NFL picks, predictions against spread Week 6: Buccaneers take down Packers; Cowboys, Bears win again

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Picking games in the NFL in a given season is tough, but it’s definitely more difficult in 2020. Between no home-field advantages created by sparse-to-no crowds and the rampant rescheduling of games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a neutral-site feel to the entire season.

Because of that, no favorite seems invulnerable and every underdog has some hope. Considering that, our picks and predictions straight up and against the spread have been good through Week 5.

But how well we’re doing means nothing if we can’t back it up with another strong showing in Week 6. Here is our latest fearless forecast ATS, with odds coming straight out of Las Vegas:

MORE: Week 6 NFL power rankings

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NFL picks against the spread for Week 6

  • NFC Game of the Week: Packers (-2.5, 53.5 o/u) at Buccaneers

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Packers have a bye to prepare for this big NFC test while the Bucs are coming off a long week, having lost at the Bears last Thursday night. Green Bay has been doing whatever it wants offensively with Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones, but this is a road challenge against a good run defense and pass rush. Tampa Bay’s offense should get Chris Godwin back to help Tom Brady and Mike Evans in the passing game, and it already is running the ball well. Rodgers fill face more resistance than Brady with his limited weapons, while the Bucs have an explosive breakthrough to upend an undefeated contender.

Pick: Buccaneers win 34-27.

  • AFC Game of the Week: Chiefs (-3, TBD o/u) at Bills

Monday, 5 p.m. ET, Fox, NFL Network and Amazon Prime Video

The Chiefs don’t need to play on a short week after losing to the Raiders at home, but the Bills still face a rather quick road-to-home turnaround for their toughest opponent of the young season. Patrick Mahomes isn’t used to losing, period, and wont let his team fall in consecutive weeks. Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense will bring it, trying to match Mahomes’ big plays, but in the end their young gunslinger isn’t at the same level yet as Mahomes.

Pick: Chiefs win 31-27 and cover the spread.

  • Lock of the Week: Steelers ( -3.5, 51 o/u ) over Browns 

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET,  CBS

The Steelers (4-0) are off to their best start ever in the Mike Tomlin-Ben Roethlisberger era. The Browns have finally found their ideal coach in Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland’s run-heavy offense has effectively taken the pressure off Baker Mayfield. Roehtlisberger is being supported well by James Conner and has an endless quiver of receivers in his return from his elbow injury. The Steelers, however, still have the better overall defense and at home, they willl want to make a statement that they are the real threat to dethrone the Ravens in the division.

Pick: Steelers win 34-20 and cover the spread. 

  • Upset of the Week: Cowboys over Cardinals ( -2.5, 54.5 o/u )

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins will cause a lot of problems for the Cowboys’ reeling defense, no doubt. So will Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds out of the backfield, and this is a week where tight end and veteran slot man Larry Fitzgerald can make more of a difference. But the Cardinals’ defense isn’t stopping much, either, and won’t have Chandler Jones to go after Andy Dalton. They don’t really have answers to slow down Ezekiel Elliott and cover Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Dallas plays inspired again without Dak Prescott as Dalton digs deep for another winning play at the end.

Pick: Cowboys win 34-31.

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  • Broncos at Patriots ( TBD )

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

This game will finally be played in Week 6 and still doesn’t sound all that interesting. Denver’s defense is depleted, and its offense, even if Drew Lock can return, doesn’t have much with Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler likely joining Courtland Sutton on the shelf. The Patriots will focus on taking away Melvin Gordon and the running game first, and put the Broncos’ young QB of choice in bad situations. Whether or not Cam Newton can play for New England, look for Bill Belichick’s team to go run-heavy to slam the door on Denver.

Pick: Patriots win 30-14.

  • Texans at Titans ( -2, TBD  )

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

There was a liberated feeling to the Texans when they ripped the Jaguars in their first game without Bill O’Brien. Deshaun Watson looked looser in making plays with his big arm and legs all over the field. They used all their weapons well for the first time all season. The defense also seemed to want to overachieve for interim coach Romeo Crennel. The Titans have had a good early start derailed by cancellations and will need to recover on a really short week after facing the mighty Bills. Look for Houston to steal this one in Nashville because of Watson and slowly creep back into the AFC South race.

Pick: Texans win 30-27.

