NFL Week 6 game picks: Chiefs edge Texans; Jags upend Saints
Gregg Rosenthal went 9-6 on his predictions for Week 5, bringing his season record to 46-31-1. How will he fare in Week 6? His picks are below.
SUNDAY, OCT. 13
9:30 a.m. ET (NFL Network) | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (London)
The 2019 Bucs have already been a wild ride, with the team’s dispiriting effort in New Orleans marking the first time it has looked like the bad old Bucs of the Raheem Morris or Greg Schiano days. With the right side of Tampa Bay’s offensive line banged up and set to face off against a streaking Panthers team here in London, the logical result would be Carolina getting revenge for a Week 2 home loss. Logic doesn’t seem to apply to either of these teams.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) | Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
The Dolphins have competition as the NFL’s worst team. Unfortunately for Dolfans all in on the team securing the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, Miami faces all three of the other winless teams (Redskins, Jets and Bengals), with the Redskins and Bengals both heading to South Florida. If Brian Flores can drum up one beautiful game plan Sunday coming off a bye week and Josh Rosen makes fewer YOLO throws, the Dolphins may have to embark on a far more complicated path to acquiring their next franchise quarterback.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) | U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
What a delicious matchup of two would-be NFC Super Bowl contenders that know their path grows even more brutal if they lose Sunday. The Vikings will have to call plays against type offensively because the best way to beat the Eagles’ defense is to throw over the top while using the running game as a side dish. Minnesota’s coaches displayed the confidence to pull off that strategy against the Giants last week, but will they show the same faith in Kirk Cousins against a slowly awakening Philly pass rush? There are fewer questions about the Eagles, who are growing healthier and more like the team everyone expected them to be.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
While the Chiefs’ offense might have hit a breaking point last Sunday night because of its missing pieces, the Texans’ attack looks deeper by the week. Kenny Stills (who’s battling a hamstring injury) was the secret sauce in the Laremy Tunsil trade, Will Fuller carried the team last week and slot receiver Keke Coutee is back to making plays over the middle. The Chiefs’ defense has also looked particularly vulnerable to the run, so the Texans should be able to hang tough in a shootout. Just don’t expect a Patrick Mahomes-led offense to make so many critical mistakes in back-to-back home games.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) | TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
After starting three of his four games on the road, Gardner Minshew deserves to feel the love from the Jacksonville crowd. He also deserves more support from a defense that ranks 25th in defensive efficiency, according to DVOA, while Minshew’s offense ranks seventh. Look for the rookie passer to get that support Sunday against a Saints team that could follow up its most complete performance of the season with its worst because that’s just how the NFL works.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) | FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
It’s Week 6 and the Browns have yet to win a game at home or show they can play with any consistent offensive rhythm. The big plays that saved them in Baltimore are unlikely to occur against a disciplined, if pedestrian, Seahawks defense. It’s strange to think that Seattle has one of the most efficient offenses in football, but that’s what happens when a strong running game is supported by a quarterback who can reliably produce third-down magic on command. The Browns’ offense, meanwhile, ranks behind the Bengals, Bears, Cardinals and Bills in DVOA.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) | M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
Who would have thought the 2019 AFC North would be so forgiving? The Ravens’ once-airtight roster displays new holes each week, with safety Tony Jefferson’s ACL injury the latest setback. Lamar Jackson is turning the ball over too much, and the team’s running game is not quite as dominant as hoped, but the Ravens should still escape Week 6 with a 4-2 record and in possession of two division wins. (The standings won’t show that those two wins were collected against the Steelers’ third-string QB and the hapless Bengals.) The Ravens are talented enough — and smart enough — to adjust on the fly, covering those roster holes as the season wears on.
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) | Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Los Angeles)
The Rams’ offense, which began coming to life against Tampa two weeks ago, was most of the way back in Seattle. If not for Greg Zuerlein’s missed field goal, all the talk after last Thursday Night would have been about the Rams’ championship resolve and Jared Goff finding his swing. Narratives like that are overrated, but organizational stability and knowing how to win crucial games are not. The 49ers have been the NFC’s best team thus far, but there’s nothing harder than winning tough division games on the road. If this pick is wrong, the Rams are all but out of the NFC West race after only six weeks.
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) | State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
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If you are looking for some offensive rhythm, just play the Falcons. Kyler Murray showed better decision making in Week 5, and Kliff Kingsbury creates new ways to feature Murray and David Johnson’s legs each game. But the Cardinals’ defense still has plenty of holes, and Matt Ryan is playing better than he’s been given credit for this season (like most seasons). If the Falcons can’t win this road game, they might not win any all season, and that’s too dark a timeline for me to live in.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
The big fear in the Big Apple should be about Sam Darnold’s ability to fix this Jets offense all by himself. Even with Darnold returning Sunday, I don’t trust the second-year quarterback to debug Adam Gase’s jumbled scheme in just one week. The Jets’ defense, meanwhile, has played with more competitive fire and competence than expected. This extremely talented Cowboys squad has one of the league’s most difficult remaining schedules after this week, so they better win this one.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | Empower Field at Mile High (Denver)
Marcus Mariota and this Titans offense don’t function against marauding defenses like the Bills’ and Jaguars’. Thankfully for Mike Vrabel’s crew, the Broncos’ defense doesn’t qualify as one of those units, despite an improved performance against the Chargers last week. Both coaches want to shorten the game and play to their defense, but only the Titans have the secondary to make the strategy look smarter than it is every other week.
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) | ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park (Carson, Calif.)
NBC and the NFL should have flexed this game when they had the chance. The Steelers’ offense has been tough to watch no matter who is at quarterback, and the rest of their season is shaping up to be a long slog toward making their first-round draft pick more valuable after trading it to the Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Chargers — erratic and top-heavy on both sides of the ball — are capable of losing to anyone, but Philip Rivers’ excellent mid-range game is due for a bounce-back week against Mike Tomlin’s zone defense.
MONDAY, OCT. 14
8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) | Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wis.)
I missed the Lions during their bye week, a sentiment I didn’t imagine possible in August. Matthew Stafford is throwing deep with abandon and Kerryon Johnson accelerates after contact like a more versatile Derrick Henry. Watching the Packers is also making me increasingly nostalgic for a phenomenon called Peak Aaron Rodgers, something he comes closer to every passing week. It’s hard to pick against him during this ascent.
8:20 p.m. ET (FOX) | Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
The following two things can be true at the same time:
1) This Patriots defense is a remarkable veteran group that can shapeshift at will and should turn out to be one of the five best units in football.
2) The insane numbers this Patriots defense has put up through five weeks are primarily a reflection of their ridiculously soft offensive opponents.
New England won its first three Super Bowls with defenses that were dominant, extremely talented at every level and found a way to peak in January. Let’s hold off comparing this group with any of those from the early aughts — particularly suggesting that it’s better — until this Pats team shuts down even one complete opposing offense. The Giants don’t qualify this week, especially with Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Wayne Gallman all expected to miss Thursday night’s game.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.