Week 6 of the 2014 NFL season is here -- along with the inevitable issues stemming from team depth.
Who starts at quarterback for the Cardinals? How will the Bengals hold up without receiver A.J. Green? The poor Panthers are completely decimated at running back. The Eagles' dashing ball carrier, LeSean McCoy, has had little to dash through, thanks to all of Philly's injuries up front. And then there are guys, like Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, who have played hurt at various points this season, forcing their teams to use other players in spots. The Cowboys, meanwhile, lost their best defensive player before the preseason even started. We could go on and on.
Speaking of Dallas ...
CBS is doing a heckuva job with that Thursday night package. One minor note: I work for NFL Media. Regarding the Ray Charles comparison, I assume you're saying I will have a lengthy, successful career. Thank you for that.
The two fan bases most upset by my Week 6 NFL Power Rankings were the Cowboys' and the Bills'. Buffalo backers have a point: Perhaps I was too hard on the team for bailing on its quarterback and benefitting from the Lions' three missed field-goal attempts. Rest assured I will move the Bills way up if they beat the Patriots. Dallas, meanwhile, has defeated just one team that was playing well at the time -- the Texans last week -- and needed overtime to do it. The Cowboys have finished 8-8 three years in a row, so I'm thinking their ranking seems appropriate.
Now, let's get to it ...
Elliot Harrison went 12-3 on his predictions for Week 5, giving him a record of 48-28 so far this season. How will he fare in Week 6? His picks are below.
[Mario Williams](/player/mariowilliams/2495982/profile) gets a safety. The [Bills](/teams/buffalobills/profile?team=BUF) run the football effectively. [Kyle Orton](/player/kyleorton/2506444/profile) plays adequately. And Buffalo still loses to New England. Look, we understand the anger around this 3-2 [Bills](/teams/buffalobills/profile?team=BUF) team ranking 22nd in [the latest NFL Power Rankings](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000407129/article/nfl-power-rankings-week-6-san-diego-chargers-hit-no-1-spot). But [Tom Brady](/player/tombrady/2504211/profile) is 22-2 against Buffalo in his "short" career (that was sarcasm, directed at the hypersensitive fans who thought [I was suggesting Brady be benched](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000404242/article/nfl-week-5-game-picks-bengals-stay-perfect-cardinals-fall) last week). It should be noted that Brady's [last loss to the Bills](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2011092502/2011/REG3/patriots@bills) came in Buffalo, where this game will be played, and where the crowd will be going absolutely nutso. Brady threw four interceptions that day in 2011. Can that happen again? Probably not. Yes, [the Pats fell to the Dolphins](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014090705/2014/REG1/patriots@dolphins) in their most recent AFC East game, but Brady hasn't lost back-to-back divisional contests since 2006. The [Bills](/teams/buffalobills/profile?team=BUF) cannot afford to keep settling for field goals -- they [lead the league in attempts](http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?seasonType=REG&offensiveStatisticCategory=FIELD_GOALS&d-447263-n=1&d-447263-o=2&d-447263-p=1&d-447263-s=KICKING_FG_ATT&tabSeq=2&season=2014&role=TM&Submit=Go&archive=false&conference=null&defensiveStatisticCategory=null&qualified=false). [#NEvsBUF](https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23NEvsBUF) </content:weekly-predictions>
How will the Bengals respond to the trouncing they took against the Patriots? My guess is, they win, despite the fact that the Panthers should present a far greater challenge in Cincinnati this Sunday than they did in their loss in Baltimore two weeks back. Two alarming facts for Carolina: a) its red-zone defense is the worst in football and b) its run game is ranked 30th. Without the ability to burn clock on the ground, the Panthers will have a tough time keeping their defenders' legs from getting tired and failing at the end of drives. If you're wondering whether the Bengals' D will give up major points again, bear in mind this team hasn't allowed 30-plus points in back-to-back games since 2008. Cincy wins. #CARvsCIN
[Ben Roethlisberger](/player/benroethlisberger/2506109/profile) has been flying so far under the radar for the [Steelers](/teams/pittsburghsteelers/profile?team=PIT), Tom Skerritt just took a long beat before admonishing him for [breaking the Top Gun rules of engagement](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhYZc08Jk_Y). [Big Ben](http://www.nfl.com/player/benroethlisberger/2506109/profile) is having a wonderful season, completing 68.9 percent of his passes, but even more noteworthy is his 18-1 record against the [Browns](/teams/clevelandbrowns/profile?team=CLE), the best winning percentage (.947) against any single opponent by a quarterback since 1950 -- even better than [Hall of Fame](http://www.profootballhof.com/)r Roger Staubach's mark against the [Giants](/teams/newyorkgiants/profile?team=NYG) (.941) and fellow Hall member Bob Griese's mark against the [Bills](/teams/buffalobills/profile?team=BUF) (.900). That's ... impressive.
On the Cleveland front, 2014 represents the first time since 1969 that the Browns have scored 21 or more points in their first four games. That '69 squad beat Dallas in the divisional round of the playoffs, then lost to Minnesota in the NFL Championship Game. Of course, the recent scoring boom aside, the Browns are still going to fall to the Steelers in Cleveland. #PITvsCLE
[Aaron Rodgers](/player/aaronrodgers/2506363/profile) is hotter than Brooklyn Decker in a University of North Texas track suit ... he's so *on fire* that Mötley Crüe would like to use him in their final stateside concert ( [Nov. 22 in Spokane, Washington](http://ev8.evenue.net/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/SEGetEventInfo?linkID=twcorp&ticketCode=GS:TWC:ESPF14:EARN1122:&groupCode=&shopperContext=&pc=&caller=&appCode=&cgc=&prc=&ppc=&psc=&sm=1)) ... he's doing so well in his current job that the LinkedIn endorsements are piling up. [Eddie Lacy](/player/eddielacy/2540168/profile) vs. the [Dolphins](/teams/miamidolphins/profile?team=MIA)' front seven should be fun. Miami's run defense is allowing just 3.83 yards per carry so far, but everyone thinks Lacy is about to go to buck wild on the host team after running 13 times for 105 yards [against the Vikings](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014100200/2014/REG5/vikings@packers) last week.
The real question is this: Which Ryan Tannehill will show up? Will we see the guy who posted a 100-plus passer rating for the 'Fins in London, or the guy who had gotten very little bang for his buck to that point (in each of his first three games this season, Tannehill averaged 5.56, 4.92 and 4.77 yards per attempt, far below the league average of 7.2)? #GBvsMIA
The first rule of Field Goal Club is, You do not talk about missed field goals. In related news, Turd Norton makes his debut as Lions kicker and goes 1 for 3 in Minnesota, missing from 33 and 34 yards out ... but nailing one from 55. The Lions have missed eight field goals this season. Since 1970, just four teams have missed more field goals through Week 5.
The Vikings, meanwhile, eagerly anticipate the return of Teddy Bridgewater, the second coming of, well ... it's hard to say who his game reminds me of. You know what? Bridgewater is the second coming of nobody; he's a unique player who -- off-the-cuff analysis ahead -- has that Russell Wilson-esque no-son-of-a-gun-is-too-big-for-me attitude. Oh, and then there's this: The Vikings have scored at least 22 points in 14 of their last 16 home games against the Lions. So there you go: 22-20. #DETvsMIN
Don't snicker about the score; the host Jets absolutely can compile 21 points ... we think. Denver's defense was outstanding in Week 5, forcing the Cardinals to punt an astounding 11 times. It seems as if this group is really coming together. Now, if only the Broncos could run the football. Gang Green had been darn near impossible to run against -- until colliding with future Hall of Famer Branden Oliver in San Diego last Sunday. Still, the Jets rank sixth in run defense (83 rushing yards allowed per game). Geno Smith has been tabbed as the starter for this one, and the good news is that this game is on the East Coast ... so we're OK there. The recipe for New York's best chance includes a 30-carry dose of Chris Ivory and some takeaways. Unfortunately for the Jets, they're not forcing any of those. They're tied for second-worst with three takeaways -- as many as Peyton Manning has given up all season. #DENvsNYJ
A solid home win for the Buccaneers delivered ... byyyyyy Glennon. It's not easy to predict consecutive losses for the Ravens, who have had just five losing streaks in the John Harbaugh era, none of which were longer than three games. And you'd have to think Joe Flacco will play better than he did in the loss in Indy last week (57.9 percent completion rate, 235 yards, zero touchdowns, one pick and four sacks). That said, the Tampa Bay passing game has been no slouch under Mike Glennon, the second-year pro who is doing just enough to win games. On third down, he has a passer rating of 125.3 -- putting him behind only Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers. #BALvsTB
Talk about anyone's ballgame. Blake Bortles' main task in Nashville will be to not turn the ball over so that he can live to play another down for the Jags. That said, tucking the ball and running could work, as the rookie quarterback has rushed for 68 yards on just 11 scampers. He merely needs to refrain from forcing throws and make sure he gets down on the pitch. Slide, dude.
