Last Week’s Record: 4-1
Season Record: 17-9-1

Without any cockiness at all, I have to admire my early-season work so far. This is a short card of only 12 Sunday/Monday games. We’ll tread carefully, but I’ll deliver a few delicious picks.

Spreads are provided by FanDuel.

Cincinnati (4-2) at Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
Line: Baltimore -6.5

This is an interesting matchup. It pits an improving Bengals team that comes into Baltimore with a chance to really put a stake in the ground as a contender by beating the Ravens and taking the AFC North lead. With Joe Burrow back and playing at a very high level and with Joe Mixon in the backfield, this won’t be a walk in the park for the home team. But the O-line is the Bengals’ weakest link and it’s one that Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale should be able to take full advantage of through a variety of blitz packages.

And did I mention that the Bengals seem to bring out the best in Lamar Jackson? Consequently, I don’t see this ending closely.

The Pick: Baltimore 31, Cincinnati 19

Carolina Panthers (3-3) at New York Giants (1-5)
Line: Carolina -3

The Panthers got off to a hot start this season at 3-0 but have now have lost three in a row as they stepped up in class and played the likes of the 5-1 Cowboys, the inconsistent but talented Eagles and the very tough 3-3 Vikings.

Meanwhile, Giants head coach Joe Judge is stating the obvious that a “fish stinks from the head down” in trying to take the full blame for his club’s dismal record. On top of that, running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Kenny Golladay are not likely to play.

The Giants are a minus-63 point differential (114 points scored and the 177 points allowed). The Panthers are plus-22 points. That is a shift of 85 points. That seems an awfully big differential to end up with the Panthers being only a three-point favorite, even on the road.

The Pick: Carolina 25, New York Giants 17

Washington Football Team (2-4) at Green Bay Packers (5-1)
Line: Green Bay -7.5

This game for most of the week was Green Bay -9 or -9.5. Suddenly the number dropped to a much more palatable -7.5 for the team I was inclined to pick all along.

As the old line says, sure, on any given Sunday the WFT can go out and beat just about anyone if they play a good football game. But realistically, this team has been a great disappointment through the first six weeks and has the feel of a team that will eventually be jockeying for the best position to pick a new No. 1 quarterback.

Meanwhile, after that opening-week 38-3 shellacking at the hands of the Saints in neutral-site Jacksonville, the Packers have won five in a row. In their two games against good teams (the 49ers and Bengals), the games have been very close. On the other side of the ledger, they beat a bad Lions club by 18, the Steelers by 10 in Pittsburgh and the Bears by 10 in Chicago.

I’ll always take the Aaron Rodgers-led team giving only 7.5 points on its way to a six-game winning streak against a team playing to prevent yet another season from turning into tatters.

The Pick: Green Bay 29, WFT 17

New York Jets (1-4) at New England Patriots (2-4)
Line: New England -7

These two teams played at New York in Week 2 and the Pats beat the Jets handily, 25-6. And while the Jets beat the suddenly tough-looking Titans, 27-24, in overtime in Week 4, the bottom line is that in their five games they have scored just 67 points and have a minus-54 point differential.

The Pats have played two top-tier teams tough in losses, dropping decisions to the Buccaneers (19-17) and Cowboys (35-29). Zach Wilson may be the real deal one day, but he is still a rookie quarterback going up against a coach who turns Sundays into nightmares for first-year signal-callers. Mac Jones is playing solid football and should be able to put enough points on the board to take this one just about as comfortably as the first time.

The Pick: New England 27, New York Jets 13

Atlanta Falcons (2-3) Miami Dolphins (1-5)
Line: Atlanta -2.5

Matt Ryan gives his team the proverbial “puncher’s chance” whenever the Falcons suit up. He gets back his main receiver in Calvin Ridley and he has this young wunderkind of a tight end in Kyle Pitts. Facing a team that has given up 29.5 per game, I think the Falcons are good for at least 23-24 points.

Since I don’t have much faith in the Dolphins ability to score — just 99 points in six games — I’ll take the favored Falcons coming off their bye and trying to fight their way into contention, even if the game is in Miami. Not exactly a huge home-field advantage site.

The Pick: Atlanta 26, Miami 17

Indianapolis Colts (2-4) at San Francisco (2-3)
Line: San Francisco -4.5

If I have one “tell” as a sports handicapper, it’s doubling down when a team proves me wrong. The Colts did that last week, as they were a whopping 9.5-point favorite against the Texans. I happened to think the Colts were getting too much respect after the near miss on “Monday Night Football” to close out Week 5. OK, I was miserably wrong in taking Houston. The Colts’ defense smothered the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium and Carson Wentz again resembled a good chunk of his old self.

Meanwhile the 49ers are on a three-game losing streak. What I like is that they get back quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and they are coming off their bye. I also like that their three losses before their bye were by two points to Green Bay, by seven to Seattle (with Russell Wilson) and by seven to undefeated Arizona.

The Pick: San Francisco 27, Indianapolis 19

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Stan Charles

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