Jon Gruden, the coach of the 1-4 Oakland Raiders, is quickly getting a refresher in how hard it is to win in the NFL.
NESN.com’s trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian, meanwhile, needed no such reminder when it comes to picking NFL winners — but they still got one anyway.
They had a rough week in their against-the-spread picks last week, and now it’s onto Week 6.
First, here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 5-10 (35-40-2 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 6-9 (36-39-2)
Andre Khatchaturian: 5-10 (37-38-2)
Here are their Week 6 picks with lines courtesy of OddsShark.com.
THURSDAY, OCT. 11
(-3) Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Eagles. This is going to a terrible game between two teams that have plenty of injuries; the Thursday night product is awesome! But the Giants can’t rush the passer, and they’re not especially good at protecting the passer, either.
Ricky: Giants. Home underdog in a divisional game on Thursday night: I don’t feel great about picking the Giants, but I prefer that formula over the alternative, especially given the Eagles’ inconsistency to date.
Andre: Eagles. Philly ranks first in time of possession, and the Giants are 28th in rushing yards per game. Carson Wentz is playing well (five touchdowns, one interception) despite being sacked 12 times. The Giants are last in sacks, meaning Wentz will have time to throw and have a field day.
SUNDAY, OCT. 14
Arizona Cardinals at (-10.5) Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. If the Vikings don’t show up ready for this game after the Buffalo debacle, they should be forced to forfeit the rest of the season.
Ricky: Vikings. Minnesota was a 16.5-point home favorite against Buffalo in Week 3 and lost 27-6. My guess is that won’t happen again and the Vikings will roll thanks to their defense, which improved against the Eagles last week and shouldn’t have a problem stopping the Cardinals’ anemic offense.
Andre: Vikings. Kirk Cousins is quietly putting together a very strong season. The Vikings’ rushing attack has been non-existent this year, forcing Cousins to throw a lot (third in pass attempts). Despite that, he has 11 touchdowns and two picks. In the last two weeks on the road at the Rams and Eagles, he had four touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 76 percent of his passes.
Buffalo Bills at (-10) Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. I keep going back to Packers-Bills in Week 4 where Green Bay just beat the hell out of Josh Allen with seven sacks and forcing a couple of turnovers on the way to a 22-0 win. I think Houston can do some similar things on defense.
Ricky: Bills. Expect a very low score, in which case I’ll take the points. Buffalo’s offense stinks, but its defense is good enough to fluster Houston’s porous offensive line. Pray for Deshaun Watson (again).
Andre: Texans. Buffalo has the league’s worst yards per play differential. Their quarterbacks combined have two touchdown passes and seven interceptions with a completion percentage below 50 this year. Houston’s opponents have an average drive start of their own 25-yard line (fourth-worst), so if Buffalo has a long field to work with, they’re not going to be successful because of their garbage offense.
Carolina Panthers at (-1) Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Redskins. It’s been real hard to get a read on the Redskins this season, but I think there’s a bounce-back here against a Panthers team that’s somehow 3-1 despite having the third-worst yards per play differential in the NFL; only Arizona and Buffalo have been worse.
Ricky: Panthers. The Redskins are coming off a short week after getting blasted by the Saints. The Panthers’ defense, which stumbled against the Giants, shouldn’t have a problem bouncing back against a Redskins offense that lacks firepower.
Andre: Panthers. Through four games, Alex Smith is on pace to have 540 pass attempts. This would be a career high. You don’t want to rely on a guy like Smith to win games with his arm. Cam Newton is on pace to be sacked the fewest times in his career. He’s getting time to throw and as a result he’s completing more than 65 percent of his passes (seven percent higher than his career average.)
(-3) Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. I’m still not buying the Bears as road favorites, especially when Mitchell Trubisky’s passer rating is 50 points lower away from Soldier Field.
Ricky: Bears. It goes against my better judgment to pick the Bears as road favorites, but the Dolphins’ offensive line is a mess. Not ideal with Khalil Mack and Co. coming to town.
