We’re back with the sixth edition of MTS’ weekly picks against the spread for the 2016 season. “Ask and thou shalt receive” was the theme of last week as Perry answered our cries for more with a 9-5 record, including 3-1 on his “Pledges of the Week.”
Perry now sits at 30-31 ATS for the season, and has his eyes set on getting back above .500. His “Pledges of the Week” now move to 9-7. But, it was only one week. Will Perry ease off and bask in the glory of his Week 5 record, or has the success only made him hungrier for more? Here’s how Mr. Port plans on regaining our trust.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 6 Picks ATS
Thursday, October 13
Denver Broncos (-3) at San Diego Chargers
Since running for 282 yards in their first two games, the Broncos have totaled 225 in their last three. Their offensive line has been struggling mightily without Donald Stephenson and blocking tight end Virgil Green. But both are on the probable side of questionable for Week 6. Denver will also get Trevor Siemian back under center.
The Chargers found another way to lose in Week 5, this time a botched snap on a game-tying field goal attempt. Philip Rivers is leading the charge for the second-ranked scoring offense, and the key has been their success through the air, ranking fourth in passing.
After seeing what the Falcons running backs did to Denver’s defense through the air, San Diego will be missing Danny Woodhead more than ever. The Broncos will shut down Rivers’ wide receivers, and the returning offensive players will get Denver’s own ground game back on track.
Pick: Broncos (-3)*
Sunday, October 16
Philadelphia Eagles (-2) at Washington
Carson Wentz finally showed signs of being a rookie, throwing his first interception last week against Detroit with the game on the line. However, he still posted a 102.8 passer rating. Once again, the Eagles defense held their opponent under 290 total yards, but they did give up a season-high 24 points.
Washington is coming off an ugly win over the Baltimore Ravens, but no one in the locker room will be complaining about the W. If they want to notch their fourth straight victory of the season, their defense will have to give them a similar effort to last week, and Jay Gruden will have to give into running the ball.
The Eagles bounce back and put a beating on their divisional foe.
Pick: Eagles (-2)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5) at Miami Dolphins
The Steelers have now won their last two games by a combined 47 points and Ben Roethlisberger continues his MVP pursuit. Their defense continues to shut-down the opponent’s rushing attack, while working the “bend but don’t break” through the air.
Miami is a hot, steamy mess. Their offensive line is terrible, and their defense leaks yards on the ground. It’s truly hard to watch them play, and it’s even harder to put any faith in them when picking games.
Pittsburgh may not have shown much of a pass-rush to this point, but they’ll break out against the Dolphins offensive line, which has allowed 17 sacks through five games. I wish Byron Maxwell, or whoever draws the short straw, the best of luck in covering these Steelers receivers.
Pick: Steelers (-7.5)*
Jacksonville Jaguars at Chicago Bears (-2.5)
Just because the Jags held on to beat the Colts in London, it doesn’t mean Gus Bradley’s job is safe. With Houston showing some major blemishes over the last three weeks, the AFC South is still up for grabs, and even at 1-3, the Jags are very much alive. They’ll have to hope their 136 rushing yards in Week 4 wasn’t just a result of playing the Colts, though.
I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but the Chicago Bears are getting a shot of life from Brian Hoyer. Since taking over as the starter, the Bears are averaging 440 total yards of offense in their last three games, and have recorded their three highest point totals on the season as well. (That said, they only had to beat 14.)
But the Bears still struggle to score (30th), and their defense is becoming more unrecognizable by the week. Jacksonville will have used the week off to focus on improving the ground game (30th) and will pound away on a Bears defense that ranks 24th in the category. This will also be the best pass defense that Hoyer has had to deal with (seventh in sacks), and his bid to hold onto the starting job ends here.
