Last weekend, the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets all pulled off big upsets. Who’ll rise above expectations in NFL Week 6?
Can the Bills shock a more formidable team for the third time this season? Can the Pittsburgh Steelers begin to wrest the AFC North away from their bitter rival? Will Patrick Mahomes and Co. buck history at Gillette Stadium?
The following favorites are on upset alert in NFL Week 6.
Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans (-8.5)
The biggest issue facing the Texans this year is that they just haven’t been able to keep second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson from getting pummeled. Houston has allowed 18 sacks, and Watson has taken many more hits, in part due to an absurd offensive scheme in which he is put in danger on designed runs.
The Bills can bring heat, having tallied 12 sacks so far this year. They can also create turnovers, and have done so with nine total forced turnovers in five games. If Buffalo’s defense can continue to apply pressure and come up with takeaways, then Josh Allen and Co. will have short fields to score. This has been the recipe for success in the team’s two wins so far this year, and the Texans are susceptible to it.
Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets (-2.5)
Isaiah Crowell is a game-time decision for the Jets as he tries to recover from an ankle injury. So, he’ll either sit this one out or be somewhat hobbled. Bilal Powell is a capable backup, but he’s not nearly as explosive as Crowell, and the Colts have been much better at stuffing the run this year than we’ve seen recently.
On the other side, while it’s true that Indianapolis is extremely banged up on offense, Andrew Luck has been coming up huge for his offense recently. The past two games, against Houston and New England, Luck has passed for 829 yards and seven touchdowns.
All it’s going to take for the Colts to come away with a road win is for the defense to force a turnover or two. That’s very doable against a rookie quarterback.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons (-4)
What we have here is a couple of the worst pass defenses in the league going up against offenses capable of exploding for touchdowns on every single play. Between the two of them, the Buccaneers (13) and Falcons (12) have allowed 25 passing touchdowns this year.
Jameis Winston will get his first start of the 2018 season. He was not sharp a couple weeks ago when he replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick in the team’s disaster of a loss to the Chicago Bears. However, Atlanta’s defense cannot hold a candle to what the Bears were bringing. Winston should have a soft landing in this game.
Matt Ryan and Co. are absolutely capable of lighting the Bucs up all game long. That being said, nobody should be surprised if the road team comes up with an upset win in this game, as the Falcons have come up short every weekend since beating a run down Philadelphia Eagles squad in Week 1.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
Cincinnati currently controls the AFC North and holds a 1.5-game lead over the Steelers heading into Week 6. There are certainly reasons to believe that the Bengals can further their lead in this division, especially considering how bad Pittsburgh has been at allowing offenses to move the ball through the air.
However, the Steelers do one thing better than any other team in the league. They lead the NFL with 19 sacks, and a rattled Andy Dalton is capable of handing opposing defenses the keys to the kingdom.
If James Conner can get going on the ground, then it’ll open up passing lanes for Big Ben to find his insanely talented receivers and tight ends. Furthermore, talented Bengals cornerback William Jackson is questionable with a knee injury. If he plays he’ll have his hands full with Antonio Brown, with a potentially balky knee. Advantage: Pittsburgh.
Baltimore Ravens (-2) vs. Tennessee Titans
Does anyone doubt Tennessee’s ability to grind out a win this year?
With the defense leading the way, the Titans have been in every game they’ve played this year. They’ve won three, and their two losses came by a combined eight points. Tennessee has allowed seven total touchdowns all year long. The Titans rank fifth in passing defense and can bring pressure up front.
On the other side, Joe Flacco has certainly been able to sling the ball around this year, but he’s coming off a brutal start against Cleveland and is once again going to be hard pressed to find success through the air on the road in Week 6.
If Marcus Mariota can make a few big plays, that might be all the Titans need to win this game.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots (-3.5)
History is very much against the Chiefs going into Gillette Stadium and beating the Patriots on Sunday night. The reason for this is that quarterbacks 25 or under have collectively gone 1-41 at Gillette Stadium all-time (you’ll never guess who earned that lone victory).
On top of that, Kansas City’s defense isn’t exactly a brick wall that figures to stop Tom Brady very often. Especially now that he has Julian Edelman back, and since he’s developing a nice rapport with Josh Gordon.
All that being said, don’t be surprised if Patrick Mahomes wakes up from his mini-slump to have another monster game against a New England defense that’s given up 11 passing touchdowns this year. And don’t be surprised if the Chiefs are 6-0 after Week 6.