NFL Expert Picks: Chiefs-Patriots, Rams-Broncos, More Week 6 Bets

NFL Expert Picks: Chiefs-Patriots, Rams-Broncos, More Week 6 Bets article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes, Sean McVay

  • The Action Network experts break down their favorite NFL bets for Week 6, including the Kansas City Chiefs-New England Patriots matchup on Sunday Night Football.
  • Find out if we think the undefeated Rams are vulnerable in the altitude and potential snow against the reeling Broncos in Denver.
  • Plus against-the-spread and over/under picks for Jaguars-Cowboys, Chargers-Browns, Bears-Dolphins and more.

I think Eli Manning just checked down again.

With another ugly Thursday night game in the books — can the NFL please cancel those slop-fests? — we can now focus on some more intriguing storylines on the Week 6 slate, including:

  • Can the Kansas City Chiefs continue their perfect record against the spread in Foxborough on Sunday night against the New England Patriots? (If they can, Patrick Mahomes will have pulled off something only Peyton Manning has at Gillette Stadium in the Tom Brady era.)
  • Speaking of perfect, can anybody beat the Los Angeles Rams? Their next test will come at high altitude in Denver with a few potential injuries — and possibly snow on the ground. Yes, snow in October!

Our crew has a few different takes on how each of those games will play out, which I always think paints the best picture of a game for prospective bettors. You will also find many other valuable insights for a very intriguing Sunday slate.

For even more in-depth analysis, make sure to check out our betting guides for every single game this upcoming weekend.

Hopefully we’ll have another winning weekend as a group, though ideally closer to the 12-1-3 record we had in Week 4 than our 9-8-1 in Week 5. Stuckey


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SUNDAY’S EARLY ACTION

Chad Millman: Chargers -1 (at Browns)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

What a tough and interesting slate.

I have gone back and forth on so many games — the Bengals against the Steelers, the Colts against the Jets, the Pats against the Chiefs. But I’m settling on the Chargers against the Browns.

I’m normally a home dog backer and I loved the Browns last week. But I can’t pull the trigger this week.

Cleveland is a bit inflated because of its win over Baltimore, however I faded the Ravens last week because I thought they were a one-dimensional team with a good-not-great quarterback. The Chargers are the opposite of that. They can move the ball easily, whether it’s rushing or passing, and have decidedly more weapons than the Ravens.

Defensively, the Browns pass defense gives up a lot of yards, but Cleveland is actually one of the better teams in yards per play. The Browns are mediocre against the run, which is where I think the Chargers can take advantage.

PJ Walsh: Chargers-Browns Under 45

1 p.m. ET on CBS

The Browns have struggled across the board on offense, ranking 30th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, so the key for this over/under will be limiting the Chargers’ passing offense (third in DVOA).

Cleveland is uniquely positioned to do that, ranking second in pass defense per DVOA. Los Angeles is also one of the slower offenses in the NFL, averaging only 61.4 plays per game according to Team Rankings.

Finally, the current forecast is calling for steady 13 mph winds, which will make it more difficult for both teams to hit big plays through the air. Since 2003, unders are 439-351-10 (56%) in games with double-digit winds.

Sean Koerner: Dolphins +3.5 (vs. Bears)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Much like my Seahawks +7 pick last week, this is another game where I am not implying the wrong team is favored. I’m simply taking the value offered here.

Look, there are plenty of metrics that will show the Bears have a big advantage over the Dolphins this week.

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that four games of data is a pretty small sample size, so we should not be taking the numbers at face value.

Instead, I typically use them to update my priors to come up with a current power rating for each team.

I have come to the same conclusion that the Bears should be favored in this game, but I have them at -2.5, which happened to be the opening line.

The hype around the Bears is well deserved, but it also let this line drift a bit too far, as it sailed past key numbers like -3 and -3.5 at one point.

This tells me it wasn’t met with much resistance from sharps, but it feels like some of them knew it would get all the way to -4.

Sure enough, when the Dolphins got up to +4, they were bet back down to +3.5. But it’s worth monitoring to see if it gets back up to 4 before kick.

John Ewing: Bears -3.5 (at Dolphins)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

I have to disagree with Sean here. While his argument is valid regarding value, I like Chicago for two primary reasons: Pressure and preparation.

The Bears have the No. 1 defense per DVOA and have been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks with eight interceptions (tied for third in the NFL) and 18 sacks (second). Miami’s offensive line will struggle to slow down Chicago’s pass rush, especially since team captain and center Daniel Kilgore, guard Josh Sitton and guard Jake Brendel are now all on injured reserve.

