Tag Archives: Brian Hoyer

NFL 2016: Wild-Card Playoff Round Predictions!

Kirk Cousins

“You like that?!” I can’t believe Washington might be the home underdog that might actually win this weekend.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Final 2015 Regular Season: 163-93

NFL Wildcard Playoff Round

Kansas City @ Houston – On paper, this wildcard matchup doesn’t provide much flash but it could really turn into one of the better games this opening playoff weekend in the NFL. Kansas City may have benefited from a weak schedule but they are entering the playoffs on a great stretch that goes back to the middle of the regular season. Its amazing how the Chiefs were able to rebound and make a playoff run after losing its best player, Jamaal Charles, to injury. Houston was a pretty average team for most of the season and coach Bill O’Brien was largely rumored to be on the hot seat at one time. Houston got their act together in time to make the playoffs but they got a lot of help from the imploding Colts. This match up will be all about the defenses as both units rank in the top ten in the league. Houston does a great job up front at stopping the run and they are led up front by all-world DE J.J. Watt. Watt is going to automatically affect the way Kansas City runs their offense, which will give Houston an advantage. Kansas City has done a decent job at running the ball without their star this season though. QB Alex Smith has had a bounce back season in 2015 and you can charge that to the improvements at the receiver position. Smith has dynamic targets to go at WR (Jeremy Maclin) and at TE (Travis Kelce) but Houston usually doesn’t allow tons of yards through the air. Kansas City is pretty solid defensively as well. They have a pair of great pass rushers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, they are stout against the run, and safety Eric Berry leads a tough physical secondary. I really like rookie CB Marcus Peters but he will have his hands full on Saturday against WR DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is having a breakout season and has already seen success against this defense earlier this season. QB Brian Hoyer will be starting in his first ever playoff game and Houston really isn’t a strong running team so they will be counting on Hopkins to provide the big plays on offense. The Chiefs are favored in this game probably because they have more offensive weapons than the Texans. I think both defenses will play great in this game but I think I’ll trust the veteran Alex Smith to make more plays on offense than Hoyer. I don’t know if J.J. Watt can win this game for Houston by himself but he is capable. And if he is successful at doing so, ESPN will never shut up about it. I’m taking Andy Reid’s bunch. Prediction: Chiefs 22 – Texans 16

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati – With this being the lone divisional matchup this wildcard weekend, this game is easily the main event. The hatred between these two teams will make this an entertaining game but really, this rivalry lacks the heat that Pittsburgh had with Baltimore. About 5 years ago, Pittsburgh and Baltimore made a great rivalry because it wasn’t overly one-sided. The Pittsburgh-Cincinnati rivalry mainly exists because Cincinnati can’t win a big game to save its life. And that will be the case once again on Saturday night as the Bengals are playing for their season (life). If you look at how each team is trending going into this game, you would think that Cincinnati should be the home favorite. But they are not because you simply can’t trust this team in the post season. Even against an injured and currently playing below average Steelers team. After Pittsburgh had that big comeback at home against Denver, they kind of skated through the last two games of the regular season. They played awful at Baltimore, which ended in a loss and really should have kept them from making the playoffs. Last week, they were able to beat Cleveland but they didn’t look too impressive in that game either. To make matters even worst, RB DeAngelo Williams injured his ankle last week and will probably be unavailable on Saturday night. The Steeler running game will be led by a couple of no names and that might cause the offense to be one-dimensional. That might not be a bad thing because the Steelers passing game has been their bread and butter this season. With a QB like Roethlisberger and the wealth of talent at the receiver position, passing the ball 50 times might not be a bad thing. But I have to bring up that also since that Denver game, Roethlisberger has been noticeably not as sharp as he once was. I think Cincinnati has the defense to slow down the Pittsburgh offense but I also think they will lack the ability to really make a game changing turnover in this game. Cincinnati has a scrappy defense but they don’t have a player on that unit that could possibly change the outcome. Cincinnati will be without starting QB Andy Dalton and despite his record in the post season, this is a bad thing for the Bengals. The only good thing about starting A.J. McCarron is that no one will expect anything from him so he might actually surprise some folks. Everyone and their mother knows that the Steelers have a weak secondary. And despite starting a backup, the Bengals will attack the Steelers defense through the air. I know that the Steelers rank in the top five in run defense but I think Cincinnati needs to get more creative on offense when attacking this defense. We keep hearing about how great a coordinator Hue Jackson is but he needs to find a way to get RB’s Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard more involved in this offense. Both backs have been inconsistent this season but they both have the skill set to be valuable pieces for this offense especially with starting a backup QB. The rivalry, the trash talk, and the extra stuff aside, this game will probably go as expected because Cincinnati lacks the killer instinct to beat Pittsburgh in a big game. When Pittsburgh beat Denver two week ago, every talking head was talking about how dangerous they are and how no one wants to play them in January. Its funny how fast things can change in the NFL. The Steelers are not that dangerous team that no ones wants to play but they’ll still be better than Cincinnati on Saturday night. Pittsburgh will probably start out the gates hot, they’ll let Cincy back in the game in the 2nd half but then they will close them out in the 4th quarter. Prediction: Steelers 28 – Bengals 21

