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Game Capsules: Breaking Down the Week 6 Matchups

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

Pittsburgh (-5.5) @ Tennessee, Thursday 8:20 p.m.

The Steelers faced a crucial test last week with a 3-1 team coming into their house and trying to put them to 1-3. They passed. Barely, but a win is a win. In the process they found their running game for the first time all year behind a standout performance from Rashard Mendenhall in his return from last season’s torn ACL. Mendenhall’s impressive 5.8 yards per carry was a full 3.2 yards more than the entire team’s per rush attempt average entering the game, and his 101 total yards were a huge boost to an otherwise ineffective offense against Philadelphia. Versus a Titans defense that has been a league doormat versus the run and pass, Mendenhall looks like a must-start. The matchup also sets up nicely for Ben Roethlisberger to bounce back from a touchdown-less week. He threw for five scores against Tennessee last year and the 2012 version of the Titans defense is significantly worse against the pass, having allowed 12 TDs already through the air and 280 yards per game. That means Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller should all be started as well... It’s officially time to bury Chris Johnson. He totaled 157 yards against an elite Texans defense on 5.6 yards per carry, but if you take that game away he’s carried the ball 48 times for 69 yards in the other four outings, for a monumentally horrible 1.4 yards per carry. He simply cannot be trust in fantasy no matter how gifted he is or what he’s done in his past or happens to do in one fluke week going forward. Even with Troy Polamalu (calf) and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) expected to be out of this contest, the rest of the Titans offense still figures to struggle. Matt Hasselbeck will get the nod again in place of the injured Jake Locker (shoulder) and Kenny Britt should suit up barring a setback to his ankle, but the passing game is greatly hindered by Johnson’s ineffectiveness running the ball, and Pittsburgh’s 3rd ranked pass defense doesn’t figure to make things any better. The spread on this one seems awfully generous to the Titans.

Predictions: Big Ben throws it for 294 yards and touchdowns to Wallace, Brown and Miller while Mendenhall adds a score on the ground to go with his 118 total yards. Hasselbeck passes for 202 yards and hits Nate Washington for the team’s only touchdown. Johnson rushes for 43 yards in the blowout. Steelers 34-10.

Oakland (+9.5) @ Atlanta, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

If the Raiders are smart enough to ride Darren McFadden-as in feed him in the neighborhood of 25-30 carries-they will have a chance to make a major steal in a stadium where Matt Ryan is 28-4 as a starter in the regular season. The Falcons give up an average of 142 yards per game on the ground at 5.4 per carry, the latter being the second-worst mark in the league. Conversely, they are one of the better passing defenses with an impressive 5-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That could spell trouble for Carson Palmer, particularly if Darrius Heyward-Bey is rusty coming off a concussion and two weeks off. In their one win, McFadden's strong running (113 yards, one score) set up Palmer's passing and led to more points (34) than the team scored in all three combined losses (33). Moreover, controlling the ball on the ground will kill clock and keep Ryan's potent offense from facing the Raiders' terrible defense as much as possible… Atlanta is undefeated but they haven't made it easy on themselves the past two weeks, pulling out late victories after being down in the fourth quarter to inferior teams. If they can get a lead, the Raiders are hoping to prevent such a comeback, but to do so they'd have to step up their doormat pass defense which has allowed a ridiculous 113.4 passer rating through four games and allowed nine passing scores while picking off precisely zero throws. Ryan should have a field day finding the likes of Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez in what continues to be the most complete passing attack in football.

Predictions: Ryan passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns going to White (2), Jones and Gonzalez. Turner tacks on 78 yards rushing and another score. McFadden runs for 124 and a touchdown but Palmer struggles to just 211 yards with one score to Denarius Moore and two picks to Atlanta. Falcons 38-20.

Kansas City (+3) @ Tampa Bay, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Matt Cassel out, Brady Quinn in. The switch to the former first-round pick seemed a strong likelihood entering last week before Cassel went and got himself concussed versus Baltimore. Cassel had registered 10 turnovers entering the Week 5 contest before he lost a fumble going in for a touchdown and threw his eighth and ninth picks of the young season. Making his first start since 2009, Quinn has a nice opportunity to prove himself versus a Bucs defense that's dead last in passing yards allowed per attempt and per game. In two of his last five starts when he was with Cleveland, Quinn threw for 575 yards and seven touchdowns with no INT's. Of course, the other three games he totaled just 256 yards and no scores with two picks, so expect the Chiefs to not lean too heavily on him and keep riding Jamaal Charles, the league's leading rusher, for the fourth straight game. When Quinn does throw, count on Dwayne Bowe-the best wideout Quinn's ever played with-to keep seeing a ton of targets… Tampa Bay is coming off their bye week with a great opportunity to get a win. The Chiefs have turned it over a league-worst 19 times in five games which should play nicely into the hands of a Bucs defense that's averaged two takeaways per game thus far. The problem for Tampa however is on the other side of the ball where their offense has been anemic. They're 30th in total yards per game and Josh Freeman has yet to find a rhythm passing the ball while Doug Martin has seen few holes to run through. And the Chiefs just began playing up to their potential on defense last week by holding an explosive and balanced Ravens offense to 298 yards and just nine points. Getting LeGarrette Blount to break in his big legs may be key to opening things up a bit for the rest of the offense.

Predictions: Freeman throws for 191 yards and a touchdown to Mike Williams, while Blount and Martin go for 113 total yards in a RBBC, with Blount nabbing a goal-line score. Charles counters with 138 total yards of his own and a TD on the ground. Quinn hits Bowe and Jon Baldwin for scores to cap the victory in a 232-yard effort. Chiefs 21-20.

Indianapolis (+3) @ New York Jets, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

The Andrew Luck to Reggie Wayne connection has been sensational through four games, as Luck has averaged the third most passing yards per game at 302 while Wayne has racked up a whopping average of nine catches for 126 yards receiving per game. At that pace Luck would shatter the rookie single season passing yards record that Cam Newton set last year and Wayne would destroy Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a season. But such feats are far from realistic. In fact, a proud Jets defense should slow the pair with Antonio Cromartie likely to blanket Wayne. That doesn't mean they'll shut either down, as Luck truly is the most pro-ready QB since Peyton Manning, if not even more developed. Additionally, Luck could be aided by a Jets defense that's allowing 170 yards-per-game on the ground. That makes Vick Ballard, who will replace Donald Brown (knee) for a few weeks, a decent flex start in deep leagues… With the Colts giving up 130+ rush yards a game themselves, the Jets inept "ground and pound" attack may finally get going this week. Still, with Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell splitting carries, neither is any better than a deep flex play in fantasy. Mark Sanchez played surprisingly well at times versus Houston, so it's too early to declare the battered New York passing game deceased. If Greene, Powell or Tim Tebow can gain some traction, Jeremy Kerley and potentially Dustin Keller (if he returns from his hammy injury) should prove effective against the below average Colts defense.

Predictions: Sanchez finds Kerley and Chaz Schilens for scores as he goes for 255 yards passing. Greene churns out 56 yards on the ground, while Tebow vultures a goal-line plunge. Ballard carries it for 68 yards as Luck once again steals the show with touchdown passes to Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener in a 314-yard effort. Colts 24-21.

Cincinnati (-1) @ Cleveland, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

This is the season's first rematch of divisional opponents, so theoretically it should be easier to anticipate how it might shake out. Unfortunately it rarely works that way, and for the Bengals offense it likely won't work out as nicely because when the teams met in Week 2 star Browns corner Joe Haden was just starting his four-game suspension. This week he's just coming back from it. Facing Haden last year Dalton was solid with 270 yards and a score, but he was a far cry from the 318 and three TD's he poured on Cleveland a few short weeks ago. Dalton is no longer a rookie though and he has better overall weapons this year so he should fall somewhere in between. His star target, A.J. Green, shouldn't be impacted much by the tight coverage of Haden though as the young star posted his first career score in one meeting and 110 yards in the other facing Haden in 2011. On the ground, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has a chance to offset any struggles in the passing game versus a Browns run defense that just allowed a 200-yard rushing game to Ahmad Bradshaw and may be without star middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (concussion)… While a defensive change for Cleveland could shake things up for the Bengals O, Brandon Weeden and the Browns shouldn't find the sledding any tougher than they did in the team's best offensive performance of the season. In that meeting Weeden slung it for 322 yards and two scores while Trent Richardson posted the only 100-yard game of his rookie year. The Bengals defense is tied for the league lead in sacks but had just two on Weeden in Cincinnati as the rookie has maybe the best left tackle in football in Joe Thomas and gets rid of the ball quickly. And often-he's second in pass attempts-so by sheer volume Weeden figures to post nice numbers again. Josh Gordon's emergence and Richardson's hard running certainly won't hurt his cause, though Greg Little will need to re-establish himself with so many injuries to Cleveland's other wideouts.

