by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
Week six is here, and as of this weekend we will be 6/17ths of the way through the NFL regular season. I don’t always measure the year that way, only when it’s a significant and oblique improper fraction. But the lines are a hoppin’ this week, with a lot of good discussion up for grabs. This is what we think you will see in week six of the 2013 NFL season…
Thursday Night Football: New York Giants (0-5) +8 at Chicago Bears (3-2) (47)
Meehan: The Giants have to be the one team that everybody wants to run into. They really don’t have any weapons left, and you can scratch RB David Wilson from this one. But injuries are everywhere, and I’ll close this piece by explaining my take on that. Chicago needs a game like this because they can stand to get some momentum back. They’ve lost two straight and could use sixty minutes where they play a whole roster of guys who would get run by Alcorn State. But even as bad as New York’s problems are, I can’t see them scoring as much as Coach is picking them to. The Bears still have a myriad of problems of their own, and Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall not seeing eye to eye one week to another is a pretty serious one. But they will cover and easily beat the Giants and then get ten days rest.
Meehan’s Prediction: Bears 20, Giants 9
Coach’s Prediction: Bears 34, Giants 13
Green Bay Packers (2-2) +3 at Baltimore Ravens (3-2) (48)
Meehan: The Packer bandwagon is totally back in full function, but will it continue to function? While Green Bay’s NFC North counterparts the Bears get the luxury of playing one of the worst teams in recent NFL history, the Packers have to travel to Baltimore and play the Super Bowl Champions.
The Ravens are 3-2, but they’ve played some rough teams so far. This won’t be easy for them – but the Clay Matthews injury will make a difference. He’s one of the only guys on that side of the ball that can tackle anything so Ray Rice should have a field day. If they can draw something up where he gets about 27 touches (if that sounds high, keep in mind he had 33 last week vs. the Dolphins) the Ravens should have this one. I could foresee this game as being the beginning of the end for Green Bay. Plus their town name sounds like “Green Day” and when you put that together with a visual of a guy in his mid-forties that wears eyeliner, you have one death metal journalist that’s going to always hold a grudge.
Meehan’s Prediction: Ravens 27, Packers 22
Coach’s Prediction: Packers 31, Ravens 17
Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) -7.5 at Buffalo Bills (2-3) (42)
Meehan: The Bengals should be the talk of the town at the moment because they held the Patriots to without a single touchdown last week. And Pac-Man Jones sealed the deal in a story where he didn’t end up in handcuffs, which is always a good thing. The Bills could very easily pull this one out, and it wouldn’t be an upset if they did.
No matter what they do…something doesn’t smell right about the Bengals this year. They seem very untrustable from week to week, and they looked horrid against Cleveland which is a series they usually own. Teams like Buffalo can sneak away with games like this without anybody suspecting it. I don’t think that will happen, but the possibility is very real.
Meehan’s Prediction: Bengals 22, Bills 20
Coach’s Prediction: Bengals 24, Bills 17
Detroit Lions (3-2) -2.5 at Cleveland Browns (3-2) (45.5)
Coach: Last Thursday Night just about summed up the life of a Browns fan. Your franchise sold your most popular player for a draft pick before having a hometown quarterback miraculously win you two games leading up to the big Prime Time game where he tears his ACL and is lost for the year. Somehow the “looking older every day” Brandon Weeden was able to rally behind some big plays by Josh Gordon and Travis Bejamin and walk away with a win. As I’ve been preaching all year Cleveland has a young and talented defense that is letting them stay in games even if their offense isn’t clicking (i.e. when Weeden is quarterback). Still regardless of who is playing this matchup very surprisingly is putting two first place teams against each other to see who gets to live the playoff dream for another week.
