Week 6 Review, TNF Pick

Posted: 10/20/2016 by levcohen in Football

After they nearly defeated (and probably should have) the Seahawks in Seattle, it’s time to believe in the Falcons… to an extent. At this point, I’m willing to concede that Atlanta’s a pretty good team. I’m not willing to concede that they’re one of the elite teams in the NFL. I still think they’re a step behind the teams I have in my top tier this week, and it’ll take a few more consistent performances for them to climb into that tier. But at 4-2, they’re certainly the favorites in an NFC South without a top tier team. I’m not ready to eliminate the Panthers, even though they’re 1-5. If they lose again coming out of their BYE, the season will be over for Carolina. And the Chargers looked good again in their win over Denver. They’re 2-4 and play in a tough division, but they could still claw their way to a wild card spot. Pittsburgh and Denver are out of the top tier, with the injury to Ben Roethlisberger and Denver’s offensive struggles contributing to each team’s second loss. The Broncos were supposed to be pretty bad offensively this year, so this may just be regression to the norm for the Trevor Siemian-led offense. The Cowboys join the top tier after an impressive thrashing of Green Bay in Lambeau.

Top tier: New England, Minnesota, Seattle, Dallas
Eliminated teams: Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, New Orleans, San Francisco, Miami, New York Jets

  • The Patriots beat the Bengals 35-17 last week, but I don’t think that score was very indicative of the way the game was played. The Pats are really good offensively, but they still show some defensive holes. As for the 2-4 Bengals, they show glimpses of being a team that could win the AFC North, but they can’t convert in the red zone. Maybe Tyler Eifert’s imminent return will help, but time is running out for Cincinnati.
  • Are the Chiefs the best team in the AFC West? They’ve started slowly the last few years, but they looked tremendous against Oakland last week. Yes, Andy Reid’s teams always play super well in their first week after the BYE, and that’s not necessarily indicative of future success, but this team looks legit. They have a stellar running game, with Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles serving as an explosive 1-2 combination. And their defense is going to get a big boost when All-Pro pass-rusher Justin Houston returns from the PUP list. They’re still in third place in the AFC West (behind the 4-2 Raiders and Broncos), but I think they’re the best all-around team in the division.
  • We got two more horrific primetime games. The Indy-Houston matchup was a terribly played game by two bad teams. Sure, the Texans’ two TD comeback in the last five minutes and subsequent overtime game-winning field goal were exciting, but the 55 minutes of dreck that came before that are minutes that I’m sure everyone would like to have back. And the Cardinals’ win over the hapless Jets was just a beatdown. Ratings are down in the NFL this year, and there’s been speculation that it’s because everyone’s keyed in on the election. That’s obviously the main reason games that coincided with the debates were relatively unwatched, but I think the ratings downturn has more to do with the fact that we haven’t really seen any great games so far this year. There have been some close ones, but I can’t remember a really well-played, close, playoff-atmosphere type game. Given that we’re six weeks into the season, that seems bizarre.
  • I’m not buying what the Dolphins are selling. Jay Ajayi tore up Pittsburgh for 204 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Miami was well on its way to winning even before Big Ben got injured. But that felt like a game that was more about what the Steelers did wrong than what the Dolphins did right. Ryan Tannehill was fine, but nothing about his performance seems like an indication that he can carry the Dolphins from a 1-4 start into relevance.
  • Hunter Henry is a future stud. Tight ends are generally terrible in their rookie seasons, just because the position is so much different and harder to play in the NFL than it is in college. But Henry’s been really good for the Chargers. He was pressed into action when Antonio Gates suffered a hamstring injury, but he looks like the tight end to watch in San Diego even with Gates healthy. He has 18 catches for 290 yards and three touchdowns in the last four weeks, and he’s going to be a future Pro Bowl tight end.

Last week’s picks:
10-5 straight up… 49-43 for the season
7-7-1 against the spread… 44-43-5
7-8 over/under… 45-46-1

2-1 on upset picks… 9-13
0-1 on lock… 2-4.. Yup. My upset picks are hitting at a higher percentage than my locks.

Best picks of the week:
Cowboys 26, Packers 20… Actual result: Cowboys 30, Packers 16
Titans 26, Browns 23… Actual result: Titans 28, Browns 26
Texans 26, Colts 17… Actual result: Texans 26, Colts 23

Worst picks of the week:
Steelers 35, Dolphins 20… Actual result: Dolphins 30, Steelers 15
Lions 26, Rams 17… Actual result: Lions 31, Rams 28
Panthers 35, Saints 28… Actual result: Saints 41, Panthers 38

Chicago Bears (1-5, 1-5 against the spread) at Green Bay Packers (3-2, 2-2-1):
Spread: Packers favored by 7.5
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: I think we know by now that the Packers aren’t very good. We also know that they’re much better than the Bears. Given that the Bears just lost at home against the Jaguars, I expected this spread to be closer to 10. Some positive touchdown regression might be in store for the Bears, who have moved the ball pretty well with Brian Hoyer at quarterback but have had a hard time getting into the end zone. I just can’t bring myself to pick the Packers to win by more than a touchdown against anyone right now (ok, Bears excluded), especially with Eddie Lacy heading to IR and being replaced by undrafted free agent and practice squad member Don Jackson. Packers win 24-21.
Bears cover
Under

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