SUNDAY, OCT. 18
Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles – 1 p.m. ET
The Ravens rolled in Week 5 with a 27-3 victory over the Bengals in which they harassed Joe Burrow incessantly. For their part, the Eagles couldn’t carry over the momentum of the tie and victory they’d scored over their prior two games, putting on a valiant effort against in-state rival Pittsburgh before falling by a 38-29 score.
The Ravens are now 4-1 and seemed to have put an embarrassing loss to the Chiefs in Week 3 behind them. However Lamar Jackson, who missed back-to-back practices last week leading up to the game against Cincinnati, looked rusty while completing just 19 of 37 passes for 180 yards.
Baltimore’s defense more than made up for any shortfall. The Ravens’ seven sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception arguably represented the unit’s best performance since Week 1 against the Browns.
The Eagles continued to be decimated by injury in the pass-catching corps Sunday with Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson still sidelined. However, they may have discovered a new offensive force in the form of Travis Fulgham. The 2019 sixth-round pick of the Lions exploded for a 10-152-1 line and naturally may have an expanded role going forward.
There’s certainly a chance that Jeffery and Jackson are both back in uniform for this contest. That would naturally help Philly’s chances and presumably lead to a tightening of a spread that opened the week just slightly over a touchdown in favor of Baltimore.
Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers – 1 p.m. ET
The Bears roll into this intriguing Week 6 battle off another impressive comeback win. This time, Chicago upended Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Thursday night in Week 5 by a 20-19 score. Meanwhile, the Panthers stayed hot with a 23-16 road victory over the Falcons. It was Carolina’s third straight win and one that led to the firing of Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn.
Coach Matt Nagy had to have breathed a sigh of relief when Nick Foles was able to bounce back with a more effective performance against Tampa Bay than he mustered against the Colts four days prior, even though the overall numbers looked similar. Not only were Foles’ 243 yards accumulated much more evenly throughout the course of the game, he also completed an impressive 71.4% of his throws and was able to lead a fourth quarter comeback.
The play of Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater is mostly being overlooked nationally. Nevertheless, Sunday marked the veteran’s second 300-yard effort over the first five games, and he surpassed a 70% completion rate for the fourth time as well. One of the best-kept secrets in the league appears to be the Bridgewater-Robby Anderson connection, which led to an 8-112 line for the speed receiver against Atlanta.
The major story to watch this week will be the potential availability of Christian McCaffrey (ankle). The star back is now eligible to return from injured reserve.
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts – 1 p.m. ET
Joe Burrow saw the early-season carriage turn into a pumpkin in Week 5. The rookie got his first bona fide NFL thrashing at the hands of the aggressive Ravens defense in a 27-3 loss.
The Colts, meanwhile, received a wake-up call at the hands of the red-hot Cleveland Browns, as they were unable to keep up with Baker Mayfield and company on their way to a 32-23 loss.
Burrow took seven sacks from Baltimore’s ferocious front seven and lost a fumble. Joe Mixon was stymied on the ground to 2.5 yards per carry. A.J. Green, already having an utterly forgettable season, exited the game with a hamstring injury. The disheartening loss certainly has the potential to temporarily slow down some of the momentum that a young team that came into the contest with a 1-2-1 mark had gained. Additionally, the matchup doesn’t get much easier for the Cincy offense against a talented and likely ornery Colts defense.
The reason for Indy’s likely foul mood stems from their poor performance against Cleveland. The Colts’ allowed the Browns to convert 10 of 17 third downs and one fourth down while affording them 72 total plays. Facing a 20-10 halftime deficit that required Philip Rivers to step up, the veteran QB couldn’t respond – throwing a pick-six and one other interception while also getting flagged for intentional grounding in his own end zone that resulted in a safety.
Despite the Week 5 hiccup, Indianapolis unsurprisingly opens as a robust home favorite, with oddsmakers apparently expecting Burrow to be similarly pressured.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers – 1 p.m. ET
The Browns continued to demonstrate significant improvement under new head coach Kevin Stefanski in Week 5, recording a 32-23 win over a quality Colts team despite being without the services of Nick Chubb (knee).
The Steelers tuned up for this AFC North showdown by outlasting the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-29.
The Browns continue to win games under Stefanski that they undoubtedly would have lost last season under the deposed Freddie Kitchens. Stefanski continues to find a way to keep Odell Beckham Jr. steadily involved, which has boosted the overall offensive production. Chubb’s absence was largely offset by the presence of Kareem Hunt. With 93 total yards and a receiving touchdown Sunday, Hunt’s output provided enough balance to keep Baker Mayfield largely protected – although the erratic signal-caller did throw two picks.
