NFL 2017 – Week 6 Preview & Picks

Sure, this is a day late – it’s been a busy week. There’s still a whole weekend of NFL action to look forward to though, so let’s get going.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) @ Carolina Panthers (4-1)
1:25am Friday 13th Sep (UK time)
Well, this one happened last night, so you’ll know the Eagles beat the Panthers 28-23 – which is an impressive victory, as Carolina were supposed to be slight favourites going in. The win really cements Philadelphia’s place as a contender though, now 5-1, with a legit QB in Wentz. With Dallas slipping up, the Eagles are strong favourites to take the NFC East.

Miami Dolphins (2-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-1)
6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
The Falcons have just had their bye week, but for Miami every week’s a bye week with Cutler at the helm. Despite beating the Mariota-less Titans last week, no one should have any confidence in Miami right now. The Jay Train alone can’t carry the team, so any team that can put up a half decent score – as Atlanta surely will – will be almost certain to beat Miami, unless Jay Cutler can get out of his Jay Cutler ways.

Chicago Bears (1-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
The Bears aren’t quite as bad as their 1-4 record suggests, coming off a marginal loss to Minnesota, whilst the Ravens are flattered by their 3-2 record, with two easy wins against awful Bengals and Browns teams at the start of the season. Still, Baltimore managed a solid 30-17 win over a Carr-less Raiders team last week, so they haven’t reached Browns levels of awful. As such this could be quite an interesting match-up – the Ravens are the Vegas favourites, but that seems overly generous, this could go either way.

Cleveland Browns (0-5) @ Houston Texans (2-3)
6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
Just as Houston find their star quarterback, they lose their defensive Jesus. J.J. Watt is no more – out for the season with a broken leg during last Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. To make matters worse the Houston D are without Mercilus and Cushing too, and whilst they still did an impressive job of shutting down the Chief’s run game last week, their secondary failed against the pass, especially on third down. But, hey, Deshaun Watson scored 5 touchdowns against a 5-0 Chiefs team, in a 42-34 loss that wasn’t a complete humiliation. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller are balling out now with Watson – Houston officially has a passing game. Said passing game has opened up Miller’s run game too. The casualties on defense might be too much to make Houston championship contenders this season, but they’re certainly in the AFC South race, and perhaps still real contenders if coaching can fix their defensive worries. This week they’ll beat the Browns as Cleveland go 0-6 in preparation for a possible 0-16 season.

Green Bay Packers (4-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (3-2)
6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
Just as it looked like Dallas would save their season, Aaron Rodgers went and spoiled it all as only he can, giving Green Bay the win in Dallas in the last minute. Yes folks, Green Bay are legit, and definitely contenders for the top spot in the NFC. With the Vikings relying on Case Keenum for their QB needs, there’s no reason the Packers shouldn’t be victorious here, although with that Vikings D and the unpredictable power of the Keenumania, let’s not rule out Minnesota entirely. But yeah, Green Bay 5-1.

Detroit Lions (3-2) @ New Orleans Saints (2-2)
6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
It’s easy to forget the Lions aren’t a bad team. Last week’s loss to the Panthers isn’t one that should damage their stock too much. New Orleans on the other hand have had a slow start to the season, but then an impressive win against the Dolphins in London, followed with the bye week. The home advantage and impressive recent performance have made the Saints the Vegas favourites, but that doesn’t quite feel right. Detroit deserve a little luck and success this season – if only to make their inevitable collapse at the end of the season more tragic – and they have the team to get a win against the Saints this week.

New England Patriots (3-2) @ New York Jets (3-2)
6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
The Patriots have only had one landslide victory this season, against the Saints – Kansas and Carolina beat New England, whilst Houston almost managed the same and Tampa Bay weren’t push overs. This week, the Patriots either crush the Jets, or we might see a low scoring, defensive struggling, that should still ultimately favour the Patriots, because they really can’t lose to the Jets. It must be a worrying time for some New England fans though, because what happens if they do lose to the Jets?

San Francisco 49ers (0-5) @ Washington Redskins (2-2)
6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
“You went to school near west twenty fifth, and learned to play at Brady’s hip, a Cleveland boy with poise named Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brian Ho-o-o-oy-er.” He’s San Francisco’s problem now, and oddly enough battling with the Browns for the worst record in the NFL. Assuming no terrible injuries, pitch invasions or Trump declaring NFL illegal, Washington should get the win this week – they have a team of professional football players, a reasonable 2-2 record and some rest coming off their bye week – so expect to see the 49ers go 0-6 on their own journey to one of the top draft picks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-3)
9:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
This one’s interesting, but only in the sense that neither of these two teams are likely to be championship contenders this year – but they both could have been and both remain pretty solid. Doug Martin has finally returned to Tampa Bay, and good news for fantasy fans: he’s 2015 Doug Martin. In the absence of David Johnson, the Cardinals had been making do with a combination of Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson at running back… only to sign Adrian Peterson from the Saints this week and drop Chris Johnson hours later. Johnson has now been dropped by the Cardinals twice this season! Shit knows what’s really going on in Arizona. The RB situation together with the mixed bag of a passing game, makes the Buccaneers look positively solid. Whilst this should be close, and difficult for the Buccs on the road, they should be able to take it.

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)
9:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
In 2016 a match-up involving the Rams and Jags would be considered something of a toilet bowl. This season, oh how things have changed. Sure, the Jacksonville passing game is still in the crapper, but the Jags legitimately have one of the best pass rushes in the league, plus a stud of a running back. The Rams on the other hand – the stud running back, Gurley, and a young QB called Goff who suddenly has his shit together. They couldn’t beat the Seahawks last week, but they remain fun to watch and real contenders, whilst the Jags have their own battle for top spot in the AFC South going on. For the first time in forever perhaps, this Rams @ Jags game may be interesting, meaningful and fun to watch.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
9:25pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
Coming off a career low, in a game where Big Ben threw five interceptions against Jacksonville, may not be the best time to face the strongest team in the NFL. At home. The Steelers are a good team with real star players, but there’s something bad happening in Pittsburgh. After they lose to a soon-to-be 6-0 Chiefs team this week, the Steelers might be able to sort things out and get back on track.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) @ Oakland Raiders (2-3)
9:25pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
Phew, the Chargers didn’t go 0-5 last week. That would have been cruel and undeserved. Without Derek Carr, there’s a reasonable chance the Chargers could pull to 2-4 this week, as the Raiders struggled in their 30-17 loss to the Ravens last Sunday. It’s a shame for Oakland, as they were play-off contenders at the start of the season, but playing in the same division as the Chiefs and Broncos is hard enough even when you have a healthy quarterback.

New York Giants (0-5) @ Denver Broncos (3-1)
1:30am Monday 16th Oct (UK time)
If the 0-5 record alone wasn’t a nightmare for New York, the Giants lost Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall to injury last week. A shakey QB, a flakey O-line, a pathetic run game and no healthy receivers? It looks almost certain New York will be going 0-6 against a formidable Broncos D this week.

Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Tennessee Titans (2-3)
1:30am Tuesday 17th Oct (UK time)
It’s odd that this game, the real toilet bowl, has been scheduled for Monday Night Football. Don’t let the 2-3 records fool you – both of these teams have about the same chance of making the play-offs as the Browns and 49ers. Without Luck (the QB and the character stat), the Colts can’t do a whole lot, whilst the Titans are unlikely to have Mariota this week – but it is possible he’ll play. If he does, the combination of an actual quarterback on the field and Tennessee’s potentially impressive run game should give the Titans the win, otherwise it will just be a bum fight for last place in the AFC South.

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