Week 6 Picks

Posted: 10/16/2016 by levcohen in Football

This week features nine 1:00 games and three 4:00 games. While that would normally really irk me, it’s actually a blessing this week because the three later games are the most intriguing of the week going in. The early games are not appetizing (Eagles-Redskins is the best), but that’s fine because there are nine of them and the law of averages says that we’re likely to get at least one exciting and well-played game. If not, you can always distract yourself with your fantasy team, which is likely largely composed of players playing early games. Then, you can settle in and watch any one of the three later games, which feature teams that are a combined 20-7. I’m most excited for Atlanta-Seattle, because I think this is the week that we find out how good the Falcons are (or aren’t), but Green Bay-Dallas and Kansas City-Oakland are also doozies. Of course, both night games figure to be ugly, so my advice for this week would be to focus on fantasy (and whichever games turns out to be best), then watch the late afternoon games, then multitask (maybe with the Cubs-Dodgers game) during the late game.

BYE teams: Minnesota, Tampa Bay
*- Upset pick

Philadelphia Eagles (3-1, 3-1 against the spread) at Washington Redskins (3-2, 3-2):
Spread: Eagles favored by 3
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Washington won and Philadelphia lost last week, but I actually feel more confident about picking the Eagles than I would have before last week. Everything went wrong for Philly in the first half last week, but they fought back and should have beaten the Lions. And the Redskins should have lost to a mediocre Ravens team, but a few things (this and this) went their way, and they pulled out a win. I think this game is a mismatch, especially since Washington will be without top target Jordan Reed. The Ravens were the first offense the Redskins actually did well against, and I expect Philly’s more balanced offense to enjoy this matchup much like division mates New York and Dallas did. Eagles win 30-17.
Eagles cover

San Francisco 49ers (1-4, 1-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-2, 3-2):
Spread: Bills favored by 8
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Colin Kaepernick is back! If that doesn’t make San Fran an offensive juggernaut, nothing can. In all seriousness, I don’t think Kap returning changes much. It’d be hard for him to be worse than Blaine Gabbert, but he was also really bad last season, so it may be hard for him to be significantly better than Gabbert. The Bills should run all over the Niners’ porous run defense in a matchup that looks really good for Buffalo. I still don’t trust the Bills, but I think they’re good enough to win and cover against what might be the worst team in the NFL. Bills win 23-10.
Bills cover

Cleveland Browns (0-5, 2-3) at Tennessee Titans (2-3, 2-3):
Spread: Titans favored by 7.5
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: The Browns are terrible. The Titans are bad. Avoid this game, although I think it has serious upset potential. Titans win 26-23.
Browns cover

Baltimore Ravens (3-2, 1-4) at New York Giants (2-3, 1-3-1):*
Spread: Giants favored by 3.5
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Every year, there are a few teams that we think are good before the season and/or through a few weeks and then turn out to be pretty bad. I’d like to nominate both the Ravens and the Giants as teams that fit that mold this year. The Ravens have lost consecutive home games, while anyone who watched New York’s SNF game against the Packers last week knows how dreadful the offense has been. This is a team that only scored 16 points against the Saints, after all. We know the offense has talent and potential (see: Beckham Jr., Odell), so the question becomes: when will they put things together? I guess it could be this week, but the Ravens’ defense has been pretty good, so I kind of doubt it. This is also the first week for Baltimore’s offense with new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an uptick from Joe Flacco and company. I’ll pick Baltimore 20-17 in a minor upset.
Ravens cover

Carolina Panthers (1-4, 1-4) at New Orleans Saints (1-3, 2-2):
Spread: Panthers favored by 2.5
Over/under: 53.5
My prediction: Both of these teams have a lot more talent than their records indicate, but Carolina is clearly the better all-around team. Their secondary hasn’t been able to stop anyone, so Drew Brees should have another big game at home, but I expect a huge day from Cam Newton in his return from a concussion. Panthers win 35-28.
Panthers cover

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3, 2-2) at Chicago Bears (1-4, 1-4):*
Spread: Bears favored by 2
Over/under: 46
My prediction: This might be the worst game of the day, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time writing about it. I will say that I expect a big game from Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson, and I like the fact that the Jags are coming off a BYE while the Bears are coming off a close loss in Indianapolis. I think the Bears are really dreadful, so I’ll take Jacksonville 27-20.
Jaguars cover

Los Angeles Rams (3-2, 3-2) at Detroit Lions (2-3, 2-2-1):
Spread: Lions favored by 3
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: I’ve been a Rams hater and Lions lover all season, so this one is easy for me. The Lions are the better team, they’re at home, and the fact that their defense is banged up isn’t as important when they’re going up against the least scary offense in the NFL. Lions win 26-17.
Lions cover

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1, 4-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-4, 1-4):- Lock of the week
Spread: Steelers favored by 7
Over/under: 49
My prediction: Any time LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger are all healthy and playing, the Steelers are playing a really bad team, and the Steelers are favored by less than 10 points, I’m going to take the Steelers to win and cover. This team is just too good to allow a team like Miami to keep this close. Steelers win 35-20.
Steelers cover

Cincinnati Bengals (2-3, 1-4) at New England Patriots (4-1, 4-1):
Spread: Patriots favored by 7.5
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: I’m surprised this spread is so low, especially given the way these two teams played last week. The Patriots smoked the Browns (I know it was the Browns, but they looked incredible), while the Bengals played 60 minutes of feeble football in a loss to the Cowboys. But I still believe that the Bengals are a solid team, and they’re in a near must-win situation at this point. New England’s defense hasn’t been great (they’re 24th in DVOA), and Andy Dalton should have time to throw against a team that has rarely gotten to opposing quarterbacks. The Patriots will win the game, but it’ll be a lot closer than a lot of people expect. Patriots win 27-23.
Bengals cover

Kansas City Chiefs (2-2, 1-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-1, 3-2):
Spread: Chiefs favored by 1.5
Over/under: 46
My prediction: You might be wondering why the Chiefs are favored in this game as a 2-2 team heading to play a 4-1 one. I can think of a few reasons. The first is that the Chiefs are coming off a BYE, and Andy Reid is 15-2 after a BYE. The second is that the Raiders have played five really close games and may not be as good as their record indicates. The third is that Oakland’s defense is atrocious, giving up a league-leading 2263 yards (452.6 per game). The fourth is that Jamaal Charles is likely to be back to a more featured role, and a lot of people have forgotten about how good Jamaal Charles is when he’s healthy. These are all reasons I like the Chiefs in this game, even though the fact that they are road favorites does make me nervous. Chiefs win 27-20.
Chiefs cover

Atlanta Falcons (4-1, 4-1) at Seattle Seahawks (3-1, 2-2):
Spread: Seahawks favored by 7
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: This is it, fellow Falcons doubters. This is our Super Bowl. Because if the Falcons win this game or are even close to winning, we’re going to have to take the loss and admit that they’re legit. We can explain away their wins over Carolina (have you seen that secondary??) and Denver (backup quarterback), but the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC, and they’re a relatively healthy team coming off a BYE week. I’m going to pick the ‘Hawks to win and cover, of course, but I’m genuinely excited to see if the Falcons are a really good team, because we need more really good teams in a season that has really lacked good football. Seahawks win 24-14.
Seahawks cover

Dallas Cowboys (4-1, 4-1) at Green Bay Packers (3-1, 2-1-1):*
Spread: Packers favored by 4.5
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: It saddens me to pick the Cowboys here, but everything I’ve seen this year indicates that they’re a really good team and the Packers aren’t. Dak Prescott hasn’t made many throws that have wowed me, but the beauty of Dallas’s offense is that he doesn’t need to. The offensive line and Ezekiel Elliot are good enough that Prescott just has to play conservatively and without mistakes, which he’s done brilliantly so far. And while the Packers are normally great at Lambeau, back-to-back wins by a touchdown each against mediocre teams haven’t filled me with confidence. The Packers have been great against the run so far this year, so there’s some hope that they can slow down Dallas’s offense, but right now the Cowboys’ o-line is so dominant that I’m not sure anyone can slow them down. Cowboys win 26-20.
Cowboys cover

Indianapolis Colts (2-3, 2-3) at Houston Texans (3-2, 3-2):
Spread: Texans favored by 3
Over/under: 48
My prediction: This is a big game that might actually decide the AFC South, but is the AFC South even really part of the NFL? Both of these teams are really bad, but the Texans have at least shown an ability to win at home against bad teams. Their two losses came against New England and Minnesota on the road by a combined 45 points, so I’ll think twice before I pick them to win a tough road game. But a home game against the Colts — a team that’s lost to Jacksonville and Detroit — is about as far as you can get from a tough road game. Texans win 26-17.
Texans cover

New York Jets (1-4, 2-3) at Arizona Cardinals (2-3, 2-3):
Spread: Cardinals favored by 7.5
Over/under: 46
My prediction: Before the season started, this looked like it would be a great game. That shows how much can change in just a few weeks in the NFL. The Jets can kiss their season goodbye if they lose this one, while the Cardinals are surprisingly in a pretty similar situation. The Jets look horrific, so I can’t bring myself to pick them to even cover the spread. Cardinals win 31-17.
Cardinals cover

Upset picks:
Ravens over Giants
Cowboys over Packers
Jaguars over Bears

Lock of the week:
Steelers over Dolphins


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