NFL Week 6 Predictions: Latest Odds and Picks Against the Spread
Week 6 NFL fixtures are highlighted by the rematch of last season's epic NFC Championship game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.
There is also the intriguing battle between Aaron Rodgers and the Houston Texans' defense and the AFC West clash between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers.
Here is a list of the latest odds, including picks against the spread for Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season.
All odds and spreads are from FootballLocks.com.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) at Tennessee Titans
Thursday night's game is likely to heap more problems on a Tennessee Titans team that has been below-par since opening day.
FootballLocks.com puts the spread at -5.5 in favour of the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. It's not easy to disagree with the line, given how poor the Titans have played in 2012.
They look like a franchise in disarray, and although running back Chris Johnson posted decent numbers two weeks ago, the Steelers have rarely had trouble shutting him down. That means brittle veteran Matt Hasselbeck will be left at the mercy of Dick LeBeau's zone blitz pressure.
Pick: Steelers ATS.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
It's strange that the Kansas City Chiefs aren't receiving more respect on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Romeo Crennel's team kept the game against the Baltimore Ravens very close in Week 5, while the Buccaneers have done nothing to build on their opening week win over the Carolina Panthers.
The illusion of Tampa Bay's stout run defense was shattered by Alfred Morris and the Washington Redskins in Week 4. Given how well Jamaal Charles is playing, the Buccaneers could be the victims of another standout performance on the ground.
The real issue is whether Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman can find any success in the passing game. It's a reasonable bet to suggest he won't. Expect a mild upset in this one, and take the Chiefs to win on the road at +3.5.
Pick: Chiefs to cover.
Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets (-3)
Expect the Indianapolis Colts to experience an inevitable letdown following their hugely gratifying and emotional win over the Green Bay Packers.
It's always a risk to trust the Jekyll and Hyde New York Jets to do anything, but this is still a team with talent. Head coach Rex Ryan should have plenty of effective pressure schemes for Colts rookie passer Andrew Luck.
Trust the Jets, and bet against the spread for a Gang Green victory by six or more.
Pick: Jets ATS.
Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5) at Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns must win this week, if only because this writer is getting tired of the team being so callously criticised. However flimsy a reason that is, the Browns have a great chance of upsetting a suddenly fragile-looking Cincinnati Bengals team, listed as narrow favourites by FootballLocks.com.
It takes courage to try to win with as many rookies as the Browns are featuring in a division as tough as the AFC North. Running back Trent Richardson is one first-year starter showing the potential to be a game-breaker.
The Bengals struggled to contain Reggie Bush and the Miami Dolphins' rush attack last week, so Richardson has a chance to rack up plenty of yards. While Cleveland's offense is regularly belittled as basic, it seems to have no trouble creating big gains via the play-action passing game.
If Richardson gets going and the Browns can find some big plays through the air, they can sneak past their in-state rivals to win their first game of the season.
Pick: Browns to cover.
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles (-5)
This is actually one of the more reasonable lines of the week. The Philadelphia Eagles have played every game close this season, so a spread of -5 seems realistic.
The Detroit Lions should certainly keep things close once they unleash their marauding front four on mistake-prone Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Philly's offense should still put points on the board though, despite their inevitable rash of mistakes.
That's because the Lions' defense continues to play below expectations, despite a healthy amount of talent up front. If the Lions are patient enough to give young runner Mikel Leshoure plenty of carries, they could have success since the Eagles surrendered 5.8 yards per rushing attempt to Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall last week.
Pick: Lions to cover.
Oakland Raiders at Atlanta Falcons (-8.5)
There's a lot of hype surrounding the 5-0 Atlanta Falcons, but that doesn't mean a -8.5 spread is unrealistic for the NFC South leaders when they take on the lowly Oakland Raiders.
Matt Ryan continues to make big plays in the passing game, and it's difficult to envisage Oakland's secondary keeping pace with Julio Jones and Roddy White. Even if they somehow manage to keep that prolific duo quiet, there's still the threat posed underneath by Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez.
The Falcons' secondary has been opportunistic, and the challenge to protect the ball could be too great for Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer, if he is forced to play catch up.
Pick: Falcons ATS.
St. Louis Rams at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
This a tough one to call because a -3.5 spread in favour of the Miami Dolphins at home to the St. Louis Rams is certainly reasonable. Both teams have played most of their games close, despite being in rebuilding mode.
The Dolphins can rely on the rushing brilliance of Reggie Bush and the continued development of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Their new 4-3 defense is also starting to take shape, and defensive tackle Randy Starks should create havoc inside against the Rams' front five.
St. Louis has a burgeoning defense of its own, and quarterback Sam Bradford has made his share of big plays. However, the young passer is likely to struggle without the aid of his primary receiver, Danny Amendola.
