NFL Week 6 Preview: Tough Challenges Ahead for the Undefeated

It’s been five weeks since the new NFL season has started and five teams are still undefeated. From this triumphant group, the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Cincinnati Bengals have impressed both the experts and the pundits the most.

The Patriots have pretty much steamrolled over their opposition, however, some experts have noted that they’ve had a relatively easy schedule so far and they’re going to face a tough test this week in Indianapolis. Packers have looked impressive on the defensive side of the ball and we can’t forget that they have 2014 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.

The Cincinnati Bengals have a very balanced squad – a respectable defense, playmakers with an ability to catch and carry the ball and an offensive line which protects their quarterback Andy Dalton well, who himself has been performing well enough to draw some MVP buzz.

Let’s move on to the preview of all of the NFL regular season Week 6 games!

Bye Week Teams: Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys

New England Patriots (4-0) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-2)

This one is the marquee matchup of the week. Last season the AFC conference championship game between these two teams ended in a blowout Patriots’ victory at 45-7. However, that was overshadowed by the so-called Deflategate scandal when the Colts complained about insufficient pressure in the balls that their opponents supplied.  These accusations led to a fine and a four-game suspension for the star quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady and the team felt the punishment did not fit the alleged crime, due to the lack of concrete evidence and previous lenient punishments in similar situations for other teams. Just before the season started, Tom Brady won the appeal against his suspension in federal court.

The Patriots fan base and team, no doubt, spent the long offseason months looking forward to this matchup and will be determined to get some revenge for being disrespected as the Super Bowl champions. Even though the Patriots haven’t had a particularly difficult schedule so far, the team has looked excellent and the Colts will have a tough challenge come Sunday.

The Colts were labeled as one of Super Bowl favorites before the season, but the  first five weeks showed some issues with the team performance – the offensive line couldn’t protect young talented quarterback Andrew Luck, who himself made careless mistakes and couldn’t score enough points with his aging receivers and rushers.

Luck also missed last two games due to shoulder injury and Colts fans were grateful to have  veteran backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on the team, as he managed to win both games in the dramatic and hard-fought circumstances.

Prediction and pick:  TonyBet gives Patriots a -7.5 points handicap and no team will be as motivated for a game this week as much as the Patriots. If they can jump ahead, Patriots will want to rub it in their detractors’ faces and will try to win with as high of a margin as possible. Colts are playing like an average team so far and will have to show major improvements to their play to have a decent chance at winning this one.

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Carolina Panthers (4-0) @ Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

The Panthers are undefeated so far this season and the Seahawks lost 3 out of 5 games, so why did TonyBet make the Seattle team a 7 point favorite in this one?

First of all, Panthers haven’t beaten any strong teams yet and only sport victories against Jaguars, Texans, Saints and Buccaneers, who have a combined 6-15 record this season. The Carolina team’s strength is defense, but their offense is very average and lacks some serious talent in the wide receiver and the running back positions.

As the last season’s Super Bowl finalists, the Seahawks are definitely not happy with their current 2-3 record, but two of these losses came against the Bengals and Packers on the road; both teams are currently among the top 5 in the league.

The offensive line is the biggest concern and the talking point this week among Seahawks’ fans, and the quarterback Russell Wilson is currently the most sacked QB in the league. Star running back Marshawn Lynch could be back for this one from an injury, and if not, the undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls is admirably filling in for him.

Seahawks are very strong at home with some major help from their supporters, who hold the Guinness world record for the loudest sports stadium in the world which they managed to achieve a couple of years ago.

Prediction and pick: Even though Seahawks should win this game, a 7 point margin might be a bit too much for a match between two quality defenses. Therefore we predict a Seattle win, but by less than 7 points.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-0) @ Buffalo Bills (3-2)

The Cincinnati Bengals’ recent seasons look like they were taken straight from the movie Groundhog Day – a solid regular season campaign has ended in the first round of play-offs, and this caused some disaffection amongst the Bengals’ fans. What’s the point of all these regular season wins if we don’t do anything in the playoffs?

Of course, a lot of long-suffering supporters of other teams like Jacksonville Jaguars or Oakland Raiders would gladly trade problems, but it looks like the Bengals are taking some serious steps forward this season. They present a solid defense, an offensive line which can block for runners and give time for quarterback Andy Dalton to find his elite wide receiver AJ Green or tall tight end Tyler Eifert – this team is well assembled.

In this favorable environment Dalton is producing quality results so far – Bengals are 2nd in the league in total offensive yards per game and present a formidable challenge to any team. Last week the Bengals showed some true determination by coming back from 7-24 to beat the Seahawks in overtime.

The description of the Buffalo Bills before the season was “great defense, a lot of talented players on offense and one huge hole in a form of a quarterback – the most important position”. Much to everyone’s surprise, Tyrod Taylor emerged as a solid QB option and so far is playing really well.

Sadly, talented offensive players like LeSean McCoy or Sammy Watkins went down with injuries and at the moment the Bills are not playing as well as they would like to. Last week’s win against one of the worst teams in the league – the Tennessee Titans – was one of the ugliest games of the season. Taylor himself is now not at 100% and could be limited during the Sunday game.

Prediction and pick: TonyBet has Bills as a 3 point underdog and we would bet in their favor especially since they’re playing at home – that is, if they were a little bit healthier. Since they are not, we have to go with the Bengals and predict that their undefeated season will continue.

The Rest of Week 6 Matches:

Chicago Bears (2-3) @ Detroit Lions (0-5) – the Bears started their season miserably losing the first three games, but with the quarterback Jay Cutler back from an injury they managed to grind out two last minute wins in a row, thus showing some signs of life.