To me the biggest problem with Detroit has been their defense, even when they win. The Lions haven’t let up less than 20 points in any game this year including letting up 40 to the Bears in Week 4. With the Injury to Hoyer I’m definitely not going to sit here and tell you that the Browns are going to put up that many points but with the Lions having a bottom third running and pass defense it has to give Cleveland’s offense hope. The biggest threat for the Lions this season has of course been the passing game although with Calvin Johnson officially listed as ‘out’ for this game you have to think that a lot of the offense will go through Reggie Bush. If the Browns have been good at one thing this year it’s defense, which I have to think will be more apparent considering the Lions suddenly will be without Johnson and way more of a one dimensional team. The spread on the game currently sits at -3 Detroit but considering that so much of their offense lies with Megatron I’m going to go with the Browns to walk away from a tight one riding a four game winning streak.
Coach’s Prediction: Browns 24, Lions 20
Meehan’s Prediction: Lions 24, Browns 19
St. Louis Rams (2-3) +7 at Houston Texans (2-3) (43)
Coach: The Rams will be traveling to Houston in a game that is almost a must win for the Texans. Houston is coming off a game in which they were absolutely dominated in front of a national audience on Sunday Night Football. As of now the Texans are sitting behind everyone in the division with the exception of the minor league quality Jaguars and with a not very good Rams team coming in they have to take this opportunity to put some confidence back into their team and quarterback Matt Schaub. Anytime you have a local restaurant who has a sandwich called “The Pick Six” where you get to pick any six toppings of your choice you should be worrying about your job security. Luckily for Schaub and company the Rams are coming in after getting a win against the Jaguars in a game that means absolutely nothing and are bringing with them one of the worst running defenses in the league. Expect Foster to have a big day and Schaub to hopefully gain some form of confidence as I expect Houston to cover the (pretty high) 9 point spread.
Coach’s Prediction: Texans 30, Rams 20
Meehan’s Prediction: Texans 19, Rams 13
Carolina Panthers (1-3) +2.5 at Minnesota Vikings (1-3) (44)
Coach: It’s been an interesting week for the Minnesota Vikings who in a somewhat surprising move ended up being the team to take a chance on Josh Freeman. On a side note it’s good to know that other teams like the Jaguars feel confident enough in their quarterback situation to let this happen. At this point it is too hard to figure out who is going to be starting in the future for the Vikings although with no time to prepare this will be Christian Ponder’s last chance to try to show that he should still be the guy in purple. With Ponder constantly struggling to throw the ball downfield (a reason Freeman was brought in to compete) the worst thing he can hope for is Carolina and their solid pass defense to frustrate Ponder and open the door for Freeman.
To be honest the Carolina Panthers have actually played decent football this year in every aspect but passing yards. Part of this is Newton’s ability to rush but part is also due to the number of dropped passes his receivers have had. As much as Steve Smith wants to run around calling referees “garbage” and tempting Roger Goodell to fine him the bottom line is the refs can’t catch to ball for him. Although there have been rumors that the Panthers should bench Newton in favor of (wait for it) Derek Anderson at the end of the day Newton still gives Carolina the best chance to win. The spread on this game is -1 Minnesota but I’m going to go against that and pick the Panthers in this one. At this point I think Ponder’s confidence is too shot and I think Smith is good enough to step it up after stepping out in the negative spotlight this past week. The door is opening for Freeman, let’s see if he is ready to put this nightmare of a season behind him and step up to be the man in Minnesota in the upcoming weeks.
Coach’s Prediction: Panthers 26, Vikings 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Vikings 20, Panthers 18
Oakland Raiders (2-3) +9 at Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) (40.5)
Meehan: The Chiefs are raising a lot of eyebrows because of the zero in their loss column, but they are also taking a lot of shit because they haven’t been challenged by a great team yet. That streak will stretch to six games as the Oakland Raiders come to town fresh off of a win against the Chargers. You probably haven’t heard the pitter-patter of Jamaal Charles’ feet, but trust me in a month they’ll be deafening. Now of course the Chiefs still have two games with Denver to come, but believe it or not I believe Kansas City might have a shot. They’re 4th in the NFL against the pass, so if they can steal one at home I’m not going to be the least bit surprised.
But the Raiders don’t pose any sort of real threat to them, regardless of their performance last week. Oakland released Matt Flynn, which was a stupid move on their part because no matter who’s under center they aren’t even averaging 200 a game in the air. And I’d be shocked if Pryor can hit that number this weekend. +9s are usually pretty risky picks, but go ahead and take the Chiefs to cover.
Meehan’s Prediction: Chiefs 30, Raiders 17
Coach’s Prediction: Chiefs 28, Raiders 20
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) +1 at New York Jets (3-2) (40.5)
Coach: I can’t believe I’m about to say this but Geno Smith and the Jets don’t seem to be as bad as I thought they were. The first month of the season I found joy in ripping them apart saying how they were going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL although I am here to say, I was wrong. Every year a team comes out of absolutely nowhere to compete and after beating the Falcons in Atlanta last week (even though the Falcons are one of the most disappointing teams) you have to give Rex Ryan and company credit. Geno Smith although still prone for turnovers has begun to show some poise and although this team is still a long way off may allow the Jets to finish with a respectable record. That’s right believe it or not if this keeps up somehow Rex Ryan might have a snowball’s chance in hell to keep his job for one more season.
The Steelers are coming off what might be the most needed bye week in the NFL. Before the season started this looked like it would be a cakewalk for a Pittsburgh team who most people thought would be on their way to another playoff appearance. Now everyone can’t help but pay attention to see just how bad it could get for this once AFC dynasty. If the Steelers want to turn this season around at all you would have to think they’ll have to try to figure out what kind of team they are because as of now they are the farthest thing away from the run heavy open up the defense for Big Ben type team that had them on top of the NFL just a few years ago.
This game will be one of the more interesting this week and probably the game that everyone will be scoreboard watching. With the Steelers coming off the bye you have to think they’ll be better and kind of resemble a football team on offense. They can’t be that bad can they? Actually they can. The spread on this game still looks like a typo of -7 New York and I’m going to go out on a ledge and say the Steelers cover but I’m taking the Jets to tighten the noose around the Steel City.
Coach’s Prediction: Jets 28, Steelers 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Jets 26, Steelers 17
Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) -1 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) (46)
Meehan: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a bye week last week, and the Philadelphia Eagles practically had one because they played the New York Giants. The Bucs dropped Josh Freeman, and the Eagles lost a guy who could be considered either deadweight or still one of the most athetic quarterback in the league in Michael Vick. That said, this latest hamstring injury is probably going to end up being the deathnail in Vick’s controversial and tumultuous career in the NFL. You can only return from so many of these injuries, and he’s definitely not getting any younger.
As for this game itself, Nick Foles wins this matchup. This would bring the Eagles back to .500 in that pathetic foursome, and it’s not like the Bucs can prove that they’ll be able to stop them. DeSean Jackson is going to run right past Darrelle Revis and the rest of Tampa’s secondary faster than Riley Cooper running out of an NAACP conference, so look for him to have a big day with the long ball. That being said, do you want to hear something funny? The Eagles lead the league in rushing. Suck on that one for a second while you think about all the other stuff going on in the NFL that doesn’t make any sense.
Meehan’s Prediction: Eagles 20, Buccaneers 12
Coach’s Prediction: Eagles 17, Buccaneers 14
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) +27 at Denver Broncos (5-0) (53)
Coach: As I just stated the collective football world will be paying attention to the Steelers and Jets scoreboard for the early games to get ready to be glued to the ticker on the Jaguars and Broncos game. There is no point dissecting this game at all. Even after Tony Romo took Denver to the brink last week, this game may be the biggest mismatch in the last 20+ years of the NFL. All you can really dissect is whether or not Denver will cover the record setting 27 point spread.
One of the trickiest things that could throw a wrench into which way the spread goes leading up to the game is who will be behind center for Jacksonville. It is currently being reported that Gabbert is likely out which would put Chad Henne at quarterback who actually has better numbers (slightly) than Gabbert. I’m not saying for a second that Denver won’t be able to adjust to whichever quarterback Jacksonville throws out there but when picking point spreads you have to consider every little thing.
