We enter Week 6, or what is the same, at the end of the first third of the first campaign with a calendar of 18 days. The contenders are starting to separate from the suitors, but there are always teams that fly under the radar in the first half of the season and close out spectacularly, as the champion Buccaneers did in 2020.
Not counting the game in London between Miami and Jacksonville, in 13 games the favorite is the visiting team, including the Dallas Cowboys, favorites by 4 points to beat some Patriots at Foxborough who, honestly, no one respects anymore.
I had a good week on the picks, but Ariel’s was better and that makes me feel like the Browns: good, but not good enough.
Ah, how I wish the spirit of Gruden take over me to write and send an email to my friends to say what I really think of you, Ariel.
But this is just beginning and your advantage will last less than the “dynasty” of the Chiefs.
Let’s go to the picks:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Los Angeles Chargers en Baltimore (-3)
This is a duel between two of the top three teams in the AFC. The other, of course, is the Buffalo Bills.
Both Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson have played at the MVP level and this is why this game promises to be special.
Herbert, Offensive Rookie of the Year, has 1,576 yards, 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a 104.7 rating; Jackson, MVP a couple of seasons ago, has 1,519 passing yards, 8 passes to the end zone, 3 interceptions and a 104.4 rating. Additionally, Lamar leads the Ravens in rushing yards with 341 (6.1 average) and a pair of touchdowns.
Both had spectacular games in Week 5: Herbert passed for 398 yards and 4 touchdowns (one more on the ground) in the victory over Cleveland, while on Monday night Jackson put on his own show with an 86% effectiveness (a personal best), 442 yards and four touchdown passes to beat the Colts in overtime.
Should we expect a shooting in Baltimore? It is probable. The Chargers and Ravens defenses didn’t have a good time against Browns and Indianapolis, respectively, and this week they have to deal with two teams averaging more than 400 yards of offense per game. Maybe the last gunman with the ball will be the winner.
Herbert has a better arsenal at his disposal. The Chargers lead the league with 56 points in the fourth quarter, including 26 on Sunday against the Browns. Running back Austin Ekeler scored three touchdowns in that insane fourth quarter and now has seven on his tally.
Mike Williams (31 receptions, 471 yards) also leads wide receivers with six balls caught in the end zone.
With so many injuries in Baltimore’s backfield, Jackson has become the Ravens’ man band. In the passing game, his most reliable man is Marquise Brown, with 28 receptions, 400 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
While Herbert, Jackson and offenses are going to be in the spotlight, there are a couple of defensive rookies who shouldn’t lose track of them.
On the Chargers side, cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (two interceptions) and for the locals, Odafe Oweh (three sacks).
El pick: I am convinced that the Chargers are contenders, but to dispel any doubts they have to show that they can win these kinds of games on the road. It won’t be easy, but Herbert will find a way to overcome the electrifying Lamar Jackson. Bolts 31-28 Ravens
Dallas (-4) and New England
Bill Belichick’s defense is going to have a bad time with Dak Prescott and rookie Mac Jones is going to have a bad time with Dan Quinn’s defense. Cowboys 33-20 Patriots
Arizona en Cleveland (-3)
Arizona’s defense is the best at third down and Cleveland’s offense is mediocre at third down. Cardinals 24-19 Browns
TWO MINUTE DRILL
Tampa Bay (-7) en Philadelphia
Tom Brady does not forget the loss to this team in the Super Bowl. Bucs 37-21 Eagles
Miami (-3.5) vs. Jacksonville (en Londres)
The Jaguars have been close to their first win and I wouldn’t be surprised if they win in London. Dolphins 24-23 Jaguars
Minnesota (-1) and Carolina
A couple of weeks ago, Carolina looked like the ‘Black Horse’ in the AFC. I still have faith in that defense. Panthers 24-20 Vikings
Green Bay (-4.5) at Chicago
As a dumbbell, coach Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers are 4-0 against Chicago. Packers 28-20 Bears
Cincinnati (-3.5) en Detroit
Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase will soon enter the discussion of the best QB-WR pairs in the NFL. Bengals 31-28 Lions
Houston in Indianapolis (-9.5)
One is a total disappointment; the other is Houston. Colts 31-21 Texans
Los Angeles Rams (-10.5) en New York Giants
If Daniel Jones (shock) can’t play, this is going to end very, very ugly. Rams 34-20 Giants
Kansas City (-7) en Washington
A blessing for coach Andy Reid to return to Washington just as his team is desperate for a win; the coach is 19-11 against the WFT. Chiefs 31-27 Washington
Las Vegas at Denver (-3.5)
Rich Bisaccia makes his debut as interim coach for the Raiders following the Jon Gruden email scandal. Good luck at Mile High, Coach. Broncos 24-20 Raiders
Seattle en Pittsburgh (-5)
Without Russell Wilson, Seattle is easy prey for a defense like Pittsburgh’s. Steelers 27-13 Seahawks
Buffalo (-5.5) en Tennessee
The Titans lost to the Jets and suffered for a while with the Jaguars. The conclusion is simple. Buffalo 33-20 Tennessee
Chiefs vs. WFT OVER 55.5
Seahawks vs. Steelers UNDER 44.5
Cowboys vs. Patriots OVER 51
Last week: 12-4
In the season: 52-28