Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 6 NFL Picks
A number of great games are on tap in the NFL for Week 6, but none more so than a rematch of last year's NFC Championship Game.
As the New York Giants head westward to take on the San Francisco 49ers, our experts see a different outcome this time around and even agreed on our take of the game. A lot of it has to do with location, but the 49ers are playing great football right now as well.
The Green Bay Packers and the Houston Texans are also facing off this week. Sure, the game has lost a little of its luster, but the Texans shouldn't expect the Packers to roll over for them. Two great offenses are always fun to watch.
Check out our picks in those games and every other game in Week 6 ahead!
Our B/R Panel of Experts
Note: All betting odds are for informational purposes only and courtesy of Statfox.com. Although spreads are provided, all picks are straight-up.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans
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B/R Consensus: Steelers (10-1)
Vegas: Steelers (-6)
The Steelers defense doesn't look like the fearsome unit they have been in the past, but expect them to hit their stride early against a very lackluster Titans offense. That'll be the difference here as Pittsburgh cruises.
It's hard to imagine the Titans scoring in this one. The Steelers defense is a bit banged-up, but they are still a threat. If somehow LaMarr Woodley is limited by his hamstring injury, the tide could turn, but as of now, it's impossible to see Tennessee winning.
Matt Hasselbeck gets another start, not that it matters much who the quarterback is. The Titans can't play defense. The Steelers are too talented on offense and put up big points against Jerry Gray's overmatched crew.
The Titans are, without question, one of the worst teams (if not the worst) in the NFL, and the Steelers are, well, the Steelers. But this time, the short week favors the home team. The Steelers have injuries on defense—Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley—and the offense looked off in Week 5.
No team in football is playing quite as badly as the Titans right now. There's no reason to expect things to change in just four days.
Oakland Raiders at Atlanta Falcons
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B/R Consensus: Falcons (Unanimous)
Vegas: Falcons (-8)
The Falcons have one of the best offenses in the NFL and an underrated defensive unit. I love what GM Reggie McKenzie has going in Oakland, but the Raiders are a year (at least) away from beating a team like the Falcons.
The 5-0 Falcons will have no trouble handling the Raiders at home. Atlanta features the best wide receiver duo in the NFL; the Raiders have the league's worst starting cornerbacks. This one should be video game-like.
The Redskins ran all over the Falcons, and you can expect the Raiders to try and follow suit. Unfortunately, points don't generally come out of the running game. Matt Ryan is playing the best ball of his career and is getting the ball to the many playmakers on the Falcons offense.
Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez vs. a terrible secondary and nonexistent pass rush. A West Coast team traveling to the Eastern time zone. It would take a near miracle for Oakland to come away with a win. There's also little risk of Atlanta overlooking the Raiders with a bye next week.
The Falcons have had a couple of close calls over the last two weeks, but still remain perfect. In actuality, the fact that Atlanta hasn't been clean in two weeks might work out in their favor; there won't be any complacency when Oakland comes to town.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
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B/R Consensus: Bengals (10-1)
Vegas: Bengals (-2.5)
Seriously, the Browns are terrible; people deserve to be fired for the product that is on the field. Don't think they'll go winless this season, but don't think they're picking up their first "W" against another AFC North team.
A possible trap game for the Bengals, as the Browns defense gets Joe Haden back and will be able to get pressure up the middle on Andy Dalton. Dalton and A.J. Green have to play better this week, or the Browns will upset them in a low-scoring affair.
The Bengals are coming off a tough loss to the Dolphins and need to right the ship. It says here they get back to getting the ball deep to A.J. Green. The Browns have been close a few times, and they get close again here...but ultimately, they fail to close the deal. Again.
Finally, the Browns have a shot at a very real win. The Bengals showed in Week 5 that Andy Dalton still struggles with accuracy under pressure, and he'll be dealing with the return of Joe Haden, who will likely all but shut down A.J. Green. At the same time, the Browns offense hasn't been all that atrocious despite their record. Mark my words, Cleveland will be 1-5 after this game.
St. Louis Rams at Miami Dolphins
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B/R Consensus: Dolphins (6-5)
Vegas: Dolphins (-3.5)
While I don't expect St. Louis to have as much success against Miami's offensive line as they did against Arizona, I do expect Ryan Tannehill to look more uncomfortable than he has and St. Louis to win in a close one.
