2019 NFL Picks Week 6: Avoiding the Overreaction Trap

2019 NFL Picks Week 6: Avoiding the Overreaction Trap

Last Week: 7-7-1

YTD: 40-37-1

This Week:

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Five weeks is a long time in the NFL. This time last year, Washington and Cincinnati were on top of their divisions and the Texans and Colts were bringing up the rear in the AFC South. So is Denver really decent after losing a close game to 3-2 Oakland in Week 1 and topping the Chargers last week? (No.) Are the 49ers actually the best team in the NFC? (No.) Are the Dolphins really so bad? (Yes, historically.) Let’s see if we can pick the right signals to hone in on!

New England Patriots -16.5 vs. New York Giants

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Despite being heavy favorites in every game, New England has covered all but one week, their narrow victory over Buffalo in Week 4. The Giants got a big shot in the arm by benching Eli Manning for Daniel Jones, but the second name there is really irrelevant; anyone seems lively next to Eli Manning. With the Pats at home on a short week against a rookie quarterback, three scores is barely breaking a sweat. Patriots -16.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1 vs. Carolina Panthers

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The Buccaneers are a difficult team to pin down. Road wins against the Panthers and Rams would suggest they’re quite competent, but losing at home to the aforementioned Daniel Jones in his first start directly refutes that assertion. The Panthers aren’t much more helpful, ranking 15th in DVOA but beating Jacksonville (13th) and Houston (10th) in back-to-back weeks. Even though the Bucs came out ahead when these two teams met just a few weeks ago, I can’t see Jameis Winston making it through two whole games against the Carolina defense without throwing a back-breaking pick-six (or two). Panthers -1

Miami Dolphins +3.5 vs. Washington

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It really isn’t fair for the NFL to do this to us, but let’s pretend they had a crystal ball at season’s start. They looked ahead and saw the mighty tanking efforts of the Dolphins, and they thought: how? How do we create a game where someone actually has to think hard about who might win? Then they noticed Washington firing their head coach after an 0-5 start and starting a rookie quarterback by default, and dropped this matchup right into Week 6. I’m embarrassed to consider how much time I spent contemplating this line, but in the end I fell back on something I said way back in Week 2: “until the Dolphins prove they can cover ANY line, we’ll keep picking against them”. It’s worked four times so far, and cheers to number five! Washington -3.5

Minnesota Vikings -3 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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This one is a really fun matchup between two teams who have looked both better and worse than their 3-2 records would suggest. Surely the Eagles are a good team after keeping a safe distance from Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay throughout the second half of their matchup! Just, y’know, don’t look too hard at their Week 2 loss to the Falcons. Minnesota’s +39 point differential suggests they’re a playoff lock, but only if you disregard their loss to Chase Daniel in Chicago. If everything breaks right in this game, Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook can establish an early lead and lean on their defense to carry them home. I prefer the team who has a chance to win even if things don’t break right from the jump, and Carson Wentz has shown the ability to perform magic against even top defenses. Eagles +3

Kansas City Chiefs -5 vs. Houston Texans

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I was really excited to watch Round 2 of Mahomes-Watson until I remembered it was actually Alex Smith who started the high-flying affair between these teams in 2017. If anyone ever doubts Andy Reid’s offensive credentials, point to the 2017 Chiefs and remind them of what he pulled off even before Patrick Mahomes arrived. The Texans shouldn’t struggle too much to replicate some of last week’s magic, where an unscathed Deshaun Watson put up a perfect passer rating en route to a 53-point showing. Whether it’s close down to the wire or comes down to a futile onside kick attempt, I think Houston can keep things within a touchdown against the Chiefs’ hobbled offensive line and quarterback. Texans +5

Jacksonville Jaguars +1 vs. New Orleans Saints

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These teams are about as close as you could ask for, even if they both arrived here in surprising ways. The Jaguars lost Nick Foles in Week 1 but have ridden Gardner Minshew II and a shockingly 7th-ranked offense to stay competitive despite a defense sitting in 25th place. The Saints lost Drew Brees in Week 2, but their defense has outperformed expectations to help them stay afloat. I love me some Minshew magic, but New Orleans just seems to have something special going to carry them until Brees returns to the starting lineup (it could also just be that Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara aren’t human). Saints -1

