Upcoming Match-ups

NFL Week 6 Picks Straight Up – Predicted Upsets and Underdogs Showing Value

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in NFL Football

Oct 16, 2021 · 6:25 AM PDT

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt with his hands in the air during an NFL football game.
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
  • The undefeated Arizona Cardinals are underdogs in Cleveland against the Browns
  • The Los Angeles Chargers look to upset another AFC contender, the Baltimore Ravens
  • Last week’s picks went 1-1, winning 1.47 units to bring our season total to +12.05 units (8-5 record)

Several underdogs came close to a sizeable upset in Week 5, but the Lions, Texans, 49ers and Colts couldn’t finish the job. So by virtue of picking the Bears, we hit the largest upset of last week! That’s neat, I guess.

When it comes to the NFL’s Week 6 lines, once again we’re not going to be chasing any major underdogs. Instead, we’re (mostly) going to take the opportunity to bet on some great teams who will be looking to make the case that they should be Super Bowl favorites as we reach the third-way mark of the season.

NFL Week 6 Upset Picks

Matchup Spread Moneyline Pick Units
Arizona Cardinals vs Cleveland Browns CLE -3 +154 Cardinals 1
Los Angeles Chargers vs Baltimore Ravens BAL -2.5 +120 Chargers 1
Seattle Seahawks vs Pittsburgh Steelers PIT -5.5 +198 Seahawks 1

Odds as of October 15th at FanDuel.

Cardinal Rule: Take Arizona

The Arizona Cardinals remain the NFL’s lone unbeaten squad after knocking off San Francisco. But for the third time this year, they’ll be underdogs when they head to the Mistake on the Lake, where the 4-1 Cleveland Browns are favored by three.

Kyler Murray and company didn’t look their best against the Niners, but they continue to pull out tight games. The Browns offense on the other hand, looked great for 95% of their shootout against the Chargers, before shrinking when it mattered most.

Of this year’s top tier contenders, Cleveland might be the only team with a QB that you don’t feel great about putting the game on his shoulders (although part of that has to do with a nagging injury to one of Baker Mayfield’s shoulders). Still, his inability to deliver in obvious passing situations should make one wary of picking the Browns in what could be another tight finish.

Of course Cleveland will be able to have success on the ground against Arizona’s underwhelming run defense. But these explosive Cards should be able to answer right back against a Browns team that is banged up at all levels.


Personally, I’m done doubting the Cardinals. Arizona continues to rise to whatever challenge is thrown their way. Even their defense has been a lot better than I thought possible.

Worryingly, the Cards are dealing with some COVID cases in their facility, including a positive test for Chandler Jones. As of writing this Friday morning, I’m still confident Arizona can pull it out, but if the situation worsens, adjust your strategy accordingly.

Chargers Give Ravens the Runaround

The game of the week sees the 4-1 Los Angeles Chargers visit the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens, with both offenses coming off incredible aerial performances the week prior. The home Ravens are favored by 2.5, but this really feels like a pick’ em, especially for a Bolts side that is used to playing in hostile environments.

Baltimore backers will point to the Chargers league-worst rush defense as a reason the Ravens should roll in this one. But that oversimplification doesn’t acknowledge that Greg Roman’s run game hasn’t had much success this season with left tackle Ronnie Stanley sidelined and a hodgepodge of new faces in the running back room.

The Ravens are on a four-game roll because of what Lamar Jackson has been doing with his arm, easily having his best season as a passer. That success should carry on throughout the year, just maybe not this week against Brandon Staley’s defense. Just like with the Rams last year, the Bolts are often showing light boxes, allowing opponents to run while focusing on limiting the passing game. And before last week, that was working wonders.

Even if L.A. isn’t able to limit Baltimore’s offense, we know Justin Herbert and company can score with just about anyone in the NFL. The second-year QB continues to handle pressure with the poise of a seasoned veteran, ranking fourth in EPA on pressured dropbacks (according to Sports Info Solutions). Against a blitz-happy Wink Martindale defense, Herbert should have another strong showing, especially as the Ravens continue to struggle to fill the gap left by Marcus Peters’ injury.

What’s great about backing Staley’s Chargers, is you know they’re always going for the win. The Bolts have already gone for it on fourth down eight times this season (converting seven) including once from their own 22 yard line in the third quarter. This team has an aggressive mindset from the top down, and that’s certainly something you want when you’re looking to pull a road upset over a fellow AFC contender.

Will Seahawks Sink or Swim With Smith?

The Seattle Seahawks, once favored in this matchup, now head to Heinz Field as 5.5-point underdogs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The main difference between this Seattle team and the one that was giving 2.5 points on lookahead lines is the name under center, as Geno Smith will be making his first start for the Seahawks.

No slight to Russell Wilson, but should his absence really account for a seven-point swing? Especially when Smith might still be the best QB in this matchup?

For at least a week, Ben Roethlisberger delayed getting the Old Yeller treatment. But this is still not a good Steelers offense, especially with JuJu Smith-Schuster now sidelined for the year.

Seattle’s defense has struggled this year, so Pittsburgh could still have success moving the ball. But the main reason I like the Seahawks here is that it’s basically a must win to keep pace in the NFC West, and some of the league’s top coaches have done their best work when they turn to a backup QB.

Whether it was Bill Belichick scheming up a 3-1 start with a suspended Tom Brady, Mike Tomlin playing .500 football with Duck Hodges or Sean Payton thriving with Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill; the NFL’s best coaches can put backup QBs in winning situations. The question becomes, does Pete Carroll belong in that group? This is the first game he’ll play without Wilson under center since 2011.

This line is too juicy not to put a wager down on a Seahawks team that’s well-rested coming off a Thursday Nighter. Feel free to fade me here, but if you have that kind of confidence to lay a -240 vig on the Steelers, you haven’t been watching Pittsburgh play this year.

Author Image