THE NFL never takes a day off and as we enter Week six, we’re suddenly down a head coach, very close to losing another, and STILL have one undefeated side remaining.
Bring on five more games, and five more picks.
(2021 Predictions W-L-D: 11-13-1: 44%)
Bengals (-3.5) @ Lions – 18:00
Detroit can’t get any closer to winning without falling over the line, but it won’t be here against the Bengals.
They’re smarting from a failure to clinch a season-defining win against the Packers.
A key here is defense: The Lions have given up the fourth most passing plays of 40+ yards.
That’s not ideal when Joe Burrow and rookie Ja’marr Chase come into the Motor City.
The 21-year old has an average of 19.8 yards per catch; third-most in the league.
Expect him to feast on the Lions’ secondary on the way to a get-back-right game for Cincy.
Prediction: Bengals 31 Lions 21 (Bengals -3.5)
Chiefs (-7) @ Washington – 18:00
This pick is in no way complimentary to the Chiefs: Make no mistake, they are not a top team in the NFL right now; heck, they’re not even a top team in the AFC.
I’m picking the Chiefs to cover because Washington’s much vaunted defense simply hasn’t turned up this year.
Only the Colts have allowed more passing touchdowns and just five teams have fewer interceptions.
Not what you want to hear when an angry Patrick Mahomes is ready to exact a revenge game.
On the offensive side, Taylor Heinicke has kept Washington afloat but there’s been nothing wow-worthy: They’re towards the bottom ten for big plays, first downs and QB rating.
The Chiefs will take a step in getting their season back on track.
Prediction: Chiefs 38 Washington 28 (Chiefs -7)
Chargers @ Ravens (-3) – 18:00
A game that should be on a primetime slot.
The offense could be pretty special in this one: Lamar Jackson had the passing game of his career against the Colts, he’s got more yards on his own so far than over half of the league!
But it’ll be a short gameweek and they’re coming off an emotional win, in contrast to the Chargers out duelling the Browns and posting the (possible?) front running MVP candidate in Justin Herbert.
Away from the stat lines, Herbert is impressing in more intangible ways.
Unfavoured against the Chiefs and Browns? He led them to victory.
Needing multiple fourth down plays to keep the game alive against Cleveland? He led them to victory.
They’re underdogs again but if there’s one player I would currently back in a tense endgame situation (that isn’t a 44-year old inhuman GOAT), it’s the second year QB out of Oregon.
Prediction: Chargers 35 Ravens 33 (Chargers +3)
Cowboys (-4) @ Patriots – 21:25
Is it time that we start taking the Cowboys for what they think they are: Legit Super Bowl contenders?
It’s getting harder to oppose them as the weeks go on, a potent blend of offensive firepower and defensive wizardry (Hello, Trevon Diggs) have them 4-1 and they could easily be 5-0.
But Gillette Stadium has long been the resting place for a franchise's ambitions, with Bill Belichick the hooded Gravedigger.
Thing is, there’s not a lot of evidence to show that Mac Jones will get the best of it here.
Only the Bucs have faced more passing attempts than the Cowboys, but despite that they’ve limited QBs to an average passer rating of 85; seventh best in the league.
Jones is hovering at a 95 rating overall but that could go down, especially if the aforementioned Diggs adds to his six season picks.
Dak Prescott shows no sign of his gruesome injury from last year and only has Mahomes and Brady in front of him when it comes to TD throws.
Cowboys win, and win comfortably.
Prediction: Cowboys 30 Patriots 21 (Cowboys -4)
Seahawks @ Steelers (-4.5) – 01:20
For all of Seattle’s many ups and few downs over the last decade, Russell Wilson has been the glue that has held the franchise together.
So how will they fare with him on the sidelines? Many people suspect it won't be good.
The Seahawks without Wilson is a bit like an Oktoberfest with no beer: You’re kind of missing the key aspect of the operation.
Geno Smith is expected to start under center and the veteran journeyman showed flashes of ability in their ultimately doomed battle against the Rams.
He can certainly play (you don’t stay in the league for seven years if you can’t), but we’re a long way gone from 2014, when he was last a regular starter.
He’ll need to do better than Teddy Bridgewater for Denver last week to have any chance.
He could only get 2/12 third down conversions against an improving Steeler defense.
But with Pittsburgh still in the AFC North hunt (just), and Big Ben able to lean on a decent run game fronted by Najee Harris, they’ll earn a timely win and cover well at home.
Prediction: Seahawks 20 Steelers 28 (Steelers -4.5)
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