The normally stingy Steelers defense may have been partly undone by a combination of rustiness and perhaps a bit of overconfidence against the injury-hampered Eagles. Pittsburgh allowed a rare long rushing touchdown to Miles Sanders and also gave up a huge performance to second-year wideout Travis Fulgham. Fortunately, Pittsburgh had their own spectacular young receiver, Chase Claypool, to fall back on. The 2020 second-round pick partly benefited from Diontae Johnson’s early exit due to a back injury to post a 7-110-3 line through the air and a fourth score on the ground.
The Browns are getting respect from the oddsmakers with a modest projected disadvantage of just over a field goal as the week opens. Given this is one of the marquee games of the week, it will be interesting to see how the line does or doesn’t move in coming days.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots – 1 p.m. ET
This rescheduled Week 5 game could feature the return of both teams’ starting quarterbacks, with the extra time afforded by the postponement potentially buying enough time for Drew Lock (shoulder) and Cam Newton (COVID-19) to make their returns.
One key offensive piece that should definitely be ready to suit up for Denver is Phillip Lindsay. The talented running back would have been ready to play had the game taken place in Week 5. The delay in this game also offers TE Noah Fant a chance to return from his ankle injury, which he sustained in Week 4.
If Newton is able to return for this game, coach Bill Belichick will be spared from having to make a decision between Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham. Each player was a turnover machine against the Chiefs in Week 4. Damien Harris did offer reason for optimism with his 100-yard performance in that game against Kansas City, and he appears to line up for lead-back duties with Sony Michel (quadriceps) on injured reserve.
Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars – 1 p.m. ET
The Lions were off in Week 5 after suffering a disappointing 35-29 home loss to the Saints in Week 4. Detroit’s defense continued to be an Achilles heel in that contest despite New Orleans being without Michael Thomas.
The Jaguars continued to have plenty of issues on that side of the ball as well in Week 5. Jacksonville’s 30-14 loss to the Texans saw the Jags allow 486 total yards to Deshaun Watson and company.
Matthew Stafford has been very effective while picking up where he left off in this offense before his back injury. The veteran has multiple touchdown passes in three straight games, but the depth at receiver beyond Kenny Golladay is in question and could prevent Detroit from fully exploiting a Jaguars defense allowing 280.2 passing yards per game.
That defense appears to be endangering coach Doug Marrone’s job with each passing week. Jacksonville has allowed at least 30 points in each contest during its current four-game losing streak. The Jags haven’t been able to stop the run or the pass, as that statistical nugget indicates. There are issues on offense as well, even as Gardner Minshew continues to put up cosmetically pleasing numbers. Sizable deficits are also capping the usage of impressive rookie running back James Robinson. And DJ Chark – Minshew’s top target – has been hampered by various injuries over the last three games.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans – 1 p.m. ET
The Texans got the Romeo Crennel era off to a momentous start in Week 5. Houston exploded for a 30-14 win over the Jaguars that saw them pile up 486 total yards and also put together a solid defensive performance that included three sacks.
The Titans will be on an especially short week coming into this game, which could certainly affect their performance. But Tennessee looked surprisingly sharp Tuesday in their 42-16 blasting of the Bills.
Whether the Texans can carry over the momentum from their First-Game-Under-A-New-Head-Coach surge in Week 5 remains to be seen. Houston displayed the type of offensive proficiency and balance that had been missing all season, albeit in a very favorable matchup against the porous Jaguars defense.
Not only was Deshaun Watson’s 359-yard, three-touchdown effort a reason for optimism, but so was David Johnson’s 96 rushing yards at a clip of 5.6 yards per carry. Additionally, a week after wideout Brandin Cooks failed to see a target, the veteran exploded for an 8-161-1 line that supports the notion he can serve as a viable complement to No. 1 receiver Will Fuller.
Washington Football Team at New York Giants – 1 p.m. ET
It was an eventful Week 5 loss for the Washington Football Team, which dropped a 30-10 decision to the Rams. Kyle Allen got the start, but he was sidelined with an arm injury just before halftime. Alex Smith then made his first appearance since Nov. 2018 after overcoming a gruesome leg injury. Meanwhile, the Giants suffered another close loss. They fell to the Cowboys, 37-34, on a last-second field goal.
The WFT didn’t get any boost from the switch under center from Dwayne Haskins to Allen, even if there’s just under one half of a sample size thus far. The second-year quarterback averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt and finished with a pedestrian 83.5 rating for the contest. Smith’s return was certainly a feel-good story that nevertheless didn’t translate to any on-field success as the WFT’s offense continues to lack much certainty outside of talented rookie running back Antonio Gibson and second year wideout Terry McLaurin.
The Giants are inching closer to their first win under new head coach Joe Judge if the last two weeks are any indication. New York’s single-digit loss to Dallas was its second consecutive. There was reason for optimism in the play of veteran running back Devonta Freeman (87 total yards, one rushing TD) and receiver Darius Slayton (8-129). QB Daniel Jones didn’t throw an interception for the first time all season. More consistent incorporation of TE Evan Engram – who did score against Dallas and also had another TD on a fake punt called back by penalty – would likely go a long way toward the Giants getting into the win column.
Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings – 1 p.m. ET
The Falcons suffered their fifth straight loss to open the season Sunday to the Panthers. It proved to be the tipping point for the jobs of general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn. Raheem Morris takes over as interim coach beginning in Week 6. The Vikings had a newsworthy Week 5 as well. After a debatable fourth-down decision in field-goal range late in the fourth quarter, coach Mike Zimmer saw his Vikings become the Seahawks’ latest victims.
Atlanta was playing without Julio Jones (hamstring) on Sunday, but the Falcons’ issues run a lot deeper. That’s particularly true on the defensive side of the ball. Atlanta surrendered 437 total yards to the Panthers and are yielding the second-most passing yards per game (335.8). The appointment of Morris to the top job is curious, considering he was the acting defensive coordinator. Without Jones, Atlanta also has a depth issue at receiver, and the star wideout could be sidelined for a few weeks due to the nature of soft-tissue injuries.
The Vikings have plenty of defensive concerns of their own, which helps explain the mid-50s projected total this game has as the week opens. Minnesota gave up just 217 passing yards to Wilson on Sunday; however, they yielded a 13-play, 97-yard drive at the worst possible time, leading to the one-point loss. There are still signs of hope coming out of the defeat, including Alexander Mattison’s (20-112 on the ground) ability to step in for Dalvin Cook after the latter suffered a third-quarter groin pull.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins – 4:05 p.m. ET
The Jets played reasonably well in Week 5 against the Cardinals for large portions of the game before dropping a 30-10 decision. The game featured Joe Flacco’s first start in New York, and the shoulder injury to Sam Darnold that necessitated it could extend to this contest.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins will be unexpectedly taking the field in Week 6 as part of a group of COVID-related postponements, and they’ll do so while riding a strong wave of momentum. Miami shockingly manhandled the 49ers on the road by a 43-17 score in Week 5, with Ryan Fitzpatrick turning in a stellar 350-yard, three-touchdown effort.
Flacco was serviceable while throwing for 195 yards and a touchdown, although he lost WR Chris Hogan to a knee injury during the game and played without Breshad Perriman (ankle).
The Dolphins offense seems to be improving by the week. Fitzpatrick is starting to use the likes of WR Preston Williams and TE Mike Gesicki more frequently as complements to top target DeVante Parker. Fitzpatrick has a trio of 300-yard efforts in the last four games as he continues to buy fifth overall pick Tua Tagovailoa valuable acclimation time on the bench.
In a sign of both the Jets’ ineptitude and the Dolphins’ rising profile, oddsmakers made Miami a better-than-touchdown home favorite to start the week. The Jets releasing RB Le’Veon Bell this week won’t inspire much confidence in New York either.
Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4:25 p.m. ET
There should be no shortage of betting interest in this Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady showdown. Both teams will come in well rested. The Packers were off in Week 5 after recording a 30-16 Monday night win over the Falcons in Week 4. The Bucs opened up Week 5 with a narrow 20-19 loss to the Bears on Thursday night, one that saw Brady uncharacteristically come up short in a game-winning drive scenario.
The bye week may have actually been a bit ill-timed for Green Bay. The Packers seemed to be hitting on all cylinders, even without Davante Adams the last two games due to a hamstring injury and No. 2 wideout Allen Lazard in Week 4.
The Aaron Jones-helmed running game is clicking to the tune of 150.8 rushing yards per contest, but the biggest story is the play of Rodgers. The future Hall of Famer has a perfect 13:0 TD:INT, while his 70.5% completion rate is a career-best figure.
