Carolina (+3.5) at Atlanta, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: In an extremely important game at home in primetime Sunday night, the Falcons jumped out to a 14-0 lead, only to ultimately lose 25-14. There's no shame in losing to the Packers, but the problems run far deeper here, as Matt Ryan continues to struggle mightily, although his fantasy value remains afloat thanks to attempting the second most passes in the NFL. He'll also be missing Julio Jones (hamstring) this week, and Michael Turner suddenly looks pedestrian. It's tough to compete in today's NFL with a mediocre defense and a passing attack that's getting 6.6 YPA... The Panthers enter 1-4, but they have yet to lose a game by more than a touchdown and continue to improve week-by-week. If these teams met on a neutral field, it would be hard not to consider Carolina favorites with the way Cam Newton and Steve Smith have been playing, plus they get the benefit of most likely not having to face John Abraham (groin). The Falcons have given up the eighth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, and even as a road team, don't be surprised if the Panthers pull off the upset Sunday.
Predictions: Matt Ryan throws for 250 yards with touchdowns to Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White, while Michael Turner adds 80 rushing yards and a goal-line score. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combine for 125 yards although neither reach the end zone. Cam Newton not only scores on the ground but also adds 150 passing yards with two scoring strikes to Steve Smith, as Carolina pulls off the upset.
San Francisco (+4) at Detroit, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: With the 49ers entering 4-1 and the Lions 5-0, it's safe to say one of the biggest matchups in Week 6 is one of the bigger surprises. San Francisco is the only team in football yet to allow a runner to gain 65 yards rushing and are also the lone squad yet to allow a rushing TD. Of course, that may not matter much against Detroit, who relies far more on its passing attack, Jahvid Best's Monday night outburst notwithstanding. Alex Smith has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, and new coach Jim Harbaugh deserves a ton of credit. With no Josh Morgan (and no Braylon Edwards), combined with limited snaps by Michael Crabtree in a game in which the 49ers may need to play catch up, back up TE Delanie Walker is a fantasy sleeper for those desperate dealing with byes and injuries... The Lions have won five straight (actually nine, dating back to last year), but they could be due for an emotional letdown coming off their first appearance at home on Monday night football in a decade. But their pass rush and the Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson connection are both aspects undeniably strong. This matchup between two surprising teams may not answer a lot of questions, because it should be a close battle to the end.
Predictions: Alex Smith throws for 260 yards with a touchdown to Michael Crabtree, while Frank Gore manages 90 total yards with a TD run. Jahvid Best gains 80 yards from scrimmage but doesn't score, while Matthew Stafford adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew, as the home team prevails. Lions 23-20.
Indianapolis (+7) at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Colts enter 0-5 with three upcoming road games, and while Curtis Painter has been a huge improvement at QB, he has a tough matchup Sunday against a Bengals defense that has allowed the third fewest points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Joseph Addai (hamstring) is likely out, but both Delone Carter and Donald Brown are only fantasy options for desperate owners... The Bengals have surpassed expectations so far, highlighted by a legit defense and budding superstar A.J. Green. Cedric Benson should also be in store for a nice game, likely receiving plenty of carries with a lead while facing a Colts defense that has yielded the sixth most fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2011.
Predictions: Curtis Painter throws for 240 yards and two touchdowns, with the recipients Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne. The running game becomes a committee and is held in check, while Cedric Benson answers with 90 rushing yards and a touchdown. Andy Dalton adds 225 passing yards with a TD toss to A.J. Green, as the home team prevails. Bengals 23-14.
Philadelphia (-1) at Washington, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Despite being 3-1 and facing a 1-4 team while at home and coming off a bye, the Redskins are underdogs. It's not totally crazy, as most measures still consider the Eagles the superior team, but it's still worth noting. Rex Grossman has fell way back down to earth, and the Eagles have defended opponents' WR1 very well this season, but the Redskins' defense has also played well, and Ryan Torrain could have a big game against a Philly defense that has ceded the most fantasy points to opposing running backs in the NFL this season... The Eagles have lost four straight games, and the "Dream Team" moniker now looks comical, although writing this team off might be equally as laughable. There's still a lot of upside here, and considering the Eagles have their backs against the wall (and last week's loss had a lot to do with random turnovers), don't be surprised by an "A" effort from a team that's clearly better than its record suggests.
Predictions: Rex Grossman throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Fred Davis, while Ryan Torain totals 120 yards and scores. LeSean McCoy counters with 120 yards and a TD run, while Michael Vick adds 270 passing yards with touchdown tosses to Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, as the Eagles get back on track. Eagles 24-20.
St. Louis (+15) at Green Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Rams enter 0-4 and there's a strong argument they are the worst team in the NFL. The bye week may help, but the lack of talent may make it a moot point. Sam Bradford ha taken a major step back, and while the Packers' secondary has poor numbers overall this season, they have played better of late and are at home Sunday. Bradford has committed five turnovers this year while producing just three touchdowns, and while the Rams may be able to produce a backdoor cover, this is the biggest mismatch on paper of the season so far... Aaron Rodgers has been the best player in football for quite some time now (Tom Brady isn't too far behind), and even while his defense and coach allow some games to be closer than they should be, the Pack have won 11 straight games. Without question, they are the favorites to win the Super Bowl (again).
