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Week 6 NFL Picks

Chasing points, devastating injuries, triumphant returns, breakout candidates; We cover it all in Week 6. (Photo by Greg Fiume / Getty Images)

Last Week:     8 – 6 – 0
Season:         44 – 32 – 1

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

No game this week.

Giving Covid The Derrick Henry Stiff-arm (Bye Week)

Raiders
The Raiders may have had the toughest schedule through five weeks, especially after what Carolina has proven over the last few weeks (Panthers, Saints, Patriots, Bills, Chiefs). Coming out 3-2 looks real good right about now. Las Vegas dominated the 2nd half against the Chiefs in impressive fashion.

Saints
Just like the Raiders, but for different reasons, the Saints should feel pretty good about their 3-2 record after five weeks. No Michael Thomas, faced some large 1st half deficits, and they’re still right in the playoff mix. Is everything perfect? No. Does Drew Brees to take an entire half to warm up? I think so.

Chargers
I, like many others, have been extremely impressed by Justin Herbert. He doesn’t play like a rookie at all. The celebration of his abilities is warranted. However, I thought the telecast on Monday night ignored his struggles over a lengthy stretch from late in the 2nd quarter through most of the 2nd half. Up until his late 4th quarter 64-yard TD pass to a wide-open Mike Williams, Herbert was struggling, and it allowed New Orleans back into the game. Over four consecutive drives, Herbert was 4/12 for only 27 yards. The Saints swung a 20-3 deficit to a 20-20 in that time. Also, don’t fire Anthony Lynn. The Chargers, even at 1-4, are still better than half the league.

Seahawks
Seattle is not a very good team right now and I don’t even know if it matters. That’s how good Russell Wilson is playing. Also, as an Eagles fan, watching DK Metcalf turn into Terrell Owens 2.0 is absolute torture.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Texans at Titans
While Houston looked quite a bit more potent Sunday, I’m going to hold off on believing in the Texans until they beat a better team than the Jaguars. I don’t have much to offer about the Titans here because it feels like they haven’t played in months. (Update: Titans look good. Real good.) TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans -3.5

Bengals at Colts
The Colts have the NFL’s best defense according to Football Outsiders DVOA. Their offense isn’t nearly as good. In fact, their offense is failing in the area it was designed to excel; the run game. The Colts run the football more than 24 other teams in the league. Despite nearly 30 attempts per game, they rank 20th in rush yards per game. Even worse, they rank 31st in yards per attempt. When the ground game is ineffective, your passing game must bail you out. Philip Rivers isn’t that guy anymore. The Colts play well with a lead. In all three of their wins they never trailed by more than 3. Sunday against Cleveland they trailed by multiple scores for most of the 2nd half. That led to more pressure on the passing game, which resulted in more Rivers turnovers and their most lopsided time of possession loss of the season. If the Colts can’t get more from their ground game, they’ll find more and more contests going the way of their defeat in Week 5. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +8

Falcons at Vikings
Minnesota chased points in the 3rd quarter and it ultimately cost them the game. Instead of being in position to kick a field goal and go up 9 points in the final two minutes, Mike Zimmer had to choose between a field goal to go up 8 or going for it on 4th and 1 to keep the ball out of Russell Wilson’s hands. Zimmer went for it and failed. You can guess how that ended. Don’t chase points until you absolutely must. Moving on… I generally hate tanking. I see its merits in the NBA, but NBA general managers are often the dumbest and screw it up in some way. I find it entirely worthless in football. With that said, the Falcons should absolute tank for Trevor Lawrence. Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff are now gone. Matt Ryan has been a roller coaster since 2016. He’ll be 36 next year. Julio Jones will be 32. Maybe it’s time to move Jones for an asset and look to the future. Yes, there is an additional playoff spot this year, but the Falcons need to let go of 2016 and start anew. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings -4

Broncos at Patriots
The Broncos haven’t played since October 1st. It’ll be a full 18 days until they participate again. New England is dealing with a very selective Covid 19 outbreak that only targets their most important players. Instead of rehashing what I said last week, let’s remember Joe Morgan. Morgan died this week at age 77. To me, Morgan was the voice of baseball. He was my favorite national analyst. When Sunday Night Baseball was still a big deal, it was Morgan that sold it for me. His death made me sad. I’ve missed him calling games over the past decade. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos +9.5

Football Team at Giants
Everyone was excited about Alex Smith’s triumphant return to football, and deservedly so. It was an awesome moment and no one deserves praise and recognition more than Smith. His play, though? Not so good. Smith was 9/17 for 37 yards and sacked 6 times in a little over one half of football. Washington went 3 and out on every one of their seven 2nd half drives (one was a 4 and out). Yes, that’s zero first downs in an entire half. Again, welcome back, Alex Smith. Great to see you again. FOOTBALL TEAM If I were Charles Barkley; Football Team +2.5

Ravens at Eagles
Zach Ertz is a mess right now. He can’t beat single coverage, he can’t win off the line, he can’t get flags when there are infractions, he can’t get the ball when open. The list of what’s wrong with Ertz right now is long. As I’m sure you’ve seen, Ertz has been targeted 11 times in the last two games. He has only 15 receiving yards. He’s stuck in the worst stretch of his fabulous career. Defenses are taking him out of the equation and he’s either no longer able to overcome that or mentally not invested due to his contract situation. Or both. The Eagles offense has rallied a bit over the last two weeks without Ertz. If he can find something to contribute or perhaps benefit from the opposing defense scheming for Travis Fulgham, maybe the offense takes another step forward. Regardless, I doubt any of it will be enough against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +8