  • Ravens at Eagles ( -7.5, 46.5 ou )

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Ravens aren’t running as freely with Lamar Jackson and their committee of Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards as expected. They also haven’t really expanded their passing game beyond Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown. This is a tough spot for a struggling Jackson, against a strong defensive front that excels at stopping the run and applying pressure. On the other side, Carson Wentz faces an active Baltimore front seven who can compress Philadelphia’s offense, too. Jackson and Wentz play to a tough draw, with a big late kick by Justin Tucker making the difference.

Pick: Ravens win 23-20 but fail to cover the spread.

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  • Washington Football Team at Giants ( -3, 43 o/u )

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Who will Washington start at quarterback? Who know it won’t be Dwayne Haskins, and we don’t feel good about either Kyle Allen or Alex Smith with limitations around them. Terry McClaurin steps into another tough matchup with James Bradberry, and Washington won’t exploit the Giants’ run defense issues enough. Daniel Jones is throwing more ducks than dimes and still can’t protect the ball well. But the receiving corps is waking up big time and Devonta Freeman has sparked the running game of late. The Giants get out of last place and get their first win.

Pick: Giants win 20-16 and cover the spread.

  • Falcons at Vikings ( -3.5, 56.5 o/u )

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Falcons will be playing under interim coach Raheem Morris following the firing of Dan Quinn, looking for a Texans-like spark on the road. Unfortunately, Morris will see the same defensive issues surface against an elite rushing attack, even if Alexander Mattison has to be featured over an injured Dalvin Cook. The Falcons also cannot cover either Adam Thielen or Justin Jefferson. Minnesota will dominate time of possession for another week, but this time will easily thwart Matt Ryan, likely without Julio Jones again.

Pick: Vikings win 33-24 and cover the spread.

  • Lions ( -3.5, 54.5 o/u) at Jaguars 

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Lions are playing for more than just pride as Matt Patricia’s job hangs in the balance based on how they perform after the bye. Look for the Lions to feature more of D’Andre Swift in the running game and Matthew Stafford can pick apart a shaky Jaguars defense that is further breaking because of injuries. Gardner Minshew will come up with some gritty answers, even if he’s without D.J. Chark. You could flip a coin between Honolulu Blue and Teal 100 times and both teams would lose 50 times. Let’s roll with the Leos as the bigger cats.

Pick:  Lions win 27-24 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Bengals at Colts ( -8, 46.5 o/u )

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Imagine if Joe Burrow was a Colt. Imagine if Philip Rivers was a Bengal. Things would feel a lot different, wouldn’t they? Burrow is the better QB without a doubt and Rivers’ poor play should make Indianapolis think more about Jacoby Brissett or rookie Jacob Eason to save what could be a playoff season. The Colts showed some defensive cracks against the run and the slot last week, which should be big for Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd. Luckily, Indy can simply go run-heavy with Jonathan Taylor to protect Rivers and tis defense for a narrow home escape vs. Cincy.

Pick: Colts win 24-20 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Bears at Panthers ( -2.5, 44 o/u)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

It’s hard to believe the Bears are 4-1 and the Panthers are 3-2 going into this matchup, making it very important for the NFC wild-card race. Nick Foles hasn’t played all that well, but he’s got Allen Robinson, David Montgomery and Jimmy Graham to help him move the ball and the Panthers aren’t equipped to stop that trio. Teddy Bridgewater has been letting it rip to Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore with former Bear Mike Davis playing backfield supersub. But he does struggle with blitzes and Chuck Pagano will get creative with Khalil Mack and others after containing the run. 

Pick: Bears win 20-17.

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Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Jets were supposed to play the Chargers, but does it really matter? They continue to show limited life with Adam Gase and Gregg Williams, while the Dolphins have more bounce in their step thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Flores and Chan Gailey. The Jets have no answers for DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki and won’t be able to stop Myles Gaskin, either. Le’Veon Bell loves himself some South Beach, but he has to be hating an offense with Jamison Crowder as the only playmaker.

Pick: Dolphins win 23-13.

  • Rams ( -3.5, 51 o/u ) at 49ers

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

The 49ers are an injury-riddled mess, nothing resembling their Super Bowl 54 team. The Rams are well-organized humming offense with a dominant defense again, very much resembling their Super Bowl 53 team. This is not a daunting road trip down the coast and the teams played a pair of classics last season. The 49ers have mystery at QB and their D isn’t equipped to stop L.A.’s balanced attack.

Pick: Rams win 27-20 and cover the spread.

Stats of the Week

Week 5 straight up: 8-4

Week 5 against the spread: 8-4

Season straight up: 49-25

Season against the spread: 51-24