Week 6 NFL picks: Can the Raiders pull off an upset?

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Week 6 NFL picks: Can the Raiders pull off an upset?

A Green Bay Packers fan looks on during their game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on December 28, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens fans look on as the Baltimore Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo Credit: Larry French, Getty Images

An Oakland Raiders fan looks on during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum on October 19, 2014 in Oakland, California.

Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

A fan displays his love for the Green Bay Packers by dressing up as Lambeau Field during the NFL game against the Detroit Lions on December 28, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis, Getty Images

A fan looks on prior to the start of the game between the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field on December 7, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo Credit: Leon Halip, Getty Images

A fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars watches action during a game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field on December 18, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville won the game 21-13.

Photo Credit: Stacy Revere, Getty Images

A colorful Denver Broncos fan dressed in an orange Darth Vader costume stands and cheers during a game between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 28, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

An Oakland Raiders fan wears silver paint and a spiked costume during a game between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 28, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

Two Miami Dolphins fans in costume look on during first quarter action against the Minnesota Vikings on December 21, 2014 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Vikings 37-35.

Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach, Getty Images

An Oakland Raiders fan dressed as Darth Vader supports his team during the game against the Buffalo Bills at O.co Coliseum on December 21, 2014 in Oakland, California.

Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

A Kansas City Chiefs fan cheers during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on December 14, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire, Getty Images

A Dallas Cowboys fan takes a photo with his cell phone before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 4, 2014 in Chicago, Illinios. The Cowboys defeated the Bears 41-28.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images

A Pittsburgh Steelers fan looks on in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

A Philadelphia Eagles fan looks on prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on December 14, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff, Getty Images

Fans of the New Orleans Saints on the field before a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 24, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Ravens defeated the Saints 34-27.

Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt, Getty Images

An Oakland Raiders fan enjoys the game against the San Francisco 49ers at O.co Coliseum on December 7, 2014 in Oakland, California.

Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

A Buffalo Bills fans watches the game against the New York Jets at Ford Field on November 24, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Bills defeated the Jets 38-3.

Photo Credit: Leon Halip, Getty Images

Arizona Cardinal fan cheers during the NFL game against the Philadelphia Eagles at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.

Photo Credit: Norm Hall, Getty Images

A Jacksonville Jaguars fans watches an NFL football game against the New York Giants at EverBank Field on November 30, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars defeated the Giants 25-24.

Photo Credit: Alex Menendez, Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts fans look on during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 23, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Jaguars 23-3.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images

A New Orleans Saints fan looks on during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Photo Credit: Joe Sargent, Getty Images

A San Francisco 49ers fan cheers for his team against the Washington Redskins at Levi's Stadium on November 23, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.

Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

A Minnesota Vikings fan smiles during the game against the Green Bay Packers on November 23, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Photo Credit: Adam Bettcher, Getty Images

Miami Dolphins fans Stuart Thompson and his son Conner, 10, pose outside Mile High Stadium prior to an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Denver.

Photo Credit: Joe Mahoney, AP Photo

Oakland Raiders fans during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at O.co Coliseum on November 20, 2014 in Oakland, California.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

An Oakland Raiders fan is seen in the stands before the start of the game between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on November 16, 2014 in San Diego, California.

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Ceci Hodges, who was born and raised in Newburyport, Mass. and now lives in Indianapolis, was decked out in her Super Fan outfit in the indoor walkway outside the stadium. The New England Patriots took on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Photo Credit: Barry Chin, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills fans wait for the start of action at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014.

Photo Credit: Michael Laughlin, Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images

A Denver Broncos fan looks on from the stands during an NFL game against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum on November 9, 2014 in Oakland, California.

Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

An Oakland Raiders fan looks on from the stands duringn an NFL game against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum on November 9, 2014 in Oakland, California.

Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

A fan of the Cleveland Browns watches as the Browns warm up prior to the start of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 6, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Photo Credit: John Grieshop, Getty Images

An Arizona Cardinals fan looks on during the NFL game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 24-20.

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Houston Texans fans cheer against the Philadelphia Eagles in a NFL game on November 2, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

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A Philadelphia Eagles fan watches the Houston Texans in a NFL game on November 2, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

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Atlanta Falcons fans look on during the second half of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images

Detroit Lions fan looks on during the game against the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field on November 09, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Lions win 20-16.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans pose for a photo before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers fan is seen during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field on October 26, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Colts 51-34.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images

Two fans of the Cincinnati Bengals support the team as they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images

Fans before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins on November 2, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Photo Credit: Adam Bettcher, Getty Images

Green Bay Packers fans are seen during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field on October 19, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Panthers 38-17.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images

Fans in the stands cheer on the New England Patriots as they hosted the Chicago Bears in a regular season NFL game at Gillette Stadium.

