NFL Week 6 game previews
Quick look at 14 games, staff predictions
Steelers (2-2-1) at Bengals (4-1)
Time, TV: 1 p.m. ET Sun., CBS Pregame.com line: Bengals by
2 Steelers’ keys: Spread it out. Pittsburgh has six players with double-digit receptions. Cincinnati’s secondary is susceptible to intermediate routes over the middle. Attack with WR JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Bengals’ keys: Establish the run. RB Joe Mixon returned in Week 5 and had 22 carries for 93 yards, though skewed by a late 31-yard scamper.
Who wins? If Cincy QB Andy Dalton stays composed, he’ll outgun the Steelers’ shaky secondary. Bengals, 30-27
Buccaneers (2-2) at Falcons (1-4)
Time, TV: 1 ET Sun., Fox Line: Falcons by 3
Bucs’ keys: QB Jameis Winston has thrown 12 career TD passes against Atlanta; his best against any other team is five. The Falcons secondary is missing its two starting safeties. Falcons’ keys: The line has to protect QB Matt Ryan. Atlanta should look to get WR Julio Jones more involved in the red zone; he has 34 receptions and
55 targets but no TDs. Who wins? Tampa Bay always seems to bring its “A” game against Atlanta. Bucs, 30-27
Bills (2-3) at Texans (2-3)
Time, TV: 1 ET Sun., CBS Line: Texans by 9
Bills’ keys: The defense has done a good job of producing takeaways. QB Josh Allen has thrown one interception but will need to heighten his pocket awareness against a formidable rush. The Bills also need to emphasize RBs LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory to keep Houston’s offense on the sideline.
Texans’ keys: Against a rookie quarterback who leads the NFL in time to throw, Houston has the talent to transpose that time into hurried throws and sacks. The best trait Texans QB
Deshaun Watson has is turning nothing into something.
Who wins? The pressure Watson will evade is not as strong as the pass rush seeking Allen. Texans, 27-19
Chargers (3-2) at Browns (2-2-1)
Time, TV: 1 ET Sun., CBS Line: Chargers by 1
Chargers’ keys: QB Philip Rivers remains one of the league’s most effective passers, and part of the reason is RBs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler are so versatile and efficient. Browns’ keys: Start with a better start — Cleveland has scored the fewest first-quarter points (six) in the league. Getting an early lead would help unleash the defense to be even more aggressive with DE Myles Garrett, who is averaging one sack a game. Who wins? Cleveland figured out how to win in Week 5. The momentum carries on. Browns, 19-16
Cardinals (1-4) at Vikings (2-2-1)
Time, TV: 1 ET Sun., Fox Line: Vikings by 10 Cardinals’ keys: Arizona, with rookie QB Josh Rosen, needs to take a page out of the playbook of the Bills, who upset Minnesota with a rookie passer. Vikings’ keys: Get ahead early. You won’t find a better passer-receiver connection than QB Kirk Cousins and WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Who wins? Minnesota is better and has the momentum. Vikings, 27-14
Bears (3-1) at Dolphins (3-2)
Time, TV: 1 ET Sun., Fox Line: Bears by 3
Bears’ keys: QB Mitchell Trubisky, who threw for 354 yards and 6 TDs in his last game, should be able to complete plenty of short passes to his receivers. Also, RB Tarik Cohen’s game-breaking speed should be an effective weapon.
Dolphins’ keys: QB Ryan Tannehill will need to take care of the football; he turned it over twice, and both mistakes were returned for TDs in the loss to the Bengals. Injuries have racked the O-line; it will be interesting to see whether it can block LB Khalil Mack and Chicago’s tough defensive front.
Who wins? The Dolphins have a ton of injuries, and the Bears defense is one of the best in the NFL. Bears, 27-17
Colts (1-4) at Jets (2-3)
Time, TV: 1 ET Sun., CBS Line: Jets by 2
Jets’ keys: New York’s defense needs to force Colts QB Andrew Luck into mistakes; he threw two interceptions among his 59 passes in a loss in Week 5.
Colts’ keys: The offense will need to take pressure off Luck, who has thrown 121 passes in the last two games. However, the rushing attack is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.
Who wins? Between two predictable offenses, New York’s secondary is a worse matchup for Indianapolis than whatever the Colts defense will throw at rookie QB Sam Darnold. Expect a sloppy game. Jets, 24-17
Seahawks (2-3) vs. Raiders (1-4)
Time, TV: 1 ET Sun., Fox Line: Seahawks by 3
Seahawks’ keys: The best way to beat Oakland is to get to QB Derek Carr, who tends to get careless with the ball when pressured and whose offensive line is banged up and inexperienced. The Raiders struggle to stop passes down the field, so expect QB Russell Wilson to take a lot of deep shots.
Raiders’ keys: They lack talent at all levels of the defense and rely on turnovers to get stops. They have weapons at running back, receiver and tight end.
Who wins? The Seahawks are a different team on the road (and this game is in London), and the Raiders offensive line can neutralize a good pass rush. It’s going to be a close game.
Panthers (3-1) at Redskins (2-2)
Time, TV: 1 ET Sun., Fox Line: Redskins by 1 Panthers’ keys: They’ll need to rely on the versatility of QB Cam Newton. Similarly, RB Christian McCaffrey has to establish the run game right from the start. An added boost could come from the possible return of TE Greg Olsen.
Redskins’ keys: They’ll need a big game from RB Adrian Pe
terson, who’s shown he is still elite at 33. QB Alex Smith’s calculated passing game will need to be accurate and efficient.
Who wins? Washington’s Week 3 victory over Green Bay showed how good the Redskins can be. Expect a similar performance. Redskins, 24-21
Rams (5-0) at Broncos (2-3)
Time, TV: 4:05 ET Sun., Fox Line: Rams by 7
Rams’ keys: WR Brandin Cooks likely will face talented CBs Chris Harris or Bradley Roby. So Los Angeles should target WRs Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, either of whom would be a mismatch against CB Adam Jones, 35.
Broncos’ keys: Run. RBs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman have combined for 664 yards from scrimmage and 5 TDs. OLBs Von Miller and Bradley Chubb must generate a pass rush to disrupt L.A.’s menacing attack. Who wins? Denver QB Case Keenum hasn’t been good enough to beat good defenses, and L.A. has one of the most talented teams in the NFL. Rams, 28-17
Ravens (3-2) at Titans (3-2)
Time, TV: 4:25 ET Sun., CBS Line: Ravens by 3
Ravens’ keys: When QB Joe Flacco has time, he can make the right moves in the pocket and get the ball to playmakers. WR John Brown has been a revelation, catching at least three passes in every game and scoring three TD.
Titans’ keys: Their offense should attack the middle of the field, which Baltimore has struggled to defend. QB Mar
cus Mariota doesn’t throw for a lot of yards, but he’s lethal running the ball.
Who wins? This is just their fourth meeting this decade, and the Titans won 23-20 last year at home. Same site, same result. Titans, 23-20
Jaguars (3-2) at Cowboys (3-2)
Time, TV: 4:25 ET Sun., CBS Line: Jaguars by 3
Cowboys’ keys: Their ability to pass for first downs is a big key. That burden mostly falls on the shoulders of WR Cole Beasley. Jacksonville boasts outstanding outside cornerbacks, so work in the slot will be key. RB Ezekiel Elliott continues to be the catalyst for the offense.
Jaguars’ keys: They will look for big plays in the passing game. Outside of CB Byron Jones, Dallas hasn’t done a good job at stopping those. QB
Blake Bortles will look to spread the ball around.
Who wins? Dallas continues to play well at home. Cowboys, 21-17
Chiefs (5-0) at Patriots (3-2)
Time, TV: 8:20 ET Sun., NBC Line: Patriots by 31⁄ 2 Chiefs’ keys: Coach Andy Reid has done a fantastic job of opening up the high-powered offense for QB Patrick Ma
homes, whose 14 TD passes leads the league. The Patriots don’t have the speed to guard all of the Chiefs’ weapons, and WR Tyreek Hill figures to be a problem. The Chiefs have been the best team in the league at stopping opponents on third down.
Patriots’ keys: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will have a game plan to keep the Chiefs offense on the sideline as much as possible, and RB
Sony Michel should be a big part of the equation. On defense, the Patriots need to hold Kansas City to field goals; the Chiefs are converting in the red zone at an 82 percent clip.
Who wins? There will be plenty of points, but Kansas City will have a few more. Chiefs, 31-28
49ers (1-4) at Packers (2-2-1)
Time, TV: 8:15 ET Mon., ESPN Line: Packers by 91⁄ 2 49ers’ keys: Control the ball on offense and pressure Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers need to stay balanced and protect QB C.J. Beathard, using rookie RB Matt Breida as the focal point of the offense.
Packers’ keys: Attack the secondary and stop the 49ers’ run. QB Aaron Rodgers is getting healthier every week, and the Packers could return WRs Ran
dall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. Who wins? The 49ers aren’t an easy out, but it’s difficult to envision Beathard beating Rodgers. Packers, 28-20
Game previews by USA TODAY Sports Media Group affiliates