Individual knowledge comes into play more often when predicting prep and college football games.
For instance, several years back, I was privy to the knowledge that a coach with insider access at a service academy called a coach whose team was facing said service academy in a bowl game, and gave away some tips for defending the Flexbone. The Power-5 school beat the servicemen by 30+.
That sort of tip falls into an NFL pundit’s lap less often, but sometimes a media myth or a league-wide belief system is so prevalent and so overwhelming that practically no one with influence (or cash to spend on high-stakes betting) can affect numbers at a sportsbook by putting money on any other kind of prediction, leaving the canny fan to role-play a “gaslighting” victim and question their own common sense.
Believe it or not, those moments can be the key to a successful “ah-ha!” handicapping insight and a winning NFL pick.
For instance, there weren’t 10% of NFL live bettors who would have considered a halftime “Over” pick on Baltimore-Indy in Week 5 at any number above 35, not because the offenses weren’t fine enough to score touchdowns, but because given each offensive coordinator’s play selection, it appeared as though every eventual scoring drive might take 9 minutes.
But I knew something that the in-play handicappers didn’t – that Baltimore’s “graduated NCAA” offense might be the most underrated playbook of all time when coming from behind. Everyone knows Lamar Jackson is a playmaker, but old-school NFL fans (and most NFL fans are dramatically old-school when it comes to tactics) still think a run-first attack is significantly less dangerous against a leading opponent.
Those myths set aside, I got to thinking in the 2nd quarter about the potential saving grace of our “Over” (46.5) pick at WagerBop. If the Colts built a 14-3 lead or anything like it, Lamar Jackson would open up and go to town. (Boy, did he ever.)
On Monday night vs. the Colts, Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson overcame the largest deficit of his NFL career (19 points) and set the NFL record for completion percentage (86%) in both a 400-yard passing game and a 40-attempt passing game. pic.twitter.com/E5ju49kUWH
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 12, 2021
How could personal experience and insight play into another successful batch of NFL picks this week? Those following the Jacksonville Jaguars who personally know a thing or 2 about NFL locker rooms might have a pretty good idea how the Miami Dolphins will fare this Sunday. But before we get to that, let’s apply the common knowledge of Bruce Arians’ and Tom Brady’s reliability to a wager on the defending NFL champs.
Week 6 NFL Betting Preview and Predictions
The NFL’s head coaching ranks are in tumult as CEOs of The Shield fail to stay healthy enough, respected enough, or plain available enough to do their jobs. Andy Reid’s postgame health scare, punctuated by an emergency ambulance ride for the beloved Kansas City skipper, might have been a bad omen that portended KC’s 2-3 start. Former head coach Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders has resigned in disgrace after emails in which he used cruel racial stereotypes and insulted the NFLPA’s leadership surfaced on social media. If that’s not enough to swallow, Urban Meyer of the Jacksonville Jaguars skipped a team plane ride after falling to 0-4 as an NFL coach, and was caught sleazily carousing on camera.
Super Bowl betting markets have been affected by the splashy headlines. Buffalo is a solid (+550) favorite to win the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, and it’s not a shock to see Tom Brady and Tampa Bay drawing 6/1 bets to repeat as victors.
However, given the Buffalo Bills’ 38-20 win at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 5, it’s interesting to see so many speculators not giving up on Kansas City. Former league MVP Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs are still an 8-to-1 wager to win in February, with shorter championship odds at the sportsbook than the Ravens (+1200) or Rams (+1000).
As the NFL’s only remaining undefeated club, the Arizona Cardinals are garnering #1 and #2 rankings in Top 10 polls of the NFL. The sharks of Las Vegas aren’t quite ready to bank on Kyler Murray’s team, however, as the Big Red remains a 13-to-1 Super Bowl pick.
Sin City’s own Raiders enjoyed bright futures lines after a 3-0 opening run that included 2 dramatic OT wins, but the scandalized Silver & Black have fallen off the radar at 75/1 odds.
