NFL Picks Week #6 (2020 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #6)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Thursday October 15th, 2020 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
Let’s keep rolllllling!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): GREEN BAY PACKERS PICK'EM AT TAMPA BAY BUCS
Over a four-year period, road favorites coming off a bye week posted an impressive 17-2-2 record against the spread (ATS). That’s impressive! Granted, Tampa is coming off a Thursday night game, but the Packers still benefit from four more days of rest.
Green Bay has been playing at an extremely high level, especially their offense that has been firing on all cylinders despite playing most of the year without one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Davante Adams. He is likely to be back on the field this Sunday. Aaron Rodgers’ offense has scored between 30 and 43 points in all of their four matchups.
Take a look at Green Bay’s margins of victories this year: 9, 21, 7 and 14. In other words, the closest contest was a 7-point game.
Meanwhile, I’m not sold on the Bucs yet. They hold a good 3-2 record, but they seem to lack consistency. Their offense looks great at times, but stalls and turns the ball over too often. And did you see Tom Brady last week who thought there was another down left when in fact the game was over? That’s a rookie mistake.
The Packers were 2.5-point favorites last Tuesday before the line dropped to 0 on Thursday despite Davante Adams and nose tackle Kenny Clark being upgraded from questionable to probable. Thank you very much for the price reduction, I’ll take the Packers!
PICK #2 (3 STARS): DETROIT LIONS -3 AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
You guessed it, I’m backing another road favorite coming off its bye week: the Detroit Lions. The extra time to rest and gameplan for this matchup will be more than welcome for Matt Patricia’s squad.
Before the season began, the Jags were projected to be the worst team in the league, according to win totals set by sportsbooks. They surprised many, including myself, by kicking off the 2020 season with a 27-to-20 win over the Colts before losing a close call at Tennessee.
Since then, things have been going downhill for Jacksonville. They lost by 18, 8 and 16 points in their next three games. Want to hear a stunning fact? The three teams that beat Jacksonville hold a combined 4-10 record this year. That means that if you remove the wins over the Jags, these clubs had just one win versus 10 losses against the rest of the league! And yet, Jacksonville went on to lose by an average of 14 points against those weak teams. That’s horrendous!
The Lions were a team that I thought might surprise NFL fans this season. They have not done very well thus far with a 1-3 record.
Their offense is more than respectable with Matthew Stafford at quarterback who has been super consistent from year to year. They also feature one of the most underrated wide receivers (Kenny Golladay), a great tight end prospect (T.J. Hockenson) and an acceptable trio of running backs.
Their defense had acquired many players on the free agent market, including Danny Shelton, Jamie Collins and Desmond Trufant. And they also took cornerback Jeffrey Okudah with the third overall pick in the draft. This unit has been a disappointment thus far in 2020 by allowing a minimum of 23 points in each meeting.
Considering the offseason was shortened due to the coronavirus, teams with many new faces were at a disadvantage. Maybe that’s why the Lions defense is taking more time to gel. I do believe they could improve substantially until the remainder of the year.
For these reasons, I’m taking a team that has performed below its true value so far this year, the Detroit Lions, facing a team that has shown three super bad outcomes in a row.
PICK #3 (2 STARS): CLEVELAND BROWNS +3 AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Yes, my top pick last week was Pittsburgh, but this time I’m fading them.
After getting clobbered by the Ravens in their opener, the Browns have rebounded nicely with four straight wins. Their average margin of victory has been 9.75 points.
Cleveland’s victories came against teams whose combined record is 7-12-1. While that’s not great, take a look at Pittsburgh’s opponents: the Giants, the Broncos, the Texans and the Eagles. Those teams have compiled an atrocious 3-15-1 record. What makes matters worse is that the Steelers’ largest margin of victory in those four meetings was just 10 points.
I especially like the progress shown by the Browns. They are getting more and more comfortable with their new head coach, Kevin Stefanski.
I was super impressed with the way their offense moved the ball so easily against the stout Colts defense. Prior to this match, Indy had allowed an average of just 14 points per game. The Browns managed to put 32 points on the board. Granted, 9 of them came from the defense but the offense was able to sustain drives all afternoon.
The Steelers defense was supposed to be among the top units in the league. They have performed well under expectations thus far. They allowed 29 points to the depleted Eagles offense last week, after surrendering 21 points both against the Texans and Broncos. In the latter case, Denver needed to replace Drew Lock early in the game and went with Jeff Driskel the rest of the way.
One thing worries me about this pick, though: the Steelers will be at home for the fifth consecutive week! They have not had to travel much and are therefore well-rested.
Still, I like the Browns to win the game outright, or at least keep this divisional matchup very close.
Enjoy football this weekend!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)