NFL Week 6 look ahead

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:08 PM ET

1. Buffalo at N.Y. Giants

For the second week in a row the Bills line up against an NFC East opponent that is in do-or-die mode. Well, maybe the Giants aren’t as far down that path as the Eagles were when they arrived in Buffalo, but make no mistake, the Giants are a team looking to make amends. That’s what happens after you lose to a doormat team like the Seattle Seahawks on your own turf. Granted the Giants come in with a winning record at 3-2 but having lost the way they did to the team that they did is the kind of combination that creates panic. Buffalo on the other hand is rolling along at 4-1 and need to show it can win on the road somewhere other than Kansas City.

2. San Francisco at Detroit

Shocked doesn’t begin to describe the feeling we got watching the 49ers manhandle the Buccaneers. It was as thorough a win as there was this weekend, perhaps all season. There is no question the Niners are on a roll with just that overtime loss to Dallas as the lone blemish on their record. But until they beat Tampa, a team we consider pretty good, it was easy to chalk up the record to a weak schedule. Having won in Philly, coming East does not scare the 49ers but Detroit is a better team than the Eagles. Still not believing in Alex Smith but the 49ers should give the Lions a real test.

3. Philadelphia at Washington

What now Eagles? You’re 1-4, you’ve successfully disassociated yourself from those ridiculous “Dream Team” expectations and now, with your season hanging in the balance, you have put yourself in a position of having to win a game at the home of against your fiercest division rival. To all that we say ‘Good Luck.’ There is no denying that the Eagles have amassed a great deal of individual talent but so far it’s not meshing very well. The Redskins came into the season without much in the way of expectations and have developed a defence that is third best in the league allowing just 15.8 points a game, sixth against the rush and ninth vs. the pass. Like we said, good luck Eagles.

4. Houston at Baltimore

Two weeks ago this would have been a much more intriguing matchup. It looks a little more one-sided this week in light of a season-ending injury to linebacker Mario Williams who will be replaced by a rookie and receiver Andre Johnson who is out at least another two weeks. Neither of these players can be replaced. They’re both that good. The Ravens come in a rested team having just had the week off and other than an aberration in Tennessee have been a pretty consistent team this year. Fully healthy the Texans would have given the Ravens everything they could handle. Now, it would take an upset for Houston to walk out of here with a win.

5. New Orleans at Tampa Bay

What happened to the Bucs between their departure from Tampa and arrival in San Fran. That certainly didn’t look like the Tampa team that came out west with a 3-1 record. Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount and everyone else on that offence looked like they were back in Pop Warner football. They do get to go back home this week but waiting for them will be a New Orleans team far more capable of putting up a big score than the 49ers are. That alone should get the Bucs attention. New Orleans had a scare of its own against the Panthers but survived. Normally we would just bookmark this one a win for New Orleans but it being a divisional game and being played in Tampa, we still think it will be a contest.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Matt Schaub’s decision attempt a pass into the end zone (which was picked off) from the five with just one defender to beat rather than attempt a keeper in the loss to Oakland elicited plenty of response but none more pointed than this: “Old boy choked,” Oakland’s defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. “All he had to do was run it in. He choked, simple as that.”

Schaub explained his choice this way.

“I’m not necessarily a guy that’s going to make a whole lot of guys miss in the open field,”

STOCK FALLING: We’ll have to go with Kyle Orton on this one as not even his staunchest supporter (head coach John Fox) is willing to say Orton will start at quarterback in the Broncos next game. Orton has thrown eight touchdowns and been intercepted seven times so far this season. Worse, his team has won only once with him at the helm and Tim Tebow, the people’s choice to have the job, almost pulled off a comeback Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Orton’s leash was short before that. He may have reached its end on Sunday.

STOCK RISING: Tebow would be a candidate here but we’ll go with Seattle quarterback Charlie Whitehurst who came on for the injured Tarvaris Jackson and made his early lead stand up. Jackson was admittedly quite good in his 2 1//2 quarters of work before he was injured. A strained pectoral muscle was the reason for his departure and with a week off Jackson could recover without missing a game. Whitehurst though did have over a 100 quarterback rating in mopping up. Pete Carroll has a tough decision ahead but either way Whitehurst’s chances are better today than they were Saturday.

HYPE WE'RE BUYING: Cincinnati may be the Cardiac Kids of the NFL this year with three fourth-quarter-comebacks in five games, but we’re buying in. Andy Dalton and the offence do just enough to make this vastly under-appreciated defence provide the difference on many weeks. That and the fact that the next four weeks see the Bengals play Indy, rest for a week with the bye and then head out on the road for winnable games in Seattle and Tennessee should put them in a pretty good position once the tough part of their sked begins. The Bengals are allowing just 18.8 points a game and are ranked 7th in rushing defence and third in pass defence.

