Five weeks into the NFL season and two teams remain unbeaten: the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. Not what the football world predicted going into the season regarding the latter. The 49ers have one of the best teams in football, starting 4-0 for the first time since 1990 while ranking in the top five in points, yards, points allowed and yards allowed. To no surprise, the Patriots are in the top five in three of those four categories, ranking first in points allowed and yards allowed. Interestingly enough, the combined record of the 49ers’ opponents thus far is 5-15, and the Patriots is 5-19. There’s a reason why they are unbeaten.
The 49ers will face their first team with a winning record this season, traveling to Southern California to face the Los Angeles Rams. Other key games in Week 6 are the Philadelphia Eagles at the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions at the Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins at the Miami Dolphins (yes, two winless teams).
Let’s get to those Week 6 picks!
New York Giants (2-3) at New England Patriots (5-0)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (Fox, NFL Network)
Line: Patriots -16.5
The Patriots haven’t been tested through five games and it doesn’t appear the Giants will be much of a challenge, either. New York is expected to be without its top two running backs: Saquon Barkley (who has not been cleared to play) and Wayne Gallman. Starting tight end Evan Engram is also not expected to play, taking away another skill-position player from rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. The Giants offense (19.4 points) is the team’s only hope of keeping them in this one on a short week, especially since the Patriots have a plus-7 turnover margin while the Giants are at minus-5 (the second worst in the NFL). With no playmakers for Jones, that’s going to get worse. The Patriots will blow the Giants out.
Pick: Patriots 33, Giants 17
What’s going on with Baker Mayfield? And which teams can we count on in Week 6? Brady Quinn and John Breech join Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast to break it all down. Listen to the full show below and be sure to subscribe right here for daily NFL goodness.
Carolina Panthers (3-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) in London
Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET (NFL Network)
Line: Panthers -2
The Panthers have really turned their season around under Kyle Allen, but Christian McCaffrey is the brain-child behind the resurgence. Most of the talk is about Russell Wilson or Patrick Mahomes winning MVP, but McCaffrey is right in the conversation. The Panthers running back leads the NFL in carries (105), yards (587), yards per game (117.4), touches (136) and yards from scrimmage (866). He’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry while having 31 catches for 279 yards and seven total touchdowns. McCaffrey is carrying an offense that needs Allen to be a game manager, which is what he’s been through his three starts. Tampa’s pass rush had its way with Carolina’s offensive line in the first meeting, but that was with an injured Cam Newton. McCaffrey had just 37 yards rushing and 2.3 yards per carry while Carolina threw the ball 51 times. For Carolina to win this game, McCaffrey needs to get the majority of the touches and the Panthers have to keep going to him. If Allen throws the ball more than 30 times, Shaquil Barrett will again have a field day against the Panthers offensive line. I’m betting on McCaffrey to keep up his hot streak.
Pick: Panthers 26, Buccaneers 21
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Washington Redskins (0-5) at Miami Dolphins (0-5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Redskins -3
It’s the battle of the two worst teams in the NFL, and it’s anyone’s guess who’s going to win. The Dolphins are trying to be the worst team in the league on purpose, while the Redskins just fired head coach Jay Gruden and still won’t start Dwayne Haskins at quarterback Sunday despite facing a defense that gives up 40.8 points and 420 yards per game. Washington is trying to win football games, for some odd reason. They’ll win this game because Terry McLaurin (19 catches, 308 yards, three TD) and Paul Richardson should have big games against the Dolphins pass defense. Not to mention Miami gives up 175.8 yards per game on the ground, which provides Adrian Peterson an opportunity to actually make an impact. Could be a long day for the Dolphins.
Pick: Redskins 31, Dolphins 17
Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (3-2)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Vikings -3
The matchup in this one isn’t solely the Vikings wide receivers vs. the Eagles makeshift cornerbacks (Philadelphia had Craig James and Orlando Scandrick play significant snaps last week despite the pair not being on the roster three weeks ago). Running back Dalvin Cook is the Vikings’ second most targeted player and Kirk Cousins likes to get rid of the ball quickly, which creates a problem for an Eagles defense that relies on pressure to get off the field. So how can the Eagles beat the Vikings with these apparent mismatches? The Eagles have the NFL’s top rush defense, allowing 63 yards per game. Opposing running backs have yet to total more than 43 rushing yards against team. No reason to think the Eagles can’t do the same to Dalvin Cook, making the Vikings offense one dimensional. That always seems to be a problem for Cousins, no matter how depleted the Eagles secondary is.
