`It feels like I say this every week, but week six could really be the time we separate the contenders from the pretenders. We have several intriguing matchups on slate for this week, which does make it extremely hard to predict. Nevertheless, this should be an extremely exciting week of football, and without further adieu, let’s predict every game!
TNF: Giants (2-3) at Patriots (5-0)
Spread Pick: NE (-17)
Over/Under Pick: Over (41)
Score Prediction: Giants 10 Pats 38
Without tight end Evan Engram, receiver Sterling Shepard, and running backs Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman, can Daniel Jons slay the Patriots on his own? To be frank, not a chance; the Patriots will absolutely demolish the Giants in a game that should be decided by halftime, if not within the first drive. Without those offensive playmakers, there’s absolutely no one for Jones to work with, and it doesn’t help that he’s facing a defense, and a pass defense, that has a chance of being one of the top defenses in NFL history, considering the era of football we’re currently in. Scoring any sort of points in this game should be considered a win for New York, and it’s unfair to have any sort of expectations for Jones in this game. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Giants are extremely weak in coverage, pass rush, and with their linebackers. Well, New England’s passing attack may not be as sharp as usual, but there’s no doubt that Tom Brady will be able to dissect this defense, and against New York’s unathletic linebackers, running back James White should have a huge game as a receiver. If the Giants were healthy, this would’ve been a blowout, but it would’ve been exciting to see Jones have a fair chance. Now, this will not only be a four-to-five score game at the least, but we won’t be even able to judge Jones’ performance at all; the NFL can definitely be cruel.
Panthers (3-2) at Buccaneers (2-3)
Spread Pick: CAR (-2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (47.5)
Score Prediction: Panthers 27 Bucs 24
Back in week 2, the Bucs pulled off a huge upset road victory against the Panthers, which at the time appeared to be a tone-setter for both teams. Since then, however, Carolina has shifted quarterbacks, due to injury, and now has a winning record. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has remained extremely inconsistent; they won on the road against the Rams, but also fell flat against the Saints and collapsed at home against the Giants. While it’s tempting to bet on a bounce-back from them this week, I don’t have a lot of faith in them currently. Their weak pass defense just made Teddy Bridgewater look like prime Drew Brees, and though Kyle Allen has struggled recently, he’s definitely capable of taking advantage. Ever since inserting Greg Little at left tackle, Carolina’s pass protection has also been much better, while the offensive line has opened up for holes for running back Christian McCaffrey; the Panthers offense should be significantly better this time around. Furthermore, Carolina’s pass defense has been elite this year, with corner James Bradberry emerging as a true #1 corner capable of shutting down Mike Evans. If that happens, as it did last week in New Orleans, it’ll be very difficult for Tampa Bay to move the ball to compete in what could easily become a high-scoring affair; the Panthers are easily the better team, and should be able to take care of business in London.
Bengals (0-5) at Ravens (3-2)
Spread Pick: CIN (+10.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (48)
Score Prediction: Bengals 16 Ravens 24
Last season, Lamar Jackson made his debut against the Bengals last season, earning a win in that game. Now, expectations are much higher; Baltimore currently leads the AFC North, and have to win this game against a far inferior opponent. Yet, Cincinnati matches up decent to Baltimore. The Ravens don’t have the pass rush to take advantage of the Bengals’ offensive line woes, and also struggle against 11-personnel, which Cincinnati uses often. Therefore, the double-digit spread for this game is a little too large for my liking, though, in the end, Baltimore will almost certainly win this game. The Bengals have struggled in run defense and open-field tackling, which certainly isn’t ideal considering the Ravens have by far the most prolific rushing attack. Plus, with the way the Bengals’ secondary is playing, this could be a rebound game for Lamar Jackson, who should have a field day throwing to the likes of Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews, and even Willie Snead. This game will definitely be closer than expected, but Baltimore is a much better team than the winless Bengals, and eventually, their playmakers an offense will be too much for Cincinnati to handle.
