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Josh Strope’s NFL Week 6 Picks

This column is getting harder and harder to write each week.

I want to cater to the local teams, but the bottom line is, I can only say so many times that the AFC North stinks.

The Steelers are down to a guy that was on the practice squad after Mason Rudolph got hurt.

The Ravens had to go to overtime and benefited from a key turnover to barely beat that Steelers team.

The Bengals are the Bungals again, finding a new way to lose.

And just last week, when I started to give the Browns some props, they went out in prime time and were embarrassed.

So here is hoping the NFL gives me something next week to write about, because I am sure none of you want to hear me gloat each week about the San Francisco 49ers.

Thursday night

Patriots 34, Giants 29

As the Patriots head toward another AFC East championship and a spot in the Super Bowl, the question is, can anyone stop them? Well the man that has done this on two occasions, Eli Manning, will be on the bench when these two teams meet again. Can Daniel Jones follow in his predecessor’s footsteps? Maybe one day, but not this week.

Sunday

Panthers 34, Buccaneers 29

Another game across the pond, but this is a divisional game. Odd scheduling by the NFL and that stinks for Tampa Bay. When these two teams faced off a couple weeks ago, the Panthers looked like a team in disarray. Since then, Cam Newton got hurt and Kyle Allen has led the Panthers to three straight wins.

Seahawks 31, Browns 3

The Browns will win the AFC North. What that amounts to will be a first-round exit to a wild card team. That is a horrible offensive line. Baker Mayfield may be the answer at quarterback, but if you can’t protect him, it makes no difference. The 49ers have a stellar defensive line, but even the best defensive line shouldn’t be getting pressure on the quarterback as much as the Browns allowed on Monday night. Seattle is another team that has a stellar defensive line. Same result.

Texans 38, Chiefs 34

The Chiefs are beatable. Not that anyone really didn’t think that way. For as good as Pat Mahomes is, the defense is still not good. Credit to the Colts for keeping that offense in check. Can Houston do that as well? Maybe, but if there is an offense in the NFL that can keep up with the Chiefs, it is Houston. I picked the Texans to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, so I have to go with them here.

Dolphins 6, Redskins 3

The winner of this game is no winner at all. The loser has the inside track at the first overall pick. In this space last week, I predicted Jay Gruden would be fired after the loss to New England. And he was called into a 5:30 a.m. meeting and told to pack his things. Really? Who fires someone at 5:30 a.m.? This is a toss up, but I feel like I have seen a little more from the Dolphins than the Redskins. Just upset I can’t pick against the Dolphins this week in my eliminator pool.

Ravens 34, Bengals 33

Instead, I will be going against the Bengals and taking the Ravens. As stated before, this can obviously change and I am not confident in picking the Ravens in the slightest bit, especially against a division rival. But my options aren’t great this week and Cincinnati is that bad. “Hollywood” Brown got off the schneid last week and got a TD against the Steelers (I predicted two, but one will suffice). He keeps that momentum going and Lamar Jackson gets back on track.

Vikings 28, Eagles 24

The Eagles beat the hapless Jets and did it practically in their sleep. Philly seems to have figured out its running game with Jordan Howard. Minnesota is not the Jets. And after a week in which Kirk Cousins was basically called out for being a game-manager, he and Adam Thielen made up and connected for two scores in a win over the Giants. Now Stephon Diggs is unhappy. Look for the Vikings to make him happy this week.

Jaguars 28, Saints 21

I haven’t been good with upset picks this year, but that is not going to stop me from making them. Here is this week’s. It was good to see the love the Saints fans gave Teddy Bridgewater. It has been a long hard road from what many thought was a career-ending injury. The Saints are 3-0 without Drew Brees and look to easily win the NFC South. Garnder Minshew was brought back down to earth in a loss to the Panthers, but Minshew Mania gets back on track this week with an upset in Jacksonville.

49ers 42, Rams 2

OK, so I really don’t think this will be the score. Wishful thinking. But there is no way I will pick the Niners to lose to the Rams. Los Angeles is reeling, having lost two straight. Maybe it is a Super Bowl hangover, maybe Sean McVay isn’t the wunderkind he has been made out to be. Either way, Los Angeles is still the favorite in the NFC West. Are the 49ers for real? I think so. They made a statement Monday against the Browns, but I have also told you how weak I think the AFC North is so three wins against that division doesn’t’ hold much weight. If the 49ers want to prove they are for real, go on the road and beat their hated rivals.

Falcons 45, Cardinals 42

Has any team in the NFC disappointed more than the Atlanta Falcons? This team should be challenging the Saints for division supremacy, and at least having a wild card bid sewn up. Instead, they head to the desert at 1-4. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals got in the win column a week against the Bengals, but coughed up a late two-score lead and had to kick a game-winning field goal to do it.

Broncos 17, Titans 14

Joe Flacco finally earned his first win as a Denver Bronco. Call it a hunch, but I say he gets Win No. 2 here. The Titans are a hard team to figure out. One week they look as good as anybody. The next week, not so much.

Cowboys 38, Jets 3

The Cowboys have lost two straight, falling to the Saints and the Packers. The Jets come on the schedule at the perfect time. The Cowboys right themselves with a heavy dose of Zeke Elliott.

Chargers 18, Steelers 12

There are Steelers fans across the country. Some will even say they are the true “America’s Team.” Well, at least you have that going for you. And probably because of that, the NFL decided against flexing this game out of prime time. Yes folks, with all these solid matchups this week, the people at NBC are banking on the Steelers drawing power for TV ratings. The Steelers will likely be starting Devlin Hodges this week after Mason Rudolph took a vicious hit last week (which Earl Thomas should be fined and suspended for). The Chargers’ second best/healthy receiver is their running back — and not the better running back. That guy is still trying to get in game shape after a holdout. But at least this game will give the Steelers a chance to voice their hatred for Chris Collinsworth.

Monday

Packers 27, Lions 17

The best game of the week on Monday night. Just like it should be. Monday night games will always be more important to me than Sunday night. The Packers bounced back in impressive fashion with a statement win against the Cowboys. Have yourself a day Aaron Jones. See what happens when you #FreeAaronJones. The Lions have had a week off to lick their wounds after a last-second loss to the Chiefs. In my mind, the Lions are going to be a team to deal with down the stretch. And while I don’t think they will make the playoffs because of how loaded the NFC is, they are not going to go down easy.

Josh Strope can be reached at jstrope@theintelligencer.net

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