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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Saturday, 15 October 2016

NFL Week 6 Picks 2016 (October 13-17)

The NFL moves onto Week 6 and we are beginning to see those teams that are potential contenders and those who are going to be hoping for a high Draft pick as they try and turn their franchises around.

It is not last chance saloon for most teams, but there are some in desperate positions as their seasons have not gone the way they would have anticipated. The 1-4 Carolina Panthers come hurtling forward when you think of teams who have underachieved so far this season, but a win this weekend will send them into the bye week with a belief they can turn things around.

Questions are being posed for many teams around the League but some like the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins just lurch from one disaster to another.

Week 5 produced a 2-3-1 record, but I have no idea how the Chicago Bears blew an easy cover in Indianapolis. I am beginning to hate the Colts and the way they have screwed me over in each of the first five weeks of the season and I am not going to be involved in their game either way.

I am also convinced Baltimore would have covered when about to go up four points in the Third Quarter against the Washington Redskins only for CJ Mosely to drop the ball going into the End Zone on an Interception return which resulted in a touchback. And I am sure if Eli Manning could have hit any number of open Receivers in the late Sunday Night Football game that I might have come away with more than a push.

That is the frustrating part of the first five weeks of the season, but Week 6 presents a chance to turn things around and I will be hoping I can begin to do that.

San Francisco 49ers @ Buffalo Bills Pick: I would be surprised if Chip Kelly is on the hot seat in San Francisco after six weeks in the NFL in what was clearly looking to be a rebuilding year for the franchise. However it was clear he had to make the change at Quarter Back after a fourth consecutive loss last weekend and Kelly has decided that this is the week when Colin Kaepernick returns to the field.

You cannot doubt the amount of pressure that is going to be on Kaepernick who has become more known for his protest against the national anthem than perhaps leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in recent times. A road game is never easy, but the fans in Buffalo are likely to be extra loud when the pantomime villain comes onto the field and I am interested to know how Kaepernick deals with things.

I also want to point out that I really hope he has some big games to silence his critics who have completely missed the point as to why he is kneeling.

I just don't believe this will be the week in which he can do that as he goes into a tough environment looking to make his first start for San Francisco since Week 8 of the 2015 season. Injuries have meant Kaepernick has not been training in all that time and he could be a little rusty, especially when it comes to throwing the ball where his accuracy has been criticised in recent years.

It doesn't look a game in which Kaepernick will have a lot of time to set his feet as Buffalo have found a very strong pass rush which is going up against an Offensive Line which has struggled. That could lead to errors in the passing game against a Secondary that have feasted on Interceptions thanks to the pressure that the front seven have produced and it looks like Kaepernick is coming in at a very difficult moment.

He can't even rely on Carlos Hyde opening up the passing lanes as he will find it difficult to establish the run against a Defensive Line that have held teams to 3.5 yards per carry over their last three games. They have faced Todd Gurley in that time so Buffalo will believe they can contain Hyde, while this Defense will have seen enough of Tyrod Taylor to deal with a mobile Quarter Back like Kaepernick.

While I am seeing San Francisco likely struggling when they attempt to run the ball, I think Buffalo could have a very strong day on the ground again. Taylor is a mobile Quarter Back capable of making big plays on the ground, while LeSean McCoy looked exceptional against the LA Rams last week and has a much easier match up this week.

Navarro Bowman's injury is a cruel blow for the 49ers who have given up 4.4 yards per carry on the season and it is difficult to see how Buffalo won't find the running lanes behind this Offensive Line to make big gains on the ground. That should make life much easier for Taylor who should have enough time to produce any throws he needs to out of play-action against a San Francisco Secondary that perhaps have better numbers than expected simply because teams don't need to throw against them with the numbers allowed on the ground.