Predictions: Richardson rumbles for 96 yards and a score, while Weeden throws it for 277 and touchdowns to Ben Watson and Gordon. Dalton passes for 274 yards and hooks up with Andrew Hawkins and Jermaine Gresham for scores. Green-Ellis adds 80 on the ground and Green gets 90 through the air, but it's not enough. Browns 24-23.

Detroit (+4.5) @ Philadelphia, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

The Lions needed their Week 5 bye in a bad way. They barely pulled out a win at home in Week 1 needing a last-second TD pass to Kevin Smith to get it and then proceeded to go 0-3 with bad losses in Tennessee and at home to Minnesota. With a week off to make adjustments, perhaps the Lions' special teams won't allow a score this week after giving up BOTH a punt and kickoff return touchdown in EACH of their past two losses. And perhaps, at least for the sake of his beleaguered fantasy owners, Matthew Stafford will provide more than one touchdown in a game. Unfortunately, those owners may need to wait another week as Stafford will travel to a Philly defense that's been great at limiting quarterbacks with tight coverage and constant pressure in the backfield. Calvin Johnson owners should be fine though as the Eagles have allowed two other studs, Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald, to each post over 100 yards and a score… The key for the Eagles this week will be to get their offense going. They've topped 20 points just once in five games and are 31st in scoring offense, largely because of Michael Vick's propensity for turnovers. He started the year throwing picks by the bushel and recently he's been stricken with fumblitis at the most inopportune times. The Lions defense is tied for the fewest forced turnovers on the year with just three, so Vick may get a reprieve this week. If he takes care of the ball and LeSean McCoy gets his touches, the defense will do the rest.

Predictions: Vick throws for 258 yards and touchdowns to Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, while McCoy totals 117 yards and adds a score on the ground. Stafford hits Johnson for his lone score in a 278-yard effort. Mikel Leshoure chips in 81 total yards and a short TD plunge. Eagles 27-23.

St. Louis (+3.5) @ Miami, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

With two physical, aggressive defenses squaring off with mediocre offenses this could be a war of attrition. Unfortunately for the Rams, they figure to be on the wrong end of that battle. Miami has been dominant against the run, limiting opponents to an average of a league-best 61 yards per game on the ground. That means the Rams' top offensive weapon, Steven Jackson, who has already been struggling, will likely be a non-factor even though he appears to be past an early season groin issue. That leaves Sam Bradford dropping back against one of the most unstoppable pure pass rushers in the league in Cameron Wake with almost nothing in the cupboard to throw to. The loss of Danny Amendola (shoulder) wasn't felt much last week as the St. Louis defense faced a horrendous Cardinals line that couldn't protect their QB or open running lanes. Miami's powerful line and explosive run game could change that dramatically though when Bradford can't move the ball offensively… Ryan Tannehill has made major strides from Week 1 as he's managed games well enough to keep Miami quite competitive. Obviously his stingy defense and strong run game have helped matters as he hasn't had to be the difference between a win and loss. If Tannehill can avoid turnovers against a Rams secondary that has a league-best 2-to-8 TD-to-INT ratio and find whichever target Cortland Finnegan does not blanket, he can ride the explosive running of Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller to victory.

Predictions: Bradford throws for 139 yards in an ugly day for all Rams, while Jackson totals 67 yards. Tannehill passes for 194 yards as he lets his backs do the heavy lifting. Bush explodes for 134 yards and two scores while Miller chips in 54 yards of his own. Dolphins 20-6.

Dallas (+3.5) @ Baltimore, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

For all the talent the Cowboys have at the skill positions, they've been painfully inefficient offensively and likely took their bye week to try and correct those issues. Tony Romo and Co. are currently 30th in scoring at just over 16 points per game and have totaled just 35 over the past three games, with eight of those points coming on a meaningless Kyle Orton-led drive at the end of their embarrassing loss to Chicago. A dreadful -7 turnover differential has been a huge source of their struggles, and much of that can be blamed on Romo's eight interceptions-though many of those can be blamed on terrible protection or a receiver (we're looking at you, Dez Bryant) messing up his route. A Ravens defense that's snagged 12 takeaways so far, allowed just under 18 points per game and who is particularly tough at home doesn't figure to cure Dallas' woes this weekend… Baltimore is one of the toughest places to play. It's getting to be a broken record but it warrants a mention each time he notches another W: Joe Flacco is now 31-5 at home (including playoffs). On paper this game looks like it could be a defensive struggle similar to last week's narrow 9-6 escape of the Chiefs. The Cowboys revamped defense allows the fewest passing yards per game at 170 and is fourth in total yards, but games against the Seahawks and Buccaneers (31st and 30th respective passing offenses) make those numbers deceiving. A struggling Jay Cutler busted out in Week 4 against Dallas' supposedly stingy secondary for 275 yards and two scores. So Flacco should be fine on his home turf, and with Ray Rice providing excellent balance, Baltimore should move the ball well.

Predictions: Romo throws for 261 yards and a TD to Jason Witten. DeMarco Murray contributes 93 total yards and a short score, but loses a crucial fumble. Flacco hits Anquan Boldin for a touchdown in a 264-yard effort, while Rice finds the end zone twice and produces 122 total yards in the win. Ravens 24-17.

Buffalo (+4.5) @ Arizona, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Sure, the Bills have played two tremendous teams in the past two weeks, but they've been outscored 90-17 in THE LAST SIX QUARTERS. Yes, you read that right. Furthermore, they've allowed at least 45 points in three of five games and have held just the Chiefs and Browns under 20. Offensively, they've been wildly inconsistent. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still among the best in the league with 12 passing scores, but as was his downfall last year, his eight picks are also among the most by any quarterback. Meanwhile they began the year as an elite rushing offense behind C.J. Spiller's explosion but have been pitiful for two weeks as they've split carries between the banged up Spiller (shoulder) and Fred Jackson (knee). With their defense in a downward spiral and playing in a hostile environment over 2,000 miles from home for the second straight week, the Bills would be wise to ride both their backs to burn clock and play a ball control offense… The Cardinals hope to bounce back from an incredibly ugly loss (their first of the season) in which they allowed just 242 total yards and seven pass completions to the Rams yet still lost 17-3. The cause of the defeat was simple: nine sacks. They should have also lost the week prior to Miami because the worst offensive line in football let Kevin Kolb go down eight times that week. As bad as the Bills defense has been, they actually could be a solid fantasy play because of Arizona's inability to protect their quarterback and the complete lack of a run game. With Ryan Williams now on IR following shoulder surgery, a RBBC of William Powell, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alphonso Smith will try to spark one of the league's worst run games against one of the league's worst run defenses.

Predictions: Spiller totals 76 yards to Jackson's 64 and the younger back adds a TD on the ground. Fitzpatrick throws for 198 yards and a score to Scott Chandler, getting bested by Kolb's 245 yards and two touchdowns going to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Powell leads the way rushing with 52 yards in the win. Cardinals 17-14.

New England (-3.5) @ Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

One of the prettiest offenses in football comes to play one of the ugliest defenses in football. The tiebreaker would normally go to Seattle's 12th man, as they make CenturyLink Field one of the loudest places to play, but the future Hall-of-Famer on the other sideline gets bonus points for New England. No defense, no matter how good, is truly safe from Brady. So though the Seahawks have the 5th ranked pass defense and have allowed just three TD's in the air, Brady could go off. But it's also worth noting he could struggle almost as much as Aaron Rodgers did in Week 3 (223 yards, no scores). Given his better overall receiving corps that anticipates the return of Aaron Hernandez (officially questionable), expect Brady to fall between his normal stud numbers and Rodgers' stinker. Stevan Ridley, coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, doesn't figure to find the same success facing a smothering Seahawks run D (just 66.6 yards allowed weekly)… Breaking news alert! Russell Wilson finally has a 200-yard passing game to his credit! He's now up to a whopping 815 yards in five weeks. In case the sarcasm didn't sell this point enough, the slight uptick in yards is nothing to get excited about, particularly as Wilson has tossed five interceptions to just one score in the past two outings. And since he's only topped 25 pass attempts once this season, count on Marshawn Lynch to keep right on carrying the entire offense on his Beastly shoulders.

