisco did, but one would have to be crazy to take Buffalo.  And don’t get me wrong, I like the Bills.  I am a fan of Ryan Fitzpatrick, and I thought their offseason acquisition was going to do wonders for their defense but now they can’t stop anything.  What’s happening is their defense can’t get off the field, and when they can it’s usually because the opposing team just turned a basic eight-yard button hook route into a 70 yard touchdown where they burnt Buffalo’s entire secondary.  That in turn leaves the Bills’ offense facing a ton of pressure to score, which they haven’t been able to do very often lately.  Lot of ESPN analysts eating crow so far this year as a result of the Bills’ lack of ability to get it done when it counts. 
Meehan’s Pick:  Cardinals 33, Bills 18
Coach:  This game may actually be more interesting than it first appears, if you like watching teams implode. The Cardinals were one of the worst running teams in the league, and that was before they lost Ryan Williams for the season with a shoulder injury. If you are into fantasy football (and I’m sure you are if you are reading this) you know that the Cardinals started off the season with amazing defensive numbers which have really fallen off the last few weeks. The Cards are actually quite middle of the pack as far as their defensive rankings go, and unfortunately for them they now are a one-dimensional team whose running game is now in the hands of the dominant trio of LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell, and Alonso Smith. Buffalo doesn’t have a lot going for them especially after losing Mario Williams for the season and forgetting they had a game last week in San Francisco. They also aren’t benefiting at all from the schedule makers, having had to travel to the west coast in back to back weeks. Still I think the spread of 5 points is way too big for two teams having as big of problems as the two of them. The complete lack of anything close to an offense has me picking Buffalo in a close game, and don’t be shy in starting C.J. Spiller as he should gain over a hundred yards and a touchdown or two.

Coach’s Prediction: Bills 16, Cardinals 10

New York Giants (3-2) at San Francisco 49ers (4-1)

This one should be great

Meehan:  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that the most recent Super Bowl Champions have something to prove against the team that they beat to get into that Super Bowl, but that’s the case.  Since you could easily make the argument that it was the 49ers who beat themselves in a game that they had in the bag, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Giants are the underdog just a matter of months later.  The Giants may suffer from a chilling case of stark contrast – just one week removed from playing the Browns who gave them the entire field and quit after twenty minutes, they will head out to the Bay area to play a defense that not only hates them with a passion but can actually play NFL-caliber football.  And don’t think for one minute that Jim Harbaugh isn’t looking for a little bit of inside information on the Giants’ offensive tendencies from RB Brandon Jacobs and WR Mario Manningham.  Usually I don’t think stuff like that happens as much as the fans expect that it does, but in this case I know for a fact both of those guys took their situations very personally and will be more than happy to share what information they know with Jimmy.  The Giants struggle a lot with stupid penalties and failure to stop opposing offenses from converting on third down, so I’ll take the Niners AND the points as well as raise you the potential that this game could get even more out of hand than that.  If fantasy is your thing, start Gore because he’s the guy who will be converting a lot of those same first downs I just told you the Giants have such a problem stopping. 
Meehan’s Pick:  49ers 31, Giants 19
Coach:  The NFL is billing the Packers and Texans game as the game of the week and that is a big game, but make no mistake this is hands down the best game of week 6. In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game, the defending Super Bowl Champs are once again making the trip out west to take on the Niners. If you love the NFL and its story lines there are just so many angles on this game. Redemption for the 49ers’ Kyle Williams for one after messing up on two special team plays in the Championship game that ultimately cost the Niners a trip to the Super Bowl. If you remember he turned the ball over twice, once when the ball bounced off his knee and again late in the game when he was stripped on a return. Speaking of payback, nobody is talking about the G-Men’s offensive line – Eli Manning was sacked six times and hit twelve times in that game. If this happens again the Giants will have a really hard time pulling out the win. For the Giants, one of the keys of the game is whether or not Hakeem Nicks will be able to return from injury. Although New York fans are foaming at the mouth with the idea of a Nicks and Victor Cruz receiving tandem, the Giants have to be extremely careful not to rush him back into action. If he was a guaranteed thing I would pick the Giants in this game, but because I am extremely skeptical on his return I am going to go with the 49ers in this matchup of redemption. Look for Eli Manning to once again struggle against the Niners defense, although I could see him tossing for a TD and around 225 yards. I think the difference could be Frank Gore in this old-fashioned NFC slugfest. I’m taking San Francisco AND the 5 points!

