The NFL’s Week 6 schedule has 3 prime-time games, and they may have saved the best for last on Monday night:
- On Thursday night, the Kansas City Chiefs will look to win their 16th-straight game against the Denver Broncos.
- On Sunday night, the Buffalo Bills can drop the New York Giants to 0-4 in prime time this season.
- On Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys need to bounce back against a competitive opponent in the Los Angeles Chargers.
We made our top pick for each prime-time game in Week 6, and you can find the best odds at OddsTrader’s top sportsbooks.
- Broncos-Chiefs Both Score 20 Points (+120)
- Bills to Win Both Halves (-115)
- Chargers Over 23.5 Points (-115)
Will Broncos Keep Up with Chiefs in Shootout?
Denver’s 15-game losing streak against Kansas City has been agonizing for fans as they have not seen their team beat the Chiefs since 2015. But some of Russell Wilson’s best work last year came in the losses to the Chiefs, and this defense has usually played Patrick Mahomes better than most.
The Chiefs are a 10.5-point home favorite with a total of 49 points. We are looking at why both teams should reach 20 points.
Thursday, October 12, 2023 – 08:15 PM EDT at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Patrick Mahomes’ 100th Start
Picking the Chiefs to score 20 points in a game in the Patrick Mahomes era has been one of the safest bets around. The Chiefs have scored at least 20 points in 91 of Mahomes’ first 99 starts.
He will make his 100th start on Thursday night against Denver, the team he made his first start against in 2017. Mahomes is 11-0 against the Broncos, and while the Chiefs scored at least 22 points in every game, Denver has not always been an easy opponent for him. The Broncos tend to make Mahomes earn his wins and numbers.
Mahomes’ passer rating against Denver is 96.6, which is below his career rating of 105.1. But with the way Denver has been playing defense this year, Mahomes should not struggle to put up numbers in this one. The Broncos have allowed their last 4 opponents to score at least 28 points, including 70 by the Dolphins.
Denver’s Must-Win Game
Games like this are where Sean Payton is supposed to make his mark with Russell Wilson in Denver. Both are struggling to make this work, though the offense has definitely been better than the defense to this point. That sounds familiar for Payton, who had Drew Brees and often a poor defense in New Orleans.
But Wilson has fared well in matchups against Mahomes and the Chiefs in his career. He outdueled Mahomes in a 2018 win (38-31) with Seattle. Last year, the Broncos were down 27-0 to the Chiefs before rallying to lose 34-28. Wilson had 3 touchdown passes and led his team in rushing (57 yards).
In the rematch at Arrowhead, Denver led going into the 4th quarter before the Chiefs made another comeback. Wilson failed on a late game-winning drive attempt in a 27-24 loss.
Denver was the worst-scoring offense in the NFL last year, but of its 4 games with 24-plus points scored, half of them were against the Chiefs.
This season with Payton running things, the Broncos have scored 20 points in 4 straight games, and they also had 16 points on just 6 drives in Week 1 against the Raiders. The offense is definitely doing better with Payton’s coaching, but the defense has fallen off in a bad way.
It looks like Travis Kelce will be good to go for the Chiefs after returning to finish Sunday’s game in Minnesota. The Broncos are clearly the team to worry about here, but we have seen the Lions, Jets, and Vikings all find a way to get to 20 points against the Chiefs, who are playing their best defense yet in the Mahomes era to this point.
But if Zach Wilson, Kirk Cousins, and Jared Goff can put up 20 points on this team, we are going to trust that Wilson and Payton find a way to do the same here. The problem is they may give up 40, but that’s the risk you take in hiring a coach who specializes on the other side of the ball.
NFL Pick: Both Teams Score 20 Points (+120) at Bet365
Buffalo to Dominate Giants
Everyone’s least favorite football team is back in prime time as the Giants (1-4) look to take on the Bills (3-2) on Sunday Night Football. The Giants had another rough outing in Miami while the Bills had a hiccup in London against the Jaguars.
The Bills are a 14-point home favorite with a total of 45 points. This is a big spread, but we are looking at the Bills’ ability to thoroughly put the Giants away and win both halves.
Sunday, October 15, 2023 – 08:20 PM EDT at Highmark Stadium
The Giants Are Awful
Let’s not sugarcoat it – the Giants are an awful football team in 2023. Things were already suspicious when they turned a 6-1 start into a 4-7-1 finish last year, but this season has been worse than expected.
The Giants have been outscored by 91 points this year, the worst scoring differential in the league. The offense and defense both rank near the bottom in most key categories, so it is not just a Daniel Jones issue at quarterback, and now he is dealing with a neck injury after leaving the 31-16 loss in Miami.
The fact is that in 5 games (10 halves), the Giants have played poorly 90% of the time:
- Week 1 vs. Cowboys: Outscored 26-0 at halftime and 14-0 in 2nd half
- Week 2 at Cardinals: Outscored 20-0 at halftime before coming back 31-8 in 2nd half
- Week 3 at 49ers: Outscored 17-6 at halftime and 13-6 in 2nd half
- Week 4 vs. Seahawks: Outscored 14-3 at halftime and 10-0 in 2nd half
- Week 5 at Dolphins: Outscored 17-10 at halftime and 14-6 in 2nd half
The Giants have won 1-of-10 halves this season, and that was a game against the Cardinals, who were projected to have the worst record in the league this year. But the Cardinals have overall played better football than the Giants so far.
The Bills (3-2) have had a strange season. They had the Aaron Rodgers injury incident on opening night, and despite mostly outplaying the Jets, Josh Allen lost his mind a few times on bad turnovers, and the Jets won in overtime on a punt return touchdown.
But the Bills shook that off and dominated the Raiders by 28 points, the Commanders by 34 points, and the red-hot Dolphins by 28 points. They held a team that scored 70 points to just 20 the following week in the best win for any AFC team yet this year.
The Bills were looking like the real deal again after those 3 straight wins by 28 points. But they had a letdown in London against the Jaguars, who stayed all week after beating the Falcons there in Week 4. The Bills did not arrive until Friday, and maybe that was a mistake.
The playing surface also did them no favors as multiple defensive starters were lost to injury, including Matt Milano and Von Miller, The Bills were holding up until Travis Etienne ran wild in the 4th quarter of a 25-20 loss that was unusual for this team as the turnovers were not the story like they were in the Week 1 loss to the Jets.
In fact, Allen’s only interception was a 3rd-and-15 arm punt that you can live with. The only other turnover was a fumble on a lateral play with seconds left and the Bills over 80 yards away from the end zone. The Bills punted 6 times before the 4th quarter, something that has only happened 1 other time for this team since 2020.
The Bills are back at home with the biggest point spread in the league so far this year. They may or may not cover that, but do not buy into the “Brian Daboll knows this team well” stuff. Daboll has won 5 of his last 17 games, and most of the success last year was just good fortune in very close games. The talent disparity between these teams, even with Buffalo’s injuries, is still significant.
Buffalo does not play a lot of close games, and the Giants are not suited to score on anyone at this point. Even the 16 points in Miami were largely aided by taking advantage of interceptions thrown by Tua Tagovailoa, including a 102-yard return that served as New York’s first touchdown in the 1st half of a game this year.
The Bills have won 7-of-10 halves this year, only struggling in the Jacksonville game last week where travel and in-game injuries were likely factors. This is still an elite team despite the 3-2 record. The Giants are still well in contention for the worst team in football. This should be a wire-to-wire win for the Bills, and I would trust them to win both halves.
NFL Pick: Bills to Win Both Halves (-115) at Bet365
Chargers Need a Big Offensive Night
The Chargers (2-2) are stuck in a sea of AFC mediocrity, but they have a chance to get above .500 with a big home win over Dallas after having a bye week to prepare for it. The Cowboys were embarrassed in San Francisco last week, and they will be much better this time.
In fact, the Cowboys are a 2-point road favorite. We are looking at the Chargers’ team total (over/under 23.5 points).
Monday, October 16, 2023 – 08:15 PM EDT at SoFi Stadium
Kellen Moore’s Impact
One of the top stories this year was seeing how new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore would fare with the Chargers after leaving Dallas. So far, the results are positive but a little mixed too.
In just 4 games, we have already seen one of the most prolific rushing games of the Justin Herbert era (233 yards vs. Miami), and Herbert had his first 400-yard passing game against the Vikings in a win. The Chargers only have 2 giveaways, and they rank in the top 7 in both yards and points scored.
Unlike last year when Herbert was checking down to Austin Ekeler because his top wideouts were hurt, there is versatility to this offense. They need it as the injuries have been a problem again. Ekeler has been out since Week 2, and No. 2 receiver Mike Williams was lost with a torn ACL. First-round rookie wideout Quentin Johnston has been very quiet with 44 yards on 6 catches, but Keenan Allen remains a reliable target for Herbert.
Ekeler (ankle) could be back for this one, which would be a nice boost as he is so good as a receiver and in the red zone. But the Chargers have enough without him to get the job done. They also have a coordinator in Moore who should have good knowledge of these Dallas defenders, who did not look elite in Sunday’s 42-10 loss in San Francisco.
Was the Dallas Defense a Paper Tiger?
The Cowboys led the NFL in defensive takeaways in both 2021 and 2022, a remarkable feat few expected. The defense was thought to be even better this year with Micah Parsons leading the odds for Defensive Player of the Year.
But as it turns out, playing the Giants, Jets (without Aaron Rodgers), Cardinals (without Kyler Murray), and Patriots in 2023 does not prove much of anything. Those are lousy offenses for the most part, and the closest thing to a good offense there (Arizona) shredded Dallas for 28 points.
We should have seen it coming when the Cowboys went into San Francisco against a Kyle Shanahan juggernaut offense that has dropped 30 on everyone. But Dallas played even worse than expected, losing 42-10 and allowing Brock Purdy to look better than ever at quarterback.
It is worth noting that the Cowboys lost corner Trevon Diggs to a torn ACL in a practice prior to Week 3’s loss in Arizona. That was a big blow as he does a great job of getting interceptions. But Parsons was very quiet in the San Francisco loss, a game where they needed him to be a terror.
You never know when the Chargers will lay an egg against a good team, but offense is usually not the big problem for this team. It is more about defense. Herbert plays very well most weeks, and he comes into this game ranked No. 7 in QBR, ahead of Dak Prescott.
Picking any team to score a fair number of points in a Monday Night Football game feels dangerous right now. But these are supposed to be 2 of the best offenses in the league, so we should have a better chance for scoring than we got from teams like the Jets, Giants, Steelers, Panthers, and Packers on Monday night.
Plus, this is Staley’s Chargers. They are all but contractually obligated to play a 28-24 game in the 4th quarter every week for maximum entertainment value. Herbert has led the Chargers to over 23.5 points in 33-of-54 starts (61.1%)
Let’s count on him to do it again in a good night for Moore’s offense against this Dallas defense that is not cracked up to be what some thought it could be.
NFL Pick: Chargers Over 23.5 Points (-115) at Bet365
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