Photo Credit: Jim Davis, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Oakland Raiders fan James Godley prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.

Photo Credit: Jason Miller, Getty Images

A Miami Dolphins fan before the game against the Miami Dolphins at EverBank Field on October 26, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Photo Credit: Rob Foldy, Getty Images

A Saints fan is seen outside prior to the start of the Green Bay Packers v New Orleans Saints game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 26, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photo Credit: Stacy Revere, Getty Images

A Buccaneers fan yells during an NFL football game at Raymond James Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo Credit: Alex Menendez, Getty Images

Detroit Lions fans look on during the first quarter of the game against the New Orleans Saints at Ford Field on October 19, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo Credit: Leon Halip, Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys fan Adrian Rossell of Arlington, Texas, cheers as he and friends enjoy a tailgate party before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Oct., 19, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

Photo Credit: LM Otero, AP Photo

Denver Broncos fans' Chuck DeVorss, front left, and Kerry Green tailgate prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Denver.

Photo Credit: David Zalubowski, AP Photo

A Detroit Lions fan cheers during the closing minutes of the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. The Lions defeated the Saints 24-23.

Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP Photo

A Seattle Seahawks fan watches the team warm up before the start of their game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 6, 2014 in Landover, Maryland.

Photo Credit: Rob Carr, Getty Images

A Cleveland Browns cheers during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

A Tampa Bay fan screams at the referee after a call against the Buccaneers during an NFL football game at Raymond James Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo Credit: Alex Menendez, Getty Images

Green Bay Packers fan cheers in the second half of the game against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field on October 19, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Panthers 38-17.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images

A fan dressed in pink honoring Breast Cancer Awareness cheers during the first half of an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

Photo Credit: Brandon Wade, AP Photo

The Chargers fan known as 'Boltman' holds a sign during the game between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium on October 19, 2014 in San Diego, California.

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

A fan cheers before the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Minnesota Vikings at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 19, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.

Photo Credit: Brett Carlsen, Getty Images

Fans of the National Football League Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants 'tailgate' before the start of the game outside AT&T Stadium October 19, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. Football fans arrive early to set up tents, televisions and tables so to feast and play before heading into the stadium. Those fans without tickets will remain outside the stadium and watch on large televisions they brought along.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

A fan in the stands. The New England Patriots visited the Buffalo Bills for a regular season NFL game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Photo Credit: Jim Davis, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks super fans Jeff and Dede Schumaier, known as Mr. and Mrs. Seahawk, sit in the stands after the Dallas Cowboys beat the Seahawks 30-23, in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Seattle.

Photo Credit: Scott Eklund, AP Photo

Miami Dolphins fans show their support before the Dolphins met the Green Bay Packers in their NFL game at Sun Life Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach, Getty Images

Fans in the stands. The New England Patriots visited the Buffalo Bills for a regular season NFL game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Photo Credit: Jim Davis, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A Miami Dolphins fan cheers during a game against the Green Bay Packers during a game at Sun Life Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach, Getty Images

The New England Patriots take on the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY.

Photo Credit: Barry Chin, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Miami Dolphins fans in costume cheer in the stands as the Dolphins met the Green Bay Packers during a game at Sun Life Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images

Detroit Lions fan waits for the start of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field on October 05, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo Credit: Joe Sargent, Getty Images

Raider fans enjoy the prematch atmosphere during the NFL match between the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on September 28, 2014 in London, England.

Photo Credit: Richard Heathcote, Getty Images

Houston Texans fans pose for a picture before the Houston Texans play against the Buffalo Bills in a NFL game on September 28, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Photo Credit: Scott Halleran, Getty Images

An Arizona Cardinals fans cheers prior to an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz.

Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri, AP Photo

A Steelers fan pregame at the Panthers vs Steelers game at Bank of America Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Photo Credit: Grant Halverson, Getty Images

Fan 'Captain Cleveland' of the Cleveland Browns poses for a picture during a game against the Baltimore Ravens on September 21, 2014 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore won 23-21.

Photo Credit: Nick Cammett, Diamond Images/Getty Images

A Seattle Seahawks fan looks on during the game against the Denver Broncos at CenturyLink Field on September 21, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross, Getty Images

A fan of the Oakland Raiders gestures during a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Jim Rogash, Getty Images

An Indianapolis Colts fan looks on before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 15, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images

A Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans cheers from the stands of the game against the St. Louis Rams at Raymond James Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo Credit: Cliff McBride, Getty Images

A pair of colorful Denver Broncos fans cheer during a game between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 14, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans watch the game against the St. Louis Rams at Raymond James Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo Credit: Cliff McBride, Getty Images

Two fans cheer for their home team the Green Bay Packers prior to the NFL game against the New York Jets on September 14, 2014 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Jets 31-24.

Photo Credit: Kena Krutsinger, Getty Images

A Detroit Lions fan reacts after a second quarter touch down while playing the New York Giants at Ford Field on September 8, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

Broncos fans cheer on the team during the second quarter of action. The Denver Broncos played the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo. on September 7, 2014.

Photo Credit: John Leyba, The Denver Post via Getty Images

An Oakland Raiders fan watches the action during the second quarter of a game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland, Getty Images

Minnesota Vikings fan shows his colors. The New England Patriots take on the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.

Photo Credit: Barry Chin, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

New Orleans Saints fans in the stands in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on September 7, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham, Getty Images

Carolina Panthers Fans pose during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Carolina defeated Tampa Bay 20-14.

Photo Credit: Don Juan Moore, Getty Images

A Dallas Cowboys fan cheers during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez, AP Photo

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By MARIO MERGOLA
XN Sports

For once, there were no trends. No numbers. No patterns.

Week 5 featured the most sporadic system of outcomes this season. Nearly every trend was at or near 50 percent accuracy – favorites, road underdogs, division favorites, underdogs at 1PM, 4PM, and at night – and there were no runaway successes. Looking back, this is largely aligned with Week 5 results of the past three seasons. This relatively calm week – both historically and in 2014 – is what led to the expectation that one group (in this case, underdogs as a collective whole) was going to pull away from the pack.

It didn't happen.

Not only did favorites edge out underdogs – favorites were 8-7 against the spread – Week 5 was largely influenced by a factor dreaded by those of us who pick games: randomness.

This forbidden word leads to the most indicting stat of the week: an incredible seven of the 15 games were within four points of their spreads.

Of these seven games, few of which were as close in the final score as in the spread, six were within one field goal – made or missed – of redefining the week. If Jacksonville doesn't throw an interception for a touchdown immediately after recovering a Pittsburgh fumble or if Seattle gets a first down in the final minute of play and elects to kneel instead of kick a field goal, the landscape of the Week 5 outcome is vastly different. Instead, almost nothing was remarkable or noteworthy. The week was, in effect, boring.

Logic, therefore, would dictate that Week 6 should carry the torch dropped by its predecessor. With eight division games – the most since Week 3 (6 games) – Week 6 has the natural ability to realign some percentages, whether by returning back to the norm or skewing them further for a later regression.

Furthermore, this week contains no double digit spreads – the first time all season – and, while this is typically an argument for underdogs to sneak in under the line, there is an equal observation that games should generally be closer than usual. As noted many times, 'weaker teams' benefit from the familiarity of playing a division foe.

While certain go-to trends have failed to deliver as expected – home teams getting a touchdown are 0-2 against the spread despite historic success – the numbers suggest that these misses are natural, yet randomized as to when they occur.

The law of averages is powerful. This week's games provide the perfect opportunity to offset early-season deviations and begin the road back towards the mean.

Below are predictions for each game against the spread. Spreads have been taken from various websites and are subject to change. The spread in parenthesis denotes the selected team and an asterisk denotes one of the week's most confident picks.

*Confidence Picks: 3-3 (Season: 15-12)
All Picks Against Spread: 7-8 (Season: 38-37-1)

New England Patriots (-3) at Buffalo Bills

What a difference one week makes. After their crushing defeat in Kansas City, the Patriots were treated as if they had suddenly lost every shred of talent and would never again win another football game. Apparently, Cincinnati must have bought into this nonsense as well.

While the Patriots suffered their share of criticism, few teams received less respect than the Buffalo Bills after their 2-0 start. As documented many times in this column, the Bills are notorious for hot starts that sizzle by season's end. Included in these hot starts are typically impressive wins, such as Sunday's victory in Detroit. New England, however, is known to win games in October.

The Patriots win big on Sunday in Buffalo, beating the Bills by two touchdowns, covering the spread, and making all rumblings of a sudden collapse a distant memory.

NFL Live Prediction: Patriots-Bills

Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals (-7)

The Bengals certainly deserve the benefit of the doubt after Sunday night's loss in Foxborough, and the line appears to remain confident in Cincinnati's ability to bounce back, and do so in style. Carolina, fresh off completing a 14-point comeback against the Bears have trailed in the second half of all but one game this season. The Panthers cannot rely on the same 'comeback mentality' in Cincinnati.

The Bengals not only have their sights set on the AFC North crown, but are legitimate contenders for a first round bye. Carolina is no pushover, but if Cincinnati wants to establish itself as an AFC powerhouse, they must dispose of the Panthers.

10-0 in their last ten home games and 3-1 following their last four losses, Cincinnati has all the makings of a big win on Sunday. The Bengals win by ten and cover the spread.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+2)* at Cleveland Browns

In this 'trading places' rematch of Week 1's AFC North battle, the Browns will now host the Steelers, and enter the game as the favorite. Cleveland not only mounted a furious comeback against Pittsburgh in their opening meeting – ultimately, it fell short – but the Browns have had all four games played decided by a field goal or less. Oddly enough, for Cleveland to cover the small spread, they would need to win by at least three points, which would be the high watermark for their 2014 season, so far.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, and while we prepared for these two teams meeting on Opening Day, we included a caveat for this eventual rematch, citing that Cleveland would be the better pick later in the season. The reasoning? The edge goes to the underdog on the road as the season develops. Few would have expected that, in this matchup, it would be the Steelers.

Inconsistent as Pittsburgh has been – alternating wins and losses, losing by twenty points then winning by eighteen – Cleveland has only curried favor thanks to late-game heroics. They were beaten for three quarters last Sunday against Tennessee, and shellacked in their first two against Pittsburgh weeks ago.

The Steelers make it a complete game on Sunday, handing the Browns a touchdown loss and beating the spread.

NFL Live Prediction: Steelers-Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars (+6)* at Tennessee Titans

Thank you, Jacksonville.

Finally, the team that has done this column the most harm (1-4) yet continues to receive the benefit of the doubt will be the other side of the pick this week. The numbers that have forced these hands into picking Tennessee on a weekly basis have finally turned on the Titans of disappointment. It is almost cruel justice that the team that reaps these benefits is the lowly Jaguars. Almost.

0-5 against the spread, outscored by 102 points – that's triple digits, three, if you're counting – in five games played, and on the road, the Jaguars are actually in the more favorable position of the two teams. Despite winning less than one-third of their games (.325 winning percentage) over their past five seasons, the Jaguars have split the season series with Titans all five times. More recently, the Titans are responsible for two of the Jaguars' last six wins – spanning the past two seasons – and only once in their past six meetings have the Titans won by more than six points.

The Jaguars are not only the confidence pick to cover the spread, but should earn their first win of the season against the even more frustrating Titans. Jaguars win by four, beat the spread, and no one watches. Nor cares.

Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins (+3.5)*

Few teams have looked as dominant as the Packers over their last two games: 2-0, both wins in their division, and outscoring opponents by a combined 53 points. Green Bay currently looks like an unstoppable force hitting their stride at the right time, but the back-to-back massive wins could lead to a letdown in Miami on Sunday.

Despite an overall record of 22-14-1 since the start of 2012, the Packers are a lackluster 9-10 away from Lambeau Field. The Dolphins, average in their own right with a 2-2 overall record, are 10-8 at home in the same timeframe, and are 1-1 following a bye under head coach Joe Philbin. Their loss was only by two points – a field goal in the final minute of play.

The Dolphins have yet to define the direction of their season, with wins coming against the Patriots and Raiders but losses in Buffalo and against Kansas City. The Packers made their necessary moves in the past two games, and it will be nearly impossible to match the level of urgency they faced during their three-game NFC North blitz. There is too much at stake for the Dolphins on Sunday.

Miami, yet to play a one-possession game all season, catches the Packers asleep at the wheel and pulls off the four-point upset on the legs of running back Lamar Miller, beating the spread, as well.