We would like to see Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt get rookie running back Bishop Sankey as involved as possible. Tennessee's defense struggled to make stops late in last week's collapse against the Browns. What keeps a D fresher than an offense that runs the football -- and the clock -- in support? By the way, Jacksonville is allowing 435.4 yards per game -- the worst mark in the NFL. #JAXvsTEN
If you don't start Chargers running back Branden Oliver on your fantasy football team this week, you're a communist -- by which I mean, you're so into the collective good, you want to prevent an inordinate amount of points from going your way.
Our research department's Luke Skywalker, @ChristensenDrew, says San Diego has topped 30 just once in its past 10 games against the Raiders. He's right -- so let's hand the Bolts 29. Give 'em hell, Raiders defense. Now, it's worth mentioning that Oakland beat San Diego in that weird late-night Sunday game last year -- the game that went so late on the East Coast that television viewers had to choose between AFC West football and the "How to Make Money in Real Estate with No Money Down" infomercial with Carlton Sheets. By the way, the last time the Raiders won back-to-back home games over the Chargers, Bill Callahan was Oakland's head coach. #SDvsOAK
This prediction is dependent on either Carson Palmer -- who's been throwing this week while he continues to deal with a nerve issue -- or Drew Stanton -- who suffered a concussion last week -- playing quarterback for the Cardinals. If Logan Thomas ends up under center again, you can pretty much flip the scores.
[Kirk Cousins](/player/kirkcousins/2532820/profile) played some good football for Washington [last Monday](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014100600/2014/REG5/seahawks@redskins). Yes, the [Redskins](/teams/washingtonredskins/profile?team=WAS)' defense has been two bits short of awful. But as long as we're talking Old West, remember that Arizona's quarterback situation was a ghost town in [the loss to Denver](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014100509/2014/REG5/cardinals@broncos) -- the Cards had *eleven* punts. In the past 10 years, no one has punted more than that in a given game. It was so ugly, [punter Dave Zastudil strained his groin](http://blog.azcardinals.com/2014/10/07/zastudil-goes-to-ir-qb-dixon-to-practice-squad/). If Palmer or Stanton gets on the field in Arizona, look out; the [Redskins](/teams/washingtonredskins/profile?team=WAS) have allowed nine touchdowns against just one interception over their past three games. [#WASvsAZ](https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23WASvsAZ) </content:weekly-predictions>
Chicago puts Walter Payton's number on the board in Atlanta -- by virtue of scoring 34 points. It will be apropos, too, as Matt Forte will have a heckuva day, posting more than 150 scrimmage yards and two scores. And even if the Falcons manage to stop Forte, they'll have had to use too many resources to do it, meaning Bears pass-catchers Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett will have the big games instead.
We all know Matt Ryan has struggled of late, which has been attributed to issues with protection and being away from home. In the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome, where he's notched a passer rating of 142.2 this season, Ryan should perform against the Bears defense. The concern is that Falcons front seven ... #CHIvsATL
This game will be extremely close early on, with the host Seahawks pulling away late in the third quarter. Look, Seattle is a great team, there's no doubt about it. But the defense will have its hands full with that Cowboys offensive line, which is a far cry from the Redskins unit the Seahawks faced last Monday. Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith isn't backing down against anyone; neither is Travis Frederick or Zack Martin. I freaking love ProFootballFocus.com, but I think the site's rating of the Cowboys' O-line is low. League-leading running back DeMarco Murray ain't league-leading running back DeMarco Murray without that group.
