Bet On It: Week 6 predictions
Tony Sparano, you're killing me. My weekly "Tim Tebow gets in the end zone" prediction was about to pay off early in the fourth quarter against the Texans last Monday. Surely the Jets offensive coordinator couldn't pull him after he barreled through the Houston defense with a 13-yard run down to the 3-yard line. But two plays later Mark Sanchez came in, the offense stalled and they had to settle for a field goal.
Now I face a dilemma. Sticking with Tebow seems too easy for this column. I try to avoid going with obvious home runs (as you can see by my record), and Tebow time seems inevitable. I'm jumping off the Tebow bandwagon, which practically guarantees he will produce points this week against Indianapolis.
Here are this week's predictions:
In the clash between the NFL's No. 1 offense (New England at 439.4 yards per game) and No. 1 defense (Seattle at 258.6 yards allowed per game), the final tally will side closer to the Patriots. A lot depends on whether New England tight end Aaron Hernandez plays, because he's a tough matchup for Seattle.
While the No. 1 offenses and defenses face off in Seattle, the league's second-best of each unit face each other too. New York's No. 2 offense (429.2 yards per game) will come back to earth against San Francisco's No. 2 defense (262.6 yards allowed per game). The Niners sacked Eli Manning six times in the NFC Championship Game. And they won't let Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw come anywhere near his 200-yard performance against the Browns last week.
Detroit ranks second in the NFL with 322 passing yards per game, making this a tough assignment for the Eagles. But Philly is reinventing itself as a defensively oriented team and has enough talent in the secondary as the No. 9 pass defense to slow down Calvin Johnson.
Manning should have success against the No. 20-ranked pass defense, and Rivers has played well in four of five games this season. Even if San Diego contains Peyton early, he has shown he can adjust to defenses and put up stats late in the game, especially when behind.
The Browns' rookie running back was on his way to a great game against the Giants last week, but Cleveland's defense couldn't keep it close enough to make running an option. This game will be close, and Richardson is running with confidence. The Bengals rank 19th against the run and gave up 109 yards to Richardson in Week 2.
The numbers looked stacked against Johnson. He's averaged .4, 2.1, 1.7, 5.6 and 1.6 yards per game this season, with the one breakout against Houston. The Steelers are traditionally stingy against the run, but they have a short week after an emotional home win and may not be on their A game. Johnson and the Titans offensive line don't want to embarrass themselves in primetime.
Kolb has been sacked 17 times over the last two games. His offensive line is loaded with inexperienced players and journeymen who don't belong on the field. Their offense has to adjust with shorter drops and quicker passes. You'd hope the Cardinals will rally around Kolb for standing up to all the brutal hits he took in Week 5 against St. Louis. The Bills' big offseason additions on the defensive line haven't paid off. They rank 17th in the NFL with 10 sacks this season.
The Texans have the No. 3 defense in the NFL, but they've faced only one decent offense (Denver) and seem due for a letdown. They even showed some vulnerability against the Jets' inept passing game. Rodgers admitted he's not playing his best this season, but he should have success spreading out the Texans if he can get the ball over J.J. Watt's outstretched hands.
St. Louis put on a defensive display against the Cardinals last week and should generate significant pressure on the Miami rookie. Tannehill has thrown six interceptions this season, and the Rams defense has eight picks.
Quinn has averaged 129 passing yards per game in his career, and you'd think the Chiefs would try to lean on running back Jamaal Charles. But Quinn will have talented receivers to throw to and the Bucs have the worst pass defense in the league.