NFL Week 6: Is Pittsburghs Season Already on the Brink?

NFL Week 6: Is Pittsburgh\s Season Already on the Brink?
Its still the same rivalry
BIG week last week for me against the spread, going a ridiculous 10-4-1 on the full slate of games. Somehow I managed to shoehorn two of those losses and the push into my best bets. Im not even mad, Im just amazed. Im also in need of a big week in the SuperContest to make a push up the standings and to try and chase Kelly (streaking) and Kostos (moving). 

This week reeks of chaos; there are a lot of home underdogs in play and a lot of short lines to deal with. Just when we think we know everything, thats when things start to change. 

If you want a full breakdown of all Week 6 NFL picks against the spread, check out myself, Pete Prisco and R.J. White making a full slate of picks on the Pick Six Podcast. 

Hard to blame Vegas for making Tennessee a dog here: the Ravens are a very good team (despite losing to Cleveland last week) and the Titans are coming off a very ugly loss to the Bills on the road. But Tennessee is also a very good team, they just cant get the offense to start clicking the way it did in the second half against the Eagles for a full game. Im not sure this is the week it happens, because the Ravens defense should be able to limit the Titans both through the air and the ground. But I trust the Tennessee defense to do the same to the Ravens offense (hint: take the under) and figure out a way to steal a win at home. The Titans are 2-0 straight up as a home underdog this season and the Ravens are headed out for their second-straight road game. 

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The Bengals are the better team here, probably. And my son is better at basketball than me, probably. But that doesnt mean Im going to just let him beat me all of a sudden (hes 4 so this analogy might not apply and certainly doesnt shine a positive light on my basketball skills). And the Steelers arent going to magically just cede the division to the Bengals. Pittsburgh isnt great, I dont think, and typically plays much better at home, especially Ben Roethlisberger. But Roethlisbergers record in Cincy against the Bengals since he was drafted is pristine — hes 11-3 against the spread. Ben has lost one road game against the Bengals since 2011. Hes been especially good lately, throwing six touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last four games in Cincy, all four of which are wins. Winning this game would inject new life into the Steelers season. 

Pretty simple here: the Patriots are at home as less than a touchdown favorite in prime time and most people are betting AGAINST THEM. Thats how far this has swung — the Chiefs have been a huge public team since Patrick Mahomes exploded on the scene this season (the Rams are right there with them). Betting on Bill Belichick is a pretty good way to make money if youre dabbling in the NFL, and betting on Belichick and the Patriots as a short favorite is a HIGHLY profitable enterprise. According to the NFL Betting Database, in their last 30 games as a home favorite of less than a touchdown, the Patriots are a stunning 25-5 straight up and 22-7-1 against the spread. New England should be able to score at will against a Chiefs defense that has been porous this season and could be missing important pieces (Justin Houston). I like the massive over (59) as well but Im getting more and more nervous about it because the Patriots might try and use James White and Sony Michel to melt clock and hold the ball. 

This is a lot of points to lay for any team, but this situation reminds me a lot of the Packers hosting the Bills a few weeks ago, minus the part about the 49ers coming off a stunning win (Buffalo had just beaten the Vikings on the road). San Francisco also doesnt have as good a defense as the Bills, checking in at 21st in Football Outsiders defensive DVOA metrics (Buffalo is seventh). The Packers have actually been fairly reliable as a large favorite at home too, registering an 11-7-2 record against the spread as a favorite of 7-10 points at home since 2014 per the OddsShark database. Aaron Rodgers should put up some stats in this game as well. Not only is he coming off a vengeance-inspiring loss to the Lions in Detroit, but Rodgers has absolutely stunning Monday Night Football numbers at home. Hes only played in three home games on Monday night since 2011, but in those games he combined to complete 70 percent of his passes for 910 yards (303 per game, math majors), 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions. His teams won those games 38-28 (as a six-point favorite), 43-37 (as a 13.5-point favorite) and 45-7 (as a 13-point favorite). The Packers defense could use a statement game here as well. 

Either the Browns or the Bucs were going to be the bonus dog here, but Im starting to get scared of the Chargers just steamrolling Cleveland. Atlanta could blast Tampa too. Lets not forget the Buccaneers are a bad football team. But this is a statement game for Jameis Winston coming out of the bye. Go into Atlanta and win, or even just keep things close, and Bucs fans will start to turn back to him a little bit. Go in there and get shellacked and everyone might get fired pretty soon. Winston also needs to get paid. No doubt the Falcons are desperate too, but I dont think desperation is going to be able to lock down all the Tampa weapons, with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Cameron Brate all presenting serious coverage problems for the depleted Atlanta defense. There are going to be points galore scored in this game, and the Bucs should be able to get 30+ of them on the board. Im thinking thats enough to cover here if not win outright. 

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives… Full Bio

This is a rivalry, said Stephon Tuitt. We cant let this slip away from us. We have to go in there ready to fight.

The Bengals lead the AFC North with a 4-1 record, while the Steelers are 2-2-1, but 0-1-1 in the division.

We have a very important one coming up, said Tuitt. To shape our future we have to get past them.

It will be the first of three straight AFC North games for the Steelers, and to get back into the race they have to start strong with a win on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Its big for us. This division right now is like a spider web with everything going on, said Ramon Foster. Each week that we play each other we have to make sure we are on spot with what we are doing. I think both teams realize this division is a lot tighter than it has been in years past. The teams that execute the best and dont hurt themselves are teams that are going to be the No. 1 seed.

This is a tough game this week. They have always had good teams. They always have a good defense. I have had more people hit me up for tickets to this game than any other game. We understand what is going on right now. Our division is tight. Everybody is vying for a spot as far as trying to make it in the postseason. These games are crucial right now. Its crazy we are playing so many so early. We have to be on point this week.

That is a fact. The Bengals will present a huge challenge for the Steelers, and even though there are some new faces, the offense will still have to deal with going against the likes of Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.

Theyre really good. They are a great defense. They feed off their defense, said Marcus Gilbert. These guys really get after it. We have to really, really study these guys and get a hang of these guys. They are going to come out swinging and fighting. We have to get our first AFC win.

Rough stretch: Sundays game against the Bengals will be the first of three AFC North games for the Steelers, with the Browns and Ravens following the bye week. Its not unusual to have three consecutive AFC North games, but to have them at this point of the season isnt common.

The NFL likes that. They planned it, joked Maurkice Pouncey. You get the meat of your schedule, especially division. Its going to be hard-fought games. These teams are really good, our division is really good. We have to go out and fight.

A different celebration: T.J. Watt had his second three sack game of the season against the Falcons, and after each sack, Watt doesnt hesitate to celebrate. His celebration though, is just whatever the moment is.

I always have that moment to myself (after the sack) where I say this feels so dang good, said Watt. The body just does whatever the heck it wants. That is why I cant stick to one celebration. I just cant figure it out.

Whenever you get energy its contagious, especially early in the games, said Watt. It helps give us momentum.

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