Week 6 Picks

Posted: 10/12/2014 by levcohen in Football

It’s time for week six of the NFL season. Again, the theme of this week might be “parity”, as only four teams are favored by more than five points. There aren’t many great matchups on the surface, but there are a few divisional games that could have a huge bearing on the final standings. Eagles-Giants games usually are good, but there are a couple of games that probably weren’t circled by many before the season but now look important. The matchup of 3-2 AFC East teams- Buffalo and New England- comes to mind, as do Pittsburgh-Cleveland and Detroit-Minnesota. All three games feature two teams that still have a legitimate hope of winning their division, and this week will go a long way in determining who will be playing meaningful games in December and who won’t be. This is also another week with only two teams- New Orleans and Kansas City- on BYE, so there are plenty of games on the schedule. What’s the game of the week? I don’t know if it’ll be close, but I’m really intrigued by the game in Seattle between the Seahawks and Cowboys. We can see the Seahawks’ defense against an offense that has a couple of great weapons, and we’ll be able to get a feel for Dallas and whether their 4-1 record is legit or just a product of good luck. I think the Seahawks are going to win easily, but I wouldn’t count out the Cowboys based on the way they’ve played so far this season.
BYE teams: Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints
*= upset pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5, 0-5) at Tennessee Titans (1-4, 1-3-1):
Spread: Titans favored by 4.5
Over/under: 42
My prediction: I was all set to pick the Jaguars here against a Tennessee team I’ve been down on all season… and then I saw the spread. I thought Tennessee would be closer to a touchdown favorite against a Jacksonville team that not only is winless but also has failed to cover a spread. The Jaguars have become a popular upset pick this week, which is really surprising. I think people are going overboard now, so I’m going to have to pick the Titans in this one despite a belief that they are one of the worst teams in football. Titans win 24-17.
Titans cover

Baltimore Ravens (3-2, 2-2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4, 2-3):*
Spread: Ravens favored by 3.5
Over/under: 44
My prediction: The Buccaneers might be ok! Their 1-4 record is misleading, as they’ve played four close games out of five and could easily be 3-2 right now. I also think people are being influenced a bit too much by the 56-14 week three loss to the Falcons, which is now three weeks in the past. The Bucs have a new quarterback now in Mike Glennon, who has looked a lot better than Josh McCown in his limited action. Meanwhile, the Ravens are a solid team, but have always struggled on the road. I like the Buccaneers in an upset 26-20.
Buccaneers cover

Denver Broncos (3-1, 1-3) at New York Jets (1-4, 0-4-1):
Spread: Broncos favored by 10
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: At this point, it seems like the Jets have been laughed at so much to the point that they are underrated. I’m not saying that they’re a good team, but teams are very rarely double-digit home underdogs in the NFL. I don’t want to pick the Jets, but I can’t pick a double-digit road favorite, so I’ll pick the Jets to keep it close and the Broncos to win 27-20.
Jets cover

Detroit Lions (3-2, 3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (2-3, 2-3):
Spread: Vikings favored by 1.5
Over/under: 43
My prediction: This is a tough one to pick. I successfully picked against the Lions last week, as I thought the line was too high considering Calvin Johnson was banged up and Joique Bell was out. This week, Johnson is out and Reggie Bush might join him on the sidelines, and I’ll stick with what I said last week: the Lions have always struggled to move the ball without Calvin Johnson, and will struggle again this week. The difference? Vegas knows Megatron is out this week, and has reacted by moving the line from Detroit -2.5 to Minnesota -1.5 in a matter of days. Is this an overreaction? In the end, I’m going to say no and stick with the Vikings 23-16. I just don’t trust the Lions.
Vikings cover

New England Patriots (3-2, 2-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-2, 3-2):*
Spread: Patriots favored by 1
Over/under: 44
My prediction: I don’t feel great about my chances here, but I’m going to pick the Bills, even though the Patriots are coming off a 43-17 win over Cincinnati and probably should be favored by more. I think the Bills’ defense will be able to contain the Pats and pressure Tom Brady, while Kyle Orton and the offense will be able to score enough points to keep the Bills in the game. I like the Bills… barely. 23-20.
Bills cover

Carolina Panthers (3-2, 3-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1, 3-1):
Spread: Bengals favored by 7
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Big bounce-back coming here for the Bengals, even without A.J. Green. They got hammered by the Patriots last week, but I still think they are among the five or six best teams in football and will prove it here. Bengals win 31-17.
Bengals cover

