Looking for a must-see matchup on Sunday's schedule is like searching for a diamond in the rough. Texans-Jaguars and Bears-Lions may be divisional rivalries, but aren't exactly appointment viewing. Ravens-49ers ranks among the least compelling Super Bowl rematches possible, especially with one Harbaugh gone and the other's future rumored to be up in the air. Even the featured afternoon game, Chargers-Packers, has a double-digit point spread. The Patriots' projected margin of victory over the Colts isn't far behind, taking some luster off a Sunday Night game with no shortage of storylines.
While it may be an ideal Sunday for fans to make other plans, 13 point spreads remain on the board for Week 6. Just like the weeks with more sex appeal, there's opportunity to find value in some of those lines.
Buffalo +4 vs. Cincinnati
Last week's look-ahead line favored the Bills and it's difficult to justify this big of a swing. While the Bengals' outstanding start continued, in beating the Seahawks by a field goal as 3-point home favorites they simply met market expectations. EJ Manuel starting for Buffalo in place of the injured Tyrod Taylor moves the needle only slightly and most other handicapping factors were known at the time of the look-ahead line's release.
Since then there's been an indication the Bengals may struggle to maintain their level of play this Sunday, as teams favored the week after playing Seattle are on a 6-18-3 streak against the spread. That's predominantly after the standard four quarters against the Seahawks' physicality, while last week's grueling game went nearly five full quarters factoring in overtime. Cincinnati is also in a look-ahead spot, with its bye week looming and no less than five wins through six weeks setting the stage for a relaxing vacation.
Arizona -3.5 at Pittsburgh
After pummeling the Lions in Detroit last week, the Cardinals stayed on the East Coast to prepare for this game. This enabled them to sidestep much of the wear and tear teams from the west typically endure when playing consecutive games in the Eastern Time Zone.
Also favoring Arizona: Bruce Arians is the superior coach, has the superior team, and is unlikely to hold anything back in his return to Pittsburgh, where he was forced out after the 2011 season.
The Steelers, meanwhile, were extremely fortunate to escape San Diego with a win on the last play of the game - still missing Big Ben, their 3-2 record may be giving their backers a false sense of security. With all due respect to the Rooney family, Mike Vick is a liability and the team is in a tough spot coming off cross-country travel on a short week.
Pick of the Week: Miami +1.5 at Tennessee
The Titans covered as last Sunday's pick of the week and their outlook hasn't changed; this one is all about the Dolphins. Mid-season coaching shake-ups often inject life where it had been lacking, even if only for a short while, and Miami should be poised to respond accordingly with Dan Campbell taking the reigns from Joe Philbin. The players have to prove themselves to a new head coach, and in this case the revamped coaching staff has had the benefit of a bye week to refocus the team and put a better plan in place.
Perhaps no unit in the NFL needs refocusing more than the Dolphins' defense, which many expected to be a major strength entering the season. The ample talent remains on board, and any remotely savvy coaching with that personnel can make it a long day for rookie Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota.
As disappointing as the Dolphins have been in starting 1-3, they're still very much in the mix in an AFC mired in mediocrity. A win over the Titans and anything other than a collapse next week against lowly Houston would put them right back in the thick of things.
It's sink or swim time for Miami. With a new voice at the helm, the Dolphins have a golden opportunity to stay afloat.
Week 6 Record: 1-2
Season Record: 10-10
Picks of the Week: 4-0