NFL Week 6 Lines, Point Spreads, and Picks
TNF: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles
Despite lots of NFL coaching and player drama, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have emerged unaffected from the upheaval. For HC Bruce Arians’ reputation as a gossip and party hound, he hasn’t been forced to resign his command just yet, and he’s definitely not ditching out on team activities in order to flirt with lady boosters in Ohio. The Buccaneers plank-walked the Dolphins to go 4-1 in Week 5 and are a (-7) ATS favorite for Thursday Night Football.
TNF’s (51.5) O/U line is a sign of respect for Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia’s offense, since an NFL team as accomplished as Tampa Bay has no “frosh unit” to allow mop-up TDs once a game has been decided. Philly’s penchant for penalties and drive-killing mistakes makes FanDuel’s O/U line seem optimistic at best.
In reality, of course, no team is truly immune from the problems that affect NFL clubs in general. QB Tom Brady has suffered a minor thumb injury and is listed as “probable” for a Thursday night kickoff played under short preparation time.
Brady plans to play through the pain as usual, but Arians can’t afford to sacrifice his top asset nor should he order 20 long bombs from the play-calling staff that would give away any potential deficiencies on Brady’s part. If Tampa keeps Philadelphia’s defense honest, the Buccaneer ground game and front-7 penetration will become keys to a win.
Recommended bet: Under
October 17th: Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence is touted as the lone elite weapon Urban Meyer can turn to in a bid not to be fired in mid-season. Ironically, it’s the Clemson product’s talent that is keeping Meyer grounded in Florida (and hopefully not visiting any more pubs in Ohio) for the moment. While controversies like Meyer’s “Grab-Gate” viral-video fiasco are a horrendous distraction and a black mark for the Khan family, it’s hapless losses that often portend mid-season coaching changes, such as the Raiders’ poor offensive outing against the Chicago Bears prior to Jon Gruden’s forced resignation this past week.
Jacksonville’s roster has a reason to continue to play hard and score points as long as Lawrence keeps developing into a franchise QB. But if NFL players are forgiving of modern relationships and marital strife, they’re not willing to sacrifice and endure adversity for coaches who aren’t truthful.
By all accounts, Meyer lied to players in a vain effort to protect his squeaky-clean image in a Week 5 meeting, casting himself as the victim of overbearing fans and glossing-over the heinous insult of skipping a Jaguars team flight.
Players are hoping to see Meyer get fired quickly by the Jacksonville front office, a psychological state that puts an already disgruntled last-place team in no position to defeat the Dolphins.
Recommended bet: Dolphins (-3.5)
October 17th: Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants
With a (+10.5) point spread, the New York Giants are double-digit underdogs against favored Los Angeles in a match-up of a healthy powerhouse and a hapless host.
Big Blue’s season is on the brink after the team lost QB Daniel Jones and RB Saquon Barkley from the lineup with serious injuries in a Week 5 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Jones has a concussion, and Barkley has been spotted wearing a boot and an ankle brace, putting each player on ice for at least the next few weeks.
The Giants’ WR corps is also in shambles. Wideout Kenny Golladay left the Cowboy game with what he believed was a hyperextended knee. If tests are positive, Golladay could miss at least 2 weeks. Meanwhile, WR Kadarius Toney was ejected after taking a WBC-style swing at Dallas safety Davontae Kazee in the Silver Star’s 44-20 victory. Toney could still play in Week 6, but who will get him the ball amidst the dour injury scenario at QB?
Los Angeles Rams are likely to dominate in a snoozer in East Rutherford, calling a healthy (47.5) Over/Under line into question. Picks will focus on the L.A. Rams’ chances to romp and cover easily, but we can imagine Sean McVay’s team fading in trash-time and winning 27-17.
It’s not so easy to imagine the New York Giants scoring mid-game TDs and putting pressure on L.A to score.