Murray's Seattle counterpart, Marshawn Lynch (ranked No. 1 by ProFootballFocus.com), has been awesome despite working with less stellar play up front, as has quarterback Russell Wilson. Thinking the Cowboys have trouble, personnel-wise, stopping the read option, as well as Wilson's keepers. #DALvsSEA
[LeSean McCoy](/player/leseanmccoy/79607/profile) was held to a scant 48 rushing yards the last time these two squads met, and Big Blue walked away [with a 15-7 win](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2013102705/2013/REG8/giants@eagles). Does that stat line sound familiar? McCoy rushed 19 times for 22 yards [against the Redskins in Week 3](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014092108/2014/REG3/redskins@eagles), 10 times for 17 yards [against the Niners in Week 4](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014092809/2014/REG4/eagles@49ers) and 24 times for 81 yards [against the Rams last week](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014100507/2014/REG5/rams@eagles). Philly's banged-up line is causing McCoy and the run game problems, while quarterback [Nick Foles](/player/nickfoles/2532842/profile) is barely playing well enough to compensate. Meanwhile, [Eli Manning](/player/elimanning/2505996/profile) has posted a passer rating of 100-plus for New York in three straight games now. Question is, can [Andre Williams](/player/andrewilliams/2543565/profile) provide a spark for the [Giants](/teams/newyorkgiants/profile?team=NYG)? Against this [Eagles](/teams/philadelphiaeagles/profile?team=PHI) front, the answer is yes. [#NYGvsPHI](https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23NYGvsPHI) </content:weekly-predictions>
San Francisco survives in St. Louis. That's it. Colin Kaepernick should find some favorable matchups downfield, especially if Vernon Davis plays; the Rams' safeties have really struggled this season, and frankly, the pass rush hasn't been there to pick up the slack. Chris Long's absence from St. Louis' defensive line has been totally underrated, in terms of how it has affected this team's season. Without Long to contend with, opposing offenses can simply shift protection to Robert Quinn's side. On top of all that, dealing with Niners offensive lineman Joe Staley will be no day at the beach, er, Arch.
[T.Y. Hilton](/player/t.y.hilton/2532865/profile) absolutely went *off* [last time he was in Houston](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2013110310/2013/REG9/colts@texans), posting 121 receiving yards and three touchdowns for the [Colts](/teams/indianapoliscolts/profile?team=IND) in a game that exposed the [Texans](/teams/houstontexans/profile?team=HOU) as a 2-14-team-to-be in front of a national television audience. This year's trip should be different for all involved, starting with the fact that [Arian Foster](/player/arianfoster/79555/profile) is playing A-level ball for Houston. My one concern here is that Foster just maintained a huge workload [in Dallas](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014100501/2014/REG5/texans@cowboys) -- going to overtime, to boot -- and will be coming off a short week of rest. Indianapolis is [tied for 11th in run defense](http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?tabSeq=2&defensiveStatisticCategory=RUSHING&conference=ALL&role=OPP&season=2014&seasonType=REG&d-447263-s=RUSHING_YARDS_PER_GAME_AVG&d-447263-o=1&d-447263-n=1), but the ranking is that high largely because the [Jaguars](/teams/jacksonvillejaguars/profile?team=JAC) and [Titans](/teams/tennesseetitans/profile?team=TEN) got so far behind the [Colts](/teams/indianapoliscolts/profile?team=IND) [in Week 3](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014092104/2014/REG3/colts@jaguars) [and Week 4](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2014092803/2014/REG4/titans@colts) that they had to air it out. Indy is allowing a relatively hearty 4.59 yards per carry; even so, Foster's production won't be enough to offset [Andrew Luck](/player/andrewluck/2533031/profile)'s. [#INDvsHOU](https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23INDvsHOU) </content:weekly-predictions>