Welcome to the Week 6 edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll strive to identify a handful of games per week that I feel have profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well. That is, we’ll focus only on spots that seem truly advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Let’s take a quick look at how things went in Week 5. Follow that up with a leap into a trio of interesting scenarios for Week 6.
Recapping Week 5
Week 5 winners: Lions +1/ Texans moneyline (-162)
Week 5 push: Steelers-Falcons 58 points over/under
Week 5 loser: Texans -3.5
Season record to date:
ATS: 8-4 (.667)
Moneyline: 4-3 (.572)
Week 6 NFL Betting Picks
Chicago Bears (3-1) at Miami Dolphins (3-2)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Bears -3.5
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Bears -3
888 Sportsbook Odds: Bears -3.5
Over/Under Total: 42.0
Lately, neither Adam Gase nor Ryan Tannehill seems to know what he’s doing. The Dolphins offensive line isn’t exactly doing a very stellar job either. And the last time we saw Mitchell Trubisky, he was eviscerating the Buccaneers secondary for six touchdown passes. Hence, we have Miami suffering the indignity of being labeled a 3 to 3.5-point underdog on their home turf. Yet this is one of those games where a deep dive into the stat sheet reveals an opportunity to exploit the number.
The Dolphins offense has been markedly better at home over this season’s modest sample. They’ve racked up 27 and 28 points against the Titans and Raiders, respectively, at Hard Rock Stadium. Tannehill boasts a 72.5 completion percentage, a 5:2 TD:INT, 10.18 YPA, and 121.3 quarterback rating in that pair of contests. While he’s been sacked 11 times through five games, only two of those takedowns came at home. He’s projected to have the benefit of a fully healthy receiving corps Sunday, as well. Most notably, DeVante Parker is slated to return from a two-game absence due to a quadriceps injury.
The Bears defense has admittedly been tough to crack. However, there’s an asterisk next to each of Chicago’s three wins. In Week 2, the Bears had the benefit of facing a Cardinals team that fielded a combination of Sam Bradford and rookie Josh Rosen. The latter was seeing his first NFL action. They then took on a depleted Seahawks team at home that was missing Doug Baldwin. Then, their offense absolutely cold-cocked the Buccaneers in the first half in Week 4. The monumental first-half lead they built allowed the Bears D to start pinning their ears back by the second quarter.
Also, note that the Bears’ air attack was positively pedestrian before Trubisky’s Week 4 outlier. The second-year quarterback hadn’t thrown for more than 220 yards through his first three games. His YPA hadn’t eclipsed 6.29 in any of those contests. He’d also generated a mediocre 2:3 TD:INT in that span.
The Dolphins defense is getting healthier as well. For one thing, they got Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones back from a shoulder injury last week. Gase also seems to feel Cameron Wake has a good chance of returning from his knee injury against Chicago. Plus, cornerback Xavien Howard is quietly developing into a Pro Bowl-caliber asset, who can routinely control his side of the field.
By the Numbers: The Dolphins are 1-0 as a home underdog this season, exceeding the spread by eight points versus the Titans in Week 1. Miami was also 3-2 against the spread at home in 2017, beating the spread by an average of 5.4 points overall. The Dolphins are 2-0 at home against the spread overall this season. They’ve bested the number by an average of 6.5 points.
The Bears are 0-1 against the spread as a road favorite this season, failing to cover by an average of 3.5 points. They’re also 4-6 against the spread on the road since the beginning of the 2017 season. Chicago is 1-4 versus the number coming out of the bye over the last five seasons, failing to cover by an average of 11.3 points.
The Final Word: This line seems heavily influenced by an offensive performance Trubisky will be hard-pressed to remotely recreate. Chicago’s defense is undoubtedly stout. However, don’t underestimate the effect that an approximately 80 percent humidity level can have on a Midwestern team in dark jerseys at a 1 p.m. game.
Miami should feel plenty of urgency and have a chip on its shoulder. They’ve lost two straight. And they’re essentially being branded a six-point underdog at home against a quarterback who was being labeled a disappointment in some circles just three weeks ago. Look for Miami to cover at minimum, with an outright win not out of the question whatsoever.
The Pick: Dolphins +3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Falcons -3.5
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Falcons -3.5
888 Sportsbook Odds: Falcons -3.5
Over/Under total: 57.5
Another week, another sky-high projected point total for the Falcons. Just like last week against the Steelers, it stands to reason. Atlanta’s defense continues to bleed production to opposing offenses. Plus, for the second straight week, the team on the opposite sideline has been just as much of a sieve.
Atlanta watched the game progressively get away from them last week at Heinz Field. Their defense gave up another 34 points (the last touchdown for Pittsburgh game on defense). The blowout loss pushed their record to 1-4 and their season to the brink of complete collapse. That should equate to a desperate team in Week 6 — one with the firepower to take advantage of Tampa’s league-worst secondary.
One look at the numbers for two of the Falcons’ key offensive pieces against the Bucs over the last two seasons offers plenty of reason for optimism:
Matt Ryan: 2016: 52 of 73 for 678 yards, 6:0 TD:INT
2017: 43 of 66 for 529 yards, 2:0 TD:INT
Julio Jones: 2016: 12 receptions, 177 yards, two TDs
2017: 15 receptions, 307 yards, two TDs
Tampa is arguably now in worse shape on the back end of the defense than they were the last two seasons. Safety Chris Conte (knee) and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (shoulder) are both on injured reserve. Rookie Carlton Davis, who’s been starting opposite Brent Grimes, could miss Sunday’s game with a groin injury. The depleted nature of an already suspect secondary could lead to big numbers for Ryan, Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and standout rookie Calvin Ridley.
On the other side of the ball, Jameis Winston will make his first start of 2018 after having served a three-game suspension. He was able to get some valuable work in during the second half of the Week 4 blowout loss to the Bears. Now, Winston and top wideout Mike Evans have had their share of success against Atlanta. There should, therefore, be points coming from their end as well.
However, the Bucs have also been largely one dimensional on offense. They check in averaging an anemic 69.5 rushing yards per game and an NFL-worst 3.1 yards per carry. Their league-low 91 attempts are partly the byproduct of game script. Yet their complete inefficiency on the ground is an indictment on the ineffectiveness of Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones II, and the offensive line. Their inconsistency makes them a poor prospect to take advantage of a Falcons rush defense that has been exploited to the tune of 4.9 yards per carry through five games. Atlanta can then devote more resources from their injury-ravaged defense to slowing down the passing attack.
By the Numbers: The Buccaneers are 3-6-1 against the spread as a road team since the beginning of the 2017 season, failing to cover by an average of 4.5 points overall. That includes a 2-4-1 mark as a road underdog over that span. The Buccaneers are also 4-6-1 against the spread after a loss since the beginning of the 2017 season.
The Falcons are 6-5 against the spread as home favorites since the beginning of the 2017 season. Atlanta is also 3-0 against the Buccaneers over their last three meetings, winning their one home game in that sample by 14 points.
The Final Word: A desperate, talented team at home is a dangerous foe. The oddsmakers seem to agree. Despite the disparity in records, the Falcons still get the standard three-point cushion as a home team, plus an extra half-point for now (see the Bears-Dolphins line for confirmation this is far from automatic). Look for the home squad to play with some pride and passion against a division foe that they’ve defeated by six and the 15 points in two of their last three meetings. A seven-point victory wouldn’t surprise me here. A cover seems even more likely.
The Pick: Falcons -3.5
Buffalo Bills (2-3) at Houston Texans (2-3)
DraftKings Sportsbook: Texans -9.5
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Texans -9.5
888 Sportsbook Odds: Texans -9.5
Over/Under Total: 41.0
Banking on the Bills is admittedly a shaky proposition. However, as they demonstrated in a Week 3 shocker in Minnesota and a Week 5 victory over the Titans, this team does have some talent on defense. Buffalo is allowing a modest 235 passing yards per game. They also rank in the top half of the league in both yards per rush (3.9) and rushing yards allowed per game (96.2). And their 12 sacks tie them with multiple teams for the eighth-highest figure in the league.
That said, the offense is definitely going through some growing pains under rookie quarterback Josh Allen. Allen has been particularly conservative in the last two weeks, as evidenced by YPAs of 4.58 and 4.32. He demonstrated much more upside in Weeks 2 and 3, throwing for 245 and 196 yards against the Chargers and Vikings. He brings some rushing acumen to the table as well. He’s gained between 19 and 39 yards on the ground in each contest.
A 1-2 punch of LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory also enjoyed success in Week 5 against Tennessee. The veteran duo combined for 128 rush yards. The capable pair of backs is integral to keeping the heat off Allen. Facing a Texans secondary tied with two other teams with the second-most passing touchdowns allowed (12) should work in Allen’s favor.
On the opposite side of the ball, cornerback Tre’Davious White has turned into one of the league’s best young shutdown corners. As long as an apparent ankle injury sustained in Wednesday’s practice doesn’t cause him to miss the contest, he could go a long way toward limiting DeAndre Hopkins’ impact on the game. Granted, the Texans can always counter with the speedy duo of Will Fuller and Keke Coutee. Yet it bears noting that Buffalo has kept some high-caliber receivers under control this season:
- Week 1: John Brown: 3-44/ Michael Crabtree- 3-38
- Week 2: Keenan Allen: 6-67
- Week 3: Stefon Diggs: 4-30/ Adam Thielen – 105 yards, but it took 14 receptions (7.5 YPC), with most coming in garbage time.
- Week 4: Davante Adams: 8-81
- Week 5: Corey Davis: 4-49
By the Numbers: The Texans are 3-7 versus the spread at home since the beginning of the 2017 season. That includes a 2-5 mark against the number as a home favorite during that stretch. They’re also 6-9 against the spread in conference games since the beginning of 2017.
The Bills are 9-7 versus the number in conference games since the beginning of the 2017 season. Buffalo is also 6-3-1 against the spread after a loss since in that span.
The Final Word: Houston could be in for a challenge similar to the one they faced against the Cowboys in Week 5. In that game, they squeaked out a three-point overtime victory. Buffalo figures to try and slow the pace to keep Deshaun Watson off the field as much as possible. They do have the pass rush to put the talented quarterback under duress. What’s more, the Texans have yielded 18 sacks through five games. The combination of a solid Bills defense and vulnerable Houston secondary should enable Buffalo to cover a slightly bloated spread. With their two victories this season coming by a combined six points, the Texans haven’t proven to be 9.5 points better than any team.
The Pick: Bills +9.5