Week 6 of the NFL season rolls around with several teams facing must-win games.
It’s almost D-Day for the Colts, Dolphins and Giants, while several teams like the Eagles, Bears, Panthers, and most surprisingly, the Chiefs, need to prove that they belong in the contender pile.
This week’s early window features what is sure to be a cracking game between the 4-1 Ravens and Chargers, followed by the undefeated Cardinals in action against the Browns in Cleveland.
Monday Night Football looks to be a good one between the red-hot Bills and the Titans, setting up what could be a potential AFC Championship Game preview down the track.
For our thoughts on all 14 games, check out our 2021 NFL Week 6 Preview below!
The Bucs head to Philly as heavy favourites on Friday hoping to improve to 5-1.
Tampa Bay made short work of the Dolphins last week behind a monster five touchdown game from Tom Brady, but the GOAT might find things a little tougher on the road against a very underrated Eagles defence.
At 2-3, the Eagles still have plenty of work to do in the NFC East, but they’ve proven to be a tough team to throw the ball against ranking third in fewest passing yards allowed.
The Philly pass rush was also lethal last week in the win over the Panthers, sacking Sam Darnold three times.
I can’t back the Eagles outright against the defending champs, but I also thought Jalen Hurts played one of the best games of his young career last week – an encouraging sign for an offence that looked completely lost a week earlier against Dallas.
Playing on the road in Philly is tough for any team, so I like the Eagles defence to keep this close.
The second and final London game of the year kicks off on Sunday in what is a must-win for the struggling Dolphins.
Miami has slumped to 1-4 following last week’s beatdown against the Bucs, and this game looks far from a given against a Jacksonville side that has shown signs of encouragement in recent weeks.
The Jags are still searching for their first win, but No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence is really starting to settle in under centre, while running back James Robinson has enjoyed two monster weeks against Cincinnati and Tennessee.
Miami’s quarterback situation is still up in the air with Tua Tagavailoa a chance of returning from injury, and while his inclusion will no doubt provide a spark, it’s still hard to ignore the Dolphins’ leaky defence.
The Phins rank Top 10 in rushing yards allowed this year, so if the Jags can set up the ground game early, they might be a chance in one of the few games that still looks winnable on their schedule.
Now at 2-3, the Chiefs remain at the very bottom of the AFC West, which is easily one of the top storylines to emerge from the first month of the season.
Kansas City’s defence was exposed in a major way last week by the Bills, but Andy Reid’s side does have a chance to get back on track against a Washington team that has played to identical record through the first five weeks.
Defensively, Washington is in the same boat as the Chiefs despite boasting one of the best units last year.
Ron Rivera’s side gave up 33 points and over 350 yards in last week’s loss to the Saints, but on the plus side, the offence still managed to put up a fight thanks to another solid game from Taylor Heinicke.
The points total has been set at 55.5 for this one, and I’m happy to take the Over based on both teams ranking first and second respectively in point allowed.
The Total has also gone Over in four of their last five meetings, so let’s not overcomplicate this one.
The Rams and the Giants find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum heading into this week’s game at the Meadowlands.
Los Angeles’ defence turned up in a big way last week to secure a crucial defensive win over Seattle, while the Giants suffered a loss in more ways than one with Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley both suffering injuries in defeat to the Cowboys.
Jones is still a “wait and see” as he goes through the concussion protocol, while Barkley is set to miss this game with an ankle injury alongside wide receiver Kenny Golladay.
All three leave New York thin at key positions, which obviously spells enormous trouble against a Rams defence that has recorded 14 sacks on the year and allowed the ninth-fewest points.
With both teams at 1-4, this is shaping up to be a do-or-die game between the Texans and Colts at Lucas Oil.
The bookies are well in favour of the Colts to win by more than a touchdown, but I really don’t think there’s as much separating these two sides as the market suggest.
Houston put up a very strong performance last week against the Patriots, largely due to another encouraging game from rookie Davis Mills.
To be fair, the Colts gave the Ravens all they could handle in Baltimore, but when you consider the last four games between these two sides have been decided by nothing more than a touchdown, it’s hard to get Indy anywhere close to -9.5 favourites.