NFL Live Prediction: Packers-Dolphins

Detroit Lions (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings

Will the real Minnesota Vikings please stand up? Or, if that's too much to ask, will the real Minnesota Vikings at least indicate which quarterback is starting, which running back should be trusted, which receiver won't disappoint, and in which quarter will your team quit? Can't answer those? Neither can we.

In what seems to be an ongoing trend throughout the NFC North, no team wants to grab the reins of the division or fall off the map. Either is preferable for those of us picking games, but the balancing act is maddening. Enter the Detroit Lions.

Losing at home to a backup quarterback last Sunday, the Lions, once again, proved why they should not be trusted without first questioning the matchup. Thankfully, the small spread allows for some leeway, and with Detroit entrenched in a division race, they cannot afford to lose back-to-back games, the second against a fellow NFC North opponent.

Detroit wins by six and covers the spread.

NFL Live Prediction: Lions-Vikings

Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For the first time in weeks, Baltimore finally met its match at the hands of the streaking Indianapolis Colts. Tampa Bay put up an inspiring fight against the Saints, leading late and taking them to overtime before ultimately losing by an opening drive touchdown. But Tampa Bay's performance against the Saints is not entirely indicative of future success. Namely, the Buccaneers experienced a boost in their game from playing their division foes in New Orleans. No such comfort level exists in this matchup.

Baltimore, fresh off a loss to what is arguably the league's hottest team, travels to Tampa Bay in search for a much needed win. The Ravens get their wish against a below average Buccaneers team still trying to find their footing. Baltimore wins by a touchdown and covers.

NFL Live Prediction: Ravens-Buccaneers

Denver Broncos at New York Jets (+8.5)*

Nothing is impossible in the National Football League, but the Jets beating the Broncos on Sunday is as close to it as it gets. Nothing short of an alien attack forcing a Broncos forfeit could net the Jets a win. In fact, following their embarrassing defeat in San Diego last Sunday, we blasted the Jets equally as hard, stating that the only chance for New York to compete against the Broncos would be for Derek Jeter to un-retire and play both quarterback and cornerback on Sunday. Even that wouldn't be enough.

There is no conceivable way for the Jets to win, and the Broncos have the clear edge in every facet of the game, but the touchdown underdog spread at home always warrants consideration. In fact, the 0-2 record for home underdogs getting at least a touchdown indicates that winners are lurking around the corner.

Even though all conventional wisdom suggests otherwise, the Jets find a way to prevent Denver's quick strike offense from pulling away early and keeps the game low scoring. Probably via a late touchdown, the Jets pull to within seven, only to lose by that margin, but beat the spread.

NFL Live Prediction: Broncos-Jets

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (+7)*

The Jets aren't the only team this week facing the favorable setup of getting a touchdown worth of points at home. In addition to the trend, the Raiders have the added benefit of hosting a division rival coming off two big wins. San Diego appears to be facing a 'trap game' while Oakland seeks its first win of the season.

It happens on Sunday. Much like the Jaguars' success against Tennessee documented earlier in this column, the Raiders have beaten the Chargers four of their last eight meetings. Oakland has had two weeks to prepare for this matchup, and are 1-1 coming off a bye in their last two seasons. Furthermore, San Diego lost both games against teams coming off their bye week last season.

The confidence pick is for the home division underdog Raiders to beat the large spread, but they should also bring San Diego back down to earth, winning the game by six.

Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons (-3)

Sunday afternoon's matchup between the Bears and Falcons features two teams coming off disappointing road losses against opponents that entered Week 5 at 2-2. Now one game under .500 each, the loser of this meeting finds itself staring at a 2-4 record after six games.

No matter what their expectations are for the remainder of the season, Atlanta continues to play to the one mantra frequently surrounding the franchise: win at home, lose on the road. All five games have followed this pattern. The sixth game will be played in Atlanta.

With almost identical features – tough, but balanced divisions, high-powered offensive talent, a duo of top-flight wide receivers, a defense ranked in the bottom third for points allowed – the Bears and Falcons are nearly mirror images of each other. All told, the edge belongs to the team less likely to break its trend. The hometown Falcons win by a touchdown and cover the spread.

Washington Redskins (+3.5)* at Arizona Cardinals

Arizona drew the short straw last week by facing a Broncos team coming off a loss followed by a bye week. As expected by their typical response to such conditions, Denver handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season. Washington was in no more favorable of a position, also facing a team returning from a week off, hosting the Seahawks on Monday Night Football.

While both the Cardinals and Redskins suffered double digit losses in Week 5 – Arizona's defeat was mathematically worse, but they were on the road – the talent level between these two teams appear to be vastly different. But, what if they're not?

After the first twenty five minutes of play, the Redskins were able to counter the punches thrown by Seattle, and even found a way to somewhat contain Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch for the better part of the second half. Even the ridiculous 30-yard completion on third down on Seattle's final drive of the game was played correctly by the Redskins and was more a function of Russell Wilson's incredible field awareness than poor play by the Washington defense.

Moreover, why is it impossible to believe that something clicked for the Redskins in the second half of their game against the Seahawks?

In a vacuum, the Cardinals are the better team, but the Redskins' late surge coupled with the continued question marks surrounding the health of, now two, quarterbacks in Arizona tip the scales towards Washington. The Redskins' defense stops whatever Cardinals player lines up under center, and Washington wins by a field goal, beating the spread.

Dallas Cowboys (+8.5) at Seattle Seahawks

Is this spread a function more of people failing to buy into Dallas or loving the Seahawks at home? The biggest concern with large spreads is usually the fear that, if one team pulls away, the other cannot catch up. That hardly seems likely with the Cowboys' offense.

Seattle continues to prove why it is worthy of 'Repeat Super Bowl Champion' talk, and they should win at home on Sunday, but the Cowboys are well capable of matching Seattle down to the waning minutes. Unfortunately for Dallas, history has shown that it is not necessarily capable of winning such games in the end.

Seattle wins by a field goal, but Dallas beats the spread.

Seahawks Are A Big Test For Cowboys

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)

"They turn the ball over too much." This go-to phrase was muttered by nearly every analyst when referring to the New York Giants entering 2014. As fate would have it, one of these two teams does, indeed, enter Sunday Night Football leading the league in turnovers.

The Philadelphia Eagles.

With an unprecedented seven fumbles – two more than the next six teams – the Eagles appear to be somewhat of an anomaly to be ranked first in the NFL in both giveaways and wins. Digesting this statistic further, over the past three seasons, the team with the most fumbles lost has had the following win totals: 13, 4, and 8. Simply put, there is little correlation between the two (at least for the top team). More likely, fumbles are a function of luck and, literally, good or bad bounces.

The reality remains that the Giants have looked as good in their last three games as Philadelphia looked in their first three. In fact, the Giants have probably been the more impressive team, as the Eagles trailed by at least ten points in each of their first three wins, whereas the Giants have led through the large majority of each victory.

When the two teams meet on Sunday Night Football, it will serve as a statement game for the rest of the NFC East. A Giants victory would not only bump them to 4-2 on the season, but a more valuable 2-0 in the division. The Eagles face the same reward, except a win would move them even higher, to 5-1 overall.

Ultimately, while they are now weeks removed from the memory of atrocious play, the Giants have shown the bigger propensity to fall apart against good teams, while the Eagles have proven worthy of rising to almost every challenge. Philadelphia's one loss included four attempts at a game winning touchdown in San Francisco, and came up a single yard short.

The Eagles beat the Giants by four, narrowly covering the spread.

San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (+3.5)*

As poorly as underdogs have performed on Thursday Night Football is as successful they have been on Monday nights: 1-4 versus 4-1 against the spread, respectively. Week 6 concludes with its eighth division game, and, according to the percentages, what appears to be one of the most 'obvious' picks of the week.

As always, beware.

The situation in which these two teams meet is almost identical to the Week 4 matchup just over one year ago. On September 26, 2013 (a Thursday, not a Monday, but still on a nationally televised game), the 49ers went into St. Louis as a three-and-a-half point favorite. San Francisco was considered as much of an 'easy pick' last year as they are this time around, as well.

What happened? The 49ers blew the doors off the Rams, 35-11. The pick was, indeed, that easy.

One slight difference exists between the similar games. Thursday Night Football has featured a high number of blowouts, most of which came from the favorite. One theory behind this result is that the 'weaker teams' (underdogs) suffer greater from the shortened week of preparation. When given a full week – and a day, for Monday night games – the gap is shortened.

The familiarity between the two teams should result in a much closer game than the 2013 version of Week 6's finale, but the 49ers should still prevail in the end. The Rams, however, have played to one-score finishes in each of their last three games. It happens again on Monday Night Football, as the 49ers win by a field goal, but St. Louis beats the spread.

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