Seahawks (4-1) at Browns (2-3)
Spread Pick: CLE (+2)
Over/Under Pick: Over (46)
Score Prediction: Seahawks 31 Browns 34
Right now, the Seahawks and Browns appear to be heading in different directions; Seattle is currently 4-1 and is coming off of a huge Thursday Night Football victory over the Rams, while Cleveland was embarrassed on Monday Night Football at San Francisco. As a result, the public is betting heavy on the Seahawks, to the point that they’ve gone from an underdog to a two-point road favorite in this game. Yet, perhaps, are we overatting the Seahawks? In that game to Los Angeles, they were a 44-yard field goal away from losing, and in their other wins, have struggled to pull away from inferior teams. Cleveland, meanwhile, is very inconsistent and unpredictable, but when they aren’t facing a talented pass rush, the vertical passing-oriented offense seems to click. Luckily for them, Seattle’s pass rush hasn’t been impressive this season, and they don’t have the talent in the secondary to match up against Cleveland’s impressive group of receivers; this should be Odell Beckham Jr.’s big breakout game, as Baker Mayfield is line for a huge bounce-back performance. On the other side of the ball, the fact that the Browns’ defense was just gashed by San Francisco’s rushing attack and haven’t looked like a cohesive unit all season is concerning, especially facing off against a Russell Wilson-led offense. Still, the return of corners Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams will be huge for them, and their pass rush could finally emerge as the top-ten group they were supposed to be against one of the worst pass-blocking offensive lines. This game should come down to the wire, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Seattle won, but the Browns desperately need to win this game, and should be able to find a way to do so.
Saints (4-1) at Jaguars (2-3)
Spread Pick: JAX (-2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (43)
Score Prediction: Saints 17 Jags 34
The Saints and Jaguars are both without their starting quarterbacks due to an injury, and each has had some success. However, where New Orleans has had to rely on a lot of luck to secure victories with Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner Minshew has elevated the ceiling of the Jaguars offense. He’s developed a connection with DJ Chark, who looks like a #1 receiver, and Dede Westbrook, who has been excellent in the slot recently, and considering the Saints’ secondary is vulnerable in the vertical passing game and defending the slot, both should have huge games as Minshew should thrive in terms of yardage and efficiency. Meanwhile, New Orleans may have expanded their offense last game, but in a road game against a much-better defense, they likely won’t have that success, and won’t be able to keep up with Jacksonville’s offense. Minshew has the Jaguars playing spirited football, and I don’t expect that to stop in a game that could easily turn into a three-score win for them.
Texans (3-2) at Chiefs (4-1)
Spread Pick: KC (-4)
Over/Under Pick: Over (55)
Score Prediction: Texans 29 Chiefs 34
At the beginning of the week, the Chiefs were an 8.5-point favorite at home against the Texans, depending on the site. Now? They’re just a four-point favorite. In what is one of the most exciting quarterback battles of the season, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are coming off their first-ever game under 26 points, while Deshaun Watson and the Texans dropped 53 points on the Falcons. Therefore, it’s logical to see why the public is in favor of Houston, and earlier in the week, when the line has much larger, I was on the Texans’ side to cover. However, the line has gotten to such a point, that they’re completely ignoring how dominant the Chiefs can be. Yes, Kansas City’s offense can be limited with tight man coverage, but the Texans are one of the worst man coverage defenses in the NFL. Meanwhile, Tyreek Hill could make his anticipated return in this game, and even if he doesn’t, the duo of Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle should still have success against a below-average secondary. Mahomes could be relegated more to the pocket as he battles an ankle injury, but even then, he’ll still be able to expose an unathletic group of corners, and the head coaching mismatch between Andy Reid and Bill O’Brien also cannot be ignored. The Texans’ offense should consistently move the ball down the field against Kansas City’s putrid defense, but do they have the ability to run the ball and control the time of possession, rather than making this game a shootout? I don’t believe they do, and as a result, I expect the Chiefs to come away victorious in what should be an extremely exciting, high-scoring affair.
Redskins (0-5) at Dolphins (0-4)
Spread Pick: MIA (+3.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (42)
Score Prediction: Redskins 17 Dolphins 20
It’s the tank bowl! In a game in which their fans really want them to lose, both the Redskins and Dolphins will compete for the first win of the year; the result of this game will significantly affect draft position. From that perspective, one could argue this is actually one of the most important games of the week, but as far as picking a winner, it’s an absolute headache. It’s impossible to trust either team; both have gotten destroyed by practically every opponent they face this season. Yet, a few potential advantages have led me to do something I never thought possible: picking the Dolphins to win a football game. Miami is coming off a bye, and although recent studies have proven it to not be as much of a benefit as previous years, being fresh after such a rough start is nice. Furthermore, with the firing of Jay Gruden, Bill Callahan will be the Redskins’ interm head coach, and his insistence to constantly run the football is troublesome, considering Washington is one of the least-efficient rushing teams and the Dolphins quietly have a solid run defense. Miami’s issues are with their pass defense, but with the Redskins not having the talent to exploit that, they’ll do well defensively. Plus, given Washington’s struggles in pass coverage this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise for receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams to have their best games of the season. I wouldn’t feel good about this pick either way, but if there’s a game the Dolphins could win, it’s this one; they’ll take advantage of the dysfunctional mess that is the Redskins to avoid the dreaded 0-16 season.
