There are some predictions that are too bold. They defy logic. Why would anyone draw this specific conclusion?
Somewhat like projecting that Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott wouldn’t have an interception in his first five career starts. Too bold, right? Never going to happen.
That’s what makes this whole NFL thing so fun. It also leads us to the point of this article.
From what should be an interesting 2016 starting debut for Colin Kaepernick in Buffalo to a battle between two disappointing teams in New Orleans, here are 10 bold predictions for Week 6 of the NFL season.
1. Colin Kaepernick scores three touchdowns in return
Kaepernick will be making his first start since the midway point of last season. It’s hard to believe he’s actually getting another shot after all that’s transpired since that last start.
It’s also nearly impossible to look at Kaepernick and remember what he did in 2012 and 2013. That seems like ages ago. Now, he’s taking over a talentless offense under a head coach that runs an offensive system that should be to his liking. The end result here likely being mixed results.
But look for Kaepernick to come out on fire Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills. He’s 100 percent for the first time in over a year. He’s now familiar with this spread scheme Kelly runs. And in reality, Kaepernick himself has a whole lot to prove here.
Taking on a Bills defense that has been tremendous against the pass, look for Kaepernick and fellow backfield partner Carlos Hyde to take it to the ground. It’s in this that the 49ers might have success.
Don’t be surprised of Kaepernick goes for two scores on the ground, including one of his long scampers in this one. Add in a passing touchdown, and it would make for a heck of a 2016 debut.
2. Dak Prescott vastly outplays Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau
Aaron Rodgers past five home starts: 4 interceptions
Previous 20 home starts before that: 2 interceptions pic.twitter.com/mGmUp5NRI9
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) October 13, 2016
The aura of invincibility just isn’t there with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field anymore. It could have been San Francisco going in there in sub-zero temperature and coming away with a win back in January of 2014. But it just doesn’t exist on the same grand level that it did in the past.
In addition to Rodgers’ numbers becoming a bit more human-like, the Packers are no longer unbeatable in front of the cheese heads. They boast a 3-3 record at Lambeau since that epic meltdown against the Chicago Bears last Thanksgiving.
On the other hand, the young Cowboys have proven themselves more than capable of going on the road and winning. They are 2-0 away from Big D on the season and are averaging 25.5 points in those two road dates.
It’s going to be much different than having to play in D.C. or Santa Clara. That much can’t be denied, but rookie quarterback Dak Prescott seems to have ice water running through his veins. He’s yet to throw an interception in 155 pass attempts, and is just six shy of Tom Brady’s mark to start a career. Not bad company to hold right here.
Meanwhile, fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott is putting on a show we haven’t seen from a first-year back since Adrian Peterson back in 2007.
First 5 NFL games.
Adrian Peterson: 96 attempts, 607 yards, four TDs
Ezekiel Elliott: 109 attempts, 546 yards, 5 TDs pic.twitter.com/fZrfoX0JwF
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) October 13, 2016
Sure Green Bay boasts the best run defense in the NFL. Sure this is going to be completely out of the Cowboys’ climate. Sure Lambeau is still a difficult place to play. But what we’ve seen from these two teams thus far this season, there’s no reason to believe Dallas can’t go into Wisconsin and come away with a win.
If that were to happen, it would have to include Prescott outplaying his future Hall of Fame counterpart.
3. Carlos Dunlap gets to Tom Brady for three sacks
New England Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon promises to have his hands full against this monstrous Cincinnati Bengals EDGE rusher. Over the course of his past 21 games, the former Pro Bowler has recorded 17.5 sacks. This season alone, Dunlap has put up four in just five games.
Meanwhile, Cannon missed last week’s game with a calf injury. That’s surely something that could slow him down from a lower-body standpoint. If so, expect Dunlap to take full advantage with his speed off the edge. If Cannon can’t play, that pushes a backup into his role.
It might not be enough for Cincinnati to break out of its early-season funk, but we should expect a huge game form Dunlap here.