At this point Vegas will be praying that somehow Jacksonville is able to cover considering last week they lost over $100M on the last second touchdown by Ohio State last Saturday. Luckily for Vegas they have the money to cover it because as sad and pathetic as it sounds I just don’t see Jacksonville coming anywhere close to Denver. Put it this way even though Meehan and I focus more on picking games as opposed to fantasy advice if you have ANY Denver Broncos player on your fantasy team start him. If you have Maurice Jones Drew or any other Jaguars player on your team and you start them you probably want to reevaluate your team, Denver in an absolute landslide.
Coach’s Prediction: Broncos 58, Jaguars 13
Meehan’s Prediction: Broncos 44, Jaguars 13
Tennessee Titans (3-2) +13.5 at Seattle Seahawks (4-1) (40.5)
Meehan: The Seahawks need this one because they are coming off of a close win against the Colts. And they need to come out of it with two things: 1) a Win; and 2) an understanding that Russell Wilson is going to be a top ten guy and throw the ball some more in order for them to win outside of Washington State. I’m not always stat crazy, but more than 207 yards a game is not a lot to ask. If Kaepernick puts up those kind of numbers the sports media bashes the SHIT out of him, so Wilson shouldn’t be any different.
Tennessee is in odd waters – they now are under the guiding hand of Ryan Fitzpatrick, and you could make the argument that’s a better scenario than they’d be in with Locker starting. Either way, that’s a running team and very easy to decode. The Seahawks just look evil on defense at home, so you kind of have to wonder just how long it’s going to take for this to get out of hand. The chances Ryan Fitzpatrick goes into Seattle and has the game of his life (without being able to hear anything) are very slim.
However this is one that I would holds my chips and pass on because of how unexplainably well the Titans played in the first three weeks. I think they could make it a ten point game, and there goes your money. Seattle’s home field advantage at times is giving them almost a four and a half point bump when it comes to the spreads, and it’s easy to see why.
Meehan’s Prediction: Seahawks 30, Titans 10
Coach’s Prediction: Seahawks 34, Titans 13
New Orleans Saints (5-0) +2.5 at New England Patriots (4-1) (49.5)
Coach: This is actually a pretty hard game to pick and although these two teams are top of their divisions and should easily make the playoffs. That being said I already have to think ahead to the question of how legit are their chances to make a deep run and at that point I have to say I’m really not sure.
The Patriots are coming off their first loss of the season against another good but questionable team in the Bengals. With a week removed from the return of Danny Amendola you have to think that he and Brady will need to establish a good rhythm if they want to hang around against the Saints. So far even though New England’s offense has yet to really light it on fire you have to give Tom Brady credit for being able to find ways to win this year even with injuries to his top targets. Every week you have to think Tom and Bill huddle up in a corner and pray to the God of football that Gronk will be able to return and with that still at least a week or so away it puts that much more emphasis that Amendola is able to step up and be the number one receiver Brady so desperately wants and needs.
If there’s anything Drew Brees doesn’t have to worry about it’s lack of targets and no other target has been as much fun to watch this season as Jimmy Graham. I’m not trying to take anything away from Marques Colston but Jimmy Graham isn’t just putting up impressive numbers he is doing it in a way that is almost transcending the tight end position. I read an article this past week that stated how Graham has actually lined up more in the wide and slot than in a traditional tight end position. Yes other teams are turning tight end into more of a wide receiver hybrid although nobody is really coming close to what Graham has been able to do (Jordon Cameron of Cleveland is the closest thing).
The reason that the Saints have been so good this year is due to Graham and no team being able to have an answer for the high octane offense they bring to the table. The spread on the game is -3 for New England but I’m going to keep riding the high scoring offense of the Saints in this one until someone shows me how to shut them down.
Coach’s Prediction: Saints 31, Patriots 27
Meehan’s Prediction: Saints 27, Patriots 23
Arizona Cardinals (3-2) +11 at San Francisco 49ers (3-2) (41.5)
Coach: It took since week one but the 49ers finally resembled the Super Bowl team of a year ago last week against the Texans. For some reason their passing game has continued to struggle as even last week on Sunday Night Kaepernick only threw the ball 15 times for 113 yards (including a 64 yard touchdown to Vernon Davis). In such a quarterback heavy league this surprises me especially coming from such a highly touted young quarterback. Yes a lot of this can be directed to the how Kaepernick has good mobility but he hasn’t had a run first mentality most of the year (last week he ran the ball once). Luckily for San Francisco they have had good success running the ball and will be hoping to continue that this week against a struggling Cardinals team.