HYPE WE'RE NOT: Enjoy the big win over the Giants you Seahawks because we don’t see a lot more coming down the pipe. You do get St.Louis twice on the schedule this year and they’re about the worst team we’ve seen so we’ll give you at least one of those but other than that it could be a very long year for you. Charlie Whitehurst is probably an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson if you decide to go that way, but there’s just not enough there to give us any confidence that the celebration in the Meadowlands Sunday will be repeated very often.

THE HOT SEAT: He has got this year and two more on his contract but Ken Whisenhunt, even after taking the Cards to the Super Bowl in his second season on the job in 2008 has to be feeling some pressure. The Kevin Kolb signing is not working out like many had predicted and the Cardinals were roughed up by a Minnesota team that has vastly under performed all season. Were it just the quarterback position that were struggling, Whisenhunt might be a little more confident, but he admitted himself that there were frustrations about all aspects of his roster following the loss to the Vikes.

WEEK 5 POPPER: Seems like we’re stuck on Bengals with A.J. Green getting the nod a week ago and quarterback Andy Dalton earning the honours this week. Dalton gets the nod because through five weeks he has proved he’s a winner getting it done in crunch time where most rookies freeze up or disappear. What Dalton has done is step his game up in the fourth quarter and that’s helped Cincy to a 3-2 record.

WEEK 5 FIZZLER: A week ago Von Miller was the talk of the Denver defence. The rookie was coming of the edge and creating havoc for opposing offences even without the presence of Elvis Dumervil who occupies a lot of an O-line’s attention. But his week Miller was benched losing his spot on the team’s base defence with some uncharacteristic loose play against the run. We view this is a hard life lesson for the rook and one he’ll come back from a better player.

DREAM MATCHUP:New England vs. Dallas

It’s a good thing that the Cowboys had a week off to prepare for this game, because their defence is going to get worn out trying to cover Wes Welker and Co. Dallas’ defence may rank fourth overall, but against the pass it is 14th. Also, we all saw how easily that the Lions moved down the field in the second half of last Sunday’s game.

This should also be a dream for the Cowboys offensive stars too. Despite holding the immortal Mark Sanchez to 166 yards on Sunday, the Patriots are still ranked dead last in the league in both passing and total yards against.

NIGHTMARE MATCHUP: Jacksonville at Pittsburgh

The Jaguars have the league’s worst offence, thanks mainly to their pithy 150 yards per game passing. To compound the matter, this week, they face the league’s best defence against the pass.

The Steelers, who have fought through some key injuries, have allowed only 174 yards per game through the air. Pittsburgh may only be average against the run, ranking 16th in the league, but can afford to keep more players up at the line to stop Maurice Jones-Drew.

RANDALL'S RANTS

1. While few of the bonehead moves that occurred on Sunday affected any pointspread outcomes, there were still plenty that had us shaking our heads. For instance, what was Panthers head coach Ron Rivera thinking at the end of the first half? With 18 seconds remaining and no time outs left, the Saints got down to the Panthers 28-yard line. The Saints rushed their field-goal unit on to the field but time had expired and the kick never got off. Or so it seemed. For some inexplicable reason, Carolina called timeout. That’s right. The team defending called a timeout. Rivera explained afterward that he wasn’t sure if had 11, 12 or 13 players on the field. Ron, it doesn’t matter if you had the team cheerleaders on the field. The clock would have run out! Instead, you gave the Saints a successful field-goal try and not coincidentally, the ultimate margin of victory. Rookie head coaches. Sheesh!

2. Michael Vick may have done time. Apparently, that has nothing do with understanding time. After a dismal first half, Vick found himself at the Bills 26-yard line with 8 seconds to go. Down 21-7, Coach Andy Reid opted to take a shot to the end zone. However, Vick took the snap and held onto the ball too long before firing an incomplete pass in the end zone. End of half. No field-goal try. No points. No excuse.

3. Is there really a purpose to applying penalties on ensuing kickoffs? Kicking from the 35-yard line or the 50-yard line basically produces the same result, a touchback. How about enforcing the violation from the ensuing line of scrimmage?

4. Oakland trailed Houston 14-12 at end of first half with a convert pending. Oakland went for two. Wrong, wrong and wrong! You kick the single for too many reasons to list here.

5. There is premier rule that too many just simply sluff off or whine about later. Here it is; if you don’t get the best number, you DO NOT play. The Chargers opened as 6-pt faves but by game time, they were down to four. San Diego won by 5 and if you took Denver +4, you lost because you chased the number. Same with Jets/Pats. If you didn’t take +9 early in week, you can’t take +7.5 at game time as evidenced by New England’s nine-point victory. It’ll only hurt for a few days.


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