Shapiro's Week 6 NFL picks: Cowboys will rally around Dalton
Week 5 in the NFL started with a defensive struggle at Solider Field, included huge upsets in Kansas City and San Francisco, and ended with a trio of highly entertaining prime-time games.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it an unconventional season, but the product has been good, if you look away from the brand of ball being played by the two New York franchises.
I had a positive week in terms of my predictions on BetAmerica, but I was fortunate to come out on top.
Pittsburgh came through, behind four touchdowns from rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool, but my opinion that their defense would stymie Carson Wentz and the Eagles was off.
Then, on Monday night, the Chargers-Saints tilt did not have the game flow I expected to endorse the Over, but a pair of late touchdowns allowed me to escape and earn a 2-1 record for the week.
On to Week 6!
Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys
Tue, October 20 2020, 12:15 AM
The Cowboys got out of their divisional battle against the Giants with a victory, but it was costly. Dallas lost starting quarterback Dak Prescott for the season with a compound fracture and a dislocation of his right ankle.
Obviously, this is a major blow, but the Cowboys have one of the most capable backups in the league — former Bengals starter Andy Dalton. Dalton relieved Prescott in the second half and completing nine of his 11 passes for 111 yards.
In the long run, the Dallas offense will be far less explosive without Prescott’s ability to run and move outside the pocket, as well as his ability to throw a great deep ball. However, it should have no problem moving the ball with Dalton on Monday night, against an Arizona defense that played well against the Jets but has struggled against better competition.
With star linebacker Chandler Jones out of the lineup with a bicep injury, look for the Cowboys to outscore the Cardinals and take control of a terrible NFC East.
“America’s Team” will rally around Dalton and spring the minor upset.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Sun, October 18 2020, 5:00 PM
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens led the NFL in points scored last season (531), en route to a league-best 14-2 regular-season record. They'll head up Interstate 95 with a 4-1 record, but their offense has not yet clicked like it did a year ago.
Regression was expected from one of the most efficient offenses in recent memory, and the loss of guard Marshal Yanda cannot be overlooked, but Jackson has also not played as well. His yards-per-attempt average is down nearly a yard after five games.
The reigning MVP’s most lethal weapon is his ability to run, but a knee injury has limited his knack to rip the hearts out of defenses with his legs. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is likely to limit Jackson's rushing attempts again this week, with Baltimore’s bye week ahead.
On the other hand, the Ravens defense — outside of their 34-20 loss to Kansas City in Week 3 — has been very good. Expect that continue in Week 6, against an Eagles offense that had its best game of the season at Heinz Field last Sunday but matches up poorly against the Ravens.
Look for the Baltimore cornerbacks to lock down the Philadelphia pass catchers and take advantage of an Eagles offensive line that remains far from healthy.
Four of Baltimore’s first five games have stayed Under the total. This one will, as well.
Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sun, October 18 2020, 5:00 PM
Backing one of the worst teams in the league is never fun, but a closer look at the Jaguars suggests they are more competitive than their four-game losing streak suggests.
Losses to the Dolphins, Bengals, and Texans in consecutive weeks is not ideal, but I am not convinced they should be getting more than a field goal at home against the Lions.
Second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew has played much better than most expected, when he was all but forgotten in last year’s NFL Draft, and the Jaguars should get some key players back on defense in Week 6.
Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew has now started 16 games. His stats in those starts: 62.5 percent completions, 3,987 yards, 26 TDs, 8 INTs, 14 total turnovers. That would be good enough for third-most yards and second-most TD passes in a single season in... https://t.co/412j1dofOa— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) October 11, 2020
Detroit has not been a terrible team to back as an underdog during Matt Patricia’s time as head coach, but the former Patriots defensive coordinator has struggled to close the deal when the Lions have a lead in the final quarter.
The Lions have lost 11 games when they've held a fourth-quarter lead since Patricia took over in the Motor City at the start of the 2018 season. Detroit has also been poor on the road during his tenure, including a 1-6-1 straight-up record away from home in 2019.
They are just not a team I want to lay points with on the road.
Minshew and the Jaguars will hang in early and pull it out late.