JC’s Top Rope Report: NFL Week 6 Picks

A little early with picks this week, but I have a busy weekend ahead. So you all get an early treat!

Last Week’s Record: 8-5
Year to Date Record: 51-26

San Francisco 49ers vs Detroit Lions
Of course, everyone knew when looking at the schedule that this would be the Game of the Week in Week 6. Two rejuvenated franchises both looking to show they are the better team in this one. In San Fran, new coach Jim Harbaugh has given a breath of fresh air to a 49ers team that has been down in the dumps in recent years. He has brought Alex Smith back from the dead. The defense dismantled a good young Tampa Bay offense last week, holding them to only 3 points. The Lions, meanwhile, are the darlings of the NFL so far this season. They have remained healthy, and are finally showing their potential. Calvin Johnson has turned into the best WR in the NFL, and Matthew Stafford is showing that he deserved all the praise coming out of college when he was the #1 pick. They don’t quit and the two times they were down this year they fought back to win. The 49ers will be a tough test for Detroit, as they have already beaten Philly on the road as well as a tough Cincinnati team. Both team’s weaknesses are their secondary, and I like the Matthew Stafford/Calvin Johnson combo better than Alex Smith here. Give me the Lions in a close one.

Detroit 31  San Francisco 27

St. Louis Rams vs Green Bay Packers
The Rams have had a full two weeks for this slaughtering. They used it to get healthy too I guess. The Rams had high hopes coming into this year, but injuries and a brutal early schedule have decimated this team’s confidence. Sam Bradford’s weapons are either hurt or turning into major busts. The offense isn’t scoring points, and that is bad news when you have to face a red hot Packers offense. I’m pretty sure the Packers just kept playing throughout the off-season and the lock out, because they look like they haven’t missed a beat since the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers and Company aren’t losing to the winless Rams here. They’re just too good for that.

Green Bay 45  St. Louis 17

Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons
I’m really intrigued by this match-up. Carolina almost pulled off a huge upset last week against New Orleans, losing on a last second Drew Brees TD pass. Had Panthers coach Ron Rivera not called a timeout at the end of the first half, the game would have gone to overtime. But Rivera’s timeout, which allowed the Saints to set up for a field goal, came back to haunt them. But the offense under Cam Newton is showing promise, and they finally got their running game with DeAngelo Williams going last week. That is bad news for opponents the rest of the way, including the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have struggled early at 2-3, and they better be on their best game here. Matt Ryan has struggled mightily early on, and he will be without one of his favorite weapons in rookie WR Julio Jones this week. Expect Ryan to look for Tony Gonzalez a lot in this game. The Falcons defense needs to be weary of the big play ability of the Panthers offense. This really is a toss up to me. I think the Panthers could easily walk into Atlanta and win, mostly because they are a team playing without any fear and with a ton of confidence. And you know what? I think they will. The Falcons are starting to panic and they aren’t living up to the hype from last year. Panthers by a field goal.

Carolina 24  Atlanta 21

Indianapolis Colts vs Cincinnati Bengals
The Colts cam close to winning their first game last week. They blew a 10 point lead against Kansas City and ran their record up to 0-5. If there is any good news for the Colts, its that Curits Painter doesn’t look too shabby at QB and will at least keep this season interesting for them. He has a good connection with Pierre Garcon and they should continue to perform well. The Colts problem, however, is that their defense is terrible and decimated with injuries. Teams are both passing and running the ball at will on them. And you can bet the Bengals are salivating at that. At 3-2, the Bengals are showing they are no pushovers like many thought they would be this year. The rookie to rookie connection of Andy Dalton to A.J. Green looks promising, and that combination should torch the Colts secondary. The defense is one of the better ones in the league, with Nate Clements specifically rejuvenating his career in Cincinnati. The Bengals continue to surprise everyone and go 4-2 heading into their bye.