Eagles (3-2) at Vikings (3-2)
Spread Pick: PHI (+3)
Over/Under Pick: Over (44)
Score Prediction: Eagles 27 Vikings 20
Though the Vkings would appear to be inconsistent based on their week-to-week basis, they’re actually quite predictable. Given their offensive line’s constant inefficiencies and Kirk Cousins’ lack of pocket awareness and tendency to hold onto the ball too long, it has become clear that when they face a top-15 pass rush, they struggle. In their three wins this season, Cousins has played well against poor pass defenses (Falcons, Raiders, Giants). However, when he’s been challenged by the Packers and Bears, he’s played awful. Unfortunately for him, he’ll face one of the league’s best defensive fronts this Sunday when the Eagles come to town. Rookie center Garrett Bradbury has been miserable in pass protection all season, and that’ll only get worse facing Fletcher Cox on the interior. Plus, it’s not as though they can consistently double-team Cox with Brandon Graham having a dominant season off the edge; Cousins is bound to struggle in this game. Yes, Philadelphia’s secondary has played poorly this season, but with Minnesota’s offense focused on the rushing attack and Cousins’ issues when pressured, that likely won’t be a factor, even though the Vikings are armed with the terrific receiver duo of Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have been much better since tight end Dallas Goedert returned from injury; they’re using a lot of 12 personnel, and when these two teams faced off last year, Minnesota had problems against Goedert and tight end Zach Ertz. This is a game that could go either way, but the mismatch in the trenches gives Philadelphia a huge advantage in this game, one that’ll allow them to come away with an impressive road victory in one of the toughest places to play.
Falcons (1-4) at Cardinals (1-3-1)
Spread Pick: ATL (-2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (51.5)
Score Prediction: Falcons 36 Cardinals 24
Are the Falcons in danger of seeing their postseason aspirations evaporate with the season not even halfway done? They’ve already put themselves at a massive hole – they’re 1-4 and three games out of division – and if they were to fall to 1-5, their playoff odds would be close to none, considering their tough upcoming schedule. Fortunately for them, their road affair in Arizona this week is extremely winnable; they match up extremely well with the Cardinals. Atlanta is a team that struggles in the trenches, but the same can be said about Arizona. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have one of the league’s worst secondaries, which makes for a total mismatch considering the Falcons still have one of the most potent passing offenses in the NFL. Plus, although Atlanta’s defensive issues, which include allowing a lot of explosive plays, fits well with the Cardinals’ style of offense, but still, it’s not as though Arizona has an abundance of playmakers, and the Falcons’ athletic linebackers are a great fit when it comes to stopping quarterback Kyler Murray as a rusher. Atlanta is the better team, and is also the team that needs this win more, and as a result, should win convincingly.
49ers (4-0) at Rams (3-2)
Spread Pick: LAR (-3)
Over/Under Pick: Under (50.5)
Score Prediction: 49ers 20 Rams 24
In what is easily the most important game of the week, the 49ers and Rams will face off in a divisional matchup that could dictate the NFC West, and the NFC as a whole. If the 49ers were to win this game, they’d assert themselves as the favorite to win the division at 5-0, essentially knocking the Rams out of the hunt, at least for the moment. However, a win for Los Angeles would put them back in the driver’s seat to win this division, and would definitely scale down the hype surrounding San Francisco. So, who will come out on top in this matchup, which also features two of the best offensive coaches in the league? By default, I’d definitely side with the Rams. With the loss of right tackle Mike McGlinchey and fullback Kyle Juszcyzk, the 49ers are without two of their key offensive players, while left tackle Joe Staley has been injured, and tight end George Kittle is questionable with a groin injury. The Rams’ defense hasn’t met expectations this season, but they still have a lot of talent; it’ll be a difficult task for Shanahan to scheme up as much offensive success as the 49ers have had this season. On the other side of the ball, there’s good reason to be concerned about how Los Angeles’ poor offensive line matches up with one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, but San Francisco doesn’t have the secondary to contain the Rams’ trio of receivers, and Sean McVay’s use of 12-personnel will help the offensive line tremendously. McVay is also 10-1 when given extra time to prepare, with his lone loss coming in the Super Bowl to Bill Belichik; on a long week after playing on Thursday Night Football, compared to the 49ers, who were on a shorter week after playing on Monday Night Football, Los Angeles will come away with a win in a game that could define their season.