Pick: Jaguars (+2.5)
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans (-7)
In Week 5, we saw another quarterback take snaps for the Cleveland Browns, and he too wound up getting injured. Fortunately for Charlie Whitehurst, it sounds like Cody Kessler will be back to take Week 6’s inevitable beating. The Browns also suffered their worst rushing performance of the season last week (27 yards), but the fifth-ranked rushing attack will look to get back on track against a Titans team that is allowing 4.2 yards per carry.
Tennessee is the latest team to prove just how bad Miami is. On the back of their second-ranked ground game, which averages a stunning five yards per carry, the Titans are now just one game back of the division lead. Marcus Mariota finally contributed with his legs the way we had expected him to (60 rush yards); he’ll have a golden opportunity to prove the value of his arm this week against the 25th-ranked pass defense.
Although it’s a lot of points to lay with a team which isn’t that good, Dick LeBeau will scheme to stop the run and the exotic smashmouth will continue to run wild.
Pick: Titans (-7)
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots (-9)
The Bengals are coming off a terrible performance against the Cowboys, where Dak Prescott actually took his foot off the gas. Their offense continues to be nothing more than A.J. Green, and it doesn’t sound like Tyler Eifert will return for Week 6. The most shocking part of it all has been the offensive line giving up 17 sacks, which is just as many as the Miami Dolphins.
Tom Brady is back. Do I need to say anything more? Probably not, but I will. This is the first time Brady will be playing in front of his home crowd since being suspended. Brady looked very comfortable with newcomers Martellus Bennett (three touchdowns) and Chris Hogan (114 receiving yards) in Week 5, but didn’t forget about his old friend Rob Gronkowski (109 receiving yards), either.
Brady’s return has the entire team playing inspired, and his presence will be felt in his return home.
Pick: Patriots (-9)*
San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills (-8)
Chip Kelly’s offense continues to be held back by their 31st-ranked passing attack. But, change is finally coming at the quarterback position, after Blaine Gabbert had another terrible showing against the Cardinals in Week 5. Colin Kaepernick, who seems a perfect fit for Kelly’s offense, has been named the starter for Week 6.
After averaging a pitiful 75.5 yards on the ground under Greg Roman in their first two games of the season, the Bills are now averaging 178.3 on the ground with Anthony Lynn calling the plays. Don’t be fooled by their 32nd-ranked passing attack, it’s just a result of the team choosing to run the ball.
The 49ers’ defense, which ranks 31st against the run, is going to get embarrassed. But Kaepernick will give the offense a boost and eight points is a lot to lay. This just seems like the perfect let down game we have become accustomed to with the Bills.
Pick: 49ers (+8)
Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants (-3)
After another lousy offensive performance, the Ravens fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and have promoted QB coach Marty Mornhinweg. The last time the Ravens fired their offensive coordinator mid-season (2012), they won the Super Bowl. Mornhinweg will be tasked with fixing Joe Flacco and the league’s 22nd passing attack.
Quite surprisingly, the Giants offense continues to falter, while their defense holds them in games. Eli Manning and the offense are averaging fewer than 18 points per game (27th), and have zero threat of a ground game. It won’t get any easier for them this week, as the Ravens rank third in total defense and seventh in scoring.
Baltimore’s offense has all the weapons necessary to be at least mediocre, and Mornhinweg will start using them properly, while their defense gives Eli more fits.
Pick: Ravens (+3)
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions (-3)
These are both two-faced teams; you just don’t know which version will show up each week. The Rams are a little easier to predict, as they generally play the rest of their division very well. The Lions seemingly shoot themselves in the foot at random.
Something will have to give here, as the Rams are averaging 3.1 yards per carry (31st) and the Lions are giving up 4.9 yards per carry (31st). With Case Keenum under center, I expect Detroit to sell out to stop the run, just as every other team has when playing the Rams this season.
Matthew Stafford will make just enough plays to make up for his horrible defense.
Pick: Lions (-3)
Carolina Panthers (-3) at New Orleans Saints
While I expected a let down season from the Panthers this year, I didn’t think they’d be this bad. But, Cam Newton should play in this one, and Jonathan Stewart may make his return as well.
