Another week and another bad Thursday Night Football game. However, the rest of week six is upon us! The TWSN game preview crew is back to breakdown each game and predict the winners.
San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
These two teams enter this matchup feeling much different, yet the records show they are only a game apart. This is the norm in the NFL nowadays with a majority of teams sitting at 3-2 or 2-3 on the season. San Francisco may just have the best defensive unit around the NFL and will look to make life tough on Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota. This defense is fast and rallies to the football extremely well. If they can put on another show defensively, it will be a long day for Atlanta.
Now, on the flip side, the Falcons defense hasn’t been too shabby either. They can likely get 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a little rattled. If they can pressure him, he may struggle. It’ll be a battle between two good defenses and subpar offenses. However, despite being on the road, I like the 49ers in this one. The defense is too strong and should be able to handle the Falcons. — Matt Levine
Baltimore Ravens @ New York Giants
The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a key win on Sunday Night Football against the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals, taking control of the AFC North. Meanwhile, the Giants just put everyone on notice, beating the Green Bay Packers and improving to a 4-1 record.
New York is blitzing at the highest rate in the NFL, finding many creative ways to generate pressure. Blitzing Jackson was the recipe to success last year, but that hasn’t been the case so far this season, so it will be interesting to see how he handles that pressure. Not too mention, Don Martindale is the defensive coordinator for the Giants, and before this year, he spent a decade with the Baltimore Ravens.
Regardless, I think Jackson and the Ravens offense will make enough plays to win this game. The Giants offense has played well, but with Daniel Jones and a lack of receivers, I don’t think they have the ammo to truly punish this Ravens secondary that has had loads of problems. — Aidan Maher
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are always a threat with Tom Brady at the helm. The team has had it’s fair share of disappointments this season, however. Dropping games to the Packers and Chiefs, the Bucs are not as dominant as they were. They are still a very good team though. They will have the next two weeks against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers to get it together before entering the gauntlet round of their schedule.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled this season, as expected. Moral should be on the rise though, with Kenny Pickett taking over under center and showing immense potential. He will be tested the upcoming weeks, with games against the Bucs, Dolphins, Eagles, Bengals, and Ravens spread over the next two months. Pickett is becoming the golden child of Pittsburgh, and he will need to do a lot to make this week competitive. Bucs all day here. — Tyler Paluzzi
Minnesota Vikings @ Miami Dolphins
The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a game where they started off hot against the Chicago Bears. Kirk Cousins led three straight touchdown drives and finished the game completing 32-of-41 passes for 296 yards. Dalvin Cook finished with 94 yards and two touchdowns, and Justin Jefferson had a huge day through the air with 12 receptions for 154 yards. They had the 21-3 lead, but they allowed the Bears to keep the game close and score 19 unanswered points before the Vikings scored a touchdown late to win. Still, this Vikings’ offense has been efficient and can make splash plays at any moment. Jefferson, Cook, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn will be difficult for the Dolphins to defend. Currently, the Dolphins defense is giving up an average of 26.2 points per game and 8.3 yards per attempt through the air. They will need Xavien Howard back in the secondary to try and slow down the passing attack, if not, they will need guys like Melvin Ingram, Jerome Baker, and Emanuel Ogbah to get pressure on Cousins.
For the Dolphins with Tua Tagovailoa still out, it will be rookie Skylar Thompson getting the start. Last week against the New York Jets, he only completed 57.6% of his passes for 166 yards and threw an interception. If Thompson again struggles to get the ball to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle the approach should be to lean on the run game. Last week, Raheem Mostert stepped up to run for 113 yards on 18 attempts. The Vikings defense has been susceptible to the run, allowing 602 yards and eight touchdowns.
With the Vikings’ offense, they should be able to exploit the weaknesses in coverage the Dolphins have had as well as rattle Thompson as he still adjusts. This game will be closer than some may think, but the Vikings should win. — Marissa Myers
New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns
A battle of 2-3 teams will be showcased in Cleveland. Both come in with some questions and need this game to try and get back on track. Backup Bailey Zappe has come in and played well for the Patriots, maybe a little too well. He likely won’t contend for the starting job over Mac Jones, but the questions do need to be asked. If Jones can’t go again, Zappe will be up. He helped lead his team to an impressive win last week and has looked strong and in control of the offense.
As for the Browns, they continue to be in close games. This one will likely be no different as these teams are close on paper. I give an edge to the home team due to location but I think New England finds a way to pull this game out. — Matt Levine
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
An AFC South showdown. In week two, the Jaguars picked up a dominating 24-0 victory over the Colts. Since then, Jacksonville has really slowed down, and Indianapolis has remained anemic on offense. The Colts will hope to get Jonathan Taylor and the run game back up and running. It’s the heart and soul of their offense, and it would really help open things up through the air, but the Colts have struggled to run the ball thus far.
On the flipside, the play of Trevor Lawrence is the obvious X-Factor for Jacksonville’s offense. He’s struggled over the past couple weeks, but the flashes are absolutely there. His aggressive playstyle leads to many ups and downs, so it’s tough to get an exact read on how he’ll play. Look for the Colts defense to send some blitzes Lawrence’s way, as he’s struggled against pressure. It’s a bit of an unpredictable matchup, but off a week and a half of rest, I like the Colts to get a bounceback win at home after their embarrassing loss in Jacksonville earlier this season. — Aidan Maher
Cincinnati Bengals @ New Orleans Saints
Both teams enter this game below .500, with disappointing starts to the season. No Marshon Lattimore is a big absence for New Orleans defense, as he adds to their list of injuries. The Bengals offense has been underwhelming this season, and getting Ja’Marr Chase more involved out of the slot will be key. He’s their best playmaker, and his route tree has been severely limited so far this season. I like the Bengals to pick up a bounce back road win in this spot. — Aidan Maher
New York Jets @ Green Bay Packers
The New York Jets have started to prove themselves, turning some naysayers into believers. However, there is still a lot of hate in the media and the NFL fanbase towards this Jets’ franchise. A win against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field would all but put these haters to bed. Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed are arguably the best cornerback duo in the league, Zach Wilson is doing what is needed and overcame adversity when needed, and Breece Hall is explosive. The Jets time is now, and if they can win the Packers and take two of their next three, the playoffs are in the realm of possibility.
On the other hand, the Green Bay Packers are on the heels of a loss to the New York Giants in London. Looking to avoid the New York sweep, Aaron Rodgers has the home field on this upstart Jets team. The Packers are getting into a few rough patches in their schedule, so a win against the Jets is a must in order to keep steady in the race for the NFC North. The duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon continues to produce from the backfield. Rashan Gary has been the focal point on the other side of the ball, racking up five sacks. He will need to be a disruptor in the pass game to allow the Packers an advantage. Give me the Jets to continue their strong start to the season. — Tyler Paluzzi
Carolina Panthers @ Los Angeles Rams
Matt Rhule is gone. Fans have been calling for his head all season, and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper finally severed ties. Now, Carolina is staring down the barrel of a rebuild. They bought in too fast, and the team is in shambles. For Panthers fans, this may be the last week you watch Christian McCaffery and DJ Moore, so enjoy it while it lasts. That might be hard; however, because they are taking on the Los Angeles Rams.
The defending Super Bowl champions are having their own problems. After beating the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals, they have dropped two in a row to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. Matthew Stafford continues to struggle and the run game has been non-existent. The bright spot is Cooper Kupp, who is putting together another insane season. They should be able to lean on Kupp and their defense in this matchup, but this is a good game to start a turning point for the Rams if they want to even make the playoffs. I like Los Angeles here. — Tyler Paluzzi
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
The Cardinals and Seahawks both enter this divisional matchup at 2-3. Seattle quarterback Geno Smith has been one of the NFL’s most pleasant surprises. He’s making plays both through the air and the ground, all while avoiding turnovers. This game has quite the wide range of spectrum. It’s either teams game to win, and scoring could be all over the place. Based off how well Geno Smith has played, and how poor Seattle’s defense has played, this game could be an absolute shootout. However, if Arizona’s offense continues to struggle, and Geno Smith comes down to earth, this game could a lot more low-scoring than anticipated. — Aidan Maher
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs
Here. We. Go. After the thrilling playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, the teams meet again as both are playing at the top of their games. The Chiefs are coming off a close win on Monday over the Las Vegas Raiders, where Patrick Mahomes went 29-of-43 for 265 yards and four touchdowns. All four touchdowns were to Travis Kelce. So far this season, Mahomes has adjusted to taking more of what the defense is giving him as only 9.5% of his passing attempts have gone for 20-plus yards, the ninth lowest in the NFL. That has mostly to do with this new receiving group the Bills will face without Tyreek Hill. Even with getting pressure on Mahomes last year, he was still able to extend plays to find someone down field. That is where Von Miller comes in for the Bills. He will look to help contain Mahomes in the pocket with Greg Rousseau. The duo have combined for eight sacks and 20 pressures this season.