Even though Arizona is coming off of a two game winning streak their offense has continued to struggle rating in the bottom third in the league in both passing and rushing. Last week against the Panthers they were able to step up their defense and confuse Newton but there is a huge gap between the constantly struggling Panthers and a team fresh off a Super Bowl appearance. For being a division matchup between two 3-2 teams the spread is a surprisingly 13 points in favor of San Francisco and I’m not really sure how to pick it. Part of me thinks that San Francisco is that much better than the Cardinals especially after blowing out Houston last week but they have struggled against good defenses. In the end I am going to pinpoint the Cards dominant defense of last week to playing a week Panthers team and predict they won’t be able to contain all of San Fran’s weapons. This is a tough one to call but just to make my Sunday even more interesting than it already is I’m going to take the spread as I trust the Niners way more than I do the Cards.
Coach’s Prediction: 49ers 31, Cardinals 17
Meehan’s Prediction: 49ers 32, Cardinals 12
Sunday Night Football: Washington Redskins (1-3) +5.5 at Dallas Cowboys (2-3) (53)
Meehan: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called last week’s loss to the Broncos “a moral victory”, and then his son went on the radio and said that was hardly the case. Here’s what happened last week: We saw everything that Tony Romo’s career has ever stood for at its best points condensed into a 60 minute matchup. He put up the stats that fantasy owners love him for, he stayed in there taking shot after shot and never gave up, and at the end he did something that made him look unqualified to be a janitor.
Not that the Redskins happen to be in any better shape. When I think of the Redskins, the first thing that comes to my mind is that Adidas, Subway, and Gatorade may have wasted a ton of goddamned money on endorsements. But the second thing that comes to mind is how poorly they are in all of the categories they were looking so well in last year. To top it all off, it looks there is significant move on the name change, and it’s never good when the biggest story out of your camp isn’t football-related. And the Redskins need to be having those discussions, like how in the world did a playoff team end up 31st against the run or end up being one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to stopping anything more dominating than a tumbleweed on 3rd down.
But as far as how these teams stack up against each other, I’m saying that Tony Romo believes enough of that “moral victory” shit to beat the Redskins by six. I wouldn’t bet the farm, but then again I currently own no farm property so maybe my take is slightly skewed. I don’t think Coach Ryan has a farm either. We really need to set something up on this website where you can buy us farms.
Meehan’s Prediction: Cowboys 25, Redskins 19
Coach’s Prediction: Cowboys 27, Redskins 21
Monday Night Football: Indianapolis Colts (4-1) -1.5 at San Diego Chargers (2-3) (49)
Coach: Don’t you wish that you could root for a football team that has one of the best quarterbacks of all time, wins a Super Bowl, loses that quarterback, sucks for one year, and then is a powerhouse again with the next ‘best quarterback?’ If you are a Colts fan than you don’t have to wish and don’t have anything to complain about because you once again are becoming a top AFC franchise. Last week I picked against Indianapolis and took the Hawks to win by a point when I obviously should have given the Colts more respect. This is a Colts team that has dominated the Niners, blown out a team by over 30 (I use the term ‘team’ lightly), and just handed Seattle their first defeat of the year. Even though their passing game hasn’t been “dominant” Andrew Luck has been finding his rhythm and is riding a quarterback rating of 94.1 with a 7 to 2 touchdown to interception ratio into Monday Night.
As solid as Luck has been so far this year Philip Rivers has been the surprise quarterback of the NFL. I know he has a history of being good to great but last week he threw for over 400 yards for the third time this year and is coming in with a qb rating of 110.5. If you look ahead at San Diego’s schedule you have to think that they are going to be treating this as a must win game considering they still have to play the Broncos and the Chiefs twice. I think this game is going to be a good old fashioned shootout between two good quarterbacks. The spread on the game is -2 for the Chargers and I’m taking youth to beat the spread and ride the momentum they got by beating Seattle and edge out the Chargers.