This is a big number that Buffalo are being asked to cover, but I think they have enough of an edge at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball to beat San Francisco with some room to spare. It wouldn't surprise me if a rusty Colin Kaepernick makes one or two mistakes which allows the Bills to move away from this spread and I am going to back Buffalo to cover.

The 49ers are now just 3-10 against the spread as the road underdog since the start of the 2014 season. Buffalo might be playing a Divisional rival next week, but they won't be overly concerned about the Miami Dolphins and can focus enough to clear this spread on Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins Pick: This has all the makings of a 'square' pick, which doesn't work out as often as you would like, but I do think the Pittsburgh Steelers are significantly stronger than the Miami Dolphins and should be blowing them out. Playing on the road in Miami is difficult for teams not accustomed to the heat and all of the 'sharp' money has come in on the Dolphins which has seen the spread shrink to the key number seven.

There are definitely some questions for the Steelers to answer which makes them less appealing as they would be if they had been fully healthy. Sammy Coates looks set to miss the game despite his two Touchdown performance in Week 5 and his speed along the sidelines is going to be a big miss even if he does drop a few too many passes.

In saying that, Ben Roethlisberger should still be able to produce a third big game in a row since the embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He has Antonio Brown who remains a huge threat in the passing game and the return of Le'Veon Bell has worked out as well as Pittsburgh would have been expecting.

Bell could be the key this week along with DeAngelo Williams as both should be able to establish a really strong running game for Pittsburgh which is key to opening up the passing game even further. The Dolphins Defensive Line have spent too much time on the field which has seen them give up 150 yards per game on the ground at 4.2 yards per carry, but they really struggled against the Tennessee Titans who don't have the kind of passing Offense Pittsburgh clearly do.

If the Steelers are running the ball as expected, I am not sure how the Miami Secondary will be able to cope with Roethlisberger when he does throw the ball against them. Byron Maxwell has struggled at Corner Back, but could be forced to play with injuries in the Secondary and Miami might find themselves having a long day in trying to slow down the Pittsburgh Offense.

Now this is where the spread could become interesting- I do think Miami have the tools to move the chains too, but I think Ryan Tannehill is regressing as a Quarter Back and it is his errors which I ultimately believe will see Miami come up short. There is not doubt that Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker give Tannehill two Receivers who can win their battles with this Pittsburgh Secondary which has struggled all season, but it is the Quarter Back's mistakes which are an issue.

Tannehill has completed almost 65% of his passes but he has 7 Interceptions and some really ugly ones to his name in 2016 too. He hasn't been helped by an Offensive Line which has not been able to protect him so the last couple of games where the Pittsburgh pass rush has come alive will not make him feel much better. The Offensive Line were horrific against Tennessee last week and it is going to be tough for Tannehill to find consistent passes downfield without any sort of protection, although he hasn't helped things when making huge mistakes after being given time to throw the ball.

Arian Foster may return this week to ease some of the pressure on Tannehill as an effective pass catcher out of the backfield as well as being able to establish the run. The old Steel Curtain is not in Pittsburgh at the moment who have allowed 4.4 yards per carry over their last three games and Foster could at least keep Miami in third and manageable rather than the third and long they have been facing thanks to penalties and Sacks being allowed.

Even then the Interceptions and Sacks are still likely to blight Miami who have a big Divisional game against Buffalo to come. They will give their all against Pittsburgh having been embarrassed by Tennessee at home, but I am not sure they can stay with the Steelers in any potential shootout we see.

Backing the Steelers as a road favourite has proved to be a fast way to the poor bank in recent seasons, but I simply can't see how Miami can clear up all their Offensive issues that quickly. I wouldn't be surprised if the Dolphins have some successful drives, but Tannehill Interceptions could kill them against a team that will score plenty themselves and I like the Steelers to win by double digits on the road.

Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots Pick: I think most people were thinking that the Tom Brady Revenge Tour was going to be played out through the rest of 2016 once he returned from his four game suspension. The manner in which he dismantled the Cleveland Browns in the first half in Week 5 has only aided those suggestions and I can't say I am that surprised that so many people are backing the New England Patriots to beat down the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6.