Josh Allen and the Bills, on the other hand, are coming off a blowout win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, so much so that Allen finished the game completing 20-of-31 passes for 424 yards and four touchdowns without even playing the entire game. The offense for the Bills saw Gabe Davis return back to full health and make an impact downfield as he hauled in three receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns. The last time Davis faced the Chiefs in the playoffs, he gave their secondary trouble as he had eight receptions for 201 yards and four touchdowns. If they try to take Davis away this time, there is still Stefon Diggs who has 39 receptions for 508 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Last week against the Raiders, the Chiefs allowed an average of 21.3 yards per reception to wide receivers. If they go all in on stopping the downfield passes, Allen and new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey have shown the ability to adjust and take underneath passes. That is shown with Devin Singletary seeing more action as a pass catcher with 18 receptions for 145 yards. All in all, the Chiefs will need to find some way to get their secondary ready because on the season they’ve allowed 12 touchdowns to only one interception and a completion percentage of 69.3%.
Both Allen and Mahomes are the top and second best quarterbacks when under pressure. This should be another high scoring game between the two. This time though, the Bills have the extra help on the edge in Miller that they were missing in the playoffs. That extra help will be what secures the Bills a close victory in Arrowhead. — Marissa Myers
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
A game that many fans around the NFL have been waiting for. The 4-1 Cowboys head to Philadelphia to take on the undefeated Eagles. Cooper Rush will likely still be at quarterback for Dallas and he still hasn’t lost a game as a NFL starter. This will likely be his toughest test yet as he faces an Eagles team with a very talented defense. He will need to play the game of his life for his team to win.
While the Eagles are the best team in the NFL right now, they do have some cracks in their armour. They have had some close games but found ways to pull it out. Against a tough defense like Dallas, Philadelphia won’t be able to afford any mistakes. This should be a fun matchup and I’m rolling with the Eagels here to stay undefeated. Fly Eagles fly! — Matt Levine
Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers
It has not been a great start to the Russell Wilson era with the Denver Broncos, and things didn’t get any better against the Indianapolis Colts. Wilson went 21-of-39 for 274 yards, but their red zone woes continued, and they couldn’t score at all. On the season, they have the lowest red zone percentage at 21.4%. Through the air, Courtland Sutton continues to be the top receiver for Wilson, as last week he saw a 28.9% target share, with the next being Jerry Jeudy with 21%. With Javonte Williams out for the season, Melvin Gordon is now the lead running back, and he will have to play a huge role. The Chargers are allowing a league-high 5.8 yards per attempt.
The Chargers finally got their run game going last week, Austin Ekeler had an average of 10.8 yards per carry and finished with 173 yards. While it’s not as much as the Chargers are giving up, the Broncos defense has been moderately susceptible to the run, allowing the 12th most rushing yards per game with 4.7. The Broncos strong suit has been their pass defense, allowing only 883 yards, the lowest in the league, on 107 completions. But, this secondary took a hit last week, with Ronald Darby suffering a torn ACL against the Colts. Mike Williams got most of Justin Herbert’s attention last week with Keenan Allen out, as Williams made up 10 receptions of the team’s 22 in total. If Allen is out again, Williams will draw the attention of Patrick Surtain II.
With Wilson battling shoulder discomfort, they will likely lean on the run game more. In a matchup with the Chargers and Justin Herbert, who can find creative ways to score that is not ideal if the Broncos can’t fully match that. Look for the Chargers to come out on top Monday night. — Marissa Myers