The Philadelphia Eagles were rolling along at this time last year with an unbeaten record and the look of a potential NFL champion.
That is not the case in 2018, as they have struggled to find their rhythm and their game as every opponent has them circled on the schedule. That's just the way it is when a team has won the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the first in Philadelphia's long and not-always-glorious history.
The Eagles are limping along with a 2-3 record, having dropped consecutive games to the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings. Both of those opponents had issues, but they righted themselves against the defending Super Bowl champions.
There is every chance that things will improve for the Eagles, and as Carson Wentz gets set to start his fourth game of the year, he should be getting close to top form.
Wentz was almost certainly on his way to winning the Most Valuable Player award last year before he tore his ACL, and while his season ended in December, the Eagles still finished the job in the postseason.
Wentz has exceeded the 300-yard mark in each of the last two games, and he is completing 67.2 percent of his passes with a 5-1 TD-interception ratio.
The Giants are stumbling along at 1-4, but they have two of the brightest superstars in the NFL in rookie running back Saquon Barkley and wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Barkley has rushed for 308 yards, three touchdown runs and five carries of 20 yards or more. He has also caught 31 passes for 274 yards with two touchdowns.
Beckham has 39 receptions for 462 yards and one TD, and he threw a 57-yard TD pass to Barkley in last week's heartbreaking loss to the Carolina Panthers. Beckham's 11.8 yards per catch average is troubling because he is a good enough athlete to average nearly 20 yards per catch.
One of the key issues for the Giants is aging quarterback Eli Manning, who does not appear to have the quickness to get away from a strong pass rush at this point in his career, and the Giants offensive line often does little to help him.
The Eagles get a chance to even their record against the New York Giants Thursday night, and they regularly perform well when they play on the road against their ancient rivals. They are 9-2 straight up and 8-3 against the number in their last 11 games when playing on the Giants' home field.
The Eagles are three-point favorites over the Giants, according to OddsShark. While the Giants should be able to keep it close into the third quarter, Wentz and the Eagles should be able to win by at least a touchdown.
Week 6 Point Spreads, Totals and Predictions
Philadelphia (-3) at N.Y. Giants | O/U 43
Arizona at Minnesota (-10.5) | O/U 43
Carolina at Washington (-1) | O/U 44.5
Chicago (-3) at Miami | O/U 42
Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets (-2.5) | O/U 45
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (-2.5) | O/U 53
Seattle (-3) at Oakland | O/U 48
Buffalo at Houston (-8.5) | O/U n/a
L.A. Chargers (-1) at Cleveland | O/U 44.5
Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-3.5) | O/U 57.5
L.A. Rams (-7) at Denver | O/U 52.5
Baltimore (-3) at Tennessee | O/U 41
Jacksonville (-3) at Dallas | O/U 40.5
Kansas City at New England (-3.5) | O/U 59.5
San Francisco at Green Bay (-9.5) | O/U 46.5
Point spreads and totals provided by OddsShark.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
There are questions lingering about Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell and when his holdout will come to an end.
It is not going to impact this week's game against the Bengals, but the Steelers need their All-Pro running back if they are going to be an impactful playoff team in the AFC this season. James Conner has rushed for 342 yards, a 4.1 yards per carry average and five touchdowns this season, and that's solid production.
But Bell is either the best or second-best running back in the game, and the Steelers are a far more dangerous team when they combine Bell with wideout Antonio Brown.
The Steelers are 2-2-1 after their easy win over the Atlanta Falcons last week, but they have the 29th-ranked defense in the league, and that's not good enough to sustain them over the long haul—especially if they don't have Bell giving them a dominant ground game.
The Steelers will get tested by the Bengals this week, and Cincinnati looks like a much different team this year. Their 4-1 getaway doesn't tell the story, either. Instead of hanging on to leads that they let slip away, the Bengals are winning like champions. They have made comebacks to earn victories over Atlanta and Miami in the last two weeks, and they have already beaten the Baltimore Ravens by double digits.
Andy Dalton has long been a quarterback who tends to stumble when key games are on the line. He looks like a more confident signal-caller than he has ever been, and the Bengals should be ready for this test.
The Steelers have dominated this series, winning 14 of the last 17 games, and that trend should allow quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Brown to make a couple of big plays that lead the Steelers to a seven-point win.
Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos
The Rams are flying high with a 5-0 record, while the Broncos are a struggling team at 2-3. In addition to their losing record, the Broncos are coming off a brutal 34-16 loss to the Jets.
Denver's defense did the near impossible as it turned the Jets into an offensive juggernaut, giving up 323 rushing yards and 521 totals yards. It may have been the worst defensive performance of any team this season.
So, if the Broncos embarrassed themselves against the Jets, what can they do to avoid a similar fate against a much better Rams team?
This is where experience takes over. Any time an outcome looks obvious, it is time to put on a skeptic's glasses. The Rams are due for a letdown. The Broncos have plenty of pride and they return home, and they can redeem themselves with an upset in front of their raucous fans.
We don't expect the Broncos to win, but they will battle for 60 minutes and stay within seven points.
The Broncos may even have the lead until the Rams get a late field goal from Greg Zuerlein (groin, but could return this week) or Cairo Santos to win the game.
This will be a day for both defenses to shine, and the under 52.5 should come through with relative ease. The Broncos and the under are the play in this game.