Week six in the NFL presents some very intriguing match-ups, and some tough calls for fantasy owners, and game prognosticators. Before we jump into this week though, let's take a look at week 5. I went 9-6 for the second straight week. That's painful. The Denver Broncos snuck by the New England Patriots to remain undefeated, and I'm being forced to accept that these guys might actually be for real. The Cardiac Cats managed to prove me wrong by eeking out another last second score against the Baltimore Ravens. What happened to the Ravens passing game last week? I think the one that surprised me the most was Miami beating the Jets. Not so much that they won, but they did it in a high scoring affair. Of course Matt Hasselbeck returned and dismantled the Jaguars, and the San Francisco 49ers had a meltdown against the Falcons. This leaves me with a 55 - 23 mark through 5 weeks. Here's last week's column.
Week 6 has the potential for a lot of close games, and some difficult game predictions. We'll get to see the undefeated Saints and Giants square off, in what could be a shoot out, or a completely defensive game. The undefeated Broncos get to face perhaps the best offense they've seen so far in the Chargers, and the lowly Chiefs get a chance to put a check in the win column against the Redskins.
--Week 5 Soundbites--
When I wrote my final pre-game article last week recommending a last minute grab of Jeremy Maclin and Miles Austin, even I had no idea they would put up such monster numbers. Austin is off this week, but Maclin gets to face a porous secondary for the second week in a row. I don't expect he'll put up numbers like last week, even against the Raiders, but he should have another solid game.
Larry Fitzgerald and Roddy White both got off the fantasy snide in week 5 with great performances. However, Randy Moss owners have got to be worried about their second round pick, and most likely their top receiver. He was invisible against the Broncos on offense, but did I see this correctly? He had an interception? I didn't get to see that game, so feel free to clue me in, if you did.
For IDP owners who used a high pick on Steeler's linebacker, James Harrison, hoping for a repeat of last year's big season. Sunday's 3 sack game may be a sign he's headed in the right direction. It also may be time to sell.
Welcome back, Matt Hasselbeck. In his first game since returning from a week one injury, Hasselbeck had 4 TDs on only 18 completed passes. That's a touchdown every 4.25 receptions.
With the 49ers, Colts, Dolphins and Cowboys on bye this week, let's look at the remaining 14 games.
--Team Defense Start and Sit - Week 6--
Plug and Play
|Solid defensive option
|If they are on your bench, leave 'em there
|Reasonable risk/reward option
Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have been nicknamed the Cardiac Cats this year as every game they've played has been decided on the final possession. If not for that fluke play at the end of week one's Broncos game, the Bengals would be undefeated now. Of course the football Gods repaid that tough loss with a bad win against the Browns in week 4. The Texans have been playing solid ball since their week one loss, but they still can't seem to win. Fumbles have hurt them frequently. In the plus/minus turnover department the Texans are plus 1, while the Bengals are -2. The latter due in large part to 6 interceptions. I'd like to believe the Texans will win this one, but the Bengals keep proving they are for real.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Which QB will the Lions run out there this week? Culpepper or Stafford? I'm guessing Stafford, but I don't think it will matter in the win column. I think they'll put up a fight, but the Packers are just too overpowering. The packers have 10 takeaways on the season and their turnover +/- is 7. Tied for second best in the league. The Lions are -3 due to 7 interceptions. This is a game the Lions could win, but my guess is an untimely turnover will keep this in cheese country.
St. Louis Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars
Their are several 0 - 5 teams going into week 6, and I expect one or two will end that slump. I don't think it will be the Rams. The Jaguars have been okay against the run, and my guess is they'll focus on stopping Steven Jackson. Donnie Avery and Marc Bulger need a big day to beat the Jags. On the otherside, the Jaguars have one of the league's best running backs and are facing a team that has surrendered 6 TDs to RBs already, and are ranked 23rd against the run. Add to that mix, the Rams are second worst in the league in +/- turnover at -9. They lead the league in fumbles with 9. The Jaguars are +2 on the season. Assuming Mike Sims-Walker is back in uniform this week, I think the Jags take this contest.
Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings
The 5 - 0 Vikings get to face the suddenly sputtering Ravens this week. Baltimore has lost two games they could have won in the final minutes the last two weeks. The Vikes have just been on a roll. They are a league best +8 in the turnover department, including snaring 6 INTs and causing 6 fumbles. Their defense has helped them win as frequently as their offense. The Ravens are also on the plus side of the turnover battle, so this should be a tight game. Both teams have been solid against the run. The Vikings have yet to surrender a rushing TD, and the Ravens have given up fewer rushing yards, but allowed 2 rushing TDs. This game may be won through the air. The Vikings weakness will be stopping Todd Heap. For the Ravens they face perhaps the best clutch QB in the game. Favre has more experience and more tools to get the job done, so I think they'll remain undefeated.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers fans have to be worried about near meltdowns in the second half of their games this season. Fortunately the Steelers defense gets Troy Polamalu back this week. They face a Clevelend Browns team in complete shambles. Their QB completed just 2 of 17 passes last week against the Bills. They're -5 in the turnover department, with 8 interceptions given up. Only the Panthers have more. This game should be a beat down on both sides of the ball for the Browns...assuming the Steelers show up to play all 4 quarters. At home they'd certainly better.