Seattle @ Minnesota – I was really happy for Mike Zimmer and his Vikings last Sunday night. They were able to beat a struggling Packers team and outright win the NFC North. Then, I learned their opponent for wildcard weekend and began to feel sorry for them. It’s been a long time coming for this Minnesota team. They’ve spend many mow draft picks, they have youthful talent of defense, and they’ve finally broken through to overtake Green Bay. Now, they have a very tall task at home Sunday in the 2-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. Not only is Seattle the better team but they also matchup so well against Minnesota. Minnesota’s offense is led by their rushing attack and Adrian Peterson. Seattle has the best run defense in the league according to the numbers and they shut down Peterson earlier this season. Young QB Teddy Bridgewater has been playing well as of late but he is going to have to have the game of his life against Seattle’s second ranked pass defense. The real story of this game will be the matchup between Seattle’s offense and Minnesota’s defense. Russell Wilson, except for the St. Louis game, has been on a roll recently and I don’t remember the last time Seattle’s passing game has looked this good. Seattle’s rushing attack has dealt with many injuries this season but they’ll receive a huge boost this Sunday when Marshawn Lynch returns to the lineup. Minnesota’s defense isn’t bad but they are quite average against the run. I like Minnesota’s secondary a lot. They have a good mix of veterans and young talent. The key for the Vikings defense on passing downs will be getting pressure on Wilson. If Wilson has time to run around and use his legs, he’ll provide the game with the big backbreaking play to Minnesota’s hopes. I think Seattle will be able to put up points in ways that Minnesota wont be able to. The freezing temps in Minnesota might have an affect on how this game is played but it wont decide the contest. A Minnesota victory would be one of the biggest upsets in wildcard weekend history. I don’t see that happening. Prediction: Seahawks 36 – Vikings 24

Green Bay @ Washington – I couldn’t foresee the Green Bay Packers backing into the playoffs like they did. But they have been struggling for the most part during the second half of the regular season. Green Bay has a lot of talent but a lot of things have been off for them this season. I guess you have to give Washington credit for winning the joke that was the NFC East this season. But they are on a roll right now and their chances to win on Sunday against the Packers are very realistic. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t looked like his usual self this season. It may be because he is missing his favorite target, Jordy Nelson. It may be because his offensive line has been horrible. Whatever the reason may be, Rodgers hasn’t been right and we saw proof of that as recently as last Sunday at home vs. Minnesota. Washington doesn’t have a dynamic pass rush but they’ll figure out a way to get after Rodgers. Washington isn’t strong against the run so Green Bay might have to find a way to get Eddie Lacy and James Starks going with the running game. Green Bay’s defense has been inconsistent at times this season and they’ll face a red hot QB on Sunday. QB Kirk Cousins may not be a sure thing for Washington in the future but he is playing well enough currently. Washington also has a lot of weapons at the skill positions that the Packers will have to contend with. Washington has dynamic pass catchers in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and TE Jordan Reed. The Washington passing game has carried the offense this year as RB Alfred Morris and the running game had a lackluster season. This game will be weird because I feel like everyone will be waiting for the real Aaron Rodgers to show up but I feel like we’ll be waiting forever. The Packers are favored, barely, but they are easily the most vulnerable road team this wildcard weekend. I can’t believe it either but I’m taking Washington in a small upset. Prediction: Washington 24 – Packers 23

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NFL 2015: Week 14 Predictions!

