The Journal Gazette
Sunday, October 18, 2020 1:00 am

Jaws' Picks

Well, COVID-19 has finally made the NFL squirm and rearrange its schedule. The league defiantly didn't set up the schedule to account for the virus and now is playing games on Tuesdays, dropping Thursday games and upending bye weeks for multiple teams. Players are rightly on edge about the league's commitment to their health and safety.

On to Week 6 ... 

Cincinnati at Indianapolis

Time: 1 p.m. (Fox)

Records: Bengals 1-3-1; Colts 3-2

The skinny: The Colts have the league's top defense, but quarterback Philip Rivers has not been playing up to his Hall of Fame standards. The end appears to be nearing quickly for the veteran, while Cincinnati rookie QB Joe Burrow has shown growth.

Prediction: Colts 23-20

Chicago at Carolina

Time: 1 p.m.

Records: Bears 4-1; Panthers 3-2

The skinny: Chicago has shown itself to be a resilient team, authoring some comebacks with a strong defense. Carolina has been a surprise behind rookie coach Matt Rhule and the rebirth of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, winning three straight without star back Christian McCaffrey.

Prediction: Panthers 24-21

Cleveland at Pittsburgh

Time: 1 p.m. (CBS)

Records: Browns 4-1; Steelers 4-0

The skinny: This divisional rivalry is reborn as Cleveland has won four straight. Myles Garrett is spearheading the defense and its offense has been spectacular, even after losing top back Nick Chubb, as Kareem Hunt has reemerged. Its defense showed up against the Colts, but Pittsburgh's defense has shown up all season and rookie receiver Chase Claypool from Notre Dame has given Ben Roethlisberger another weapon.

Prediction: Steelers 33-30

Detroit at Jacksonville

Time: 1 p.m.

Records: Lions 1-3; Jaguars 1-4

The skinny: The heat is on Detroit coach Matt Patricia as the Lions are off to another slow start. A loss here to the rebuilding Jags would be devastating. Jacksonville quarterback Gardnew Minshew is having a nice season, completing 137 of 196 passes for 1,439 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Prediction: Lions 27-21

Denver at New England

Time: 1 p.m.

Records: Broncos 1-3; Patriots 2-2

Prediction: New England gets back on the field after getting its bye week moved up because of a rash of COVID positives including quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Both are on track to be back, as is Broncos starting QB Drew Lock.

Prediction: Patriots 27-20

Houston at Tennessee

Time: 1 p.m.

Records: Texans 1-4; Titans 4-0

The skinny: Tennessee showed true grit after not playing for two weeks because of a rash of COVID positive tests, but the Titans manhandled Buffalo, highlighted by running back Derrick Henry's stiff-arm to Bills cornerback Josh Norman. The Titans have all the intangibles and are authoring a magical season. Houston's season is going nowhere.

Prediction: Titans 29-14

Washington at N.Y. Giants

Time: 1 p.m.

Records: Washington 1-4; Giants 0-5

The skinny: New York has been more competitive the past two weeks and it seems the time is right for rookie head coach Joe Judge to get his first win. Washington is starting Kyle Allen at quarterback and really hasn't been that competitive the past four weeks.

Prediction: Giants 27-14

Atlanta at Minnesota

Time: 1 p.m.

Records: Falcons 0-5; Vikings 1-4

The skinny: Well, Atlanta became the second team to fire its coach (and, as a bonus, its GM) this season, but don't expect a rosy turnaround. Now throw in some COVID positive tests. This team has mental toughness issues as well as personnel issues. Minnesota acquitted itself well at Seattle, but why coach Mike Zimmer didn't take the field goal attempt instead of going for it on fourth down is mind-boggling. He left the door open for magician Russell Wilson to cook up a game-winning drive.

Prediction: Vikings 30-27

Baltimore at Philadelphia

Time: 1 p.m.

Records: Ravens 4-1; Eagles 1-3-1

The skinny: Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson has been slowed down by a knee injury, but his defense should be stout enough to keep Carsen Wentz (nine interceptions) and the Eagles offense in check.

Prediction: Ravens 37-21

N.Y. Jets at Miami

Time: 4:05 p.m.

Records: Jets 0-5; Dolphins 2-3

The skinny: Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (22-of-28 passing, 350 yards, 3 TDs) showed his mercurial flair in routing San Francisco on the road last week. The Jets are struggling to be competitive and somehow coach Adam Gase is hanging onto his job. Now, running back Le'Veon Bell was released.

Prediction: Dolphins 30-10

Green Bay at Tampa Bay

Time: 4:25 p.m. (Fox)

Records: Packers 4-0; Buccaneers 3-2

The skinny: Another battle of legendary quarterbacks as Green Bay's Aaron Rogers faces Tampa Bay's Tom Brady. The Packers are looking like the best team in the league this season and the offense has stayed hot even while losing receivers. The Bucs looked sloppy on offense last week with numerous penalties and Brady forgetting what down it was on the last drive.

Prediction: Packers 30-21

L.A. Rams at San Francisco

Time: 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

Records: Rams 4-1; 49ers 2-3

The skinny: A divisional game that has big implications for San Francisco, which has already lost one NFC West game and is 0-3 at home. Injuries have played a huge factor in its struggles, and if quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo can't return to form, it will be long night facing Aaron Donald and Co.

Prediction: Rams 27-18

Kansas City at Buffalo

Time: 5 p.m. Monday (Fox/NFL Network)

Records: Chiefs 4-1; Bills 4-1

The skinny: Two of the top teams in the AFC meet, both coming off losses. This game was originally the Thursday night special, but was pushed back. The Chiefs' secondary, torched by the Raiders last week, will be stressed by Bills QB Josh Allen. Of course, Patrick Mahomes stresses out even the best defenses.

Prediction: Chiefs 36-33

Arizona at Dallas

Time: 8:15 p.m. Monday (ESPN)

Records: Cardinals 3-2; Cowboys 2-3

The skinny: So now Dallas begins life after Dak Prescott, who was having an MVP-type season before an ankle injury ended his season. In steps former Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Arizona QB Kyler Murray is electric, but trying to find consistency. 

Prediction: Cardinals 33-27

Open: Las Vegas, New Orleans, Seattle, L.A. Chargers

Last week: 9-5; Season 55-21-1

– Mark Jaworski, The Journal Gazette

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