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NFL Week 6 picks: Cowboys cover vs. Jets; 49ers beat Rams, Texans-Chiefs play a thriller


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 06: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers stiff-arms Josh Allen #41 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 34-27. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/Grant Halverson

This is the first week with four teams on the bye. I wouldn't have minded if a few more were, as this week's slate presents some nearly impossible games to predict (what, you think you know what's going to happen between Tennessee and Denver?)

There are a number of small spreads, so expect some close finishes. Underdogs went 7-7-1 against the spread last week and are 46-31-1 for the year. Road teams went 8-6 straight up to improve to 43-34 (not including London games). Even more impressive, they're 48-27-2 ATS, the second-best mark all time through five weeks, according to Odds Shark.

My most confident picks of the week ATS are the 49ers, Seahawks and Saints. Stay away from the aforementioned Titans-Broncos game as well as Steelers-Chargers.


PANTHERS (3-2) vs. BUCS (2-3)

TV: NFL, 9:30 a.m.

Panthers by 2.5; O/U: 47.5

Make sure to set your alarm clock as Carolina and Tampa Bay play a standalone game for the second time. The Bucs' 20-14 win at Carolina on Thursday night left the Panthers at 0-2. Enter Kyle Allen. Carolina has won three in a row with its backup quarterback and has a little mojo. Tampa Bay is the epitome of inconsistency: Loss, win, loss, win, loss. While the Bucs' defense shut down Christian McCaffrey in the first meeting (37 yards on 16 carries, two catches for 16 yards, no TDs), expect him to have a better game and pad his NFL-leading stats (866 yards from scrimmage) in a fun one for the London crowd.

The pick: Panthers

COWBOYS (3-2) AT JETS (0-4)

TV: Ch. 2, 4:25 p.m.

Cowboys by 7; O/U: 44.5

This game all depends on how healthy (and ready) you think Sam Darnold is. It's hard to believe he's anywhere near 100 percent, and having not played since Week 1, it's silly to think his presence alone is going to flip a switch for the Jets offense. The offensive line is still a big issue. If there's one thing we know about the Cowboys, it's that they beat up on bad teams (35-17 over Giants, 31-21 over Redskins, 31-6 over Dolphins). After back-to-back losses to a pair of 4-1 teams in New Orleans and Green Bay, all they've heard is how they're not a contender. I'd prefer this line be 6.5, and it's a big number on the road, but I can't take the Jets. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott exploit a defense still missing C.J. Mosley.

The pick: Cowboys

1 p.m. Games


TV: Ch. 5

Vikings by 3; O/U: 44

This has the potential to be the closest game of the week. I lean Minnesota because it's a different team at home, and while this is a step up in competition over the Falcons (28-12 win) and Raiders (34-14 win), the Vikings will still feast on the Eagles' banged-up secondary. The passing game makes it back-to-back big weeks against the NFC East as Kirk Cousins throws long TDs to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.

The pick: Vikings


Seahawks by 2; O/U: 46

The last time Baker Mayfield and the Browns laid an egg in prime time, they responded with a 40-point outburst against the Ravens. The Seahawks are a different animal. MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson (12 TDs, 0 INTs) leads a rested Seattle team off a big TNF win. The Browns will keep this closer than you think (they're home, they're angry, they're desperate), but Wilson will make big plays late (when does he not?) and the Seahawks will take advantage of the Browns' shaky offensive line.

The pick: Seahawks


Jaguars by 1; O/U: 43.5

The Saints are getting points? A gimme, right? Not so fast. Jacksonville will be hungry to get to .500 and its defense will show up, so expect this to be close. Teddy Bridgwater and the Saints are 3-0 without Drew Brees, though, and the defense has been incredible. They'll lead a fourth straight win with help from a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara.

The pick: Saints


TV: Ch. 2

TEXANS (3-2) AT CHIEFS (4-1)

Chiefs by 4; O/U: 55.5

It's important not to overreact to one game. The Chiefs are still a heavyweight, even after their Sunday Night smackdown. Now, that doesn't mean they're an automatic play here. Their defense is still an issue, as is the offensive line. Patrick Mahomes will rebound after a 13-point showing, and this is good value to back KC as the line kept dropping. But I'm going to roll the dice that Deshaun Watson has a big game and maybe even pulls off the upset. The Texans are 2-0 ATS as road underdogs, with an outright win over the Chargers and a 30-28 loss at New Orleans. This feels like a "last to have the ball wins," 34-31 kind of game.

The pick: Texans



Redskins by 3; O/U: 41

In Week 4, I mistakenly took both of these underdogs and then I swore off picking them. Now I have no choice. This is my fifth year writing the NFL picks column, and of the 1,116 regular-season games selected, I can't remember a game I wanted to pick less. So, who do you take in a battle of winless teams that could set the 100-year league back 100 years: the home team getting points off a bye or the team that just fired its coach? Washington has the more talented roster and will run all over the Fish Tank. (Oh, and unless you're in a weekly picks pool, please don't bet on this game).

The pick: Redskins


Ravens by 11; O/U: 48

Baltimore is going to get its 27-30 points, but it's the defense that worries me. The Ravens are 0-2 ATS as home favorites (23-17 win vs. Arizona, 40-25 loss vs. Cleveland). Zac Taylor's offensive game plan can dink and dunk its way to a (backdoor?) cover.

The pick: Bengals

4 p.m. Games


49ERS (4-0) AT RAMS (3-2)

Rams by 3; O/U: 50.5

Move over, Sean McVay: There's a new wunderkind coach taking the NFC West by storm. Kyle Shanahan has something special with this 49ers team, from his offensive scheme and top-ranked rushing attack (200 yards per game!) to a relentless defensive line that can wreck a game. (Side note: Both coaches were former Redskins offensive coordinators and were on the same staff from 2010-13. You think Washington wishes it had one of these brilliant offensive minds now?) The Rams have lost two in a row, and were a missed field goal away from winning at Seattle. They'll show up, but the 49ers match up so well with them. Yes, their perfect record is against imperfect competition, but this team is well-balanced and is the real deal. Pressure from Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and DeForest Buckner will be too much for a Rams' offensive line that has struggled. Jared Goff (NFL-worst 10 giveaways) needs time to throw, and he won't have it. Remember, the Rams' last home game was a 55-40 loss to the Bucs. The 49ers are averaging 31.8 points per game and allowing just 14.3. I don't usually like to make the same team my lock on back-to-back weeks, but I'm confident the 49ers, led by speedy backs Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman, will run their record to 5-0.

The pick: 49ers


Broncos by 2; O/U: 40.5

Talk about a game nobody wants to pick. Even the linesmakers were probably like, "Just make it 2 and make people flip a coin." My Titans strategy of picking them as road underdogs and then picking against them as home favorites netted a 2-0 result the last two weeks, and while the script says to take them here, I'm going to take a shot that Denver builds off its first win. This could come down to another field goal — Denver's two home losses were on last-second kicks — but the Titans missed four last week and had to sign (look away, Bears fans) Cody Parkey.

The pick: Broncos


Falcons by 2; O/U: 51.5

Atlanta has lost three straight (all non-covers) but this is a skid-snapping spot for them. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones should have huge games against an overmatched secondary. Kyler Murray will have success against the Falcons' non-existent pass rush, too, so play the over.

The pick: Falcons



TV: Ch. 4

Chargers by 6.5; O/U: 41

I've picked against the Chargers every week,  and it's paid off with a 4-1 ATS mark. The Steelers might have to start Devlin Hodges (who?) at quarterback, though, and while the defense has played well, I'll lay the points and hope Philip Rivers & Co. bolt out of the gates for a change.

The pick: Chargers


LIONS (2-1-1) AT PACKERS (4-1)


Packers by 4; O/U: 47

It feels as if Detroit never beats Green Bay when it matters, and Aaron Rodgers holds a 9-4 lead over Matthew Stafford. Still, I'm going to take the points with a surprising Detroit team that is a) off its bye; b) 3-0 ATS in its last three games; c) won at Philadelphia and then nearly upset Kansas City at home. Lions running back Kerryon Johnson should be a big factor in keeping this close, and don't be surprised if Detroit wins outright.

The pick: Lions


(best bets in bold)


43-34-1 overall, 4-1 best bets

Last week: 8-6-1

Panthers Cowboys Vikings Seahawks

Saints Texans Redskins

Bengals 49ers Broncos

Falcons Chargers Lions


33-44-1, 0-5

Last week: 7-7-1

Bucs Cowboys Vikings Seahawks

Saints Chiefs Redskins

Ravens Rams Titans

Falcons Chargers Packers


36-41-1, 2-3

Last week: 9-5-1

Panthers Cowboys Eagles Seahawks

Saints Texans Redskins

Ravens Rams Broncos

Falcons Chargers Packers


39-38-1, 2-3

Last week: 9-5-1

Panthers Cowboys Vikings Seahawks

Saints Chiefs Redskins

Bengals Rams Broncos

Falcons Chargers Packers

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