GameSCOUT: AFC Contenders

With six games left in the regular season, here's a snapshot of Sunday's games involving the top playoff contenders in the AFC and Scout.com's predictions.

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) at Buffalo Bills (4-6)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

PREDICTION: Jaguars 19-13

With RB Willis McGahee's status uncertain as he recovers from broken ribs that sidelined him the past two games, the Bills need QB J.P. Losman to continue the progress he showed last week. But consistency could be hard to find against Jacksonville, especially if Jaguars DTs Marcus Stroud and John Henderson shut down the Bills' ground game and stick Losman in long passing situations. Offensively, the Jaguars will attempt to control field position and time of possession with RBs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. QB David Garrard continues to play well, but his receiving corps is a liability with WRs Matt Jones and Reggie Williams dropping far too many passes. The team's most consistent receiving threat has been Ernest Wilford, but his availability is in question after suffering an ankle injury Monday night.

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) at Baltimore Ravens (8-2)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

PREDICTION: Ravens 23-20

Ravens QB Steve McNair has averaged 253 passing yards with a 95.7 rating in four games since coach Brian Billick took over the play-calling. A big reason for McNair's improvement has been Billick's willingness to stick by the run even if Jamal Lewis is averaging under 4.0 yards per carry. Billick will look to establish the run again in an effort to set up play-action. Defensively, the Ravens want to force the game onto QB Ben Roethlisberger's arm. Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan has a "Steeler" defense that uses three linemen and five linebackers against Pittsburgh's two-back two-tight end set. With RB Willie Parker averaging just 50.6 rushing yards on the road, it will likely be up to Roethlisberger to move the ball, and he must avoid turnovers for the Steelers to stay within striking distance.

Oakland Raiders (2-8) at San Diego Chargers (8-2)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET

PREDICTION: Chargers 27-13

The uphill climb is a steep one for the Raiders, whose offense has scored 14 fewer touchdowns than Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson has managed by himself (22). QB Aaron Brooks provided a bit of a spark last weekend, but the Chargers sacked him seven times (and Andrew Walter twice more) in the season opener. Now Brooks is playing behind an injury-ravaged offensive line and without injured RB LaMont Jordan. Backup Justin Fargas must be productive on first and second down for Brooks to have a fighting chance. Defensively, the Raiders have the ability to keep the game respectable into the second half and Tomlinson has been held under 100 yards in four of the past five meetings. QB Philip Rivers has proven he can make teams pay when they over-play the run, but he has to be careful against an underrated Raiders defense that has 13 interceptions.

Chicago Bears (9-1) at New England Patriots (7-3)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET

PREDICTION: Patriots 20-16

The Patriots will be happy to set foot on the FieldTurf installed since the team's last home game. New England has to run the ball effectively, and the Bears have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of their past four games. Chicago's secondary can be vulnerable, but New England also doesn't want to over-expose QB Tom Brady to the Bears' deep and talented group of pass rushers. Chicago's offense will lean on its ground game, which produced a season-high 173 yards last weekend. Of course, the Bears offense will likely go only as far as QB Rex Grossman takes them -- which is a matter of whether Jekyll or Hyde shows up. The Patriots are still minus FS Rodney Harrison, but coach Bill Belichick is a master of devising game plans to confuse inexperienced quarterbacks -- and a few Grossman turnovers could swing the outcome.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (9-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:15 ET

PREDICTION: Colts 27-16

With RB Brian Westbrook showing no ill effects from 59 combined touches the past two games, he can expect another heavy workload Sunday night. QB Jeff Garcia makes his first start in place of Donovan McNabb and while he lacks the strong arm the Eagles prefer for their passing attack, he has been very effective utilizing running backs and tight ends in the passing game throughout his career. Putting together long drives is never a bad idea against the Colts. While the Eagles have held three of their past four opponents under 100 net yards passing, that's highly unlikely to continue against Peyton Manning & Co. Still, look for Indianapolis to test the ground game early on in an attempt to set up play-action, and the Eagles practiced in pads this week for the first time since the season started following a pitiful tackling performance against Tennessee.


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