Week 5 was a bad week for the NFL.
Not because the games were bad, but because some key injuries overshadowed the league’s other developments. New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt — two of football’s brightest stars — were among those who suffered season-ending injuries.
The show must go on, though. And we’re not just talking about the action between the lines. NESN.com’s trio of pigskin pickin’ party-goers — Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian — are back to drop their Week 6 predictions, along with their “expert” analysis for each against-the-spread (ATS) selection.
Here’s how our guys fared last week.
Mike Cole: 6-7-1 (36-38-2 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 4-9-1 (35-39-2)
Andre Khatchaturian: 5-8-1 (34-40-2)
Now, we’re on to Week 6, with all lines courtesy of OddsShark.
Philadelphia Eagles at (-3) Carolina Panthers, 8:25 p.m. ET
Mike: Panthers. This is a pretty even matchup if all things were equal. But going on the road on a short week isn’t easy, especially with a couple of huge Eagles injuries to offensive tackle Lane Johnson (out) and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (questionable).
Ricky: Panthers. Johnson’s absence comes at a tough time, as the Panthers can get after the quarterback (17 sacks, tied for third in the NFL).
Andre: Panthers. Cam Newton has completed 68 percent of his passes this season (10 percent higher than his career average). The Eagles allow the third-most yards per play, and Carson Wentz is 3-9 with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions lifetime on the road.
(-10) New England Patriots at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. It doesn’t matter how good the Patriots are and how bad the Jets might be. These two teams usually play each other close. The Patriots obviously are the Jets’ biggest test, but with Tom Brady being banged up, this one is kind of up in the air.
Ricky: Patriots. New England went back to the basics on defense last week. And it worked. Now, the Patriots face a Jets team that’s hardly an offensive juggernaut. Don’t buy into the Jets’ three-game winning streak, which includes victories over the Dolphins, Jaguars and Browns. They still stink, and the Patriots’ defense will take another step foward this week.
Andre: Jets. The Patriots have horrendous yards-per-play stats (-0.7 yards per play differential, 29th in the NFL) and didn’t look particularly great against the Bucs. It’s a divisional rivalry and the Jets will be able to keep it close. Seven of the last eight meetings between these teams have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Miami Dolphins at (-12) Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. You can’t make this spread high enough. Atlanta is 6-1 in its last seven games after a bye week, winning those six games by an average of 13 points. The Dolphins just can’t get right.
Ricky: Falcons. Atlanta’s bye week came at a perfect time, as the Falcons were banged up and reeling from a home loss to the Bills. The Dolphins, meanwhile, well … they have a lot of crap going on.
Andre: Falcons. It’s the team with the highest yards per play differential in the NFL, at home and coming off a bye against a team with the lowest yards per play differential, a linebacker who was AWOL, a quarterback who threw for 92 yards last week and a former coach who just got fired over a video of him snorting white powder.
(-3) Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. Minnesota actually might be better with Case Keenum under center (wild sentence), but this has more to do with the Vikes’ defense than anything else. The Vikings won’t let Aaron Rodgers slice them up the same way the Cowboys did last week.
Ricky: Packers. If I choose a Keenum-led team over a Rodgers-led team and lose, I’ll sit there wondering whether someone slipped something in my drink before making the pick. To avoid that fate, I’ll take Rodgers and the Packers, knowing that even if lose, I died with one of the greats.
Andre: Vikings. The Vikings have the second-best yards per play differential, and they’re getting points at home? The Packers’ offensive line also has allowed 19 sacks this season, so the Vikings’ decent pass rush will be able to make Rodgers uncomfortable.
San Francisco 49ers at (-10) Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. The 49ers don’t win football games, but they tend to make them close. There’s enough Jekyll and Hyde in the Redskins for me to take the Niners at that number.
Ricky: 49ers. The Niners can be a pain in the ass to play against, and I trust the Redskins as far as I can throw ’em.
Andre: 49ers. Too many points against a solid defensive team that can make plays. The winless 49ers have lost by an average of just 2.75 points in the last four games.
Chicago Bears at (-6.5) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s first road game comes against a confident Ravens team that’s 4-1 ATS in its last five home games as favorites.
Ricky: Bears. The Ravens’ offense is just too inconsistent — Terrance West’s absence only adds to the problem — the Bears are getting back linebacker Danny Trevathan from his one-game suspension. This seems like a good opportunity for Mitch Trubisky — I still refuse to call him “Mitchell” — to earn a confidence-boosting road win.
Andre: Bears. The Bears have the worst turnover differential in the NFL, but they’re going up against Joe Flacco, who has the second-highest interception percentage. The Ravens also have allowed the 10th-most rushing yards in the NFL, so expect big days from Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard.
