NFL

NFL Week 6: Part 1

Week 5 was a rough week for us. We finished 6-9 with one push, but could’ve very easily finished 8-8 if the Bengals and Panthers hadn’t completely blown it in the end. On the season, we are 38-41.  

The Bucs, Chargers, Rams, Cowboys, Titans, and Saints all came through in the win column this week. Despite the late push from the Ravens, they couldn’t clear the line for us on Monday.

Our best win percentage for a division on the season are in the NFC West, NFC South, and AFC South (all 12-8), while our worst are the AFC East and NFC North (both 7-13). On the year, we are a perfect 5-0 on picking the Seahawks games.

This week, we’ll cover the first eight games of the week in this article and the last eight in part two.

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Buccaneers -6.5 at Eagles

As good at stopping the run the Bucs are, the Eagles won’t have to adjust their game plan much this week (because they don’t run often). The Bucs have been solid, outside of their pass defense issues. Both teams actually only run the ball 28% of the time (league lows), so there should be plenty of scoring with all the frequent clock stoppages.

The Eagles are an odd team. They played exceptionally well in the opener and strong in the second half last week. They also played well defensively against the 49ers. Where they have struggled this season is finding the right balance on defense.

The Eagles did well to keep Dak Prescott under 250 yards, but sacrificed their run defense in the process. The Chiefs completely shredded them through the air, and that’s where I’m concerned this week. With a well-balanced attack and the greatest QB in history on the other side, we can expect Tom Brady to exact some SB revenge this week in Philly.

Buccaneers 38 Eagles 24

 

Dolphins vs Jaguars +3 (in London)

The Jaguars have been really bad this season, going 1-4 against the spread (ATS). Conversely, the Dolphins are 1-4 ATS, with their only covers against the Patriots and Raiders. There’s only so much the Dolphins can do at this point to prepare for this week, as both Jacoby Brissett (hamstring) and Tua (ribs) are taking limited reps this week.

Last week was a “eureka” moment for the Dolphins in their utilization of Miles Gaskin. Before last week, Gaskin was used in conventional ways. However, Gaskin’s usage in the passing game and in space, may hint the Dolphins are still in the process of finding their identity on offense.

With all the questions and uncertainty from the Dolphins’ offense and the growing confidence of Trevor Lawrence on the other side, this may be the breakthrough week for the Jaguars. London is the home of the Jaguars for at least one week per year anyways.

Jaguars 26 Dolphins 24

 

Chargers at Ravens -2.5

Both these teams are on fire right now. The Chargers have had the 7th most difficult schedule to this point, beating the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns over the past three weeks. The Ravens are a shaky 4-1. They could easily be 1-4 (beat the Lions via NFL record-setting FG, secured win vs Chiefs via late fumble, and beat Colts via short, missed FG).

Even though both teams have some close and possibly fluky victories, we should credit them for pulling out the wins in the end. This game has some angles to it, but the rub is the recent history with these two. Just a few years ago, the Chargers planned and executed a perfect strategy to defeat Lamar Jackson and the heavily-favored Ravens in the Wildcard.

This season, Lamar has evolved his game, but the pieces around him have eroded, while the Chargers have only gotten stronger. The Chargers’ defense was uncharacteristically bad last week and the Ravens have been extremely lucky so far. I don’t anticipate those things keeping up.

Chargers 30 Ravens 27

 

Vikings at Panthers +2

The Panthers had a massive collapse last week against the Eagles. Leading 15-3 late in the third quarter, the Panthers continued to turn the ball over and fail to finish drives. What happened next was a late surge from the Eagles and a much-needed victory.

For the Panthers, it was a critical blow to their postseason aspirations. Meanwhile, the Vikings blew a big lead against the Lions, only to win on a last-second 54-yard field goal.

I like the balance of the Vikings’ offense, even if they haven’t been the same the past few weeks from a production standpoint. The Panthers hit turbulence last week, as Sam Darnold committed some uncharacteristic turnovers last week, but anytime that happens, good coaches tend to make adjustments quickly.

The stagnant Vikings offense scares me this week against the Panthers. The Panthers have the better defense and shouldn’t make the same mistakes on offense this week. I like the Panthers at home.

Panthers 20 Vikings 17

 

Packers -4.5 at Bears

The Packers haven’t been the same team this season. For one, Aaron Rodgers has been uncharacteristically bad under pressure. Both the run game and the defense tend to come and go, but the Packers don’t exactly instill confidence with their play this season.

Despite suspicion the Packers aren’t the team we expected them to be, the Bears are troubled offensively. With both David Montgomery and Damien Williams out this week, Khalil Herbert will be the primary back in the offense. Justin Fields has done little to instill a sense of long-term hope, but his tenure as starter has been too short for us to be certain.

Whenever there’s a game like this (uncertainty on one side), I tend to lean with the known. The Bears’ defense is their best asset right now, but Aaron Rodgers is not going to be an easy guy to stop. In addition, both the Bears starting receivers are questionable for the game. In the end, I just trust the Packers more.

Packers 29 Bears 20

 

Bengals at Lions +3.5

Following an exhausting and emotional effort, the Lions lost another heartbreaker last week to the Vikings. Though ineffective offensively for most the game, the Lions put together a complete effort in the second half, holding the Vikings to just 6 points at home in that half.

The outcome was all too familiar, but the emotion of the Lions’ coach in the postgame shows just how much his team and winning matter to him. This week could be the breakthrough game the Lions have searched all season for.

Last week, the Bengals nearly pulled off the upset of the Packers (we predicted), but failed to hit both would-be winning FGs. This week, they travel to Detroit, looking to regain their confidence against a motivated Detroit Lions team.

I like Detroit this week, primarily due to the sense of urgency. The players and coaches appear to really enjoy working together, and a win will do a lot to instill confidence in this team moving forward.

Lions 24 Bengals 22

 

Texans +10 at Colts

There are two certainties this season with these teams. The first is the Texans are much better and play a lot harder than anyone gives them credit. They are 3-2 ATS this season and are typically very close, late in games.

The other certainty is the Texans are very difficult to plan for, because they don’t really have an offensive identity yet. The Colts are just 1-4 and coming off a short week from Monday night’s Overtime loss in Baltimore.

The Colts have recently found more success with their rushing attack, but still seem to have some issues maintaining consistency in the passing game. Though the Colts demonstrated a brilliant gameplan against the Ravens last week in the first half, the same defensive planning will be more clouded this week.

I like the Colts to win in this game, but I don’t trust a 1-4 team to cover a ten-point spread, even at home.

Colts 30 Texans 24

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