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 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.

Raiders, 20-17

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

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