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DeAndre Hopkins is having a strong season in Houston this year.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 122-70

Big Five Games of the Week

Minnesota @ Arizona – A couple of weeks ago, Minnesota looked like they were ready to go on a run towards the NFC North title. Instead, they have seriously regressed against tougher opponents. Tonight, they’ll visit Arizona who looks like the most complete team in the NFC. Arizona has a top ranked offense and a stingy defense to match. Last week, the Vikings offense didn’t score a single point and RB Adrian Peterson received less than ten carries. Peterson definitely needs to get more touches than that if Minnesota stands a chance in this road game. Along with Minnesota’s offensive woes, their defense is starting to underperform as well. This will be coming at a bad time for Minnesota as I believe that they wont be able to slow down the Cardinals offense. QB Carson Palmer is having a great season, he has great receivers to throw to, and rookie RB David Johnson is stepping in quite nicely for the other injured veterans at RB. Arizona is also a tough draw when playing at home. Prediction: Cardinals 35 – Vikings 14

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati – Remember in Pittsburgh’s first meeting this season against Cincinnati, it was a wonder how the Steelers lost that game. I would think that the Steelers would take lessons from that game into this one coming up on Sunday. The Bengals are playing at home, they are coming off a lopsided victory, and they are favored in this game. But Cincinnati still has a complex when it comes to big games. They usually play better at home but I still don’t trust them. I think Cincinnati will continue to put more faith into Andy Dalton and the passing game. I mean, the Bengals do have a lot of receiving weapons and the Steelers secondary is a weakness for Pittsburgh. But Dalton played so badly in that first matchup until late in the game. Cincy’s running game has underperformed this season and Pittsburgh is a tough team to run against. But I think the Bengals should try to work in Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard as much as possible to help set up the big passing plays. Instead, I think the Bengals will continue to use the pass to set up the run, just like in the first meeting, and the results will not be ideal. On the other hand, Pittsburgh’s offense looks like a well-oiled machine right now and I don’t think the Bengals secondary will be able to contain all of Pittsburgh’s weapons. Ben Roethlisberger appears to be healthy and he is making every throw out there. Antonio Brown is unstoppable right now, Markus Wheaton is starting to come along, and Martavis Bryant is showing plenty of big play ability. The Bengals wont be able to contain the Steelers air attack. Cincinnati does have a tough front four and they will have to get after Ben in order to limit Pittsburgh’s scoring chances. These divisional games are usually close but I’m not trusting Andy Dalton to out gun Roethlisberger, even at home. Prediction: Steelers 27 – Bengals 20

Buffalo @ Philadelphia – I love this revenge games. Especially this one because there is plenty of bad blood. The Eagles caught New England on a bad day last week but I have to imagine that they feel great after knocking off one of the best teams in the league. Buffalo is starting to put things together on both sides of the ball as they gear up for a playoff run in these last four weeks. QB Tyrod Taylor is back to playing efficient football. If his offensive line can give him time, he’ll be able to hit his receivers for big plays against this Eagles secondary. Philadelphia does have an active, tough front seven but they’ll be challenged greatly by Buffalo’s rushing attack. LeSean McCoy will be looking to score on every play but he’ll need to keep his emotions in check to avoid trying to do too much. I hope Philly doesn’t forget about rookie RB Karlos Williams who will present his own style of running to this Eagles defense. Philadelphia’s offense is in a mess right now. They lack an identity even with QB Sam Bradford back in the lineup. Buffalo’s front four will present to them plenty of problems. I don’t think its great sign that Kenjon Barner is getting more carries than the big free agent acquisition, DeMarco Murray. There is unrest in Philadelphia right now even though they are coming off their best win of the season. I think the Bills will outclass the Eagles in everyway and Shady McCoy will get his revenge. I even think the Eagles fans will cheer for McCoy. Prediction: Bills 26 – Eagles 17