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2, 2-3) at Cleveland Browns (2-2, 2-0-2):
Spread: Browns favored by 2.5
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: The Browns don’t exactly have a great recent history against the Steelers. In fact, the Steelers have won 33 of the last 38 games in the rivalry, which is pretty scary given how much the NFL has changed in that time. That history is tough to pick against, but the Browns have just looked like the better team so far this year. The Browns will finally break the skid against Pittsburgh and win 28-24, which will surprisingly be the largest final margin in a Cleveland game (each of their first four games was decided by a field goal or less).
Browns cover

Green Bay Packers (3-2, 2-2-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-2, 2-2):
Spread: Packers favored by 2.5
Over/under: 47
My prediction: I’ve picked the home underdog to cover the spread three times already, so you might expect me to pick the Dolphins here. I was tempted to, but Aaron Rodgers is just too good for me to pull the trigger. I think the Dolphins are a solid team, but the Packers will win this one 31-27, continuing a trend of the AFC East losing out-of-division games.
Packers cover

San Diego Chargers (4-1, 5-0) at Oakland Raiders (0-4, 2-2):- Lock of the Week
Spread: Chargers favored by 7
Over/under: 44
My prediction: I don’t usually make a road team my lock, but the Chargers should have no problem in dispatching Oakland here. This is basically like the Denver-New York matchup, but with the spread in this one at seven instead of double-digits, I’ll take the Chargers to cover as well, especially since the Raiders haven’t scored more than 14 points in a game yet this season. The AFC West race sure looks like it is going to be a fun one. Chargers win 27-14.
Chargers cover

Dallas Cowboys (4-1, 3-2) at Seattle Seahawks (3-1, 3-1):
Spread: Seahawks favored by 8.5
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: Do I see a scenario where the Cowboys keep this close and win it on a late drive? Absolutely. But is that scenario as likely as a Seahawks blowout? Not at all. The Seahawks are so good at home and, although the Cowboys looked better than advertised, I’m not sure they are a real playoff contender yet. The Seahawks have already played well at home against Green Bay and Denver, both of whom are better than the Cowboys. This should end as a double-digit Seattle win. 31-17 final.
Seahawks cover

Washington Redskins (1-4, 2-3) at Arizona Cardinals (3-1, 2-2):
Spread: Cardinals favored by 5
Over/under: 47
My prediction: With the news that Carson Palmer is set to return from a shoulder injury, this line has continued to creep slowly up from 3.5. I was going to pick the Cardinals even if Logan Thomas were starting, so I feel better about picking them to win the game now. Will they cover, though? I think this will be a close game, so the Redskins should be able to cover this ever-rising spread. Washington needs to win this to have any shot at the playoffs, so they should be playing with some urgency here. The Cardinals win 23-20, with the Redskins covering.
Redskins cover

Chicago Bears (2-3, 2-3) at Atlanta Falcons (2-3, 2-3):*
Spread: Falcons favored by 3
Over/under: 55.5
My prediction: I’ve picked against the Falcons each week of the season (I picked them to beat the Bucs but not to cover), and I’ll continue that trend here against a Chicago team that has been disappointing so far this season. The Falcons have a defense that’s worse than any other unit in this game, and while their offense is great, so is the Bears’ (at least on paper). I like the Bears 30-24, which surprisingly makes this an “under.”
Bears cover

New York Giants (3-2, 3-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-1, 3-2):*
Spread: Eagles favored by 2.5
Over/under: 49.5
My prediction: I want to pick the Eagles here, but I can’t. The Giants have just looked so much better this year, even given the fact that they have a worse record. The Eagles really need to get their offense going, because their special teams and defense aren’t going to score two touchdowns every game. I think they get that offense going here to an extent, but it won’t be enough. Giants win 31-28.
Giants cover

San Francisco 49ers (3-2, 3-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-3, 1-3):
Spread: 49ers favored by 3.5
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: It looks like the 49ers have bounced back from another poor start to the season, although they haven’t exactly dominated their past two games, both five point wins. Meanwhile, the Rams have gone the opposite direction, losing their last two after a 1-1 start, even though they have put up 31 and 28 points in those two games. I still like the Rams here. Maybe it’s just an irrational hate for the 49ers (it isn’t), or maybe it’s an irrational love for the Rams’ overachieving offense (more likely), but I’m going to pick the Rams to cover in a close game. 49ers win 23-20.
Rams cover

Upset picks:
Buccaneers over Ravens
Bills over Patriots
Bears over Falcons
Giants over Eagles

Lock of the week:
Chargers over Raiders


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