Welcome to our weekly Wednesday column where we give our “takes” on the full NFL schedule.
You’re looking live at the ViewFromAnaheim as I’m on a little family trip with my wife and son, Maddux, for Oogie Boogie’s Halloween Bash at Disney California Adventure, but a sports betting reporter/handicapper’s job never takes a true vacation, especially during football season.
Besides, this trip has been paid for with our winnings this NFL season as our beloved underdogs are hitting at 60% so far at 45-30-3 ATS with 2 pick-’ems as graded vs. the consensus closing lines in Vegas after going 10-5 ATS in Week 5.
Personally, we went 5-2 ATS with our Best Bets that we listed in the Sunday version of this column with wins on the Giants + 8.5 vs. Packers, Texans + 7 at Jaguars, Falcons + 10 at Buccaneers, Cowboys + 5.5 at Rams and Bengals + 3.5 -120 at Ravens (and 6-2 ATS if including the Browns + 3 vs. the Chargers from earlier in the week for those who jumped in early before the line moved). The losses were on the Steelers + 14 at Bills and Lions + 3.5 at Patriots.
We also went 4-1 with our plays in our big Vegas football contests, including one entry in Circa Sports Million that is 17-8 (68%), though my other entries are mostly playing for Quarter prizes unless we can string together some more 4-1 or 5-0 weeks.
But that’s the goal, so let’s get to our comprehensive look at the NFL Week 6 card. Loyal readers know us as a “dog-or-pass” bettor, though I have plenty of followers that bet a lot more chalk than I do that still read my breakdowns as they feel that if I can’t made a case for the dog that they see it as a “buy” sign on the chalk. Per usual, even if I don’t have a Best Bet on a game, I give my “pool play” recommendations for those in contests where you have to pick every game.
And, after we’re done, we’ll end this column with our regularly scheduled recaps of Tuesday night’s betting action and some plays for Wednesday as the MLB playoffs are in full swing.
Chicago Bears at Washington Commanders (-1)
Last Thursday’s 12-9 win by the Colts over the Broncos was said to set back offensive football by 50 years, and the conventional wisdom out there is that this Thursday’s game could do the same, especially as primetime Unders are off to an 11-5 start this season. However, in addition to being a “dog-or-pass” bettor, we’re usually an “Under-or-pass” bettor, but above all that we’re a contrarian bettor. If the whole world is saying one thing, we tend to fade the masses, so the Over 37.5 (the lowest total of Week 6) appeals to us. I don’t have much to offer in the way of stats as the Bears have the No. 31 offense at a mere 274 yards per game while the Commanders are No. 17 at 341.6 ypg and both teams are 3-2 with the Under, but QBs Justin Fields and Carson Wentz have shown some signs of competency from time to time. Besides, the Washington and Chicago defense are No. 17 and No. 22 in total defense and allow 23.6 and 21.2 points per game (and that adds up to closer to 44 points), so that gives hope to both teams to help put up enough points to get Over this depressed (and depressing) number.
Best Bet: Over 37.5 (pool play: Bears in all of my rare contests that use Thursday night games).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
I already had a 2-team, 6-point teaser from the Chiefs -1 to this game at Buccaneers -2.5, but the Chiefs’ 30-29 win over the Raiders on Monday night makes that a refund. However, this is a good time to start fresh with my recommended teaser plays for Sunday as we have several “advantage teasers” (or “Wong teasers” for the old-school bettors out there) that capture the key numbers of 3 and 7. We’ve also already gone on record with the Seahawks vs. the Cardinals, so our top teaser for Week 6 is Buccaneers -2.5/Seahawks + 8.5, but we’ll also be doing other combinations with the following plays: Saints + 8 vs. the Bengals, Jaguars + 8.5, Patriots + 8.5 and Chiefs + 8.5 vs. the Bills.
Best Bet: Bucs -1.5/Seahawks + 8.5 in 2-team, 6-point teaser, plus other teasers (pool play: Buccaneers 55/45 in ATS contests, but closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Cincinnati Bengals (-2) at New Orleans Saints
As alluded to above, the theme of this week looks like there’s a lot of short dogs I like, but not enough to bet ATS. The Bengals (2-3) are in a fadeable spot as they’re suffering from the “Super Bowl loser hangover.” As of deadline, it’s unsure if Jameis Winston will return at QB for New Orleans or if Andy Dalton will start again, but either way it’s safe to assume backup QB/TE Taysom Hill (112 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs, 1 TD passing and a fumble recovery on special teams vs. the Seahawks) will continue to have an expanded role. This number’s just too short to get me to make it a Best Bet, but . . .
Best Bet: Pass, but Saints in teasers (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests but Bengals still 55/45 in SU pools).
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)
Here’s another short spread, but I can make a case for this dog. For starters, I’m not so sure the right team is favored here. Is everyone’s memory too short to remember that the Jaguars thoroughly dominated the Colts 24-0 just four weeks ago? I know the Jaguars let down a lot of people in their Survivor pools (including yours truly) with their 13-6 loss to the Texans this past Sunday, but it’s not like the Colts are playing that much better after their thrilling – ahem – 12-9 OT win at Denver last Thursday night. I love rematches where the team getting points actually won the previous meeting.
Best Bet: Jaguars + 2.5, but waiting for 3, plus teasers (pool play: Jaguars 55/45 in SU and ATS contests – higher at 3 or 3.5 in ATS contests.
New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns (-2.5)
Here’s yet another short number with an enticing dog. The Patriots are coming off a 29-0 shutout of the Lions, the NFL’s former No. 1 scoring team, as Bill Belichick once again proved he always has the coaching edge and shouldn’t be taken lightly. And now he faces the Browns, who still have trouble winning close games after falling 30-28 to the Chargers this past Sunday. Several books have gone to Patriots + 3 -120 and that would be my preferred play, though again I’m going to use liberally in teasers.
Best Bet: Patriots + 3 or better (pool play: Patriots 60/40 in ATS contests and let’s call for outright upset at 55/45 in SU pools).
New York Jets at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
I’ve already given this out at Jets + 7.5 on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. PT Sunday night, or 15 minutes into the archived version) and in these columns earlier this week, and hopefully everyone with me grabbed the + 7.5 as it’s down to 7 at a lot of books. The Jets have been surprisingly competitive, first with Joe Flacco and now Zach Wilson, plus this is a fade of the Packers like we did with the Giants in London. Aaron Rodgers and his young receivers are still not in sync and I see no reason the Jets can’t keep this within one score and possibly also upset the Pack.
Best Bet: Jets + 7.5 or 7 (pool play: Jets 67/33 in ATS contests – lower if only offered 7 or 6.5 – but Packers still 65/35 in SU pools).
Baltimore Ravens (-5) at New York Giants
Before the season, who would’ve guessed that the 4-1 team in this matchup would be the Giants? But here they are, coming off a 27-22 come-from-behind upset of the Packers as 9-point neutral-site underdogs in London. Teams returning from London games without a bye week are 4-3 SU and 3-3-1 ATS, so that hasn’t been too much of an obstacle in a short sample. The Ravens could very easily be 5-0 except for blowing two big leads to the Dolphins and Bills, but they’re still regarded as one of the NFL’s top teams with Lamar Jackson doing it all on offense with 1,067 passing yards, 12 passing TDs, 374 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, so I just can’t pull the trigger on this home dog.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Giants 55/45 on principle in ATS contests, but Ravens 75/25 in SU pools).
Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Miami Dolphins
Another home dog, but another case where I don’t feel we’re getting quite enough points to back the underdog. The Dolphins can’t keep their QBs healthy with Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater both going into concussion protocol (though varying reports about if/when they’ve had concussions) and also battling other injuries. I know a lot of bettors will see this as a reason to lay the short number on the Vikings, but beware that the Dolphins usually step up in the heat and humidity of Miami against teams coming from the north (2-0 SU & ATS this season; see Week 1 vs. New England and Week 3 vs. Buffalo).
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Dolphins 55/45 in ATS contests – higher if offered 3.5 – though Vikings still 55/45 in SU pools).
San Francisco 49ers (-5.5) at Atlanta Falcons
I also gave this out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” and earlier this week in these daily columns, plus bet it at Falcons + 6 at William Hill on Sunday night. There are still some books at 6, so shop around. The 49ers are starting to look like one of the NFC top teams with Jimmy Garoppolo taking over again for Trey Lance, but the Falcons have been surprisingly competitive in all their games this year and are the league’s lone 5-0 ATS team despite a 2-3 SU record. And they should have had a chance at a third straight victory vs. the Bucs this past Sunday except for the egregious roughing-the-passer penalty, though they did still hold to cover in the 21-15 loss. I expect a similar close game here.
Best Bet: Falcons + 5.5 or better (pool play: Falcons 67/33 in ATS contests, though 49ers still 67/33 in SU pools).
Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Rams (-10.5)
OK, so here’s a line that’s not too short, but I still don’t know if we’re getting enough points on the dog! Now, the Panthers just fired Matt Ruhle and I usually like teams that get a new coach during the middle of the season as the players are motivated to prove it wasn’t their fault (and to make a good impression on the new regime). The Panthers are also going with a new QB, P.J. Walker, as Baker Mayfield is out with a high ankle sprain and might have been losing his starting job anyway. This is a “plug your nose” game, but I’m not going to be able to resist taking the double-digit dog as the defending champion Rams aren’t looking like world-beaters at 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS and coming off losses to the 49ers and Rams in which they scored a combined 19 points.
Best Bet: Panthers + 10.5 (pool play: Panthers 67/33 in ATS contests, though Rams still 70/30 in SU pools).
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) at Seattle Seahawks
We’re back to the short prices again, though I’ve also gone on record with the Seahawks as a strong teaser play this week. Heck, they’re looking more attractive as a straight dog play as the line is up to 3 at several books. Geno Smith is doing a better impression of Russell Wilson than Wilson is doing these days. Kyler Murray is one of the most dynamic QBs in the league, but the Cardinals are in that group of teams you just can’t get the winning culture right and pull out close games (Browns, Chargers, Commanders, etc.).
Best Bet: Pass, but Seahawks in teasers (pool play: Cardinals 55/25 in ATS contests – though flip to Seahawks at 3 and especially 3.5 – and 60/40 in SU pools).
Buffalo Bills (-2.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
I know I’m sounding like a broken record here (apologies to younger readers who don’t know what that expression means), but this line is took short to back the dog – and I’m still saying that even though several books have gone to + 3. This is a rematch of a classic AFC playoff game between these two teams that went to OT, though it was cheapened by the Bills not getting a possession in overtime. Both teams are 4-1, but the Bills have the more impressive body of work with the one hiccup in Miami in Week 3. The Chiefs lost the Colts, but also failed to cover in wins over the Chargers in Week 2 and vs. the Raiders this past Monday night. Still, this should be a one-score game, which works for teaser purposes.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Chiefs in teasers (pool play: Bills 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 67/33 in SU pools).
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia (-4.5)
Despite a scare against the Cardinals, the Eagles are still the league’s last undefeated team at 5-0, though they’re only 3-2 ATS as they failed to cover in their 38-35 win vs. the Lions in Week 1 and the 20-17 win vs. the Cardinals this past Sunday. So, they’re hardly “Invincible” (great movie, by the way). The Cowboys are arguably off to an even better start to the season considering they’re been doing it with Cooper Rush in place of Dak Prescott and a stellar defense that could prove the difference against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense. Even if the Cowboys don’t pull the outright upset (which they’re already done against the Bengals, Giants and Rams), they should be able to stay within a field goal.
Best Bet: Cowboy + 4.5 (pool play: Cowboys 65/35 in ATS contests, though Eagles still 60/40 in SU pools).
Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers (-5)
People are already moaning about getting Russell Wilson and the Broncos in primetime again. It’s tough to back them as a dog against a Chargers team that is starting to learn how to win (though they were lucky to beat the Browns 30-28 on Sunday and didn’t cover earlier spreads of -2.5 and pushing on -2 for some bettors and contest players). Except for allowing 32 points to the Raiders in Week 4, the Denver D has played pretty well in trying to pick up Wilson, so the play here in on the Under, which is set surprisingly high at 45.5 with even a few 46’s out there.
Best Bet: Under 45.5 or higher (pool play: Chargers 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
And here’s an abbreviated version of our regular daily column (note: on Thursday through Sunday, we’ll resume our regular recaps/Best Bets “takes” columns but also rerun the above column and update our recommendations as the lines move):
MLB: Faves went 3-1 in Wednesday Game 1s with only upset by Phillies (+ 181) in 7-6 win at Braves (game went Over 7.5). Astros (-221) rallied to beat Mariners 8-7 (went Over 6.5), Yankees (-195) beat Guardians 4-1 (stayed Under 7) and Dodgers (-245) beat Padres 5-3 (went Over 7.5). Home teams also 3-1 as all 4 home teams were favored. Overs went 3-1.
More MLB: Faves/dogs now tied 6-6 overall in playoffs after dogs led 5-3 with 1 pick-'em in wild-card round. Road teams still lead 7-6 overall after road teams went 6-3 in wild-card round. Overs take 7-6 lead after Unders led 5-4 in wild-card round.
NHL: Faves/dogs split 1-1 on "opening night" (on American ice) with Rangers (-130) beating Lightning 3-1 as home faves (stayed Under 5.5) and Golden Knights (-105) upsetting Kings 4-3 as short road dogs (went Over 6). Home/road teams split 1-1. Over/Unders split 1-1.
NFL (ICYMI): Faves lead 46-31-1 SU with 2 pick-'ems (WAS-DET in Week 2, TEN-WAS in Week 5), but dogs lead 45-30-3 ATS (60 percent). Home teams lead 41-36-1 SU with 2 neutral-site games (MIN-NO in Week 4, NYG-GB in Week 5), but road teams lead 40-35-3 ATS (53.3 percent). Unders lead 46-33-1 (58.2 percent), primetime Unders lead 11-5 (68.8 percent).
Phillies 1st 5 + 105 at Braves: After cashing with the Mariners 1st 5 + 0.5 + 120 and Mariners 1st 5 + 200 ML vs. the Astros on Tuesday, I’m bummed the ALDS games are taking a day of until Thursday. Let’s go with the Phillies to follow up their Game 1 upset of the Braves with another strong performance in what should be a pitcher’s due between Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and Kyle Wright (21-5, but higher 3.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP). In the other NL game, I’m not willing to fade the Dodgers yet, maybe when that series moves to San Diego.