Andre: Bears. Chicago ranks second in time of possession; the Dolphins are second-to-last in the same category. The Bears have allowed the fewest rushing yards per game, so expect Ryan Tannehill to throw a ton against the Bears, who have the league’s best sack rate.
Indianapolis Colts at (-2.5) New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. The Colts are still ravaged by injuries, and after putting all they had into trying to beat the Patriots last week, maybe there’s a stinker coming in the swamps of Jersey.
Ricky: Jets. The Jets are a different team at home and might have gained an identity last week in pounding the football to open up the passing game for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. The Colts’ injury report also scares the daylights out of me.
Andre: Colts. According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Luck has been pressured on just 31.5 percent of dropbacks, compared to 44.3 percent in 2016. He’s getting protection and succeeding but has had the misfortune of facing both of last year’s Super Bowl representatives already on the road. Darnold succeeds when he gets production from Isaiah Crowell, who is questionable to play.
(-1) Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. According to Football Outsiders, Cleveland had the fifth-best average starting field position this season, presumably in part because of all the takeaways. But only three teams have protected the ball better than Los Angeles, so if the Chargers don’t turn it over and force the Browns into some long fields, they should have some success.
Ricky: Chargers. The Chargers’ pass rush isn’t the same without Joey Bosa, but it’s still pretty damn good and will cause problems for the Browns, who rank 29th in opponent sack percentage. Also, keep in mind the Chargers rank third in the NFL with 17.4 first-half points per game, while the Browns rank 31st with just 6.4. It’ll be difficult for Cleveland — led by a rookie quarterback — to overcome an early deficit, especially with Los Angeles ranked fourth in average time of possession.
Andre: Chargers. Cleveland has the most takeaways in football but somehow still has run the most defensive plays in the NFL this year. That might explain why PFF grades the Browns 32nd in tackling. On average, Chargers opponents start drives inside their own 25 (third-best). If Philip Rivers continues to play clean football and Baker Mayfield has to work with long fields, the Chargers will run away with this one.
Pittsburgh Steelers at (-2.5) Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. Vontaze Burfict paid immediate dividends in a limited role upon returning, and he should see more time this week. Cincinnati somewhat surprisingly has PFF’s fifth-best passing attack, while the Steelers are allowing a 99.3 passer rating to opponents this season.
Ricky: Steelers. This marks the first time since 2015 that Cincinnati has been favored against Pittsburgh, which makes sense given that the Bengals are 3-11 SU and 4-10 ATS versus the Steelers since 2011 (Andy Dalton’s rookie season). The Steelers’ playmakers get most of the credit, but expect Pittsburgh’s offensive line — paving the way for running back James Conner — to determine this game’s outcome.
Andre: Steelers. According to PFF, when Dalton is under pressure he completes 48.1 percent of his passes compared to 73 percent when he’s kept clean. Something tells me he’ll face some pressure against a tough Steelers pass rush.
(-3) Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders, 1 p.m. (in London)
Mike: Seahawks. The Raiders’ pass rush issues will look even worse when they can’t even get by Seattle’s notoriously porous offensive line across the pond.
Ricky: Seahawks. Favorites have gone 15-5-1 SU and 13-8 ATS since the London games began in 2011. Good enough for me. The Raiders’ pass rush simply isn’t good enough to take advantage of the Seahawks’ biggest weakness.
Andre: Seahawks. After getting sacked 12 times in his first two games, Russell Wilson has only been sacked six times in the last three. The Raiders have no pass rush and this is only good news for Wilson, who will be able to exploit a poorly coached Oakland team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (-3.5) Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. This is the arena game of the week with total currently set at 57.5 points. The Falcons haven’t been a great tackling team for a few years now (remember that Super Bowl thing?), and I expect Tampa to get the ball to its playmakers in space and let them go nuts.