Coach’s Prediction: 49ers 30, Giants 24

Minnesota Vikings (4-1) at Washington Redskins (2-3)

This was the hit that did it

Meehan:  The Redskins are optimistic that quarterback Robert Griffin will be able to play on Sunday, now all they have to do is figure out how to come up big against a very skilled Minnesota defense.  Concussions at the NFL level are very severe – that’s why you hear so much discussion about this topic – so remember although he may be playing, he isn’t going to be “all there” if you know what I mean.  (Editor’s Note:  If you don’t know what I mean, listen to about five minutes of color commentary from Troy Aikman)  Either way, personally I don’t think Griffin and the Redskins have a chance in hell at winning this game.  Sure it’s at home, but they lost at home last week and I can’t help but think that the first game of the year where Griffin had everybody all excited about the potential for a great career was simply a result of a poor Saints defense that has let almost everyone score that much.  Does that mean that I am sold on Christian Ponder as a playoff-level quarterback?  Of course it doesn’t – I’m crazy but they haven’t thrown me in the straight jacket just yet, I still have a lot of these columns to write.  If Griffin ends up being taken out of the game, might I also add here that I think “Kirk Cousins” would be a great name for a Star Trek themed porno that encourages inbreeding.  

Meehan’s Pick:  Vikings 26, Redskins 9
Coach:  This game could be the easiest game to predict or it could be very hard, it all depends on the dynamic young quarterback RGIII. Last week I picked Washington to upset the undefeated Atlanta Falcons. That didn’t happen but when RGIII went down early in the second half, the game was tied and Griffin was scrambling at the three yard line when he received a head shot. The result was a field goal, the lead, and unfortunately a quarterback with a concussion. I would have loved to see the end result of that game but even with the way it played out it showed that the Skins have a lot of potential when healthy. Unfortunately we have no idea if RGIII will return to the game. He’s been cleared for practice but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be cleared to play in the game. Minnesota’s hot start continued last week against the Titans. Even with Christian Ponder being an average quarterback, he was still able to put up 258 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Luckily for Ponder, he has the benefit of having a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson and a great receiver in Percy Harvin. The spread is 0 currently due to the fact that the whole balance of the game rests with the well-being of RGIII. That being said I’m going to go with the assumption that he isn’t going to play even though he’s been cleared for practice, as the same thing happened earlier this season with Darrelle Revis. If RGIII plays it’s a whole different game, if he doesn’t the Kirk Cousins led Skins will be in for a long afternoon.

Coach’s Prediction: Vikings 24, Redskins 9

Sunday Night Football:  Green Bay Packers (2-3) at Houston Texans (5-0)

“Here, I’m done with this”

Meehan:  Here again, the Packers just can’t catch a break.  After getting robbed in Seattle and just getting away with a victory at home against the Saints, they lost last week to an inspired Indianapolis Colts team that under any other circumstances is just not very good.  It’s about to go from bad to worse to “Really”? on Sunday night as they have to go into Houston and face the Texans.  From a picking standpoint I have to be concerned with how many points a team can score, but as a football fan I think the true score of any game is the score when you know the game is over.  (Good example would be the last 8 points scored by the Cowboys in week four on Monday Night Football)  At that moment, I can’t realistically foresee the Packers scoring more than 13 points.  The types of offensive scheme that the Texans are good at stopping also happens to be the only kind that’s working for Green Bay at the moment.  I know I’m a little biased because I have been jocking Houston pretty hard and Green Bay is in the middle of a rough stretch, but seriously what am I supposed to think here?  I can’t come up with anything but the Texans getting it done as well as covering the spread.  
Meehan’s Pick:  Texans 31, Packers 13
Coach:  As I stated earlier, in my opinion the best game of the week is the 49ers and Giants but don’t be mistaken this is a very close second. Outside of Green Bay being incredibly upset by the inspired Colts the big news leading to this game has to be the Texans losing linebacker Brian Cushing. Although the injury doesn’t come close to the problems the Jets have had or losing an Arian Foster, it still is a dominant defensive force. The Texans still have enough difference makers on defense such as J.J. Watt to make a run it’s just going to be a little harder. On the Packers side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers has been very critical of his play but don’t be fooled he is still an elite NFL quarterback who has the ability to strike at anytime. In Houston’s run of great 5-0 football, they have only given up more than 20 points once – against the Broncos. The spread on the game is 3.5 and I’m sorry Packers fans, but I think the Texans will cover and you’ll be dropping to a completely shocking 2-4. That doesn’t mean it’s time to throw the cheese head hats out the window, Green Bay is too good of a team and they will make a run at the playoffs. Unfortunately I just don’t see them winning in Houston against a very good Texans team, but if they do the NFC North better look out.

