NFL Week 6: Picks and Predictions for Every Game
NFL WEEK 6: PICKS AND PREDICTIONS FOR EVERY GAME: It was a rough week for my crystal ball, which as it turns out, is just a 14 pound bowling ball. Lesson learned.
I need a bounceback week to keep my overall record in the green. Let’s see what the numbers are cooking up, starting with my current power rankings, sponsored by AOL Instant Messenger*.
*Note: The power rankings are not actually sponsored by AOL Instant Messenger
These rankings are based purely on actual numbers this year, adjusted by strength of schedule, of each team’s offensive, defensive and special teams performance.
These components are weighted at 45%, 45% and 10% respectively, with the top team set at 100 and the bottom team at 50. And right now, San Francisco is just ruining this for everybody.
Related: Toby’s NFL Week 5 Betting Recap
They have wrested the top offensive spot away from Miami, they have my 2nd ranked defense, but – they do have a weakness – they are only *checks notes* sixth in the special teams ranks. Wait what? This team is ridiculous and they are playing out of their minds right now.
Soooo, uh yeah, I’m back on New England again apparently, after recommending them for the last two weeks of them getting their doors blown off
. Third time’s a charm, right? This is more of a statement of how back I think the Raiders are but either way I am not thrilled about this.
But the numbers do not lie, excluding the 8 games last week where they lied directly to my face. I do like getting some value on Baltimore, who I still think are one of the best teams in the NFL despite their two weird losses.
Let’s get into it.
TIER ONE GAMES
NEW ENGLAND +3 @ LAS VEGAS
Projected Spread: New England -4.5
Projected Result: New England 13 – Las Vegas 7
Power Ranks: NE 20th, LVR 29th
If this team makes me look bad one more time, I’m putting them at the bottom of the rankings and locking them in there forever.
They still have a passable defense, which puts them well above the Raiders, who are terrible on both sides of the ball. In addition to that, the Raiders are also terrible in Special Teams and Conversions, i.e. the “weird stuff” that swings games in wild directions.
Do you know who I have at number two in that category? The Saints, who stomped the Patriots into the molten core of the Earth last week in Foxboro.
New Orleans outgained New England about 300 yards to 180, which is not usually what you would see in a 34-0 live execution. So I’ll give them one more chance to bounce back on the painted floor of an Amazon warehouse that the Raiders call home, particularly as the only good unit in this game is New England’s defense.
While we are on the Patriots, can we give Bill Belichick his flowers?
People keep saying he’s lost his touch as a personnel guru, but here we are in 2023 and he just steals Christian Gonzalez. Gonzalez was an immediate impact player, brightly standing out on this talentless, inept roster also assembled by Bill Belichick.
Now Gonzalez goes down, so what does Bill do?
He swaps late rounders to bring back J.C. Jackson after letting him walk for a big contract in 2022. Brilliant! Even if Jackson still sucks, he’s going to be on the field because the horribly managed Patriot roster has nobody else you’ve ever heard of in their secondary. Another nine-dimensional chess move from Grand Master Belichick.
BALTIMORE -4.5 @ TENNESSEE (London game)
Projected Spread: Baltimore -8
Projected Result: Baltimore 27 – Tennessee 7
Power Ranks: BAL 2nd, Ten 24th
Ok, yes, I understand that the objective in a football game is to win.
But you can’t predict the future just from the won/loss results of the past. Baltimore diced the Steelers up on Sunday, but they had a few fumbles, a weird 4th down conversion attempt gone awry, like eight dropped passes for multiple touchdowns, and they had a punt blocked into the end zone.
Not to mention a horrible throw on a horrible call, a goal line fade to 50-year-old Odell Beckham. And the Steelers needed every single one of those things to happen to squeak out a victory.
In most cases, those things just aren’t going to happen every week.
Baltimore’s offense is an actual NFL offense now, their defense is still legit, and they still have Justin Tucker.
Overall they have been very middling in their special teams, which is very unlike John Harbaugh and I do expect that to turn around.
Even if it doesn’t, Baltimore is just light years ahead of Tennessee by every metric. Tennessee does have a great rush defense, and rushing is what Baltimore does best. But flip it and Baltimore also has a great rush defense, which is literally all that Tennessee does well.
Ryan Tannehill’s days as an efficiency gawd are long over, and I just don’t think that Tennessee will be able to move the ball without a herculean effort from Derrick Henry. It’s possible, but I’m not betting on it.
One thing to note is that this is one of those weird London games, so weird stuff is arguably more likely than normal. However unlike last week both of these teams will be traveling to London this week. Which team is better at international travel? I’ll start working on a metric for it.
TIER TWO GAMES
SEATTLE +3 @ CINCINNATI
Projected Spread: Seattle -1
Projected Result: Cincinnati 24 – Seattle 23
Power Ranks: SEA 21st, CIN 25th
I know Cincinnati had a good game last week against the frisky birds out in Arizona, so they are now officially “back”.
Well, I’m going to need to see it again before I go along with it.
I have Seattle as the better team and I’m only favoring the Bengals to narrowly win because this is a “9am-on-the-West-Coast” road game for the Seahawks. The effect of home/away and travel distance is so hard to quantify, so give me the Hawks and the points.
NY GIANTS @ BUFFALO -14
Projected Spread: Buffalo -14
Projected Result: Buffalo 45 – New York 7
Power Ranks: BUF 4th, NYG 31st
Buffalo is back stateside with a bad taste in their mouths, and I fully expect them to take out their frustration on the G-men.
Sure I have the expected line right at the actual line, but that’s only because Vegas just doesn’t set 30 point lines. T
here is not a reasonable number large enough that you could give me to take New York in this one. The Bills are a top 5 team by my metrics, and the Giants are a bottom three team.
The one glaring weakness for Buffalo is their run defense, which Travis Etienne and the Jaguars exploited last week on the cricket pitch. But how are the Giants going to exploit that? Matt Breida and an injured Saquon Barkley? Daniel Jones running QB counters? I just don’t see it.
These aren’t necessarily games I’m recommending, but since I only have a few that I am recommending, here’s some that I’m not not recommending. Whoa I feel dizzy. Where am I?
WASHINGTON @ ATLANTA -2.5
This looks like it should be one that I recommend, but I just don’t have a strong enough edge to do so, so it’s right on the fringe. And I mean right on the fringe.
Perhaps it is because I don’t believe that Desmond Ridder being decent for one game is enough to confidently take the Falcons to outscore anybody.
He did so at the end of last year and fooled the Falcons into going into this season with him as their starter. We have a saying here in Toby Wreathway’s NFL picks columns and it’s fool me twice, uhhh…fool me….fool us again and….uhh you can’t get fooled twice.
INDIANAPOLIS +4 @ JACKSONVILLE
This would be a green game if not for the injury to Anthony Richardson.
The issue here for me is not that Indy doesn’t have their QB, as Gardner Minshew is more than competent and you can easily argue that he’s a passing game upgrade over Richardson at this point in the rookie’s young career.
My problem here is that the injury to Richardson fundamentally changes who the Colts are as a team. Like, they just can’t play the same way that got them to this point, and I think there’s a potential ripple effect there.
Now, on the flip side, they did beat Baltimore this way (on the strength of twelve 100-yard field goals) so perhaps they actually get better. I just can’t recommend them right now with this uncertainty, though I do still think they are the play here.
There is one major concern. If you are unfamiliar with the AFC South Caste System, in recent years it has the Jags absolutely owning the Colts, who own the Texans, who also own the Jags. The Titans also own the Jags.
The records don’t usually matter; in the year before the Jags got Trevor Lawrence, they went 1-15…with an opening week upset victory over the Colts. I’m hoping this weird blip has run its course but the ghosts of 2018 may be present in Duval.
DENVER @ KANSAS CITY -10.5
I absolutely hate the half-point hook on this one, but otherwise it’s your classic good team vs. bad team matchup, and I will be taking the good team.
Particularly when they are at home on a Thursday night.
I have Kansas City in sixth in my power rankings while Denver is holding onto last place with the jaws of life. This is primarily on the weakness of their defense, which I have at -2.337 standard deviations below league average. That is ludicrous…Chicago is 2nd to last at -1.26 and no one else is even at -1.0. This is like, a career-ending performance for Vance Joseph if it continues.
ARIZONA +7 @ LOS ANGELES
Arizona came crashing back to Earth last week, but I’m still not convinced that the Rams are a full touchdown better at this point.
I’d also note that I have LA at the very bottom of my special teams/conversions rankings, which suggests that they are susceptible to some weird stuff happening. I will probably be betting this game.
I suggest that you save your money. However, if you think it’s too environmentally unfriendly to simply burn your money, feel free to bet it on these games. Gun to my head picks are in green text.
MINNESOTA -2.5 @ CHICAGO
This was projected to be a “green game,” but it fell out of that range when I adjusted the Vikings’ pass offense to account for Justin Jefferson’s injury.
It’s a bit of a guessing game but while it didn’t affect the projected score much (the Vikings projected score dropped by three points), it affected my betting rank quite significantly, as these are heavily based on what I perceive to be “value” in a spread.
Chicago has looked better but they’ve looked better against two awful teams and they still can’t stop anybody defensively for four entire quarters. They nearly let the Commanders get back in that game last week. This does have the slight eerie feeling of a Kirk Cousins patented 475 passing yards for 1 TD and a 21-20 victory, though.
DETROIT -3 @ TAMPA BAY
At this point, Tampa Bay is my current “good bad team” as I have them as a surprising ninth in my power ranks. However, this week they are getting a tough matchup.
The Lions come down to the Bay, and this week it looks like the Florida heat is going to finally recede, with a forecasted high for Sunday of only 83 degrees. Plus this one’s at 4:25pm, so it may be downright pleasant.
This is a good opportunity for Tampa to prove that they are for real and for Baker Mayfield to con another team out of QB money.
SAN FRANCISCO -5.5 @ CLEVELAND
This should be a green game. In fact, I am absolutely saying this is a green game despite what my calculations say. There is no way San Francisco should only be giving 5.5 points to a Browns team likely to be lead by PJ Walker. This is the first game I bet this week and you should too. Consider #11 to actually represent #1 twice, for emphasis. This one’s going in the overall record!
The Browns are my top defensive team, but San Francisco is my top overall team by a wide margin and I just don’t see how the Browns will be able to keep up. Particularly with SF in the 3rd spot in my defensive rankings. They would have to fly into the wrong airport for Cleveland to have a chance in this one.
DALLAS -2 @ LA CHARGERS
I have no idea what to expect in the second game this week in Los Angeles.
I could see anything happening. Dallas getting back on track and adding more heat to Brandon Staley’s chair.
Dallas shrinking further into a corncob. A dumb 13-10 stupidfest full of fumbles and punts. The NFL suspending operations and moving to Scandanavia. Zombie Herbert Hoover declaring martial law. It’s all on the table here.
CAROLINA @ MIAMI -13.5
I like Miami because this is another good team at home in the tropics vs. bad team matchup, and the heat will not be loosening its grips on Miami until Monday, but this one just feels weird.
Devon Achane is hurt and I have to dock Miami’s run game a ton for that, as he was averaging, and this is not a typo, 12.5 yards per carry in September. On 38 carries! What? Hold on wait a second what did you just say that is INSANE.
I also have Miami lower in my defensive ranks than I thought I would and also near the bottom of the “weird stuff” category, and I fully expect them to have at least one ludicrous loss. It’s enough to not be gung-ho about laying 13.5 but I’d still do it before I took the Panthers.
PHILADELPHIA -7 @ NEW YORK JETS
I’m projecting Philly to win here but this is my number one upset/weird stuff game of the week and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it happens.
The Jets are number one in punting and converting 4th downs and stopping redzone drives and all that stuff while the Eagles are 31st. This could partially explain why they just haven’t looked quite right this year despite being undefeated. This is one where my gut and my numbers just aren’t aligned.
NEW ORLEANS @ HOUSTON -1.5
This one bored me just typing it out. Two boring teams playing in a boring dome in a boring town. Every time two weird southern dome teams plays it looks and feels like the game is taking place in 1993. At least CJ Stroud is something to watch.
Derek Carr, meanwhile…I just don’t want to see any more of Derek Carr completing 85% of his passes for like seven yards/attempt anymore.
This guy has Hall of Fame-level talent, but he’s just missing one switch that allows him to stand in the pocket and fire a strike downfield while getting drilled by a defensive lineman.
It affects everything he does and he just can’t get what he should out of the absolutely electric arm talent that he has. Sucks but it is what it is. My biggest fear for CJ Stroud coming in was that he had the same issue at Ohio State, but it seems like that is not the case and that is a good thing because he’s fun to watch.
I have New Orleans in the top 5 of my power rankings but that’s mainly on the strength of their STs/misc strengths, which I’m likely weighting too highly. I like Houston to win at home.
Well, I lost last week with Baltimore so who cares. I do still have one entry left and I’m riding with Baltimore again with that entry. I never learn.