Predictions: Sam Bradford throws for 160 yards with a TD to Mike Sims-Walker, while Steven Jackson totals 70 yards with a touchdown run. The Packers' RBBC combines for 125 yards with a TD run by James Starks, while Aaron Rodgers adds 300 passing yards and three touchdowns, with Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson the recipients, as the Packers win handily. Packers 34-17.
Jacksonville (+12.5) at Pittsburgh, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: After winning Week 1, the Jags have lost four straight games, and looking ahead at their schedule, they are legit contenders for a top-three draft pick. The defense has actually improved by a decent amount compared to last year, but the offense is essentially Maurice Jones-Drew and no one else. Blaine Gabbert versus a Pittsburgh secondary that has allowed an NFL-low 5.6 YPA could get ugly... The Steelers have outscored their opponents 62-17 at home over two games this season, and they are heavily favored again Sunday. Even when Ben Roethlisberger can barely move, he still managed five touchdown passes last week, and Sunday he gets a Jaguars secondary that has really improved this season. Still, this is a big mismatch on paper, and Rashard Mendenhall is expected to return to the lineup.
Predictions: Blaine Gabbert throws for 160 yards with no touchdowns, while Maurice Jones-Drew totals 80 yards and reaches the end zone. Rashard Mendenhall produces a similar line, while Ben Roethlisberger adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Mike Wallace and Heath Miller, as Pittsburgh wins in a rout. Steelers 30-13.
Buffalo (+3) at New York Giants, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Bills enter a surprising 4-1, and they have accomplished the feat while dealing with a pretty difficult schedule. Still, the defense hasn't been impressive, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken a step back recently, and he gets a tough test Sunday against a Giants front seven that leads the NFL with 18 sacks. Fred Jackson has become a star this year, and he remains a must-start no matter the opponent, although it's worth noting the Giants have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing backs this year... Eli Manning has got 9.1 YPA this season and has turned Victor Cruz into a fantasy option, so it's safe to say he should finally be acknowledged as one of the best players in the NFL. The Bills have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season, so he should have another big game Sunday. With Brandon Jacobs (knee) again unlikely to play, Ahmad Bradshaw is a must-start in fantasy leagues as well in what looks like a possible shootout. Expect the Giants to be focused coming off an embarrassing loss at home as double-digit favorites last week (that cost many survivor pool entries in the process), resulting in an impressive performance Sunday.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 240 yards with two TD tosses to Stevie Johnson, while Fred Jackson totals 120 yards and scores. Ahmad Bradshaw counters with 125 yards from scrimmage and hits pay dirt, while Eli Manning adds 280 passing yards with scoring strikes to Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks, as the home team prevails. Giants 30-24.
Cleveland (+7) at Oakland, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The Browns enter 2-2 and coming off a bye, but three of their next four games are on the road, including Sunday in Oakland. Colt McCoy has got just 5.7 YPA this season, and the Raiders have already racked up 14 sacks. Greg Little moves into the starting lineup, so he's a fantasy option for owners dealing with byes and injuries in deep leagues. Peyton Hillis is slated for a heavy workload, so he should have a nice game against an Oakland front seven that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs... The Raiders pulled off an upset last week in Houston, and at 3-2 with three upcoming home games, they look like legitimate playoff contenders. Darrius Heyward-Bey has 214 receiving yards and a touchdown over the past two games, seeing 19 targets in the process. He's worth using in fantasy leagues again this week if Joe Haden (knee) remains sidelined. Darren McFadden is coming off his worst game of the season and should bounce back with a heavy workload Sunday.
Predictions: Colt McCoy throws for 180 yards with a TD toss to Greg Little, while Peyton Hillis totals 110 yards and hits pay dirt. Darren McFadden responds with 150 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, while Michael Bush also adds a goal-line score. Jason Campbell throws for 220 yards and finds Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone, as Oakland wins it. Raiders 27-17.
Houston (+8) at Baltimore, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The Texans lost at home to the Raiders last week and have two upcoming matchups in Baltimore and in Tennessee, so this is a rough stretch playing without Andre Johnson (hamstring). Moreover, Mario Williams (triceps) has been lost for the season as well. Matt Schaub has been inconsistent, and he gets a Baltimore secondary that has allowed a 3:6 TD:INT ratio and an NFL-low 61.6 QB rating this season. The Ravens' defense also plays better when at home. Expect Houston to rely heavily on Arian Foster, although he's missed practice time this week with a quad injury... Baltimore comes in 3-1 and coming off its bye, and he faces a Houston defense that could look dramatically different without Williams. No Ravens wide receiver can be started with confidence in fantasy leagues, although of course Ray Rice can be. Rice should be in store for a big game against a Texans' defense that has yielded 4.8 YPC on the year. Ed Dickson is a decent flier at tight end for owners looking for a one week fill in.
