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Thursday, 9 October 2014

2014 NFL Week 6 Predictions: Can Seattle Stop DeMarco Murray?

Bye teams: Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints


Thursday, Oct. 9


Indianapolis Colts (3-2) @ Houston Texans (3-2), 8:25 p.m.

The Colts are red hot, coming off of a three game winning streak where Andrew Luck has thrown for 1075 yards and nine touchdowns. Both Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw have flashed potential, but neither one has been able to keep it up to be considered a number one back. Meanwhile, the Texans held the Cowboys to their lowest score (20) since Week 1 (17). The Texans also held DeMarco Murray to zero touchdowns, which is impressive considering the back scored against stout running fronts like the 49ers' and Rams'. The Colts are leading the league in passing attempts and do not look for that to change, as the Texans' weakness on defense is pass coverage.

With Arian Foster back, the Texans now have a formidable offense. Foster, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, should be able to carve up a defense that has yet to face a productive back. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still turnover-prone, throwing six picks in the last three games, but he is more than capable of managing a game. As long as the Colts do not get far ahead and the Texans are forced to rely on Fitzpatrick, the Texans have a chance to keep it close and possibly pull out a win in the end.

Indianapolis Colts Win, 31-23


Sunday, Oct. 12


Chicago Bears (2-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (2-3), 1 p.m.

The Bears have not lived up to expectations this year and are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Panthers. Jay Cutler is a clear representation of the team, throwing six touchdowns to zero picks in the team's two wins while throwing six picks to just as many touchdowns in the three losses. Matt Forte was supposed to be one of the most productive backs this year, coming off of two 1000-yard seasons, but his lone impressive performance came in a 17-38 loss to the Packers. The Falcons have one of the league's worst defenses, so look for Cutler to be on top of his game, while Forte should be able to score his first rushing touchdown.

After a shaky start that consisted of flashes of potential, the Falcons have dropped two straight, scoring 48 points but allowing 71. The Bears' first three opponents scored around 20 points a game, but they have allowed 30+ points in both of their more recent match-ups. The Falcons will try to run it against a seemingly weak defensive front, but this game will turn into a shootout very quick.

Chicago Bears Win, 45-41


Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) @ Tennessee Titans (1-4), 1 p.m.

Blake Bortles has played well at times, but has also thrown two picks in each of his games. The Jaguars have not built up much of a running game, so they will, once again, lean on Bortles to lead their offense. The Titans' passing defense is about average, so look for Bortles to top his Week 5 performance.

Jake Locker is said to be doubtful for the Titans, but Charlie Whitehurst is capable of leading the Titans' offense. The Jaguars have one of the league's worst defenses, ranking 32nd against the pass, so the Titans should be able to move the ball with consistency.

Tennessee Titans Win, 24-17


Baltimore Ravens (3-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3), 1 p.m.

After three strong performances, the Ravens fell short in Week 5. While their offense has been inconsistent, they are most definitely capable of leading their team. The Buccaneers have had a few strong defensive performances, but they have not been able to hold up against the high-powered passing attacks. Joe Flacco is an adequate quarterback with a more-than-capable receiving corps, even without Dennis Pitta, so look for the Ravens to put up points early.

The Buccaneers' offense has been surprisingly productive with Mike Glennon at helm, but the Ravens have held the Steelers, Panthers, and Colts to 6, 10, and 20 points, respectively. The Ravens' defense has been great against the run, but have struggled to contain the pass. Look for Glennon to have his best game of 2014.

Baltimore Ravens Win, 28-24


Denver Broncos (3-1) @ New York Jets (1-4), 1 p.m.

Peyton Manning has been on point all year long, and do not look for that to change against what has long been a suspect secondary. Montee Ball, who was one of the most praised players in the offseason, has yet to live up to expectations. Look for Manning to air it out against a defense capable of shutting down the run.

While there was little hope before, it is now quite certain that the Jets are in for a rough season. Their running game is surprsingly productive, but they will fall behind quickly against the high-flying Broncos and have to air it out. Michael Vick and Geno Smith may both get playing time, as Vick, who is currently the starter, is not expected to play well.

Denver Broncos Win, 42-20


Detroit Lions (3-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (2-3), 1 p.m.

Golden Tate has really stepped up in place of Calvin Johnson, recording 250 yards over the past two games. The Vikings' secondary, though, is very stout and will not allow him to put up numbers at his current pace. The Lions will eventually have to turn to their passing attack, as Reggie Bush and Joique Bell have struggled to provide much in the running game.

Teddy Bridgewater played well in his NFL debut, and was impressive in his second game before going down with an injury. Expected to start against the Lions, he will be leaned on heavily. The Vikings' running game looked promising in Week 4, but was brought down back to reality in a 10-42 loss against the Packers.

Detroit Lions Win, 30-20


New England Patriots (3-2) @ Buffalo Bills (3-2), 1 p.m.

The Patriots shocked everybody, upsetting the Bengals 43-17. All of the Bills wins, though, are arguably upsets. The Bills have one of the best run defenses in the league, so Tom Brady will likely air it out.

Kyle Orton was efficient last week, completing 70% of his passes, against the Lions. Ranked third in passing defense, the Patriots are two spots above the Lions. It is hard to see Orton having a game just as good, as C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson should bounce back after a quiet night. After the Patriots performance last week, this game looks like it is one sided, but it will most definitely be a close one.

New England Patriots Win, 33-31


Carolina Panthers (3-2)@ Cincinnati Bengals (3-1), 1 p.m.

The Panthers have been one of the more inconsistent teams in the league, losing two of the last three after starting off 2-0. The Panthers do not have a healthy, proven back, so look for them to pass it often, even against a weak run defense. Cam Newton, who has thrown just one pick this year, will have a good game overall, but he will struggle to consistently move the ball.

Andy Dalton will have to step up against the Panthers; the Bengals do not have a consistent running game, so they will have to rely on Dalton to lead the offense. The Panthers' secondary may be suspect, but their pass rush makes up for that. Expect Dalton to have a big game after a disappointing loss to the Patriots.

Cincinnati Bengals Win, 24-20


Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) @ Cleveland Browns (2-2), 1 p.m.

These two teams faced off in Week 1, with the Steelers coming on top 30-27. Coming off of a dreadful loss to the Buccaneers and just edging out the Jaguars, the Steelers do not look so hot. Ben Roethlisberger, though, has thrown six touchdowns to zero interceptions in the past three games, while Le'Veon Bell has been one of the most productive backs in 2014. The Browns rank in the bottom five in both rushing and passing defense, allowing 5.1 yards per run and 8.1 yards per pass.

Bryan Hoyer is seen as a game manager, but he is much more than that. Hoyer is one the reasons that the Browns has stayed close in all of their games, losing by five combined points in Weeks 1 and 3. With one of the best backfields in the league, the Browns will look to carve up the Steelers' defense. Like the first one, this match-up will be close.

Cleveland Browns Win, 31-24


Green Bay Packers (3-2) @ Miami Dolphins (2-2), 1 p.m.

After falling to the Lions 7-19, the Packers bounced back, scoring 80 points over the past two weeks while allowing just 27. Aaron Rodgers, who has thrown 12 touchdowns to just one pick, has been the most impressive quarterback over the past two weeks, while Eddie Lacy stepped it up last week, running for 105 yards and two touchdowns. The Dolphins' defense is pretty solid against both the run and the pass, but look for them to struggle against what is possibly the most potent one-two punch.

All of the Dolphins' games have had a point differential of at least 13, and at 2-2, they have been incredibly inconsistent. Ryan Tannehill's best performance came against a weak Oakland secondary, while he has failed to lead the offense in the other three outings. When the running game has struggled, so has the Dolphins' offense as a whole. Look for the Dolphins to go with a run-first mentality, as the Packers have a very talented secondary.

Green Bay Packers Win, 31-27


San Diego Chargers (4-1) @ Oakland Raiders (0-4), 4:05 p.m.

The Chargers may have the league's easiest three-game stretch, facing the winless Raiders after going up against the Jaguars (0-3) and Jets (1-3) in the previous two weeks. Philip Rivers has played like the best quarterback in 2014, and look for him to continue against a team that was carved up by Ryan Tannehill. Brandon Oliver will look to build off of a strong performance, and he certainly matches up favorably against the 31st-ranked run defense.