Predictions: Wilson throws for 190 yards and a touchdown to Golden Tate. Lynch breaks tackles en route to 106 yards and a score. Ridley tallies 74 yards rushing but is shut out of the end zone, while Brady hits Wes Welker and Deion Branch for TD's in a 255-yard day. Patriots 20-14.

Minnesota (+1.5) @ Washington, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

The Redskins are easily the worst in the league against the pass. They've allowed an average of 330 yards and 2.6 scores per week, and though Christian Ponder hasn't attempted more than 35 passes in a single game, he's completing a phenomenal 69.0% of his throws. At that rate he should still post borderline No. 1 QB numbers, particularly with Percy Harvin playing exceptional football and Kyle Rudolph being a huge red zone target with sticky hands. The biggest storyline for this matchup though has to be Adrian Peterson seeking revenge. The past two seasons AP has left games versus the Skins with injuries. In 2010 it was a sprained ankle, but last year's torn ACL-on Christmas Eve no less-is surely quite fresh in his mind. That should spell danger for Washington's rush defense… While AP is coming off last year's injury, Robert Griffin III will attempt to play after getting knocked out of a game for the first time with a mild concussion last week. As of this writing, Griffin has yet to be cleared for full participation or contact at practices, though he's reportedly "symptom free." If he does not get cleared by Friday it would be wise to be prepared with a backup. In that event Griffin sits, Kirk Cousins figures to make his first career start, but even if RGIII does play, a Vikings defense that's allowed just one touchdown in each of the last three games is a highly uninviting matchup. Alfred Morris, the gifted sixth-round draft pick, even looks like a shaky start this week, but due to his awesome consistency, he shouldn't be benched. Minnesota's run defense has been very stout (ranked 6th currently in yards allowed), but Morris tore through a Tampa defense that was 1st against the run entering Week 4.

Predictions: Griffin suits up and throws for 217 yards and a score to Fred Davis while staying mostly behind the line of scrimmage. Morris adds 87 and a score on the ground, but is upstaged by Peterson's 122 and a touchdown rushing. Ponder hits Harvin and Rudolph for scoring strikes while passing for 272 yards. Vikings 24-20.

New York Giants (+5) @ San Francisco, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

The Giants have proven to have one of the league's best offenses. They're deep at running back, loaded at receiver and have a quarterback in Eli Manning who is at the top of his game. Their line has even been tremendous as Manning has taken just four sacks on the year. All that skill has made up for the fact that the Giants are simply not a physical offense. They are a precise, well-schemed and efficient offense, but they cannot punch a defense in the mouth. Going into Candlestick, the site of last year's NFC Championship, their mettle will be seriously tested by a team that still believes they were robbed of a title shot by the G-Men. That ultra-physical 49ers defense will look to knock the snot out of the Giants' O, and if New York is without Hakeem Nicks (knee, questionable) for the fourth-straight week, it will be awfully tough for them to hit back. They'll need Ahmad Bradshaw, coming off a career-high 200 yards rushing, to duplicate the 126 total yards he racked up in that title game-but this time without any fumbles-to put points on the board… The Niners are riding high into this vengeance game. The past two weeks they've outscored their opponents a ridiculous 79-3, and they've done it as much with their efficient offense as their dominant defense. Their offense leads the league in rushing behind a powerful line and the youthful running of Frank Gore. That should be their bread and butter facing a Giants defense that's nowhere near as physical or aggressive as last year's unit. And with Jason Pierre-Paul and New York's pass rush being a non-factor in five games (just eight sacks!), a super sharp Alex Smith will look to burn their shaky corners to the likes of Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Giant turncoat Mario Manningham.