The Colts are definitely the better team on both sides of the ball, but I really don’t trust their secondary enough to hold Houston under 20 points.
If Mills and the Texans’ running game gets going early, this could turn into quite the thriller.
It’s only fitting that the Bengals and Lions should meet after both sides were the victims of walk-off field goals in Week 5.
The Bengals can hold their heads high after forcing overtime against a playoff calibre Packers team, while the winless Lions also showed further signs of encouragement in an emotional loss to the Vikings.
Cincinnati can breathe a sigh of relief knowing franchise quarterback Joe Burrow has been cleared of any major throat damage, and it goes without saying that the former No. 1 overall pick will likely be the difference in this game.
Surprisingly, the Bengals defence held Green Bay to just 25 points last week, setting up Burrow with a few opportunities to win the game.
If it wasn’t for some sloppy field goal kicking the Bengals probably would have won, but that’s so far been the story for Cincinnati with four of their five games being decided by three points.
I think Detroit will be playing for their coach Dan Campbell after last week’s emotional post-game press conference, but with the Bengals also facing a must-win game in terms of the AFC North picture, I think Cincinnati just sneaks home.
The NFC North picture has gotten a little more interesting in recent weeks with the Bears winning back-to-back games over Detroit and Vegas.
Chicago’s defence has largely led the way as rookie Justin Fields finds his feet under centre, but it’s no surprise to find the Bears as the home underdogs this week against the rival Packers.
Green Bay improved to 4-1 last week with an overtime win over the Bengals, but it wasn’t pretty at times.
Aside from Mason Crosby’s inaccuracy in front of the posts, Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offence was held to just 25 points against a defence many consider below average.
Even so, the Packers have held Chicago’s number for a very long time – particularly at Soldier Field where they’ve won 10 of their last 11 games.
That said, the Green Bay defence is much weaker than it was last year, while I also have a big question mark over the Packers’ young offensive line against this lethal Bears pass rush.
The likelihood of the Rodgers – Davante Adams connection winning this for Green Bay seems high, but if the Bears can take some shots downfield and pressure No. 12, I think they’re very much in this.
This is by far the most intriguing game in the early window between the 4-1 Chargers and the 4-1 Ravens in Baltimore.
Justin Herbert has firmly asserted himself in the MVP conversation following last week’s 398-yard, four touchdown masterpiece against the Browns, only to be outdone by Lamar Jackson’s monster game in the overtime win against the Colts a day later.
The battle between the two star quarterbacks will be talked about all week, but I really think the Chargers have a clear advantage here when it comes to defence.
Renaldo Hill’s unit wasn’t at its best last week against Cleveland, but it’s worth noting the Chargers defence still managed to hold the Browns to just four third down conversions.
Baltimore, meanwhile, has big concerns in the secondary.
The Ravens have allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the league so far, while the fact they gave up 400 yards and two touchdowns to Carson Wentz last week is equally as worrying.
The Chargers have shown all season that they are capable of beating opponents in multiple ways, so with a generous +3 on offer, I’m happy to side with LA.
It’s fair to say that these two teams firmly belong in the “still don’t know” category.
The Vikings required every bit of four quarters to beat the Lions on walk-off field goal last week, which is more than you can say for a Panthers side that has come crashing back down to earth with a pair of losses to the Cowboys and Eagles.
To make matters even more complicated, these two sides played out a 28-27 thriller last year in favour of Minnesota.
Not surprisingly, the bookies have set a razor-thin line in favour of the Vikings, but I’m happy to be with the Panthers here so long as Christian McCaffrey plays.
The star running back was a game-time decision last week before missing out, but it sounds as though he’ll be ready to make his return from a hamstring injury.
Sam Darnold has looked a shell of the quarterback we saw in the opening two weeks with McCaffrey on the sidelines, and since the Vikings have allowed the 11th most rushing yards in the league this year, I think we’ll see the Panthers bounce back in a must-win game.
The Arizona Cardinals are the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL, but they’re about to face another big test on Monday morning against a Browns side desperate to bounce back from a crushing loss to the Chargers.
