I'm participating in this charity media NFL picks contest through RichardGardner.Com. I did a post before week two showing what the contest is all about: Link.
Overall, I'm currently one point/game out of first place with a record of 44-32 against the spread, but there's seven people that are 45-31.
Having such success for week six will be difficult though. There's matchups featuring teams that I'm still not sure what to think of, and there's five lines where teams are favored by over 10 points. In the NFL, the teams are usually so close in talent that it's tough to pick teams to win/lose by double-digits. But... there's some really, really, really, REALLY bad teams this year which I'll get more into in an upcoming post.
Anyway, here's my week six picks against the spread(the team I pick to cover in bold)...
Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals(-4.5)
The Texans are 2-2, but those wins came against the winless Titans and the awful Raiders. They were blown out at home by the Jets, and lost by seven to the Jaguars at home. That loss particularly looks bad after the Jaguars went to Seattle on Sunday and were annihilated 41-0. The Houston run defense ranks 26th in the league, and this week they'll be facing the league's leading rusher in Cedric Benson.
The Bengals are 4-1 and coming off a very impressive victory against the Ravens in Baltimore, a team that many considered to be the best in the NFL just a couple of weeks ago. I expect them to run the ball a lot and with success against the Texans.
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints(-3.5)
The Saints have a sensational offense led by quarterback Drew Brees, but the Giants are even averaging more total yards per game than them. Additionally, the Giants' defense has been far and away the best in the NFL thus far, with the best pass rush in the league that will constantly put pressure on Brees. I just think the Giants are the better team, even with the Saints being undefeated. I like the Giants not just to cover, but to go into the Superdome and get a win.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers(-11.5)
I like Aaron Rodgers to light up the Lions' 27th ranked pass defense. The Lions will likely keep it close in the first half, but I think the Packers' offense will be too much to handle for the Lions in the end, and they'll win by a couple of touchdowns at Lambeau.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers(-13.5)
Even though it's a damn big spread, I can't take the Browns to cover against the Steelers. The Steelers really need a blowout game to build their confidence and get their defending champion Super Bowl swagger back. Superstar safety Troy Polamalu could be returning from injury and he is what takes this from a very good defense to a special one. Regardless, Steelers by three+ touchdowns.
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins(-6.5)
These are two bad teams. The Redskins have two wins because they played the Rams and Buccaneers at home, probably the two worst teams in the NFL. The Redskins barely beat each.
The Chiefs are winless, but I don't think they're much worse than the Redskins are. I just have a hard time picking the Redskins to win by at least a touchdown against anybody right now. If you can't do it against the Rams at home, who should I pick you to do it against? Chiefs at least keep this one close, if not pull off an "upset".
Carolina Panthers(-3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Call me crazy, but I still expect the Panthers to make a run. Tampa Bay's allowing 4.7 yards per carry on the ground, so DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart could have a great day. The Panther's pass defense has been superb, ranking second in the NFL. Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson will have a difficult time having much success against the Panthers defense.
St. Louis Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars(-10.5)
The Rams are awful, putrid, pathetic, any word that describes absolutely terrible. Jacksonville got beat 41-0 last week and I'm still picking them to win by at least 11 against the Rams. Jacksonville by 17+.
Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings(-3.5)
The Vikings are playing simply outstanding football across the board. Brett Favre's probably even surprised ESPN with how well he's played. Their defense has been great, led by defensive end Jared Allen who is the early leading candidate for defensive player of the year. And as always, their run defense is stout.
After looking like the best team in the NFL after three weeks, the Ravens are on a two-game losing streak. Losing at New England isn't anything to be ashamed of, but they should've beaten the Bengals at home last weekend. Their defense has been good, but not looked like the terrific, swwarming defense we're used to seeing. Their pass defense has been very bad, ranking 26th in the league. I think we see a better performance out of them this week and that they will force a couple turnovers out of Favre. The Ravens may not win, but they will at least keep it within a field goal.
Philadelphia Eagles(-14.5) at Oakland Raiders
The #3 defense overall and #4 pass defense against JaMarcus Russell and company? Yikes. Add in an explosive Eagles offense and this one could get really ugly. I hate lines like this, but just feel like there's a much better chance the Eagles blow the Raiders out than the Raiders keeping it close.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks(-3.5)
Arizona's looking very average at 2-2. Seattle's 3-3 and coming off a 41-0 victory at home against Jacksonville, after getting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck back from injury. Seneca Wallace didn't exactly lose the Seahawks games, but there's no doubt they're a much better team with Hasselbeck at quarterback. I like Seattle to win, but by three or less points.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots(-9.5)
Who knows what to make of the winless Titans? I can't see them stopping the New England passing attack, and they don't have the passing game to keep up offensively. New England will bounce back from a heartbreaking loss in Denver to beat up on the Titans and improve their record to 4-2. The Titans meanwhile, will officially be done with this season and have to start thinking about their future, like putting Vince Young at quarterback instead of Kerry Collins.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets(-10.5)
My reaction to the Browns winning in Buffalo last week wasn't so much, "Holy crap, the Browns actually won", as it was, "Wow, how bad are the Bills?" The Bills are a mess right now, especially with their coaching situation which has been a story for a couple months. Somehow they only lost by one at New England in the opener. They beat a terrible Buccaneers team at home for their only win. They then lost by a combined 48 points in their following two games against the Saints and Dolphins, and then lost to the Browns.
The Jets had a heartbreaker Monday night in Miami that infuriated head coach Rex Ryan. Look for him to get his defense back on track and give Trent Edwards hell in this game. The Jets should win by at least a couple of touchdowns in front of their home crowd.
Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons(-3.5)
As a Bears fan, I get sick just looking at this matchup after the Bears blew this exact same game in the final 11 seconds last year. They couldn't stop Matt Ryan in that one, although I don't think they realized just how good he was going into the game. They certainly do now and will prepare to stop him and the tremendous Atlanta passing attack, but that defintely won't be easy. Roddy White is coming off the best game in Falcons franchise history, with eight catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Then there's a future Hall of Famer in tight end Tony Gonzalez providing Ryan with a reliable target, especially in the red zone. And let's not forget how good their running game is with Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood, giving the Falcons a very balanced offense that will give opposing coaches and scouts headaches.
The Bears are coming off a bye week that they absolutely needed, with wide receivers Devin Hester and Johnny Knox banged up in the Bears' week-4 slaughtering of the Lions. They should also get back tight end Desmond Clark, and starting linebackers Pisa Tinoisamoa and Hunter Hillenmeyer. So the Bears will be as healthy as they'll be the rest of the season, and they've played very good football without those key players. I just see the Falcons offense providing too much trouble for the Bears in what will be a very pumped up Georgia Dome for Sunday Night Football. I hope I'm wrong, but I like the Falcons by a touchdown.
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers(-4.5)
The Broncos are 5-0 and as confident as any team you'll find in the league, especially after an impressive victory over the Patriots last Sunday in Denver. Their defense continues to dominate and they're doing enough offensively with a good system for Kyle Orton to succeed: quick, short passes to Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, Tony Scheffler, etc. Their receivers are all very good after the catch, with Marshall being the best in the league at that. Rookie running back Knowshon Moreno is also emerging as the player the Broncos thought they were getting with their first round pick in April.
San Diego's running game has been a major disappointment, currently ranking last in the league. Nobody could've predicted that with LaDainian Tomlinson(even though he's clearly declining, a lot) and Darren Sproles at running back. They're still putting up over 25 points per game though, thanks to Philip Rivers and their passing game. The problem is stopping their opponents, mainly on the ground where they are allowing 151 rushing yards per game. This should be an awesome game, and I consider it a coin flip. I'll take the Broncos to cover 4.5 points though.
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