Our picks finished 4-3 for week 5, but the injury to Dak Prescott likely cost us the cover in the Cowboys game. Unfortunately, that happened to be the Lock of the Week, which now sits at 2-3. The most frustrating part is that I initially had the Dolphins at +9 against the Niners as the Lock of the Week, but changed it at the last minute. Nevertheless, we’ll improve on our 17-15-2 record in week 6 and the Lock will start hitting more consistently from here on out.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans Over 53.5
We just saw the Titans dominate the Bills en route to a 42-point performance, and they could have scored even more had Buffalo remained competitive. The one-man wrecking crew in Derrick Henry has opened up the passing game substantially, and Ryan Tannehill is taking advantage of it. Houston’s defense won’t have much more success than Buffalo did, and I don’t expect Tennessee’s defense to play as well as it did Tuesday night. Tennessee and Houston both put up 30-plus points against their lone common opponent (Jacksonville), which signals to me that their offenses are comparable. The difference is Deshaun Watson has had turnover issues at times this season, but if he limits those this week, I think both teams will put up lots of points.
Baltimore Ravens -8.0 at Philadelphia Eagles
The Ravens obliterated the Bengals last week in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score showed. Baltimore’s defense was suffocating, pitching a shutout until Cincinnati kicked a field goal with less than a minute remaining. The Eagles have looked better over the past couple weeks, but this game isn’t going to be close. Here’s an unbelievable stat (kind of): Carson Wentz has thrown as many interceptions this season (9) as Lamar Jackson has thrown touchdowns. Lamar Jackson didn’t play his best game last week, which sets him up for a breakout performance against Philly. I like the Ravens to win by at least two touchdowns.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Over 51.0
The Browns are coming off a very impressive win over the Colts, and the Steelers put up nearly 40 points against the Eagles in a breakout game for rookie receiver Chase Claypool. Cleveland has been, perhaps, the surprise of the season so far, as Baker Mayfield, along with the skill player trio of O’Dell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Kareem Hunt, have proved to be a force to be reckoned with thus far. Since their disappointing loss in week 1, Cleveland has scored over 30 points in every game, including a 49-point performance against the porous Cowboys defense. Pittsburgh’s defense is strong, but I think the Browns will still find success against their bitter rivals. Because the Browns will put up some points, the Steelers, who I think have played conservatively as Big Ben gets back into a rhythm, will open up their playbook and be more aggressive offensively. Claypool’s emergence will also free up Juju Smith-Schuster from being targeted and double-teamed by defenders, and James Conner’s ground work will open up the passing game even more. I don’t know who will come out on top, but I expect both teams to finish at or above 30, allowing the over to hit with ease.
Miami Dolphins -9.5 vs. New York Jets
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins are cooking right now, as evidenced by their 43-17 slaughter of the defending NFC conference champions. The Jets, if you’ll remember, got trounced a couple weeks ago by basically the backups of those same defending champs. What should we make of all this? Well, Miami should win this game by 20-plus points at a minimum. The Dolphins are rolling on offense, their defense is playing solidly, and the Jets just released their best offensive player. I don’t have much more to say on this one other than I’m glad the line somehow stayed in the single digits.
Green Bay Packers -1.0 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I don’t know how the Packers are only 1-point favorites in this one. The Buccaneers are coming off an ugly loss to the Bears in a game where Tom Brady failed to properly manage the game, and the Packers just had a bye week to rest their players and scheme for Tampa. Green Bay’s defense has been unimpressive so far, but so has Tampa Bay’s offense, frankly. I think the Packers would win fairly easily under normal circumstances, but their week 4 bye pushes me even harder toward the Packers to win. With a now healthy Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers will continue to thrive in a season where he has proven that he can still be one of the best quarterbacks in the league at 36 years old. Rodgers has thrown for almost as many yards in four games as Brady has in five. The Packers will win by a touchdown or more.
Arizona Cardinals -1.0 at Dallas Cowboys
The Cardinals got back on the right track in their easy win last week against the Jets, and the Cowboys will be playing their first game under Andy Dalton after Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury last game. While they were without Prescott for most of the second half, Dallas still struggled mightily with the Giants even when Dak was playing. While their offense might not take much of a step back under Dalton due to their offensive line and skill players, the Cowboys have no chance of stopping Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and the rest of the Cardinals offense. I think it will remain close, but I won’t be surprised if Arizona runs away with it either. Dallas is in a really bad position at 1-4, and there could be some type of hangover from Dak’s gruesome injury that holds the Cowboys back.
Lock of the Week: Los Angeles Rams -3.5 at San Francisco 49ers
After last week’s embarrassing performance against the Dolphins, I can’t believe the Niners are only 3.5-point underdogs here. The Rams have been very solid this season and have played well on both sides of the ball. L.A. is only allowing 18 points per game on the year, and the only teams San Francisco has eclipsed 20 points against are the two miserable New York teams. I think that trend will continue in this one, and while the Rams probably won’t put up as many points as the Dolphins did a week ago, they’ll likely only need to score in the mid-twenties to cover the 3.5, which they are certainly capable of doing. Their defense has enough star-power at all levels to create points on the defensive end, as well. At worst, Jared Goff will lead his team to a seven-point win with potential for a blowout in an ever-important divisional game.