Basketball and hockey have crowned their champions, and baseball is mere weeks from doing the same, leaving football front and center. Much as in baseball, we’ve had positive tests, postponements and all the uncertainty that comes with playing through a pandemic. On the bright side, we not only have games, but the rescheduling due to COVID-19 has given us odd start times and dates. What’s better than Tuesday night football?!
The last (and only) Tuesday game I can remember was in the 2010 season. A collapsed roof in Minneapolis and a blizzard in Philadelphia forced the Vikings to rejigger their schedule to place them in a memorable Tuesday night tilt with the Eagles, who were favored by over two touchdowns. The Vikings (+ 700 on the moneyline), behind quarterback Joe Webb, stunned the Eagles and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NFL regular-season history. For all the quirkiness this season is providing, we are lucky to have football, and the more days we can watch it, the better -- regardless of which day of the week it is.
While Weeks 2-4 were chalk-laden, with very few significant underdogs winning outright, Week 5 provided some major upsets as well as a few close calls. Las Vegas residents who backed their hometown team on the moneyline got a + 500 payday when the Raiders shocked the Chiefs. The Dolphins not only defeated the 49ers, but the 8.5-point underdogs won in San Francisco by nearly four touchdowns. The Vikings and Chargers were seven-point dogs, yet both covered. However, each team surrendered a big lead and fell short of pulling off the road upset, losing heartbreakers in games they should have won.
Let’s hope this week brings more of the same excitement. On to the picks for Week 6 …
Detroit Lions (-3) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Coming into the season, the overwhelming consensus was that the Jaguars were a historically bad team that would struggle to win more than a couple of games. They upset the Colts in Week 1, lost in the final minutes to the Titans and seemed to have successfully thrown everyone off their scent. We were right all along: The Jaguars are a terrible football team. Since Week 2, they’ve been beaten handily by the Dolphins, Texans and Bengals. In comes a much more talented Lions team that has played a tough schedule and led by double digits in all of its losses. They are off a bye and should aid the Jaguars’ chances of landing the first pick in the draft. The Lions will get back on track.
Cleveland Browns (+ 3.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers
Going back to the well here with a Browns team that has covered its last three games. While the Steelers are 4-0, it has not been as impressive as it looks on paper. They’ve feasted on a soft schedule and struggled to squeeze out victories against the Texans, Giants and the Broncos with a backup quarterback. They won (and covered, somehow) Sunday vs. the Eagles, thanks in large part to the Eagles attempting a 57-yard field goal in the final minutes of a two-point game. This is a field-goal game, so get the extra half-point while you can. I’m very confident that 3.5 will be down to 3 or lower by the end of the week. The Browns will run the ball effectively and have a great shot at scoring the upset here to improve to 5-1. Take the points, and don’t wait to do so.
Carolina Panthers (-2.5) over Chicago Bears
Another game sitting near a key number, and I suggest grabbing the 2.5 with the Panthers before it turns to 3. The Bears got away with a false start down 13-0 late in the first half Thursday night vs. the Bucs that would have given them a third-and-17 and made it likely they would go into the locker room down 13. Instead, they scored, got a turnover and scored again to lead 14-13. It would be an understatement to say they have been very fortunate in attaining their 4-1 record. On the other hand, this Panthers team, which will cruise over its season win total of 5.5, comes in hot. The Panthers have won three in a row, have a criminally underrated duo of wide receivers and start a quarterback who seems to win wherever he goes. All of this is being done without their best player, Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers’ stock is trending up, and they will beat a smoke-and-mirrors Bears team.