Cleveland Browns +2 vs. Seattle Seahawks

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I know Cleveland has been terrible, and I know Russell Wilson does terrible things to anyone who doubts him. But hear me out! This could actually be a surprisingly good matchup for the Browns. Seattle has struggled to get after the passer, and Cleveland has certainly looked at its worst when they’ve been unable to give Baker Mayfield any time. The Seahawks have a strikingly similar statistical profile to the Baltimore Ravens, who appeared overmatched when they hosted Cleveland in Week 4 (just scroll down a smidge). I think I still like Russ to pull something crazy out to nab a win, but it will come down to an extra point. Browns +2

Baltimore Ravens -12 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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Are the Ravens a mirage built on one huge win over the Dolphins and a close loss to the Chiefs? I think they are, but it never hurts to have the league’s top-ranked special teams when trying to cover up those flaws. Cincinnati wishes they could boast a huge win, or any win for that matter. They’ve discouragingly looked worse each week since their close loss in Seattle in Week 1, and they won’t be able to turn it around in Baltimore against a Ravens team that suddenly needs a win. Lamar Jackson and co. will score early and often, and the Bengals won’t have a chance to keep up. Ravens -12

Los Angeles Rams -3.5 vs. San Francisco 49ers

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I really can’t tell you if San Francisco is for real. I’ve never been a huge fan of Jimmy Garoppolo, and I still have no idea why they’ve invested money in four different running backs. Something is working well for the Niners, though, and this should be a great time to travel to Los Angeles. The Rams haven’t been able to protect Jared Goff, and it’s shown in the quality of their points if not the quantity. Their defense has been lackluster as well, and you know Kyle Shanahan is salivating after watching tape of the Buccaneers and Seahawks. I’m happy to take more than 3 points in a game I expect the San Francisco to win outright. 49ers +3.5

Arizona Cardinals +2.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons

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Atlanta has been heading in the wrong direction since their only win, a nail-biter against Philadelphia in Week 2. I’m not sure what evidence suggests they should be favored on the road against anyone who isn’t Miami, and Arizona certainly isn’t Miami. The Falcons’ atrocious pass rush will give Kyler Murray plenty of time to put together a breakout performance, and I think the Cardinals will score 30+ points. I can’t see Matt Ryan doing the same unless something fundamentally shifts in their offensive gameplan. Cardinals +2.5

New York Jets +7.5 vs. Dallas Cowboys

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Is this because the Cowboys have lost back-to-back games, or because Sam Darnold is starting for the Jets, or both? I was stunned to see this line at less than 10 points, but I don’t see close losses to the Saints and Packers as huge reasons for concern. The Cowboys still have a high-powered offense, and they’ll be able to run the ball without much trouble on the Jets. On the other side, there’s no way Sam Darnold was the only missing ingredient needed to transform the Jets from what we saw into even a league-average offense. Expecting him to survive behind a porous offensive line after a bout with mono is just plain mean. Cowboys -7.5

Denver Broncos -2.5 vs. Tennessee Titans

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Yes, the Broncos beat the Chargers last week. The Chargers might just be a bad team at this point. Tennessee isn’t necessarily any better, but they seem to prefer games decided by field goals and a stubborn insistence on running the ball. Joe Flacco can absolutely submarine Denver in this game against a middling Titans’ defense, and that’s exactly what I expect him to do. If you find yourself watching this game and enjoying it, though, consult a physician. Titans +2.5

Los Angeles Chargers -6.5 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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I guess this line is at 6.5 because Mason Rudolph looked mostly dead when he was concussed last week, but even that isn’t enough to make me pick the Chargers after what I saw against Denver. Their defense is awful, their offense makes continuously makes things difficult on themselves but lacks the playmakers to get them out of the jams, and they have absolutely zero home field advantage. I expect Pittsburgh fans to take up most of the seating, and they’ll go home happy. Steelers +6.5

Green Bay Packers -6 vs. Detroit Lions

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Did you know that the Detroit Lions have won four straight games against the Green Bay Packers? I certainly didn’t! The Lions have looked surprisingly feisty this year, and their cornerbacks are playing as an elite unit with the emergence of slot corner Justin Coleman. They’ll make life difficult for Aaron Rodgers and a hampered Davante Adams, and Kerryon Johnson should be able to run on Green Bay’s 28th-ranked rush defense. I don’t know if the Lions will make it 5 in a row because we all know Detroit can’t have nice things, but this line is way too high. Lions +6

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.

2019 NFL Picks Week 5: Going on the Road

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