Browns at Steelers
The Browns are pretty good and quarterback may be their biggest weakness. Imagine having that thought in December 2018. Cleveland’s offense is pretty simple to figure out. If they can run the ball successfully, Baker Mayfield will be a fine quarterback via play-action and rolling out of the pocket. If they can’t move the ball on the ground and Mayfield is sitting in the pocket, bad things will happen to Cleveland. What was weird about both of Sunday’s interceptions was the Browns were up by multiple scores. Why is Mayfield forcing the ball somewhere in such a situation? The Browns also had their worst rushing output of the season in their first game without Nick Chubb. If I’m the Steelers, I come out extremely aggressive and try to get the Browns on their heels and coming from behind. If the game falls on Mayfield’s shoulders, it’ll likely end poorly for the Browns. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -3.5

Bears at Panthers
The other day I saw an ESPN headline that read, “Breakout candidates for Week 5.” I laughed. In the pandemic world of Covid 19, could that article be forecasting which athletes were likely to be most responsible for a Covid 19 breakout or were they referencing their on-field potential? I think someone should start doing some intense coverage on the former. You’re welcome for this great idea. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -1.5

Lions at Jaguars
Jacksonville Jacksonvilled hard in the final two minutes of the 1st half last week against Houston. First, their kicker missed a 24 yard field goal (24!!!). Then the Jaguar defense picked off Deshaun Watson on the very next play. Five plays later, the Jacksonville kicker again missed a field goal (49 yards). That wasn’t their only big blunder of the day, either. After another Watson interception inside his own 40, James Robinson fumbled it away inside the Houston 10 a handful of plays later. Two free opportunities for points, zero points for the Jaguars. If the Lions don’t win this one, Matt Patricia will be gone and Detroit should sell off whatever assets it can. Time to start over. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars +3.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Jets at Miami
I’m happy for Ryan Fitzpatrick and everything, but no one outside of south Florida is going to want to watch the Dolphins until Tua Tagovailoa is under center. Unfortunately, that can’t happen without Fitzpatrick being awful or getting injured. DOLPHINS If I were Charles Barkley;  Dolphins -9.5

Packers at Buccaneers
The new Monday Night Football crew is a vast improvement over previous years of Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore. They clearly love the game and the analysis is almost always insightful. They have one blind spot, though; fantasy football. Its no secret gambling and fantasy football play a major role in football’s dominant ratings. I understand why a telecast wouldn’t devote much in game production to fantasy players, but when a player is missing in action for significant time the booth must address it. Two weeks ago Aaron Jones sat for the entire 2nd quarter. Not a word from the telecast. This past week Keenan Allen disappeared and the telecast mentioned Allen getting his back stretched and never circled back on it until after the half. They went an entire quarter and a half with no mention of it. I don’t necessarily think this falls on the booth. Producers should be on this, encouraging Steve Levy to address a significant absence on each new drive until the player’s designation is finally determined. But what do I know. Also, Brady vs. Rodgers would’ve been much cooler 7-10 years ago. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -1

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Rams at 49ers
The 49ers put on the ugliest 60-minute performance by any team this season, and that includes the 0-5 Jets and 0-5 Giants. While I don’t think the 49ers are quite that bad, I think they’re now facing the grim reality of not having a good starting quarterback. Regardless, I think they give the Rams all they can handle because division games are just different. Aaron Donald is also different. He’s been as dominant as any offensive player this season. I grew up watching Reggie White. Donald is on that level. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers +3.5

Monday Night (5:00PM and 8:15PM ET)

Chiefs at Bills
Kansas City’s offense needs some minor tweaking. I know I’ve been saying this for weeks, but it’s a problem. The Chiefs aren’t running the football with running backs with any efficiency. They averaged 4.0 yards per carry or less in each of their last four games. Their combination of running backs hasn’t surpassed 82 yards in a single game. Sure, you can supplement the ground game with swing passes, receiver sweeps and such, but it doesn’t impact the defense in the same manner, or, more importantly, the clock. Against their division rivals (Chargers and Raiders), the Chiefs lost the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes. In the 2nd half against Las Vegas, Kansas City had the football for only 9½ minutes. The Raiders dominated the ball and the Chiefs couldn’t run the football to give its defense any kind of rest. Kansas City’s defense was clearly gassed Sunday. They surrendered 6 plays of more than 23 yards to an offense many have criticized for lacking big plays. Also, if you’re Buffalo, you hate to see a team like the Chiefs lose the week before they come to town. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -4.5

Cardinals at Cowboys
The Dak Prescott injury was incredibly sad, and I’m an Eagles fan. Since the NFC East is a complete dumpster fire, I’m not counting out the Cowboys. Andy Dalton put up some numbers when he had talent around him in Cincinnati. Dallas certainly has more talent than any of Dalton’s Bengals teams, so I don’t expect the offense to fall off too much. However, given how bad that Dallas defense is, I doubt Dalton can lead the furious rallies like Prescott could. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -1.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week:  9 – 5 – 0
Season:       37 – 37 – 3

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