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The NFL: Week 6

Cowboys (2-2) at Patriots (4-1)

4:15 p.m., Ch. 13

Patriots by 61/2, 55½

Do not be surprised if the Cowboys take advantage of a disappointing Patriots defense and make things uncomfortable in the fourth quarter. Then you should also not be surprised to see Tom Brady, above, and his mates finish off the Cowboys in the end because the Cowboys don't know how to finish. QB Tony Romo bears much of the guilt for that, not to mention a defense that can't seem to play four quarters. Another close Cowboys loss.

Patriots 30, Cowboys 27

Panthers (1-4) at Falcons (2-3)

1 p.m.

Falcons by 4, 50½

This is simply a bad matchup for the Falcons. For all of their investment in acquiring offensive playmakers the past few years (like, say, giving up a whole draft for WR Julio Jones, above), the Falcons still can't manage to stop teams. There are big plays to be made all day against Atlanta, and until coach Mike Smith finds a way to get some consistency from his defense, it will remain in a fragile state. Only reason it gets a slight edge here is it's at home.

Falcons 27, Panthers 24

Colts (0-5) at Bengals (3-2)

1 p.m.

Bengals by 7, 40½

Not long ago, it seemed hard to justify keeping Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, above. About the only reason that made sense was the Bengals' cheap ways made them hesitant about a replacement's cost. Now Lewis can lead his team to a third straight win, and Cincinnati very much expects to be in the playoff race. Its defense continues to shine, a cre­dit to sharp-minded coordinator Mike Zimmer and Lewis — himself a pretty bright defensive mind.

Bengals 23, Colts 17

49ers (4-1) at Lions (5-0)

1 p.m.

Lions by 4, 46½

You can make a compelling argument that this is the game of the week. The 49ers get the big stage for a change even while the Lions are still getting used to it. It's a matchup of QBs taken No. 1 overall, the Niners' Alex Smith (2005), above, and the Lions' Matt Stafford (2009). Here's what this game turns on: The Lions measure up defensively with a good San Francisco defense. If it comes down to a quarterback having to win it, Stafford's the pick.

Lions 28, 49ers 23

Rams (0-4) at Packers (5-0)

1 p.m.

Packers by 14, 47

We wish we could offer some hope for the Rams, but not today. They will, at some point, get their first win, but not today. What will happen is Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, with a lot of help from WR Greg Jennings, above, TE Jermichael Finley and whoever else wants to join the party, is going to have a very big day. The Packers defense has legitimate issues but mitigates that by forcing turnovers. Rams QB Sam Bradford had better watch out.

Packers 32, Rams 17

Bills (4-1) at Giants (3-2)

1 p.m., Ch. 10

Giants by 3½, 50½

Anyone foolish enough to wager on the Giants deserves to lose. The Giants are flat-out frustrating. They can play like contenders one week and suffer a double-digit loss to the Seahawks the next. The Giants' injury list is a concern, including DE Justin Tuck, G Chris Snee and RB Brandon Jacobs. If Bills RB Fred Jackson, above, can gash the Giants, he might buy Ryan Fitzpatrick enough time to throw downfield against a sometimes porous secondary.

Bills 24, Giants 23

Jaguars (1-4) at Steelers (3-2)

1 p.m.

Steelers by 12, 40

This is no game for a rookie quarterback, which the Jaguars have in Blaine Gabbert, above. He'll be ducking all kinds of blitzes cooked up by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and he'll get tired of dodging the oncoming mass of bodies. He'll start throwing the ball earlier than he'd like, and S Troy Polamalu will be all too willing to rack up another interception. Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew is playing well, but the Steelers won't let him beat them.

Steelers 29, Jaguars 17

Eagles (1-4) at Redskins (3-1)

1 p.m.

Eagles by 3, 47

Here's what we're thinking, readily admitting it might be flawed: The Eagles aren't as bad as you believe, and the Redskins aren't as good as they want to believe. The Eagles, in their defense, have played a tough schedule. That's not to say the Redskins are walkovers. But the Eagles have engaged in shootouts and stayed in them because of QB Michael Vick and RB LeSean McCoy, above. Not sure if the Redskins can keep pace in a scoring fest.

Eagles 27, Redskins 21

Texans (3-2) at Ravens (3-1)

4 p.m.

Ravens by 8, 44½

The Texans are hurting with DE Mario Williams out for the season and WR Andre Johnson very questionable (hamstring). Without them, they're still a formid­able team. But that might not be enough to offset a rested Ravens team coming off a bye. The Texans are much-improved on defense, but without Williams, you have to expect RB Ray Rice to be half-decent. QB Joe Flacco, above, certainly will have more time in the pocket, and that's a problem.

Ravens 26, Texans 24

Browns (2-2) at Raiders (3-2)

4 p.m.

Raiders by 6½, 44½

The Raiders still aren't knocking people's socks off on defense, but they're a force offensively. That should bode well for the Browns, but you have to wonder if they have enough offense to take advantage. It's more likely the Raiders' Darren McFadden, above, has his way with the Browns, adding to his league-high 519 rushing yards. Through the air, Darrius Heyward-Bey has 214 receiving yards in his past two games and is looking for more.

Raiders 29, Browns 21

Vikings (1-4) at Bears (2-3)

8:20 p.m., Ch. 8

Bears by 3, 42

Right now, the Bears are not a good team. QB Jay Cutler, above, is used to getting hit, which is good because DE Jared Allen is going to do a lot of that for the Vikings. Chicago's receivers aren't special, but that's okay because Minnesota's secondary isn't either. This will come down to the Bears, despite their numerous flaws, having more talent and playing at home. Bears RB Matt Forte could have a big day if his defense gets some stops.

Bears 24, Vikings 20

Dolphins (0-4) at Jets (2-3)

8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN

Jets by 7, 42½

The Dolphins have won four straight in New Jersey against the Jets. There's a case to be made they could make it five. Given how the Jets are playing offensively, it's hard to believe in them. RB Shonn Greene, above, needs to set the tone, but QB Mark Sanchez is inconsistent and unpredictable. The Jets better slow Miami WR Brandon Marshall — or hope he follows through with his ejection plan — if they want to escape unscathed.

Jets 23, Dolphins 17

The NFL: Week 6 10/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 15, 2011 8:31pm]

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