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints
This is the only match-up of undefeated teams this week. Both have top 5 fantasy defenses this season, that equates to top defenses, period. Both are top 5 in +/- turn over, the Saints are +7 and the Giants +6. The Saints lead the league with 10 interceptions. Both have excellent running back tandems. This game could be an offensive shoot out or it could be a very tight defensive game. My concern for the Saints is the lack of production from Drew Brees in his last two games. This is about as evenly matched game as you'll see this season and a tough game to pick. I'll go with the rested home team.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like the Saints/Giants game, this one is also fairly evenly matched and hard to call, but for all the wrong reasons. Both teams are off to miserable starts. Quarterback play has been horrendous for the Panthers, and the Tampa defense has been dreadful at all the wrong times. both defenses rank near the bottom in fantasy scoring, meaning their ability to create pressure and turnovers is weak. The Panthers are dead last in +/- turnover at -9. Their league worst 9 interceptions are the reason, along with 5 fumbles The Bucs have 7 interceptions as well. Neither team has been great at takeaways. I put the Bucs as a plug and play defense only because of how bad the Panthers are at giveaways. The one place the Panthers have been solid is against the pass. The Bucs have been terrible against the pass. Advantage Panthers. But the Bucs are at home and the are winless...
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins
What are the odds of starting game 6 without having faced a team with a win? About 1 in 33,000. Something like that. Yet the Redskins have yet to face a team with a win in 2009. A couple have gotten those first wins against Washington. The Panthers got their first win against them last week. Could the 0-5 Chiefs be next? The two teams haven't played since week 6 of the 2005 season. That was back when the Chiefs still had a running back. You remember Priest Holmes. In the turnover department the Chiefs are +2 while the Redskins are -2. Every statistic through the first 5 weeks says the Redskins should take this game, but I like the Chiefs to upset this week.
Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders
This is probably the lock of the week. The Raiders have just been terrible on both sides of the ball. Only tight ends have struggled against them. Sorry Brent Celek. The Eagles got McNabb back last week and they torched the Bucs. This week looks like another drubbing in the making. The Eagles defense has been lights out, and are +5 in the turnover department. They are second only to the Saints with 9 takeaway interceptions. If you're wondering, the Raiders are -4. For the Raiders to have a chance in this game, several areas of the team would need to get their act together in the same game. Not likely.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
Hmm, two teams with pass happy QBs, no running game and poor defensive secondaries. Sounds like an old fashion shoot out to me. This is another one of those flip a coin picks this week. The Seahawks' WRs, T. J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson have been every bit as good (if not better) than the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin so far. The Seahawks have one thing the Cards don't, a real tight end. The Seahawks pass rush has been fairly dominant at home. This will be running back Edgerrin James first game against his old team. He's been pretty quiet so far, but this could be the game where he gives his team the Edge.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
On paper this looks like an easy win for the Patriots, but they have struggled with consistency so far this season, and Tom Brady's passing stats are not terribly impressive. His passer rating is sitting at 61.4 % so far. Add to that, the Titans rush defense has been the second best in the league. That means Brady will have to use his arm to win. Fortunately the Tennessee pass defense is the league's worst. They've already given up 10 touchdowns. The Titans have a chance to upset if they can get their act together. The Patriots run defense is suspect, though Jerod Mayo is back now and Junior Seau has come out of retirement. Regardless, the Titans have two of the games best RBs in Chris Johnson and Lendale White.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
The Jets took off to a great start but have struggled the last two games. Monday night's loss to Miami was a surprise given how strong the Jets have been defensively. They need to create more turnovers though to be dominant. Fortunately, the Bills might oblige as they are ranked 30th in the takeaway/giveaway column at -6. Six interceptions and five fumbles have hurt the team. The Jets are sitting dead even. The Dolphins handed the Jets a double shot of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown in week 5. The Bills will likely lower both barrels on them too, running Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, early and often. However, Buffalo has been even worse against the rush, and they are very poor defending tight ends. The Jets are strong against the pass as are the Bills. Close game.
Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons
Da Bears had last week off, while the Falcons soared past the befuddled 49ers. Michael Turner and Roddy White finally had a game fantasy owners have been waiting for. Matt Ryan outscored all QBs in fantasy points against San Francisco, against a normally solid defense. The Bears are not likely to fall apart the way the 49ers did last week. Yet again, two more evenly matched teams. Are you sensing a pattern yet? The Bears lead the series all time, having only lost once to the Falcons, but Atlanta is very dominant at home. This game should come to down to Jay Cutler's ability to stay calm and find his young receivers vs. Matt Ryan torching the Bears suspect secondary with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
This week's Monday night game should be another in a string of intriguing games. Philip Rivers can make his offense explode in any given game, meanwhile the Denver Broncos have the leagues best defense so far. Can they pull another rabbit out of their helmets this week in San Diego? The Broncos defense has 11 takeaways through 5 games, and their turnover rating is +6. QB Kyle Orton has only thrown one interception. The Denver rush defense has been brutal, and the Chargers run game has been unusually poor. On the reverse, their rush defense has been the league's worse. Look for the Chargers to get an endless dose of rookie Knowshon Moreno. Philip Rivers is 4 - 0 on Monday Night Football.
Week 6 TE Start Sit
Week 6 RB Start Sit
Week 6 WR Start Sit
Week 6 Match ups to Avoid/Exploit
Week 6 Bye Week Buys
What I was listening to while I wrote this article: