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Each Tuesday morning, Whatifsports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.
To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2010 NFL season.
Check out our 2010 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.
Game of the Week: Saints at Buccaneers
Week six in the NFL features a plethora of intriguing matchups on its slate. NFC hot-starts Philadelphia and Atlanta collide in the City of Brotherly Love, two Super Bowl candidates clash in Foxborough as the Patriots host the Ravens, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers battle the defending New Orleans Saints.
As in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who went 3-13 in 2009? Believe it, as Tampa Bay heads into the game 3-1 after defeating the Bengals 24-21 on a last-second Connor Barth field-goal. Expectations for 2010 were tempered, as Tampa Bay's squad was filled with youngins', has-beens, and never-wases. Yet a solid secondary, combined with the growth of quarterback Josh Freeman, has been a winning equation for Raheem Morris' roster.
Granted, critics will point to this 3-1 record as misleading, with the victories coming against an overrated Cincinnati squad and NFL weaklings Carolina and Cleveland. Statistics aren't necessarily kind to the Bucs either, as the Tampa rush defense is giving up 143.3 yards a contest, ranked 30th in the NFL. Furthermore, the offensive rushing attack has been somewhat stalled, averaging just 103.5 per game.
However, no one prognosticated Tampa with three wins through their first four games of the season. The Buccaneers have a relatively easy schedule, with matchups against the NFC West (7-12 combined), Carolina, Detroit, and Washington looming. Is it that far fetched the Bucs can eek out five wins against that motley crew? No matter how the season plays out, Tampa Bay fans can cherish their team's upstart for another week.
The same can not be said for New Orleans, who appear to be suffering symptoms of a Super Bowl hangover. Luck has not been on their side, as an injury outbreak has riddled their roster. A quick rundown of the infirmary report:
- Darren Sharper, last season's defensive leader, currently on the PUP list recovering from knee surgery.
- Reggie Bush, who had collected 260 receptions the past four seasons, out 5 weeks with a broken leg.
- Pierre Thomas, the team's leading rusher in 2009, has been dealing with ankle issues.
- Will Smith, who racked up 13 sacks in 2009, was inactive against Arizona with a groin injury.
- Drew Brees, who's been supporting a brace on a banged-up knee.
Injuries haven't been the only issue. Kicker Garrett Hartley was so abysmal in the first three games (4/7 on FG attempts) that 46-year-old John Carney was brought back to solidify the position. Furthermore, thanks to the injuries in the backfield, the infamous air assault of New Orleans has been hindered throughout the season.
Ironically enough, the biggest question mark is Brees, a player who has been the franchise's foundation since his arrival in 2006. Although he's remarked that the brace is a non-factor, the Super Bowl MVP looks uncomfortable moving in the pocket. If Brees can't regain his Pro Bowl form, New Orleans' title defense will surely be short-lived.
Yet one would be a fool to omit the Saints from playoff predictions. Sharper is set to return once coming off the PUP list, and the schedule eases up quite considerably for the Saints.
So who wins the matchup in this AFC South showdown? According to the WhatIfSports NFL simulation engine, the Bucs fall to the Saints 24-20, with New Orleans winning 70.9% of the time.
For the rest of week's matchups, check out the table below:
Please note we re-simulated the Browns, Eagles, Packers, Raiders, Saints and Vikings on 10/14
NFL Week 6
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||93.8||30||Simulate Game|
|@ New York Giants||93.6||30||Simulate Game|
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||81.4||28||Simulate Game|
|@ Green Bay Packers||68.3||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Chicago Bears||67.1||22||Simulate Game|
|Kansas City Chiefs||34.9||21||Boxscore|
|@ Houston Texans||65.1||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Minnesota Vikings||59.3||26||Simulate Game|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||56.9||24||Simulate Game|
|@ New England Patriots||50.5||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Washington Redskins||47.5||24||Simulate Game|
|New York Jets||61.1||22||Boxscore|
|@ Denver Broncos||38.9||20||Simulate Game|
|New Orleans Saints||70.9||24||Boxscore|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||29.1||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||19.4||18||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||95.0||35||Boxscore|
|@ St. Louis Rams||5.0||12||Simulate Game|
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.