NFL against-the-spread picks: Deshaun Watson vs. Patrick Mahomes will be fun
If you’re ranking the best quarterbacks in football right now, it’s possible the top two will be facing off this weekend in Kansas City.
Tom Brady has the best resumé and Russell Wilson is on a great roll, but it’s hard to deny Patrick Mahomes is No. 1 on the list. Deshaun Watson has a great case to be right behind him.
Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs and Watson’s Houston Texans face off Sunday in what should be the most entertaining game of the day. Most Las Vegas sportsbooks have the over/under for Texans-Chiefs at 55 points, easily the largest total on the board this week. This is going to be an exciting matchup.
All of a sudden there are some questions about the Chiefs. They looked like the first- or second-best team in the NFL before last week, without much argument. Then the Indianapolis Colts came to Kansas City and pushed them around, handing the Chiefs their first loss of the season. Kansas City has a long injury list with some key players, though Tyreek Hill has a chance to return this week from a shoulder injury. Mahomes is banged up, too. He limped around on an ankle injury he aggravated twice against the Colts. The Chiefs won’t be at full strength this week.
The Texans have been hard to predict, but they’re coming off a great game. Watson threw for 426 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions against an overmatched Atlanta Falcons defense in a 53-32 win last week. It was a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Among starting quarterbacks, Watson ranks second in the NFL in passer rating and Mahomes is third. Wilson leads the league.
Houston is a 4.5-point underdog at Kansas City, and I like the Texans getting those points. The Chiefs have a ton of injuries and it showed last week. The Texans can score a ton, too, thanks to their dynamic quarterback, and I think Watson can at least keep it close. If nothing else, settle in for what should be the best quarterback matchup we’ll see all season.
Here are the Week 6 NFL against-the-spread picks:
Jaguars (-1.5) over Saints: This feels like a letdown spot for the Saints. They come out of a rough scheduling spot of tough teams or divisional rivals to face a Jaguars team that will be tough to get up for. Remember when it seemed the Saints would be in good shape if they went 3-3 without Drew Brees? Well, they’ve already got the three wins without him. Jalen Ramsey’s status is crucial here though, because he is one of the few cornerbacks who can reasonably cover Michael Thomas.
Falcons (-2.5) over Cardinals: I understand the Falcons aren’t good. Their defense in particular is bad. But the Cardinals are bad, too. Atlanta just has more top-end talent, and I don’t see how the Cardinals slow them down. This could be a surprisingly entertaining game with a ton of points. And if the Falcons lose, I don’t see how coach Dan Quinn has his job by Week 7.
Redskins (-3.5) over Dolphins: Washington is bad. Really bad. But before you take the Dolphins here, remember that Miami has looked like the worst team in the NFL’s modern era through the first quarter of the season.
49ers (+3.5) over Rams: It’s never the best idea to put too much stock into what we just saw. On Monday night, the 49ers looked incredible in blowing out the Browns. Recency bias can be intoxicating. But I’m starting to believe in this 49ers team. They really are sound across the board. This is a fascinating matchup.
Broncos (-2.5) over Titans: Let’s imagine an alternate universe in which the Broncos didn’t get bad roughing-the-passer penalties against the Bears or Jaguars, and they don’t lose on last-second field goals. We’d think a lot differently about a 3-2 Broncos team, right? The loss to the Raiders actually doesn’t look too bad now. A loss at the Packers wasn’t a blowout. Are the Broncos secretly kind of good?
And here are the rest of the picks ...
Patriots (-16.5) over Giants (picked Thursday): It has to say something about how good the Patriots are that they covered a spread this large and it still felt underwhelming. They really weren’t at their best and it didn’t matter.
Panthers (-2) over Buccaneers: The early London game is back. Imagine if the Panthers had been able to punch in that fourth-down play late in the first meeting against Tampa Bay. Maybe they’re sitting at 4-1 and we’re looking at them as one of the NFL’s best teams, even with Kyle Allen at quarterback. I like what I’ve seen out of the Panthers. It’s impressive how they’ve turned their season around after an 0-2 start.
Seahawks (-1.5) over Browns: Cleveland has been either bad or mediocre in four of five games. Seattle is clearly the better team in this matchup and it’s not really close. It’s a little strange how low the spread is.
Eagles (+3) over Vikings: We all know the drill by now. The Vikings beat bad teams and lose to good teams. The best win of the Kirk Cousins era in Minnesota was actually against the Eagles last season, though for most of last season the Eagles weren’t good. Until the Vikings beat a good team, I’ll just ride this pattern we have seen since the start of last season.
Bengals (+11.5) over Ravens: Do we know the Ravens are good? They blasted the Dolphins. Other than that? Their wins were relatively close ones against the Cardinals and the Steelers, who finished the game with their third-string quarterback and still went to overtime. The Ravens weren’t all that close against the Chiefs and looked bad against the Browns, and that’s Cleveland’s only decent game of the season. The Bengals stink, but I really don’t buy the Ravens right now.
Cowboys (-7) over Jets: Sam Darnold is back, but I wonder how much that bout with mono took out of him. And Dallas has handled business against bad teams.
Chargers (-7) over Steelers: I’m sure the Steelers’ doctors know what they’re doing, and they can properly determine if Mason Rudolph should be cleared to play. But we all saw Rudolph gets knocked unconscious last week. It was one of the scariest injuries you’ll see. The Steelers are 1-4. They have a bye next week. There’s no reason for Rudolph to be rushed back for Sunday’s game. Hopefully the Steelers play it safe with him.
Lions (+4) over Packers: Green Bay’s passing offense without Davante Adams isn’t great. I’ll assume Lions coach Matt Patricia has a better game plan than the Cowboys did against the Adams-less Packers last week. This feels like a close Packers win.
Last week: 7-8
Season to date: 41-38
SuperContest: 1-3-1 last week, 10-14-1 season to date
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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab