NFL Picks: 10 Expert Predictions for Sunday Week 6 Early Slate
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images. Pictured: Kirk Cousins.
- Chris Raybon has 10 picks for the early slate of Week 6.
- Raybon has six player props, three sides and one total on his betslip.
- Check out his bets and breakdowns below.
NFL Odds & Picks
The Jags’ debacle against Houston offers some hidden box score value, as they out-gained the Texans by a massive 442-248 margin. The underlying metrics also like Jacksonville much more from a season-long perspective: Despite losing to Houston, the Jaguars still rank seventh in overall DVOA through five weeks. The Colts? Thirty-second. Dead last in the NFL.
The numbers match the eye test: The Colts are an awful team. Most of it has to do with the offense. At 37, Matt Ryan is a turnover machine, leading the league in both interceptions (seven) and fumbles (11). The offensive line can’t run or pass block, ranking bottom-three in adjusted line yards (3.80) and adjusted sack rate allowed (9.8%). And now the Colts are without their biggest weapon Jonathan Taylor, who will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury. Backup Nyheim Hines (concussion) is also out.
Jaguars +1.5 | Colts -1.5
The Jags defense is underrated, ranking seventh in DVOA and ninth in pressure rate (26.4%, per Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats). When these teams met in Week 2, the Jaguars shut the Colts out while holding them to 218 total yards and nine first downs.
Trevor Lawrence has been inconsistent in Year 2, but he has still led the Jaguars to a respectable 15th-place ranking in offensive DVOA, which should be enough to outscore the Colts league-worst unit, even on the road. The Colts only got pressure on Lawrence on four of his 31 dropbacks (12.9%) in Week 2, and now they will be without edge rusher Kwity Paye (ankle), who is tied for the team lead in pressures (14) and sacks (three).
Lawrence may not be able to replicate his 25-of-30, two-TD, zero-INT outing from the first matchup, but he should be able to post an efficient outing against this defense.
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Still missing its best player in Shaquille Leonard (concussion), the Indianapolis defense allowed 190 scrimmage yards on 29 touches to the Broncos backfield last Thursday. James Robinson carried the mail in the first matchup, but the Jags will likely unleash Travis Etienne in this one. Etienne is six among running backs with 6.2 yards per touch and ripped off a career-high 114 scrimmage yards on 14 touches last week.
From a spread perspective, the Jaguars’ dominance over the Colts extends beyond Jags home games: Across all venues, the Colts are 1-7-1 ATS against Jacksonville since Frank Reich took over.
Week 6 is also a great week to buy low on underdogs. Since 2005, dogs that lost their previous game by seven or more points are 51-32 (62%) ATS, covering by an average of 1.61 points per game.
A few factors favor the under in this matchup.
When the Dolphins have the ball, they’ll be quarterbacked by rookie seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson in his first pro start. Thompson is by no means a stiff – he acquitted himself well in the preseason – but things won’t exactly come easy for him, either. In relief of Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) last week, Thompson averaged just 4.5 net yards per pass and 8.7 yards per completion. His average throw traveled just 7.2 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, which would rank 28th if he had enough attempts to qualify.
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel used to coordinate an offense featuring Jimmy Garoppolo, so he knows a thing or nine about hiding his quarterback and relying on the run. Miami is 27th in situation-neutral pace, and they’ll likely play even more deliberately and try to limit turnovers and shorten the game.
The much-maligned Miami defense is also in an underrated spot here against Minnesota’s offense. Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer’s identity is heavy man coverage with a healthy dose of the blitz, which happen to be two things this Vikings offense struggles with. Per data from PFF, the Vikings are 29th in completion rate (53.6%) and 28th in yards per attempt (6.0) against man coverage, and Kirk Cousins’ passer rating drops from 95.2 when not blitzed to 55.6 when the defense brings extra rushers.
The Dolphins also should be able to contain Dalvn Cook and Alexander Mattison, as per Football Outsiders, they rank fourth in adjusted line yards (3.78) and yards per carry allowed to running backs (3.42).
The hot, humid weather could also play a factor here. The forecast for Sunday calls for temps in the mid-80s with humidity just above 70%. We saw similar conditions in each of Miami’s previous two home games this season, and both went under by more than 14 points. Since 2008, games played in Miami with a 1 p.m. ET start and humidity above 65% are 24-14 (63%) to the under, including a 16-5 (76%) under record when the total is 43 or higher.
