Your Ultimate NFL Week 6 Betting Guide: Tips, Picks, Strategies for Every Game
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, A.J. Green and James Conner
- If you're looking for comprehensive betting and fantasy football previews for every Week 6 game, you've come to the right place.
- Our experts cover trends, sharp action, fantasy football sleepers and make the case for a few bets.
All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.
Betting odds: Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: PK
- Over/Under: 45
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
Betting market: Quite early in the week, sharp action on the Browns pushed them down from +2 to a PK. This stemmed from a reverse line move at Pinnacle, one of the sharpest offshore books on the market.
Trends to know: Since 2003, no stadium has treated under bettors better than FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. The Under is 74-47-1 (61.2%) at the Dawg Pound according to our Bet Labs data, profiting bettors 23.1 units in that span. — Evan Abrams
Not only has the under been profitable in Cleveland but weather is providing another reason to bet the under in this one. The forecast calls for average wind speeds of 13 mph during the game.
Since 2003, in NFL games with average winds of 10 mph or stronger the under is 439-351-10 (56%). (Be sure to check the forecast closer to kickoff, as forecasts can shift.) — John Ewing
Metrics that matter: The Chargers will really miss Joey Bosa this week against a very vulnerable Browns offensive line that has allowed the second-most sacks in the league and ranks 30th in adjusted sack rate.
Cleveland struggles at both tackle spots, but can now focus its efforts on doubling Melvin Ingram.
The Chargers’ 4-3 scheme is just not the same without Bosa. L.A. has 11 sacks on the season (tied for 19th in NFL) — six fewer than the Chargers had at this same point last season. — Stuckey
Sneaky storyline: The Browns are usually at a massive disadvantage when it comes to special teams, as they boast the league’s worst unit by a wide margin.
But that disadvantage won’t be material, as they are facing another dreadful special teams unit in LA.
Biggest mismatch: Browns run game vs. Chargers run game
With potential high winds, the passing games on both sides may be stymied — especially considering both defensive secondaries match up fairly well with the opposing receivers.
I expect Browns rookie corner Denzel Ward to get the task of guarding Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen, and if you haven’t seen Ward play, he’s the real deal. There’s a reason the Browns have the second-best pass defense in the league, per Football Outsiders.
If the passing games are indeed limited, this game could be decided by each respective running game. Both of these teams average 4.6 yards per carry on the season — good enough for top 10 in the league.
While both defenses have also allowed exactly 4.1 yards per rush this season, if you dig a little deeper into the underlying metrics (this season and last) and adjust for opponents, you will see the Browns have a significantly superior rush defense.
- 2017: Cleveland finished second in the NFL with a skimpy 3.3 yards per rush allowed, while the Chargers allowed a league-worse 4.9 yards per rush.
- Per Football Outsiders, the Browns defense ranks eighth against the run this season compared to a subpar 21st for LA.
- The Browns defense is much healthier, as the Chargers have a number of injury question marks at linebacker (Kyzir White, Jatavis Brown).
If this becomes a ground battle, the Chargers have the bigger-name back in Melvin Gordon, but the Browns will have the bigger edge. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Browns
The Chargers are again expected to be without White (knee), Bosa (foot) and wide receiver Travis Benjamin (foot).
There’s also plenty of concern on the offensive line, as left tackle Russell Okung (groin), right tackle Joe Barksdale (leg) and center Mike Pouncey (knee) should be considered questionable for Sunday.
The Browns’ largest concern is at wide receiver, as Rashard Higgins (knee) is considered week to week and isn’t expected to suit up Sunday.
DFS edge: It’s difficult to not have Gordon as an every-week consideration when he’s averaging 20.2 touches per game, is second on the team with 22% percent of the Chargers’ target share, and is dominating red-zone usage with 36% of L.A.’s red-zone market share of opportunities.
Bet to watch: Under 45
The Browns have struggled across the board on offense, ranking 30th in Football Outsiders’ 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.
As mentioned above, since 2003, unders are 439-351-10 (56%) in games with double-digit winds. — PJ Walsh
Betting odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
- Spread: Falcons -3
- Over/Under: 57
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
Betting market: One of the more interesting lines of the week, 66% of bettors are backing the Falcons. Sportsbooks are basically split 50/50 as to where they have the line, with half posting Atlanta -3 (-120 range) and the other half posting Atlanta -3.5 (+100 range).
There hasn’t been enough sharp action on either side to cause much line movement, but it’s not surprising that two-thirds of bettors are backing Atlanta as such a small home favorite in Jameis Winston’s first start back with the Bucs. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: After losing three straight, the Falcons are small favorites at home. But Matt Ryan has underperformed in this situation during his career.
The Buccaneers are coming off of a bye ahead of their matchup with the Falcons. Since 2003, teams coming off a bye have a distinct split against the spread as an underdog compared to when they are favored when facing a divisional opponent.
- As a favorite: 48-36-2 ATS (+10.4 units, 57.1%)
- As an underdog: 32-47-1 ATS (-17.2 units, 40.5%) — Evan Abrams
Which team is healthier? Buccaneers
The Falcons have failed to slow down essentially every offense they’ve faced since starters Deion Jones (foot), Ricardo Allen (Achilles) and Keanu Neal (knee) were sent to the injured reserve list. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (ankle) is expected to miss another week, and the offense might have to play without Devonta Freeman (foot).