Recommended bet: Under
October 17th: Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns
After whipping San Francisco 17-10 in Week 5, the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals have solidified their status as the NFC West’s top contender. CBS Sports and other pigskin blogs are predicting a Cleveland Browns “upset” over visiting Arizona this Sunday, but have the pundits been checking Las Vegas odds?
Heavy action from picks on Cleveland to win are casting the Dawgs as a (-3) point spread favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook. Baker Mayfield, while taller and more resourceful from the pocket than Kyler Murray, is subject to accidents and turnovers of his own when pushed to the limit vs elite opposing QBs.
The potential for short-field TDs in an otherwise lively game makes the point-total pick easy on a line of (49.5) despite a Browns rushing attack that could maintain a significant edge grinding the chains and clock.
Recommended bet: Over (49.5)
October 17th: Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots
A 1-3 starting record had left the New England Patriots forlorn, while a Dallas defense that gave up 4 touchdowns to the ailing Carolina Panthers was doubted once again going into Week 5. Just a week later, and the Patriots have regained their footing at 2-3 while the Cowboys look spectacular after a 24-point win over the Giants.
You wouldn’t line-forecast the Silver Star as more than a field goal favorite on an arduous road trip to Foxboro, but that’s how a (-4) spread at FanDuel handicaps the contest for Sunday afternoon.
Recommended bet: Patriots (+4)
SNF: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers
Recent headlines on the NFC West have pushed a narrative that Seattle was “exposed” by the L.A. Rams on Thursday Night Football in Week 5.
However, it may be that the Seahawks’ new wide-open style fits the noisy snake pit of CenturyLink field less effectively than HC Pete Carroll’s dominant defensive teams of the past.
When a guest is trailing 13-7 and facing a vicious front-7, crowd noise can be enough to produce mishaps and a road defeat. 35-31 outcomes in which home-team cheering ebbs and flows helps to level-out the flags and prevent a single false-start penalty from blowing the visitors’ chances to win on the road.
Standing at 2-3 and the bottom of the AFC East, the Steelers desperately need a victory on Sunday Night Football. Pittsburgh is handicapped as a (-4.5) favorite over the Seahawks at Heinz Field, but a less mobile QB may be forced to “catch up” to a Seattle club with 2 nimble quarterbacks, preparing to exploit a Pittsburgh defense that isn’t what it was in years past.
Recommended bet: Seahawks (+4.5)
MNF: Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans
The Ravens-Colts game last Monday night provided WagerBop with its most satisfying prediction of Week 5. The 2 teams appeared content with a low-scoring 1st half and a tight scrum at the finish line, struggling for 3 and 4-yard gains that chewed minutes at a time off the game clock. 13 combined points at halftime didn’t inspire much hope for our high-side pick on the Over/Under, but wouldn’t you know, Indianapolis and Baltimore had some tricks left in the bag on offense. 40+ points were scored in an electric 2nd half, and a 31-25 OT win left the Ravens atop the AFC North headboard in 1st place.
In contrast, WagerBop’s best pick of Week 5 wasn’t so fun. Buffalo was handicapped as a point-spread underdog vs Kansas City, but it was plain to see that the Bills were a true favorite. In fact, the Buffalo Bills may be drawing additional point spread bets for Monday Night Football in Week 6 because gamblers can’t let go of KC’s 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
If we don’t count the 2-3 Chiefs as an elite team in the here and now, Buffalo’s schedule to date begins to look profoundly weak. While the Bills are certainly a more complete team than Monday night’s host Tennessee Titans, the New York club has yet to prove that it can beat power-rushing teams on the road consistently by more than a TD.
The Buffalo Bills can certainly play better run-defense than the New York Jets or Jacksonville Jaguars, teams that Derrick Henry crushed on the ground in the past 2 weeks despite the Titans going a disappointing 1-1. The game’s Over/Under of (54) total points is way too high and only kept afloat at that number by recreational high-side picks made by optimistic bettors.
Recommended bet: Under
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.