2018 NFL Picks Week 6: Road Tripping
Last Week: 3-7
Well, that was a disaster. I hope none of you sat through the Baltimore-Cleveland or Buffalo-Tennessee games, but both went poorly for me when the Titans and Ravens combined for 21 points in 9 quarters of football. Apparently there are two types of teams: those who can score on anyone, and those who can’t score on anyone. Only the Rams can score and play defense at the same time, and even they gave up more than 30 points to the then-27th ranked Seahawks offense. We have to turn things around at some point, though, and I think the lines favor road teams this week!
Philadelphia Eagles -3 at New York Giants
I was pretty nervous as this game got started, but Eli Manning wasted no time reminding me why it’s fun to pick against the Giants. Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. are both scary, but all Philadelphia had to do was keep them in front of them and New York was perfectly content to settle for field goals. The Eagles still have a ways to go to rediscover their Super Bowl form, but they covered this one easily.
Buffalo Bills +9 at Houston Texans
Since I made this pick, the line moved to Houston -10. Remember what happened the last time the Bills were double-digit road underdogs? They thrashed the Vikings and ruined everyone’s survivor pools. This pick is more about the Texans than the Bills, though. It’s difficult to look less inspiring in a win than Houston did against Dallas last week, and now they’re supposed to cover a ten-point spread? I can see the Bills line getting after Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen scrambling for enough first downs to only lose by 7. Don’t get your hopes up for offense in this one.
Baltimore Ravens -3 at Tennessee Titans
Both teams are coming off disappointing losses, Baltimore in Cleveland and Tennessee in Buffalo. The metrics suggest Baltimore is simply the superior team, and I’m counting on Joe Flacco not to drop two duds in a row. The Titans have only exceeded 20 points once this season, and it required overtime. Give Baltimore a couple touchdowns and five Justin Tucker field goals, and we can cover 3 points easily.
Miami Dolphins +3 vs. Chicago Bears
Mitch Trubisky on the road is a bad thing. The Bears defense will make life difficult for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ offense, but Miami’s defense poses the biggest test Chicago has faced this season. It was exciting to see an offensive explosion from the Bears in the week before their bye, but I’m not ready to expect it weekly just yet.
Arizona Cardinals +10.5 at Minnesota Vikings
I know we’re all waiting for the Vikings to resemble the team we expected coming into the season, but I haven’t seen evidence of it yet. The defense has simply been bad, and the Cardinals offense has looked considerably better since moving from Sam Bradford to Josh Rosen. Throw in continued woes for the Minnesota offensive line, and I’ll take the 10.5 points in a low-scoring affair.
Oakland Raiders +3 vs. Seattle Seahawks
I really thought the Raiders were playing at home when I made this pick, but apparently this game is in London. Neither team will have a home field advantage, but I think the Seahawks saved their best for last week’s game against the Rams. Both teams should score a lot of points, and I think Russell Wilson and company will run out of gas before Oakland does.
Atlanta Falcons -3 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Take a look at those defensive DVOA ranks up there, and then take the over. Neither defense should be able to come by a stop the natural way, so the victor will be determined by turnovers. Is that Jameis Winston’s music I hear?! A puzzling pick and an irresponsible fumble will give Atlanta the edge they need to win at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5 at Cincinnati Bengals
Not only does Pittsburgh have an edge from an anayltics standpoint, they also have a mental edge after winning the last six meetings between these teams. It’s been a lot of fun riding Cincinnati this year, but I’ll need to see them beat the Steelers before I believe it.
Indianapolis Colts +3 at New York Jets
This could be a sneaky-fun game to watch, with two poor offenses playing against two surprisingly good defenses. Pass rush and turnovers will determine the winner of this game, and the Colts have been better on both sides of the ball there. All it takes is one turnover from Sam Darnold to turn this one into a mess, so I’ll take Andrew Luck and the points.
Carolina Panthers +1.5 at Washington Redskins
Does anyone think Washington is better than Carolina this year? The last time we saw Washington at home they were losing 21-9 to the Colts, and last week’s blowout loss to the Saints doesn’t make them look much better. The Panthers have uncharacteristically struggled on defense this year, but Alex Smith sans Andy Reid can make anyone look good. Cam Newton and the Carolina offense will probably finish with around 30 points; Washington struggles to break 20.
Los Angeles Chargers -1.5 at Cleveland Browns
The Browns might finish the season 7-7-2, and I’d still be terrified of taking them against a quality team. Last week, my mistake was assuming Joe Flacco could score points against a quality defense on the road; this week, Phil Rivers is more than capable. Somehow Cleveland is worse than the Chargers in their weakest area, special teams, and despite the Baker Mayfield hype the Browns have only put up points against Oakland’s 29th-ranked defense. The Chargers should do a little better on that side of the ball, and Rivers will score enough to win this game comfortably…or they’ll miss 2 field goals and lose by three points like they did two years ago.
Jacksonville Jaguars -1.5 at Dallas Cowboys
There’s only one thing that can hold the Jaguars back, and it’s Blake Bortles. Their defense is still extraordinary, and the Cowboys have scored more than 20 points just once all season. Even if Bortles is terrible, Dallas doesn’t field an elite defensive unit. Throw in some of the least-inspired coaching in the NFL from Jason Garrett, and the Jaguars should strangle the Cowboys in 24-14 fashion.
Los Angeles Rams -7 at Denver Broncos
The Rams finally failed to cover a touchdown last week, in a rivalry game on the road. With Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib injured, their defense isn’t quite the lockdown unit we’re accustomed to seeing under Wade Phillips. That being said, it doesn’t take much to keep this version of the Denver offense in check, as they haven’t reached 30 points yet this year. How long do you think it will take the Rams to reach 35 points against the Broncos’ 22nd-ranked defense? Midway through the third quarter? I’ll take LA running away.
Kansas City Chiefs +3 at New England Patriots
The over/under for this game is set at 60, and I’m taking the over. If you like offense, this weekend’s Sunday Night Football game should keep you entertained. Kansas City’s lowest-scoring outing of the year was in Denver when they managed 27 points, and the Patriots seem to have found some semblance of their usual machine-like efficiency over the past couple of weeks. In picking the Chiefs, I can’t shake memories of the egg New England laid in Detroit earlier this year. Their defense looked so slow, and now they’ll be asked to contain Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt. Tom Brady will be carving up the Chiefs’ defense, but I think they’ll ultimately fall short on firepower (or at least give up a garbage time touchdown to cover the three points).
That's all for this week! Kick back, grab a drink, and feel free to blame me if you put money on these picks and come out behind. I won't compensate you, but maybe your significant others will send their wrath in my direction instead of yours.