CHICAGO BEARS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS
After suffering their first loss to the Colts 19-11 in Week 4, the Bears (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) rebounded in a big way, upsetting the Bucs 20-19 as 3.5-point home dogs on “Thursday Night Football.” Now they travel to Carolina to face the surging Panthers (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS). After starting the season 0-2, Carolina has ripped off three straight wins, all without star running back Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers are coming off a 23-16 win over the Falcons as 2.5-point road dogs. This line opened with Carolina listed as a three-point home favorite. Spread bets are split down the middle, and the public doesn’t know whom to back. However, pros seem to be leaning on the Bears because this line has fallen from 3 to 2.5. Wise guys got down on Chicago getting the key number of + 3. These teams are very evenly matched. Chicago is + 5 in point differential, and Carolina is + 4. The Bears enjoy a rest advantage, having last played Thursday night while the Panthers played Sunday.
DETROIT LIONS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
This nonconference game features losing teams with a combined record of 2-7. The Lions (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) lost to the Saints 35-29 their last time out, failing to cover as three-point home dogs. After an impressive Week 1 upset of the Colts, the Jaguars (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS) have fallen on hard times and dropped four straight games, most recently losing to the Texans 30-16 as six-point road dogs. This line opened with Detroit listed as a 2.5-point road favorite. Sharps have rushed to the window to lay the points with the Lions, which has pushed this line up from -2.5 to -3. Some shops are even at -3.5. Road teams with line moves in their favor have been smart bets this season, going 23-13 ATS (64%). Detroit also has a big rest and game-plan advantage coming off a bye. Favorites off bye weeks have covered at about a 60% clip over the last decade.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Both teams have had nightmarish starts, combining for a 1-9 record. The Falcons (0-5 SU, 1-4 ATS) are one of just three winless teams, alongside the Jets and Giants. Atlanta just fell to Carolina 23-16, losing straight up as a 2.5-point favorite. Meanwhile, the Vikings (1-4 SU, 3-2 ATS) haven’t been able to catch a break but have covered three of their five games, most recently falling to the Seahawks 27-26 on “Sunday Night Football” but covering as seven-point dogs. This line opened with Minnesota listed as a 3.5-point home favorite. The public is all over the Vikings, largely because the Falcons have become an auto-fade for Average Joes. But despite two-thirds of bets laying the points, we’ve seen this line stay at Vikings -3.5. It even briefly dipped to 3 at some shops. Essentially we are seeing a sharp line freeze on Atlanta, with liability on the road dog getting points. Atlanta just fired coach Dan Quinn. Typically, teams get a boost in the first game under a new coach. Also, lead official Craig Wrolstad has historically favored road teams (57% ATS).
HOUSTON TEXANS AT TENNESSEE TITANS
This AFC South showdown features teams coming off impressive victories. The Texans (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS) finally got off the schneid last week, earning their first victory and cover of the season with a 30-14 win over the Jaguars as 6.5-point home favorites. It also marked their first win under interim coach Romeo Crennel. Meanwhile, the Titans (4-0 SU, 1-3 ATS) didn’t miss a beat in their long-awaited return to the field in Week 5, crushing the Bills 42-16 and winning straight up as three-point home dogs. This line opened with Tennessee listed as about a three-point home favorite. The public will surely be rushing to the window to lay the short spread with the undefeated Titans, especially coming off their blowout of Buffalo. Houston will have value as a contrarian road divisional dog. Historically, divisional matchups are tighter due to built-in familiarity and benefit the team getting the points. Houston also enjoys a rest advantage, having last played Sunday while Tennessee played Tuesday.
