The Court’s Decision – 2021 Week 6 Predictions – Can Seattle Tread Water Without Wilson?

For the first time in his professional career, Russell Wilson will miss a game. After suffering a mallet finger – a ruptured tendon within a finger joint – on his throwing hand during Thursday’s 26-17 loss to the Rams, Wilson’s streak of 149 consecutive starts will come to an end in Week 6. The seven-time Pro Bowler will reportedly miss 6-8 weeks, but Wilson hopes to miss no more than four. Regardless, this is a huge blow to a Seattle team already struggling to find consistency at 2-3. Wilson’s passer rating of 125.3 is currently leading the league.

Fortunately for the Seahawks, the timetable for Wilson’s injury includes the team’s Week 9 bye. For the time being, Seattle turns to eight-year veteran Geno Smith at quarterback. Smith looked decent in Week 5, completing 10 of 17 passes for 131 yards and an impressive touchdown strike to DK Metcalf that cut the Hawks’ deficit to 16-14 midway through the fourth quarter. After Jason Myers’ 32-yard field goal kept Seattle alive with just under three minutes to play, Smith and Co. got the ball back, down 23-17 with 2:09 remaining. However, hope for a comeback quickly disappeared as Smith’s pass intended for Tyler Lockett was intercepted on the first play of the drive. Lockett tripped during his route and never had a chance.

Now the Seahawks enter unfamiliar territory as it will be the first game since 2011 without Wilson under center. 

Pick time.

My season picks record: 10-6 last week, 50-30 overall

Seattle (2-3) at Pittsburgh (2-3)

Metcalf’s 98 yards and pair of scores led the way for the Seahawks in their loss to the Rams. Wilson netted 152 passing yards, a touchdown, and was picked off for the first time this season before exiting with his injured finger. Safety Quandre Diggs made an impressive interception early in the second quarter when he chased down a pass being thrown away by LA quarterback Matthew Stafford in the back of the end zone.

The Steelers snapped a three-game losing streak with their win over Denver by relying on their young talent. Rookie Najee Harries took 23 carries for 122 yards and a TD, while second-year receiver Chase Claypool turned five catches into 130 yards, including an 18-yard scoring grab that proved to be the difference in the third quarter. 

Expect both teams to continue their current trends.

Pick: Steelers 27, Seahawks 16

Tampa Bay (4-1) at Philadelphia (2-3) – Thursday

Tom Brady tossed five touchdown passes en route to 411 yards in the Buccaneers’ 45-17 dismantling of Miami. Four of those scoring passes went to Antonio Brown and Mike Evans, who had two apiece. Brown finished with seven catches for 124 yards, and Evans had 113 yards on six grabs. 

Jalen Hurts fumbled out of the end zone, and the Eagles found themselves down 15-3 in the second quarter before coming back to claim a 21-18 win over Carolina. Hurts threw for 199 yards and an interception, but found pay dirt twice with his legs, including the game-winning 6-yard score with 2:38 to go. He finished with 30 yards on nine carries.

Philadelphia is finding some traction, but the Bucs are just too good.

Pick: Buccaneers 37, Eagles 27

Miami (1-4) at Jacksonville (0-5) – London

Despite the blowout loss to Tampa Bay, it was a nice bounce-back game for Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin. After netting a mere three yards on just two carries (and zero catches) in a Week 4 loss to Indianapolis, the former Washington Husky totaled 99 yards on 15 combined touches in Week 5. He did most of his damage in the passing game, hauling in 10 catches for 74 yards and both of Miami’s touchdowns. 

The Jaguars kept it close – for a quarter and a half – before losing 37-19 to Tennessee. James Robinson had 18 totes for 149 yards and a score. Trevor Lawrence netted 273 yards passing with a TD and an interception while adding 28 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Tua Tagovailoa could return for Miami this week, but something tells me Jacksonville gets in the win column and ends its 20-game losing streak.

Pick: Jaguars 23, Dolphins 17

Green Bay (4-1) at Chicago (3-2)

Davante Adams’ 206 yards and touchdown on 11 catches were overshadowed by missed kicks. Mason Crosby nailed his first three attempts to bring his franchise record for consecutive field goals made to 27. Then he went on to miss his next three attempts (two in the final 2:14 of the fourth and one in overtime) before finally connecting again on a 49-yard attempt to give the Packers a 25-22 win over Cincinnati with 1:55 left in OT. Crosby also missed his first extra-point attempt in the second quarter.

Justin Fields threw his first career touchdown pass in the Bears’ win over Las Vegas. Fields finished with 111 yards on 12-of-20 passing. His 2-yard TD toss went to little-used tight end Jesper Horsted. It was Horsted’s first and only catch so far this season. Chicago’s backfield of Khalil Herbert (18 carries, 75 yards) and Damien Williams (16 carries, 64 yards, 1 TD) controlled the game.

