NFL Week 6 picks: How good are the Packers? A good test at Buccaneers should let us know

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the buzzy offseason. That’s what happens when you sign Tom Brady and get Rob Gronkowski out of retirement.

Meanwhile, we passed the offseason by ripping the Green Bay Packers. They didn’t get a receiver in free agency or in the most receiver-rich draft in a long time. They traded up to select a quarterback and their second-round draft pick was a running back, both of whom have contributed next to nothing so far this season.

Some of the sites that put up lines for the entire NFL season after the draft had the Buccaneers as 4.5-point favorites for a Week 6 game against the Packers. Things have changed.

The Packers have been one of the best stories of the NFL season. Aaron Rodgers is playing at a familiar MVP level we haven’t seen in a while. The Buccaneers have been good too, but losses to the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears have muted the excitement. The line has moved a lot since May. The Packers are 2.5 point favorites at BetMGM.

The Packers are good. They’re 4-0. But how good? Advanced stats are skeptical of their defense. Football Outsiders’ DVOA has the Packers’ defense ranked 29th in the NFL. That knocks the Packers down to No. 6 in the overall ratings. Which team is No. 2 behind the Baltimore Ravens? The Buccaneers, who are one of three teams (Rams and Chiefs) with a top-10 offense and defense.

The Packers’ 2019 record was well ahead of any underlying stats, and maybe they’re just a team that can outrun that year after year. I’m still going to take the Buccaneers as 2.5-point home underdogs, especially with Tampa Bay presumably getting some players back like receiver Chris Godwin. The line move since the offseason isn’t unfair; the Packers should probably be favored based on what has unfolded so far. It’s still a tough test for Green Bay.

Aaron Rodgers has the Packers off to a 4-0 start. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Aaron Rodgers has the Packers off to a 4-0 start. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Here are the Week 6 NFL picks, with all lines from BetMGM:

Panthers (-2.5) over Bears

The Bears might confound me all season. They’re 4-1 but all four wins came down to the end. They could easily be 0-5. Meanwhile, the Panthers are strangely one of the NFL’s hottest teams the past three weeks after losing Christian McCaffrey.

Lions (-3.5) over Jaguars

It’s not comforting to take Detroit. But I also don’t think the oddsmakers have adjusted enough to how bad the Jaguars might be, especially on defense. They have lost four in a row and haven’t been a threat to cover the spread over the past three. I’ll keep fading them until they prove me otherwise or the lines adjust.

Vikings (-3.5) over Falcons

Sometimes, a team gets a boost when it fires its coach. See the Texans last week. But I don’t think Atlanta’s players disliked playing for Dan Quinn. They’re just not very good this season.

Giants (-2.5) over Washington

It’s hard to be sunny about an 0-5 team, but the Giants almost beat the Bears, Rams and Cowboys, all on the road. Meanwhile, I wonder if Washington’s Week 1 win threw us off the scent of how bad this team is. It has lost each of the past four games by at least 14 points.

Browns (+3.5) over Steelers

This is a fun game. The way the Browns handled the Colts is further proof that this is a playoff contender. Meanwhile, I keep waiting for the Steelers to hit a level they haven’t reached yet, despite their undefeated record. Every game has been a little closer than it should. I think this one will be close too, and I won’t even be surprised if the Browns win straight up.

Ravens (-7.5) over Eagles

I wonder what your final total would be if you faded the NFC East in every single game this season.

Bengals (+7.5) over Colts

Taking the Bengals didn’t work out last week. But week after week, the Bengals are the team that seems like they’re getting too many points. It’s also clear the Colts’ offense isn’t that good.

Dolphins (-9.5) over Jets

This line has jumped to 9.5 and it’s fair. The Jets are horrendous. They’re not going 0-16 against the spread this season, but I need to see them cover a number first before I’d want to back them.

49ers (+3.5) over Rams

I think this will be the best effort from the defending NFC champs, who got embarrassed last week by the Dolphins. We’ll find out what the 49ers’ best effort is worth this season.

Cowboys (+2.5) over Cardinals

This will be a fascinating game. Can Andy Dalton move the Cowboys? The Cardinals will be without elite pass rusher Chandler Jones the rest of the season, which is an enormous blow. I think Dallas rallies around its new quarterback and plays well, for at least one week.

Off the board: Texans-Titans, Broncos-Patriots, Chiefs-Bills

Thankfully, the games that aren’t posted as of Wednesday morning aren’t off because we’re worried about a cancelation. The Titans and Bills played Tuesday night and we don’t know yet if Cam Newton will be playing for the Patriots.

Last week: 10-4
Season to date: 42-32-2

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