4. Alex Smith goes for 300 yards and three scores
Alex Smith, three starts in Oakland as a member of the Chiefs: 68.0 comp %, 10 TDs, 0 INTs, 133.7 rating pic.twitter.com/r5JS59wKY9
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) October 13, 2016
The Oakland Raiders’ pass defense has been absolutely atrocious all season. Atrocious in the how the heck are the Raiders 4-1 kinda way.
It ranks dead last in yards per game (330.6), 29th in touchdowns allowed (12) and 31st in yards per attempt (8.8). Opposing signal callers also boast a 103.1 quarterback rating against this unit.
Needless to say, Smith has himself a nice little matchup here. It’s also important to note Oakland’s elite-level offense forces opposing quarterbacks to toss the ball around the schoolyard like Jason Kidd in his heyday.
Quarterbacks are averaging a league-high 38.1 passes per game against this defense. That should give Smith ample opportunity to put up some big numbers, especially if the Chiefs are forced to play from behind. Add in his success in Oakland since joining the AFC West, and everything seems to be aligning for a massive statistical output here.
5. Carson Wentz throws two picks … To Josh Norman
This rookie No. 2 overall pick had his first somewhat pedestrian game this past week, throwing the first pick of his career in a narrow loss to the Detroit Lions.
Though, it must be noted before we move forward that Wentz played small role in the loss. He still completed 25-of-33 passes with two touchdowns. Instead, it was all about a couple dumb penalties on defense that sent the Eagles to their first loss of the campaign.
Wentz’s confidence remains sky high. He’s now taking more chances down the field. This has led to a decrease in targets for Jordan Matthews, who was thrown to 23 times in the first two games. Since then, Matthews has seen the ball seven times in two games.
Expect that to change come Sunday. As Wentz’s confidence grows, he will be spraying the ball around the field, potentially even forcing it into tight windows to his top receiver. If so, Norman will be ready to pounce.
Norman is coming off a Week 5 performance that saw him targeted just three times, yielding one catch for nine yards in the process. He has one interception on limited targets on the season and has almost picked off a couple more passes.
Should Norman see a bunch of balls thrown his way, as we suspect, two interceptions off the rookie wouldn’t be too surprising.
6. Richard Sherman picks off Matt Ryan twice
Speaking of elite corners, don’t mess with the 2016 version of Richard Sherman. New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick learned this first hand in Seattle’s last game back in Week 4.
After the Jets’ starter had success throwing to Brandon Marshall in the first half, Sherman intercepted two passes intended for the Pro Bowler. The last one pretty much clinched a Seattle win.
First off, let’s not sit here and compare this year’s version of Matt Ryan to Fitzpatrick. That would be about as crazy as believing the Patriots have a better chance with Julian Edelman at quarterback than they do with Tom Brady slinging the cowhide.
It’s still important to note that Ryan has made it clear through his play that he’s not going to avoid top-end corners simply because of the names on their jersey. That could be his first mistake come Sunday afternoon in Seattle.
Sherman isn’t your normal elite corner. He’s not Marcus Peters. He’s better than Desmond Trufant. And he sure the heck won’t shy away from top receivers like Josh Norman. He’s in his own world here.
The All Pro has allowed 95 passing yards when targeted in four games. That’s an average of less than one yard per coverage snap. And when targeted, Sherman has compiled two interceptions and another three passes defended. Amazing stuff right here.
Don’t expect Ryan to shy away from Julio Jones like he did last week. While it might have worked against the Denver Broncos, we know full well the Falcons want to get Jones involved here. Two receptions for 29 yards on six targets simply won’t work.
If that’s the case, we can fully expect Sherman to be in play for multiple interceptions in this one. Expect him to take full advantage.
7. Brian Hoyer puts up fourth consecutive 300-yard game
What Hoyer has done thus far this season is nothing short of extraordinary. In three starts, he’s completing over 70 percent of his passes for 1,000-plus yards with six touchdowns and zero picks. When targeting the underrated tandem of Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, Hoyer is completing 38-of-42 passes during this span.
Add in the excellent play of rookie Jordan Howard since starting Bears running back Jeremy Langford was injured, and there’s definitely some reason for optimism in Chicago. Whether that’s long-lived is anyone’s guess.
What we do know is that Hoyer should have some solid success against a lackluster Jacksonville Jaguars defense come Sunday afternoon. Jacksonville has yielded eight passing touchdowns compared to three interceptions for a 92.7 opposing quarterback rating in four games.
Better numbers than last season, but most definitely not where Gus Bradley wants his defense to be. Look for another tremendous outing form Hoyer as he cements his status as the Bears starter, potentially pushing Jay Cutler out the door in the process.
8. Dolphins hand Steelers jaw-dropping loss
This seems utterly absurd. But some bold predictions have to be a bit absurd on the surface. What if we were to tell you that Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers would go into South Beach on Sunday and come away with their tails between their legs? Would that be enough for you to discount our predictions the rest of the way?
Well, it’s happening here. Right here, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sure Pittsburgh is averaging 37 points and 437 yards of offense over the past two games. Sure the Dolphins head into Week 6 with just one win and on the verge of completing imploding.
In an NFL where we have learn to expect the unexpected, a win here by Miami wouldn’t even be the most-shocking event of the young season. Pittsburgh’s last road game resulted in an embarrassing 34-3 loss to Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dating all the way back to the start of the 2013 season, the Steelers boast an even 13-13 mark on the road. During that very same span, they are 20-7 at home. Needless to say, Mike Tomlin’s squad is a much different team away from Pittsburgh.
Then you have Miami’s somewhat intriguing ability to stay competitive with superior teams. On the road for the first two games of the season, the Dolphins lost one-score affairs to both the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.
That Patriots game in particular is what should interest us here. Miami fell down 31-3 midway through the third quarter before scoring three consecutive touchdowns to pull to within seven with just over six minutes left.
It’s this ability to stay competitive that should give downtrodden Dolphins fans reason for hope come Sunday. It’s also in this that we’re going to project a shocking win for the home team.
9. Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray combine for 300 rushing yards
The Cleveland Browns are yielding an average of 114.2 rushing yards per game. The Tennessee Titans rank second in the NFL in rushing offense at 148.6 per outing. We really don’t need to look much further than this to suggest that the Titans are going to have success on the ground come Sunday.
Though, recency bias tells us a story of a Titans rushing attack that’s been absolutely dominating of late. Last week against the Dolphins, Tennessee put up an absurd 235 rushing yards.
The two-headed running back tandem of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry combined for 175 yards on 36 attempts. Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota put up 60 himself. This came one week after Miami yielded just 77 rushing yards to the Cincinnati Bengals.
As appealing as it might sound for the Titans to attempt to take advantage of a weak Browns pass defense, they simply need to run it down Cleveland’s throats. Should that happen, there’s no reason to believe Tennessee won’t dominate in this area.
10. Drew Brees and the Saints hand Panthers another loss
The Carolina Panthers are playing for their season. Since the AFL-NFL merger back in 1966, only two teams have earned a playoff spot after starting 1-5. It’s in this that many expect Carolina to go into New Orleans and take care of business against the Saints.
Not so fast. Despite the Saints’ horrendous defense over the past two-plus seasons, reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton hasn’t exactly performed at a high level in the track field that is the Superdome during his career.
He boasts just a 3-2 career record in New Orleans. That’s most definitely something to keep an eye on here.
Also important to note, Drew Brees has continued to have success against the Panthers in New Orleans. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns compared to four interceptions in his past five home starts against the Panthers.
With Carolina struggling on defense and the Saints coming out of a bye, look for Brees to have a big game here. If so, New Orleans could very well send Carolina fishing before even the midway point of the season.