2011 NFL Week 6 Primer

San Francisco 49ers new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh makes a point to officials during play against the Oakland Raiders at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 20, 2011. UPI/Terry Schmitt

49ers @ Lions, 1:00PM ET
Neither of these teams has to prove anything this weekend. Both the Lions and 49ers are legit and if you disagree then you really haven’t been paying attention lately. No team in the league is playing better defensively right now than San Francisco and Detroit’s passing game is only overshadowed by the league’s elite (i.e. New England, New Orleans and Green Bay). This is the most intriguing matchup in Week 6 and I can’t wait to see the result.

Bills @ Giants, 1:00PM ET
What a great test for both of these teams. The Bills are 4-1 but in their two road games this season, they crushed a bad Kansas City team and lost to the Bengals after squandering a double-digit lead at halftime. The Giants, meanwhile, were playing with loads of confidence until they overlooked the Seahawks last week at home. Focus won’t be an issue for either of these teams as they both look to use this game as a measuring stick.

Eagles @ Redskins, 1:00PM ET
It’s funny, the Eagles haven’t played a full four quarters since Week 1 and have dropped four straight and yet, you get the feeling that people still expect Andy Reid and Co. to figure it out. Well, it’s now or never. If the Eagles can get to 2-4 with a bye week coming up, maybe they can put a little run together in the second half. But if they lose this week to another divisional foe then Reid and his coaching staff will have to sit on a five-game losing streak for two weeks. With their backs against the wall, if the Eagles can’t win this Sunday their deficit in the NFC East may be too much to overcome.

Panthers @ Falcons, 1:00PM ET
People are attempting not to break their necks jumping off the Falcons bandwagon – and for good reason. Their offense is broke and coordinator Mike Mularkey keeps trying the same conservative tactics to try and fix it. He’s either unable or unwilling to change and either way, the Falcons keep losing. Even though Atlanta owns the better record coming into this NFC South showdown, it’s Carolina that’s covered in optimism right now.

Rams @ Packers, 1:00PM ET
The mini scare they received last week in Atlanta may have proven to be great for Green Bay. Before the Falcons built a 14-0 lead on the Packers, Green Bay may have believed it was invincible. But they quickly got things corrected, won the game, and now they can get re-focused with another inferior team in the Rams coming to town this weekend. Two weeks ago the Packers crushed the Broncos and if they want to keep firing on all cylinders, Green Bay needs to rout a bad St. Louis team as well.

Jaguars @ Steelers, 1:00PM ET
I guess all those claims that the Steelers’ run was over after they lost to the Texans were a tad overstated, huh? The Steelers looked like their dominant selves last Sunday against the Titans and now get to feast on a rookie quarterback in Blaine Gabbert this weekend. The Jaguars haven’t had much offense since Gabbert took over the quarterback reins and they could once again struggle at Heinz Field this Sunday. That’s not an easy place to play when your resume is lacking experience.

Colts @ Bengals, 1:00PM ET
The Bengals have a golden opportunity to get to 4-2 on the season but they face a huge test this Sunday. No not on the field, as the Colts are less fearsome than a box of puppies. But mentality this is a prime opportunity for Cincinnati to be overconfident. They know they should beat the Colts and that’s often how NFL teams get burned. If anything, Marvin Lewis and his team should remember how overconfident the Bills were coming into Cincinnati a few weeks ago. Buffalo believed it had a win locked up after knocking off the Patriots the week before and the Bills squandered a double-digit lead at halftime. Beware the letdown, Cincinnati.

Cowboys @ Patriots, 4:15PM ET
The Cowboys are overmatched but they’ll also get some key players back from injury and had two weeks to prepare for this game. Not that any team wants to get into a shootout with Tom Brady, but the Patriots’ defense can be had. It’ll be interesting to see if Tony Romo can put the Detroit game behind him and will his team to victory against one of the best teams in the league.

Texans @ Ravens, 4:05PM ET
It’s gut-check time for Houston. The Texans lost two of their biggest playmakers in Andre Johnson (hamstring) and Mario Williams (pectoral) the past two weeks, but that just means that other players need to step up. It’s time for Matt Schaub to put a game on his shoulders and prove that he can win another big statement game. The Ravens had two weeks to prepare for this game and were rolling before heading into their bye. If the Texans don’t man up, it could be a long afternoon for them in Baltimore.

Saints @ Bucs, 4:15PM ET
Tampa Bay was finally exposed last week in San Francisco and things don’t get any easier for the Bucs this week with the Saints coming to town. This will be the third-straight road game for the Saints, who continue to roll after dropping their season opener in Green Bay. If they’re not road-weary, they could create some breathing room between them and the Bucs in the NFC South with a win this weekend. If they lose, then Tampa might restore some of the confidence it lost last Sunday.

Browns @ Raiders, 4:05PM ET
One week after their emotional victory in Houston, the Raiders return home to face a Browns team that has had a Charmin Extra Soft schedule up to this point. Cleveland’s two wins have come against the winless Colts and Dolphins, while their two losses were by double-digit points to the Bengals and Titans. This is a game the Raiders simply must have. Cleveland’s defense has actually played pretty well thus far, but it also hasn’t faced a real offense yet. (No offense to Tennessee.) The Raiders have the firepower on offense to put this game away early but they can’t overlook a team that has had two weeks to prepare for them.

Vikings @ Bears, 8:20PM ET
If the Bears have any shot of keeping pace with the Packers and Lions in the NFC North, they can’t lose this Sunday at home to Minnesota. The Vikings haven’t played as poorly as their 1-4 record would indicate. Their pass rush has been solid and their run defense has been outstanding. Given the issues the Bears have had along their offensive line, Jared Allen and Co. could take over this game in a heartbeat. Adrian Peterson has also been known to have some big games at Solider Field, so the Bears need to treat the Vikings as if they were the Packers coming to town.

Dolphins @ Jets, 8:30PM ET Monday
The Jets have had major issues the past three weeks but they’re still better than Miami. Lose to the winless Dolphins at home and Rex Ryan will have a serious issue on his hands. This would be a great time for the Jets to iron out some of their problems in the running game, as Miami has been one of the worst run defense teams in the league.

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