Brady is going to be excited playing at home for the first time in the 2016 season and most have just seen the Bengals blown out by the Dallas Cowboys in a game they trailed 28-0 before a couple of late Touchdowns made the score look a little more respectable.

The public are very much behind the Patriots to come through then, but I am going the other way as I look for the Bengals to come out and play much better than they did a week ago. One of the main issues for Cincinnati and the spluttering Offense has been the failure to generate much of a rushing Offense and that is going to be a difficult task for them again with Jeremy Hill banged up.

Cincinnati are unlikely to have much success against this New England Defensive Line which means it will be up to Andy Dalton and AJ Green to make the big plays together. A concern for Dalton has to be the way the Offensive Line was eaten up by Dallas in Week 5 while the absence of safety valve Tyler Eifert has been felt massively this season, but he should be able to have some success against the Patriots.

The Patriots should get some pressure on Dalton, but they have allowed a few more passing yards than Bill Belichick would have liked and this Bengals team will want to come out to show they are better than they did in Dallas last week.

Dalton is likely going to have to play keep up with Tom Brady and the New England Offense which has a completely different feel with the future Hall of Famer back behind Center. Brady got Rob Gronkowski going last week as well as Chris Hogan, while he clearly likes the new weapon at Tight End Martellus Bennett is a huge Red Zone threat.

There looks little doubt that Brady will be able to move the chains with his arm against a team that have struggled to generate an effective pass rush which is the only way you can rattle the Quarter Back. Brady is also going to have the benefit of being able to hand the ball off to LeGarrette Blount and James White who should find some room to run the ball.

It is the desperation factor for Cincinnati and the pride after that crushing loss in Dallas which makes me believe they are worth backing with more than a Touchdown start this week. The Bengals have been a strong team to back as a road underdog since Marvin Lewis took over as Head Coach and there are enough characters here to want to turn things around after the 2-3 start to open the season.

Brady's Revenge Tour is a bothersome factor, but the Bengals should still have enough for a backdoor cover at least and I like them with the points going against the public reactions to Week 5 results and performances.

Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints Pick: It is looking more and more certain that Cam Newton will be back under Center for the Carolina Panthers who are in a 'must win' spot ahead of their bye in Week 7. They dropped to 1-4 with a loss to Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football and that means the Panthers are three games behind the Atlanta Falcons who also hold a win over them.

There were some big expectations for Carolina having been beaten in the Super Bowl, but the decision to allow Josh Norman to move on has not looked that good. To be fair to the Defense, they haven't been helped by turnovers from the Offense which has left them in difficult positions on the field, but they have to find stops consistently although that looks a big challenge against the New Orleans Saints who are coming in off a bye week.

The Saints might have saved their season with a very, very fortunate win over the San Diego Chargers to go into the bye with a 1-3 record. That puts both teams in a desperate spot and I think this is going to be something of a shoot out in the Super Dome on Sunday.

Cam Newton is not the only potential boost the Offense will have this week, but Jonathan Stewart could also be back at Running Back. The Panthers might be less concerned with that though after Cameron Artis-Payne had a big outing against the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, but whoever starts at Running Back should find plenty of holes to expose against the New Orleans Defensive Line. There has been some improvement from the Saints over their last three games against the run, but the Panthers will also have Newton back who can make plays with his legs to keep the chains moving.

This may also be the cleanest pocket that Newton has seen for much of the season when he does go back to throw too having been hit far too often so far. Kelvin Benjamin might not be able to suit up, but Newton still has Receivers like Greg Olsen who had a huge outing against Tampa Bay and he is going up against a Secondary that have been a mess, giving up over 300 passing yards per game.

