LOS ANGELES, October 14, 2015 — The leaves are turning colors and the good teams are starting to separate from the rest of the pack. Meanwhile, several teams are already looking toward the 2016 NFL Draft.
For all the talk about competitive balance derided as parity, there are still dynasties and duds. With that, here is the NFL 2015 Week 6 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, October 15, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) at New Orleans Saints — The Falcons are 5-0 while the Saints are 1-4. While Atlanta has an explosive offense, the defense is vastly improved under Dan Quinn. The Saints are a mess and it starts with the offensive line. Drew Brees is taking a beating. Expect the Falcons to dominate in the trenches. Falcons cover.
Sunday, October 18
Denver Broncos (-4) at Cleveland Browns — The Broncos are winning with defense. Josh McCown set a Browns passing record last week, but he is not Otto Graham. Cleveland has put up points in recent weeks, but this week they won into an orange buzzsaw. Broncos cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills — These 5-0 Bengals are for real. They overcame a 24-7 fourth quarter deficit against Seattle. Now they face another good defense in Buffalo. As well as Cincinnati is playing, and as hot and cold as the Bills run, this game is one to give Rex Ryan’s defense one more chance to show it can beat a good team. Upset special, Bills win outright.
Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings (-4) — The 1-4 Chiefs are done. Alex Smith is a game manager, and you cannot manage a game when your star running back Jamal Charles is out for the season. Adrian Peterson will grind out the yards, taking the pressure off of Teddy Bridgewater. Vikings win but fail to cover.
Houston Texans (-1.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars — League rules require that this game be played. Blake Bortles has very little around him to work with, but he threw four touchdown passes last week in a road loss. Since both teams are wretched, go with the home team. Upset special, Jaguars win outright.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-3) — The Lions are winless, witless and worthless. Matthew Stafford is regressing and the defense is a mess. The Bears have won two straight and Jay Cutler may finally have his head screwed on straight. That means it is time to bet against Cutler having three straight good games. This is the week the Lions avoid the 0-16 legacy of their 2008 team. Lions cover.
Washington Redskins at New York Jets (-6) — Kirk Cousins played reasonably well until he gave the game away last week. This week he faced another solid defense. Todd Bowles will have Gang Green release the hounds. Unless Washington plans to bring back the original Hogs, the Jets will belt Cousins early and often. Jets cover.
Arizona Cardinals (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers — Despite having lost one game at home, the Cardinals have won their four games by an average margin of over 25 points. Pittsburgh showed heart, guts and character in a road win last week, but the Cardinals are a wrecking machine and the Steelers are overmatched. Michael Vick will not run around against the Arizona defense. Cardinals cover.
Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans (-2.5) — The Joe Philbin era is over.The Dolphins are a mess, and the first game with a new coach mid-season is never easy. Marcus Mariota has played well, and could have a monster game at home. Titans cover.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-7) — For three straight years the Seahawks went into Carolina and won. All three games were defensive slugfests. Finally, the Seahawks get Carolina at home. Are the Panthers as good as their unbeaten record? Is Seattle done? No. Seahawks win but fail to cover.
San Diego Chargers at Green Bay Packers (-10) — Fans are so used to seeing Aaron Rodgers light it up, but the last couple weeks Green Bay won with defense. The Chargers lost in unforgivable fashion last week at home but the spread is still high for a team with Philip Rivers. Packers win but fail to cover.
Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) at San Francisco 49ers — Three years ago these teams played in a thrilling Super Bowl. Since then, both teams suffered a mass exodus of defensive players. This is leading to both teams blowing fourth quarter leads. Colin Kaepernick may have gotten his confidence back, since he played well last week in a game the defense lost. Upset special, 49ers win outright.
New England Patriots (-7.5) at Baltimore Colts — Forget that the Patriots are better than the team that walloped the Colts 45-7 in last year’s AFC Title Game and that the colts are worse. This is Deflategate revenge. Andrew Luck is not playing well and Tom Brady is playing like he did in 2007. The spread would be fine if the Patriots were at home but is high for a road game. Patriots win but fail to cover.
Monday, October 19, 2015
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-4) — The NFC Least has seen the Giants quietly win three straight games. Tom Coughlin teams never quit. Chip Kelly’s team may be on the verge of quitting, and home field advantage has not helped the Eagles. The Giants last week showed they have a ton of character, and character counts. Upset special, Giants win outright.