- Three of our best bets for Week 6's action include AFC West teams, and another two experts go head-to-head in a pivotal AFC North contest. Find out which games to put your money on.
After a winning week in the books in Week 5, including our first-ever moneyline underdog pick (props to Jacob Feldman for nailing Cardinals +175), we're onto Week 6 with several intriguing games on the board. Here are The MMQB staff's seven top plays, including two going head-to-head in a critical AFC North showdown.
Los Angeles Chargers (-1) at Cleveland Browns
Cleveland has a lot of good vibes right now with the arrival of Baker Mayfield (heck, a slightly inebriated Eagles fan on my post-game SEPTA ride last weekend declared the Browns should be 5-0 right now, and he's not wrong). Surely that feeds into the narrow spread on this game, and the fact that the Browns are 4-1 against the spread so far this season. Despite all that, and that whole 1 p.m. EST start being bad for West Coast teams, I'm betting on the Chargers still having the more explosive offense. Philip Rivers is second behind only Patrick Mahomes in TD passes this season. The Chargers' two losses were to the two best teams in the league right now, the Rams and the Chiefs, and this feels like another game they should win. — Jenny Vrentas
Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
These are two teams who are familiar with each other and one of those teams, though inconsistent this season, is much more talented than the other. Take Pittsburgh here. — Andy Benoit
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (-9.5)
Aaron Rodgers is pretty close to 100%—he was removed from the injury report late last week and proceeded to throw for 442 yards and three touchdowns in Detroit despite a mistake-prone group of receivers. Throw in the misadventures of Mason Crosby, and things couldn't have gone any worse in last week's loss.
The 49ers, meanwhile, have clearly reverted to pre-Garoppolo form (you know, the team that went 1-10—losing five of those games by 10 points or more—last season before Garoppolo stepped in). They just dropped a 10-point game at home to previously winless Arizona, and would have been beaten soundly by the Chargers two weeks ago if not for a pick-six and a long catch-and-run TD by tight end George Kittle to keep them in the game. The 49ers are 1-9 against the spread in Weeks 5 through 9 over the past three seasons.
Meanwhile, with Aaron Rodgers under center at Lambeau, the Packers are 18-6 against the spread in games where the spread is 7.5 or greater (so more than a TD) but the total is 48 or less (so against an opponent that doesn't have a stellar offense). That includes a 13-2 ATS mark since the start of the 2011 season.
This line seems like it's off by a good three points, at least. It's nearly impossible to envision a scenario where this 49ers squad hangs within two possessions of the Packers at Lambeau. — Gary Gramling
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)
It's great that the Bengals aren't getting everyone's respect yet. Cincinnati is 4-1 and atop the AFC North for a reason, boasting the league's fourth-best scoring offense, right behind the Rams (you can read more about them in this week's MMQB). Meanwhile, the Steelers defense is 25th in points allowed. I expect this game to be very tightly officiated given the embarrassing, destructive display these teams combined for late last year, which will even further benefit the offense. Plus, the rivalry matchup will be broadcast across much of the East Coast Sunday, giving the Bengals a chance for a statement game. Maybe everyone will be talking about them as contenders Monday, but for now, there's still value opportunity in the jungle. — Jacob Feldman
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Dallas Cowboys
Usually, when a line appears to be as off as this one is, it’s smart to fade what seems an obvious pick. Yet, there are reasons to believe the oddsmakers simply missed the mark here. This game opened with the Jaguars as one-point favorites, and was immediately bet up to where it sits now, with the Jaguars laying a field goal. Aligning yourself with the sharp bettors is always wise, and one of the best ways to do so is to compare the spread between the percentage of tickets on a team against the percentage of money. Sharp bettors are also heavy bettors, so if there is a much larger percentage of money than tickets on a certain team, it’s an indication that the sharps are pounding that side of the bet. As of this writing, 59% of tickets are on the Jaguars, and those tickets represent a whopping 85% of the money wagered on this game, according to The Action Network.
The sharps appear to love the Jaguars this week, and with good reason. The Cowboys have a slow, plodding offense, an anachronism in the modern game. If you were designing an offense with a stated goal of getting trounced by a fast, athletic, aggressive defense—you know, one like Jacksonville’s—it would look a lot like what the Cowboys have going on this season. The Cowboys defense can’t be dismissed out of hand, especially with road Blake Bortles in the mix, but the Jaguars are so clearly the better team in this game, and the way money is being wagered reduces the risk that this is just a trap being set on an all-too-willing public. Trust the Jags. — Michael Beller
Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5) at New England Patriots
Alright, I’ll bite again. You could go back and read what I wrote when taking the Chiefs +3.5 against the Chargers in Week 1 and +4 against the Steelers in Week 2. I picked Kansas City to win the Super Bowl before the season, I've had them first in my power rankings the last three weeks and I’m going to pick them any time they get more than three points.
I know it’s the Patriots—at home with extra rest. But go back and look at what everyone said about New England two weeks ago. Granted, much of that was overreaction, and yes they look to have righted the ship the last two weeks, but can we really declare all their problems fixed because of a couple home wins over the Dolphins and Colts?
If this line was under three, it might be a stay-away game for me. But with the line at 3.5, I will gladly take Kansas City yet again. The Chiefs have lost only one game by more than a touchdown in the last two calendar years, and this clearly looks like the best team they’ve had in that span. They’ve already won in Pittsburgh and Denver this season, and could certainly win in New England. At the very least, they can keep it to a FG game in either direction. — Mitch Goldich
Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders (in London): OVER 48 Points
Maybe it’s the fact that this game is being played in London, but the Seahawks-Raiders total sitting at only 48 points seems rather low. These could be two of the five worst defenses in the league. In their first game without Earl Thomas, the Seahawks allowed 10.0 yards per attempt to Jared Goff. The Rams scored 33 points at CenturyLink Field, but it could have been a lot more—Goff was intercepted at the Seattle two-yard line, the Rams opted for a field goal on fourth-and-inches from the Seattle one-yard line and Cairo Santos missed an extra point.
Last week, Philip Rivers torched the Raiders, completing 81.5% of his throws with an eye-popping 12.4 YPA. Oakland has had a lot of trouble generating pressure on the quarterback, and it’s made life hard on an overmatched secondary. Granted, the Seahawks are a run-heavy team under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (the Seahawks have had a 100+ yard rusher in three straight games, the first time for them since 2012), but this is still an Oakland defense that has surrendered 156.2 scrimmage yards per game to tailbacks this season (24th).
Don’t be afraid of the overseas factor: 11 of the past 16 games that have been played in London have gone over the total. I also think there’s good value on the Raiders at +3 (Marshawn Lynch #RevengeGame), but I’d rather root for points than bank on the Raiders defense to make stops. — Max Meyer
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