Head coach Matt Nagy’s team also has the benefit of coming off a bye. Take a look at how well teams have performed ATS after a bye week since 2003:

  • All teams: 231-200-12 (54%) ATS
  • Favorites: 138-92-7 (60%) ATS
  • Road favorites: 56-25-2 (69%) ATS

Chris Raybon: Bears -3.5 (at Dolphins)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

I’m with John here. The Bears’ top-ranked defense in overall DVOA should be able to stop the Dolphins’ offense no matter what head coach Adam Gase draws up.

Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s unit has earned Pro Football Focus’ best run-defense grade while Gase’s punchless, Frank Gore-led running game owns the fourth-worst run-blocking grade. Plus when Ryan Tannehill has to drop back to pass, he’ll be greeted by a Khalil Mack-led pass rush that ranks first in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rate.

Don’t let the Dolphins stay ahead of the chains, and they become exposed: The Fins have converted only 30.9% of their third downs this season, the fourth-worst rate in the league.

Ken Barkley: Redskins -1 (vs. Panthers)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

There’s a lot of buzz about the returns of Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Thomas Davis, and the market’s memory is still filled with images of Washington’s non-competitive second half against New Orleans on Monday night.

Josh Norman is allowing long touchdowns, then getting into Twitter fights with the opposing receiver. I can almost picture the graphic “ARE THE REDSKINS IN PANIC MODE?” on my television.

Seems like a buy-low opportunity on the Redskins, who aren’t nearly as bad as what they showed in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the Panthers just struggled to beat the Giants and now go on the road.

I’m not sure there’s even a two-point difference between these teams (when taking out home-field advantage).

Ian Hartitz: Seahawks-Raiders Over 48 (in London)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

There’s bound to be a shootout in London on Sunday afternoon. This game has the week’s second-highest combined explosive-pass-play rate and boasts two defenses that haven’t done a good job pressuring the quarterback all season.

The over/under has already moved since opening at 47 points, but I’ll still pound the over with two (mostly) capable offenses taking on defenses that are shells of their former selves without superstars Khalil Mack and Earl Thomas.

Stuckey: Steelers +1.5 (at Bengals)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

Death, taxes and the Steelers beating the Bengals. Take a look at some of these trends:

  • In the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals are an atrocious 2-15 at home against the Steelers (includes two playoff losses). 
  • This will mark only the eighth time the Bengals have been favored over the Steelers under Lewis: Cincinnati is 1-6 straight up in the previous seven instances.
  • Lewis has a very respectable 127-109-9 (53.8%) ATS record in our database (which dates back to 2003). However, he is only 9-21 ATS (30%) against the Steelers; 3-12 at home and 1-5 as a favorite.

This is also a perfect “ra-ra” spot for the best “ra-ra” coach in the NFL, Mike Tomlin. I’m sure he’ll have his squad fired up for a road clash against a bitter division rival, especially since Pittsburgh lost Ryan Shazier the last time these two teams met.

Both have solid defensive fronts — the Steelers lead the NFL with 19 sacks through five weeks — but Pittsburgh has a much more reliable offensive line. Expect the Steelers to get to quarterback Andy Dalton and to force him into some critical mistakes against the zone.

(I could have also gone with the Falcons here, but with some recent money coming in on Atlanta to push that juice out, I decided on the Steelers.)

Travis Reed: Steelers +115 (at Bengals)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

I agree with Stuck here. The Bengals are 4-1 and sportsbooks have made them the favorites to win the AFC North heading into Week 6. But in the words of Lee Corso: “Not so fast, my friend.”

The Steelers are still the best team in the division and are a good bet to still win the AFC North.

I believe the line is inflated in this spot. If the key number of 3 became available, I would consider taking the points, but I like Pittsburgh to get the outright win in Cincinnati.

Danny Donahue: Texans -10 (vs. Bills)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

Getting only 37% of bets as of writing (see live data here), the Texans are on pace to be the least-popular double-digit favorite in our database (since 2003). Because of that, there’s not a huge sample size to look back on historically, so I’ll open it up a bit.

When a favorite of eight or more points gets 50% or less bets in a game, that team has covered 61.2% of the time (41-26-1 ATS). And when the support for the underdog is because of a win in the previous week, the favorite’s win percentage improves to 70.4% (19-8-0 ATS).

SUNDAY’S LATE AFTERNOON ACTION

Matthew Freedman: Rams -7 (at Broncos)

4:05 p.m. ET on FOX

I’m not a fan of this slate in general, so I’m being a fish and picking a good team against a bad team.

I think it’s #NotSharp to lay a lot of points on the road, but I have so much respect for offensive-minded head coach Sean McVay and the Rams — and so little respect for defensive-oriented head coach Vance Joseph and the Broncos — that I’m fine with the spread.

Both McVay and Joseph were first-year coaches in 2017. Since then, McVay’s Rams have exceeded their Vegas expectations offensively more than any other team (16-5), while no team has allowed opponents to hit their implied totals more often than Joseph’s Broncos have on defense (7-14).

