Can the defending Super Bowl champions slow down the league’s hottest offense? That’s one of the questions on the table in today’s Week Six games on the National Football League schedule.
The San Francisco 49ers humbled the New York Jets, 34-0, in the New Jersey Meadowlands, than pummeled the Buffao Bills, 45-3, at home last week. Two monster offensive games stamps the Niners as the league’s hottest team even though undefeated Houston and Atlanta have better records.
The Giants will visit Candlestick Park today in the headliner of a very attractive midseason schedule.
Elsewhere, Green Bay, which went 15-1 in 2011 but is a disappointment so far, poses the stiffest test yet for the unbeaten Texans in Houston. The Texans finally broke through and made the playoffs last season. Now they are looked on by many as the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl next February.
Last year’s Super Bowl loser, New England, is another team on a roll. The Patriots, though, could have their hands full against a stingy and very physical Seahawks defense in Seattle.
It’s early, but Denver’s game at San Diego figures to go a long way towards determining the eventual winner of the AFC West. A Broncos win would leave the teams tied at 3-3 for the division lead, and ahead of the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, who have been unimpressive so far to say the least.
A look at the schedule:
Game of the day
Giants (3-2) at 49ers (4-1)
TV: Ch. 29, 4:15 p.m.
The line: 49ers (-6ø).
The scoop: Rematch of last season’s NFC championship game, won by Giants, 20-17. in overtime after fumble on punt return by Kyle Williams of Niners. ... Giants fans and media crying about team’s defense and lack of pass rush (no sacks against lowly Browns last week). Spoiled Big Blue followers don’t know what bad defense really looks like. Ask any Bills fan. ... Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (200 yards) and Victor Cruz (3 TD catches) coming off huge games against Cleveland. ... Niners set franchise record with 621 yards against sorry Bills’ ‘D’ last week.
Outlook: Giants defense responds to criticism in big way, but home team wins, 28-27.
Packers (2-3) at Texans (5-0)
TV: Ch. 2, 8:20 p.m.
The line: Texans (-3ø).
The scoop: Toughest test yet for Houston. Texans are allowing only 14.6 points and 275.6 yards. ... Green Bay blew big lead and lost at Indy last week while Texans hung on for six-point win at Jets on Monday night. ... Matt Schaub of Texans has thrown for 8 TDs. Aaron Rodgers of Pack has 10. Schaub has 13-3 TD-INT ratio in his last nine starts, all wins.
Outlook: Packers struggling. Loss here puts them in deep trouble. Houston, 27-20.
Patriots (3-2) at Seahawks (3-2)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.
The line: Patriots (-3ø).
The scoop: Seattle, not Buffalo, may have best front four in league. It will be interesting to see if former Pats coach Pete Carroll’s pass rush (16 sacks) can slow down Tom Brady and New England offense that is averaging 33 points per game. ... Also can Seattle hang in with conservative game plan – lots of Marshawn Lynch and few passes? Seahawks have attempted fewest passes (on average) of any NFL team with rookie Russell Wilson at the controls.
Outlook: Upset here would not be surprising. If Pats win, they will have to earn it. New England, 23-17.
Broncos (2-3) at Chargers (3-2)
TV: ESPN, 8:30 p.m., Monday
The line: Chargers (pick ‘em).
The scoop: AFC West champion probably will be one of these two. ... Broncos’ comeback fell short at Patriots last week. So did Bolts’ rally against the New Orleans Breeses. ... Denver won at SD last season in midst of magical Tim Tebow run in late season. Broncos QB Peyton Manning rounding into form. He has eight TDs and no interceptions in last three games.
Outlook: When games are close, Chargers usually lose. Denver, 34-31.
Best of the rest
Bills (2-3) at Cardinals (4-1)
TV: Ch. 4, 4 p.m.
The line: Cardinals (-4).
The scoop: Cards going for ninth straight home win, which would tie franchise record set in 1925, when team was located in Chicago. ... Arizona has given up 23 sacks already and is averaging only 63.4 rushing yards per game and just 2.7 per attempt. ... Ex-Bill Frank Reich coaches talented Arizona receiving corps. ... Red Birds schedule gets brutal after this with roadies at Vikings, Packers and Falcons and home versus Niners coming up.
Outlook: Cards can’t run but talented WRs Fitzgerald, Roberts, Doucet and rookie Floyd and TE Housler, ex-Starpoint athlete, should shred Bills secondary no matter who starts at QB. Arizona, 33-21.
Raiders (1-3) at Falcons (5-0)
Kickoff: 1 p. m.
The line: Falcons (-9).
The scoop: Oakland coming off bye week. Atlanta squeaked by Washington, 24-17. for first 5-0- start in franchise history. ... Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has 13 TDs and 106.1 passer rating so far and TE Tony Gonzalez leads league with 39 receptions. ... Raiders a big disappointment so far under young rookie head coach Dennis Allen.
Outlook: Oakland has given up 31 or more points last three games and has been outscored 72-19 in two road games so far. Can’t see Raiders stopping Ryan, WRs Julio Green and Roddy White and RB Michael Turner. Atlanta, 41-17.
Cowboys (2-2) at Ravens (4-1)
TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.
The line: Ravens (-3ø).
The scoop: Baltimore is 3-0 all-time against Cowboys. ... Ravens won FG duel, 9-6, at Kansas City last week. Cowboys had bye after 34-18 home rout by Bears. ... Baltimore have won last 13 regular season games at home.
Outlook: Souped-up Ravens offense averaging nearly 400 yards a game, but Dallas is allowing only 277.5. ... Baltimore, 24-16.
Bengals (3-2) at Browns (0-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Bengals (-2ø).
The scoop: This one wraps up season series between AFC North rivals. Bengals took the first, 34-27. ... Cleveland led, 17-7, at Giants last week, then gave up 20 points in last 6:46 of first half and went to locker room down, 27-17. Gritty Browns can’t afford turnovers and penalties. ... Bengals took a disappointing loss versus Miami after winning three in a row.
Outlook: Browns have chance to end 11-game losing streak, but ... Bengals, 27-17.
Rams (3-2) at Dolphins (2-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Dolphins (-4ø).
The scoop: Except for Vikings, Rams are most improved team in league, and Dolphins are getting better each week. They’ve zoomed past the disappointing Bills. Two of Miami’s losses were in OT. ... Rams rookie K Greg Zuerlein is 13 for 13 so far with four FGs 53 yards or longer. Dolphins K Dan Carpenter is only 6 for 10 and has cost Fish couple of games already.
Outlook: Under Jeff Fisher, Rams are revived but early afternoon start in Miami’s heat and humidity favors Fish. Dolphins 17-10.
Colts (2-2) at Jets (2-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Jets (-3ø).
The scoop: League got a preview of what life is going to be like for next decade with Andrew Luck at QB for Indy. He directed final drive for upset of Packers last week. Luck hooked up with Reggie Wayne for 13 completions in that one. QB-receiver combo may turn out to be better than Unitas-to-Berry and Manning-to-Harrison in Colts annals. ... Jets made Texans look a little ordinary before losing, 23-16, Monday night, but they have developing quarterback controversy on their hands.
Outlook: Another step in Luck’s development. Colts, 27-24.
Lions (1-3) at Eagles (3-2)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Eagles (-3ø).
The scoop: Eagles coach Andy Reid (3-0) never has lost to Lions. ... Detroit losing despite averaging 412.3 yards total offense. Lions had bye last week while Eagles lost on last-play FG at Pittsburgh. ... Game features two of NFL’s most exciting WRs, Calvin Johnson of Lions (29 catches, 14.5 average) and Eagles DeSean Jackson (24, 16.3).
Outlook: After making playoffs last year, Lions have fallen back a step. Eagles, 31-21.
Vikings (4-1) at Redskins (2-3)
Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.
The line: No line.
The scoop: Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier is already 2-0 against Redskins as head coach in just his third season. ... Vikings already have surpassed 2011 win total (3-13). Second-year QB Christian Ponder is completing 69 percent and has 6-2 TD-INT ratio. WR Percy Harvin is second in league with 38 catches and defense has 14 sacks. ... Redskins’ coach Mike Shanahan again has turned a low draft pick (Alfred Morris from Florida Atlantic) into a productive RB. Rookie is second in NFC with 491 rushing yards, 4.9 average and four TDs.
Outlook: Redskins are dangerous, but Vikings look like they’re for real. Minnesota has chance to go 7-1 in first half if they win this one. Minny, 30-24.
Dog of the day
Chiefs (1-4) at Buccaneers (1-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Buccaneers (-4).
The scoop: K.C. fans will have to boo their injured Chiefs from afar this week. Brady Quinn will probably start at QB in place of Matt Cassel (concussion). Quinn made first appearance in a game since 2009 last week after Cassel was injured. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles leads NFL with 551 rushing yards. ... Bucs, who had bye last week, have lost last three and are averaging only 276 yards per game on offense.
Outlook: Chiefs fans are even more demoralized than Bills followers. K.C. limited Ravens to three FGs last week. No reason why they can’t shut down Bucs. Chiefs, 17-14.
Last week’s results: 10-3 outright, 7-6 versus spread. Season’s record: 39-33 outright, 30-39-3 versus spread.