After a humbling start to the season with my five weekly best bets, I’m finally on the mend.
Since Week 2, I’ve posted a 7-7-1 record, which normally wouldn’t be anything to celebrate, but after going 1-9 in Weeks 1 and 2, 7-7-1 sounds just fine. At this point, I’ve appeared to stave off absolute disaster and now it’s all about crawling my way back to respectability. On that note, I’m happy to report that I’m coming off my first three-win week of the season — and it likely would’ve been four wins if not for the Bears committing an awful running into the punter penalty, which gave the Raiders another chance to go down the field to score a late touchdown that didn’t just beat the Bears, but also wrecked the under.
But I’ll take what I can get. With that 3-2 week, I’ve almost got momentum on my side — or as Josh Lyman would call it, “THE BIG MO!” That’ll make a lot more sense if you skip to the 39-second mark of the video below, or if you’ve already seen “The West Wing.” If you don’t care about THE BIG MO, just keep on scrolling until you see the first of my five picks for Week 6.
Last week: 3-2
This year: 8-16-1
Seventeen is a big number, but consider the Giants’ circumstances. On a short week, the 2-3 Giants have to travel to Foxborough, where their rookie quarterback will be tasked with going up against the greatest coach of all time and the league’s best defense in his fourth career start, all without Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman,
As my colleague, Will Brinson, noted on Wednesday, rookie quarterbacks not named Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck almost always struggle against Bill Belichick, which makes sense because he’s Bill Belichick and they’re rookie quarterbacks.
The Patriots’ average margin of victory this season? 24.2 points. They’re better than the Giants in every single area — except maybe kicker. Daniel Jones has looked promising since he took over for Eli Manning, but he’s also looked exactly what you’d expect of a rookie quarterback. He’s mistake prone. A week ago, we saw Mike Zimmer’s defense stymie Jones. I think it’ll go even worse for Daniel in Week 6 given the opposition (the best team in football led by the greatest coach of all time) and the circumstances (a short week on the road).
Patriots by a million.
2. Giants at Patriots Under 41
Four of the Patriots’ five games this season have gone under and the only time the over hit was when the Patriots gave up a pick-six thrown by backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham and a special teams touchdown against the Jets. This Patriots defense is just so dang good — first in DVOA, first in points allowed per game, and first in yards allowed per game — and they’re going up against a rookie quarterback, who, as mentioned in the section above, should struggle mightily on the road against Belichick on a short week. The Patriots shouldn’t have any issues moving the ball against a Giants defense that is 23rd by DVOA, but assuming the Patriots’ defense *ahem* does its job, the Patriots’ offense should be content running out the clock once it gains a sizable advantage.
The Bengals are bad, but the Ravens might not be good. We thought they were great when they walloped the Dolphins in Week 1, but then we quickly realized everyone wallops the Dolphins. Since then, they’ve squeaked out a victory over the Cardinals, lost to the Chiefs and Browns in two games that weren’t particularly close, and edged in overtime a Steelers team that was down to its third-string quarterback. I expect the Ravens to beat the Bengals, because unlike the Bengals, the Ravens aren’t bad. But 11.5 is way too big of a number. The Ravens are 0-4 against the spread since Week 1.
While the Bengals are bad, they’re good enough to keep their margin of defeat below 11 points. They’re 2-3 against the spread and both of those wins came in road games where they were underdogs. The Ravens’ defense isn’t any good — 24th in DVOA — and , so don’t be surprised if Andy Dalton is able to hang around. At the very least, he should be able to do damage in garbage time. We saw it a week ago when the Bengals exploded for 14 points in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals to turn what should’ve been an uninteresting final quarter into a nail-biter.
Ravens win, but not by more than 10 points.
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4. Texans at Chiefs -4.5
Even though the Chiefs’ offense is banged up, don’t expect them to submit a second straight subpar performance after they were held to 13 points in a loss to the Colts. Since Patrick Mahomes became the Chiefs’ full-time starter at the beginning of last season, the Chiefs have scored fewer than 28 points only four times — they scored 27 twice and 26 once. There’s also a chance Tyreek Hill will return, which would help the Chiefs beat the man coverage that’s been holding them in check recently. Most importantly,
In general, this feels like an overreaction to both the Texans’ huge win over the Falcons that saw them drop 53 points on one of the worst defenses in football and the Chiefs’ loss to the Colts. The Chiefs are still 4-1. They were never going to go undefeated. The Texans have had their issues this season, which is why they’re only 3-2. I was prepared to pick the over (55), but then I realized that despite having Deshaun Watson, the Texans’ games have already gone under three times this year. They went under 10 times last season.
So, instead, I’ll take the better of the two teams to win by a touchdown at home. Even after last week, the Chiefs are third in DVOA and the Texans are 10th. Expect a bounceback game for Mahomes and for the Texans to come back down to earth.
The last time we saw the Lions, they were beating the Chiefs until Mahomes mounted a late comeback. Nobody — certainly not me — expected the Lions to push the Chiefs to the brink, but the Lions did. Likewise, nobody expected the Lions to compete for the NFC North, but the Lions are 2-1-1. Matthew Stafford is , which means he’s out playing Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers’ defense has been trending down after a hot start to the season, giving up 58 points over their past two games and dropping to ninth in DVOA. With Davante Adams banged up and possibly absent once again, the Packers probably don’t have enough offensive firepower to blow out the Lions. The Packers are only 13th in scoring.
Every game the Lions have played so far this season has been decided by four points or fewer. I expect that trend to continue on Monday night. I think the Lions are good enough to only lose by a field goal. And here’s where it’s worth noting that the Packers haven’t beaten the Lions since Week 17 of the 2016 season. Not only do the Lions have a four-game winning streak against the Packers, but they’ve won those four games by an average margin of 19 points.