Friends become enemies; partners turn rivals.
The shifting alliances, going from rooting for a team one week to cursing them the next, is one of the things I love about sports betting. It can be difficult, though, when two former flames immediately come face-to-face with each other.
That’s what will happen in Week 6 of the NFL. The teams that formed my top two plays from Week 5, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, now clash. Which one do I continue backing? It’s like an episode of a bad dating game show.
The Rams and 49ers were at the forefront of a banner week, at least from a “plays” perspective as I went 4-1. The full returns were less lovable, as I had my first losing week of the year picking every game, going 7-8 to bring the season record to 47-30-1 handicapping every game against the spread.
Read below for picks on every Week 6 games, including a heart-wrenching choice in the aforementioned NFC West showdown. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side.
Philadelphia Eagles plus-3 at Minnesota Vikings There may not be a single team in the NFC the Eagles deserve to be this big of an underdog against, certainly not the up-and-down Vikings. Philadelphia has one of the most complete rosters in the NFL, one that’s gotten a bit healthier over the last two weeks, even though the market continues to price it otherwise.
Carolina Panthers minus-1.5 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London Travel is such a huge factor in handicapping these transatlantic games, and typically, the team that’s arrived early has performed better. The Panthers are getting to London more than two full days before the Buccaneers. This line also looks a little short considering the Panthers laid 7 points to the Buccaneers in Week 2, and though they lost 20-14, the box score painted an evenly-matched game.
Pittsburgh Steelers plus-7 at Los Angeles Chargers This line implies there’s a downgrade from Mason Rudolph to Devlin Hodges at quarterback for the Steelers, but there might be evidence to the contrary. Hodges looked more poised than Rudolph when he took over last week, completing seven of nine passes for an average of 7.6 yards per attempt.
Los Angeles Rams minus-3 vs. San Francisco 49ers The 49ers have been far more impressive than the Rams, but they’ve also played a much easier schedule and find themselves in a disadvantageous situational spot here. Los Angeles has enjoyed three extra days to prepare, coming off Thursday Night Football as opposed to the 49ers playing on Monday Night Football.
Jacksonville Jaguars minus-1 vs. New Orleans Saints Jacksonville’s 2-3 record does not match its efficiency, as the Jaguars arguably outplayed their opponents in each of their last two losses. They’ve recovered only 26 percent of fumbles, which is bound to regress. Buy low on the Jaguars while it’s still an option.
Green Bay Packers minus-4 vs. Detroit Lions There was value on the Lions when the line opened plus-6 early in the week, but now it’s gone and the opportunity may have shifted to the other side. Now, this might be a discount to back Aaron Rodgers and one of the NFL’s best defenses.
Cleveland Browns plus-2 vs. Seattle Seahawks Expect the Browns' flip-flopping of offensive competency to continue as the Seahawks’ defense is giving up nearly 6 yards per play to rank in the bottom 10 of the NFL. Cleveland would be a play at plus-3, but there’s virtually no chance this line — which opened as high as Cleveland minus-2.5 before Monday Night Football — gets that high.
New England Patriots minus-16.5 vs. New York Giants Between piercing wind, rain and facing the best defense of the last 30 years through five games, I don’t see how Daniel Jones leads the Giants to even double-digit points. New York’s defense is so bad, meanwhile, that New England will find a way to manufacture a few scores.
Washington Redskins minus-3.5 at Miami Dolphins Those putting the Redskins’ in the same helpless category as the Dolphins need to chill out just a bit. Washington’s net yards per play is minus-1.1, which is terrible but somehow acceptable next to Miami’s nearly three-times worse minus-3.
New York Jets plus-7.5 vs. Dallas Cowboys At more than a touchdown, I don’t mind taking a leap of faith with returning Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. The call becomes much tougher if the line stabilizes at 7, which looks likely to occur as kickoff draws nearer.
Baltimore Ravens minus-11 vs. Cincinnati Bengals The market always has a tough time accurately pricing truly horrendous teams. Considering the Bengals got outgained by 1.3 yards per play to the lowly Cardinals last week, they qualify as a truly horrendous team.
Houston Texans plus-5.5 at Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes is limping around with a bad ankle and he’s not the only one. The Chiefs might have more players injured than healthy at the moment. It’s not wise to bet on a team that banged up, even a team like Kansas City that should otherwise be laying a point or two more.
Denver Broncos minus-2.5 vs. Tennessee Titans I’ve gone back and forth on this one but can’t shake the fact that the Broncos are in the positive by net yards per play (albeit barely at 0.1) while the Titans are in the negative. The rest of Tennessee’s metrics may look more impressive, but the Titans have also played an easier schedule.
Atlanta Falcons minus-2.5 at Arizona Cardinals I don’t want anything to do with this game but I can’t figure out any reason to possibly back the talent-deficient Cardinals unless the Falcons have fully quit on the season. I don’t think Atlanta has quit on well-liked coach Dan Quinn yet; it’s just incapable on defense.