Derek Carr has been quite impressive for a rookie quarterback, but the Chargers have one of the best pass defenses in the league. If Carr is able to play, he will likely struggle, along with the rest of the offense.

San Diego Chargers Win, 34-21


Dallas Cowboys (4-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (3-1), 4:25 p.m.

The Cowboys are on a four-game win streak and are looking to keep it alive. While Tony Romo has thrown seven touchdowns in the last three games, he is also the turnover-prone quarterback he has always been. Luckily for the Cowboys, DeMarco Murray takes the pressure off of him. Murray, the league leader in rushing yards, will go up against the first-ranked run defense. Murray ran 118 yards and one touchdown against the 49ers in Week 1, who are ranked fifth in run defense.

Being the only team with more rushing yards than the Cowboys, the Seahawks have done a good job getting consistent production out of Marshawn Lynch. Unlike the Seahawks, the Cowboys do not have a top ranked run defense. The Cowboys are ranked 20th and 18th in run and pass defense, respectively, so the Seahawks' offense will look to fire on all cylinders after a few shaky performances.

Seattle Seahawks Win, 35-27


Washington Redskins (1-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (3-1), 4:25 p.m.

The Redskins have the fifth-ranked passing offense, but it is scewed due to Kirk Cousins' 427-yard performance in the Week-3 shootout. Other than that game, no Redskins quarterback has topped 300 yards passing. On the other hand, the Cardinals' pass defense is 31st, but they have allowed just 760 passing yards, 253 yards per game, if you exclude Peyton Manning's 479-yard performance. The Cardinals are also the only team to have held Philip Rivers under 250 yards, a single touchdown, and below a 124 passer rating (75.9), while their run defense rank among the best in the league, so this is not a favorable match-up for the Redskins' offense.

With Logan Thomas expected to start, the Cardinals' offense is in trouble. The Redskins have a very inconsistent secondary, but Thomas is extremely raw, and may not be able to beat the pressure. Andre Ellington will look to make an impact, and if the Cardinals' defense can hold the Redskins under 20 points, Ellington may be able to lead the Cardinals to a victory.

Washington Redskins Win, 24-14


New York Giants (3-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-1), 8:30 p.m.

The Giants have won three straight, with the leading rusher in all three games being a Giants back. The Eagles have a suspect run defense, so look for both Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams to have big games. Eli Manning has thrown eight touchdowns to just one pick in the past three games, after throwing just three touchdowns to four picks in the first two. The Eagles' secondary has struggled in coverage, allowing 13 touchdowns throughout the year, so look for Manning to have another big game.

Nick Foles, unlike Manning, started off strong and has been a bit disappointing in the past two weeks. After throwing for 978 yards and six touchdowns, to go along with just two picks, in the first three weeks, Foles has thrown just 402 yards and two touchdowns, while tossing three picks. More disappointing than Foles' recent failures is LeSean McCoy's lack of production. Darren Sproles has done well in both the running and passing game, but McCoy has just 342 yards from scrimmage off of 108 touches. The Giants' defense has been okay, but they are inconsistent, so look for Eagles' offense to step it up.

Philadelphia Eagles Win, 35-30


Monday, Oct. 13


San Francisco 49ers (3-2) @ St. Louis Rams (1-3), 8:30 p.m.

Coming off of two close, strong wins, the 49ers are starting to play like playoff contenders. The 49ers are bottom five in passing attempts, while the Rams have the first-ranked passing defense, so look for Frank Gore to get the rock early and often. The 49ers' third-ranked rushing offense matches up favorably against the Rams' underperforming defensive front.

Austin Davis has been a pleasant surprise for the Rams, but look for the second-year player to struggle against a defense that held the Eagles' offense scoreless. The 49ers rank second in total defense, while ranking top five in both the pass and rushing games. The Rams' offense will struggle from the start, but a lot like the Bears did in Week 2, the Rams will be able to create a few big plays.

San Francisco 49ers Win, 28-20


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