I don’t care how bad the Panther defense has looked this season, they are still miles ahead of the Saints’ defense, which ranks 31st in total defense and 32nd in scoring. Cam Newton will do as he pleases, and his defense will come up with at least one stop against Drew Brees.
Pick: Panthers (-3)*
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (-1)
The Chiefs just enjoyed a much-needed bye week after getting stomped by the Steelers in Week 4. Moving forward, their defense will have to be a lot better early in games as they are surrendering an average of nine points in the first quarter (31st). Falling behind early is forcing the Chiefs to abandon the run, which has been their lone strength this season; they’re averaging 4.3 yards per carry (ninth), but sit 30th in attempts.
The Raiders continue to win in dramatic fashion and now find themselves tied for the AFC West lead. Led by Derek Carr, their offense ranks fifth in scoring and fourth in total yards, but they have had the luxury of playing three of their five games against terrible defenses.
Kansas City makes use of the bye week and fixes some of their defensive woes, allowing them to take advantage of the 27th-ranked rush defense.
Pick: Chiefs (+1)
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers (-4)
Just when we thought Ezekiel Elliott was falling behind Carson Wentz in the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year, the fourth-overall pick has now rushed for 412 yards in the last three games and the Cowboys are 3-0 in that span. Dallas’ defense hasn’t been great, but they’ve benefited from their offense eating up the clock, and Morris Claiborne is finally living up to his top-ten pick potential on the back end.
Speaking of not great, what has happened to Aaron Rodgers and the Packer offense? Rodgers has posted a very average 87.7 passer rating this season, and the offense ranks 27th through the air. Fortunately, they rank ninth in total defense and 12th in scoring defense. Finally, their top-ranked run defense will actually be put to the test, though. Sorry, but the Jaguars, Vikings, Lions, and Giants all rank in the bottom ten in terms of rushing.
The Cowboys offensive line flexes its muscle and Elliott runs wild, again. Dak continues to play mistake-free and keeps his team within a field goal.
Pick: Cowboys (+4)
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5)
The Falcons just went into Denver and made a statement to the rest of the league. However, Matt Ryan won’t be able to expose the Seahawk defense the way he did Denver’s. Atlanta was able to rush for 122 yards on the ground in Denver, and then exposed their linebackers in coverage with Tevin Coleman.
Seattle, on the other hand, ranks seventh against the run and are only allowing 3.3 yards per carry (third). On top of that, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are much better in coverage than Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis.
The week off should have allowed Russell Wilson to get healthy, and the Seahawks offense will not see much resistance from the Falcons’ 26th-ranked defense. Don’t get excited over Vic Beasley’s 3.5 sacks; he’ll go back to being invisible.
Pick: Seahawks (-6.5)
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-3)
I’ll keep this short: the Colts do not possess a defense that even slightly resembles what the Texans saw last week. This will be Brock Osweiler’s coming out party, and Andrew Luck will continue to take a beating behind that horrible offensive line, which has allowed him to be sacked a league-high 20 times.
Pick: Texans (-3)
Monday, October 17
New York Jets at Arizona Cardinals (-7.5)
If there is a week for Carson Palmer (expected to return) and his big-play offense to break out, it’s this one. The Jets have allowed eight passing plays of more than 40 yards this season and rank 31st against the pass.
If the Cardinals can exploit the Jets secondary early, it will take away New York’s sole chance of keeping this close: Matt Forte. Arizona ranks 23rd against the rush and are allowing 4.1 yards per carry (19th). However, the Jets have proven that they’ll abandon the run pretty quickly, which will be bad news for Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hopes of being interception-free: the Cardinals have recorded seven interceptions this season (second).
I just pray this game doesn’t get so out of hand that we have to see Geno Smith.
Pick: Cardinals (-7.5)
Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (Flickr: Colin Kaepernick) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.