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Craig Melvin/Buffalo Bills

2022 NFL Game Picks: Week 6

Last week: 10-6

Season: 44-35-1


WAS (1-4) @ CHI (2-3)

Thursday, October 13 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


Following a week full of controversy—for various reasons—around the NFL, comments made by Ron Rivera about “quarterback” being the difference between Washington and the rest of the NFC East teams was the most interesting to me. Rivera went on to clarify his answer to both the team and media by saying he has faith in Carson Wentz and was talking about how other quarterbacks have had more stability, but Daniel Jones is learning a new system for a Giants team that is currently 4-1, and Dallas is 4-1 with a backup quarterback in Cooper Rush. Instead, the more appropriate answer from Rivera probably should have been “coaching” or “drafting” (for example, just looking at the 2021 NFL Draft alone, the Commanders would have taken emerging stars Christian Darrisaw and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah by using Wolf Sports rankings). The entire situation makes how Washington responds on a short week very unpredictable, but Wentz is 6-0 on Thursday Night Football, and the Bears have holes on both sides of the ball that will give the coaching staff of the Commanders an opportunity to show they aren’t the issue for a franchise that has stepped backwards in Year 3 of the current regime.


Winner: Washington Commanders


SF (3-2) @ ATL (2-3)

Sunday, October 16 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The 49ers easily handled Atlanta last season with a 31-13 victory, but the competitive mindset of Arthur Smith’s squad this year could make it more of a battle on Sunday. Fortunately for San Francisco, the offense is humming with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, and Tevin Coleman—signed to the 53-man roster following a two-touchdown performance in Week 5—being a factor in the passing game helps make up for some of the lost big-play ability with Elijah Mitchell (knee) out of the lineup, especially paired with how well Jeff Wilson Jr. has run. I’d still like to see George Kittle more involved, and this weekend is a great opportunity for that with the Falcons allowing 19 receptions for 227 yards to him in two career meetings. Opposing tight end Kyle Pitts (hamstring) looking on track to return is a good sign for Atlanta having the firepower to make it a game without Nick Bosa (groin) in the lineup for the Niners, but Garoppolo’s play and the way DeMeco Ryans has his guys flying around on defense gives the edge to the road team.


Winner: San Francisco 49ers


NE (2-3) @ CLE (2-3) 

Sunday, October 16 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Based on how the start of October has gone—with an overtime loss in Green Bay and a shutout win over Detroit—the Patriots have found their identity after another slow start, and they’ll now try to keep it going against a Cleveland team that they blew out 45-7 last November. Of course, Nick Chubb not playing in the loss for the Browns is notable, and the superstar runner losing two fumbles in a rainy loss to the Pats in 2019 is something he’s probably been thinking about for three years. Chubb otherwise ran very well against New England with 20 carries for 131 yards (6.6 YPC), so we’ll see how Bill Belichick’s defense decides to play an efficient Cleveland offense; typically, the defense has taken away Amari Cooper when he was with the Raiders and Cowboys (27.7 yards per game), and they might be fine with letting Chubb churn for first downs while tightening up as the Browns approach scoring territory. On offense, Bailey Zappe is set to draw another start in place of Mac Jones (ankle), and Rhamondre Stevenson can again power the Patriots to a win with Damien Harris (hamstring) expected to be out. If the chunk plays are kept to a minimum, I like New England to get to 3-3.


Winner: New England Patriots


NYJ (3-2) @ GB (3-2)

Sunday, October 16 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Giants deserves all the credit for grinding to a victory over the Packers last week in London, but there is no doubt that Green Bay’s offense didn’t have a good game plan and might have been a bit complacent following an early lead. Against the Jets, it’s important that Matt LaFleur’s offense runs through Aaron Jones (and AJ Dillon) with cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner and D.J. Reed being the strength of New York’s defense—and it’s what I thought would happen last week in order to soften the coverage for downfield shots. Also, Robert Tonyan feels due for a touchdown burst, whether it’s a multi-score breakout this week or the start of a single-game streak, and he might not be a priority to stop for Robert Saleh’s defense. If the pass rush gets going and the Packers tackle Breece Hall and the playmakers of the Jets better than they did Saquon Barkley, this is a game that they could win convincingly.


Winner: Green Bay Packers


JAX (2-3) @ IND (2-2-1) 

Sunday, October 16 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


I don’t think it’s at all sustainable to become a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but the Colts winning games they “shouldn’t” has become a theme for them over the past few years—and it’s already happened twice in 2022 by upsetting the Chiefs and then outlasting Denver without Jonathan Taylor (ankle) last Thursday night. On the flip side, Indy often looks terrible versus non-elite teams, including a 24-0 loss to the Jaguars in Week 2 after which I thought Frank Reich might be fired. The Colts have been much better at home versus the AFC South rival, but the passing attack remains a major concern, and the receivers not getting open seems like just as much as a problem as pass protection is with Matty Ryan already being sacked 21 times this season. Although the offense getting Taylor back could solve a lot with the run blocking improving last Thursday night for the Colts, the edge rushers for the Jags can make it another long game for Matty Ice, and it’s fair to wonder how much more punishment he’ll be able to take on his new team.


Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars


MIN (4-1) @ MIA (3-2)

Sunday, October 16 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Tua Tagovailoa concussion saga has led to an abrupt end to the honeymoon period in Miami, and the Dolphins could drop their third game in a row if unable to defeat the visiting Vikings this weekend—likely while starting seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson at quarterback. The rookie flashed in the preseason, but Tyreek Hill’s theory that he’d put up numbers with anyone will be tested, and another loss would be more evidence of Tagovailoa’s underrated ability under center with a 16-9 career record. For the Vikings, Kirk Cousins has yet to have a huge day through the air this season, which could change this week with the Dolphins allowing 8.3 yards per attempt (third worst in the NFL), and Dalvin Cook previously ran all over his hometown team with 19 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns in his only career matchup against them. I don’t think Minnesota will waste an opportunity to start 5-1 ahead of their bye week.


Winner: Minnesota Vikings


CIN (2-3) @ NO (2-3)

Sunday, October 16 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Similar to Dalvin Cook in Miami, all-time great LSU duo Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase will have a homecoming this week for a trip to New Orleans, and a monster game from them wouldn’t be a surprise. That said, the status of Tee Higgins (ankle) bears monitoring, as opponents have been able to routinely double Chase, which would be easier to accomplish by not needing to worry about Higgins roasting them. If the co-No. 1 wideout is available this week, the best strategy for the Saints might be a variation of what Miami did a couple of weeks ago by playing Higgins in single coverage (with Xavien Howard) and doubling Chase; I’d feel better about putting Marshon Lattimore on Chase (with help) and seeing if Paulson Adebo’s length can stick with a less-than-full-strength Higgins. Either way, the Cincinnati defense has been tremendous dating back to the end of last season, and they should have another strong performance—assuming Taysom Hill doesn’t run wild—with New Orleans also dealing with injuries on offense.


Winner: Cincinnati Bengals


BAL (3-2) @ NYG (4-1)

Sunday, October 16 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


I backed off picking the Giants as a surprise playoff team when general manager Joe Schoen seemed to downplay 2022 expectations before the season because of the team’s cap situation, but Brian Daboll’s overall approach, an improved defense, and heavy workloads for Saquon Barkley have combined to create a winning formula. The main storyline of the game this week with Baltimore coming to town is defensive coordinator Wink Martindale—surely angry about being fired after the 2021 season—facing his former team, and he could have some ideas on how to contain Lamar Jackson based on four years of competing against the former NFL MVP in practice. Execution is the key, though, as defenders need to keep their assignments to prevent Jackson from getting loose, so the focus needs to be there again for New York with a very winnable stretch leading up to Thanksgiving (v BAL, @ JAX, @ SEA, v HOU, v DET). Baltimore can force a couple of turnovers by fooling Daniel Jones to change the game, but the quarterback has settled in as a steady hand under center with just one giveaway since the opener, and the Giants can keep rolling if that remains the case on Sunday.


Winner: New York Giants


TB (3-2) @ PIT (1-4)

Sunday, October 16 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


My opinion of Mike Tomlin is as high as it can possibility be (I’ve always said Bill Belichick is the only coach I’d take over him), but the situation in Pittsburgh this year feels off to me, and it’s shocking that Tomlin allowed visible signs of discontent—in the form of Diontae Johnson and rookie George Pickens showing frustration with Mitchell Trubisky—make their way onto the field several times. And as someone that was high on Kenny Pickett coming out of college, I’m not sure moving on from Trubisky so early was the right move following a close loss to New England and a loss against the Browns in which the former starter played very well. Now, Pickett needs to rebound from a 38-3 loss against the Bills by taking on an ultra-aggressive Tampa Bay defense, so it could be another long day for the rookie and the Steelers as a whole. The betting line is in the single digits with the Bucs not yet hitting their stride, but Tom Brady could finally put up a slanted score with a 12-3 record and 34:5 touchdown-interception ratio against the Steelers (including playoffs). Look for Chris Godwin to have a big day.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


CAR (1-4) @ LAR (2-3)

Sunday, October 16 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


The Rams were heading in the right direction with a couple of September wins following the blowout loss to Buffalo, but Matthew Stafford has been sacked 12 times in two losses to begin October—and they need to use this weekend as a get-right opportunity versus a Carolina defense that ranks towards the bottom of the league in sacks (eight) and just fired head coach Matt Rhule. Still, that doesn’t mean it will be an automatic win for Los Angeles, as the Panthers have some very talented players on the roster, including Brian Burns (4.0 sacks through five weeks) as a potential game-wrecker that Sean McVay will have to game plan around. Plus, I’d argue PJ Walker gives Carolina a better chance to pull off the upset than Baker Mayfield (ankle) would because of his ability to make plays with his legs, and the former Temple standout has won his only two career starts. This is a game where Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and the defense need to make impact plays to build momentum before the bye week and a rematch versus the 49ers.