Coach’s Prediction: Colts 31, Chargers 30
Meehan’s Prediction: Colts 28, Chargers 26
Miami Dolphins (3-2)
Meehan: The Dolphins looked so promising in the first three weeks, but the last two games they’ve looked awful. They’re not ranked higher than 15th in the “big four of Stats” and they just don’t seem like they have a kill switch. And with every passing week, we’re realized that’s not the division to do that in. It’s funny because the Dolphins are 13th in the power rankings, which is significant because they are in that space where they’d be the first one out. If they keep playing like this, they will find themselves out of the postseason.
Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
Coach: Last week Meehan said that the Steelers and the Jaguars were the only two teams in the league not making him embarrassed to be a Giants fan. As true as that is another team in the running for most embarrassed fan base is the Falcons. Not only does this “NFC Favorite” have to go into their bye with a 1-4 record but they have to sit their entire bye week thinking about how the Jets beat them, on Monday Night, in Atlanta. To make matters worse there’s rumors that Julio Jones could be lost for the year which if true not just dooms many a fantasy team but officially puts a fork into the dreams of every Atlanta fan. The problem is where do they go from here? They’re down FOUR games in the division and have showed no sense of knowing how to win a football game let alone enough to salvage the season. After the bye the Falcons will be hosting the lowly Bucs before hitting the road for the Cardinals and the Panthers. All three of those games “should” be winnable games for Atlanta but if they find a way to lose 2 (or more) of the next three you have to wonder if the words “fire sale” or “rebuilding” could start swarming around Atlanta. (Editor’s Note: And if they are going to start “rebuilding”, they can start with that sorry excuse for a domed stadium that they’ve got down there. Might I recommend something that doesn’t look like a place you’d want to go unless you wanted the experience to end like an apocalyptic horror movie)
2 Minute Warning – Injuries
Meehan: Obviously, there are a ton of injuries around the league as we’ve mentioned earlier. This weekend we lost arguably one of the best receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones, Clay Matthews is out for a month with a finger injury, and the Colts have lost Ahmad Bradshaw for the season after what looked like on of the greatest offseason acquisitions in recent NFL history. As a student of the media, I can tell you that I understand why such coverage is as intense as we see an athlete sometimes losing their will to regain strength with such severe injuries. I get that.
What I don’t like about the way these injuries are covered is sometimes they try to make it seem like if a particular team is suffering from them they are giving a free pass where they don’t deserve it. Yes the Julio Jones injury is huge. Yes that team has massive injury issues. But the moral of that story is that the Falcons are garbage, not to sit here and decide who gets a free pass and determine who’s suffered the worst. The Julio Jones thing will escalate this trend to an unbelievable level, because if the bullshit meter runs from one to ten, the Atlanta Falcons are about a 66.
Not that my Giants are an exception towards the fuel off my hatred either…they get WAAAAAAAYYYY too much airtime devoted to what’s wrong with them and I don’t like it anymore than you do. They say so and so is out, and this third string guy got injured falling off of his tricycle outside of Hooters at 4:45 in the morning, and whatever else they can come up with to hide the fact that Eli Manning stinks like hot garbage at the moment. Here again, injuries are a factor but very rarely can be the root mental cause for failure.
Overtime: “Still in the hunt” media groupthink
Meehan: And I’m sick of all these analysts saying that everyone “still has a chance” in that division (the NFC East) as if it’s some excuse that we’re all supposed to accept for excruciatingly poor play in the division that has been awesome for years. You can hear these blowhards everywhere: “Such and such is only a game and a half out of first, they still have a chance”… And then they move on to the Giants and say that if they can string together some victories they’ll be “right back in it”. Well as a fan, I can tell you they won’t. Helen Keller had a better chance of growing up to be an auctioneer than the New York Giants do at making the playoffs.
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Meehan and Coach