After six weeks of the 2013 NFL regular season, only two teams are undefeated. This has thrown every fan, analyst and oddsmaker for a loop, as what's been expected simply hasn't been what's transpired.
The question is, which teams will win the games with the most significant long-term impact?
Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 20
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Prediction: 35-31, Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles enter Week 7 with a share of the NFC East lead at 3-3. Both teams have displayed signs of inconsistency, and both have also shown flashes of postseason potential.
Whichever team wins this meeting will be in full control of the division.
Dallas is 0-2 on the road but does own wins over the New York Giants, St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins to build some form of stock in the NFC. The Cowboys lost by just one point at the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and fell 51-48 to the unbeaten Denver Broncos.
Hate them or love them, Dallas has looked more impressive than any other team in the lowly NFC East.
Philadelphia has a bit of a quarterback controversy but has won two consecutive games after dropping three in a row entering Week 5. In his first start under head coach Chip Kelly, Nick Foles was 22-of-31 for 296 passing yards and four total touchdowns.
It doesn't hurt that Philadelphia has the top rushing attack in the NFL.
Neither team has looked like a Super Bowl contender, but we are just six weeks in. In this clash, expect the short-handed Cowboys to pick up a much-needed win by finally proving they can win consecutive games and be an above-.500 team.
Just don't expect to see any defense.
New England Patriots (5-1) at New York Jets (3-3)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 20
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Prediction: 28-19, Patriots
The New England Patriots capitalized on a lack of discipline by the New Orleans Saints to earn an improbable win during Week 6. The New York Jets fell in their most recent game but are still a 3-3 football team that is just two games off of the division lead.
Whether you believe in New York or not, the AFC East is still up for grabs, and this game will have a drastic long-term impact.
The Patriots were seconds away from falling to 4-2, but Tom Brady found Kenbrell Thompkins on a 17-yard touchdown pass with five seconds remaining to win in Week 6. It was a gutsy performance by a Pats team that is still without tight end Rob Gronkowski.
With a potential loss at the Jets, a one-game cushion would be quite uncomfortable.
The Jets lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers during Week 6 but own wins over the likes of the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons. Furthermore, the Jets lost by just three points during their first meeting with the Patriots.
All in all, this game promises to be one with extreme long-term importance.
New England will emerge victorious, mainly due to the quarterback battle between Brady and rookie Geno Smith. After New York shut Brady down during Week 2, expect him to come out firing and post numbers that Smith simply can't match at this stage of his career.
It'll be a battle, but New England will create a bit of separation in the AFC East.
Denver Broncos (6-0) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Date: Sunday, Oct 20
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: 34-27, Broncos
In what is the most highly anticipated game of the 2013 regular season, Peyton Manning will return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since joining the Denver Broncos. Manning and the 6-0 Broncos will take on the 4-1 Indianapolis Colts, creating an atmosphere filled with tension, excitement and nostalgia.
In the end, Manning will remind the world of who it is that dominated Lucas Oil for the past decade-plus.
Denver enters this game at 6-0 after defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 35-19 during Week 6. It was Denver's least impressive all-around performance of the season, but Knowshon Moreno had 104 yards of total offense and three rushing touchdowns to quiet the critics.
Moreno now has seven rushing scores through six games.
Indianapolis is 4-2 with wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. This well-balanced squad will look to earn its third win of the season over the top three preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl.
If the Colts succeed, we won't be able to do anything but label Indianapolis as a favorite.
The key here will be the battle that fans have been waiting to see since Manning was released by the Colts: Peyton versus Andrew Luck. Thus far, Manning has 2,179 yards, 22 touchdowns and two interceptions on 74.2 percent passing through six games, while Luck has 1,144 yards, seven scores and two picks.
Manning leads all full-time starting quarterbacks in every single one of those categories and, in the end, will walk away with a close win over his former team. Prepare for a memorable bout.
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