Detroit Lions at (-4.5) New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Mike: Saints. This line has been bet all the way up to where it’s at now, but whatever. The Lions can’t block anyone, and the Saints are coming off a bye at home against a questionable defense.
Ricky: Saints. Some old pain points seem to be cropping up for the Lions, literally and figuratively. Matthew Stafford is banged up, the offensive line has been terrible and Detroit’s rushing attack is nonexistent. If the defense doesn’t force turnovers — the Saints haven’t turned the ball over all season — the Lions could be in trouble.
Andre: Saints. The Lions have been successful largely by getting good drive starts through forcing turnovers. (Their average drive start is their own-32.7 yard line.) Detroit’s offense stinks, as it’s averaging 4.6 yards per play (29th in the NFL). Now, the Lions go up against Drew Brees, who hasn’t thrown a pick all season and is coming off a bye week.
Cleveland Browns at (-10) Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. I’m just sick of taking the Browns. It’s so dumb!
Ricky: Texans. Who’s starting for the Browns at quarterback, Terry Bollea? (That’s a Kevin Hogan/Hulk Hogan joke for those scoring at home. … OK, moving right along… )
Andre: Browns. The Browns actually have a better yards per play differential than the Texans. Houston probably is overvalued in this one because of its recent performances against the Patriots, Titans and Chiefs. Myles Garrett could have his first big game as he goes up against a team that has the second-highest sacks allowed percentage.
(-2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. Liked this one a lot more before the line started shifting, but I still think the Cardinals find some success against a defense that has given up large chunks of yardage to the likes of Case Keenum, Eli Manning and Mike Glennon this season.
Ricky: Bucs. Adrian Peterson would be a nice pickup for the Cardinals if this was 2015 and Arizona’s offensive line wasn’t a steaming pile of garbage.
Andre: Cardinals. The Cardinals have allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL this season, but here’s the thing: The Bucs don’t apply any pressure. They have just four sacks all year. If Carson Palmer has time to throw, he’ll look more like the Carson Palmer we’ve seen in the past.
Los Angeles Rams at (-2.5) Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Rams. I’m gonna be the last one on the Jaguars’ bandwagon. The Steelers messed up so bad last week by abandoning the run against Jacksonville, and I don’t think the Rams will make the same mistake. In turn, Blake Bortles will be put in a position to have to make plays, which is a scary proposition for the Jags no matter their record.
Ricky: Rams. Raise your hand if you had this game circled on your calendar before the season. Now, take the Rams. The Jaguars are prone to letdowns, and Los Angeles has the type of ball-controlled offense that can exploit Jacksonville’s suspect run defense and negate the Jags’ reliance on turnovers.
Andre: Rams. The Jaguars lead the league in sacks, but the Rams have allowed just six sacks all year. Blake Bortles still is really bad. (He was 8 of 14 with 95 yards and a pick in last week’s win.) He hasn’t been throwing interceptions like in the past, but it feels like he’s due for a bad game. The Jaguars also have allowed the second-most rushing yards in the NFL, and Todd Gurley should be able to take advantage of that.
Pittsburgh Steelers at (-5) Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. This line started down around a field goal, which was a head-scratcher. But I’m trying not to think too much about that. The Chiefs sure look like the real deal.
Ricky: Steelers. Travis Kelce and Justin Houston both left last week with injuries, which is problematic given their importance to Kansas City’s offense and defense, respectively. Even if they both play, it’s fair to expect a close game with Pittsburgh in desperation mode after last week’s blowout loss to Jacksonville. The Chiefs have lost five of their last six games against the Steelers.
Andre: Chiefs. The Chiefs have won 27 of 31 games, and they’ve been killing opponents this season. Their smallest margin of victory is seven points. Plus, the Chiefs have held opposing quarterbacks to just a 51.4 completion percentage this season. Those quarterbacks are no slouches, either (Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Kirk Cousins and Philip Rivers).
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m. (no line as of Thursday afternoon)
New York Giants at (-12) Denver Broncos, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. Where exactly do the Giants find any points at all?
Ricky: Broncos. The Giants don’t have any receivers, can’t run the ball and can’t stop the run. The Broncos, meanwhile, have the league’s top defense and its third-ranked rushing attack. Oh yeah, and this game is being played in Denver with the Broncos coming off a bye. Yikes.
Andre: Broncos. Your Giants receivers: Roger Lewis, Tavarres King, Travis Rudolph and Darius Powe. One more injury and you might see Joftak Jones in there. The Broncos allow the second-fewest yards per play, and they’re going up against an absolutely decimated offense.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans, 8:30 p.m. (no line as of Thursday afternoon)
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports