Nostrathomas Predicts: NFL Week 6 Including the Chargers at the Ravens

Welcome to Week 6 of the 2021 NFL season where we’ve already had one game go sideways for those of us who enjoy the challenge of picking games against the point spread.

Heading into Thursday night’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles the question wasn’t whether Tampa Bay would beat the seven-point spread but by how much. As the game headed into the fourth quarter, those holding tickets on the Buccaneers were counting their money and making plans for Sunday’s slate.

Nostrathomas Predicts: The NFL Week 6

Then, the unthinkable happened. With just over five minutes left in the game, Jalen Hurts worked his way into the end zone to make the score 28-20. Still, no reason to panic. At worst, the Eagles make the extra point and if Tampa Bay failed to drive down and extend their lead with a field goal then the game ends as a push and everyone gets some extra money to take into Sunday.

But that’s not how it happened. Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni made the decision to go for a completely worthless two points, and the try was successful to the tune of thousands tearing their tickets on the Buccaneers into atomic sized shreds. Tampa Bay killed the rest of the game clock and the Eagles covered.

Despite that frustration, Nostrathomas didn’t have much to complain about in Week 5. I was 10-6 straight-up and 8-7-1 against the spread. Even better, my Best Bets went 3-0 so if you took the advice of the Seer of Sayers, you ended up with a few shekels lining your pockets.

Through five weeks of the 2021 season Nostrathomas is 50-30 straight-up for a .625 winning percentage. Against the spread I’m 36-42-1 and the 3-0 Best Bets performance last week put me at 10-7.

Time for Nostrathomas to fill the crystal beer mugs, study the suds and nail the Week 6 schedule.

Game of the Week

Los Angeles Chargers +2.5 vs Baltimore Ravens (1PM ET; M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD)

These two teams seem to be able to put up points by the bucketful on command. Last week, Baltimore was nearing the end of the third quarter before starting to come back from a 22-3 deficit against the Colts. They tied the game at 25 with 35 seconds left and won in overtime 31-25. In Los Angeles, the Chargers won a 47-42 shootout against the Cleveland Browns.

You can beat Los Angeles if you can run the football. The Chargers defense is last in the NFL in rushing yards per attempt allowed. That gives quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Latavius Murray a chance to pick up yardage in chunks.

Otherwise, these two teams stack up fairly even statistically on offense and defense against each other. Nostrathomas recommends keeping your money in your pocket for this game and enjoy a contest between two talented teams who are trying to get a leg up on the other for AFC postseason seeding.

Since I have to pick one, the Chargers seem to be the more complete team so take them to win and cover.

Los Angeles Chargers 33 Baltimore Ravens 31

Best Bets

Miami Dolphins -3 vs Jacksonville Jaguars (9:30AM ET; Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, UK)

I know what you’re saying. Nostrathomas, you’re doing more than just peering through those crystal beer mugs. Actually, I’m more serious than an Italian beef with peppers (hint folks, never write when you’re hungry).

The NFL keeps sending games to London and acting like they’re presenting a Full English Breakfast to our allies across the pond when it’s really just beans on toast.

Jacksonville is a mess on both sides of the ball on the field and off the field. The Jaguars are 29th in points scored this season and 28th in points allowed. They are 31st with 18.7 yards per point on offense and 27th with 13.43 yards per point on defense. Multiply those yard numbers times seven points and you’ll see those stats representing a miserable team.

The only thing they do well is run the ball. James Robinson is going to have to step up his game for Jacksonville to have a chance. The Jaguars will also have to do a better job of hanging onto the ball. They are last in the NFL in turnover differential at -10.

Even including the troubles they’ve had this season, the Dolphins are a better team with a more accomplished coach in Brian Flores. A coach that instills a sense of discipline is a must for games across the pond.

Tua Tagovailoa will be back under center for Miami this week which should mean a jump in production from his favorite targets, wide receiver Jaylon Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicke.

This isn’t going to be a pretty game but who says the NFL has too always be pretty. In this early morning special, take Miami and lay the points.

Miami Dolphins 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 15

Los Angeles Rams -8.5 vs New York Giants (1PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)

The New York Giants can’t catch a break. Two weeks ago, they rumbled to 485 total yards on the way to a 27-21 overtime victory over the Saints. Then, last week against the Dallas Cowboys, they lost running back Saquon Barkley to an ankle injury and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee). Quarterback Daniel Jones suffered a concussion in that game but is expected to start against Los Angeles.

Even with everyone healthy though, the Giants are 30th in the league in yards per point scored. Jones is sixth in the league in net passing yards per attempt but will only have Kadarius Toney, slowed by an ankle injury, and Sterling Shepard as reliable targets.

For Los Angeles, Matthew Stafford is first in the NFL in net passing yards per attempt and has everybody available to him on offense.

The Rams are vulnerable on defense against the ground game but without Barkley, New York doesn’t have a back who’s strong enough to exploit that weakness. That’s why Nostrathomas says to take the Rams to cover the two-score spread in this game.

Also, Sean McVay’s troops don’t get rattled when they have to travel to the east coast to play a game. Going back to 2017, Los Angeles is 10-3 in the Eastern Time zone with an average +8.4 point differential.

Los Angeles Rams 34 New York Giants 17

Dallas Cowboys -3.5 vs New England Patriots (4:25 PM ET; Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA)

The public has weighed in heavily on the Dallas Cowboys for this game, which usually makes me double-think what side of a game I’ll come in on. Also, Dallas is on a 5-0 run against the spread so far in 2021. That mark is going to come crashing down to Earth at some point this season but I don’t see it being this week.

New England is strong on defense, not surprising for a Bill Belichick team, but Zak Prescott has been marauding his way through the NFL this season. The Patriots may slow him a bit, but not enough to make up for their offense’s inability to put points on the scoreboard.

The Patriots are 31st in the league with eight touchdowns scored this year, only the Jets are worse with seven. However, they are first with 15 field goal attempts, making 14. Even worse, New England is second in field goal attempts between 20-29 yards. They’re getting the ball in the red zone and even inside the 10-yard line but not finishing.

The surprise here isn’t that Dallas is favored but by only 3.5. That means a lot of sharps money has come in on the Patriots to keep the spread from rising more. Nostrathomas usually likes to follow the sharps but not in this game. Dallas’ regression to the mean comes some other week.

Dallas Cowboys 29 New England Patriots 18

Best of the Rest

Green Bay Packers -6 vs Chicago Bears (1PM ET; Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)

It’s rivalry time in the NFC North as the Green Bay Packers travel to Chicago to face the Bears.

Chicago has tied their fortunes, for better or worse, to rookie quarterback Justin Fields. For the last weeks, it has been for the better. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has tailored the passing game to fit Fields’ skill set while re-emphasizing the running game. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Sean Desai has turned his group into a formidable unit.

Green Bay hasn’t been as good a team as everyone has been giving them credit for, even if you take away their opener against the Saints. Still, they’re the mountain the Bears must climb to get to the top of the NFC North.

While the Bears will be able to score on the Packers defense and Aaron Rodgers will take his share of beatings from Chicago’s relentless pass rush, the Bears secondary is too thin to keep Green Bay’s passing game under wraps for four quarters.

As much as this one pains Nostrathomas, until the Bears show they can compete against their rivals to the north, take Green Bay to win and cover.

Green Bay Packers 27 Chicago Bears 20

Minnesota Vikings -2.5 vs Carolina Panthers (1PM ET; Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)

The new car smell has been fading from Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold the past two weeks. He threw two interceptions against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 and tossed three into the hands of a struggling Philadelphia secondary last week.

This week, Darnold has to face a pass rush anchored by Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, who’ve combined for 10 sacks so far this season.

The Vikings are also getting a healthy Dalvin Cook back into the starting lineup for this game while Carolina will still have their All-Pro running back, Christian McCaffrey sidelined with an injured hamstring.

Minnesota will be heading back home after this game with their record evened up at 3-3.

Minnesota Vikings 25 Carolina Panthers 16

Kansas City Chiefs-6.5 vs Washington Football Team (1PM ET; FedEx Stadium, Washington D.C.)

Kansas City had to open the season against a very good Cleveland Browns team and have faced Baltimore, the Chargers and Buffalo, all with 4-1 records.

The correction for the 2-3 Chiefs should come this week against a Washington team that can’t get out of their own way on defense.

If Kansas City gets control of their turnover problem, they win this game and cover.

Kansas City Chiefs 30 Washington Football Team 21

Cincinnati Bengals -3.5 vs Detroit Lions (1PM ET; Ford Field, Detroit, MI)

You have to feel for head coach Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions. Their victory over the Baltimore Ravens was stolen from them by referees who were apparently using a Mickey Mouse watch to keep time and they lost last week to the Minnesota Vikings on a last second field goal.

Wanting the win so bad that your coach breaks down in tears in his postgame press conference doesn’t mean you’re ready to win against a team that is 3-2 and fighting for a playoff spot in the tough AFC North.

The Bengals have beat the Vikings and lost to the Bears and Packers by three points in each game. As long as they play to win instead of “not to lose” like they did last week, they’ll get their second win against the NFC North.

Cincinnati Bengals 26 Detroit Lions 21

Arizona Cardinals +3 vs Cleveland Browns (4:05PM ET; FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)

People do realize that the Arizona Cardinals are a damn good football team, right? They are 2-0 against teams that are currently over .500. They are fifth in the NFL in yards per point scored and fourth in yards per point allowed on defense.

Quarterback Kyler Murray is currently fourth in the NFL with a 113.0 passer rating and Arizona’s defense is sixth in passer rating allowed.

Cleveland has the best running game in the NFL and Arizona is terrible on defense against the run. That sounds like a key stat in this game until you check the injury report. Browns running back Nick Chubb is out this week and Kareem Hunt may play but will be slowed by wrist and knee injuries.

Cleveland is also hurting on defense. Myles Garrett will be playing with knee and ankle injuries and Jadeveon Clowney is fighting elbow and knee problems.

At full strength, the Browns are capable of beating Arizona but it’s tough to stay with an elite team when so many team leaders are out or playing hurt. Arizona improves to 5-0.

Arizona Cardinals 33 Cleveland Browns 30

Las Vegas Raiders vs Denver Broncos -4 (4:25PM ET; Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO)

The Broncos got off to a great start, especially on defense, until the last two weeks. Week 5 was especially rough for Denver to take, letting a fading Ben Roethlisberger throw for 253 yards and two touchdowns while only sacking him once.

As for the Raiders, with John Gruden gone we’ll see what new head coach Rich Bisaccia can do for his slumping team. Las Vegas is in their usual October slump, 2-14 in the month going back to 2017.

Vic Fangio’s defense is capable of shutting down any team in the NFL. This week, Von Miller and company get to tee-off against a team that is rapidly fading from relevance in the AFC West.

Denver Broncos 24 Las Vegas Raiders 18

Seattle Seahawks vs Pittsburgh Steelers -5 (Sunday Night Football, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA)

The Seattle Seahawks have been a tough team to figure out all season and having Geno Smith as their starting quarterback in place of the injured Russell Wilson isn’t going to help.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been stumbling through a season where Ben Roethlisberger appears to be starting his decline at quarterback. Still Roethlisberger managed to throw for 253 yards and two touchdowns against a tough, Denver Broncos defense.

Pittsburgh’s still tough defense along with a competent Roethlisberger should be enough to get Pittsburgh past the Seahawks Geno Smith led offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers 25 Seattle Seahawks 17

Buffalo Bills -5.5 vs Tennessee Titans (Monday Night Football, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN)

Don’t think that the Buffalo Bills haven’t been waiting for this game since the moment when Derrick Henry stiff-armed his way into the hearts of NFL fans on a Tuesday night during the bizarre 2020 season.

Buffalo has been so dominant that this game marks the first time that the Titans have been home dogs this season.

Tennessee will finally be fully healthy on offense with wide receiver Julio Jones rejoining the starting lineup but it’s on defense where the Titans have to worry.

It’ll be easier to list the things that Buffalo’s offense isn’t rated in the top 10 in. Quarterback Josh Allen is twelfth in the league in passer rating. That is all.

Like in earlier games, heavy money coming in from professional betters on Tennessee is keeping the spread within a touchdown. Don’t follow the sharps on this game though. The only chance for the Titans is if Buffalo looks past them to their bye week.

The Bills are too dominant at this point of the season to not back them when the spread is this small.

Buffalo Bills 32 Tennessee Titans 20

Game of the Weak

Houston Texans +10 vs Indianapolis Colts -10 (1PM ET; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)

Houston Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills outplayed fellow rookie, New England’s Mac Jones, last week, throwing for 312 yards and three touchdowns for a 141.7 passer rating. Still, the Texans let a 22-9 lead slip away and turn into a 25-22 loss.

The Indianapolis Colts also let a victory slip away last week, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 31-25 in overtime.

The fact that a 1-4 team is laying 10 points against another 1-4 team is absurd. The Indianapolis Colts are the better team but not 10 points better.

Indianapolis Colts 25 Houston Texans 21

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