Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press
While Week 5 wasn’t necessarily full of NFL upsets, there were a few notable ones. The Las Vegas Raiders handled the Kansas City Chiefs with relative ease, while the Miami Dolphins absolutely embarrassed the San Francisco 49ers in Levi’s Stadium.
Games like these show that there is at least some level of parity in the NFL and that any team can win on any given Sunday—of Thursday, Monday or Tuesday.
Looking ahead to Week 6, there are a couple of underdogs that appear to be prime upset candidates. We’ll examine those here, make score predictions for every game and run down the latest spreads and over/unders from DraftKings Sportsbook.
NFL Week 6
Sunday, October 18
Baltimore Ravens (-7.5, 46) at Philadelphia Eagles: 35-23 Baltimore
Denver Broncos (n/a) at New England Patriots: 30-20 New England
Chicago Bears (+2.5, 44.5) at Carolina Panthers: 26-23 Carolina
Houston Texans (n/a) at Tennessee Titans: 26-23 Tennessee
Cincinnati Bengals (+8, 47) at Indianapolis Colts: 30-21 Indianapolis
Atlanta Falcons (+3.5, 54.5) at Minnesota Vikings: 28-27 Minnesota
Cleveland Browns (+3.5, 51) at Pittsburgh Steelers: 30-27 Pittsburgh
Washington Football Team (+2.5, 43) at New York Giants: 20-17 New York
Detroit Lions (-3.5, 54.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars: 26-21 Detroit
New York Jets (+8.5, 47.5) at Miami Dolphins: 33-20 Miami
Green Bay Packers (-2.5, 54) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 30-27 Green Bay
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 51) at San Francisco 49ers: 28-23 Los Angeles
Monday, October 19
Kansas City Chiefs (n/a) at Buffalo Bills: 33-30 Kansas City
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5, 54.5) at Dallas Cowboys: 27-26 Dallas
Atlanta Falcons (+3.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Danny Karnik/Associated Press
While I’m not quite ready to call for the outright upset here, there are a couple of reasons to believe that the Atlanta Falcons can beat the spread against the Minnesota Vikings.
The first is that Atlanta should receive a bit of an emotional boost from the firing of head coach Dan Quinn. The team seemed complacent under Quinn over the last couple of weeks, and players will be motivated to perform.
Interim coach Raheem Morris is hoping to turn motivation into dominance on the playing field.
“The message to the team is that we’ve got to go out and force our will on our opponent,” he said, per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure.
Another factor here is that the Minnesota Vikings are likely to be without star running back Dalvin Cook. According to The Athletic’s Chad Graff, Cook has an adductor strain and is unlikely to play.
Alexander Mattison can be a capable running back for Minnesota, but if Cook can’t go, the Vikings will be without arguably their biggest offensive weapon.
The reality is that the Falcons are a talented team that has struggled to close out games. They were up big against the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears before collapsing. Their offense, 11th overall, is potent.
Expect Atlanta to do a better job of closing things out—or at least keeping things close—under Morris and against Minnesota.
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals
This is a game that has real upset potential. The Dallas Cowboys are largely underdogs because of last week’s injury to quarterback Dak Prescott. They’re hosting an Arizona Cardinals team that has talent on both sides of the ball but that has played inconsistently all season.
The Cardinals have weapons like Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. They have a defense that is ranked fifth in points allowed. They’re also 3-2 because they’ve picked on struggling teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Football Team and New York Jets.
Like Dallas, Arizona has not beaten a team with that now holds a winning record. Being 3-2 instead of 2-3 does not make the Cardinals a vastly superior team.
The Cowboys might not even be underdogs with Prescott under center, and taking them and 2.5 points is enticing. Dallas’ offense should not see a significant drop-off with Andy Dalton under center.
Does Dalton possess the same physical tools as Prescott? No. However, he is a three-time Pro Bowler with five playoff campaigns under his belt. He went 9-of-11 for 111 yards while leading Dallas to a comeback win last week. He should have similar success against Arizona, especially now that Cardinals pass-rusher Chandler Jones is out for the season.
The Cardinals have made it clear that they’re going to focus on stopping Ezekiel Elliott and the ground game.
“We have to force Andy Dalton to beat us,” cornerback Patrick Peterson told CBS Sports’ All Things Covered podcast.
With weapons like Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz and Michael Gallup at his disposal, Dalton can, in fact, beat Arizona.