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are expected to mostly be healthy and could even welcome back tight end O.J. Howard (knee), who managed to get in a pair of limited practices to start the week.
Biggest mismatch: Buccaneers passing offense vs Falcons passing defense
The Bucs offense ranks fifth in pass DVOA, and the Falcons defense ranks 28th. With wide receivers Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin, plus and tight end Cameron Brate, the Bucs have one of the league’s best receiving units. Meanwhile the Falcons’ defense is in disarray, especially in the secondary.
Backups Jordan Richards and Damontae Kazee will be filling in the gaps. Richards has allowed a 70% completion rate across his four years in the league, as has Kazee, a second-year fifth-round pick.
Without their starting back-end defenders, the Falcons are more vulnerable to the deep pass, and no team has been more aggressive throwing downfield this season than the Bucs, who have two starting wide receivers (Jackson, Evans) with top-tier average depth of targets (16.2 and 15.2, respectively).
If the Bucs put pressure on the Falcons safeties by letting Winston throw deep, Evans and D-Jax in particular could have massive performances. — Matthew Freedman
DFS edge: Julio Jones’ price has dropped back below $8,000 on DraftKings, which typically leads to high ownership.
He’s currently projected for 31-40% ownership in our FantasyLabs Models, and it’s likely warranted given his 30% target share and the favorable matchup.
The Bucs have been torched through the air this year, allowing 9.4 yards per attempt, 13 passing touchdowns and 358.0 passing yards per game — all the worst marks in the league.
Jones’ 20.9-point median projection is the second-highest mark among all receivers on the main slate. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Falcons -3
I’ll happily be on the square side here and back the Falcons at home laying only three points, especially since I grabbed it at plus money (always shop for the best number).
This line implies that the Falcons and Bucs are dead even if you assume three points for home-field advantage.
The Falcons’ defense has been horrid — one of the worst in the league performance-wise through the first five weeks of the season.
However, the Bucs have been THE worst, as they have allowed an NFL-high 7.0 yards per play, a truly shocking figure.
Not only does Football Outsiders rank Tampa as the worst defense in the league, but it also grades the Bucs’ pass defense as the 32nd-ranked unit, which spells doom vs. the Falcons passing attack.
There are a few reasons for optimism in Atlanta. This will mark the first time all season they will have the same starting lineup in consecutive weeks. Jarrett could also return, which would help the defensive front.
In a game featuring two desperate teams with explosive offenses and bad defenses, I’ll side with a Falcons team that will simply make fewer mistakes and keep the sticks moving more consistently.
Atlanta has turned it over a league-low three times, and converted 47% of third downs (second in NFL) after leading the league last year at nearly 45%.
Another factor working in Atlanta’s favor is red-zone execution. Despite a horrid red-zone display in Week 1 at Philadelphia, Atlanta still ranks in the top 10 overall, scoring a touchdown on 65% of trips inside the 20 (including an uber-efficient 11-for-13 at home).
Conversely, Tampa’s predominantly vertical passing attack has struggled inside the 20 to the tune of 50%, which is tied for 19th in the league.
And guess which defense has the worst red zone TD% in the NFL? You guessed it. The Bucs with a comical 92.31% TD% allowed.
In a game where both teams will move the ball at will between the 20s, turnovers and settling for field goals will be devastating. The Falcons have the upper hand in both categories.
It’s tough to adjust for how bad this Falcons defense will continue to be after the injuries, but I’m willing to pay to find out. Expect the veteran Ryan to save the Falcons’ season (for now) with a home win. — Stuckey
Betting odds: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
- Spread: Bengals -2
- Over/Under: 52.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
Betting market: The Steelers are unsurprisingly a trendy road dog in Cincinnati vs. the AFC North-leading Bengals. At the time of writing, this line dropped to 2 and at some offshore books (Pinnacle, BetOnline) it sits at +1.
The total, which opened at 54.5, has gradually been on the decline. Over/under bets are nearly split, but the under was getting around 80% of the dollars at the time of writing (see live betting data here). — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Pittsburgh defeated Atlanta, 41-17, in Week 5. Teams that won their previous game by 21 or more points have gone 312-348-20 (47%) against the spread in their next game. If they are listed as underdogs that record drops to 84-111-8 (43%) ATS, per our Bet Labs data. — John Ewing
The Bengals enter the game hot — like really hot. They are 4-1 straight up and ATS so far this season.
Since 2012, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has faced a team better than .500 as an underdog 15 times, Big Ben is 10-5 SU and 10-4-1 ATS. Three of Roethlisberger’s four ATS losses have come against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. — Evan Abrams
Since 2010, the Steelers are 7-1 at Paul Brown Stadium and have won four straight regular-season games in the Queen City. In fact, the Bengals are just 2-15 at home in the Marvin Lewis era (since 2003) against Pittsburgh, which includes two home playoff losses.
If you include the playoffs, Lewis is just 8-24 SU against the Steelers since he took over in Cincy.
This will mark only the eighth time the Bengals have been favored over the Steelers under Lewis: They are 1-6 SU in previous seven games and 9-21 ATS (30%) since 2003. — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Steelers in the trenches
Pittsburgh leads the NFL with 19 sacks. Its defensive front is clearly the strength of a struggling unit, and that should pay off against a Bengals team that once again has issues along the offensive line — partly due to injuries and primarily due to performance.
Just take a look at Cincinnati’s projected starting five:
- LT Cordy Glenn (rated 55.6 by Pro Football Focus)
- LG Clint Boling (rated 68.0 by PFF and has been Bengals’ best OL by far, but is a little banged up)
- Center Billy Price: Out with an injury
- RG Alex Redmond (53.1 PFF rating and allowed second-most pressures among guards)
- RT Bobby Hart (56.3 PFF rating)
Let’s just say that’s not ideal.
On the other side of the ball, Cincy has an elite defensive line led by star Geno Atkins, but the Steelers have a veteran offensive line (ranked fifth in adjusted sack rate) that can handle the pressure and a savvy QB who can take hits and deal with pressure.
In a battle of two solid defensive fronts, the Steelers have the advantage as a result of their superior offensive line play. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Steelers
Both teams are fairly healthy, but the Bengals could be without key contributors, including wide receiver John Ross (groin), running back Giovani Bernard (knee), tight end Tyler Kroft (foot), center Billy Price (ankle) and cornerback William Jackson (knee).
The only Steelers who haven’t practiced in full this week are linebacker L.J. Fort (ankle), wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (groin). Oh, and of course Le’Veon Bell (holdout).
DFS edge: There are an abundance of good DFS plays in this game, but if you’re looking for a low-owned tournament play, C.J. Uzomah is enticing. He saw just two targets in Week 5, but he ran 28 pass routes to Tyler Kroft’s nine.
Additionally, the Steelers have struggled to defend tight ends this season, ranking 25th in pass DVOA against the position, allowing 10.7 targets and 83 receiving yards per game this season.
Bet to watch: Steelers +2
Don’t try to go against history here. This is simply a team the Steelers own — and the same quarterback/coach combo has been in place for an extended period.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is at his best when he can fire up his team with emotion. Well, the last time the Steelers played the Bengals, they were in Cincinnati when Ryan Shazier went down.
Expect a spirited effort from a struggling Steelers defense that should be able to get to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton quickly and force him into quick mistakes with their zone scheme.
The Steelers should get their seventh straight win (including playoffs) in this bitter rivalry — and should do so in the trenches. — Stuckey
Betting odds: Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins
- Spread: Bears -3.5
- Over/Under: 41.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
Betting market: As a three-point home dog, the Dolphins received some sharp activity early in the week. Since then, however, it has been on the Bears and the line has moved to 3.5. (See live betting data here). —Mark Gallant
Trends to know: After a 3-0 start, Miami has lost consecutive games and is now listed as a home underdog.
While this might seem like a good contrarian spot to buy low on the Dolphins, history suggests otherwise. Since 2003, home underdogs coming off consecutive losses have gone 78-104-7 (43%) against the spread, according to our Bet Labs data. — John Ewing
Biggest mismatch: Bears’ run defense vs. Dolphins’ run offense
Chicago’s defense might not be on the level of the 1985 “Monsters of Midway” — at least not yet — but the Bears may look like they are against a Miami run game that has failed to clear 60 yards in two of its past three games.
The Dolphins are getting no push up front and rank fourth-worst in Pro Football Focus’ power run-blocking grades, while the Bears own PFF’s top overall grade on defense and No. 3 ranking against the run.
This could be especially problematic for Miami because its Ryan Tannehill-led offense isn’t built to come from behind: Miami ranks 29th in the league with a 30.9% third-down conversion rate. – Chris Raybon
Which team is healthier? Bears
The Bears are expected to welcome back rookie slot receiver Anthony Miller (shoulder), so Allen Robinson likely won’t have as many snaps available in the slot to escape ace-shadow corner Xavien Howard.
Chicago is mostly healthy otherwise, with the exception of No. 1 corner Prince Amukamara (hamstring), who was limited at practice Thursday.
The Dolphins aren’t so lucky, as left tackle Laremy Tunsil (concussion), linebacker Chase Allen (foot), defensive end Cameron Wake (knee), defensive end Andre Branch (knee), tight end A.J. Derby (foot) and cornerback Bobby McCain (knee) could ultimately be sidelined.
DFS edge: The Dolphins’ fifth-ranked defense in overall and pass DVOA has largely clamped down each of its opponent’s offenses (with the exception of the Patriots).
Robinson leads the Bears in targets, air yards and red-zone targets, so he’s expected to draw the watchful eye of Howard.
The Dolphins’ No. 1 cornerback has made life exceptionally difficult for Amari Cooper (2-17-0), Julio Jones (6-72-0) and Brandin Cooks (1-38-0), but the team hasn’t asked him to shadow anyone else since the beginning of last season. — Hartitz
Bet to watch: Dolphins +4
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 (see above).
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 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. — Sean Koerner
Betting odds: Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders (in London)
- Spread: Seahawks -2.5
- Over/Under: 48
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
Betting market: Folks across the pond looking to take in some American football will be forced to watch a game with very uninteresting betting activity so far.
The Seahawks opened at -2.5 at some books and -3 at others, and have hovered around those key numbers since Sunday night (you can find updated betting data here).
A large majority of bets and dollars on the over have pushed the total up from 47 to 48. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Heck of a performance last week by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks keeping up with the high-flying Rams and losing by just two. (They covered, which is all that matters to some of you.)
In his career, Russell Wilson is 8-1 straight up and 6-2-1 against the spread after a home loss SU, according to our Bet Labs data.
He has won seven consecutive such games SU dating back to the 2015 season. — Evan Abrams
Did you know: In games played in London since 2007, the favorite is 16-4-1 SU and 14-7 ATS while the over is 12-9. — John Ewing
Which team is healthier? Seahawks
The Raiders are still dealing with a banged-up offensive line, as guards Kelechi Osemele (knee) and Gabe Jackson (pectoral), along with left tackle Kolton Miller (knee) and center Rodney Hudson (ankle), have failed to get in a full practice this week.
They also face questions on the defensive line, with Frostee Rucker (neck) and Maurice Hurst (shoulder) questionable to suit up.
The Seahawks have already ruled out linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) and defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle), but they should be good to go otherwise with the possible exception of tight end Nick Vannett (back).
Biggest mismatch: Raiders offensive line vs. Seahawks pass rush
The Raiders’ line has done pretty well at protecting Derek Carr this season. Among quarterbacks who’ve dropped back at least 50 times, his 28.8% pressure rate is the seventh-lowest mark in the league (per Pro Football Focus).
Assuming they’re healthy, Carr’s protectors in the trenches shouldn’t have an issue containing a Seahawks defense that ranks 23rd in pressures, per Sports Info Solutions. — Justin Bailey
DFS edge: As discussed on this week’s episode of The Daily Fantasy Flex, the Seahawks-Raiders’ matchup in London is shaping up as a sneaky shootout.
The game boasts a fantasy-friendly combination of big-play offenses facing leaky defenses that aren’t good at pressuring the quarterback.
Each of the Seahawks’ top-three receivers — Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and David Moore — carry positive Projected Plus/Minus values and a Leverage Rating of at least 75% on DraftKings in our Pro Models. — Hartitz
Bet to watch: Over 48
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. — Hartitz
Betting odds: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets
- Spread: Jets -2.5
- Over/Under: 45
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
Betting market: This spread has been waffling like a Belgian ever since opening. At BookMaker, the Colts have been available at +3 on four different occasions, but it keeps being bet down to +2.5.
Trends to know: Over the Colts’ past 16 games, they are 3 13 straight-up (-6.2 PPG differential), including three consecutive losses outright and back-to-back losses against the spread entering Week 6.
When Indy faces a team with a losing record after the Colts fail to win SU and cover the spread in their previous game, quarterback Andrew Luck is 13-0 SU and 12-1 ATS, covering the spread by 8.8 PPG (per Bet Labs data). — Evan Abrams
Did you know? Sam Darnold is one of five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 draft. Four of them started — and lost — in Week 4 but then won in Week 5. That’s the first time in the Super Bowl era that rookie quarterbacks have gone 4-0 in the same week. — John Ewing
Which team is healthier? Jets
Neither team is anywhere close to healthy. The Jets could be without starting running back Isaiah Crowell (ankle), defensive end Leonard Williams (back), and cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson (quad) and Buster Skrine (concussion).
That’s still nothing compared to the Colts, who are essentially a hospital ward dressed as a football team.
The most relevant players who have failed to get in a full practice this week include tight end Jack Doyle (hip), tight end Eric Ebron (shin/quad/ankle/knee), center Ryan Kelly (Calf), wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring) and safety Clayton Geathers (concussion/neck).
Biggest mismatch: Colts defensive line vs. Jets offensive line
This could spell trouble for Darnold, who has meager 46.7% completion rate, 6.7% interception rate and 66.3 passer rating when pressured. — Justin Bailey
DFS edge: There isn’t much to like about the Colts’ passing game entering their matchup against the Jets’ sixth-ranked defense in pass DVOA.
Hilton and Doyle look like longshots to suit up, so the Colts will move forward with Ebron, Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal as their top four weapons.
This isolated target share has helped make Ebron the slate’s highest-priced tight end on DraftKings at $5,400, although he carries an elevated 9-12% projected ownership rate. — Hartitz
Bet to watch: Colts +3
This is a classic example of people being too reactionary. The Jets played great against Denver, but that does not mean it translates week to week. The Colts predictably laid an egg at New England and are devalued in the eyes of the public.
Luck against Darnold is a matchup I’ll take. I expect the Colts to focus on stopping the run and making Darnold beat them. I don’t believe he will. Take the Colts. — BlackJack Fletcher
Betting odds: Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins
- Spread: Redskins -1
- Over/Under: 44.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
Betting market: This game certainly has a pros vs. Joes feeling to it, as the Panthers, who are getting more than 70% of spread and moneyline bets, have gone from -1/PK to +1/+1.5 at the time of writing (see live betting data here). —Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Washington lost, 43-19, to New Orleans on Monday Night Football.
Teams that lost their previous game by 20 or more points have gone 406-339-17 (55%) against the spread since 2003. — John Ewing
In Cam Newton’s career, the over is 36-23 (61%) when the Panthers are on the road. — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Panthers run offense vs. Redskins run defense
The Redskins defense is 30th in run DVOA, while the Panthers offense is fourth. The Redskins defensive line is 30th with 5.21 adjusted line yards allowed per run; the Panthers offensive line is second with a mark of 5.03.
In particular, the Redskins are most vulnerable on runs up the middle (31st, 5.28 adjusted line yards) and around left end (28th, 6.04). Can you guess where the Panthers have been the strongest? Up the middle (first, 5.22) and around left end (first, 10.05).
Newton and running back Christian McCaffrey should punish the Redskins via the ground game. — Matthew Freedman
Which team is healthier? Panthers
Tight end Greg Olsen (foot) is tentatively expected to suit up Sunday, along with defensive tackle Kawann Short (ankle).
Meanwhile, the Redskins are all sorts of banged up. Paul Richardson (knee), Adrian Peterson (shoulder), Vernon Davis (hamstring), Chris Thompson (ribs), Josh Doctson (heel) and Jamison Crowder (ankle) either didn’t practice or were limited to start the week.
DFS edge: McCaffrey is set up well in Week 6 against Pro Football Focus’ worst-ranked run defense.
Along with having a solid receiving role (25% target share), McCaffrey is developing an excellent rushing floor, something we never saw last season.
Bet to watch: Washington -1
There’s a lot of buzz about the returns of Olsen and Panthers 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, and then getting into Twitter battles 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, Carolina just struggled to beat the Giants and now goes on the road.
I’m not sure there’s even a two-point difference between these teams (when taking out home-field advantage). — Ken Barkley
Betting odds: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
- Spread: Vikings -10
- Over/Under: 43
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
Betting market: The poor Vikings have to deal with the pressure of being a double-digit home favorite, something they failed to handle last go around.
At the time of writing, more than 60% of bettors have backed Minnesota. Despite this public support, the Vikings have gone from -10.5 to -10 at most books, suggesting some sharper action was on Arizona plus that hook (see live betting data here). —Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Bad teams have been good bets as big underdogs in the NFL. Since 2003, teams that have won fewer than 25% of their games, like the Cardinals, are 120-87-4 (58%) against the spread when getting 10 or more points, per our Bet Labs data. — John Ewing
Since the beginning of the 2014 season, the Vikings are the second-most profitable team at home with a 24-10 record ATS (+12.5 units).
The Vikings’ last home game prior to Sunday was their 27-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Since 2014, Minnesota is 8-1 ATS in its next home game after an ATS home loss. — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Adam Thielen vs. Arizona’s slot coverage
Thielen has been so much better than anyone else on both teams that he warrants top mismatch consideration on a weekly basis until further notice.
Budda Baker has been Arizona’s primary coverage defender in the slot, where Thielen runs 61% of his routes — and where Baker has allowed an 83% completion rate and 9.5 yards per target this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
The alternatives to Baker haven’t been any better, getting tagged for an 81% completion rate and two touchdowns on 27 slot targets. — Chris Raybon
Which team is healthier? Vikings
The Cardinals haven’t had any significant injuries pop up in recent weeks, but their offensive line remains thin with right tackle Andre Smith (hamstring), left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and left guard Mike Iupati (shoulder) routinely practicing in a limited fashion. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) is once again expected to suit up.
The Vikings are expected to welcome back running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring), but it remains to be seen if he’ll be on a pitch count.
DFS edge: The Cardinals’ new-look scheme hasn’t asked Patrick Peterson to shadow yet this season, and he has lined up in the slot on just four total snaps.
This means Thielen has a puncher’s chance at becoming the first wide receiver to ever start a season with six straight 100-plus-yard receiving games, while Stefon Diggs will have to spend at least some of his time across from one of the game’s best corners.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals have seemingly benched Jamar Taylor, PFF’s worst cornerback out of 111 qualified players this season. — Hartitz
Bet to watch: Under 43
It’s been four brutal weeks in a row for the Vikings, so a date with the Cardinals is just what the doctor ordered. Arizona has just one win and comes into this game averaging fewer than 14 points per game.
The Vikings’ defense hasn’t been great, allowing 15 receptions of 25-plus yards this season — third-most in the NFL — but it actually has done well against No. 1 wide receivers.
According to Football Outsiders, Minnesota ranks ranked 10th against the opposition’s top WR, which is a big plus against a team with a safety blanket like Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, defend the deep ball very well. According to Football Outsiders, Arizona is first in the NFL at defending the deep pass (16+ yards downfield), which should limit some of Minnesota’s offensive explosiveness.
These two teams are a combined 7-3 to the under this season and I don’t see much reason to think that won’t continue on Sunday. — Abrams
Betting odds: Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
- Spread: Texans -10
- Over/Under: 41
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
Betting market: With Deshaun Watson’s status up in the air, this line didn’t open up until Wednesday.
Considering Houston hasn’t beaten any team by more than three points this season, early bettors had trouble locking in the Texans as such a large favorite and Houston is now getting fewer than 40% of bets (see live data here).
Nevertheless, the Texans have actually moved from -9.5 to -10 at a number of books. Given the low total of 41 — more than half of bettors have bet on the under — the Bills are implied to score a measly 15.5 points. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Can bettors trust the Texans as 10-point favorites? Since 2003, teams with a losing record favored by more than a touchdown have gone 60-74-1 (45%) against the spread (per our Bet Labs data). — John Ewing
Not only are teams with a losing record great bets to fade as a large favorite,
teams that open as a favorite of 9.5 points or more and did not make the playoffs the season prior are 86-120-3 ATS (41.7%), losing bettors 35.7 units since 2003. — Evan Abrams
Over the past season and a half, Houston has not exactly dominated the league, with a 6-15 record SU.
Did you know? Houston will be only the fifth team since 2003 that’s been under .500 and favored by more than a touchdown after winning four or fewer games the season prior.
- 2016 Titans (-7.5) vs. CLE (W, 28-26)
- 2011 Panthers (-9) vs. TB (W, 48-16)
- 2009 Seahawks (-11) vs. DET (W, 32-20)
- 2005 Dolphins (-8.5) vs. NYJ (W, 24-20) — Abrams
Which team is healthier? Bills
Stud cornerback Tre’Davious White (ankle) joins right guard John Miller (ankle) and safeties Rafael Bush (shoulder) and Micah Hyde (groin) as the only Bills at risk of missing Sunday’s game.
Meanwhile, the Texans are tentatively expected to have Watson (chest), although he failed to get in a full practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Texans’ wide receivers are all a bit banged up, but once again each is expected to play. Running back Lamar Miller (chest) should start after not playing last Sunday night.
Biggest mismatch: Bills quarterback Josh Allen vs. Texans’ defensive line
Allen has already been sacked a league-high 19 times this season, and now he takes on a Texans’ defensive line that ranks sixth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate.
The Bills O-line could have a tough time containing J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, who’ve combined for 36 pressures and 8.5 sacks.
Allen has continually struggled under pressure this season. He’s been sacked on 29.7% of his dropbacks when he faces pressure (per PFF), the highest rate among Week 6 starting quarterbacks.
And when he doesn’t get sacked, he’s compiled a paltry 3.1 yards per attempt, 15.2% completion rate and passer rating of 2.1 under pressure. — Justin Bailey
DFS edge: Texans WR Keke Coutee will have the benefit of avoiding White, who doesn’t travel into the slot, according to Pro Football Focus data.
More encouraging are Coutee’s 22 targets over his past two games — the first two in which he’s been active.
Bet to watch: Under 41
We have possibly the NFL’s two worst offensive lines facing off against two excellent defenses. The Texans defensive line ranks sixth in adjusted sack rate while also being stout against the run — plus Watt is starting to round into old form.
The Bills are middle of the road in most metrics, but are outstanding at stuffing the run, which is something the Texans don’t do well.
Allen is a hot mess and Watson isn’t much better at the moment. Feels like a sloppy game where punts are more likely than first downs. — Geoff Schwartz
Betting odds: Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos
- Spread: Rams -7
- Over/Under: 52
- Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
Betting market: There have been a couple of steam moves on the Broncos as a 7-point home dog, but the line has stayed there at that number at most books.
However, the juice on Denver is generally in the -120 range. I think we have a case of “the books are afraid to move the Rams to -6.5” on our hands.
Weather report: Bundle up! Winter is coming early in Denver, as the temps will be in the mid- to upper-20s. Snow is also a possibility.
I wouldn’t expect a blizzard, but a few inches are in the forecast for the area on Sunday. — Gallant
Did you know? Between his professional and collegiate careers, Jared Goff has never started a game with a temperature below 33 degrees. He has started two NFL games with temperatures below 40 degrees.
- Week 13, 2016 (at New England): 14-of-32 passing, 161 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
- Week 15, 2016 (at Seattle): 13-of-25 passing, 135 yards, 0 touchdowns
The Rams lost both straight-up and against the spread, scoring only 13 points combined. — Evan Abrams
Trends to know: This is only the 12th time since 2003 that Denver has been a home underdog of more than three points. In the previous 11 games, the Broncos were 3-8 SU and 3-7-1 ATS.
Denver has been a home dog of seven or more points only twice before, losing and failing to cover each time by an average of 14.5 points. — John Ewing
Biggest mismatch: Rams WRs vs. Broncos CBs
Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks are progressing through the concussion protocol and appear to have a chance of suiting up on Sunday.
A juicy matchup awaits both, as the Rams have the week’s biggest matchup advantage in terms of explosive passing plays. Other than all-world slot corner Chris Harris Jr. — who should spend most of his time on Kupp — the Broncos don’t have another cornerback graded among Pro Football Focus’ top 70. — Ian Hartitz
Which team is healthier? Rams
While Cooks (concussion) and Kupp (concussion) seem to have a good chance at playing, the Rams’ special teams will likely be without kicker Greg Zuerlein for another week.
Meanwhile, the Broncos’ already not-great secondary isn’t 100%, as cornerback Adam Jones (leg) and safety Darian Stewart (foot) should be considered questionable.
The offense is expected to be without right tackle Jared Veldheer (knee).
DFS edge: This matchup has the makings of a shootout. It’s one of four games with an over/under above 50 as of writing, and it carries the largest combined explosive pass-play rate in Week 6.
The game’s above-average situation-neutral pace also helps, but exposure to the Rams receivers should be focused on Robert Woods and Cooks (concussion), considering Kupp (concussion) will have to deal with Harris. — Hartitz
Bet to watch: Rams -7
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 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 has been 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 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. — Matthew Freedman
Betting odds: Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: Jaguars -3
- Over/Under: 40.5
- Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
Betting market: With 53% of bets and 65% of dollars as of writing (see live data here), Jacksonville has moved from -1.5/-2 to -2.5/-3 since opening. The majority of books have the line at Jacksonville -3 (+100ish), but a handful have the Jaguars at a heavily juiced -2.5.
This marks the third of three games on the 4 p.m. ET slate this Sunday with a popular under, which has helped push the total down from 41.5 to 40.5. — Mark Gallant
The Cowboys are currently receiving less than 50% of tickets. They’re averaging less than 45% of tickets through six games (42% at the time of writing), which would be their second-lowest support over a full season in the last decade should it maintain.
The lowest was 33% in 2015, when Dallas finished 4-12. — Evan Abrams
Trends to know: Jason Garrett is a +250 favorite to be the first NFL coach fired this season. Under Garrett, the Cowboys are 4-14 straight up as an underdog in Jerry’s World. — John Ewing
Did you know? Since the Jaguars’ Week 1 win over the Giants, they are -8 in turnover differential — including -3 in each of their last two games, losing the turnover battle in their last four games overall.
And guess what? The Jaguars are still 3-2 SU.
Over the past decade, only four teams have lost the turnover differential in four consecutive games and have still been better than .500. Two of those four teams won the fifth game SU, but none covered the spread. — Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Cowboys wide receivers vs. Jaguars pass defense
Just because it’s obvious doesn’t make it any less true: The Cowboys wide receivers are awful, and the Jaguars pass defense is the best in the league.
Collectively, Cowboys receivers have averaged only 120.8 yards per game, while the Jags have held opposing wideouts to a league-low 130.4 yards per game. Think about that: Cowboys receivers have been worse than the receivers facing the Jags — and now they themselves are facing the Jags.
With Pro Bowl cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye on the outside, Dak Prescott will struggle to get the ball to the underwhelming triumvirate of Cowboys receivers (Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson and Michael Gallup). — Matthew Freedman
Which team is healthier? Cowboys
Most of the Cowboys’ banged-up defenders are expected to suit up Sunday, with the exception of stud linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) and defensive tackles David Irving (personal) and Maliek Collins (knee).
The visiting Jaguars have already ruled out Leonard Fournette (hamstring), slot corner D.J. Hayden (toe) and left tackle Josh Wells (groin). Center Brandon Linder (knee), right guard Andrew Norwell (foot) and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (back) aren’t guaranteed to suit up, either.
DFS edge: The Cowboys defense is intriguing on DraftKings considering it costs only $2,300. Dallas has quietly been good this season, ranking third in pressures and averaging 3.0 sacks per game.
Additionally, the Cowboys take on a Jaguars offense that boasts a league-worst 20.7% turnover rate. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Jaguars -3
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. Prescott and his putrid pass catchers won’t be able to muster much through the air against Ramsey & Co. And while Ezekiel Elliott remains a force, the Jags are much more formidable against the run in 2018 (seventh in Football Outsiders’ 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. — Scott T. Miller
Betting odds: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
- Spread: Ravens -2.5
- Over/Under: 41.5
- Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
Betting market: The Ravens got hammered pretty early on, moving from a PK to -3 at BookMaker a little more than 12 hours after opening. There was some buyback on the Titans though, as they’ve moved to +2.5 or a heavily juiced +3 since then.
Trends to know: The Titans enter this matchup 3-2 straight up and against the spread.
Since 2003, teams above .500 both SU and ATS that are listed as a home underdog in October or later in the season are only 59-71-6 ATS (-14.1 units). — Evan Abrams
Did you know? The Ravens have covered the spread by an average of 8.6 points this season.
After the first month of the season, it has been profitable to fade such teams as oddsmakers are more likely to inflate their lines expecting casual gamblers to cash previous results. — John Ewing
How similar are the Titans and Ravens heading into this matchup?
Well, both teams are…
- 3-2 SU and ATS
- 2-0 SU and ATS at home
- 1-2 SU and ATS on road
- 2-3 to the under
- 1-1 split O/U at home
- 1-2 to the under on the road
- Lost SU and ATS last week on the road while scoring and allowing less than two touchdowns with both games going under the total
Cue Spiderman meme. — Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Ravens front seven vs. Titans offensive line
The Titans haven’t been able to get their rushing going this season, ranking 26th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards per rush and yet to have a rusher gain more than 75 yards in a single game.
Meanwhile, the Ravens defense is nearing full health and ranks seventh in Adjusted Line Yards allowed per rush. — Ian Hartitz
Which team is healthier? Ravens
Baltimore’s only players at risk of missing the game are defensive tackle Michael Pierce (foot), outside linebacker Tim Williams (hamstring) and slot corner Tavon Young (hip).
The only true injury issue on either side of the ball is the Titans front seven, which could be without linebackers Kamalei Correa (foot), Wesley Woodyard (shoulder) and Will Compton (hamstring), along with defensive tackle Bennie Logan (elbow) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (elbow).
DFS edge: The Ravens defense is at an affordable price on both DraftKings and FanDuel for Week 6. Baltimore will take on a struggling Tennessee offense that’s averaging only 4.8 yards per play. Only the Bills and Cardinals have been worse. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Under 41.5
Both the Titans and Ravens are in the top half of the league in Football Outsiders’ DVOA on defense and against the pass, with Baltimore ranked inside the top five in both this season.
The Ravens are coming off back-to-back road games in which they and their opponents combined to score 40 points or less in each.
One reason I think that trend continues this week is that the Ravens should be able to slow down the Titans offense, especially with left tackle Taylor Lewan (foot) ailing a bit heading into Sunday.
Lewan has had a positive Pro Football Focus grade every season of his career, and he only allowed 22 plays of pressure in 2017 — the second-fewest among offensive tackles who played at least as many passing plays as Lewan (495).
The Titans’ rush offense is being stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage on 11.7% of carries, the ninth-worst rate in the league. Tennessee’s big-play percentage is near the bottom of the league, as well, with only 7.6% of all rushing attempts going for 10-plus yards, sixth-worst in the NFL.
Add to that, the Ravens rush defense is stuffing opponents 15% of the time, second in the NFL. All of which leads me to the under.
One of the more intriguing matchups will be the Ravens offense against the Titans defense in the red zone.
Baltimore has scored touchdowns on 65% of its red-zone trips (13-of-20), eighth in the league. The Tennessee defense has given up only three red-zone touchdowns on 13 trips (23.1%), best in the NFL. — Abrams
Betting odds: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
- Spread: Patriots -3
- Over/Under: 59.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- Channel: NBC
Betting market: The Chiefs have been a trendy dog throughout the week and are up to 55% of spread bets as of writing (see live data here).
However, the majority of books have kept the Patriots at a juiced-up -3 or even a 3.5-point favorite — most likely because the Pats are getting about two-thirds of the money.
If books do fall back to -3 at standard juice (-110), I wouldn’t expect the line to stay there long. — Danny Donahue
The over/under of 60 at Pinnacle is now tied for the highest we’ve ever tracked, and it’s not scaring over bettors away.
At least 75% of bets and dollars are on the over, pushing it from 57.5/58 into record-breaking territory. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Kansas City is one of two undefeated teams in the NFL. Teams with a perfect record that are underdogs after September have gone 22-16-2 against the spread since 2003.
Meanwhile, in games that Tom Brady has started since 2003, the Patriots are 28-9-3 (76%) ATS as a home favorite of less than a touchdown. — John Ewing
Over his career, Brady has faced 13 undefeated teams in Week 4 or later. He’s just 7-6 straight up and 6-6-1 ATS in such games.
Only one franchise — and quarterback — have beaten Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough in Week 4 or later while entering the game unbeaten (and they did it twice): the Colts and Peyton Manning in 2005 and ’06. — Evan Abrams
Did you know? This is projected to be the largest over/under of Brady’s career. The biggest before this was 58 in 2014, when the Patriots faced the Colts and Andrew Luck. New England won in Indianapolis, and the game went over the total by just four points.
At 59.5, the projected over/under would also crush the previous high at Gillette Stadium, which was 56.5 in 2017 against the Falcons (the Patriots won 23-7).
No surprise here: The three highest over/unders in the stadium’s history were all New England wins. — Abrams
Coaching matchup: Andy Reid and Bill Belichick have a long history against each other, with seven total games (two in the playoffs) dating all the way back to 2003.
Reid and Belichick met in Super Bowl XXXIX, where Belichick’s Patriots beat the Reid’s Eagles 24-21, but failed to cover the touchdown spread. Overall, Belichick is 5-2 SU but only 3-4 ATS vs. Reid.
But Reid might have the advantage on Sunday: He’s 4-0 ATS vs. Belichick in prime time, covering the spread by 19.5 points per game.
Over the past five years, Reid is one of only three head coaches to beat Belichick twice.
- 2-2 SU (1-3 ATS) vs. Doug Marrone (-3.4 ATS differential)
- 1-2 SU (1-2 ATS) vs. Andy Reid (-17.3 ATS differential)
- 1-2 SU (1-2 ATS) vs. Gary Kubiak (-1 ATS differential)
Just look at those ATS differentials. — Abrams
Metrics that matter: The pressure is on Patrick Mahomes to not turn the ball over in a hostile environment. Since 2001, the Patriots are 23-1 SU and 17-6-1 ATS when winning the turnover battle at home under the prime-time lights.
The Patriots’ only SU loss? Sept. 7, 2017 against … Reid and the Chiefs. — Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Mahomes vs. New England’s pass rush
Mahomes and Brady are tied with a league-low six sacks taken, but the difference is on defense, where New England hasn’t been able to get to the quarterback.
In the Patriots’ first season since defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left to coach the Lions, the defense ranks 30th in both sacks (seven) and Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rate (4.0%) — a metric that accounts for sacks plus intentional grounding penalties per pass attempt and is adjusted for down, distance and opponent.
Meanwhile, Mahomes leads the NFL with a 128.9 passer rating when kept clean this season (per Pro Football Focus data). — Chris Raybon
Which team is healthier? Chiefs
The Chiefs will probably be without all-world safety Eric Berry (heel) for at least another week, and featured pass rusher Justin Houston (hamstring) might not be able to suit up, either.
The Patriots are keeping the status of their players close to the vest as usual, but running back Sony Michel (ankle), wide receiver Chris Hogan (thigh) and cornerback Eric Rowe (groin), along with defensive tackles Malcolm Brown (knee) and Danny Shelton (elbow) aren’t locks to play.
DFS edge: There are no scarier four words in football than “prime-time Tyreek Hill.” The next-level speedster has scored 11 total touchdowns in 12 career prime-time games over his two-plus seasons (including playoffs), generating scores via the run, the pass and the return game.
Up next is a matchup against a Patriots defense that Hill roasted for 133 receiving yards and a touchdown in the 2017 season opener.
He’s gone without a touchdown in three consecutive games for only the second time in his career. He found the end zone on three separate occasions in the ensuing game the other time this occurred. — Hartitz
Bet to watch: Chiefs +3.5
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. — Peter Jennings
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.