I went out on a limb before the season and picked the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC. I felt that way in the spring, pre-COVID…there was something about Dak Prescott proving himself in a contract year for a new Super Bowl-winning coach that appealed to me. And then Sunday happened… Well, it’s not as if things were going all that well before Sunday…let’s be honest.
Since Andy Dalton almost surely isn’t leading a team without a competent defense to an NFC title, I thought I’d break down, by the process of elimination, which teams have a realistic shot to face likely the Chiefs or Ravens in the Super Bowl sometime in February (isn’t it weird to say that?).
First, let’s toss the have-nots:
Automatic throw outs (aka no chance at the playoffs):
Atlanta Falcons (0-5)
New York Giants (0-5)
Washington Football Team (1-4)
The Falcons will improve greatly without Dan Quinn…but they won’t win anywhere close to 9 of their last 11 to make it in. The Giants and Football Team are already looking towards next year’s NFL Draft.
Might make the playoffs…but they 100% aren’t winning the conference:
Arizona Cardinals (3-2)
Carolina Panthers (3-2)
Chicago Bears (4-1)
Detroit Lions (1-3)
Minnesota Vikings (1-4)
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3-1)
Hard to pick the Cards to win more than a game or so in the playoffs without their best player on defense, Chandler Jones. Carolina and Chicago aren’t nearly as good as their records indicate. The Lions, Vikings, and Eagles have the potential to win 8-9 games but I’d pick against all of them immediately in the playoffs.
The Super Bowl hangover is real (and so are injuries):
San Francisco 49ers (2-3)
They’ve been decimated, especially on defense…and I’d say their more likely to miss the playoffs right now than make them.
They’re without their very good QB + their defense stinks:
Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
As discussed above…
They’ll make the playoffs…but I’m not picking a 40+ year old QB this time:
New Orleans Saints (3-2)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)
Brees and Brady aren’t their old selves…and I’m not sure the teams around them are good enough to overcome their shortcomings.
So we’re left with three teams:
Green Bay Packers (5-0)
Los Angeles Rams (4-1)
Seattle Seahawks (5-0)
And from here it’s not all that difficult actually…I’m automatically eliminating the Rams because I won’t trust Jared Goff in a big game again after his miserable Super Bowl LIII performance. Russell Wilson is on his way to being the league’s MVP, but honestly, is Seattle’s defense all that much better than Dallas’? So therefore, if I were to make a prediction in October as to who wins the NFC in late-January, early-February, I’ll say:
Green Bay Packers 34, Seattle Seahawks 30
Sure it’s a homer pick as I’m a Packers fan…but I won’t apologize for it! Aaron Rodgers, assuming he keeps up his steady play, will have a chance to compete in his 2nd Super Bowl…FINALLY!
(I really hope I didn’t just jinx my team…)
On to the picks where I’m picking winners straight up…though against the spread, it continues to be rough.
Week 6 Picks
Last Week: 10-4 Straight Up (SU), 7-7 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 49-27-1 SU, 35-42 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
TENNESSEE TITANS 29, Houston Texans 23 (ATS: Titans -5.5)
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 26, Cincinnati Bengals 17 (ATS: Colts -7.5)
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 31, Atlanta Falcons 24 (ATS: Vikings -3.5)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 27, Denver Broncos 16 (ATS: Patriots -8.5)
NEW YORK GIANTS 24, Washington Football Team 19 (ATS: Giants -3.5)
Baltimore Ravens 30, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 16 (ATS: Ravens -7.5)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 30, Cleveland Browns 23 (ATS: Steelers -3.5)
CAROLINA PANTHERS 23, Chicago Bears 17 (ATS: Panthers -2.5)
Detroit Lions 33, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 26 (ATS: Lions -3.5)
MIAMI DOLPHINS 28, New York Jets 13 (ATS: Dolphins -8.5)
Green Bay Packers 34, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 28 (ATS: Packers -1.5)
Los Angeles Rams 24, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 20 (ATS: Rams -3.5)
BUFFALO BILLS 31, Kansas City Chiefs 28 (ATS: Bills +3.5)
DALLAS COWBOYS 30, Arizona Cardinals 27 (ATS: Cowboys +2.5)
5 Quick Thoughts on Week 6
1. I like to go down the schedule and put together my projected scores without looking at the game lines. This week, I took WAY too many favorites ATS (except for on Monday night oddly). Something tells me I’ll go either 10-4 or 4-10.
2. Can someone please explain why a healthy Steelers team is only a 3.5 point home favorite over the Browns? I get that Cleveland is 4-1…but on a neutral field, this is essentially a pick’em according to the line…and that doesn’t seem right. Pittsburgh is significantly better than the Browns as I see it.
3. If you’re looking for a survivor pick this week, don’t overthink it. Sam Darnold is out…and the Jets are really, really bad. Joe Flacco is a shell of his former self…and Adam Gase is a dead coach walking. Miami is the easy play.
4. I showed plenty of faith in the Packers and Rams at the top part of this column…hopefully both will reward me picks-wise as road favorites this week. If the Bucs were completely healthy and Green Bay wasn’t coming off a bye week, I’d go the other way. Also…it’s almost incomprehensible to think that the 49ers will lose three home games in a row but they’re truly a mess right now.
5. Speaking of MNF (above), I love both home dogs…A LOT! The Bills are coming off a bad loss on the road, and even though it’s somewhat of a short week, they’re facing a KC team coming off an even worse home defeat to a worse team. And for Dallas, Andy Dalton is a major downgrade from Dak…but let’s be honest, he’s probably still better than 1/3 of the starting QBs in the NFL. The Cowboys will ride the legs of Zeke Elliott to yet another last second stirring victory.
Week 6 Betting Locks
(Last Week’s Result, Season Record in Parentheses)
Favorite (WIN, 3-2): Steelers -3.5 vs. Browns
Underdog (WIN, 3-2): Cowboys +2.5 vs. Cardinals
Bet the Over (LOSS 3-2): Packers / Buccaneers Over 54
Bet the Under (WIN, 3-2): Rams / 49ers Under 50.5