Cincinnati 30  Indianapolis 24

Buffalo Bills vs New York Giants
The Bills probably feel a lot like Rodney Dangerfield: What do they have to do to get a little respect around here? Despite beating Philadelphia and going 4-1, everyone is talking about the Eagles mistakes. But what the national pundits are failing to realize is that the Bills defense forced all of those Philly turnovers. They made the plays to get the ball. The defense is giving up large chunks of yards and points, but this is a team built to win shootouts. The offense is carried, literally, by Fred Jackson and his never go down attitude. The man breaks tackles at will. Their hurting at WR, so expect to see C.J. Spiller lined up in the slot a bit. The Giants are coming off a humiliating home loss to Seattle, which knocked a lot of people out of Survivor leagues, except this guy. Bad Eli Manning showed up, and Victor Cruz had some of the shine taken off of his Cinderella story with two bad mistakes leading to turnovers. The Giants pass rush needs to get to Ryan Fitzpatrick here and allow him to find his open receivers. I like the Bills here to pull off a close one, mainly because I trust Ryan Fitzpatrick more than I would Eli Manning if I was a betting man.

Buffalo 26  NY Giants 20

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Poor Blaine Gabbert. He is not playing terrible, but he jut can’t find a way to win his first game. And it doesn’t get any easier this week up against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Expect a heavy blitz look from the Steelers, with Troy Polomalu hawking to the ball and making plays. They’ll stack 8 guys in the box to stop Maurice Jones-Drew and make Blaine Gabbert throw. Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, shut up all of his critics by putting on a great game against Tennessee last week on a sprained foot. He did it without his two top running backs as well. Just when you think the Steelers will begin to struggle, they play their best game of the year. No reason to think there will be a let down here. Steelers win easily.

Pittsburgh 35  Jacksonville 13

Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington Redskins
The pitch forks, torches, and riot police are ready in Philadelphia. At 1-4, the Eagles are in panic mode. Everyone expected that record to be flip-flopped at this point. But the Eagles are showing that it takes more than flashy playmakers to make a good team. They have to gel as a team in order to succeed. Andy Reid deserves blame too, especially for making your offensive line coach your defensive coordinator. Mike Vick is playing alright, but he is also making some bad throws. Some of those turnovers last week were his fault, but some were also on his WRs. Oh, and the defense is playing awful. The Redskins have had two weeks to prepare for the Eagles. Rex Grossman needs to start playing better. He had two bad outings before the bye and if that doesn’t change, Mike Shanahan won’t be afraid to give the reigns to John Beck. But expect a heavy dose of Ryan Torain and Tim Hightower after the Eagles run defense was exposed last week. The Eagles know this is as close to must win as it can be. At 1-5, they could pretty much kiss the playoffs good bye, and I think they will be thinking about that after Sunday. The Redskins win here and are still surprisingly on top of the NFC East.

Washington 28  Philadelphia 23

Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens
The Texans lost a game they probably should have won last week. They let Oakland come into Houston and win. Matt Schaub made a bad throw at the end of the game, and let Oakland get an interception with only 10 guys on defense. And now, they lost Mario Williams for what is likely the rest of the year on defense with a torn pectoral muscle. With Andre Johnson still out on offense, it is a bad time for the Texans. The good news is that the AFC South is down this year, and the Texans are probably still the favorites in the division. They still have Arian Foster running the ball and probably have the best QB in the division. But the defense has given up some big plays in recent weeks, and that has to concern the Texans after they thought it was much improved. The Ravens used their bye week to rest up. They really aren’t all that banged up. But hopefully Joe Flacco used the bye to shake off that ugly game he had against the Jets. Flacco should be able to find open WRs here, especially Torrey Smith with some big plays downfield. The defense will stack the box against Arian Foster and make Matt Schaub find his WRs. I don’t like the Texans chances here without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams. The Ravens were already the better team, and those injuries just make them that much better.

Baltimore 27  Houston 23

Cleveland Browns vs Oakland Raiders
How about them Raiders? After a rough week that saw them lose to the Patriots then lose their owner Al Davis, the Raiders went into Houston, never quit, and won a big game. And with three straight homes games ahead, the Raiders could be right there in the AFC West with the Chargers in the end. Darren McFadden is playing the best football of his career, and the defense is showing that they don’t miss Nnamdi Asomaugha too much. Hue Jackson has breathed a breath of fresh air into this team. The Browns changed some things around during their bye after getting decimated by Tennessee. But Peyton Hillis is causing a distraction for the Browns with his contract situation. Colt McCoy has also regressed a bit after showing some promise last year. The defense will look to stop McFadden, but the problem is the Raiders young WRs are stepping up big time and could beat single coverage. The Raiders are playing with heavy hearts right now, and I expect them to win here.

Oakland 21  Cleveland 19

Dallas Cowboys vs New England Patriots
This game should be high scoring for one big reason: Both of these teams secondaries are terrible. Tom Brady is just a scoring machine at this point, putting up points almost at will. The defense played a bit better last week and is improving, but still has a ways to go before it stops giving up 20+ points a game. The Cowboys had a bye week to get things right after blowing a big lead against Detroit. Tony Romo threw two bad interceptions that were returned for scores and there are questions about whether or no he is the right man for the job in Dallas. But if Romo makes some bad plays here against a weak Patriots defense, then those questions may be justified. The Cowboys also get Miles Austin back this week and a healthy Dez Bryant, which should help them expose the Patriots defense. I think the Cowboys will put up a fight here, but the Patriots pull it out in the end because Tom Brady finds a way to make the plays Tony Romo can’t.

New England 38  Dallas 34

New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Big battle in the NFC South. The Bucs looked like a young promising team and still are, but they were thrashed last week against San Francisco. And this week, they will probably be without star RB LaGarrette Blount. That’s not good for a young Bucs team. And if the defense got torched by Alex Smith, what do you think Drew Brees will do to them. Last week might have been a wake up call for the Saints. Their talent won’t just win them football games. They have to play a full 60 minute game all of the time. Expect Drew Brees to pick apart the secondary of Tampa Bay. Josh Freeman might have to make some big plays with his legs because he can expect a heavy pass rush from the New Orleans defense. The Saints could take a commanding lead in the NFC South race with a win here. Expect Tampa to keep it close after such an embarrassing performance last week, but the Saints offense wins out in the end. Too many weapons for a young Tampa Bay defense to stop.

New Orleans 33  Tampa Bay 23

Minnesota Vikings vs Chicago Bears
What a horrible week for prime time games. This is actually the better of the two games. These two teams are the “B” teams of the NFC South. They are clearly behind the Packers and Lions, and neither of them have a real shot of winning the division. The Bears were beaten by the Lions last week and looked terrible in the process. The defense had one of its worst games of the year and the secondary was exposed by Calvin Johnson. The good news is that the secondary shouldn’t worry about too much that here, as the Vikings pass game is atrocious. Donovan McNabb is playig terrible. The team finally seems to be relying heavily on Adrian Peterson as the focal point of the offense. The defense shut down what was suppose to be a decent team in Arizona last week. Expect a lot of blitzing by the Vikings as the Bears offensive line is terrible. The Bears have done a decent job of shutting down running attacks this year, but you have to wonder if they can do the same with Adrian Peterson. I think the Bears have too many questions surrounding them heading into this one, and I like the Vikings in a bit of an upset.

Minnesota 23  Chicago 21

Miami Dolphins vs New York Jets
Why did the NFL decide to put Miami on two Monday night games? Did they not know they were going to be terrible this year? I didn’t think they showed any promise last year at the end of the season. And with Chad Henne now out for the year, it is the Matt Moore show in Miami. Remember, the Matt Moore who was benched by the terrible Carolina Panthers last year. Yeah, things aren’t looking good for the future. They have to be the early favorites for Andrew Luck. The Jets have had their own struggles as well. The offense is in disarray, and they traded disgruntled WR Derrick Mason to Houston this week after complaining about his role in the offense. The Jets need to be pounding the ball on the ground more then they are, and I would expect them to do that here with Shonn Greene. Expect an ugly affair here, with the Jets defense shutting down Matt Moore and giving them the win.

NY Jets 20  Miami 9

My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week: 3-1
Year to Date Record: 12-7-1

Kids I don’t encourage gambling, but here are my Week 6 Vegas Picks:
Green Bay -14.5 vs St. Louis: The poor Rams just can’t catch a break.

Dallas +7 at New England: Cowboys are good enough to keep this game within a touchdown.

Carolina +4 at Atlanta: Even if they don’t pull off an upset, it will be a close game.

New Orleans -4.5 at Tampa Bay: Drew Brees is a touchdown better than Josh Freeman.

That’s all from me today.

Until next time,
Justin C
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka