NFL Week 6 game picks: Seahawks top Falcons; Pack over 'Boys

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Litmus-test time in the NFL.

Are the Falcons still at risk of the kind of collapse we saw last year? Or will they prove their might in another tough-as-crap road game?

Is this a lost season for the Jets or can they surprise the Cardinals in prime time?

Will Dakmania continue to swell with a win in Lambeau?

With only two teams on a bye this week -- the Vikings and Buccaneers, in case you're wondering -- there are plenty of matchups that will say much about the quality of teams. Look no further than the New England road trip for the Bengals, who seemingly always win games they're supposed to, but falter against premium competition. What about their AFC North foes, the Steelers, who often have slipped up against lesser teams -- uhh, like the Dolphins? That deal goes down in Miami, and oh, does it feel like a trap game.

I'm particularly intrigued by the aforementioned bout in Lambeau. And apparently, I'm not alone.

Agreed, Baldy. Would love to see Dallas get Zeke and Alf Morris going in the screen game, too.

Late-night tweets are all the rage, Ms. Sinath. Mine usually involve Star Trek.

(By the way, by my count, the Cowboys won my Twitter poll by one vote. Tight game.)

Take a look below, and tell me which game you're fired up about. Which matchup reeks of an upset? (I like the Rams on the road in Detroit.) The dropbox for all football (and classic rock) musings is the same: @HarrisonNFL. Any "Raiders of the Lost Ark" opinions are welcome, too.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 9-5 on his predictions for Week 5, giving him a record of 49-28 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 6? His picks are below:

Thinking Buffalo scores on defense for the second straight week and the fourth time this season. Blaine Gabbert has been benched by San Francisco. I don't anticipate Colin Kaepernick falling on his face in this game, but going on the road versus a hot Bills defense is a stiff challenge, to say the least. Over the last three games, Buffalo defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman's unit has allowed zero passing touchdowns, picked off six passes and gotten to the quarterback 12 times. Yikes. Expect the 49ers to use the ground game extensively. The beauty in this approach, with Kaepernick in a read-option-style formation, is that the defense must honor Kap as a runner even more than it would have had to Gabbert. That forces the defense to play 11 on 11 as opposed to 11 on 10. #SFvsBUF

This is the stretch where we find out whether the Eagles are for real or Doug Pederson and Co. merely got off to a fast start. Following Sunday's road trip to Washington, Philadelphia plays the Vikings at home, then travels to Dallas to meet a Cowboys team that will be coming off a bye. A central tenet of Philly's early success has been an ability to protect the football, something the Eagles did perfectly their first 257 plays from scrimmage. Their last two plays? Huge turnovers. The Redskins forced two turnovers late in New York in Week 3, sparking a three-game winning streak. While so much of the focus is on Kirk Cousins, his contract situation and people seemingly waiting for him to fail, Washington's defense has allowed just 57 points over the last three games. This after giving up 65 to the Steelers and Cowboys in Weeks 1 and 2. Under the radar, folks. #PHIvsWAS

Can the Titans keep up their white-hot streak? Tennessee tries to make it two wins in a row this week against the only winless team in the NFL. Sumthiiinnnnn's gotta giiiiive. Kessler ... Mariota ... it's the NFL on CBS!!! (Work with me here -- I am doing my damndest to dress this game up.) Now, we should throw out there the fact that these two clubs played a heckuva thrilling affair back in 2014, when Brian Hoyer led the Browns to the largest road comeback in NFL history. No joke. In order for Cleveland to steal a road dub again, the team will have to stop the run against a Titans squad averaging an unbelievable 148.6 rushing yards per game, more than 45.2 yards better than the NFL average. Back in that 2014 contest, Hoyer made a few big throws in the red zone to win. Cody Kessler might be able to pull off the same for the Browns this time around, as Tennessee's defensive backs have been beaten up inside their own 20. Opposing QBs have put up a 129.8 passer rating in the red zone -- that's highest mark in the league, broseph. #CLEvsTEN

Hey, it's a rematch of Super Bowl XXXV! A potential REVENGE game for New York!! Yeah, nobody cares. Few things to sort out here, starting with ... What keeps holding back a Giants team that looks pretty darn talented on paper? Turnover diff. New York is currently minus-seven in the single most important stat in pro football. Meanwhile, Baltimore just fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman this week, as the Ravens' offensive numbers left something to be desired. Talk about drives stalling: This season, Baltimore has averaged 2.4 yards per play once inside the opponent's 30 -- worst in the NFL. Joe Flacco is getting 5.2 yards per throw, next-to-last in the NFL. The Giants haven't exactly been lighting it up, either, especially on the ground. The return of Rashad Jennings should help. Keep in mind, New York is running Ben McAdoo's offense. He's not exactly going to fire himself. #BALvsNYG

Carolina finally wins another game! Seems like forever ago this team was streaking toward home-field advantage. In fact, these two locked up in New Orleans to produce one of the finest football games of 2015, a track meet that saw big play after big play. And with the way both of these defenses have been playing, it's not hard to imagine another 41-38 affair -- though the Saints' D should be healthier off the bye. Cam Newton could return to action for Carolina after missing last week's loss with a concussion, but the Panthers haven't looked good even with No. 1 on the field. In fact, the Panthers are the first team since 2004 to start 1-4 or worse after making the Super Bowl in the previous campaign. Who was that team back in '04? Why, the Panthers, of course. #BradHoover #CARvsNO

Sat down with my colleague @MarkDulgerianOS to talk Jags- Bears. After he got over his initial excitement that I picked this game to discuss with him, the face he made when I suggested that the Bears would take down the Jags (coming off the bye) said it all. It was if I had asked him to eat Vienna sausage sandwiches while listening to Michael Bolton live from Budapest. Mark's take: Jacksonville wins because of the deficiencies of the Bears, who are leaning on a rookie fifth-round back in Jordan Howard and a journeyman QB in Brian Hoyer. It must be extra insulting for Hoyer to wake up every day knowing he got ditched in Houston for the Brock Osweiler experience. However, Hoyer has fared well. Now, the Jags' receivers should take advantage of a subpar Chicago secondary. Back to Hoyer: He has averaged 334.3 yards and one giveaway per game this season. Jay Cutler: 202.5 with two giveaways per game. Ask a fifth grader. #JAXvsCHI

With Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson out, I found myself getting nervous about this upset pick. Then I looked at Detroit's run defense. The Lions are allowing 4.9 yards per carry ( second-worst in the NFL). Detroit might even make the Rams' offensive line look viable. Making matters worse for the Lions, at least in terms of this matchup, is the fact Matt Stafford has been hammered ( SEE: this.) The Rams have the front four to get after the quarterback, although they have low sack (nine) and quarterback hit (20) totals through five games. That said, L.A. has faced LeSean McCoy, David Johnson and Carlos Hyde, three backs who force opposing defenses to stay honest. Sunday? Theo Riddick. #LAvsDET

This is the "I'm gonna play Ben Roethlisberger in daily fantasy ... Gonna kill it ... Daily fantasy is where it's at, bro ... Jägerbombs for everybody!" game. On paper, the Steelers' aerial attack vs. the Dolphins' defensive backs is a mismatch of Shaquille O'Neal-vs.-Popeye Jones proportions. There's just one, er, two problems. Mike Tomlin's teams routinely have played down to the competition over the years. And next week, the Steelers host the Patriots at home. We'll all learn together if Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Co. are on point. Won't surprise me at all if Miami comes out balling. If the Dolphins are going to do so, it starts with protecting Ryan Tannehill. He's been sacked 17 times and hit 38 times. That was a painful sentence to write. #PITvsMIA

Man, have you ever seen one player's return spark a whole team like we saw in the Pats' visit to Cleveland last Sunday? Amazing how that guy motivated his entire unit, pushing New England not just over the Browns but into that-side-of-the-ball-might-get-us-into-the-Super-Bowl territory. Yep, Rob Ninkovich really played his ass off. The Patriots' defense is allowing a paltry 14.8 points per game ( tops in the AFC), despite not getting to the quarterback often in terms of sacks. Meanwhile, the Bengals' offensive and defensive lines were beaten at the point of attack in Dallas. New England's front seven > Dallas' front seven. Offensive line? Maybe not. Yet, it's a solid unit in New England. If the Bengals are to have a chance, Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko and Geno Atkins must win their battles. #CINvsNE

Classic AFC West football right here. Classic uni matchup, Chiefs whites against Raiders blacks in Oakland (although I like the reverse in Kansas City even more). Much has been made of Derek Carr's clutch performances in the fourth quarter, but let's take it a step further. When trailing, Carr completes 66.3 percent of his passes -- averaging over 8 yards an attempt -- with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Think Kansas City will be better prepared for Oakland's offense coming off the bye. But last we saw the Chiefs, they were getting torched by Antonio Brown, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Markus Wheaton. Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree (five TDs) and Seth Roberts are better as a group. Of course, the Raiders' defense can give 'em up, too ... #KCvsOAK

Falcons fans are going to be rather upset with this friendly writer, but the Seahawks are winning this game at home. Going back to back on the road in Denver then Seattle would be hard for the 2007 Patriots or the 1972 Dolphins, much less this 2016 Atlanta team. That said, this Falcons bunch does appear much better than last year's group (which started 5-0 before collapsing). One sizable difference is the vertical throwing from Matt Ryan in 2016. Take a look at the numbers when it comes to Ryan's performance in passes traveling 20-plus air yards:

2015: 21 for 46 (45.7 percent), 3:3 TD-to-INT ratio, 86.8 passer rating.
2016: 14 for 21 (66.7 percent), 3:0 TD-to-INT ratio, 149.3 passer rating.

That passer rating is the best mark in the NFL in this category. The issue there for Ryan on Sunday will be the quality of the Seahawks' safeties, so anticipate the Falcons throwing to their running backs, much like they did so successfully in Denver. The key for the Seahawks is the return of first-round pick Germain Ifedi. The previously injured guard got his first taste of NFL action against the Jets, and the much-maligned Seattle O-line provided Russell Wilson ample time against a Jets defensive front that is much more talented than Atlanta's group. Couple that with the home crowd, and the Seahawks prevail. #ATLvsSEA

This is always a fun showdown -- irrespective of the team's records -- because of the legacies of the two organizations, as well as the awesome uni matchup. Yet, with this being a potential playoff preview between two teams with strong records, Cowboys at Packers is even more enticing this time around. Dak Prescott has commandeered 16 drives of 10 plays or more, tops in the NFL, while Aaron Rodgers has been uncharacteristically off. Don't think that will happen this week. While Dallas might be tempted to run right at Green Bay's front, don't expect Chevy Cavalier-size holes for budding superstar Ezekiel Elliott -- the Packers allow just 2 yards per carry and 42.8 yards per game. Tough game to call, but I'm thinking Green Bay's offense is still too big a mismatch for Rod Marinelli's defense. We'll have to see if Eddie Lacy is a go.

Trivia: Who was the last Cowboys rookie quarterback to start at Lambeau Field? Hint: He wore the same number as Dak Prescott. ( @HarrisonNFL) #DALvsGB

Give Adam Vinatieri five more field goals to add to the books, but the Colts go down because of their defense. Yes, Indy is bad enough to allow a Brock Osweiler-led offense nearly 30 points (sensing a Texans defensive TD, too). Consider this more a vote of confidence for Texans head coach Bill O'Brien than anything else. Houston looked terrible in Minnesota last week, and O'Brien's teams have shown a propensity for bouncing back from big losses. They beat the Titans in Week 4 after getting slaughtered by the Patriots. Houston bested the Colts last December after a blowout loss to New England. And in 2014, the Texans beat the Bills after falling the previous week by two touchdowns. Did you know the Colts' all-time winning percentage versus Houston is .821? They still lose. #INDvsHOU

An intriguing matchup. The Jets are a desperate football team. The Cardinals are trying to get their mojo back after a lackluster start. Lackluster is one of those words that really sounds like what it means. Oh, yeah, on that note, Carson Palmer returns this week. Can Ryan Fitzpatrick find opportunities for big plays in the Cards' secondary that Blaine Gabbert couldn't in Week 5? Arizona hasn't exactly faced the '27 Yankees of quarterbacks so far this season: Gabbert, Keenum, Taylor, Winston and Garoppolo. New York will be without Eric Decker and must get Matt Forte more heavily involved in the downfield passing game (exploit those LBs).

Did you know the Cardinals' last win over the Jets came all the way back in 1975? Trivia: Who were the quarterbacks that day? No cheating. ( @HarrisonNFL) #NYJvsAZ

THURSDAY NIGHT'S GAME

If there was one upset I wanted to pick, it was Chargers over Broncos. But I was too chicken. Why?

A) The Broncos are going to be playing for Gary Kubiak, who will miss this game because of a complex migraine condition.
B) Second-year pro Trevor Siemian gives Denver a better chance to win than uber-talented but inexperienced rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch. (Siemian has been in Kubiak's offense longer.)
C) The Chargers keep finding ways to lose, and they're doing it better than any team in the league.
D) Denver's offensive line can't play as poorly as it did last Sunday -- can it?
E) At some point, the losses of Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead have to adversely affect the San Diego offense.

On that last point, it's remarkable what Philip Rivers has been able to accomplish for the Bolts thus far. His passer ratings, week by week: 97.3, 138.9, 92.5, 93.3, 122.1. His lowest rating is higher than the 2016 season-long passer ratings of Aaron Rodgers (87.7), Cam Newton (80.2) and Tyrod Taylor (88.9), to name a few. He hasn't completed less than 65 percent of his passes in a game this season. Oh, well.

Side note: You have my pick for Thursday night, but be sure to make yours, as well. Go to NFL.com/budlight to vote for "Which Can will Win" or use #BroncosCan or #ChargersCan on Twitter.

#DENvsSD

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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