Dallas @ Green Bay – Dallas finally scored a victory without Tony Romo last week. They have a slim chance at still winning the horrible NFC East but they are still a bad football team. They’ll face a big challenge this week against the Packers. The Cowboys defense had a strong performance last week and they could continue that success this week on the road. Green Bay has plenty of offensive issues going into this game. The Packers don’t have a strong offensive line, the receiver play has been inconsistent, and Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been the same sharp QB that he has been in the past. Dallas got really good play from their defensive line last week and I think they’ll be able to pressure Rodgers. If not, Rodgers will be able to expose Dallas’ secondary. Green Bay has also been inconsistent defensively. But I don’t see the Cowboys offense taking advantage. The Cowboys offense still has the same problem without Romo: they can’t score touchdowns. I think Green Bay will be able to do enough offensively while the Dallas offense will continue to settle for field goals and not score touchdowns. The Packers are usually a much tougher team at home. Prediction: Packers 28 – Cowboys 21 (Seven Dan Bailey Field Goals)

New England @ Houston – Houston is hanging on to slim playoff hopes as the slumping Patriots come to town. New England is coming off a bad lost at home to Philly as they have dropped their last two games. I don’t think Brady and Belichick have lost three straight ever but if they have, its been a long time ago. I think New England will be able to bounce back this week as long as they stay away from the turnovers. New England’s offensive line is coming off a poor performance and that isnt good news with J.J. Watt on the horizon. Brady and the passing game will have to be sharp with the quick throws especially with the pressure brought on by Watt. New England’s defense has been underrated all season and they’ll face favorable matchups this week against the Texans offense. Bill Belichick should know Bill O’Brien’s offense as well as anyone and that will give the Patriots defense an advantage. Prediction: Patriots 29 – Texans 17

The Rest of Week 14

Bears over Washington – Chicago will play tough at home again this week. Washington is a team that I’m not taking seriously as a playoff contender.

49ers over Browns – Manziel will finally get the start to finish out the season behind a shotty offensive line and a depleted receiving core. The moment for his in Cleveland has passed. San Fran’s defense will have its way.

Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City has a clear path to the playoffs with their favorable schedule.

Lions over Rams – Detroit should be angry over how they lost last week. St. Louis will be ready to mail it in as they are a banged up team right now.

Jets over Titans – Expect plenty of yards in the air in this one. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a great story this season.

Buccaneers over Saints – Tampa Bay is slowly becoming a playoff contender. New Orleans is a contender for worst defensive secondary ever.

Panthers over Falcons – I think Carolina will lose in the regular season eventually. It wont be this week.

Colts over Jaguars – Indy cant take Jacksonville lightly. But Matt Hasselbeck should have a strong game through the air against that secondary.

Seahawks over Ravens – Seattle is starting to look like a serious contender. Baltimore will not present a challenge for them with the way they’ve been playing recently.

Broncos over Raiders – I don’t know if I’m buying that this is the end for Peyton Manning but with the most victories under the belt of Brock Osweiler, the more likely that seems to be true.

Dolphins over Giants – The New York Giants cant get right and Miami will be wearing some sweet throwback uniforms on Monday night.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Jameis Winston (Buccaneers) – Winston has been finishing some impressive games recently and that should continue against the Saints secondary.

RB: LeSean McCoy (Bills) – I’m worried about McCoy trying to do too much against his former team but his emotions will be high and he’ll receive plenty of touches.

WR: DeVante Parker (Dolphins) – Parker made his mark last week and he’ll get more opportunities this Monday night against the Giants who give up the most yards through the air.

TE: Julius Thomas (Jaguars) – Thomas is starting to receive more targets in this offense as the season goes along.

DEF: Detroit – The Lions defense has been playing decent football since the midseason mark. St. Louis is pretty one dimensional on offense right now.

NFL 2015: Week 13 Predictions!

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The Steelers will need a strong performance from their offense this Sunday night.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 13-3

Season: 114-62

Big Five Games of the Week

Green Bay @ Detroit – A couple weeks ago when the Packers crushed Minnesota on the road, it seemed like Green Bay was ready to make another strong run at the NFC North. But the Packers had an absolutely deflating lost at home last week vs. Chicago and now there are more questions than answers in Green Bay. Tonight, the Packers visit a suddenly hot Detroit team that looks like they’ve completely rebounded from a disastrous start to this season. The Lions are playing inspired on defense and on offense, Matt Stafford is rediscovering his franchise receiver, Calvin Johnson. Green Bay didn’t really get dominated offensively vs. Chicago last week but Detroit will issue some challenges that Green Bay didn’t face last week. Aaron Rodgers play has been shaky for most of the season and Detroit’s defense has been coming on strong as of late. The Lions look like they could be the team ready to go on a run in this division and sweep for the Packers for the first time in forever. Prediction: Lions 31 – Packers 21

Houston @ Buffalo – Houston is playing well going into this week’s game in Buffalo, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Last week, Houston completely shut down Drew Brees and the Saints offense while keeping them out of the end zone. Also with QB Brian Hoyer back in the line up, the Texans offense is looking more efficient each series. Buffalo has been inconsistent this season but they usually play stronger at home. Houston will be challenged greatly by Buffalo’s rushing attack. Houston’s secondary has been playing better lately but they will have their hands full with WR Sammy Watkins who is starting to demand the ball from Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo’s defense gave up too many yards last week in Kansas City and I think they’ll be up to the challenge to rebound from that performance this week at home. Buffalo has the front seven to stuff Houston’s run game and that will allow them to focus their attention on WR DeAndre Hopkins who is playing out of his mind right now. I’m going out on a limb on this one but I’m picking the home team. Prediction: Bills 22 – Texans 16

Seattle @ Minnesota – Russell Wilson had far and away his best passing game of the season last week at home vs. a weak Steelers secondary. I think Seattle’s offense is getting too much credit for last week. I mean, I don’t mean to take anything away from Wilson and the Seahawks passing game but Pittsburgh’s secondary was horrible last week. This week in Minnesota, Seattle will face a much tougher secondary and overall defense in the Vikings. Seattle’s defense also gave up a lot of yards through the air last week and their pass rush didn’t have an affect on the game until the second half. I think Minnesota will be able to play ball control football by feeding their beast, Adrian Peterson, and giving QB Teddy Bridgewater time to execute big plays through the air. Prediction: Vikings 27 – Seahawks 20

New York Jets @ New York Giants – This edition of the battle for New York is especially important because both teams are competing for a playoff spot in their respected conferences. The Giants laid an absolute egg last week on the road at Washington. Meanwhile, the Jets were dominant against a weak Miami team. The Giants are trending down going into this week but they matchup well against the Jets. The Giants have issues with running the football and that should continue this week as the Jets have a strong defensive front seven. However for the Jets defense, they might be without CB Darrelle Revis again which would spell bad news for this secondary going up against WR Odell Beckham Jr. Eli Manning struggled for most of last weeks game and the Giants will need him to be sharp this week against a shorthanded Jets secondary. The Giants defense underperformed last week and they’ll be challenged again this week against the Jets. The Jets offense had a strong performance last week as Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for multiple touchdowns, Brandon Marshall continued to be a reliable target, and RB Chris Ivory was able to get the tough yards for this offense. I believe that the Jets will be able to get their offense going this week but the Giants are in “must win” mode and are the most desperate team in this contest. I think Eli Manning will be able to rebound and play great for all 4 quarters this week. Prediction: Giants 25 – Jets 24

Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh – Indy’s victory over Tampa Bay last week was closer than what the scoreboard read. I remember last season when the Colts played in Pittsburgh in an absolute shootout. With the current state of the Colts passing game, I don’t see that happening this time around. Or maybe not because the Pittsburgh secondary is coming off its worst performance of the season. Last week, Jameis Winston left a lot of yards on the table against this Colts defense. That wont be the case for Ben Roethlisberger and the many weapons at the receiver position. Roethlisberger is coming off a concussion injury so we do have to wonder if he will be still feeling effects from that injury on Sunday night. If Ben is not 100%, Pittsburgh may have to lean on its running game this week. That might not be a bad thing, as Indy doesn’t really have a tough run defense. The Colts defense has been playing better recently but they still have been an underachieving unit for most of the season. With all the injuries Pittsburgh has had to deal with, I think they are still head and shoulders the better team on the field this week. If Pittsburgh drops this one at home, their playoff chances will be in serious jeopardy. Prediction: Steelers 28 – Colts 20

The Rest of Week 13

Bears over 49ers – This Chicago squad is playing hard for head coach John Fox.

Bengals over Browns – Cleveland is starting Austin Davis at QB this week. What kind of message do you think that sends to the Browns locker room? Does Davis, who has only been in Cleveland for weeks now, truly give Cleveland its best chance to win on Sunday? Does Mike Pettine believe that his locker room will rally around Davis? Cleveland is a mess. This should be an easy week for the Bengals. #FreeJohnnyFootball

Titans over Jaguars – Tennessee lost a close one last week. Their efforts will be awarded this week vs. Jacksonville.

Cardinals over Rams – Arizona must keep their current momentum to fend off Seattle for the division.

Ravens over Dolphins – Miami is playing awful right now. Ryan Tannehill may have hit his ceiling.

Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta must win this one to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Chiefs over Raiders – Kansas City is getting the most out of their offense while the defense is playing at a high level.

Broncos over Chargers – The Brock Osweiler hype train in gaining stream but everyone needs to relax. Then again, he’ll probably play good again this week at San Diego.

Patriots over Eagles – No Gronk, no problem? I don’t know about that. I do know that the Eagles secondary can’t stop anyone.

Panthers over Saints – After that horrible offensive performance, New Orleans will face a tough, undefeated Carolina defense. Bad news for the Saints.

Washington over Cowboys – I’m not sure if I’m buying Washington has the best team in the NFC Least. Who knows what Dallas can offer with the type of season they are having. They could easily regroup and win this game on the road or continue to disappoint. Who knows.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Cam Newton (Panthers) – Newton isn’t leading in any passing category but he will look sharp against this New Orleans secondary.

RB: C.J. Anderson (Broncos) – After ending New England’s undefeated season last week, Anderson may have another big day against San Diego’s run defense.

WR: Brandon Marshall (Jets) – Marshall is quietly having a nice season and that should continue against the Giants secondary.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce has been a reliable target for Alex Smith this season.

DEF: Chicago – The Bears defense did a great job last week limiting Aaron Rodgers. Hopefully they can continue that success against San Francisco’s woeful offense.

NFL 2014: Week 6 Predictions!

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Hey, Cleveland Browns. You want us to buy into your stock for 2014? Then, take care of a reeling division rival at home this Sunday. Until then, we’ll be waiting.

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 12-3

Season: 48-28

Big Five Games of the Week

Indianapolis @ Houston – I don’t remember if I already brought this up last week but I’ll do it again here: these Thursday night games have been a disaster so far. Wait. Let me rephrase that. These Thursday night games have been a disaster for at least one team every week so far this season. On the bright side, if your Roger Goodell or one of the 32-team owners, the Thursday night matchups have owned the TV ratings over whatever else is airing on that night. But on a football stand point, you can almost guarantee that one team is going to get blown out. Who will it be this week? Well, this week we have a huge AFC South matchup between two squads that are currently tied for first in the division: the visiting Colts and the Texans. Both teams are coming off of tight, hard fought ball games from last Sunday. But here are two key things that will separate these teams on Thursday night. Number one: one of these teams played in overtime last Sunday. And number two: one of these teams has a QB and an offense that is capable of putting up a lot of points. Of course, Houston lost in OT last week and the QB I speak of is Andrew Luck. Houston is the home team this week but I believe that they are in a huge disadvantage on Thursday. Houston has a tough defense but I don’t believe that they will be able to generate enough offense against the Colts defense. RB Adrian Foster has been outspoken about the Thursday night games this week but the irony is that Foster has had good games in his career on Thursday night. However, Indy’s defense wont give up a lot of points to Ryan Fitzpatrick and I can see Luck and the Colts offense tiring out the Houston defense. Prediction: Colts 38 – Texans 21

New England @ Buffalo – Two weeks ago, it seemed like everyone was in celebration over the destruction of the New England Patriots. Of course, like most things in the NFL, that changed rather quickly as the Pats rolled Cincinnati last week on national TV. Tom Brady looked like his old self. Mainly because he discovered his TE’s again. Rob Gronkowski is still a dangerous receiving threat in this league and Tim Wright is starting to fit into his role as the “other” receiving threat at the TE position. New England still has some issues to work out but if they can resemble the team that played last week, they should be able to take care of business in a weak AFC East. Thinking of that division, it appears that the greatest threat to New England this season might be the Buffalo Bills. Yea, really. Buffalo has a lot of offensive talent but as a unit, they’ve been really sloppy so far this season. This is why the decision to start Kyle Orton was made and it might really pay off for the Bills as they were in desperate need for a veteran voice in that huddle. The Bills won a tight contest last week mainly because the Lions didn’t have a field goal kicker and because the defense played a really great game. Brady has had issues in the past recently in Buffalo and I think he might find it tough again this Sunday against that defense. New England is having protection problems upfront and the Bills front four are coming off a great performance in Detroit last week. I know that the Pats took a beating from the media last week but they seemed a little too happy after the win on Sunday night. I think Buffalo can really blindside them at home this week and score the upset. The key will be pressing Tom Brady and Kyle Orton getting the ball out to his talented, young supporting cast. Prediction: Bills 27 – Patriots 24 (OT)

Pittsburgh @ Cleveland – Brian Hoyer and the Cleveland Browns are getting a lot of ink this week coming off a huge comeback victory last Sunday. The Browns appear to have a lot of upside heading into the midpoint of the season. They have stability at QB, they can run the ball well and with different backs, and the defense is doing enough to allow them to win ball games. That sounds nice and all but if you really want to convince me that times are changing in Cleveland, lets see if the Browns can take care of a reeling Pittsburgh team at home on Sunday. Almost every thing that is being said about the Browns right now could have been said before these teams met in Week 1 of this season. For what whatever reason, the Steelers have Cleveland’s number especially on the road and especially with Ben Roethlisberger under center. The Steelers problems this season have been well documented. The offense is having issues with execution and the defense is having problems with injuries and overall talent. Its crazy to think that after a disappointing home lost to Tampa Bay, this Steelers team was THAT close last week to losing again at Jacksonville. So, like I said early, if the Browns really want to carry over that momentum from last week, they should be able to take advantage of a wounded Steeler team. But, I just don’t trust it. The Browns defense is banged up this week and I believe that Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown can have successful outings on Sunday. Protecting Roethlisberger will be key though as the Browns have an active defensive front four. The Pittsburgh defense isnt playing too well right now so I think that this matchup could be a high scoring affair, much like Week 1. Hoyer is playing well right now but I just cant trust him outdueling Roethlisberger, even at home. I really, really would like to believe that things are turning around in Cleveland but on Sunday, I can see the Steelers serving up some stone cold reality. Prediction: Steelers 34 – Browns 28

Dallas @ Seattle – The Cowboys have been a nice surprise so far this season. But in the coming weeks they will be facing more “important” opponents in terms of toughness and in importance in the case of divisional rivals. This Sunday, the Cowboys will travel up to Seattle to face the defending world champion Seahawks. Seattle offers a huge home field advantage. Here’s a plus for Dallas: though they played at home last week, they’ve already had practice with dealing with opposing fans as they filled their home stadium last week. Sad. But seriously, the Seattle home crowd should have an affect on the Cowboys offensive game plan. One thing that can quiet a loud crowd: first downs. The Cowboys must continue to use the running game effectively to gain first downs and to keep Russell Wilson and the Seahawk offense on the bench. DeMarco Murray could enter into some historical territory on Sunday with another 100-yard rushing game but Seattle’s front seven are tough to run against. Dallas cant afford to abandon the run in this game as Seattle’s reaction to it will be key for Tony Romo and the passing game. If Seattle stacks the box, Romo must find opportunities to get the ball to his receivers who will most likely be in one-on-one situations. In terms of the Legion of Boom, I don’t think that Dez Bryant, Jason Witten or the other Dallas receivers will be intimidated. The one true stand out from that group who could really provide a game changing play is safety Earl Thomas. The Seattle secondary strives mainly because of the pressure caused by the Seahawk front four. If Romo has time and Richard Sherman is in one-on-one coverage with any receiver, Romo must test that. Safety Kam Chancellor is a hard hitter but his coverage skills are limited and teams are noticing this every week. Romo must choose his spots carefully but this Seattle secondary can be beaten. The real story of this game will be Russell Wilson vs. the Cowboys defense. Dallas will be without LB Bruce Carter and will already be vulnerable against the run rather if its Marshawn Lynch or Wilson running it. If Dallas doesn’t stop the run, Seattle wont abandon it. And Wilson should be able to kill Dallas’ safeties in play action pass situations. I think Seattle will put up a lot of points on Sunday and it will force Romo and the Dallas offense to try to do too much to get back into the game. I don’t see Seattle as an unstoppable machine so I think Dallas should be able to at least be within striking distance in this game. Prediction: Seahawks 41 – Cowboys 33

New York Giants @ Philadelphia – Giants at Eagles should be a nice, entertaining way to end a football Sunday. This divisional rivalry will be heated on Sunday night as both teams are in position to getting a head start at claiming the NFC East. Both of these teams are playing similar going into this game at least on the offensive side. The Eagles identity for the season has already been set in my eyes. They are a team that can put up a lot of points but can also give up a lot of points defensively. They changed around some players on the defensive side of the ball but they are still having problems a season later. The Giants were having problems on offense to start the season but recently, Eli Manning is starting to get confortable with his receiving targets. TE Larry Donnell and rookie WR Odell Beckham Jr. have started to emerge as impact players for this offense. Both of the defenses in this game are pretty bad but I think New York has the better one. The Giants are getting great play in the secondary out of CB Prince Amukamara and I’ve been impressed by DT Jonathan Hankins’ play upfront. With the weapons that the Eagles have, I would fully expect Nick Foles to be able to blow-to-blow with Eli Manning in a shootout. But eventually, the defenses will have to matter. I’m taking the road team in an upset. Prediction: Giants 37 – Eagles 31

The Rest of Week 6

Panthers over Bengals – A small upset here. Cincy will be without A.J. Green and are coming off a major beatdown. Carolina showed a lot of fight last week as the defense started to show signs of life.

Titans over Jaguars – This is the “Who Cares” bowl of 2014.

Packers over Dolphins – This game has major upset potential. If the Miami pass rush can get in Aaron Rodgers’ face, don’t be surprised if Green Bay gets shocked on the road.

Lions over Vikings – No Adrian Peterson. No Calvin Johnson. Equals Yuck. At least Detroit has a kicker this week.

Broncos over Jets – As good as Peyton Manning will play in this game, that is as bad the New York Jet QB’s (Geno Smith or Mike Vick) will play.

Ravens over Buccaneers – Tampa Bay is putting up points recently for some reason. Baltimore better not take them lightly.

Chargers over Raiders – I’m kinda rooting for Oakland interim head coach Tony Sparano. San Diego is playing well but they will have to outcome all the injuries they have at RB.

Bears over Falcons – Chicago will be better at closing at games when they stop turning over the ball. What happened to them last week should serve as a valuable lesson.

Cardinals over Redskins – Washington was my pick for the NFC East at the beginning of the season. Yikes.

49ers over Rams – Here’s another upset, potentially, that I wasn’t brave enough to pick. I’ll be rooting for the Rams because they’ll be wearing their bright yellow and blue throwbacks and because you could get into the stadium that night for as low as 20 bucks.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Joe Flacco (Ravens) – Flacco wasn’t so sharp last week. Facing the Tampa Bay secondary should provide much help this week.

RB: Le’Veon Bell (Steelers) – Pittsburgh must feature Bell and the running game this week and not let Cleveland believe that they can stop him. Because they cant.

WR: Alshon Jeffries (Bears) – Atlanta’s secondary has been less than spectacular this season. Expect Cutler to give Jeffries plenty of looks on Sunday.

TE: Greg Olsen (Panthers) – Olsen had a real strong showing last week and I’m counting on that happening again this week. The Bengals defense had issues covering TE’s last week.

DEF: San Diego – Oakland has the worst offense is the league and the Chargers are coming off pitching a shutout last week.