The Broncos are the only team this season yet to win against the spread (0-4-1), and Joseph’s team is dead-last ATS ever since he became a head coach (4-15-2).

Plus, there’s this irrelevant but still intriguing #RevengeGame angle: One-year wonder quarterback Case Keenum is taking on a Rams franchise that, under former head coach Jeff Fisher, almost ruined his career.

But on the other side is Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who was jettisoned from the Broncos two years ago after overseeing the league’s best defense and was fired by the Texans in 2013 after Keenum sabotaged the season with his 0-8 record as the starter in Houston.

As far as revenge goes, Phillips has the edge.

Mark Gallant: Broncos +7 (vs. Rams)

4:05 p.m. ET on FOX

Historically, dogs coming off three straight losses have covered 58.1% of the time. Home dogs have done even better, hitting at a 63% clip.

Hell, it doesn’t stop there. Home dogs of seven points or more coming off three straight losses are 24-10 ATS, covering by an average of 5.41 points.

Lots of things pointing in Denver’s favor.

Evan Abrams: Rams Team Total Under 30.5

4:05 pm ET on FOX

Hold your breath and dive in.

The Rams have scored 30-plus points in each of their five games this season and rank third in the NFL in points per game behind only the Saints and Chiefs. But that could change in Week 6 when they head to Mile High Stadium to face the Broncos.

Over the last five years, only three quarterbacks/teams have scored 30 or more points in Denver: Alex Smith (Chiefs), Tom Brady (Patriots) and Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins). And over the last decade, that number balloons to 11 (12 if you include the playoffs), a tad bit more than just one a season.

Finally, over the last five seasons, only eight teams have traveled to Mile High as a road favorite. Those teams have averaged 21.6 points per game.

The weather is expected to be unfavorable to say the least — a high of 28, low of 15 degrees with possible snow — and that isn’t a great sign for Jared Goff. In his collegiate and NFL career, he has never started a game with a temperature below 33 degrees. He has started two NFL games with the temperature below 40 degrees, and the Rams lost both SU and ATS, scoring a combined 13 points.

Also, opponents are running plays at the slowest rate in the league against the Rams (29.97 seconds per play), which I assume the Broncos will also do to keep the Los Angeles offense off the field.  That will help the team total under.

I like the Broncos in a few different ways this week, but I think this is the best play.

Scott Miller: Jaguars -3 (at Cowboys)

4:25 p.m. ET on CBS

Millman might send me to timeout for taking a short road favorite, but I love buying low on the Jags in this spot.

Kansas City puts up 30 points on every team, so I’m not reading too much into Jacksonville’s 16-point loss on the road vs. the Chiefs last week.

The Jags will go from playing the best offense in the NFL to one of the worst. Dak Prescott and his putrid pass catchers won’t be able to muster much through the air against Jalen Ramsey & Co. And while Ezekiel Elliott remains a force, the Jags are much more formidable against the run in 2018 (seventh in DVOA) compared to last season (27th).

I like quarterback Blake Bortles’ chances of finding a few chunk plays in the passing game against an over-hyped Dallas secondary. (We get it, Byron Jones made the switch from safety to corner and isn’t a complete disaster, congrats!)

Look for the Jags to prove they’re one of the three best teams in the AFC by manhandling the Cowboys up front and winning by double digits.

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Matt LaMarca: Patriots -3 (vs. Chiefs)

8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

The Chiefs have looked like an unstoppable force through their first five games but will face their toughest test of the season against the Patriots.

The Pats offense gets all the headlines, but their defense has been phenomenal this season: New England’s top three cornerbacks all rank in the top 25 in coverage according to PFF, and the unit has generated pressure at the second-highest rate in the league.

The Patriots have been particularly effective in limiting big plays, ranking first in yards per attempt on pass plays traveling at least 20 yards.

Unsurprisingly, the public is siding with the undefeated road underdogs, which presents the rare opportunity to back the Patriots as a non-public team. They’ve received only 46% of the tickets at the time of writing; since 2003 the Patriots are 27-14-2 ATS when receiving less than 50% of bets.

The Chiefs are the hot new team, but the Pats still wear the crown in the AFC.

Geoff Schwartz: Chiefs +3 (at Patriots)

8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

I think the Chiefs can win this game in the trenches. Take a look at my trench report below for a deep analysis of the battles up front.

Peter Jennings: Chiefs +3 (at Patriots)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

In my opinion, Mahomes is the best player in the NFL right now. Kansas City is coming off a sound victory over Jacksonville on a short week, while New England is slow at the linebacker position and its safety play has been pathetic.

If you take the name off the Patriots’ jerseys, I think this game is close to a pick ’em.

Bold call: Chiefs win outright in a shootout. I am firing moneyline, spreads and alternative spreads on Kansas City.


Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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