One other note: The lack of familiarity in these inter-conference matchups tends to give the books trouble, particularly when setting totals for games that don’t fall on either extreme.
According to our Action Labs data, inter-conference totals between 42 and 46.5 are 131-78-2 (63%) to the under since 2015, covering by an average of 1.59 points per game.
This is a tough spot for the Bengals, who are coming off short rest after playing on Sunday night and playing a Saints team on its second straight home game.
When the Bengals have the ball, the Saints talented edge duo of Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport should be able to beat left tackle Jonah Williams and right tackle La’El Collins. Williams has allowed four sacks (tied for fifth most among tackles) and eight pressures (tied for eighth most) while Collins’ Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 42.7 is 69th among 72 qualifiers.
While it’s true that the Saints will miss cornerback Marshon Lattimore against Ja’Marr Chase, it’s also true the Bengals’ pass protection woes are neutralizing Chase more than any cornerback can. Chase has been held under 55 yards in three of five games, and his yards per target average of 6.5 represents nearly a five-yard drop from last season (11.4).
Bengals -2.5 | Saints +2.5
The Saints have been above average on defense against both the run (10th in DVOA) and pass (13th) and should be able to hold their own here against a Bengals offense that has been held under 21 points in three of five games.
On offense for the Saints, there’s little/no drop-off from Jameis Winston to Andy Dalton (#RevengeGame alert!). The offensive line is still among the league’s best, ranking fourth in Adjusted Line Yards (5.00) and seventh in PFF pass-blocking grade (71.0).
It would be ideal to get emerging star Chris Olave (concussion) back at wide receiver with Michael Thomas (foot) and Jarvis Landry (ankle) continuing to miss time, but even if he can’t suit up, the Saints still have one of the league’s best playmakers in Alvin Kamara and the ever-dangerous Taysom Hill. Despite missing key players every week, the Saints (20th) rank five spots better than the Bengals (25th) in offensive DVOA.
This is a spot where the perceived disparity between the two teams is greater than what it is in reality. Historically, this has been a good spot to back the underdog. Per our Action Labs data, Week 6 non-divisional 'dogs going up against a favorite that made the playoffs the year prior are 54-30-3 (64%) against the spread (ATS) since 2005, covering by 3.98 points per game.
This also seems to be a Pros vs. Joes spot, as we’ve tracked 10 sharp moves on the Saints, who account for 54% of the total handle on this game despite 80% of bets coming in on Cincinnati.
Five games into the post-Davante Adams era, the Packers have an average point differential of +0.2, and they’ve won by more than three points just once. To be sure, the Jets have proven exactly nothing, with their wins coming against Jacoby Brissett, Mitch Trubisky/kenny Pickett, and Skylar Thompson. While we can dismiss the Jets’ win quality, what we shouldn’t dismiss is the fact that this team has more than enough talent to give this version of the Packers a run for their money.
The key to beating Aaron Rodgers is getting pressure with a four-man rush, and the Jets are quietly up to fifth in pressure rate (28.9%) despite blitzing at the fourth-lowest rate (15.5%). Quinnen Williams, John Franklin Myers, and Carl Lawson all grade out as top-15 pass rushers at PFF, while Sheldon Rankins and Bryce Huff are top-25 overall at their position.
The Jets also suddenly have an excellent cornerback tandem in rookie Sauce Gardner and free-agent acquisition D.J. Reed Jr. Gardner is PFF’s No. 33 corner of 108 qualifiers through five weeks, and Reed has been even better at 19th. And Robert Saleh has devised successful schemes against Rodgers on multiple occasions back when he was the defensive coordinator for the 49ers.
The Packers will likely overcorrect for last week by going out of their way to establish the run. The Jets have been decidedly average against running backs: They rank 19th in DVOA, but 10th in Adjusted Line Yards (4.35), 14th in yards per carry allowed to RBs (4.34), 13th in stuff rate (20%), and 10th in DVOA against backs in the passing game. Nothing to write home about, but they shouldn’t get run out of Wisconsin.
In fact, it’s the Packers run defense that is the weakest unit in this game. Green Bay ranks 30th in DVOA against the run, so it’s significant that the Jets have turned their backfield over to Breece Hall as the lead back. Among 39 running backs with at least 40 carries, Hall ranks seventh of 39 running backs in rushing DVOA (20.4%) while Michael Carter is 34th (-19.5%).
The jury is still out on Zach Wilson, but in a small sample, his yards per attempt is 8.1 this season, which represents a two-yard increase from last season’s mark of 6.1 and a 2.3-yard increase over what Joe Flacco gave the Jets this season (5.8). As long as Wilson can be a modest improvement on Flacco (and the rookie year version of himself), this team has enough talent around him to be a tough out every week.
The public perceptions of both the Packers and Jets are inflating this line. Most people know Rodgers as a cover machine in these spots, but when it comes to large spreads like this, the market adjusted long ago.
Rodgers is 40-21-1 (66%) ATS coming off a straight-up loss, but 6-5 ATS with a spread of -7 or more since 2015 in this spot. Similarly, he is 48-25-1(66%) ATS off an ATS loss, but only 8-7 ATS with spread -7 or more off ATS loss since 2015. And while he is 66-35-3 (65%) ATS all-time at Lambeau, he’s just 15-14 ATS there since 2015 when the spread -6.5 or more.
It’s also worth noting Rodgers 0-3 ATS in his last three games versus AFC opponents, two of which came at Lambeau. This is obviously a small sample, but intuitively, it would make sense that one of the smartest quarterbacks in the game would struggle more against teams he is less familiar with.
Since 2005, when a dog faces a favorite with a winning record in Week 6, the dog is 87-52-6 (63%) ATS, covering by an average of 1.8 points per game.
For the second straight week, Duvernay will operate as Lamar Jackson’s No. 1 wide receiver with Rashod Bateman (foot) on the shelf. Duvernay easily cleared this line In that role last week, catching 5-of-7 targets for 54 yards while running a route on a season-high 80% of Jackson’s dropbacks,
This line may be too low even if Bateman was playing. In the midst of a Year 3 breakout, Duvernay also posted at least 42 yards in three of four games with Bateman active. The 2020 third-round pick out of Texas is averaging a career-high 3.4 receptions for 45.2 receiving yards per game, and his PFF receiving grade of 78.9 ranks 12th of 95 qualifiers at his position.
What creates value on this prop is that his route tree has expanded this year. During his first two seasons, he was used mostly as a gadget player. His average depth of target (aDOT) was 6.7 and his average yards per reception was 8.9. But this season, his aDOT has jumped to 13.8, which has translated to a career-high 13.3 yards per reception.
Per Football Outsiders, the Giants are allowing 57.4 schedule-adjusted receiving yards per game to opposing No. 1 wide receivers. Duvernay moves around the formation, so he should be able to avoid Giants top corner Adoree Jackson. The Giants have allowed at least 43 receiving yards to seven different wide receivers through five games.
Kittle has had a quiet season yardage-wise, but he’s cleared 3.5 receptions in two of the three games he’s played. Despite the 49ers missing left tackle Trent Williams (ankle), Kittle isn’t being used as a pass blocker anymore than usual, averaging a route participation rate of 84%.
The matchup is conducive to him posting another four-plus catch outing, as the Falcons defense is allowing 6.8 receptions per game to TEs, second-most in the NFL.
Kittle has caught at least four passes in 14 of his last 20 games, or 70%, dating back to the start of last season.
Brate will make his return from a one-game absence due to a concussion, but this doesn’t profile as a game where he’ll be asked to do much in the passing game for three main reasons.
The Steelers represent a tough matchup. Pittsburgh ranks third in DVOA on passes to tight ends, which is their best ranking of any position. Meanwhile, they rank 26th versus No. 1 wide receivers and 21st vs. No. 2 wide receivers. On top of that, they will be without their top three cornerbacks in Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring), Levi Wallace (concussion), and Cameron Sutton (hamstring). As if that wasn't bad enough, Pittsburgh also will not have the services of free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee).
Add it all up, and Brate is the least likely receiver to be open and the least likely one to be a primary read in Brady’s progression.
The Bucs figure to be in a positive game script. The Buccaneers are 9.5-point favorites in Pittsburgh. In the two wins, Brate has been active for (Weeks 1 and 2), his stat lines were 1/7/0 and 1/9/0. Brady has targeted Brate 14 times when trailing this season, but only five times when leading or tied.