Pick: Eagles 30, Vikings 27
Houston Texans (3-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-1)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Chiefs -5.5
The Chiefs had a major flaw exposed in a loss to the Colts last week: They can’t stop the run. Kansas City has allowed 203, 186 and 180 rushing yards over the past three weeks, an average of 189.7 yards per game. That could be a problem against a Texans offense that averages 5.1 yards per carry and 129.4 rushing yards per game. Houston can copy the Colts’ blueprint by keeping the Chiefs offense off the field, but the Texans are in the middle of the pack in average time of possession (29:40). Another problem the Chiefs have is head coach Andy Reid’s abandonment of the run. The Chiefs run the ball just 35.56% of the time, 24th in the NFL. Kansas City had just 14 rushing plays in the loss to Indianapolis, with LeSean McCoy not getting a single carry. That has to change against the Texans. Establish the run and take the pressure of Mahomes. The Chiefs are better than the Texans, especially at home.
Pick: Chiefs 30, Texans 23
New Orleans Saints (4-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Jaguars -1
Here’s something the NFL world didn’t think would happen a month ago: The Saints are 3-0 with Teddy Bridgewater as the quarterback, and the QB has six touchdowns with two interceptions. Bridgewater is coming off a four-touchdown game, showcasing he can throw the football and stretch the field. That’s going to open things up for Alvin Kamara, who has been held in check (4.1 yards per carry, 352 total yards) in the three games Bridgewater has started. Now that teams have to respect Bridgewater and the Saints vertical passing game, the Jaguars will have to stop Kamara … not good for a defense that allows 136.6 rushing yards per game. Jacksonville’s defense has just two takeaways this year, clearly missing Jalen Ramsey in the secondary. The Saints have five giveaways, but just two in the last two weeks. Hard to see the Saints having multiple giveaways against a defense that gets to the quarterback, but doesn’t generate turnovers. Saints go to 5-1.
Pick: Saints 21, Jaguars 17
Seattle Seahawks (4-1) at Cleveland Browns (2-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Browns -2
The Browns are somehow favored in this game, against a team that’s arguably the best in the NFC. Cleveland has a terrible offensive line that can’t protect Baker Mayfield (3.2 sacks per game), a perfect opportunity for the Seahawks to increase their sack total (10) and quarterback hits (18). The Seahawks are clearly a team that likes to run the ball, which they’ll do against a Browns defense that gives up 150.8 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. This has the feel of a game Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny will get over 30 carries while Russell Wilson will make the plays Seattle asks him to make on third down. The Browns just make too many mistakes (dropped passes, missed blocking assignments, confusion in zone coverage, penalties) to beat a team like the Seahawks, no matter how Pete Carroll tries to give the game away.
Pick: Seahawks 24, Browns 20
Cincinnati Bengals (0-5) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Ravens -11.5
The Steelers made sure Lamar Jackson had his worst game of the season (161 yards, three INT, 54.9 rating), but the Ravens were still able to win the time of possession battle by 13 minutes because they stuck with the run (40 carries). Jackson’s ability to pass was taken away, but he still created damage with his legs. While teams have a blueprint on Jackson, the Bengals won’t be able to stop him on the ground. Cincinnati gave up 93 rushing yards and a touchdown to Kyler Murray in a loss to the Cardinals, part of a whomping 266 on the day. This is an easy game to predict. Baltimore is second in the NFL with 192.2 rushing yards per game and will pound the ball down Cincinnati’s throat with Jackson, Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards. The Bengals give up 167.6 rushing yards a game and given up over 250 rushing yards in a game twice this season. Big advantage for Baltimore.
Pick: Ravens 37, Bengals 17
San Francisco 49ers (4-0) at Los Angeles Rams (3-2)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Rams -4.5
The 49ers haven’t started a season 4-0 since 1990 and look like a contender in the NFC. Their run game is dominant, leading the league in carries (38.5) and rush yards (200) per game. Kyle Shanahan’s innovative play-calling has the 49ers second in points (31.8) and yards (427.2), while the defense is second in yards allowed (257.5) and fourth in points allowed (14.2). While the 49ers are good, the teams they beat are a combined 5-15. Los Angeles is the first team San Francisco will face with a winning record all year and the only team they have faced so far that isn’t ranked 22nd or lower in points per game. The Rams offense averages 29.2 points a game had has 413.6 yards per game, a true test for the 49ers defense. Los Angeles has multiple weapons to test the 49ers and the offensive line allows just 1.6 sacks a game. The Rams, who will have had 10 days off, are going to get rid of the ball quickly and try to take an early lead against a San Francisco team that has barely trailed this season. The 49ers can play with the Rams, but it’s hard to see them beating L.A. in the first meeting this season. This is their first true test.
Pick: Rams 31, 49ers 27
Atlanta Falcons (1-4) at Arizona Cardinals (1-3-1)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Falcons -2.5
Speaking of the worst teams in the NFL conversation, the Cardinals are playing their way out of it while the Falcons are playing their way in. Arizona finally reached the win column, which came against winless Cincinnati last week. The Cardinals dominated the ground game, having 266 rushing yards and 514 total … yet still won by only three. Arizona got within Cincinnati’s 5 yard line three times, but only scored nine points thanks to three field goals. While the offense made significant progress last week, they Cardinals will need to score touchdowns in order to beat the Falcons. Atlanta’s defense allows 30.4 yards per game and 6.1 yards per play. The Cardinals’ game plan should be to rely heavily on the pass, which they do frequently (65.49% of the time), especially against a Falcons pass defense that allows 8.3 yards per pass. This is an easy way to beat Atlanta, which is in a free fall as head coach Dan Quinn’s job security is up in the air.
Pick: Cardinals 34, Falcons 29
Dallas Cowboys (3-2) at New York Jets (0-4)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Cowboys -8.5
The Jets are also under consideration in the battle to be considered the worst team in football. Fortunately for New York, franchise quarterback Sam Darnold will be back after missing the past three games with mono. The Jets are clearly a different team with Darnold on the field, as he’s able to throw the ball downfield and spread the offense out. Teams can’t key on Le’Veon Bell as frequently, which will improve his numbers. The Jets offense should look better this week, but the Cowboys’ defensive line should too. Dallas has 30 quarterback hits, but just 12 sacks through five games. The Jets have allowed 29 sacks this year. No matter how inconsistent the Cowboys offense plays, Dallas’ defense is going to have a field day against the Jets offensive line.
Pick: Cowboys 28, Jets 14
Tennessee Titans (2-3) at Denver Broncos (1-4)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Broncos -2.5
Denver has just one win on the season, but the Broncos actually showed signs a turnaround may be on the way. The Broncos held the Chargers to 13 points and didn’t give up an offensive touchdown, forced three turnovers, and held Los Angeles’ high-powered offense to 246 yards in getting their first win on the year. Denver didn’t have a sack and has just five on the year, which has to change if the Broncos are going to beat Tennessee. The Titans have allowed 22 sacks, which isn’t helping Marcus Mariota go through his progressions and see the ball downfield. Denver and Tennessee both have inconsistent offenses, so don’t expect a slugfest in the mile high altitude. How are the Broncos going to beat the Titans? Control the clock and give the ball to Phillip Lindsay, who had 19 touches last week. Lindsay should get 25 touches to keep Tennessee’s defense on the field, taking some touches away from Royce Freeman. Plus Tennessee has a uncertain kicker situation with Cody Parkey playing his first game since his playoff double doink for the Bears. If the game comes down to Parkey, the money is on Denver.
Pick: Broncos 19, Titans 17
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-3)
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Line: Chargers -6.5
The Chargers were supposed to be a contender in the AFC, but have been a massive disappointment through five games. Sunday’s loss to the previously winless Broncos was even more disappointing, considering the Chargers failed to score an offensive touchdown, had three turnovers and received next to nothing from Melvin Gordon in his first game back. The best medicine for the Chargers coming up may be the Steelers, a team starting a third-string quarterback. The Steelers only average 280.6 yards per game and Devlin Hodges has thrown just nine passes in his career. Hodges has a chance, though, against a Chargers team that has only 12 sacks. If he gets rid of the ball quickly, the Steelers have enough players to make an impact. The Chargers are the better team, but the Steelers have 2.4 takeaways a game while the Steelers have 1.6 giveaways. Natural selection says to pick Pittsburgh, but they have a rookie undrafted free agent making his first start at quarterback. Just too much to keep up with the Chargers in a track meet.
Pick: Chargers 27, Steelers 17
Detroit Lions (2-1-1) at Green Bay Packers (4-1)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: Packers -4.5
The Packers figured out they can run the ball in a win over the Cowboys, as evidenced by Aaron Jones‘ four touchdowns. Can they repeat that success against a Lions team that allows 124.8 rush yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game? Green Bay can use Rodgers to beat the Lions (who is 13-5 with 37 TD and 6 INT against Detroit in his career), but Jones is leading the league with eight touchdowns. The Packers can move the ball up and down the field, but will lose if they run the ball in the red zone. Detroit averages 120.5 rushing yards per game, so the Lions can run off a Packers defense that allows 138.2 rushing yards. Green Bay has lost four straight to Detroit, but Rodgers has played in just one of them. The last time Rodgers played against the Lions, he threw for 442 yards and three touchdowns. Detroit is a much better team that it was then, but Rodgers can still sling it against them.
Pick: Packers 28, Lions 24
KERR’S RECORD (Week 5): 10-5
KERR’S RECORD (Overall): 47-30-1 (.603 win percentage)