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Week six started with a game that didn’t look that competitive on paper as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travelled to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, and when the Bucs went up 28-7 in the third quarter it certainly looked ominous but in the final twenty minutes the Eagles got some stops on defence and scored a couple of touchdowns to ultimately lose by one score 22-28. Part of the reason that happened was because head coach and play caller Nick Siranni suddenly remembered that running back Miles Sanders could actually run the ball. Previous to that the offence had only revolved around Jalen Hurts running and taking deep shots that seemed to be more effective at getting penalty yards than actual passing completions. The Eagles are not a good team right now, and I would question the way they are trying to run their offence, but there are glimmers of something there.

As for the Bucs, they are looked ominously good on offence for three quarters but seemed to bog down for the final quarter, although to the surprise of no Tom Brady was able to close out the game with a clock killing drive. There will be sterner tests of the injured Bucs’ secondary, but the rush defence was excellent and against even a slightly slower quarterback Shaq Barrett would have had multiple sacks. It may be that the injuries sink the Bucs at some point but right now they are still managing to look like Super Bowl champions thanks to the play of their offence.

So with that said about the Thursday night game let’s turn our eyes to the Sunday matchups.

Early Games:

We get our second and last London game of the season this week, but I’m not sure it’s going to be a great contest. The Jaguars are 0-5 for a reason and Urban Myer really hasn’t convinced in the pros so I find it hard to believe that he will outcoach Brian Flores, even if the Dolphins have really struggled so far this season. I’m hoping for Dan that the Dolphins play better and Tua Tagovailoa gets the start and elevates the team even though the betting lines haven’t moved with Jacoby Brissett as the starter. The sad truth is that right now the Dolphins are ranked only one place higher by the DVOA than the Jaguars and are actually ranked three places lower than the league’s other winless team the Detroit Lions. At this point there might have to be questions about how the draft picks of the recent Dolphins regime is working out even if the process of accumulating them was well done. While the Dolphins shouldn’t be in full panic mode yet, this is probably the first time Flores will be dealing with genuine criticism of his tenure so it will be interesting to see how he and his team react in strange surroundings.

As for the six o’clock games, the oldest rivalry in the NFL is being played again as the Packers visit the Bears, but the matchup of this window must be the LA Chargers visiting the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are coming out of a game where they had to work hard to get the overtime win but where Lamar Jackson completed thirty-seven of forty-three passes for four hundred and forty-two yard and four touchdowns. This doesn’t answer all the questions about Jackson in the passing game as the Colts played him in a particular way, but that was likely his best game as a drop back passer. The Chargers have a different defensive philosophy, but a lot of the excitement is based around the continued development of quarterback Justin Herbert in his second season and this meeting of two 4-1 teams looks to be a great contest that has the potential for real fireworks.

Points from the rest:

  • The Packers have well and truly moved past their bad opening week but had to work hard to beat the Bengals last week and it will be interesting to see how they do against the Bears, where Matt Nagy has a 31-22 overall record but generally gets coverage that sounds like he’s doing a lot worse. That is because the Bears are not really that convincing at 3-2 but let’s see what Justin Fields and the offence can do this week.
  • The Bengals had an okay showing last week, but if they want to build on the winning first quarter of the season, they will need to beat a Lions team who have not looked far away from their first win and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lions did get that this week.
  • The Colts looked better last week, with Carson Wentz looking as good as he has for a long time, but they need to rediscover their winning habit and whilst hosting the Texans looks like a good opportunity to do that, the number of points they are laying seems excessive and I can’t back them to cover that kind of line when they are 1-4.
  • I’m not sure what to expect from the Giants, as even when things show some promise, injury gets in the way and it’s hard to see them getting one over the Rams, even if it is a long way from LA to the east coast. However, this is a big line and with Daniel Jones cleared to play I’m just wondering if the Rams will cover this one or if they will be happy to just get the win.
  • Washington are simply not anywhere near the team from last season and whilst the Chiefs are struggling on defence, they has so much more offence than the Football Team that even with this high line I am going to back the Chiefs to get back on track.
  • The Panthers have been struggling in recent weeks and placed running back Christian McCaffery on IR yesterday after he suffered a setback earlier in the week, which explains the four point swing from laying one and a half points to getting them if you look at the consensus number so I have to go for the Vikings.

Dolphins @ Jaguars (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:      Dolphins

Packers @ Bears (+4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bears
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Bengals @ Lions (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Lions
Dan’s Pick:      Bengals

Texans @ Colts (-10.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Texans
Dan’s Pick:      Texans

Rams @ Giants (+10.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Giants
Dan’s Pick:      Rams

Chiefs @ Washington (+6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Vikings @ Panthers (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Vikings

Chargers @ Ravens (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Ravens
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Late Games:

The best game of the late sets sees the 3-2 Cleveland Browns hosting the 5-0 Cardinals having lost to the Chargers last week. The Browns have beaten the teams they should have but come up short against Chiefs and Chargers. More worryingly the Brown’s injury list is begging to grow. The Cardinals are top ten in all three phases of the game but are on the road without their head coach after Kliff Kingsbury caught Covid-19. I have numbers that contradict each other, but with the Browns at home with their head coach available I’m going to reluctantly back them even though I really don’t have a feel for what is likely to happen in this one other than what looks to be a really good game.

Points on the Rest:

  • I don’t know how the Raiders will react to the Jon Gruden situation, whether they rally round to win one for themselves or struggle with motivation, although I have heard that Derek Carr has really stepped up this week in his leadership role. The Broncos have struggled the last two weeks and the extra half point makes me nervous so whilst my numbers are saying one thing, I’m going to grab the points and hope.
  • The Patriots struggled last week against the Texans, so even though they are getting four and a half points at home, which is pretty incredible given Belichick’s coaching record, I find it hard to believe the Pats will keep up with the Cowboys given how both teams are playing at the moment. I would stay well away from this one if I had the choice as I don’t fancy picking against Belichick by this many points but as I don’t have that option I’m going to nervously back the Cowboys given the Pats are the twentieth ranked team by DVOA and the Cowboys are the second.

Cardinals @ Browns (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Browns
Dan’s Pick:      Cardinals

Raiders @ Broncos (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Raiders
Dan’s Pick:      Broncos

Cowboys @ Patriots (+4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Sunday Night Football:

Seahawks @ Steelers (-4.5)

The Sunday night game has a completely different feel now that the Seahawks have Russell Wilson out injured and are starting Geno Smith at quarterback. To be fair Smith didn’t exactly look bad when he came into last week’s game, but the Seahawks’ defence is ranked a lowly twenty-fifth right now so it is a lot to ask Smith to come in and maintain the Seahawks current ranking of fifth on offence by DVOA with so little support from the defence. I am not entirely sure I trust the Steelers turnaround on offence after one week, but under the circumstances facing a backup quarterback I’m leaning their way even if I’m not totally convinced.

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Steelers

Monday Night Football

Bills @ Titans (+5.5)

I guess the big question in this game is will the Bills have any kind of let down after the huge win against the Chiefs last week. They are on the road for a second week, this time facing a Tennessee Titans who may have the lead in the AFC South, but who have a 3-2 record and who are ranked twenty-sixth by overall DVOA. The Titans offence has not really clicked this season and the defence continues to struggle, whilst the Bills are the top team by DVOA thanks to the number one ranked defence by DVOA and an offence that is still potent even if Josh Allen’s performance has slipped a little from last year’s amazing efficiency. I feel like with the Bills on the road I could get bitten by this line under the circumstances, but looking at the Titans schedule so far this season I think I still have to back the Bills given the large difference in the DVOA rankings.

Gee’s Pick:      Bills
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.