Now at 3-2, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski will be stressing the importance of this game with the division rival Ravens at 4-1 and the Bengals breathing down their neck.
Home-field advantage should help their cause this week, but nobody would blame you for feeling a little concerned about Cleveland’s chances after giving up 47 points to Justin Herbert and the Chargers last week.
Fortunately, it sounds like Jadeveon Clowney will play this week, which should help the Browns pass rush rediscover some of its dominance.
At first glance, the -2.5 about the Browns almost seems wrong, but I think this is one of those occasions where you just have to trust the bookies have it right.
The battle between Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, two former Oklahoma quarterbacks, is going to be fascinating.
If the Browns can trust their elite running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt though, and also force Kyler into making the turnovers we’ve seen him make before, I like Cleveland to hand Arizona its first loss.
A good old fashioned AFC West rivalry game makes up part of the late window, but this one is about much, much more than that.
The Raiders have endured a week to forget with former coach Jon Gruden resigning on Tuesday after more emails were leaked, leaving former assistant and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia to fill the role for the remainder of the season.
To say Gruden’s departure is a distraction would be an understatement, particularly after the Raiders suffered a flat loss to the Bears last week at home.
As for the Broncos, this game is just as important.
Denver suffered its second loss of the season last week against the Steelers, but there’s still plenty to play for a Wild Card spot very much up for grabs in the AFC West.
The Raiders have held Denver’s number over the last few years with four wins from their last five meetings, but I think there’s too much going on right now to back Vegas with any kind of confidence.
Sometimes we see teams rally on the back of a coach getting fired, but on the road against a Denver defence that has been very tough to pass and run against, I just don’t see it.
The Raiders’ o-line is also a big question mark after Derek Carr was sacked three times last week against the Bears, so if the Broncos have their way defensively, I think they’ll win.
The Cowboys and the Patriots meet for the first time since 2019 with Dallas laying -3.5 points on the road.
The hype around the 4-1 Cowboys is really beginning to grow following last week’s 24-point win over the Giants, while quarterback Dak Prescott remains a serious MVP chance with 1,398 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season.
New England comes into this game with plenty to play for.
The Patriots picked up their second win of the season last week over the Texans, but it wasn’t pretty as Mac Jones led a fourth-quarter comeback with a pair of touchdown drives.
New England hasn’t won a game at home this season, but you have to be very wary of them as a home underdog.
Since 2015, the Patriots are 3-1 against the spread in this spot, and while I don’t think they have what it takes defensively to beat the Cowboys, I do think they could keep this tight with Jones taking big steps forward each week.
It feels as though the Seahawks and Steelers are nothing more than sub .500 teams this year, but this is still a very important game with boast sides boasting less-than-desirable 2-3 records.
Seattle suffered another division loss last week at the hands of the Rams, while Pittsburgh got their second win on the board over Denver.
Both teams have some big names on the injury report this week, which has left me sitting on the fence in this 50/50 type game.
Russell Wilson dislocated a finger on his throwing hand last week, meaning we could see Geno Smith under centre on Monday.
The Steelers, meanwhile, will be without star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for the remainder of the season after suffering a shoulder injury.
The running back spot is also a mess for Seattle, leaving both sides short on scoring weapons.
The Total has gone Under in each of the Seahawks’ last five games following a loss, so I think this primetime matchup will be low scoring.
The NFL has saved the best for last this week with a potential AFC playoff preview scheduled between the Bills and Titans.
Buffalo gained plenty of admirers last week with a big win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead, while the Titans bounced back from a loss to the Jets to defeat the Jaguars last week.
This game should be plenty of fun with two high-power offences lining up, but I feel it’s Buffalo’s to lose based on everything we’ve seen so far.
The Bills offence currently leads the league in points scored thanks to another fantastic start from Josh Allen, but the defence has been just as impressive allowing the fewest points to opponents.
Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry can match the Bills on the scoreboard, but Mike Vrabel’s woeful defence doesn’t even come close to matching that of Buffalo’s.
You could also argue the Bills are much more battle-tested after facing the Chiefs last week, while the Titans have battled their way through two games against the Jets and Jags.