Winner: Los Angeles Rams


ARI (2-3) @ SEA (2-3)

Sunday, October 16 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


The Seahawks sit at 2-3 through five games, but it’s impossible to not be impressed with their competitiveness and the play of Geno Smith—who is on pace for 4,437 passing yards and a 31:7 touchdown-interception ratio. In terms of Seattle becoming a more aggressive passing attack despite trading away Russell Wilson, it’s something we maybe should have seen coming due to the selections of offensive tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas in the 2022 NFL Draft with both prospects playing in a spread, air-raid style offense in college. I’d expect a strong running game to remain an important part of the core philosophy for Pete Carroll with Ken Walker III taking over as the starter for Rashaad Penny (leg), but it could also lead to even more passing with Walker being a capable receiver underneath as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett stretch opponents vertically. The x-factor for the Cardinals on the road could be Isaiah Simmons, as Seattle is an opponent that he’s thrived against for whatever reason, and maybe I’m discounting their mental toughness with a 2-0 away from home to begin the year.


Winner: Seattle Seahawks


BUF (4-1) @ KC (4-1)

Sunday, October 16 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


Homefield advantage in the playoffs makes this perhaps the most important NFL game of the regular season, and Buffalo is probably happy that the rematch is coming early to at least give them a shot at some redemption for the heartbreaking loss in January. Von Miller being signed by Buffalo and Tyreek Hill being traded out of Kansas City are two significant changes in the matchup, but the latter move has proven to not be much of a loss with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce continuing to rip the heart out of opponents. The Bills could feel better about routinely bracketing Kelce without Hill on the field, though, and I’m sure that’s what Sean McDermott will try to do with the superstar tight end going for lines of 13/118/2 and 8/96/1 against them in two postseason matchups. On the other side of the ball, Kansas City’s defense doesn’t usually play at their best until closer to the playoffs, and they’ll have their hands full stopping both Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis with complementary pieces Devin Singletary, Isaiah McKenzie, and Dawson Knox all having the trust of Josh Allen as well. Overall, the addition of Miller and determination of the Bills to get revenge outweighs the greatness of Mahomes and what will be a crazy home crowd.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


DAL (4-1) @ PHI (5-0)

Sunday, October 16 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Jalen Hurts is turning into a top-tier NFL quarterback as the leader of the undefeated Eagles, and his ability to do what it takes to win—whether it be throwing for almost 350 yards or rushing 15+ times—is what makes Philadelphia a possible powerhouse in the NFC. But if there is a Kryptonite for Hurts to begin his career, it’s been the Cowboys with a couple of blowout wins for Dallas (37-17 and 41-21) in two matchups, and the side known as “America’s Team” has had the advantage in the rivalry since the second chance for Howie Roseman in Philly began a few years ago by winning seven-of-ten meetings. Another thing that could play into the hands of Dallas is the chances of it becoming a slugfest (the defenses are the only two in the NFL allowing fewer than 6.0 passing yards per attempt), and as stated last week, Cooper Rush doesn’t have anything to lose with the knowledge that Dak Prescott (hand) will inevitably return as the starter. However, Hurts didn’t have A.J. Brown in previous battles, Micah Parsons (groin) is at less than 100%, and the fans at Lincoln Financial Field will create an intimidating environment; I just wonder if waiting to wear the all-black uniforms (including the black helmets) will turn out to be a poor decision by the Eagles.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


DEN (2-3) @ LAC (3-2)

Monday, October 17 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN


The hate on Russell Wilson has gone way too far, and the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback playing through a partially torn lat in his throwing shoulder speaks to his toughness; remember, this is someone that missed as little time as possible with a broken right finger last season (three games) by getting around-the-clock rehab and returning with swelling still affecting him. What I believe is fair to question is the transformed play style that I’ve mentioned multiple times, as Wilson almost refusing to use his legs limits the Denver offense with there clearly being opportunities for him to run that he’s often declined. The few extra days for self-evaluation might lead to the Broncos figuring other things out offensively (I’d love to see KJ Hamler more involved), but the Chargers should score enough points that it’d take a dramatic turnaround for Denver to win on the road. I’ll have my eyes on Mike Williams versus Patrick Surtain II as one of the top individual matchups of Week 6.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers