NFL Week 6 picks: Liking seven dogs and seven favourites

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LINE: Cincinnati by 2.5

CHEWABLE: What’s the bigger factor: Joe Burrow’s calf or Geno Smith’s ankle? Burrow sure looked like his old self in a stellar performance against the Cards last week while Smith, coming off a bye, may or may not be fully recovered from the injury suffered the last time he played — a 24-3 Week 4 victory … If Smith is still hobbled, he’ll be fresh meat for a pass rush led by Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. The Seahawks can’t pressure Burrow the same way, partly because the Bengals have superior protection … Seattle’s pass defence is ranked 30th, which would also be a mismatch against Burrow and his incredible group of receivers,  which is supposed to get Tee Higgins back from a ribs injury … If poor weather is the factor a long term forecast suggested, the edge goes to the visitors as Kenneth Walker III has been a more dangerous ball carrier than Joe Mixon. If rain and wind don’t play a major role in the outcome, and Burrow can steer clear of Devon Witherspoon, it’s wiser to lean toward the more desperate Bengals on home turf. Cincinnati was expected to be one of the top teams in the AFC and that can still be the case if “Joe The Throw” can again fire the ball with some zip. 

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SCORE (O/U 44.5): Bengals 30, Seahawks 24


LINE: San Francisco by 7

CHEWABLE: No question the Niners are the best team in the NFL, a point that was emphasized with their demolition of Dallas last week, but is it possible they suffer a letdown coming off a 32-point victory over a top NFC rival? Perhaps, but while Cleveland has the league’s No. 1 rated defence, the Browns stand no chance without their fearless-leader Deshaun Watson, who was medically cleared two weeks ago but still says his shoulder is too sore to practice. That will allow P.J. Walker the honour of becoming Nick Bosa’s lunch on Sunday … That top-rated Browns ‘D’ could also be without its best player, as Myles Garrett (foot) has so far only watched this week’s workouts … As impressive as Brock Purdy has been during his career start as Niners QB (12-0 SU, 10-2 ATS), he has only played from behind in the fourth quarter once, for a brief two-minute stretch last year. So who knows if he can orchestrate a two-minute, 80-yard drive to win a NFL game? Or if he can win a fourth-quarter shootout? We won’t find out this week either.

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SCORE (O/U 37.5): Niners 21, Browns 10


LINE: Buffalo by 14 

CHEWABLE: Not many teams can say this, but the Giants won’t be worse off this week if, as expected, they have to play without their No. 1 quarterback and star left tackle. That’s because veteran backup Tyrod Taylor, who made 43 of his 53 career starts with the Bills between 2015-2017, has an outstanding 73.3 completion percentage with no interceptions this season (okay, so he has thrown only 15 passes). And because it’s looking more and more like RB Saquon Barkley will return from his ankle injury. And because they’re getting used to missing LT Andrew Thomas, who has been out with a hamstring injury since Week 1. And because with Daniel Jones at the helm, each of the Giants’ four losses have been by at least 15 points, which is why they have a league worst -91 point differential through just five weeks. So you see, there’s really no place to go but up … While the Jaguars may have some lingering effects from the time change after a two-week stay in London, the Bills should be shaking similar issues off quicker after losing to Jacksonville despite having Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis both reaching triple digits in receiving yardage … After finishing with just 29 rushing yards against the Jaguars, James Cook, Damien Harris and Latavius Murray as well as Josh Allen himself should be able to glide across significant amounts of real estates versus the Giants 30th-ranked run defence … This one will have extra meaning for Giants head coach (and Welland, Ont., product) Brian Daboll as he faces the Bills, with whom he was the offensive coordinator between 2018-2021, and his players should be doing what they can to make sure he’s at least not embarrassed in the homecoming. With such a poor defence, however, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to prevent it.

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SCORE (O/U 44.5): Bills 38, Giants 14



(Game to be played in London)

LINE: Baltimore by 4

CHEWABLE: Baltimore imploded against the Steelers in Week 5. It wasn’t just the three turnovers (including a Lamar Jackson pick thrown from the Pittsburgh five-yard line) or the blocked punt, but also seven dropped passes, most in any game by any team this season … The underachieving Titans fell to Gardner Minshew and the Colts last week in a continuation of their win-one-lose-one start to the season … Mike Vrabel’s teams know how to defend against mobile quarterbacks, so Jackson won’t be as much of a factor with his feet as he should be with his arm against the Titans’ weak secondary … The best receiver in the game is Tennessee’s DeAndre Hopkins, who is coming off his first triple-figure yardage day as a Titan. If Derrick Henry can have an effective outing — which is no sure thing as he has had an inconsistent start to his eighth season — he’ll buy some time for Ryan Tannehill to build off last week’s connection with his new favourite toy …  Baltimore wins but Vrabel, who is 24-10 as an underdog of 3-plus points, has his team covering.

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SCORE (O/U 41.5): Ravens 24, Titans 21


LINE: Atlanta by 2.5

CHEWABLE: The Falcons defence, surprisingly, has performed at an elite level, Kyle Pitts finally appears to be getting untracked and there’s no questioning Atlanta’s running game. All they need now is consistent play from quarterback Desmond Ridder and the NFC South could be the Dirty Birds’ for the taking … Last week the Texans were so intent on stopping Bijan Robinson that it opened things up for Ridder to have the first 300-plus yard passing game. Ridder could duplicate that performance against a Commanders secondary that was shredded by Justin Fields last week … After  the Bears ended their 14-game losing streak by defeating Washington, it’s hard to put any faith in Washington as it now takes to the road to face a stiffer challenge. 

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SCORE (O/U 43.5): Falcons 23, Commanders 17


LINE: Minnesota by 2.5

CHEWABLE: The Vikings had the second-best aerial attack in the league before losing Justin Jefferson to a hamstring injury that will keep him shelved for the better part of a month. They still have capable receivers who should be effective against the 31st-ranked pass defence of the Bears, which is now missing three starters from the secondary … Bears have their own Jefferson in D.J. Moore, who showed everybody what all the fuss was about in his acquisition against Washington last Thursday … The difference, with wind expected to be a factor, will be the running games, and the Bears are in better shape along the ground even with D’Onta Foreman coming in as replacement for the injured Khalil Herbert … The Vikings have won the last four meetings between the teams, but you get the feeling (okay, I do) that streak is about to end in an offensive battle between two teams trying to stay out of the NFL North basement.

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SCORE (O/U 44.5):  Bears 31, Vikings 28


LINE: New Orleans by 1.5

CHEWABLE: While C.J. Stroud has been the NFL’s best rookie QB to date, he now faces a Top 5 defence coming off a 34-0 shutdown of the Patriots. In losing 21-19 to the Falcons last week, the Texans quieted Atlanta’s vaunted running attack but in doing so opened up to allow Desmond Ridder his first 300-plus yard passing day. Now Houston has to contend with a more established QB in Derek Carr, whose shoulder injury actually wasn’t an issue against New England, and Alvin Kamara, who looks to be the tremendous running-receiving threat he was a couple of years ago. 


SCORE (O/U 42.5): Saints 17, Texans 14

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LINE: Jacksonville by 4

CHEWABLE: Against a solid Bills defence the Jaguars had 29 first downs — which is 11 off the all-time record set by the 2013 Saints but still a lot of first downs — while Travis Etienne and Calvin Ridley combined for 258 yards themselves. What are they capable of against a Colts defence that has surrendered more yards than all but four teams? … Offensively, Indy has a strong running game with Zack Moss, who had an enormous day last week against the Titans, and Jonathan Taylor, who should be getting more work in the second game of his return … Colts lose scrambling/running ability with the injury to rookie QB Anthony Richardson, but Gardner Minshew is one of the best backups in the league and at this stage has a more accurate arm than Richardson … Jacksonville has won three of the last four meetings and that trend will continue in this battle for top spot in the AFC South. If you’re tempted to take the points, know that the teams haven’t played a game decided by less than four in 10 meetings, and that includes a 31-21 Jags victory in Indy in Week 1 … A bet on Jacksonville means a bet the Jags will not be suffering any time change issues after spending two weeks in London. I’m just not prepared to do that. 

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SCORE (O/U 44.5): Jaguars 30, Colts 27


LINE: Miami by 13.5

CHEWABLE: No one looking to make money would bet against the Dolphins, who have the NFL’s fastest and best offence, against a battered Panthers defence and an offence led by a rookie QB who so far looks like he’s in over his head. Matchup-wise, Miami should dominate through the air and along the ground, and even if they throw some picks and fumble the ball. So far this season, 18 times a team has been minus-3 or worse in turnovers, and last week the Dolphins became the only one to still win the game, crushing the Giants by 15 … A statistical trend to consider: Winless teams entering Week 6 are 43-28 ATS dating back to 1989. That, and the fact the Dolphins have the 23rd-ranked defence, had me thinking about backing the Panthers for a second. But only one.

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SCORE (O/U 47.5): Dolphins 34, Panthers 17


LINE: Las Vegas by 3

CHEWABLE: How can you like a Patriots team that was shut out last game, outscored 72-3 in its last two and has the second-worst points differential (-76) in the NFL? Few reasons. The offence was silenced by the Cowboys and Saints, two of the best defences in the league, but along with beating the Jets, the Patriots have suffered a couple of one-score losses to a couple of strong opponents in Philadelphia and Miami. Also, the Patriots have had one more day of preparation that the Raiders, who played Monday night, which means Bill Belichick has had extra time to get ready for two offensive opponents he has worked with and knows well: Josh McDaniels and Jimmy Garoppolo. They should be able to take advantage of a depleted New England defence, but Belichick will outsmart them. 

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SCORE (O/U 41.5): Patriots 23, Raiders 21


LINE: Detroit by 3

CHEWABLE: Don’t look now but the Lions have become one of the best teams in the NFL. They have won 12 of their last 15 games dating back to last season and they are coming off a 42-24 victory over the Panthers despite missing two key offensive players in Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jahmyr Gibbs. They rank sixth in both total offensive yards for and total offensive yards against. But they are missing multiple members of their secondary and Baker Mayfield is off to a flying start as a Buccaneer. If he gets time against a good Lions pass rush, he’ll continue to develop chemistry with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans — assuming the latter can play through a hamstring problem that has kept him from practising the last two days.

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SCORE (O/U 42.5): Lions 26, Bucs 24


LINE: L.A. Rams by 7

CHEWABLE: It’s starting to look like the worst thing that could have happened to the Cardinals was their surprising 28-16 victory over the Cowboys in Week 3. The two games before it they lost by a total of seven points, while the two after it they have been beaten by a combined 33 points. Granted, the first two losses were to the Commanders and Giants, while the last two were to the Niners and Bengals, but they just don’t look like they’re going to be the surprise team of 2023 any more … The Rams could be a little deflated after a 23-14 loss to the Eagles last week. If they can refocus, they win this divisional matchup with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua having their way against a suspect secondary and a overall pass defence that ranks 25th. Even minus James Conner, expect that the Cards offence, directed by Joshua Dobbs, will cover through the back door.

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SCORE (O/U 48.5): Rams 28, Cardinals 23


LINE: Philadelphia by 7

CHEWABLE: The Jets defence should have some success against the Eagles offence, even now that Jalen Hurts is finally running the ball again. But how in the world is Zach Wilson going to take advantage of an Eagles defence that has allowed more passing TDs than every team except the Bears and Broncos when he doesn’t have time to throw? At least that’s the assumption as New York goes forward without OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, a good blocker who suffered a season-ending injury last week, against a strong Eagles pass rush? Better bet is a harried Wilson, who has thrown only one pick in his last three games, goes back to his giveaway days … The Jets have never, ever, beaten the Eagles, losing all 12 meetings, and while there’s a first for everything, this won’t be one for that.

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SCORE (O/U 41.0): Eagles 24, Jets 10


LINE: Dallas by 2.5

CHEWABLE: Only one team in the NFL (Broncos) has allowed opponents to move the ball with as much ease as the Chargers, which doesn’t make a lick of sense given the talented personnel they have on defence. Of course, players such as Derwin James Jr. and Joey Bosa have been sidelined, too, and this week they have returned to practiced as Los Angeles comes off a bye to face a Dallas team that was thoroughly embarrassed in a 42-10 loss to the Niners. (So, Dak Prescott, that’s what happens when a reporter makes you “mad” with questions about last year’s playoff loss to San Fran, eh?) … Also coming off the injury list to help the Chargers is Austin Ekeler, who had 167 yards from scrimmage in the season opener before going down with an ankle injury … Justin Herbert has a finger fractured on his non-throwing hand, an injury that occurred when he was stepped on during the Chargers pre-bye win over the Raiders. Herbert wasn’t the same when he returned to the game, but the bye week should have helped … What we know about the Cowboys this season, along with the fact they have a sometimes-strong defence, is that they have beaten up on the weaklings (Giants, Jets, Patriots) while not really coming close to the Cards and getting totally outplayed by the Niners. Now they visit the Chargers, whose offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was the Dallas O.C. last year and hence knows the Cowboys defence well. Oh yes, and Dak is probably also mad about last week’s game too. 


SCORE (O/U 50.5): Chargers 24, Cowboys 23

NFL Week 6 picks

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