Ricky: Bucs. It’s hard to trust Tampa Bay on the road, especially since Jameis Winston represents a wild card in his first game back under center. But Atlanta’s defense is absolutely decimated by injuries. The combination of Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson should feast.
Andre: Falcons. Opposing quarterbacks have completed a league-high 77 percent of their passes against the Bucs’ defense. Tampa is also 26th in sack rate and dead-last in interceptions. Atlanta might not punt in this game.
(-7) Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. The Rams continue to impress, but they could face some adversity this weekend. Back-to-back road games (coming off a divisional slugfest in Seattle) along with the weather in Denver (mid-20s, chance of snow) should be enough to neutralize L.A. and keep it close.
Ricky: Broncos. It sounds like Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks will suit up for the Rams, making it entirely possible their offense will keep rolling. But there’s something about picking against the Broncos when they’re sizable home underdogs. Los Angeles wins, but Denver keeps it within reason.
Andre: Rams. Denver’s rush defense got eaten up by Isaiah Crowell. They’ve allowed 5.2 yards per carry (third-highest.) Todd Gurley is salivating.
(-3) Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Had to double-check the line here. It’s not that the Titans are great, it’s just kind of puzzling for the Ravens to be laying points on the road coming off an overtime divisional road loss — to the Browns.
Ricky: Titans. Tennessee is much better at home (5-0 ATS in its last five home games) and typically plays well after a loss (12-3 ATS in games after a loss since 2016). Baltimore, meanwhile, was way too conservative on offense in last week’s loss to Cleveland and has had some road struggles in recent years.
Andre: Ravens. Tennessee is 30th in yards per play and they go up against a Ravens team that allows the fewest yards per play. The Ravens defense has allowed completions on just 54 percent of passes — a league-low. Not good news for Marcus Mariota.
(-3) Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. The great Warren Sharp has spent some time explaining how certain types of personnel packages give the Jaguars’ defenses problems, and it’s the personnel packages Dallas likes to use. The Cowboys also have some pass-rushing talent that will have opportunities against a banged-up Jaguars offensive line.
Ricky: Jaguars. The Jags will force Dak Prescott to beat them. And he won’t. The Cowboys’ offense leaves much to be desired when Ezekiel Elliott isn’t running wild, and the Jaguars’ defense will be hungry after losing an important AFC game to the Chiefs last week.
Andre: Cowboys. Since the start of last year, Blake Bortles has eight touchdowns and 13 picks and has completed below 55 percent of his passes on the road.
Kansas City Chiefs at (-3.5) New England Patriots, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. The points are too good to pass up for a Chiefs team that isn’t afraid of the Patriots (winning two of its last three vs. New England) and has lit them up with averages of 453 yards and 34 points in those games. The Chiefs might not win outright, but I’m a sucker for that extra half-point.
Ricky: Chiefs. The Patriots’ defense still looks a little slow, which will be problematic against the Chiefs’ creative offense. Kansas City will rely on its top playmakers — Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt — to do damage in space and light up the scoreboard. New England has a knack for flustering young quarterbacks, but Patrick Mahomes is a different breed.
Andre: Patriots. I think the Patriots win and cover by running the ball effectively and keeping the ball away from Mahomes’ hands. The Chiefs allow a ton of yards on the ground at nearly six yards per carry. The Patriots will take advantage of this, eat clock and use it to bury the Chiefs.
MONDAY, OCT. 15
San Francisco 49ers at (-9.5) Green Bay Packers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Packers. Green Bay has had plenty of injuries this season, but it pales in comparison to what the 49ers have faced. If C.J. Beathard and the Niners give Aaron Rodgers and Co. problems at Lambeau, the Packers’ issues are bigger than anyone could have imagined.
Ricky: Packers. I can’t find any reason to pick the Niners. Sorry, everyone.
Andre: Packers. Green Bay has a solid defense this year as it’s allowing just 5.2 yards per play. This bodes well for the Packers against Beathard. The Niners are also dead last in turnover differential and Mr. Rodgers is excellent at not turning the ball over.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images
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