N.F.L. Week 6 Picks: Chiefs Over Steelers; Packers Over Vikings


In a blowout loss to Tennessee in Week 2, Bortles threw two interceptions, and the defense allowed rushing touchdowns to three different players. In a 3-point loss to the Jets in Week 4, Bortles limited themselves to one pick, but the defense made up for that by letting Bilal Powell look like the second-coming of Barry Sanders. The veteran backup ran for 163 yards with an average of 7.8 yards a carry. In his other four games, he ran for a combined 77 yards, averaging 2.6 yards a carry.

So where does that Jacksonville in a matchup against the much-improved rams (3-2)? It is very likely to depend on how stubbornly Jared Goff's future is bright, and the rams 'defense is capable of exploiting Bortles' myriad weaknesses, but if Los Angeles wants a win on the road, then it needs to be the Jacksonville's secondary out of the equation and the ball run quickly and often with Todd Gurley If it does not, Jaguars fans may want to learn a new term: winning streak. Pick: Jaguars

Steelers at Chiefs 4:25 pm, CBS

Line: Chiefs by 4.5

Alex Smith probably never saw Colin Kaepernick as an immediate threat to his job in San Francisco back in 2012. But Smith, the quarterback of the chiefs (5-0), may have learned a thing or two from being shoved aside in favor of a shiny new object His rebirth as the gunslinging leader of the best team in the N.F.L. The first preceded by Kansas City's drafting of a shiny new object named Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes is clearly the quarterback of the team's future, but to watch Smith the season is a man totally reborn on the field. He throws downfield with confidence, he smiles more, he uses his legs to create opportunities as a runner and as a passer, and he may finally have shed the "game manager" label. He has also thrown 11 touchdowns, no interceptions, and has had a passer rating in excess of 100 in each of his five starts.

The combination of Smith, Kareem Hunt and Tire Hill have made Kansas City a juggernaut. There is just as much offensive talent on the Steelers (3-2) but that team has been out of sync all season, and a pass-first strategy against a top-ranked pass defense last week – a strategy that resulted in five interceptions –

Things might have been wildly in this game, and Travis Kelce is probably going out with a concussion does not help, but with Smith deftly avoiding mistakes, and Hunt is easily capable of exploiting the Steelers' weak front-seven, there is little reason to believe they can not get to 6-0. Pick: Chiefs

Packers at Vikings 1 pm, Fox

Line: Packers by 3

The pieces are all there for the Vikings (3-2) to be a top team. Their defensive line could dominate games, their secondary is top-notch and Sam Bradford showed in Week 1 that he could stretch the field with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Unfortunately, Bradford can not seem to stay on the field, Diggs is working his way through an injury and Dalvin Cook is out for the season. Minnesota, while still a team that can cause a lot of problems for protesters, is probably not the one that can stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (4-1), especially if Aaron Jones's emergence at the running back over the last two weeks isn ' t just a blip Pick: Packers

Eagles at Panthers 8:25 p.m. (Thursday), CBS and NFL Network

Line: Panthers by 3.5

The Eagles (4-1) are a fairly well-balanced team, but their main flaw is pass defense, and that is bad news when they are going on the road to face Cam Newton and the Panthers (4-1). Newton has thrown more than 300 yards in consecutive weeks and has not slowed down at all, Greg Olsen, the injured tight end who served as Carolina's safety valve on so long. Philadelphia may give the Panthers' defense more trouble than they have any point in this season, but Barring a miraculous effort from a secondary that has the Eagles ranked 29th in the N.F.L. In passing yards allowed a game, this is Carolina's game to lose. Pick: Panthers

Second-tier Games




Golden Tate of the Lions was ruled down within the 1-yard line on this catch in Week 3, accounting for one of his team's two losses. The Lions, with slightly more luck, could easily be 5-0.
            Paul Sancya / Associated Press


Lions at Saints 1 pm, Fox

Line: Saints by 5

The Lions (3 -2) would very likely be 5-0 if Golden Tate had made it a few more inches in Week 3 and the defense made one more stop in Week 5. A loss is a loss, but it is predicting Detroit's performances that they have either won or won on victory every week. The Saints (2-2) have seen improved in their last two games, and trading away Adrian Peterson is probably a good move for team morale, but even at home they are just as scary as they once did, and even if they did beat the lions, they most likely can not manage a 5-point spread. Pick:


Dolphins at Falcons [1 9459006]1 PM, CBS

Line: Falcons by 11.5

Early bye weeks may seem like a disadvantage, but for the Falcons (3-1) the timing could not have been better. They are expected to get Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu back from injuries, and with a little luck can also see the return of Vic Beasley Jr., Ryan Schraeder and Ricardo Allen. Getting back your top two wide receivers, your most dominant pass-rushher, your starting right tackle and your starting free security is bound to brighten the spirits of a team that is still reeling from a Week 4 loss to Buffalo. Miami's defense will make Atlanta work for that big point spread, but Jones's return should do the trick. Pick: Falcons

Patriots at Jets 1 pm, CBS

Line: Patriots by 9.5

The Jets (3-2) are, without equivocation, far better than anyone expected. They are more capable on the offense and more stingy on defense. They are not a postseason contender, but they have been playing at or near mediocre all season and that is also A soft schedule has helped, but their 23-20 victory over the Jaguars is particularly impressive when you consider how well Jacksonville has played against teams of higher regards. The Patriots (3-2), …

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