Week 6 of the 2023 NFL season is here! The Seattle Seahawks spent their bye week recovering from a host of injuries, while the rest of the NFC West went 1-2 in their respective games. Obviously, the San Francisco 49ers lead the pack with the Seahawks holding onto second place in the conference, but the LA Rams will have an opportunity to get back to .500 with a win over the better-than-expected-but-still-bad Arizona Cardinals. The Niners and Hawks will each be heading to Ohio to take on an AFC North foe. So let’s look at the games and make some picks!
Seattle Seahawks @ Cincinnati Bengals — 10:00am — CBS — O/U 45
The Seattle Seahawks are back to underdog status. DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Cincinnati Bengals as 3-point favorites at home, meaning that this is expected to be a pretty even matchup. The Bengals have been plodding along after making it to the Super Bowl, as well as back-to-back AFC Championships. At 2-3, their only wins are over the Rams and the Cardinals, both of which currently possess losing records. Interestingly enough, ESPN lists both the Seahawks and Bengals as allowing 22.8 points per game, which is basically middle of the pack in the NFL. This being said, the Bengals have only had one game this season in which they failed to force a turnover (a 27-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens). Their 8 total takeaways rank 10th in the NFL, and their +4 differential is only one point behind the Seahawks. Clearly, these teams have been decent at both protecting the ball, as well as taking it away from the other team. The Seahawks have only had one turnover this season — a Geno Smith interception — so a lot may hinge on the ability of the offense to eliminate turnover-worthy-plays and exploit the Bengals porous run defense, we can expect a Seahawks victory. However, as we saw with the Cardinals last week — you can run all over Cincinnati, but turnovers that result in points are going to render those rushing yards as inconsequential. I hate to be a downer, but I see the Bengals climbing to 3-0 against the NFC West.
The pick: Under 45, Bengals win straight up and cover the spread.
San Francisco 49ers @ Cleveland Browns — 10:00am — FOX — O/U 36.5
Who loves seeing two of the NFL’s top defenses slogging it out on Sunday? This will be an interesting matchup; the Cleveland Browns have won straight up and covered the spread twice — in both games, they allowed exactly 3 points. However, in the two games they lost, they allowed 26 and 28 points. It isn’t exactly a “Jekyll and Hyde” type situation, but it is also nowhere near as impressive as the San Francisco 49ers and their NFL-leading 13.6 points per game. Look, let’s not over-complicate this: the Niners are listed on DraftKings Sportsbook as 10-point road favorites, and with good reason. Remember when they struggled to contain the Dallas Cowboys last week? Me neither. And they won’t struggle a bit to shut down this Deshaun Watson-less and Nick Chubb-less offense. Also, their own offense has continued to look like a well-oiled machine, and I don’t expect even the tough defense of Cleveland to be able to gum up these gears. The only thing that really throws me is the over/under — the 49ers, in addition to having a fearsome defense, San Francisco has yet to post fewer than 30 points in a game. The only way I see this game coming up under is if the Browns are unable to put more than a field goal on the board. They may get blown out, but I can’t imagine them not finding the endzone at least once.
The pick: Over 36.5 points, 49ers win straight up and cover the spread
Arizona Cardinals @ LA Rams — 1:25pm — FOX — O/U 49
The Arizona Cardinals have been bad, but they are arguably not awful, either. Similarly, the LA Rams were expected to be one of the lesser teams in the NFL, and while they do have a losing record at the moment, it is hard to argue that they haven’t at least looked better than many expected. Still, neither offense is exactly lighting up the scoreboard, and while the Rams have had more luck keeping opposing offenses off the board, the Cardinals are among the worst in the league in this category. Honestly, I think this game is likely to end up being an underwhelming war of attrition; albeit one with a few fireworks here and there, but I do not foresee this turning into a shootout. I think there is a good reason that DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Rams as 7-point favorites. Will they actually win by a touchdown and successful PAT? For a team with a +4 point differential on the season, that is a pretty bullish line. The Cardinals two most recent games were blowouts, but I think this NFC West clash stays closer than expected.
The pick: Under 49 points, Rams win straight up but Cardinals cover the spread
New York Giants @ Buffalo Bills — 5:20pm — NBC — O/U 44
Sunday Night Football!!! And we will get treated to a matchup between a fire-and-ice Buffalo Bills squad that can’t seem to decide if they are under- or overwhelming. However, they are listed as favorites by more than two scores on DraftKings Sportsbook, and with good reason. Their opponents — the New York Giants — are downright awful, and their best offensive player — Saquon Barkley — has been injured and is unlikely to carry as heavy of a load this weekend if he returns to the field. This should explain the 15.5-point spread on this game. Now, that sounds lofty, but the Bills’ three victories have been by 28, 34, and 28 points. In only one of these games did the final point total land under 44 points. In fact, in their five games this season, only two have ended up with a cumulative score under 45 points. The Giants, meanwhile, have yet to allow fewer than 24 points in a game. I am confidently going with the Bills at home, and while my gut is telling me that the spread is a bit scary... I just don’t see the Giants finding a way to keep this one close.
The pick: Over 44 points, Bills win straight up and cover the spread