Green Bay should win its fifth straight (both for the season and in its series against “Da Bears”). I doubt this one goes to OT.

Pick: Packers 38, Bears 17

Cincinnati (3-2) at Detroit (0-5)

Oh, did I not mention the other side’s kicking woes in the Packers-Bengals game earlier? Let me rectify that… In addition to Crosby’s failed attempts, Cincinnati kicker Evan McPherson missed a pair of potential game-winning field goal tries. His first came with 26 seconds to go in regulation, and his second would have ended the game with 4:19 left in overtime. Rookie Ja’Marr Chase hauled in six catches for 159 yards and a 70-yard touchdown. Chase has five touchdowns through his first five games. 

Yet another heartbreaker for the Lions as Minnesota kept Detroit winless with a 54-yard field goal as time expired. The Lions scored 11 points in less than two minutes to take a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds on the clock before the last-second kick. D’Andre Swift scored on a 7-yard run before Jared Goff found Khadarel Hodge for the two-point conversion. Swift finished with 51 yards on 11 totes while racking up 53 more yards on six catches.

Detroit can’t catch a break, and I don’t think they do against Cincy either.

Pick: Bengals 30, Lions 24

Houston (1-4) at Indianapolis (1-4)

Davis Mills easily put together the best game of his young career in the Texans’ loss to New England. The rookie completed 21 of 29 pass attempts for 312 yards and three touchdowns without being intercepted. In his first game, Chris Moore caught all five of his targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. Moore hadn’t played since he was with Baltimore back in 2019.

The Colts were better than Baltimore on Monday… for three quarters. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, the fourth had to be played. Indy led by as many as 19 points (22-3) in the third and was up 25-9 with 12 minutes left in the fourth before losing to the Ravens 31-25 in overtime. Jonathan Taylor dominated the stat sheet. The second-year running back had 116 yards and a 76-yard touchdown on three receptions while taking 15 carries for 53 yards and another score. Carson Wentz threw for 402 yards and a pair of TDs.

Indy shouldn’t have as much trouble holding onto a lead in this one.

Pick: Colts 29, Texans 20

Los Angeles Rams (4-1) at New York Giants (1-4)

Matthew Stafford injured a finger on his throwing hand last Thursday as well, but he was able to remain in the game and lead the Rams to a win over Seattle. Stafford finished with 365 yards, a touchdown, and the aforementioned Diggs interception. The QB’s favorite target was Robert Woods, who caught 12 passes for 150 yards. Darrell Henderson Jr. contributed 82 yards and a score on 17 carries. 

Saquon Barkley suffered an ankle sprain and had to exit early, leaving the Giants without their top weapon in a 44-20 rout by Dallas. Devontae Booker attempted to fill in for Barkley, netting 42 yards and a TD on 16 totes while adding 16 yards and another score on three catches. Rookie wideout Kadarius Toney had 189 yards on 10 grabs.

Barkley is likely out for this one. Even if he manages to play, I still like LA over NY here.

Pick: Rams 31, Giants 13

Kansas City (2-3) at Washington (2-3)

The Chiefs were beaten easily at home by the Bills, losing 38-20. Patrick Mahomes struggled his way to 272 yards, two touchdowns, and a pair of picks on 33-of-54 passing. He also led the team in rushing with 61 yards on eight carries. Clyde Edwards-Helaire left the game with a knee injury and is now on injured reserve. 

Antonio Gibson did his best to carry Washington, but it wasn’t enough as “the Football Team” fell to New Orleans. Gibson finished with 60 yards and two scores on 20 rushes. Taylor Heinicke completed only 20 of his 41 passing attempts for 248 yards and was intercepted twice.

They may have the same 2-3 record, but KC is the better football team.

Pick: Chiefs 36, WFT 23

Minnesota (2-3) at Carolina (3-2)

The Vikings surrendered a late touchdown and two-point conversion to find themselves down 17-16 with 37 seconds left but managed to walk away with a 19-17 victory over winless Detroit as Greg Joseph’s 54-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired. Alexander Mattison had 113 yards on 25 carries while adding 40 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. Justin Jefferson tallied 124 yards on seven grabs.

The Panthers squandered a 15-3 lead in their 21-18 loss to Philadelphia. Sam Darnold was picked off three times and had a pedestrian 177 yards and a single touchdown through the air. Chuba Hubbard rushed 24 times for 101 yards. Carolina has dropped two straight after winning its first three games.

Minnesota should come out on top.

Pick: Vikings 28, Panthers 24

Los Angeles Chargers (4-1) at Baltimore (4-1)

Where did this Justin Herbert-Mike Williams connection come from? Wasn’t Keenan Allen supposed to be the top receiver? Herbert netted 398 yards, four passing touchdowns, and one rushing score in the Chargers’ 47-42 win over Cleveland. 165 of those yards and two scoring tosses went to Williams, who finished with eight catches. Allen had six grabs for 75 yards. Oh, and Austin Ekeler accounted for 66 yards and two TDs on 17 carries while taking in five catches for 53 yards and another score.

It took a monstrous game from Lamar Jackson, but the Ravens came back from 19 down to beat Indianapolis in overtime. Jackson completed 37 of 43 passing attempts for 442 yards and four touchdowns. He added 62 yards on 14 rushing attempts. His top two targets were Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown. Andrews led the way with 147 yards and two scores on 11 catches. Brown added 125 yards and a pair of TDs on nine receptions.

I feel LA will pull out a close win over Baltimore this week.

Pick: Chargers 38, Ravens 36

Arizona (5-0) at Cleveland (3-2)

The Cardinals remained undefeated with a hard-fought win over San Francisco. DeAndre Hopkins had six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown to lead Arizona, while James Conner found the end zone for the fifth time over the last three games. Kyler Murray finished with 239 yards and the TD to Hopkins through the air. 

The Browns now have the distinction of being the only team in NFL history to lose any game in the regular season or playoffs when scoring 40-plus points with 500 or more yards and zero turnovers after their 47-42 loss to the Chargers. Nick Chubb bruised his way to 161 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries while Kareem Hunt added 61 yards and a pair of scores on 12 totes. David Njoku hauled in seven receptions for 149 yards and a TD. Cleveland outgained LA 531-493.

I think this is the end of the road for Arizona’s unbeaten record.

Pick: Browns 32, Cardinals 29

Dallas (4-1) at New England (2-3)

Things seem to be clicking for the Cowboys as they earned their fourth straight win in Week 5, crushing the Giants 44-20. Behind 201 rushing yards – 110 from Ezekiel Elliott and 75 from Tony Pollard – Dallas racked up 515 total yards. Elliott found the end zone on a 13-yard carry as well as a 4-yard pass from Dak Prescott. Prescott had three scores in all and was picked off once on his way to 302 yards passing. 

The Patriots completed a 13-point comeback, and Nick Folk’s 21-yard field goal with 15 seconds left gave New England a victory over Houston. Hunter Henry finished with 75 yards and a touchdown on six catches – his second straight game finding the pay dirt. Damien Harris also found the end zone on a goal-line plunge from the 1-yard line. Harris finished with 58 yards on 14 carries.

Struggling against the Texans doesn’t bode well for a New England team that now faces a potent Dallas attack.

Pick: Cowboys 34, Patriots 20

Las Vegas (3-2) at Denver (3-2)

News broke out on Sunday about now-former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and the offensive emails he sent between 2010 and 2018. He still coached in Week 5, but it led to a 20-9 loss to Chicago. Derek Carr threw for 206 yards and an interception for Las Vegas. Josh Jacobs was the lone Raider to find the end zone – from 1-yard out – and finished with 48 yards on 15 carries. Vegas has now lost two in a row after winning its first three.

The Broncos found themselves in a 24-6 hole late in the third quarter and cut their deficit to 27-19 in the fourth. On fourth and goal from the 3-yard line with 11 seconds on the clock, Teddy Bridgewater’s pass to Courtland Sutton was intercepted in the end zone, and Denver found itself with a second consecutive loss after a 3-0 start. It was Bridgewater’s first interception of the season as he finished with 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air. Sutton shook off an ankle injury suffered during practice earlier in the week to catch seven passes for 120 yards and a score.

You can never tell how a team will react to a coach being fired, but I see Vegas dropping a third straight.

Pick: Broncos 26, Raiders 16

Buffalo (4-1) at Tennessee (3-2) – Monday

The Bills solidified themselves as the class of the AFC with their 38-20 domination in Kansas City. Josh Allen launched himself into the forefront of the MVP discussion by throwing for 315 yards and three scoring strikes while adding 59 yards and a touchdown with his legs. Dawson Knox caught his fifth TD catch over the last four games en route to 117 yards on three grabs.

Can anyone stop Derrick Henry? The 27-year old beast of a running back had his fourth straight 100-yard game as he took 29 carries for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans’ win over Jacksonville. It was Henry’s second three-touchdown game so far this year. He now has 640 yards and seven scores through five games, putting him on pace for 2,176 yards and nearly 24 TDs. For reference, the single-season rushing record is 2,105 yards by Eric Dickerson in 1984.

This could very well be a letdown game for Buffalo, but it should still find a way to win against Tennessee.

Pick: Bills 30, Titans 27

Teams on bye: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers

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