Time for the NFL Week 6 picks. We looked back at Week 5's excellent Sunday, and previewed the best matchups this week on the podcast. Sam and KAM typically give their picks away on the podcast so if you want them in advance (and who doesn’t?), then check it out! On to this week's games:
***These are Wednesday lines for Week Six. If you pick later in the week and need help with adjusted lines just find me on twitter, @samuelpearce, and I'll help you out. That's what friends are for!***
Philadelphia (+3.0) @ Carolina:
The NFL's getting what they want! One of the best games of the week is on Thursday Night Football, when Philly travels to Carolina for a meeting of 4-1 teams. Way back on the futures podcast, I told you guys that Philly was the best team in the NFC East this year. It was laughable to think that New York could do nothing about its offensive line and compete for the division. Dallas is much better than New York, but it was fair to question how well they'd do playing the first place schedule AND a stacked AFC West. So that left Philly with stout offensive and defensive lines, a good young quarterback that we may soon be calling a great young quarterback, and an improved arsenal of backs and receivers for him to work with. We're seeing the results of a good off-season in Philadelphia.
Carolina, I have to admit, I didn't see coming. Not to this extent. Cam Newton has really answered the call these past two weeks. Back-to-back road wins in the NFL are good. Period. If you want to nit-pick New England's defense (and especially) their secondary, and Detroit's inability to show up for big games, that's fine. Fair critiques. But at least give Cam and the Panthers credit for taking advantage of the opportunities. That's what good teams, do right...? Win the games you're supposed to win. And now Vegas is telling us that Carolina should win this game, giving them the typical three point home field advantage, but otherwise finding these teams relatively equal. Both teams are best when they control clock. Last week the Eagles held a 36/24 time of possession (TOP) advantage over the Cardinals. The Cardinals held a 35/25 TOP advantage over the Lions. Both will try to do the same on Thursday night. In what should be a great game, I'm going to take the home team with the more experienced quarterback on a short week. Panthers to cover three at home, but when we went to cyber-press (Wednesday night), it looked like this line was about to jump to 3.5 or 4. If that takes place I might play it both ways after getting Carolina (-3). For now, Panthers to cover:
Green Bay (-3.0) @ Minnesota:
***Editor's Note: We covered Green Bay's win in Dallas in detail on the podcast earlier this week, and even outlined all the great history of that rivalry on the website. Now that Green Bay fans are finally coming down from their Dallas high, can they focus on another tough trip to Minnesota this week? Kimberly Ann Maley is here to fill you in on what you need to know before the Packers kickoff against the Vikings.***
Counting the win in Dallas last week, this Sunday is the second of four straight NFC matchups for Green Bay with important Playoff implications. Minnesota, New Orleans, and Detroit are up in that order. All three are currently within striking distance in their respective divisions. On the podcast this week we discussed just how important these conference games are for possible tie-breaking purposes later on. Green Bay is also trying to preserve its one game lead in the North this Sunday in Minnesota. Green Bay undoubtedly has the best quarterback in the league, but they've also suffered several key early season injuries and that gives 3-2 Minnesota more than a fighter's chance in this game. It's unclear yet whether Aaron Rodgers will be joined by rookie Aaron Jones in the Green Bay backfield or if Ty Montgomery will be back to share some of the workload. Either way, Minnesota's rush defense gives up a mere 80 YPG rushing, the 7th best total in the league. The Vikings only give up 3.3 YPA so the Packers may struggle to get another break-out rushing performance like we saw last week in Dallas. In addition to stopping the run, Minnesota will do their best to get after Aaron. Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen is one of only three players in the NFL with at least one sack in every game played this year. The Vikings defense will not make it easy on the Packers this Sunday, but what can we expect from their offense? Quarterback Sam Bradford came back too early from an injury last week and looked overwhelmed. The good news for the Vikings is that backup quarterback Case Keenum has been adequate while filling in. But he can out-duel Aaron? Hardly. But you don't have to take my word for it: History is on Green Bay's side here as the Green and Gold has taken 11 of the last 15 regular season meetings between these two. Packers to cover and Aaron to make three or four throws that you didn't even know were possible:
Detroit (+5.5) @ New Orleans:
We've got a couple interesting storylines here and something's gotta give: Matt Stafford and the Lions don't exactly like showing up for big games against other NFC rivals that could mean something when it comes to Playoff tiebreakers (see last week). But on the other side, Sean Payton and Drew Brees are doing their best to finish 7-9 for a record number of consecutive seasons and force us to forget that they won a Super Bowl together. In case you forgot entirely, it was the 2009 season, the 2010 Super Bowl. Think of it this way for comparison's sake... The Saints won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season. The Packers won it the next year. For a few years we talked about how important it was to have the combination "offensive genius" head coach and the talented, smart quarterback that was essentially an assistant coach on the field. Payton/Brees in New Orleans and Mike McCarthy/Aaron Rodgers were exhibits A and B. Green Bay hasn't made it back to the Super Bowl but they've at least been competitive. They've been in the Playoffs every year since that Super Bowl. They're always a contender, win their division more often than not, and they regular show up in the Divisional Round or the NFC title game. That we get American sports theatre at its finest whenever Rodgers gets a chance to pull out a fourth quarter or overtime victory is an added bonus. But can we say the same about the Payton/Brees Saints? Hardly. If it seems like they go 7-9 every year, they really do. The Saints went 7-9 in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. So four of the last five years they're strikingly average. Actually a little less than average... There's been much made about the shortcomings of the Eli Manning-led Giants as of late. And that's totally justified; I find myself pointing out to Giants fans that they've had a winning record once in the last five years (soon to be once in the last six). Before I finish stating that fact, it's met with "TWO RINGS!!!" So what do Saints fans say when you point out that the Payton/Brees brain trust has the same paltry resume over the last five years? Do they just say "2009!!!" before you can finish? I don't live in New Orleans and don't run into many Saints fans so I'm legitimately curious.
As for this week, both teams are fortunate to get a perennial underachiever, but something's gotta give. Saints to win but Lions to get the backdoor cover:
New England (-11) @ New York:
***Editor's note: Greg Armstrong is flying extremely high after the Jets have won their last three in a row. Greg is now an unbelievable 5-0 picking Jets games ATS this year! The contributor from TurnOnTheJets.com is back this week to tell us why New York is another solid play in this AFC East rivalry game.***
I've been waiting for a game like this since I took the drive to Buffalo two years ago, hoping to watch a New York win that would have put the Jets into the NFL Playoffs. That was the last meaningful Jets game that impacted me to the point that I couldn't really eat or sleep all week. I was too excited in the lead up to that game. Fast forward a couple years and now it's the first of two New England games this season. And I've got that same feeling in my stomach again. All week long I've been amped up, just hoping that the next time I wake up is Sunday afternoon with kickoff upon us.
The Jets are 11 point underdogs in their own building which seems way too high. New England's offense (outside of the Tampa game on a short week) is averaging 32 PPG this year. But on the flip side, they're also giving up 28 PPG! Their defense is not the typical Patriots defense we've seen in the past. They don't have a pass rush, their corners aren't playing to the level that their price tags would suggest, and the linebackers have been lit up this year. The Jets should therefore have plenty of opportunities to exploit this defense. Big play potential is there but they have to stretch the field with Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, but also utilize Austin Seferian-Jenkins in underneath routes to burn the linebackers. Bilal Powell is out this week but the Jets can't abandon the run game. Rookie Elijah McGuire will see extra snaps. The Jets would be smart to get him into the short passing game and force the Patriots to cover him out of the backfield.
Defensively, it's the typically daunting challenge that is Tom Brady. The Jets defense must keep everything in front of them. They can't afford to give up 50 and 60 yard touchdown passes to Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks. Additionally, Darron Lee and Demario Davis are going to have to play sound defense and not allow James White or Dion Lewis to turn short wheel routes into big plays. The Jets must maintain this "bend-but-don't-break" approach throughout the afternoon. If they can commit to that, they can force New England into field goals rather than touchdowns, keep this close, and yes, possibly even pull off the upset.
This is a huge "prove it" game for a young Jets team. They beat up on a bad Dolphins team, edged out a Jaguars team that was making the trip back from London, and then won an ugly game against a horrible Browns team last week. To alter this narrative, New York needs a win over a team like New England and a quarterback like Brady. I expect the players to be motivated and Todd Bowles to have them prepared. In the recent history of this series, the games at MetLife are typically closer than the games at Foxboro. This will be a close game for three quarters. Provided the Jets can keep it within one possession going into the fourth quarter, they can win this game. I like the Jets to win outright. But even if they don't, take the double digit underdog at home, something I can't resist here:
Los Angeles (+2.5) @ Jacksonville:
Raise your hand if you thought this would be a meeting of 3-2 teams. Jacksonville, maybe, but I definitely didn't see LA coming on this fast. But after a pair of conference road wins, and nearly knocking off Seattle last week, it's safe to say that LA is here to compete in 2017. They're in for a fight this weekend though. In fact, anyone that plays Jacksonville this year better buckle their chinstraps. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the situation, former Giants coach (and Jaguars for those of you that remember the 1990s) Tom Coughlin is back in Jacksonville. He's not coaching but he's running football operations for the team. After a month of action, we can see that his fingerprints all over this squad. They play disciplined football, but with a nasty streak. That includes an aggressive, opportunistic defense, and an offense that plays conservatively but punishes opponents with their physical run game if not contained. What Jacksonville does well on both sides of the ball was on full display last week in Pittsburgh: The Jaguars intercepted Ben Roethlisberger five times and ran two back for touchdowns. Rookie Leonard Fournette ran 28 times (the type of workhorse load they had in mind when they drafted him) for nearly 200 yards and 2 scores. Expect more Fournette this Sunday: The Rams give up 4.5 yards per carry (YPC) so the Jaguars will have no problem patiently picking up yards on the ground until Fournette breaks bigger plays. LA has the offensive weapons, and balance, to challenge the Jacksonville defense. This game should be close. And fun to watch. At least than a field goal I'll take the Jaguars' at home:
Pittsburgh (+4.5) @ Kansas City:
***Editor's note: Jeremy DeBottis has joined us this season to help preview the Chiefs each and every week. Jeremy will be picking the NFL games with us every week and dropping some occasional Chiefs knowledge on the website. We'll be sure to get him on the podcast too. Enjoy his take on the Chiefs undersized but overachieving wide receivers this season. And check back for his Chiefs/Steelers pick this week.***
Pittsburgh travels to Kansas City this week for everyone's new favorite NFL watching experience... The Tony Romo Game of the Week! The Steelers bring with them their good pass defense. How good? Try number one in the league so far this year. Lost in the drama coming from the Steelers locker room the last couple weeks, is that they lead the NFL in passing defense, allowing only 5.4 yards per attempt (YPA) and an astoundingly low 140 YPG through the air. What can the Chiefs do to overcome this? First, they'll run the ball well. Kansas City is second in the league right now with over 156 YPG rushing. (They trail only Jacksonville who simply cannot throw.) The strong run game will set up the pass, and don't be surprised if Andy Reid puts some schematics to use as well. Misdirection will come in handy to confuse the aggressive Pittsburgh defense and possibly cause them to over-pursue and miss assignments.
The Chiefs haven't been slowed down by other strong teams this year so you really need to ride the streak here. Like every week, they've got their work cut out for them. Big Ben will be motivated to show that he's still a star quarterback in this league. But the Chiefs are equally motivated to avenge their Playoff loss last year. Chiefs to cover at Arrowhead:
New York (+13) @ Denver:
What's left to say about the joke that's become the New York Giants? Did Jerry Reese really think he could play fantasy football with the Giants extra cap money? Did he really think spending cap money and a first round draft choice on receivers was the way to go? When he had this offensive line coming back?! We know the answer to these questions. It's still just baffling every time you say it out loud. Giants fans, the media, and twitter will start to pile on Reese. And it's warranted; Reese had years to rebuild this line and chose not to. And as I've pointed out many times, he could have made a quick Joe Thomas fix a year ago. Now he can't since he's spent the extra cap money on significant contributors (sarcasm) like Brandon Marshall. And at this point, Thomas might rather stay in Cleveland. The Browns may win this weekend. The Giants won't. And they won't cover. Broncos by two touchdowns at the new Mile High:
Indianapolis (+7) @ Tennessee:
***Editor's Note: As we went to cyber-press on Wednesday night, the Colts-Titans game was still off the board, and for good reason... The Titans haven't yet cleared quarterback Marcus Mariota to play. Mariota is healing from a hamstring injury suffered a couple weeks ago. Once they make a decision then Vegas will give us a line, and we'll give you a pick. Check back or follow me on twitter, @samuelwpearce, for updates!***
This game was either off the board all week or in some cases, it was listed with a couple different lines based on whether or not Marcus Mariota started the game. Reports from the Titans on Sunday morning had Mariota cleared to play. The first line we found was Indianapolis getting a full touchdown. So we took it for the sake of getting our picks complete. Here you go:
Did you like our NFL picks this week? Hate the picks? Want to play along and teach us how to pick? Let our experts know what you think:
|Sam finally had a decent season in 2016 and hit a 55% success rate on his NFL picks. So your best bet is to fade his picks this year. It won't hurt his feelings.|
|The voice of thefootballpod.com, KAM's so good that she's been known to pick both NFL and college games. She'll share her picks as long as you don't trash talk her Packers.|
|Need power picks and the power sweep, both? Then look no further than Kevin's picks. This Western Pennsylvania football product knows the game as well as anyone.|
|She's not only the best bartender in town, but #PaytonsPicks set the pace in 2016, to the tune of a 56% success rate! Catch her if you can. Or just wisely follow her picks.|
|He's our resident Cowboys expert, so you'll hear from Rick a lot this year. As for his picks, #RicksLocks are as money as Dallas playing as the one seed in the NFC Playoffs.|
|Founder of theredbeat.com, and a contributor at turnonthejets.com, Greg is the newest member of the team. He's the biggest Jets fan we know (and willing to admit it...)|
|After making the rounds on the podcast circuit for years, we finally have our Kansas City Chiefs expert weighing in, writing columns, and picking games. So pay attention!|
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