Carolina and Detroit have played well since a slow start to the season, and both will seek another measure of legitimacy in key conference road tests in Week 6 of the NFL season. We will play against a couple bad teams, as well, and look to keep momentum rolling in Week 6.
Carolina enters on Week 6 on an upswing and has rewritten the narrative by winning (and covering) three straight after a 0-2 start. That includes a pair of impressive showings away from home, and the Panthers will be motivated to get revenge in London after an embarrassing home loss to Tampa in Week 2.
Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen has proven to be a more than a capable backup for an offense flourishing behind Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, and defense is once again a calling card. Carolina ranks eighth by yards allowed and in defensive efficiency ratings.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 7, 2019
The Bucs have been up and down, but the one constant has been their ability to surrender points. The Tampa defense has given up 103 points in the last three weeks—which ranks ahead of only doormats Washington, Atlanta and Miami—and the Buccaneers will face an enormous challenge against McCaffrey, who had 176 rushing yards and 61 receiving yards last week. Look for the surging running back to have another big game, and for Carolina’s quality defense to make adjustments the second time facing Bruce Arians’ high-powered offense.
Pick: Carolina -2.5
Baltimore is not as good as it looked during a 2-0 start against bad competition and was lucky to escape with three-point overtime win against Pittsburgh last week, but the Ravens will feast upon a winless Cincinnati in disarray. Lamar Jackson struggling as a passer, but Baltimore is capable of thrashing a Bengals defense ranked 31st against the run (167.6 rushing yards allowed per game).
After embarrassing defensive performances against Kansas City, Cleveland and Pittsburgh the last three weeks, Baltimore’s aggressive front seven will turn things around against an offensive line on the skids.
Almost every Bengals starter is grading worse this season than last year according to PFF.
Here are the biggest drop-offs on offense and defense. pic.twitter.com/Uk1iy7W1Q6
— JG (@JoeGoodberry) October 8, 2019
Cincinnati played well enough to cover two of its first three games, but the Bengals went off form against Pittsburgh two weeks ago and will feel the repercussions of losing a must-win home game against Arizona. Injuries (and a retirement) have decimated the offensive line, which has neutralized the talent of their skill players, and the defense lacks confidence. Baltimore needs to get things going and will pile on hapless Cincinnati.
Pick: Baltimore -10.5
Arizona put up 514 yards of offense to earn its first win of the season last week and is poised to carry that momentum forward against declining Atlanta, which surrendered 53 points and nearly 600 yards last week. This game sets up as a showcase for rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, who has adapted to the speed of the pro game and can bury a weak defense like Atlanta’s with his arm and legs. The Dan Quinn era in Atlanta will likely end with a fourth straight Falcons loss.
Kyler Murray was a top-5 QB in the NFL this week, per ESPN’s QBR formula: https://t.co/n7727YwKO1
— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) October 7, 2019
Atlanta has been undisciplined, with a league-worst 9.8 penalties per game, and possess too much offensive talent to be underachieving so badly. The Falcons need a change in direction, and after they failed to post a sack against Houston’s offensive line last week, it is unrealistic to expect much pressure from a defense that is clearly reeling. Atlanta is 2-10 ATS in its last 12 road games and Arizona should shine as a home underdog.
Pick: Arizona +2
The Chargers are riddled with injuries, and the points are appealing with a Pittsburgh defense on the rise.
Over the last two weeks, Pittsburgh has shown it doesn’t need its quarterback to do too much. With the big guys up front playing to expectations and controlling the line of scrimmage, third-string QB Devlin Hodges even looked good in relief Sunday (7-for-9), with effective passes to move the offense when needed.
Last week, Devlin Hodges got zero team reps in practice. None w/ the 1’s. None w/ the scout team.
He made his debut cold, only seeing 7v7 action during the week. Makes what he did (like changing the protection, converting) here all the more impressive.https://t.co/DpcWlTw29y pic.twitter.com/m85XOoeiHR
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) October 10, 2019
Los Angeles lost center Mike Pouncey to neck surgery last week (the makeshift offensive line is now reduced to only one player with three years experience or more), and the offense was ineffective against previously winless Denver last week. Quarterback Philip Rivers tossed a pair of interceptions and the Chargers recorded only 35 rushing yards. The defense has missed Melvin Ingram up front and Derwin James and Adrian Philips on the back end, and the Chargers in for more misery.
Pick: Pittsburgh +6.5
The points are attractive here, with Detroit off a bye week.
The Lions were trending in the right direction before the rest and enter 6-1 ATS in games after a bye. The Detroit offense is more versatile than years past, and Kerryon Johnson (125 rushing yards last game) has emerged as a quality threat to go along with the league’s seventh-best passing attack (267 yards per game).
The Detroit defense is also a strength now for second-year coach Matt Patricia. The seasoned Lions have allowed only four passing touchdowns after facing Patrick Mahomes, Carson Wentz, Rivers and Murray, and points could be difficult to come by Monday night against the improved stop unit.
Green Bay was more than up for its showdown with the Cowboys in Dallas and must avoid a letdown against a dangerous divisional opponent.
The Green Bay defense (three interceptions) and Aaron Jones (107 yards rushing and four touchdowns) led the way last week, but the Packers have built an early lead and held it in all four wins this year. Green Bay may not be at full strength, with top receiver Davante Adams still dealing with turf toe, and Detroit has been able to avoid slow starts, outscoring opponents by a combined 56-36 margin in the first half this year.
The Lions have momentum in the series, with four straight wins and covers against Green Bay, and Detroit is 4-1 ATS in its last five road games. This game has the makings of a close affair that will come down to a field goal or less.