The Rams defense is for real, and as good as Ryan Tannehill has been for Miami, he hasn't faced a pass rush like this yet. With aggressive cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, St. Louis can take Brian Hartline away and force Tannehill into mistakes all game.
Ryan Tannehill keeps improving week by week, looking more and more like the franchise quarterback the Dolphins expected him to be when they selected him eighth overall in last April's draft. He will have a tough time against a revived Rams defense, but he'll find more success than his St. Louis counterpart, Sam Bradford, does against the Dolphins defense.
Even though St. Louis took down the undefeated Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, I still need to see more from this team on the road. The Rams are currently 0-2 away from the Edward Jones Dome, and if you go back a little further, they have lost nine of their last 10 games on the road. Not to mention, Miami's defense is slowly becoming one of the most impressive units in the league.
The Dolphins have played immensely better than their 2-3 record would indicate; this is a team that, with a few more plays, could easily be 4-1. The Rams are a solid defense, but not as great against the run, which has been a strength for Miami. If the Dolphins can take away the running game and make Sam Bradford one-dimensional, they could make short work of the Rams.
Also Picking the Rams: Hangst; Dunlevy; Garda.
Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets
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B/R Consensus: Colts (8-3)
Purely on talent level, the Jets should win this game, but they're just not in a great place right now. The Colts, on the other hand, seem to be playing for something more and should be able to put the better team away, even on the road.
Coming off an emotional win at home will give Indianapolis the momentum it needs. More importantly, it's a short week for the Jets, and they're without their best players on offense (Santonio Holmes) and defense (Darrelle Revis). Advantage, Colts.
The Colts look to continue the momentum they have from their emotional victory over the Packers. The Jets are a perfect team to face when trying to string wins together. It doesn't matter who the Jets put at quarterback; this is a team that needs to get healthy.
Even with the short week, the Jets find a way to run the ball on Indianapolis. The Colts aren't ready to win on the road yet.
Right now, the Colts are playing inspired and the Jets are playing desperate. Rex Ryan must flex his defensive mastermind muscle to confuse Andrew Luck and keep the Colts offense grounded, while the Jets offense should continue to struggle against a Colts defense that looked mighty impressive in the second half against Green Bay. This will be decided by a field goal.
Also Picking the Jets: Hangst; Langland.
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
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B/R Consensus: Eagles (9-2)
Vegas: Eagles (-5.5)
Call it a homer pick if you'd like, but the Lions were playing as bad of football as they possibly could have before the bye week and have had two weeks to correct their issues and game-plan for Vick and Co.
At some point, the Michael Vick turnovers are going to really cost the Eagles, and more so than in Week 5. Vick is a dangerous player right now...to his team and to the defense. If the Eagles can play mistake-free, LeSean McCoy will have plenty of running room in a victory.
The Lions have had a bye week to try and fix some of their issues, but no amount of tinkering can fix this truly horrid secondary. The Eagles defense has the right components to slow down the Lions passing attack, and Mike Vick will finally get things going in the air.
The Eagles have been walking a thin line with Vick's turnovers, and this is the week that bites them where the sun don't shine (no, not Barrow, Alaska). With two weeks to prepare, the Lions will come out hot and look to shut all the doubters up. Stafford and the offense will attack early, and the defensive line for the Lions will finally start getting their hands on the quarterback. It will be close and probably come down to the last two minutes, but this is one the Lions have to win—and will.
Detroit doesn't have the playmaking teeth on defense to take advantage of Philadelphia's bad turnover habit. The Eagles will bounce back at home.
Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens
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B/R Consensus: Ravens (Unanimous)
Vegas: Ravens (-4)
Surprised to see this as a unanimous pick, especially as the Ravens had trouble with the Chiefs last weekend. However, as these teams match up, it's easy to see the Ravens defense having a field day pressuring Romo.
This won't be as easy as some Ravens fans think, as Dallas has the talent on defense to pressure Joe Flacco and create turnovers. The key, though, is the Baltimore defense. Tony Romo threw five interceptions in his last outing, and with Ed Reed and Lardarius Webb on the field, he's likely to add a few more to that column.
The Ravens struggled to put up points against the Chiefs, though they were able to move the ball between the 20s. Look for a repeat here, as the Cowboys corners match up well on the perimeter with the Ravens' playmakers. Ed Reed gets Tony Romo at least once, though I expect Romo to have a good game overall.
Even if Dallas does benefit from the bye, a road matchup with Baltimore isn't ideal for an offense that's having some major issues up front.
Can a mistake-prone quarterback and drops-plagued wide receiver march into Baltimore and put up enough points to defeat the Ravens in an early-afternoon game? Nine times out of 10, I say no. In fact, this may prove to be the Cowboys' signature loss of the season.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
B/R Consensus: Buccaneers (10-1)
The Bucs are going to throw the kitchen sink at whoever is under center for the Chiefs. If Kansas City tries to run as much as they did last week, Charles' legs just might fall off.
The Chiefs are the more talented team, but neither team is playing well enough to feel certain about this one. Perhaps Eric Winston's comments will light a fire under the team, but this one could go either way. Jamaal Charles looks like the difference in a Chiefs win.
Brady Quinn takes over at quarterback, which is never what you want to hear...unless apparently, you're a Chiefs fan. The Bucs have had a bye week to get rested and to get Josh Freeman's issues worked out. Vincent Jackson gets back on track in a big way here.
The quarterback situation in Kansas City will grab the headlines, but the defense finally showed up on Sunday. When the Chiefs can run the ball and play defense, they will have a chance to win the game. Tampa Bay's run defense has been good this season and should be able to limit Charles. I expect a close game with the Bucs being fresher in the fourth quarter and pulling out the win.
Be prepared to see a lot more out of Josh Freeman than you saw from the first four games. With a bye week to prepare, Greg Schiano will make some interesting changes. The biggest will be letting Freeman air it out more frequently.
Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals
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B/R Consensus: Cardinals (10-1)
Vegas: Cardinals (-5)
Going against the grain here because Buffalo should smell some blood in the water after the Cardinals' Thursday night performance. Neither team is what their record says it is right now, and the Bills D-line should have a good day.
The Cardinals were exposed in Week 5, and injuries are starting to add up on offense, but that shouldn't matter against the Buffalo Bills defense. In back-to-back weeks, the unit has been gouged, and you can bet the Arizona defense will be able to shut down Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Cardinals offensive line has been an abomination, but here come the Bills and a defensive front that hasn't been able to sniff a quarterback. On the flip side, the Bills haven't been able to get their offense going at all, and the Cardinals defense isn't about to help in that regard.
Even after a letdown at St. Louis, the Cardinals still play one of the stingiest brands of defense in the league. The Bills have scored just 10 points in the previous 86 minutes of play going back to the second half against New England; no reason to think that trend stops on the road against a tough defense.
Arizona suffered its first defeat of the season last week, yet the Cardinals won't let that kill their momentum. After 10 days off, Darnell Dockett should be close to 100 percent, and the offensive line should have had adequate time to make a couple midseason adjustments. Look for the Cardinals offense to bounce back against a reeling Buffalo Bills secondary.
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks
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B/R Consensus: Patriots (7-4)
Vegas: Patriots (-4)
It's the Seahawks at home, so this should be a tough game for the Patriots, but they're as offensively inventive as anyone and should have the prescription to beat even the Hawks' tough D. The story here, however, will be the Pats D as it smothers Russell Wilson and Co.
Road games in Seattle are the ultimate trap game (ask Green Bay), but the Patriots are red-hot right now. Tom Brady's efficient, pick-'em-apart offense is a good match against the Seattle linebackers, and that's where the advantage comes in this one. Adding insult to injury, the Seahawks passing game won't be able to get off the ground against the New England pass rush.
The Patriots have the most diverse, most exciting offense in the NFL, but the Seahawks have one of the best defenses; coupled with the noise when they are at home, you have a recipe for a surprising beatdown. The Patriots can pretty much shut down what the Seahawks want to do on offense, but Seattle pulls out a low-scoring, defensive affair.
The Seahawks have all the right tools to make this a slugfest until the very end: a stout pass rush, a solid run defense and a coverage unit that's underrated. Why does New England win? Because Bill Belichick rarely loses to rookie quarterbacks (just twice since joining the Patriots).
Even with the best defense in the NFL, Seattle will have its hands full trying to defend New England's plethora of offensive weapons. It will probably take Tom Brady a half or so to get adjusted to the noise considering he's has never started at the Link. But I would expect him to lead the Patriots to victory in what will be a close, hard-fought game right until the end.
Also Voting for the Seahawks: Hangst; Gagnon; Bardeen.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
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B/R Consensus: 49ers (Unanimous)
Vegas: 49ers (-6)
Another game I am really surprised to see as unanimous, but the 49ers have played as well as anyone since losing to the Vikings, and they look like they're taking out their frustrations on everyone. Eli doesn't have a chance cross-country on the road.