The Lions, on the other hand, are sinking fast – the quarterback Matt Stafford was benched for his play on Sunday, the head coach Jim Caldwell admitted he is not doing a very good job and it looks like one of the future NFL legends Calvin Johnson will be wasting a season of his career on a poor team.  Still, the Detroit team has a chance to win their first game and will be desperate to do so.

Houston Texans (1-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) – the Texans are playing below expectations so far and the week 5 home loss against division rivals Colts with their star quarterback Andrew Luck out injured will hurt their playoff chances a lot. The team’s head coach Bill O’Brien has two subpar quarterbacks to choose from and is not helping them perform by changing the starting QB several times.

Texans will hope their star running back Arian Foster, who is back after missing the first few weeks, will help them get out of this 1-4 hole. The young Jaguars are showing improvement in comparison to the previous seasons, especially on the offensive side where the quarterback Blake Bortles has made great use of their talented receiving corps. But their defense is still very much a work in progress.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) @ Minnesota Vikings (2-2) – the Chiefs’ week 5 home loss was truly devastating not only because they lost to the Chicago Bears who aren’t exactly very talented, but also because they lost their star offense leader Jamal Charles to a season-ending injury.

After losing Charles, the Chiefs didn’t score another point and turned a 17-3 lead into a 17-18 loss. The quarterback Alex Smith is not getting enough protection from his offensive line and is also very reluctant to take risks down the field which leads to short offensive drives. The Vikings will be well rested after a week 5 bye and will be trying to take full advantage of the Chiefs’ situation.

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Miami Dolphins (1-3) @ Tennessee Titans (1-3) – the Dolphins were the first franchise to fire their head coach this season. After a dismal performance in the week 4 London game against New York Jets, the mild mannered Joe Philbin was replaced by the drill-sergeant-like interim coach Dan Campbell, who hopes to inspire some fighting spirit among his squad.

The Titans experienced two close losses in a row, which will serve as a baptism of fire to their highly rated rookie quarterback Marcus Mariotta. This looks like a tough game between two teams who are desperate to make amends for the poor start of the season.

Washington Redskins (2-3) @ New York Jets (3-1) – the Redskins are playing a bit better than their preseason predictions indicated and were close to an upset against the undefeated (at the time) Falcons in week 5.  In a relatively weak NFC East division they are still in the playoff race and that‘s definitely an encouraging sign to their supporters.

The New Jets coach Todd Bowles is enjoying a good start to his career in New York. Jets defense has shown that it can sting at the beginning of the season and keeps the opponents from running away, therefore the quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is average by the league standards, is not forced to make any risky attempts to catch up.

Chris Ivory and Brandon Marshall provide this team with just enough offensive threat to be scary. The AFC East division rivals Patriots are not slowing down, so a win against Redskins is vital in order to keep up with them.

Arizona Cardinals (4-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) – Even though the Cardinals have suffered one loss already this season, they are rated higher than some of the undefeated teams. Their head coach Brian Arians is one of the very best in the league and constantly wins his tactical battles, the defense is forcing a lot of turnovers, the veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and his offense unit put a lot of points on the board and lead the league in average scoring with 38.0 points.

The Steelers are having a tough time without their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who is still injured, yet they were able to still eke out a last second touchdown, winning the week 5 game against Chargers and keeping their playoff hopes alive. Still, the Cardinals will be a very stern test for this sometimes defensively challenged team who will have to play with their backup quarterback this week.

Baltimore Ravens (1-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-4) – Both teams are having a rather terrible start to the season, but if the 49ers’ struggles were widely expected after massive personal losses during offseason, the Ravens were expected to be much better than this. Everyone can score easily against them and on the offense, the team is lacking some major talent in the receiving positions. We can safely say that the loser of this match can forget about playoffs this season.

Denver Broncos (5-0) @ Cleveland Browns (2-3) –the NFL legend Peyton Manning is done as a quality NFL starter and is running on fumes now. The Broncos’ defense is compensating for the subpar level of play from their quarterback and can currently be considered as the best in the league. The Browns, even with one of the least talented squads in the league, are putting up a fight so far, scoring but also conceding a lot of points in their games.

San Diego Chargers (2-3) @ Green Bay Packers (5-0) – After a heartbreaking last second loss on Monday night to the Steelers, the Chargers will have to travel to the fortress of the undefeated Packers. The latter are very strong at home and now boast improved defense, which so far is one of the three best in the league in points allowed.

This helped the best quarterback in the NFL Aaron Rodgers to overcome some jitters in Packers offense machine – he lost the ball three times last week breaking his interception-less streak at Lambeau Field. The Chargers are still dealing with a lot of injuries on their offensive line.

New York Giants (3-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) – a very important intra NFC East battle for control in that division. If not for some tactical mistakes in the first two weeks of the season, the Giants could be 5-0 now after making a last minute comeback last Sunday and will be a very tough challenge for the hosting Eagles.

After a worrying start to the season, Philadelphia showed some improvement last week by beating the admittedly terrible Saints by more than 20 points, but are still nowhere near their pre-season darling status, when many people were impressed by their high scoring ways.

A loss here would start some real pressure among the Philadelphia crowds, who are traditionally very impatient and can suddenly become hostile towards their own team. The Giants will hope their star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr will not face any setbacks from a minor hamstring injury. To conclude, it’s going to be a crucial battle with far-reaching consequences.

About Aaron Garcia

Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.