Titans (2-3) at Broncos (1-4)
Spread Pick: TEN (+1.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (40.5)
Score Prediction: Titans 17 Broncos 16
Every week, there’s one game that’s bound to be close, but also features two teams that don’t score many points, resulting in a monotonous game. Well, for the second straight week, that game figures to involve the Titans. Partly due to four missed field goals, Tennesee lost a 14-7 game at home to Bills, and now, arguably face a must-win scenario in Denver. For their part, this is also a crucial game for the Broncos, who are contemplating a firesale of their top assets, but could see themselves as a playoff contender with a second straight win. Therefore, this should be a hard-fought game, and one that could go either way. Still, I’m confident that the Titans will bounce back this season. As mentioned, there was a lot of bad luck involved in their loss last week; positive regression could be in store for them. Additionally, Tennesee’s depth at cornerback is a good fit against Denver’s talented receivers, especially since offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello runs a lot of 11-personnel. Also, in close games like this one will be, turnovers can have a huge effect, which would favor the conservative Titans offense over the often careless Broncos offense. This is honestly a coin flip, but Tennesee appears to be the better team, and should secure a momentous road win this week.
Cowboys (3-2) at Jets (0-4)
Spread Pick: DAL (-7)
Over/Under Pick: Over (44.5)
Score Prediction: Cowboys 31 Jets 20
With Sam Darnold back, could the Jets turn their season around? Having the second-year quarterback, who missed three games due to mono, inserted back into the starting lineup will help, but New York will have to wait longer to get their first win; the Cowboys are coming to town, and they’ll be angry. Dallas is coming off of back-to-back losses, and has been mocked by NFL fans after trailing by as much as 28 points last week at home to the Packers. However, this is still an elite team, and they’ll definitely look to make a statement this week. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has hit a little bit of a speedbump in his first season, but the passing attack has still been amongst the league’s best; with or without tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, Dallas should have a field day through the air against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ pass rush utilizes a lot of stunts, and the Jets offensive line happens to be awful against stunts; Darnold will be pressured a lot in this game. Then, there’s Adam Gase’s offensive scheme as a whole, which relies on a lot of check-downs and is extremely conservative; even if Dallas is a little vulnerable at the back-end of their defense, New York won’t exploit it. This looks like a total mismatch on paper; the Cowboys are destined to get back on track this week.
SNF: Steelers (1-4) at Chargers (2-3)
Spread Pick: PIT (+6.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (41.5)
Score Prediction: Steelers 13 Chargers 20
At the beginning of the season, this Steelers-Chargers matchup in Los Angeles appeared to be the perfect game for primetime; last year’s game between these two teams went down to the wire, and they were both projected to win a double-digit amount of games. Now? Not so much. Pittsburgh is officially on their third quarterback this week in Devlin Hodges, and on the other side, the Chargers have been so decimated by injuries that expecting anything from them is intemperate at this point. Still, someone has to win this game; I’ll take the better quarterback (Phillip Rivers) and the Chargers. Pittsburgh’s elite pass rush is bound to dominate against an awful offensive line that is now without center Mike Pouncey, but without corner Steven Nelson, they don’t have the talent necessary to defend the likes of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Meanwhile, even though the Chargers’ secondary is struggling right now, do we really expect Hodges, an undrafted free agent who practically no one had heard of before he had to replace the injured Mason Rudolph, to do anything but throw checkdowns and hand the ball off to James Conner? I truly could see the Steelers rallying and pulling off an upset, especially since this should be pretty much an extra home game for them, but the Chargers are the much safer pick, and have enough talent remaining to beat an already broken-down team.
MNF: Lions (3-1) at Packers (4-1)
Spread Pick: DET (+4)
Over/Under Pick: Over (45)
Score Prediction: Lions 30 Packers 17
Though 49ers-Rams is the most important matchup of the week, Lions-Packers isn’t far behind. The winner of this game will be in first place of the NFC North; the outcome could set the tone for the division. At home, the Packers are widely expected to win this game. Yet, this has all the makings of a letdown for them. Without star receiver Davante Adams, this isn’t the same offense; they relied on a breakout game from running back Aaron Jones and short fields to score points against the Cowboys. Now, they face a major test in a well-coached Lions defense, which with corner Darius Slay back, is one of the most underrated secondaries in the NFL; they play tight man coverage. Said coverage isn’t a good fit for the Packers’ lackluster group of receivers outside of Adams; this will be a tough game for Aaron Rodgers and the passing attack. Meanwhile, Green Bay has really struggled to stop the run, especially versus heavy personnel, which Detroit utilizes often; if the Lions get a lead in this game, it’ll be very hard for the Packers to come back. Remember, Detroit has already won at Philadelphia, and should’ve won against the Chiefs; they are a very legitimate playoff contender, and they’ll showcase that in primetime this Monday in Green Bay.
*All Games Will Be Updated Shortly With Predictions