Arizona Cardinals @ Pittsburgh Steelers Pick: The Arizona Cardinals have been the team I have wanted to back all season as I felt they had come into the season a little under-rated. They have responded by going 4-1 straight up and against the spread and I think they can have a bit too much for the Pittsburgh Steelers who are coming off a late Monday Night Football win over the San Diego Chargers.
If Ben Roethlisberger was starting, I think the Steelers would likely go into this game as the narrow favourites, but Michael Vick is the starter and remains unconvincing. Granted the Steelers should have won both games Vick has started, but they could easily have been beaten on Monday Night in San Diego when Pittsburgh showed very little Offensively in the first half.
Vick played better as the game wore on, but the Cardinals have a much better Defense than the Chargers and I think they are more likely to turn the ball over than either the Baltimore Ravens or San Diego have shown. Antonio Brown has found it tougher to be involved in the game plan since Vick took over at Quarter Back and Arizona might have enough success against the passing game to stall drives.
I am not sure they can do too much about Le'Veon Bell who continues to show he is one of the top Running Backs in the NFL and I imagine the game winner on Monday will have his success establishing the run.
That is important while the game is close, but Arizona have shown they can score plenty of points and I am not sure Pittsburgh keep up in a shoot-out. Carson Palmer has been well protected and will have his numbers against this Secondary, but it might be a little more difficult for the veteran Quarter Back knowing his Running Backs are unlikely to be ripping off too many gains on the ground.
It might not be the 'Steel Curtain' of days gone by, but the Steelers have played the run well and allowed their pass rush to get after the Quarter Back on obvious passing downs. However, the Secondary has still struggled and the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd should have their successes.
Bruce Arians won't call of the dogs either as he makes his return to Pittsburgh where he was fired by Mike Tomlin in a statement that suggested he was 'retiring'. Arians will dial up plays to keep the scoreboard ticking and that is why I like the Cardinals to cover more than a Field Goal at a venue where the Steelers have been very, very strong as the home underdog.
However, Arizona are 5-1 against the spread as the road favourite under Bruce Arians and I think the Cardinals win this one by a Touchdown against a team with a back up Quarter Back on a short week.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: You have to feel sorry for the Kansas City Chiefs after they saw Jamaal Charles go down for the season. The team failed to respond to that last week as they lost their focus mentally and allowed the Chicago Bears to recover a fourteen point deficit and drop the Kansas City Chiefs to 1-4.
The season is almost over for the Chiefs and they could get the first hand experience of what it feels like losing a star Running Back from their hosts Adrian Peterson. That was last season though and the 2-2 Minnesota Vikings are coming off a bye knowing that Peterson has looked strong and fast in the opening games.
To be fair to the Chiefs, they have held teams to under 4 yards per carry, although that number also features the Denver Broncos who were held to under 3 yards per carry in that game. And they haven't faced Adrian Peterson who has begun to trample teams as you would expect him too and is also ably backed up by Teddy Bridgewater at Quarter Back who is able to get free with his legs.
It also gives Bridgewater the chance to get his play-action passing going and the Kansas City Chiefs Secondary has struggled against the pass. Bridgewater has looked after the ball, but perhaps is a little too comfortable taking a Sack or two and might be under pressure at times from Tamba Hali, if he plays, and Justin Houston behind this Offensive Line.
If Charles had been playing you would say the Kansas City Chiefs would have a chance to move the chains on the ground, but now they will rely on his back ups and they simply don't have the same turn of speed as Jamaal Charles. While the Chiefs might have some success running the ball, I imagine Minnesota have been working to strengthen this part of their game and at least force Alex Smith to beat them with his arm.
That would be unlikely with Smith being pummelled behind a porous Offensive Line and Minnesota will get to him with their pass rush as long as they have kept the Chiefs in third and long spots. Otherwise Smith does throw the ball quick enough to get the short chains moving, but I don't know how consistent he will be doing that through the game without his star Running Back behind him.
Smith might not make the mistakes, but Kansas City need more than a game manager now and it will be tough for him to be able to change his own mindset to do that.
Andy Reid had seen his Kansas City team go 6-3 against the spread as the road underdog in his first two seasons, but they are 1-2 in that spot this year and have to pick themselves up from losing their best Offensive player. Against a rested team that wants to make a splash in the NFC this season, I think Kansas City will struggle to stay within the number against the Minnesota Vikings and I will back the home team to win and cover.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills Pick: The Cincinnati Bengals are unbeaten after five weeks and the Buffalo Bills could potentially be missing their starting Quarter Back so of course the public are behind the Bengals here.
Should I be? I am not so sure about that.
That is not taking anything away from Andy Dalton who has made a very good start to the season and looks like he could have a real impact against this Secondary. He has been well protected by his Offensive Line so won't be concerned about the Buffalo pass rush and would have noticed the holes in the Secondary that Eli Manning exposed a couple of weeks ago.
However, Dalton is unlikely to get as much support from his Running Backs as he has earlier in the season and being asked to throw from third and long rather than third and manageable is a very different proposition with pressure around.
You also can't ignore the fact that Cincinnati are coming off a huge emotional win over the Seattle Seahawks when they came back from seventeen points down to win in Overtime. That would have taken a lot out of the Bengals is terms of proving themselves and they could perhaps overlook the Buffalo Bills who are unlikely to have Tyrod Taylor at Quarter Back.
But I have also mentioned the 65% covering rate of teams playing without their starting Quarter Back in the first game without him which also leans me towards Buffalo covering.
EJ Manuel may get the start and he can run the ball effectively while LeSean McCoy potentially returns too to face a Bengals team giving up 4.8 yards per carry on the season. If these two players can keep the Bills in manageable down and distance, Manuel has shown in the past that he does have a big throw or two in him and perhaps Sammy Watkins will also be pleased to be targeted in the passing game.
The Bills have a tremendous record as the home underdog too, going 11-3 against the spread in that spot in their last fourteen games and I do think they can be backed with a Field Goal head-start. However, I am limiting the units because Buffalo are also playing in London next week and teams have really not covered the spread the week before that game very often.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions Pick: This could easily be a game between the two worst teams in the NFL, but I am not sure I am not being overly harsh on the Detroit Lions because of their record. They were downright ugly last week as they lost for the fifth straight time this season which saw the fans hide none of their feelings and starting Quarter Back Matthew Stafford was benched in a beat down from the Arizona Cardinals.
The Chicago Bears might feel a lot better with their 2-3 record, but both wins in the last couple of weeks have been down to plenty of fortune. A game winning Field Goal as time expired against the Oakland Raiders was the first win, while they recovered from fourteen points down to beat the Kansas City Chiefs last week after Jamaal Charles was injured.
This week it is the Bears who look banged up on the Offensive side of the ball although they might have Alshon Jeffery back in and Eddie Royal also. The real reliance might be on Matt Forte at Running Back who should find some running lanes and that is important to help Jay Cutler from being put under pressure behind his Offensive Line in third and long spots.
Jim Caldwell and the Detroit Lions have to find their Offensive groove in this one as the Bears are likely to have some success moving the chains. They've looked out of sync thanks to a poor rushing Offense and Matt Stafford has looked jittery behind this Offensive Line.
I do think there is more that the Lions can offer and having a hated Divisional rival visit Detroit should get their best effort. Last week was out of hand quickly, but Detroit could easily have won in Seattle and you could say the last four games came against teams with solid Defenses, something Chicago can't say they possess.
Detroit are 5-1 against the spread as the home favourite in Divisional games, while Chicago are 3-7 against the spread as the road underdog in those same Divisional games. Add in the fact the Bears are 3-9 against the spread when set as the underdog of three points or fewer and I do want a small interest in the Lions to cover, a team who I believe are better than Chicago.
San Diego Chargers @ Green Bay Packers Pick: The San Diego Chargers actually have the third best Offensive numbers in terms of yardage in the NFL, but they are still 2-3 having dropped a heartbreaker on Monday Night Football. Now they travel to the unbeaten Green Bay Packers who have a Defense that looks capable of matching an impressive Offense and the Chargers can't expect Aaron Rodgers to have back to back disappointing games here.
The problem for Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers is that their Offense might not match up very well against this Green Bay Defense. Melvin Gordon hasn't been able to run the ball as effectively as he would like and the Offensive Line hasn't opened the holes they would have wanted.
This patchwork Line had too many holding calls last week and they might not be able to take full advantage of the fact that Green Bay have been allowing 5 yards per carry on the season. Holding penalties also mean ten yard penalties and Rivers won't be keen on getting behind the down and distance considering how well the Packers Defense has played the pass.
They have gotten considerable pressure up front and I am not sure this Line can give Rivers, who does have a quick release, the time he would like to find Keenan Allen and a returning Antonio Gates who caught two Touchdown passes last week. The pressure that Green Bay have produced has seen the Secondary pick up turnovers which has sparked the team and it could be a tough day for the Chargers to move the chains effectively throughout.
I can't say the same on the other side of the ball as Eddie Lacy could have his best game of the season for the Packers. The bottom line is that San Diego have given up running yards all season, but now have to make sure there are enough men in coverage to slow down the awesome Aaron Rodgers at Quarter Back. That should mean Lacy and James Starks are able to pummel the Chargers on the ground and subsequently set up Rodgers for some big gains through the air.
Devonte Adams returns to give Rodgers another passing weapon and he will have time to carve up a Secondary that has seen Brandon Flowers particularly struggling. Last week was an aberration in terms of Rodgers giving the ball away, but Green Bay still beat the St Louis Rams by fourteen points and I think Green Bay win big this week too.
The Packers improved to 28-12 against the spread as the home favourite last week and now San Diego are in off a short week. The Chargers have been a solid road underdog to back in recent years, but they have failed to cover both times in that spot this season and I expect Green Bay to go into their bye with another resounding win behind them.
Baltimore Ravens @ San Francisco 49ers Pick: There is no doubting that this a long trip for the Baltimore Ravens to be making, especially after blowing a home game with the Cleveland Browns which has left them at 1-4 in the NFL. John Harbaugh might be unfamiliar with this position, but I imagine he has spoken to brother Jim who was the Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers last season and asked for some insights.
Of course San Francisco's personnel has changed quite drastically on both sides of the ball which has seen them struggle to a 1-4 record too and I wonder if they perhaps shot a big bullet in falling short to the New York Giants in Week 5. With the Seattle Seahawks the next opponent in four days time, I wouldn't be surprised if the San Francisco 49ers are not entirely focused on this game with the season virtually gone already.
The game with the Seattle Seahawks will mean a lot more to them and they would love to derail a rival even if their own season isn't going to plan. Colin Kaepernick could pick up from where he left off against the New York Giants now that Baltimore have struggled without Terell Suggs, but I wouldn't completely trust the Quarter Back.
Baltimore could be depleted more than just Suggs this week with key players in the Secondary and Linebacker questionable, but I still expect the Ravens to find a way to get pressure on Kaepernick. They also remain solid on the ground and can limit Carlos Hyde which should stall some of the drives they face.
Justin Forsett is expected to go and he should have more success establishing the run for the Baltimore Ravens, but the key to the whole game could be a returning Steve Smith. The Wide Receiver is back in practice and looks set to play a part against a Secondary that has allowed almost 300 passing yards per game.
I expect Joe Flacco to produce some big numbers and he will simply be hoping that his Defense can turn those into a win. Flacco should be protected well enough to make sure he hits the like of Smith downfield once Forsett is establishing the run and I like Baltimore earning some revenge for the brother of their Head Coach and winning this game on the road.
Baltimore don't exactly scream 'pick me' as the road favourite where they are 1-5-1 against the spread in recent games in that spot. However, I like them for a small unit to visit the West Coast and take advantage of a San Francisco Defense that has struggled for most of the season and who might be looking ahead to a Thursday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks.
New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: I know I am not the only one who is fed up of the whole 'Deflate-Gate' scandal that took over the NFL off-season. However, I can deal with one more evening of hearing all about that nonsense as the late Sunday Night game comes between the unbeaten New England Patriots and their visit to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts have been something of a disappointment to open the season but Andrew Luck returns seeing Matt Hasselbeck lead the Colts to two wins which has seen them take control of the AFC South. Indianapolis were always going to win that poor Division so that isn't an issue, but they have to show they can compete with the New England Patriots who have blown them out four straight times including in the Play Offs.
Having Luck back is huge for Indianapolis, but the key for them will be to establish the run with Frank Gore and a returning Ahmad Bradshaw. That has been a weakness of the New England Defense and at least keeps Tom Brady and their Offense on the sidelines if the Colts can run the ball. It will also mean Luck can employ play-action and move away from the pressure his Offensive Line has given him in short yardage spots.
The New England Secondary might not have the big names of previous years, but they have been protected thanks to the pressure the Defensive Line has gotten on Quarter Backs up front. Luck can scramble from some of the pressure, but he had been hit often earlier in the season and that also led to big time turnovers which could be devastating on Sunday.
We might not see New England have much success on the ground in this one, despite some huge games from the likes of LeGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray in recent games against Indianapolis. However, anything Blount can help the team gain on the ground might only be a bonus to Tom Brady who is looking to run up the score against every opponent he has faced this season.
Brady and the New England Offense are going to be tough to stop in passing situations against a banged up Indianapolis Secondary. I can't see the Colts having too many answers for Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski while Indianapolis have barely had a solid pass rush which just means more trouble for them.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots would have been waiting for this game ever since the first 'Deflate-Gate' complaints were made by the Colts and I don't think they are going to stop throwing the ball even if up by double digits. They will want to make a statement here and have beaten the Colts by at least twenty-one points in their last four games including a 42-20 win here last season.
The Colts are 6-0 against the spread as the home underdog, and the underdog is also 11-5-1 against the spread in primetime games this season. However, I believe the Patriots really put it to the Colts and eventually prevail by at least ten points with perhaps a late score to run it up helping them cover the spread.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: The NFC East is a Division where the games between the teams within it tend to favour the underdog a lot more than the favourite. However, I like the Philadelphia Eagles to win this game against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football even if the underdog has thrived in the primetime games against the number.
I am not simply sipping on the Chip Kelly kool-aid after the Philadelphia Eagles blew out a bad team in the New Orleans Saints, but I also think the injuries to the New York Giants on both sides of the ball have a big impact in the outcome.
Philadelphia finally got the run going last week Offensively and both Ryan Matthews and DeMarco Murray will be ready to go this week, although the Giants have been strong against the rush. The injury to Jon Beason is an issue though and it allowed Carlos Hyde to get the running game going for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5 and I expect his absence helps Philadelphia too.
More importantly for the Eagles, Sam Bradford is likely to be throwing out of a clean pocket and there are some big holes in the Giants Secondary that can be exploited. They made Colin Kaepernick look like a very serviceable Quarter Back on Sunday Night Football and I think Bradford picks up from where he left off against the New Orleans Saints, although Kelly will be desperate that he avoids the mistakes that have been so critical against Bradford all season.
If this game had been played a week ago, I would have fully expected Eli Manning to have a very big game too, but things have changed somewhat. The first is that his Receiving corps have been hurt by injuries which might mean Odell Beckham sits and Rueben Randle is limited at best. With Victor Cruz not yet quite ready to return, Manning's options are limited and he might have trouble getting the ball to Receivers he doesn't trust as much as Beckham and Randle.
And it isn't as if Manning can hand the ball to his Running Backs and hope they can rip off big yards on the ground because that is the one area where the Eagles have thrived. Manning will have success against this Secondary, but I wouldn't be surprised if drops and mis-reads on the routes supposed to be run slow down drives and allows the up-tempo Eagles to control the game.
Philadelphia hammered the Giants twice last season, but I expect this to be closer than the 27-0 win for the Eagles in Week 6 of the 2014 season. The Eagles are 2-5 against the spread as the home favourite in Divisional games under Chip Kelly but his Philadelphia team are 3-1 against the spread against the New York Giants overall including that blow out last season.
If the Giants weren't so banged up I would have wanted to back them, but I am not sure how they keep up in a shoot-out on Monday Night Football and I expect the favourite can finally cover in the final game of the week.
Arizona Cardinals - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Minnesota Vikings - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Buffalo Bills + 3 Points @ 1.91 Betway (1 Unit)
Detroit Lions - 3 Points @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
Green Bay Packers - 10.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
New England Patriots - 7.5 Points @ 1.83 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Philadelphia Eagles - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Week 5: 3-5-1, - 3.48 Units
Week 4: 4-3-1, + 2.24 Units
Week 3: 8-2, + 9.03 Units
Week 2: 4-5, - 1.71 Units
Week 1: 5-2-1, + 6.46 Units
Season 2015: 24-17-3, + 12.54 Units
Season 2014: 77-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 2013: 86-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012: - 4.78 Units