Coach’s Prediction: Texans 28, Packers 24

Monday Night Football:  Denver Broncos (2-3) at San Diego Chargers (3-2)

Monday Night’s Game features AFC West heavyweights Denver and San Diego

Meehan:  I’ve made no secret about my disdain for Philip Rivers in any of these pieces, and I’ve always subscribed to the belief that the biggest problems in our society stem from the fact that the wrong people have kids.  Philip Rivers has five children, and I hereby rest my fucking case.  What were we talking about here?  Oh yes…the game.  Peyton Manning has suffered three very tough losses so far, but the Broncos schedule has hardly been easy.  Tom Brady picked apart their defense last week, but you’ll have that and I have to believe that in a world where every once in a while some type of justice is present Von Miller is looking to rattle Rivers’ skull to help get the taste of that losing record out of his mouth.  I expect another 300 yard day from Manning with no interceptions and…wait, the spread on this game is two points and favors the Chargers?  Are you serious?  Sometimes I think Vegas goes off of win-loss records too early in a season and with as tough as Denver’s schedule has been, you can’t really do that.  It should be a hard fought game nonetheless, as both of these teams are looking to capitalize on everything that’s going on with the Chiefs at the moment.  Whoever thought that we’d see the day where Raiders fans weren’t looked at as the most obnoxious waste of space in the AFC West? 
Meehan’s Pick:  Broncos 32, Chargers 15
Coach:  Monday Night Football brings us a classic AFC West rivalry game as the Broncos head to San Diego. Peyton Manning is coming off a great game in a losing effort to his long time rival Tom Brady. Still if you look at Manning’s stats from that game he threw for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns which can mean only one thing, Peyton is starting to get his groove back. This week he is going to go against a slightly tougher defense, although one that still can give up points. I have said before and I stand by the fact that the Chargers aren’t a very good team and have benefited from an easy start of the season schedule. On the flip side of the coin the Broncos are 2-3 but also have lost to three very good teams. For the AFC North this is an absolute must win game as it will either bring the Broncos to first place, tied with the Chargers or it’ll give San Diego a 2 game lead. Personally I think Denver is going to have a big game and this game isn’t going to be as close as the 2 point spread, which favors the Chargers. If you have Peyton in fantasy be sure to start him because he is going to put up big numbers in this west coast shootout.

Coach’s Prediction: Broncos 31, Chargers 24

Bye Weeks:  Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers

Chicago is playing like they don’t even need a bye week but it can only help the veterans before they come back to play a very physical divisional game vs the Lions. The Saints won a game and finally the people can go back to drinking in New Orleans, at least they have a valid excuse to drink now. Are they posed to make some sort of comeback and maybe contend for a playoff spot? A good indication is that they are playing Tampa Bay when they come back. Few teams in the league are as frustrated as the Panthers. They’ve lost three in a row and will be welcoming the Cowboys to Carolina so Cam Newton and Jerry Jones can compare egos. If the Jaguars are on the road or have a bye week does anyone in Jacksonville even notice? No really I’m not sure. The Jags come off their bye week and hit the road until November so the stadium will look just like it usually does, empty.

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