The Bucs check in at a respectable 3-2, but their latest defeat came off as a setback for the offense after Brady appeared to be building some serious momentum in the offense. The 21-year veteran had thrown for 666 yards and eight touchdowns in Weeks 3 and 4, but playing without Chris Godwin (hamstring) for the second straight game and O.J. Howard (IR-Achilles) for the first time did seem to affect him. Godwin may have a chance to return for this game, which would be especially valuable in a game that could turn into a bit of an offensive shootout.
Tellingly, oddsmakers have made the Packers narrow road favorites as the week opens. Also, the total of 54 points is one of the highest of the week.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers – 8:20 p.m. ET
The Rams, somewhat surprisingly, are the ones coming into this NFC West showdown as the divisional frontrunners. Los Angeles moved to 4-1 on Sunday with a 20-point win over the Washington Football Team, with Jared Goff and running back Cam Akers taking center stage with their play. Meanwhile, the 49ers laid a proverbial egg against the Dolphins. The game marked the return to action of QB Jimmy Garoppolo from an ankle injury, but he was benched for C.J. Beathard at halftime for ineffective play.
Los Angeles is playing well on both sides of the ball, having held opponents to under 20 points in their four wins. The Rams have undeniably benefited from having played all four of the NFC East’s significantly flawed teams already.
Their one loss came against the only true quality team they’ve played in the Bills, but L.A. nearly pulled that road victory off back in Week 3 before dropping a 35-32 decision. Goff’s 300-yard effort Sunday was his second of the season. The fifth-year quarterback also has an impressive 71.7% completion rate and has thrown just three interceptions.
Raheem Mostert returned to action alongside Garoppolo in Week 5. The talented running back seemed to be fully recovered from his MCL sprain while averaging over 8.0 yards per rush. Quarterback play was certainly part of the undoing for San Fran against the Dolphins, but the defense – which is already without Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas – continues to bear little resemblance to the dominant unit that helped secure the NFC crown in 2019. Such is the uncertain state of the 49ers at the moment that the Rams come in as solid road favorites. While that may be surprising on the surface, it’s worth noting San Francisco is 0-3 straight up on its Levi’s Stadium home field thus far.
MONDAY, OCT. 19
Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills – 5 p.m. ET
The Chiefs were on the wrong end of one of two big Week 5 upsets. They were upended at Arrowhead by the Raiders, 40-32, in a game that saw KC blow leads of 14-3 and 21-10.
KC’s breakdowns Sunday primarily occurred on a defense that had been playing very well, especially against the pass, coming into the game against Las Vegas. However, Derek Carr touched up the Chiefs secondary for 347 yards and three touchdown passes while helping lead the Raiders to 37 points over the last three quarters. Kansas City also saw wideout Sammy Watkins exit the game early with a hamstring injury and he will almost certainly miss the game Monday against his former team.
The Bills are licking their wounds after being embarrassed on a rare Tuesday night national stage. Buffalo allowed 42 points to Tennessee, and the offense never got going – mustering only 16 points. The fact John Brown missed the game with a knee injury certainly seemed to affect Josh Allen and the offense as a whole. It remains to be seen whether Brown will be ready to take the field for a matchup in which Buffalo would do well to have all of its offensive weapons at its disposal.
Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys – 8:15 p.m. ET
The Cardinals had a golden opportunity to right their ship in Week 5 after two straight losses. To their credit, coach Kliff Kingsbury’s squad didn’t squander the opportunity. Arizona recorded a 30-10 win over the overmatched Jets on the road to move to 3-2. The Cowboys notched a classic Pyrrhic victory over the Giants. While Dallas escaped with a 37-34 win over the Giants, they lost Dak Prescott for the season with a compound fracture and dislocation of his ankle in the second half.
Arizona was able to help DeAndre Hopkins achieve some rare downfield success in Sunday’s win. That could foretell a similar usage plan against a highly vulnerable Cowboys defense. Hopkins recorded six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in the win over New York. Fellow wideout Christian Kirk (5-78) and speedy running back Chase Edmonds (5-56) also played key roles in the passing game as Kyler Murray threw for a season-high 380 yards and averaged a season-high 10.3 yards per attempt.
Dallas will now move on with Andy Dalton under center. The veteran is certainly capable and doesn’t lack for experience. However, Prescott was playing at an MVP level that will be impossible to replicate. The good news for the Cowboys is Dalton will be surrounded by elite weapons at the skill positions. Additionally, the defense will have to step up its play to make anything Dalton does relevant. The Cowboys are ranked in the bottom half of the league against both the run and pass.
With the Cardinals’ high-powered offense on tap and the Cowboys expected to still retain a significant degree of potency on that side of the ball with Dalton, oddsmakers are projecting this contest as one of the highest scoring of the ledger.