IT'S Week 6 in the 2019/20 NFL season and with another crop of thrilling games in store, we got the lowdown from writer and broadcaster Nat Coombs. Our resident NFL expert landed two of three selections last week – not bad at all for a debut column.
I’m not falling into the over-reaction trap that others seem to be with the Dallas Cowboys. Yep, they were disappointing against Green Bay, but they still put up 24 points on one of the NFL’s strongest defenses. Even if you’re buying that the Cowboys are not as advertised, you have to concede the dominance they displayed against Miami (a 31-6 win) against the Giants (winning 35-17), not to mention their 10-point advantage over the Redskins (31-21).
What connects these teams to the Jets? They’re all struggling in the lower reaches of the NFL. So, the Cowboys may struggle against the big guns, but they put away the also rans with some ease. Sam Darnold, the Jets QB has been missing for weeks with mono (glandular fever) and whilst his return improves the Jets offense immediately from Luke Falk, we don’t know what shape he’ll be in, and he’s still a fledgling NFL starter, in only his second season.
Jets will look to LeVeon Bell to exploit the Dallas run defense the same way the Packers did, but expect adjustments there, and a bounceback performance all round from the Cowboys.
Pick Dallas Cowboys – 7
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) October 11, 2019
This pick is predicated on Alvin Kamara being fit, because the Saints superstar RB missed practice in the week with an ankle injury and will be a game-time decision. If he starts, I fancy New Orleans to get the road win. This is a topflight defense that will put too much pressure on a Jacksonville offense that’s talented, but limited.
We’re all pulling for Gardner Minshew – the rookie Jags QB with splendid facial hair and the poise and improvisation that belies his inexperience – and he’s built up a decent tag team with DJ Chark, but there just isn’t enough complexity to this offense, and it relies so heavily on Leonard Fournette having a strong game. And this is a strong Saints Run D.
Conversely, it’s not a strong Jags defense against the run Sean Payton, the Saints Head Coach, an offensive mastermind, is adapting the playcalling week on week to cater to the strengths of his back up QB Teddy Bridgewater, and it’s all starting to come together.
It’s a shame we’re not going to see Cam Newton on Sunday, but the Panthers have an equally dynamic playmaker in RB Christian McCaffrey who may just emulate Newton and win the MVP this season. He’s on pace to break the record for total yards from scrimmage and arrives in London at the peak of his form which offsets the inexperience and limitations of back up QB Kyle Allen. He’s protecting the ball well though and the Bucs are allowing just shy of 30 points per game on average, though defensively, they’re the only team to keep McCaffrey in check this season.
It’s a dangerous Bucs offense too that Carolina are playing against. Stats suggest that when teams play each other a second time in the season, there are fewer points, but I feel the London trip and neutrality of the field may negate that and with Jameis Winston playing the best football of his NFL career, and the dynamic duo of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans around him, this Tampa offense is capable of some roundhouse rights. So, I’m seeing points here.
Pick: Over 47.5 total points