The Rams don't excel on the road, and if Bush can match his recent performances then the Dolphins could beat the spread and claim victory by at least seven points.
Pick: Dolphins ATS.
Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
The season already looks lost for the Dallas Cowboys, and a trip to take on the Baltimore Ravens, is the last thing Jason Garrett's team needs.
The Ravens are favourites with a spread of -3.5, and that seems generous given the Cowboys' recent struggles on both sides of the ball. Baltimore struggled on the road against the Chiefs, but its defensive front could dominate a Dallas offensive line that continues to be the bane of the team.
Rob Ryan's defense still seems too scheme and blitz-heavy, so if the Cowboys can't prevent big plays from Ray Rice and Torrey Smith, the Ravens should beat the spread with room to spare.
Pick: Ravens ATS.
Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals (-4.5)
The Buffalo Bills are in complete disarray, and the Arizona Cardinals are likely to be fuming after suffering their first defeat of the season in Week 5.
The Cardinals don't have the running game to expose Buffalo's soft middle the way the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers did. The Bills meanwhile could find some success against Arizona's defense if they let Fred Jackson carry the offense on the ground.
That should serve to keep things closer than the Bills have been in recent games and means they are a safe bet to cover at +4.5.
Pick: Bills to cover.
New England Patriots (-3.5) at Seattle Seahawks
A -3.5 spread in favour of the New England Patriots is putting too much stock in the home advantage of the Seattle Seahawks.
While the Seattle crowd will certainly play its part, it won't be enough to stop the Patriots from piling up the points. The Seahawks do boast a stout run front that can shut down Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden.
The problem is that if the Patriots can match the pace they set against the Denver Broncos, then Seattle head coach Pete Carroll won't be able to rotate his linemen. That means there could be a lot of time on the field for road graders like Red Bryant and Alan Branch.
A fast-tempo New England attack will also slow down the pass rush threat posed by hybrid rush ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin. Eventually Tom Brady and company will wear down the Seahawks' defense.
Not to mention that Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson could struggle against the Patriots' defense. Bruising back Marshawn Lynch will find yards tough to come by against a big front led by tackle tandem Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork.
That means Wilson will have to try his hand against an opportunistic secondary. Given his recent interceptions, that probably won't lead to success for the Seahawks' offense. Expect the Patriots to take this one by 10 or more points.
Pick: Patriots ATS.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-5)
The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants played out two classics last season, and this Sunday's game promises more of the same.
A -5 spread favouring the 49ers is a reasonable bet, as Big Blue still seem vulnerable on defense. That puts yet more pressure on Eli Manning to again carry the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Giants got away with that against the Browns and Carolina Panthers, but the 49ers' elite defense presents a tougher challenge. Despite Ahmad Bradshaw's 200-yard effort against Cleveland, San Francisco's powerful front should still be able to shut down the Giants' running game.
Still, the G-men just have the knack for playing well in big games and making things close against the top teams. So expect this game to be settled by no more than a field goal.
Pick: Giants to cover.
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins (-1.5)
The Washington Redskins have lost their last two games against the Minnesota Vikings and are 0-2 at home this season. That's why it is surprising to see them listed as favourites by FootballLocks.com by 1.5 points.
The Vikings meanwhile have surprised many with their 4-1 start. Quarterback Christian Ponder, tight end Kyle Rudolph and wide receiver Percy Harvin should cause plenty of problems for the Redskins' shaky defense.
Coordinator Jim Haslett's ailing unit also has Adrian Peterson's return to form to contend with. The Redskins have a dominant ground game of their own, led by rookie Alfred Morris.
However, he could find things tough against Minnesota's sixth-ranked rush defense. Yet if Robert Griffin III is under center, the Redskins should still find their way to the end zone.
They pushed the Falcons all the way last week, and if Mike Shanahan and his staff call a smart game, they should beat this spread.
Pick: Redskins ATS.
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans (-3.5)
Given the recent form of the two teams, -3.5 looks like an easy spread for the Houston Texans to cover at home against the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers' 17th-ranked run defense will find it difficult to subdue Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Although that could be nothing compared to the trouble Green Bay's offensive line is likely to have with the Texans' fierce pass rush.
Pick: Texans ATS.
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (-2)
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are sure to be reeling after being handled by the New England Patriots last week. A trip to San Diego to take on a Chargers team that has given him fits in the past is not the ideal opportunity to rebound for Manning.
The Chargers are coming off a tough loss of their own, but should feel confident about their chances of frustrating a Broncos offense still getting used to the pace set by Manning. He has looked ordinary against the Chargers more than once in his career, and a return to their home field will be enough for San Diego to win by a touchdown.
Pick: Chargers ATS.
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