Predictions: Bradshaw fights his way to 63 total yards, but doesn't fumble, while Manning passes for 264 yards and touchdowns to Cruz and Ramses Barden. Smith connects with Davis and Manningham for scores while going for 265 yards through the air. Gore rushes for 94 yards and the decisive touchdown. 49ers 27-20.

Green Bay (+3.5) @ Houston, Sunday 8:20 p.m.

The Packers experienced an epic collapse in last week's 30-27 loss to the Colts. Up 21-3 at halftime they suddenly decided to stop catching the ball, blocking or generally playing with any competence. Aaron Rodgers appeared out of sync with his receivers and rattled by waves of Indy blitzers. Yes, the Colts got to the reigning league MVP. That makes it scary to think of what the Texans' J.J. Watt (an early frontrunner for Defensive MVP) and a brutally relentless pass rush will do to the Packers' inept offensive line. The mess of injuries to Green Bay's skill players certainly won't help their cause either. Greg Jennings (groin) is still unable to go full speed in practice and is likely to remain sidelined, while Cedric Benson's (foot) trip to IR depletes an already average run game and Jermichael Finley's injured shoulder (expect a game-time decision) could remove yet another option for Rodgers. Nevertheless, at 2-3 a wounded and backed-into-a-corner Packers offense led by Rodgers could go off on anyone at any point, so the likes of James Jones and Randall Cobb look valuable for fantasy use this week… Speaking of beaten and backed-against-the-wall teams, the Texans had a surprisingly difficult time dispatching with one last week, as the Jets gave them a run for their undefeated money. A serious test could be just what the doctor ordered though, as a visit from the Packers will force Houston to re-focus on what they do well. The return of Ben Tate (toe) to spell Arian Foster should help the Texans play their grind-it-out, ball control style more effectively against Green Bay's suspect run defense, and may re-open a Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson connection that's been largely M.I.A. since Week 1.

Predictions: Rodgers comes out firing and throws for 286 yards and touchdowns to Cobb, Donald Driver and D.J. Williams, but Alex Green and James Starks struggle to replace Benson, totaling just 54 yards between them. Schaub hits Johnson and Owen Daniels for scores in a 254-yard performance, while Foster rolls up 134 total yards and another rushing touchdown. Texans 27-24.

Denver (+1) @ San Diego, Monday 8:30 p.m.

Peyton Manning may not have the arm strength that he boasted four neck surgeries ago, but boy he sure is as good as ever. Since throwing three first-quarter interceptions in his last Monday Night Football appearance in Week 2 he's been mostly lights out, having passed for more than 330 yards in each of the past three games with eight total scores in that stretch. In averaging 301 yards per game, Mannning has made Demaryius Thomas a bona fide stud in both real and fantasy football, while Eric Decker is quickly becoming a consistent No. 2 opposite the freakishly athletic Thomas due in large part because of his chemistry with Manning. As sharp as Manning's been playing, if Willis McGahee can get going on the ground versus San Diego's 5th-ranked run defense, Denver should overcome their recent tendency to start slow on the road and could even open a big lead… The game playing in the Chargers backfield came to a close last week as Ryan Mathews put a stranglehold on the job with a dynamic 139-yard, one-score performance. Although he did that versus the league's worst run defense, Mathews proved that he is simply too talented to keep off the field. Now Mathews gets a Broncos team he's owned the past two years (at least 120 rushing yards in all three career meetings versus Denver) coming off a miserable showing in which they allowed 251 rushing yards, including 151 and two scores to Stevan Ridley. If Philip Rivers can keep Robert Meachem involved after the free agent addition caught his first two TD's last week, the Chargers offense might just have enough balance and firepower to keep pace with Manning in what could have the makings of an AFC West shootout.

Predictions: Mathews totals 144 yards and hits paydirt. Antonio Gates finally gets his first score of the season as Rivers also connects for one with Eddie Royal in a 246-yard showing. Manning out-gunslings Rivers as he throws for 320 yards and touchdowns to Thomas (2) and Jacob Tamme. McGahee chips in 61 and a score on the ground. Broncos 31-24.