That mess has forced Drew Brees and the New Orleans Offense to try and put up enough points to keep up with the Defensive issues they have been having and it hasn't been easy. It does look like it will be down to Brees because Carolina have continued to be very strong against the run so it doesn't look like Mark Ingram will find a lot of room on the ground in this one.

The speed in which Brees gets the ball out of his hands means the Carolina pass rush should not be a big issue, but having to consistently make plays from third and long is difficult. The Panthers Secondary haven't been as strong as last season though and Brees should still have success moving the chains, but the concern will be Interceptions which killed the Saints in the home loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

I would think Brees is going to have a big game, but he will be under pressure when in third and long and especially when he will know his own Defensive unit are not going to be able to make too many stops too.

The public seem to not care about that though as they have pounded New Orleans on the handicap, but I am not ready to come off the Carolina bandwagon. I think they are better than they have shown and they have a very good record against the New Orleans Saints with three wins on a row against them.

You couldn't back the New Orleans Defensive unit with under a field goal start even if they have been a very good home underdog to back. The Panthers are the better team in a desperate position and I think they can win a high-scoring game as I back against the public in this one.

It is so important that Cam Newton is back this week though as I would not trust Derek Anderson in a shoot out after the big Interceptions he threw last week. While Drew Brees has won many shoot outs in the Super Dome, I think Carolina can bounce back from all the negative press as they did a couple of years ago under Ron Rivera and I like them to win this game by at least three on the road.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders Pick: The public have made their choice in backing the Oakland Raiders in this Week 6 AFC West Divisional game, but the sharp money has come in on the Kansas City Chiefs which has flipped the favourite. I was loving the Chiefs as an underdog because I think they are capable of winning here, and I have not been put off by the fact that they will be coming in as the slight favourite on the road.

Andy Reid has a very strong record as a Head Coach coming out of a bye week and you have to think the Chiefs had some serious words with one another after the way they were beaten by Pittsburgh in Week 4. Reid has usually found the adjustments needed at this time with the additional preparation he can do, and Kansas City are 2-1 against the spread out of a bye week under Reid.

You can see why the public would like Oakland who have been a breath of fresh air Offensively and after seeing how Pittsburgh torched Kansas City. Derek Carr should have time to make plays because Kansas City have not been able to generate a strong pass rush and he makes his throws very quickly, while that time up front has seen the Chiefs Secondary struggle to slow down the pass.

They haven't been helped by the fact that teams have been able to run the ball effectively against them although I am not sure Oakland will be able to take full advantage of that. Having a week off to make adjustments should help Kansas City Defensively too, but this is more likely to develop into a game where both teams look to move the chains consistently.

Alex Smith might not be as impressive as some Quarter Backs with his inability, or desire, to throw the ball down the field. However that might work in this game where Jamaal Charles is expected to be back to a more usual workload after recovering from a big injury that ended his 2015 season prematurely.

Charles and Spencer Ware look to have a very good match up against the Oakland Raiders who have given up 4.9 yards per carry over the course of the season. Both could also be effective for Smith to throw to when they come out of the backfield and I expect the Running Backs to keep the Chiefs in a third and short spot more often than not.

That is so important for how this Offense is run and allows Smith to make the quick throws that he wants to. He won't want to hold the ball for a long time to let routes develop as the Raiders have a decent pass rush that will be able to get to him, but there is room in this Secondary where Kansas City can expose the Oakland vulnerabilities and I think the Chiefs will bounce back from a really poor showing against Pittsburgh.

It is that game which has been the stick to beat Kansas City for two weeks and I am expecting them to respond against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have actually been outgained in every game they have played this season and this is a team that have gone 3-6 against the spread as the home underdog in Divisional games in recent seasons.

Andy Reid's record coming out of the bye week coupled with perhaps an overrated Oakland Raiders team has me leaning against the public in this one and backing the Kansas City Chiefs to make enough Defensive plays to cover on the road.

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers Pick: This has been a remarkable start to the season for the Dallas Cowboys who might not have been expected to be as strong as they have been without Tony Romo. Dak Prescott has been a revelation at Quarter Back for the Cowboys, although this has been seen as a real test to see where this Cowboys team actually are.

Some have called for Prescott to keep the job even when Romo is back and winning in Lambeau Field will be a huge reason to keep the status quo. Winning here won't be easy against the Green Bay Packers, but it has to be said that there are still more questions about the Packers than you would expect for a 3-1 team.

Aaron Rodgers and the Offense have been far from clicking on all cylinders and the Quarter Back has continued to struggle for consistency as he remains in search for a 300 passing yard day. This week it might be down to Rodgers more than usual with both Running Backs banged up and potentially missing as Eddie Lacy and James Starks come into the week with a questionable status.

They are the only two Running Backs on the roster and you have to think one suits up considering Green Bay have not brought anyone in this week to perhaps earn the start in the absence of Lacy and Starks. However being banged up might mean Green Bay have to rely on the passing game more than usual which will be disappointing when you think of the Cowboys Defensive Line allowing 4.5 yards per carry.

The Packers have been running the ball effectively, but that has not opened the passing lanes as you may expect. I am not going to be too down on Rodgers who can turn things around at Quarter Back very quickly, but he is still trying to get into a rhythm with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, although the latter might also be missing. To make things more difficult for Rodgers has been the pressure he has felt and Dallas have shown they can get to the Quarter Back in a very strong win over Cincinnati.

Slowing down the Packers has to give Dallas a real opportunity in this one and I think the Cowboys will have that. Anyone who saw the game against the New York Giants will have noticed some of the glaring holes Green Bay had in the Secondary and Dak Prescott has shown he can make the big throws to keep the Cowboys Offense moving, while also avoiding the big mistakes that usually come with a rookie starting at Quarter Back.

However the one match up everyone is looking forward to seeing is how the Dallas Offensive Line can match up with the Green Bay Defensive Line when it comes to running the ball. Dallas' ability to run the ball has helped Prescott a lot and Ezekiel Elliot is another rookie who has surpassed expectations, even if his were much higher than Prescott when the Draft was made.

It has been a strength of the Packers to stop the run, but I think their numbers might have been helped by the teams they have faced. The one impressive game came against the Minnesota Vikings, but holding down the likes of the Detroit Lions and New York Giants who have injuries in the backfield is far different from playing against a healthy Offensive Line and strong Running Back like the Cowboys have.

Getting anything going on the ground will just make life a little easier for Prescott who should have Dez Bryant back too against a Green Bay Secondary that have a few injuries to contend with. I don't want to tempt fate for the rookie, but he has been playing at a better level than Eli Manning and I don't think he will miss the big holes that the two time Super Bowl winner did on Sunday Night Football.

Dallas look like they have found the consistency Offensively that Green Bay have been lacking and I think this is a lot of points for the Cowboys to be getting. Playing in a historic Stadium like this might have some effect on the rookies at the key positions for Dallas, but Prescott and Elliot played well in winning a big road game against a Divisional rival in Washington and I can see Dallas matching the Green Bay Offense for the entire 60 minutes of this game.

The Cowboys are 13-8 against the spread as the road underdog in recent years and I think they are good enough to stay with the Packers in this one.

MY PICKS: Buffalo Bills - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Pittsburgh Steelers - 7 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Cincinnati Bengals + 8 Points @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Carolina Panthers - 2.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Kansas City Chiefs - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)

Week 5: 2-3-1, - 2.36 Units (12 Units Staked, - 19.67% Yield)
Week 45-5, + 0.26 Units (19 Units Staked, + 1.37% Yield)
Week 32-3-1, - 2.27 Units (10 Units Staked, - 22.70% Yield)
Week 25-5, - 0.70 Units (20 Units Staked, - 3.50% Yield)

Week 14-3-1, + 0.29 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.93% Yield)

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