Brate is facing increased competition for targets, snaps. He is averaging just 16.0 receiving yards per game in the three games he’s played with Mike Evans active and 19.5 receiving yards per game in the two games he’s played with Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage all active.
Brate could also see his snap count cut into by emerging rookie Cade Otton, who caught 6-of-7 targets for 43 yards last week. According to The Athletic, Otton’s role will continue to grow even with Brate back.
I’m projecting Brate for a median of two receptions in this game. He’s averaging 9.2 yards per reception, so I’d bet this down to 19.5. Dating back to last season, his longest catch is 19 yards, and more than half of his receptions have gone for seven yards or fewer. That means we should have decent protection from the dreaded one-catch over and a potential out even if he catches three passes.
According to a story published by Jay Morrison of The Athletic, head coach Zac Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan want to get Boyd more involved. Callahan’s plan? “Call the plays that [Boyd is] targeted on.”
Welp, I’m sold.
In all seriousness, it shouldn’t take much for Boyd to go over this number, especially if the coaching staff is being more deliberate about it. The Saints have allowed 30 receptions to wide receivers over the past two weeks, and with Marshon Lattimore out, they’ll have to roll coverage toward Ja’Marr Chase, which should free up Boyd underneath.
Boyd has already cleared this number twice this season, and last week he came one catch short of doing so for a third time. Him failing to secure a fourth catch last week is a blessing in disguise for this prop, which is now moderately juiced instead of heavily juiced in the -150s and -160s instead of heavily juiced in the -180s or -190s. Dating back to the start of last season and including the postseason, Boyd has caught at least four passes in 16 of his last 25 games, or 64%.
I’d bet this up to -178, though I wouldn’t knock anyone who bet it up to -200 given what the coaching staff is saying.
Slayton turned back the clock to 2020 with six catches for 79 yards against the Packers in London last week, but back-to-back games with at least four catches is asking a lot from a player that was running with the third-team offense up until a few weeks ago. This is also an offense that scrambles WR snap rates on a weekly basis with seemingly little rhyme or reason, and Slayton wasn’t playing all that much to begin with. Despite the big stat line last week, he was in on just 54% of the offensive snaps and ran a route on 68% of the dropbacks.
Most of Slayton’s targets are low-percentage downfield looks, which will make it difficult for him to consistently post four-plus catch games on WR3-type usage. That’s doubly true in a low-volume offense that completes just 17.8 passes per game, seventh-fewest.
The matchup won’t do Slayton any favors, as Ravens perimeter cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are among the best tandems in the league; both have earned top-28 grades from PFF through five weeks. The Jones-to-Slayton connection has been dormant for a couple of years, but it won’t catch the Ravens off guard like it did the Packers last week. Even when Slayton was operating as a full-time player in 2019-20, he was held under 3.5 receptions in 19 of 30 games (63%).
I’m projecting Slayton as the Giants WR1 against the Ravens with 26 routes run – which represents an uptick from his 21 routes last game – and yet his reception projection still comes out well below this line at 2.7.
Here’s my projected probability distribution for each number of catches:
- 0 catches: 6%
- 1 catch: 17%
- 2 catches: 25%
- 3 catches: 23%
- 4+ catches: 28%
I have Slayton going under this number 72% of the time, so it should have value up to right around -250, which is bet to #AnyJuice territory.
Note: In theory, there is also value on the under on Slayton’s yardage prop for the same reasons, but the receptions under is a better bet due to his high aDOT. But for those who are curious and/or don’t like wagering on high juice, I have Slayton’s median receiving yardage projected at 34 yards.
Engram’s reception totals this season have been volatile, going 4, 7, 1, 1, 6. Even when factoring in that volatility, this line is too low. Engram’s average route participation rate this season is 80%, and he’ll be running those routes against a Colts defense that ranks 26th in DVOA and is allowing the seventh-most receptions per game to tight ends (5.4). This is also a Colts defense that allowed Engram to haul in 7-of-8 targets for 46 yards in Week 2.
I have Engram projected for 3.6 receptions, which equates to a 49% probability of going over 3.5, but a 71% probability of going over 2.5, so I’d recommend taking advantage if your book is still hanging a juiced 2.5.