WASHINGTON AT NEW YORK GIANTS
These NFC East also-rans have a combined record of 1-9 and already seem to be battling for the No. 1 pick in the draft. After a season-opening win over the Eagles, Washington (1-4 SU, 1-3-1 ATS) has come back to Earth and lost four straight, most recently falling to the Rams 30-10 as a seven-point home dog. It has been even worse for the Giants (0-5 SU, 3-2 ATS). Despite a winless record, New York has been a decent team to bet. The Giants have covered in three of their five games, including last week’s 37-34 loss to the Cowboys as 7.5-point underdogs. This line opened with the GIants listed as 3.5-point home favorites. The public sees two bad teams and doesn’t know which one to back. However, despite this even ticket split, the line has fallen from 3.5 to 3. This signals some sharp action hitting Washington plus the points. Washington has value as a divisional dog. Road teams with line moves in their favor (like Washington + 3.5 to + 3 here) are 64% ATS this season.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS
These AFC North powers enter with a combined 8-1 record. Cleveland (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) has been one of the biggest surprises of the early season. The Browns fell to the Ravens in Week 1 but have rebounded impressively with four straight wins, most recently beating the Colts 32-23 as one-point home favorites. The Browns will face their stiffest test of the season as they travel to the Steel City to take on the undefeated Steelers (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS). Pittsburgh is coming off a 38-29 win over the Eagles, covering as a 7.5-point favorite. This line opened with the Steelers listed as 4.5-point home favorites. Sharps have identified an edge with the Browns and grabbed Cleveland plus the points, dropping this line from Steelers -4.5 to -3.5. Cleveland has value as a divisional dog. Road teams with line moves (like Browns + 4.5 to + 3.5) are 64% ATS this season.
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
These nonconference opponents have gotten off to completely different starts. The Ravens (4-1 SU, 3-1-1 ATS) have picked up right where they left off in 2019. Baltimore is riding a two-game winning streak and just crushed the Bengals 27-3 as 12.5-point favorites. On the flip side, the Eagles (1-3-1 SU, 1-4 ATS) have struggled out of the gate, most recently falling to Pittsburgh 38-29, failing to cover as 7.5-point dogs. This line opened with Baltimore listed as a seven-point road favorite. The public is rushing to the window to lay the points with the Ravens. This lopsided action has pushed the line up to Ravens -7.5 across the market. The next move will be key. If you see it fall back down to 7, that will indicate that pro money scooped up the Eagles getting the hook (+ 7.5). Philadelphia has value as a contrarian home dog. Also, it has been profitable to buy low on bad ATS teams that don’t cover a lot (Eagles 1-4 ATS) playing good ATS teams that have covered a lot (Ravens (3-1-1 ATS). It makes for shaded and inflated lines based on recency bias.
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Both teams are coming off losses and looking to rebound. The Bengals (1-3-1 SU, 3-1-1 ATS) got crushed by the Ravens 27-3 last week, failing to cover as 12.5-point road dogs. The Colts (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) are also coming off a road loss, losing to the Browns 32-23 as one-point dogs. This line opened with the Colts listed as big 9.5-point home favorites. Respected pro money seems to think this line is a bit high. We’ve seen it fall to Colts -8 or even -7.5 at some shops, indicating sharp movement toward the Bengals. Cincinnati has value as a road team with a line move in its favor (64% ATS this season). Also, it has been historically profitable to buy low on NFL dogs coming off blowout losses of 20 points or more. This leads to overreaction and inflated lines that can be capitalized on.
DENVER BRONCOS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
This game was supposed to be played in Week 5 but was pushed back due to the Patriots’ positive COVID-19 tests. The Broncos (1-3 SU, 3-1 ATS) snapped a three-game losing streak in Week 4, beating the Jets 37-28 as one-point road dogs. The Patriots (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) are coming off a 26-10 loss to the Chiefs their last time out, hanging tough early but imploding late and failing to cover as 11.5-point dogs. This line remains off the board as we await word on both starting quarterbacks. The Broncos hope Drew Lock can return, while the Patriots have their fingers crossed that Cam Newton will be cleared. If Newton returns, the public will likely hammer the Patriots, which will create contrarian value for the road dog Broncos. Head official Scott Novak has historically favored road teams (57.4% ATS).
NEW YORK JETS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS
This AFC East matchup features teams heading in different directions. The Jets (0-5 SU, 0-5 ATS) have been an absolute disaster, both on the field and for bettors. New York is winless and hasn’t covered a single spread. The Jets are coming off a 30-10 loss to the Cardinals, failing to cover as seven-point home dogs. Meanwhile, the Dolphins (2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS) are coming off a huge 43-17 upset of the 49ers, winning outright as 7.5-point underdogs. This line opened with Miami listed as an eight-point home favorite. Neither Pros nor Joes have problems laying the points and betting against the Jets. This double-sided action has pushed Miami up from -8 to -8.5. The Dolphins are + 23 in point differential this season. The Jets are -86, worst in the NFL.
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Bettors are in for a treat with this late-afternoon matchup. We’ll see two of the game’s greatest quarterbacks go head to head as Aaron Rodgers faces Tom Brady. The Packers (4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS) are off to a fantastic start, winning and covering every game. On the flip side, the Bucs (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) saw their three-game winning streak snapped last week when they fell to the Bears 20-19 on Thursday night, losing straight up as 3.5-point favorites. This line opened with Green Bay listed as a short 1.5-point road favorite. The public is absolutely hammering the Packers on the short spread, which has pushed some books to adjust Green Bay up to -2. The Bucs will have heightened contrarian value as they are getting only about one-quarter of bets in what will be an extremely heavily bet game. One big advantage to the Packers, though: They’re coming off a bye. Favorites off a bye have covered at about a 60% clip over the last decade.
LOS ANGELES RAMS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
This Sunday night showdown pits NFC West rivals trending in opposite directions. The Rams (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) are riding a two-game winning streak, most recently taking down Washington 30-10 and easily covering as seven-point favorites. Meanwhile, the 49ers (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) are mired in a mini-tailspin. San Francisco has lost two straight, including a 43-17 blowout loss to the Dolphins last week, losing straight up as a 7.5-point favorite. This line opened with the Rams listed as short three-point road favorites. In one of the most lopsided games of the week, more than two-thirds of bets are rushing to the window to lay the points with Los Angeles. This heavy support has pushed the line up to Rams -3.5. Keep an eye on the next move. The 49ers have value as contrarian divisional dogs in a heavily bet prime-time game. If you see this line start to trend down to 3, that will be a sign that pros are buying low on the 49ers at home getting the hook.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT BUFFALO BILLS
Both AFC heavyweights are looking to bounce back after suffering their first losses of the season in Week 5. The Chiefs (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) got taken down at home by the Raiders 40-32, losing straight up as 10.5-point favorites. Similarly, the Bills (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) got crushed by the Titans 42-16, losing straight up as 3.5-point favorites Tuesday night. This line opened with Kansas City listed as a three-point road favorite. Smart money immediately hit the Chiefs coming off a loss, pushing the line up to K.C. -3.5. The lead official is Ron Torbert. Road teams have gone about 60% ATS when Torbert is the head ref. The Chiefs enjoy a rest advantage, as they last played Sunday while the Bills played Tuesday. The Bills will have value as contrarian home dogs in a heavily bet Monday night game.
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT DALLAS COWBOYS
This late Monday night showdown features NFC foes who just snapped two-game skids. But public perception of these teams couldn’t be more different. The Cardinals (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) just crushed the Jets 30-10, easily covering as seven-point favorites. The Cowboys (2-3 SU, 0-5 ATS) just beat the Giants 37-34 but failed to cover as 7.5-point favorites. Dallas suffered a major blow as star quarterback Dak Prescott incurred a severe ankle injury. He will be replaced by veteran Andy Dalton. This line opened with Arizona listed as a 2.5-point road favorite. The public is happy to bet against the Cowboys without Prescott, and about two-thirds of bets are laying the short spread. This lopsided support pushed the line to the key number of 3. That’s when value-minded wise guys hit the Cowboys at + 3, causing the line to fall back to 2.5. Dallas has value as a buy-low dog off a big injury and as a contrarian team in a heavily bet prime-time game.