Karma would be Kyle Williams taking the opening kickoff for six points. That would be the beginning of the beatdown the 49ers are poised to put on the Giants. The offensive line is better this year, the weapons more readily available. San Francisco will get revenge.
The marquee game this week, I don't think it will be all that close. The Giants have looked good, but the 49ers have looked completely dominant in all three phases of the game. The Giants have had trouble getting to the quarterback, and the pounding they are going to take from this 49ers running game will take the fight out of the Giants' pursuit.
New York's running into a dominant 49ers team in the wrong place at the wrong time. San Francisco won't let the Giants run wild. Revenge for last year's playoff meeting coming.
The 49ers are on an incredible roll over the past two weeks. They have piled up 1,000 yards of total offense and outscored their opponents 79-3 during that two-game span. I don't expect another 621-yard output against the Giants, but their winning ways should continue at home. New York is just too beat up right now, and San Francisco has some unfinished business from the 2011 season.
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins
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B/R Consensus: Vikings (10-1)
Going against the grain again here because I think RGIII will play and will be enough of a difference maker, especially at home, to take out a Vikings team I've been high on all year.
Let's hope by now you're all taking Christian Ponder seriously. The Redskins will be, and depending on if Robert Griffin III can go this week, the game could be a close Minnesota win or a blowout Minnesota win. I'd worry about the No. 2 overall pick's health against the hard-hitting Vikings.
Obviously, the Redskins' fortunes are tied up with whether RGIII is able to play. Even if he does get the start, the Vikings have a hard-nosed defense, a running game that can move the ball on anyone and a quarterback in Christian Ponder who is taking care of the football.
A lot of this could depend on RG3's health and availability. Kirk Cousins may actually have a better shot here against a tough, physical defense, as he tends to stay "home" more. Ultimately, though, the front seven of the Vikes is going to be too much for the Redskins, who will have no answer for Adrian Peterson. The Skins can run, but the Vikings can smother the run, so Alfred Morris could see a bad game for the first time since he took over.
I'm not convinced the Vikings can keep this up. Washington's the better team, especially at home. Then again, if Robert Griffin III can't go, this is a Minnesota victory.
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans
B/R Consensus: Texans (Unanimous)
Vegas: Texans (-5.5)
With Benson down, the Packers will not be able to keep up the illusion of balance. If a team gets out of balance against the Texans, that defense will have a field day. J.J. Watt could win Defensive Player of the Year on this game alone.
Game of the Week for sure. The Packers need redemption and a win to climb back to .500. The Texans want to extend their AFC dominance by taking down an elite opponent. J.J. Watt vs. Bryan Bulaga will be a great matchup, as will Greg Jennings and Johnathan Joseph. The home-field advantage is the difference in this one.
The Packers are coming off an embarrassing collapse in Indianapolis. The Texans are one of the best teams in the league. The Packers are too talented not to make this a game, but ultimately, the Texans are too tough and too deep and end up pulling away early in the second half.
Green Bay is reeling from a miserable loss to the Colts, and frankly, it isn't playing good football right now. Houston does everything right and will roll at home.
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
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B/R Consensus: Broncos (7-4)
Vegas: Chargers (-3)
It could be that the Chargers' early-season woes just showed up a little late this season. Or maybe they're just a better team than we're used to seeing in San Diego. Look for Ryan Mathews to get rolling now that he's out of the doghouse and going up against a Broncos defense that hasn't been as good as advertised.
Peyton Manning looks better and stronger each week. The Chargers were exposed by a heavy passing attack in New Orleans, and you can bet Manning and Co. are taking pages from that blueprint to prepare for a division showdown. If Manning can keep his jersey clean, Denver wins.
The Broncos keep falling behind early in games, and Peyton Manning isn't able to bring them back. That's not on Manning. The Chargers need to find ways to get Ryan Mathews the ball more and more, because he is without question their most dynamic offensive threat. Manning finally gets an early lead and is charged with protecting it rather than desperately trying to come back.
The top two teams in the AFC West play on Monday Night Football for first place in the division. Peyton Manning and the Broncos have more to lose, and the Chargers have trouble stopping passing teams. Manning will have another signature performance, and the Broncos will make the AFC West a two-horse race.
Also Picking the Chargers: Frenz; Gagnon; Garda.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff alongside other great writers at "The Go Route."