The weekly preview runs into the endzone with NFL tips for the eight standout fixtures of Week 6, including a Tampa Bay-Green Bay blockbuster.
History: Played 36: Titans 19 V Texans 17
Last meeting: December 29, 2019: Titans 35 d Texans 14 at NRG Stadium
Final Thoughts: The undefeated Tennessee Titans host the 1-4 Houston Texans in an AFC South duel.
After losing their first four games – conceding 31.5 points per game in the process – the Texans got off the mark with a commanding 30-14 win over the Jaguars. Under-fire QB DeShaun Watson had his best game of the season, throwing for 359 yards and 3 TDs, while Brandin Cooks and David Johnson starred in a strong Houston offensive display.
The Titans opened up with three narrow wins over the Broncos, Jags and Vikings. A COVID-19 outbreak in the organisation scrapped their Week 4 showdown with the Steelers, but the Titans put the disruption behind them to smoke the in-form Bills 42-16. Ryan Tannehill is running the offence superbly, Derrick Henry and Jonnu Smith both had two touchdowns against Buffalo, while Malcolm Butler took two interceptions.
Both sides picked up a road win over the other last season. The Texans prevailed 24-21 in Nashville, but the Titans romped to a 35-14 victory in Houston two weeks later.
The Titans’ run defence still needs some work but they shouldn’t have much trouble racking up their first 5-0 start since 1998 against a mediocre Texans outfit.
History: Played 136: Steelers 76 V Browns 59 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: December 1, 2019: Steelers 20 d Browns 13 at Heinz Field
Final Thoughts: The COVID-enforced postponing of their Week 4 game against the Titans failed to stymie Pittsburgh Steelers’ momentum, moving to a 4-0 record (for the first time since 1979) with a 38-29 defeat of the Eagles last week. Ben Roethlisberger already has 10 touchdown passes this season, with Chase Claypool – who bagged three TDs at Philly’s expense – developing into a blue-chip receiving target.
Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, also arrive in Week 6 on a four-match winning streak. After a heavy first-up defeat to the Ravens, they have accounted for the Bengals, Washington, the Cowboys and the Colts. The Browns have scored an average of 37.5 points on their winning streak, crafting a 4-1 record for the first time since 1994. Baker Mayfield’s fine season under center continues, while Ronnie Harrison Jr was a defensive beast in the 32-23 defeat of the Colts.
Honours were shared between the division rivals last season. Cleveland ended an eight-match winless streak against Pittsburgh with a 21-7 home victory, but the Steelers turned the tables 20-13 at Heinz Field. Looking further back, the Steelers are 25-4-1 against the Browns since 2004.
The Browns’ offensive line needs to halt the Steelers’ pass rush to have a chance of the upset, but the over is shaping as a more astute option than trying to split between these in-form outfits.
History: Played 5: Eagles 2 V Ravens 2 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: December 18, 2016: Ravens 27 d Eagles 26 at M&T Bank Stadium
Final Thoughts: It doesn’t get any easier for the 1-1-3 Eagles as they aim to take the ascendancy in the weak NFC East, hosting the heavyweight 4-1 Baltimore Ravens.
After a surprise win over the 49ers in Week 4, the Eagles crashed 39-28 to the Steelers last week. Carson Wentz has given up nine interceptions this season, while the defence had no answer to Ben Roethlisberger.
The Ravens have taken out their frustrations following convincing Week 3 loss to the Chiefs by thumping Washington (31-17) and the Bengals (27-3) in the past fortnight. Their defence was rampant against the Bengals, though QB Lamar Jackson’s sub-MVP form is a slight concern.
The home team is undefeated in all of the previous Eagles-Ravens encounters. That trend won’t continue this week.
History: Played 10: Bears 6 V Panthers 4
Last meeting: October 22, 2017: Bears 17 d Panthers 3 at Soldier Field
Final Thoughts: The 4-1 Chicago Bears are mounting a strong challenge in the NFC North, while Carolina Panthers are staying in the stacked NFC South mix courtesy of three straight wins.
The Bears bounced back from their shock Week 4 loss to the Colts with a 20-19 eclipse of Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay line-up. Their offence is rarely going to blow teams of the park and Nick Foles is still a middling to lower end QB, but the Chicago secondary is first-rate and helped them overcome a double-digit deficit for the third time this season.
After dropping their first two games, the Panthers have put away the Chargers, Cardinals and Falcons in the past three weeks – despite Christian McCaffrey’s absence. Mike Davis has been superb with the star running back out. Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgwater passed for 313 yards and 2 TDs against Atlanta
The Bears have won four of their last five against the Panthers. Bridgewater is a phenomenal 30-9 against the start in his NFL career, but he faces a much bigger test than recent weeks up against the merciless Bears defence.
History: Played 55: Packers 33 V Buccaneers 21 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: December 3, 2017: Packers 26 d Buccaneers 20 (OT) at Lambeau Field
Final Thoughts: A huge match-up between genuine NFC Championship hopefuls, headlined by the battle between a pair of all-time great QB – but with one of them in a different strip.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers slipped to a 3-2 record via a 20-19 defeat the Bears in Week 5 after winning three straight. Tom Brady steered the Bucs to an early double-digit lead before they were run down.
Green Bay Packers went into the Week 5 bye with a 4-0 record as they aim to keep the Bears at arm’s length in the NFC North. They have beaten the Vikings, Lions, Saints and Falcons by an average margin of 13 points, with Aaron Rodgers already chalking up 13 TD passes on the back of the Packers’ much-improved pass protection.
The Packers have won their last three against the Bucs. Brady had an 11-6 record opposite Rodgers during his two decades with the Patriots.
Punters can’t split the teams head-to-head. Rodgers will be tested by the underrated Tampa defence, but the Packers have too consistently impressive to overlook here.
History: Played 141: Rams 71 V 49ers 67 (3 Ties)
Last meeting: December 21, 2019: 49ers 34 d Rams 31 at Levi’s Stadium
Final Thoughts: San Francisco 49ers will attempt to break out of a two-game slide against in-form NFC West rivals LA Rams.
The 49ers are languishing with 2-3 record after back-to-back losses to the Eagles (25-20) and, inexplicably, the Dolphins (43-17). Injuries have played their part but an ineffective offensive line is at the forefront of their problems this season, while the 49ers’ defence was clearly unacceptable against Miami.
The 4-1 Rams shook off the rust of an uninspiring 17-9 Week 4 defeat of the Giants with a 30-10 beatdown of Washington last week. Jared Goff threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, while Aaron Donald terrorised the Washington offence.
The 49ers have won seven of their last 10 against the Rams, including both encounters last season. The Niners prevailed 20-7 away and 34-31 at home over the Rams in 2019.
This is crunch time for the 49ers with the Seahawks and Rams off to a fast start in 2020 and the Cardinals also crafting a winning record, leaving last season’s Super Bowl runners-up last in the NFC West. After last week’s debacle, I just don’t see them turning it around against the Rams.
History: Played 48: Bills 26 V Chiefs 21 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: November 26, 2017: Bills 16 d Chiefs 10 at Arrowhead Stadium
Final Thoughts: Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs both started the season 4-0. They also both suffered disappointing Week 5 losses, setting the scene for a fascinating match-up at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Bills had accumulated some real momentum via wins over handy Rams and Raiders outfits…before slumping to a 42-16 loss to the Titans last week. Turnovers and defensive struggles characterised the glaring defeat, while Josh Allen had issues hitting his marks.
The Chiefs had barely put a foot wrong in their title defence prior to a 40-32 defeat at the hands of the Raiders. Usually so good down the stretch, KC were outscored 16-8 in the fourth quarter in a performance the Chiefs secondary would prefer to forget.
Both teams will be eager to prove last week was a mere blip, but the Chiefs are far better equipped to produce the immediate bounce-back.
History: Played 89: Cowboys 56 V Cardinals 32 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: September 25, 2017: Cowboys 28 d Cardinals 17 at Busch Stadium
Final thoughts: Dallas Cowboys improved to 2-3 with a last-gasp 37-34 win over the lowly Giants in Week 5, but any positivity gleaned from the result was wiped away by a season-ending ankle injury to red-hot quarterback Dak Prescott.
It’s hard to see how the Cowboys get around this setback in terms of their Super Bowl aspirations; their defence has haemorrhaged the most points in the NFL and Prescott’s elite-level offensive class was their trump card. Veteran Andy Dalton is a pretty handy back-up to have, however, and if he can find immediate chemistry with Ezekiel Elliott there’s no reason Dallas can’t maintain their lead in the embarrassingly thin NFC East.
Arizona Cardinals are 3-2 battling away in the heavyweight-laden NFC West. They got off to a flyer with wins over San Francisco and Washington, before dropping consecutive games to the Lions and Panthers. But a 30-10 thrashing of the Jets in Week 5 was a step back in the right direction, with second-year QB Kyler Murray throwing for a career-high 380 yards.
It was only the Jets though and Dalton’s experience should help ensure the Cowboys don’t completely fall apart without their primary shot-caller.