Last week: 10-6 and poisoned my own well picking both the Lions and Browns to win. I should know better… 45-35 for the season.
Week 6 brings us the first of the bye weeks for some teams. I will reiterate my longstanding complaint that a week off should be an entire division at once. It is patently unfair that different teams are vying for the same division title and being given such random bye weeks.
– Washington Commanders at Chicago Bears (pair): This game reminds me of when I got free tickets to see a comedy show with an old friend. I did not know the comedian before accepting the invitation. The comedian was Colin Quinn, whose whole act seemed to be deliberately trying not to be funny at all. This primetime game will be a poor soul’s first-ever NFL game. Think how sad and unhappy it will be. My friend (hi Jason) and I left the show that night and headed to a dive bar to drink boredom. Good call for the folks at Soldier Field around 10 p.m. local time Thursday night…
Bears 19, Commanders 17
– New York Jets against Green Bay Packers (-7): If there was ever a trap game for the Packers, this is it. They return to Green Bay from London, licking the wounds of a bad loss to a better-than-expected New York side. Guess what they’re drawing on Sunday? Another better than advertised New York team, especially one that will shamelessly attack on defense. Other than the first half of Week 5, Aaron Rodgers (autocorrected for Acorn for some reason) hasn’t shown the chemistry or connection with a receiving body that’s still not as good as the sum of its parts. I’m not convinced the Jets and Zach Wilson will be able to score a lot, but they might not need to. Way too big of a line for this one
Packers 24, Jets 23
– Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-4): Big Sunday night game in the NFC East. Can the Eagles remain the last undefeated team? Can the Cowboys save QB Cooper Rush for the magic to continue? Can Jalen Hurts regain the top spot in the planned MVP rankings? Can Micah Parsons help clip the Eagles’ heavy wings?
Lots of good storylines that don’t follow predictable paths here. In weather terms, forecasting this game is like trying to predict the exact touchdown point of a tornado. It will probably be quite close, but the wind shear and contrasting pressure levels make it very difficult to forecast. I think the Eagles defense is the best umbrella anyone has, so they get a slight nod.
Eagles 30, Cowboys 27
– Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (+2.5): Just a hunch here, but I have a feeling Andy Reid will be able to effectively sell his Chiefs players on the disrespect front. Underdogs at home?! I think Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City can use it. However, I also don’t think the Bills will overplay their hand as slight favorites.
The last time these two teams met was one of the most exciting games in NFL history. Hopefully this one comes close to the thrilling end that these two very solid all-around teams gave us in January. If it comes down to field placement — and this game could very well — favor the Bills. The Chiefs (probably) recovering K Harrison Butker could be the deciding factor, although it’s hard to trust a kicker who hasn’t played in a month.
Bills 33, Counts 31
– San Francisco 49ers against Atlanta Falcons (+5.5): The Falcons are intriguing in how they might choose to attack the NFL’s best defense. In four of the first five weeks, Atlanta scored between 23 and 27 points. Respectability. Against a good Buccaneers defense in Week 5, Atlanta only posted 15. I think the break-even point is 16. If the Falcons get there, they have a real shot. I don’t see the 49ers getting much more than that on their own, although their running game is a real advantage here.
49ers 19, Falcons 16
– New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns (-2.5): The Browns are the best team, but the best team doesn’t always win. One of the reasons for this is the timing of the matchup. The Patriots come out of a game against a high-scoring run-based offense that likes to throw at the TE with an error-prone QB. New England ruled out those Lions, who were the most successful team in the NFL. Bill Belichick won’t have to adjust the game plan to deal with the incredible ground attack offered by Cleveland. Then again, no one can mimic what Nick Chubb can for the Browns, and that’s why they’re home favorites. I still love New England’s power play and rookie QB Bailey Zappe’s controlled handling, a very different style of offense than the Browns have faced over the past two weeks. The timing of the match favors New England.
Patriots 28, Browns 24
– Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts (-1.5): The moribund Colts offense must wake up to challenge the Jaguars. Indy is scoring a league-worst 13.8 points per game. There are too many fingers to point to the lack of goals, but most of them are in the hands of turnover-prone Matt Ryan and an offensive line that can’t protect him. The Jaguars handled them a little too easily in Week 2, a 24-0 shutout by Doug Pederson’s Jacksonville team at home. I think the Jaguars also capture the rematch on the road, although that second meeting is still hard to trust.
Jaguars 21, Colts 12
– Minnesota Vikings vs. Miami Dolphins (+3): It’s Skylar Thompson’s show for the Dolphins. With Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater injured, Kansas State’s seventh-round rookie gets the nod for Miami at quarterback. Thompson thrived in the preseason and I was a fan of the draft process. He has a chance to show something, and I wouldn’t overlook Thompson. But surpassing what Kirk Cousins will do to Miami’s error-prone defense seems extremely unlikely.
Vikings 33, Dolphins 21
– Cincinnati Bengals vs. New Orleans Saints (+2): The Saints have played a pretty good pass defense this season, and a lot of that stems from a pass rush that can win consistently. It’s a very bad game for the Bengals, who just can’t find the right offensive line. If Joe Mixon can’t start running more effectively on his own, this Bengals offense is going to struggle even more as teams like the Saints realize they can stop Cincinnati’s running game with just six in the surface. I like how the Xs and Os stack up for New Orleans at home.
Saints 24, Bengals 20
– Baltimore Ravens against the New York Giants (+4.5): I love the feel-good giants at 4-1. Coach Brian Daboll has his New York team going above and beyond, which is fantastic. It’s also largely unsustainable over the long term of a season, and I think the waters are starting to come back to normal with a visit from the Ravens.
Ravens 29, Giants 21
– Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Pittsburgh Steelers (+7.5): Good weekend for Steelers fans to check out the local corn maze or cider house instead of watching the Buccaneers pulverize the road apples that are Pittsburgh’s offense. Matt Canada’s offense against the smartly aggressive Tampa Bay defense may have home fans begging for a punt on third down.
Buccaneers 30, Steelers 8
– Carolina Panthers against the Los Angeles Rams (-11.5): Congratulations, Steve Wilks; you are the new (interim) head coach of the Carolina Panthers! Your first mission is to hit the road to take on the reigning Super Bowl champions. Not only that, but now do it without your starting QB or his primary backup. Carolina got rid of the ball and the chain in Matt Rhule, but to quote The Smithereens, Wilks this week is “born to lose and doomed to fail.”
Rams 32, Panthers 12
– Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks (+3): As noted above in the Browns/Patriots predictions, the better team doesn’t always win. Arizona has more talent and up-end potential, but the way Geno Smith throws with confidence and accuracy is a terrible game for the Cardinals’ defense and their coverage issues.
Seahawks 23, Cardinals 21
– Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Chargers (+5): The Chargers are 3-2 to Denver’s 2-3, but the Broncos bring a much better, healthier defense and better overall point differential. I think Russell Wilson can still find enough spice in the rack to cook up stomachaches for local fans.
Broncos 28, Chargers 25