Predictions: Matt Schaub throws for 220 yards with a touchdown to Owen Daniels, while Arian Foster adds 90 combined yards with a TD run. Ray Rice answers with 120 yards from scrimmage and reaches the end zone, while Joe Flacco adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Ed Dickson and Anquan Boldin, as the home team prevails. Ravens 24-17.
New Orleans (-4.5) at Tampa Bay, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Bucs three-game winning streak came to a crashing halt last week, getting blown out 48-3 in San Francisco. Adding injury to insult, the team also lost LeGarrette Blount to a knee injury, so Earnest Graham should act as the feature back Sunday. The Saints have allowed 5.2 YPC on the year, so Graham is a fine flex option. Josh Freeman has taken a major step back this season, and the rest of the passing attack as suffered as a result. Mike Williams owners have to be running out of patience... New Orleans enters winners of four straight and at the end of a three-game road trip. Drew Brees has 12 TD passes on the year and gets a Tampa Bay secondary that has recorded just two interceptions this season. Jimmy Graham is the No. 1 fantasy tight end, but the Saints spread it around too much after that for any of their wide receivers to have a ton of fantasy value, although Marques Colston is worth using now back to 100 percent. Despite averaging just 5.2 rushing attempts per game, Darren Sproles is on pace to finish the year with 1,437 yards from scrimmage.
Predictions: Josh Freeman throws for 200 yards and finds Mike Williams for a score. Earnest Graham totals 75 yards and hits pay dirt, while the Saints' RBBC produces 140 total yards and a TD run by Mark Ingram. Drew Brees adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, as New Orleans comes out on top. Saints 27-20.
Dallas (+7) at New England, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Cowboys blew a 27-3 lead in the third quarter at home the last time they played, but the team is coming off a bye and enter healthier than at any point this season. Tony Romo still has his painful rib injury, but it's getting progressively better, and Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dez Bryant (thigh) both should be getting close to 100 percent. It's a dangerous looking offense with all the weapons back together, and New England has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2011. This should be a shootout... The Patriots are 4-1 and have won 30 straight home games during the regular season. Dallas' defense is actually quite strong, but it's doubtful if any D can slow Tom Brady right now, as he's got 9.6 YPA with 14 passing touchdowns on the year. Wes Welker is playing out of his mind, and the weapons have only increased with Aaron Hernandez (knee) back in action. BenJarvus Green-Ellis missed some practice this week with a toe injury, but he returned Friday, so he's expected to go Sunday. He's coming off a big game against the Jets, but the Cowboys' run defense has been stout (NFL-low 3.1 YPC, just one rushing TD allowed).
Predictions: Tony Romo throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns, with Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant the recipients. Felix Jones totals 75 yards, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis responds with 70 yards on the ground and a TD. Tom Brady adds 325 passing yards with scoring strikes to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, as New England wins on a late field goal. Patriots 30-27.
Minnesota (+2.5) at Chicago, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: Minnesota's four-game losing streak to open the year ended last week with a 34-10 victory over the Cardinals, as the team opened up with a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. Donovan McNabb has really struggled, and Percy Harvin is dealing with a rib injury, although he's expected to play Sunday. Adrian Peterson should once again act as the team's offensive centerpiece, and Chicago has allowed an NFL-high 5.7 YPC this season... The Bears enter just 2-3, but their three losses have come against opponents with a combined 14-1 record. The team is coming off a short week having played Monday night, but this time in primetime they'll be at home. Jay Cutler has been running for his life all season thanks to a poor offensive line, which could once again be a problem when Jared Allen, who leads the NFL with nine sacks, comes to town. Matt Forte has accounted for the greatest percentage of his team's yards than any other player in football, and he'll again be asked to carry the load Sunday night.
Predictions: Donovan McNabb throws for 210 yards with a TD strike to Visanthe Shiancoe, while Adrian Peterson runs for 100 yards and scores. Matt Forte responds with a similar line, while Jay Cutler adds 225 passing yards with a touchdown toss to Kellen Davis, as Chicago wins it. Bears 23-17.
Miami (+7.5) at New York Jets, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: Miami is one of just three teams in the NFL without a win this season, and while they've had a tough schedule and are coming off a bye, it's unclear how big of a downgrade Matt Moore will be at quarterback. Moore gets a tough task right away, as the Jets have allowed the second fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. Brandon Marshall owners can't expect much either, as he's slated to be locked up against Darrelle Revis. Daniel Thomas (hamstring) is expected to return to the lineup... The Jets come in riding a three-game losing streak, but all three losses came on the road against tough opponents, so they shouldn't be written off by any means. The Dolphins have played them well over the past couple of years, but that likely means nothing come Monday night. Mark Sanchez and company have a plus matchup against a Miami secondary that has ceded 8.6 YPA with a 9:2 TD:INT ratio on the year. Shonn Greene remains inefficient, but he should be given another 20 carries or so. The Jets are desperate and should be focused having not won since Week 2 while at home and under the national spotlight.
Predictions: Matt Moore throws for 170 yards and no touchdowns, while Daniel Thomas gains 75 yards from scrimmage and scores. Shonn Greene answers with 80 rushing yards and a TD run, while Mark Sanchez adds 270 passing yards with scoring strikes to Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, as New York comes out on top. Jets 27-16.