Week 6 NFL picks: Best bets, odds for every game

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 


Welcome to another exciting weekend in the NFL.

With 12 games on Sunday's slate, there are plenty of betting opportunities. Our VSiN experts -- Adam Burke, Wes Reynolds, Dave Tuley, Will Hill and Matt Youmans, along with Ben Brown from Pro Football Focus -- combine to give their opinions on every game.

Note: Lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday night.

Here are our Week 6 best bets:

Miami Dolphins (-3, 45.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Tuley: Here we go with another early-morning (9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT) game from London. The Jaguars lost their pre-bye week games in London in 2018 and 2019 (hat tip to Steve Makinen for his pre-bye piece in last week’s Point Spread Weekly), but I’m bucking that trend by taking them here. The Jaguars are far from a good team, but they have shown glimpses of competence and I certainly wouldn’t lay more than a field goal with the Dolphins.

Pick: Jaguars + 3

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-10, 42.5)

Tuley: Here’s another ugly dog. I mentioned last week how double-digit dogs aren’t faring too well this season, so we have to pick our spots. I was able to resist taking the Dolphins last week against the Buccaneers and felt good about that as they were routed 45-17, but the Texans look like a much more live underdog here, especially considering the competition. Houston nearly upset the Patriots on Sunday before losing 25-22, and don’t forget they covered as 13.5-point

road underdogs in a 31-21 loss to the Browns in Week 2. The Colts were dominating in Baltimore on Monday night before squandering a 22-3 lead and losing 31-25 in OT, but they shouldn’t be laying this many points to any team, especially a divisional rival.

Pick: Texans + 10

Green Bay Packers (-4.5, 45) at Chicago Bears

Brown: Justin Fields is 2-1 as the Bears starting quarterback entering his first start against the Packers. Chicago hasn’t featured a dynamic passing attack with Fields at quarterback, as they have the lowest expected pass rate in neutral situations. The Bears sit 28th in EPA generated per pass play during this three-game stretch. There are still reasons to expect a solid passing performance in Week 6 and it starts with the Packers’ banged-up secondary.

Green Bay grades as the 16th-best coverage unit in 2021, but is now starting the trio of Eric Stokes, Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan. None of those three cornerbacks have had a season with a PFF coverage grade above average. With projected game script anticipating the Bears playing from behind, Week 6 could be the passing game breakout for Chicago’s offense. Field’s passing touchdown prop could come down to whether he runs from inside the 5-yard line or decides to throw, but at a + 185 price betting on the pass to come through is a worthwhile bet on Sunday.

Pick: Justin Fields Over 1.5 Passing TDs (+ 185) 

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5, 55.5) at Washington Football Team

Burke: This week’s game between the Chiefs and Washington Football Team feels a lot like KC’s game two weeks ago against the Eagles. The line is even basically the same. The Chiefs pulled away late in that one and won 42-30 with a season-high 471 yards.

In that game, Kansas City was 9-of-10 on third down; in this week’s game, the Chiefs face the 31st-ranked third-down defense (Washington has allowed opponents to convert 56.2 percent of the time). To make matters worse, the Football Team is also 31st in third-down rate on offense as well, converting just 30.5 percent of their chances.

The Chiefs have been a poor third-down defense themselves, but could get a respite from a Washington offense that has problems staying on the field. Washington doesn’t have a Jalen Hurts at quarterback, but Taylor Heinicke is a pretty mobile guy.

It just feels like there are a lot of similarities here and that was a game where Kansas City found a good bit of success. One concern is that Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a huge game on the ground and he looks to be out for a while, but the Chiefs should be able to figure it out with more touches for Tyreek Hill or Mecole Hardman.

The Washington defense was shredded by both the Chargers and the Bills. The Chargers left a lot of points on the field with short field goals and two red zone turnovers. Los Angeles also finished the game taking knees inside the 10.

The Chiefs don’t have much margin for error: They’re two games back of the Chargers and L.A. has a head-to-head win. This isn’t a must-win for Kansas City, but it is a game that the Chiefs should win -- and win by margin. Their losses have been to playoff teams and they had that close, comeback win against the Browns. They won by double digits against the only bad team they’ve faced and should get the chance to make up ground here against Washington, Tennessee and the Giants the next three weeks.

Pick: Chiefs -6.5

Brown: Terry McLaurin has only gone over his reception prop in two weeks this season. This is surprising since he is fifth in the NFL in raw targets, while playing 96 percent of the total offensive snaps and running a route on 97 percent of dropbacks. He simply never leaves the field while also having one of the highest target rates per route run in the NFL. At some point, the massive number of targets will turn into receptions -- and there is no better time for that to happen than Week 6.

The main culprit of the Chiefs’ early-season woes has been their inability to slow any offense. Their defense ranks 26th in our opponent-adjusted grades, with their coverage unit ranking 23rd. They have allowed the third-highest rate of pass plays to go for either a first down or touchdown this season. They are exploitable at every position, with that issue only magnified if the opposing team is forced to play catchup. As 6.5-point home dogs, Washington should be throwing at an even higher rate than their 64% pass rate to start this season. A highly targeted receiver expected to see an even bigger uptick in raw targets means Terry McLaurin is set to exceed this prop number of 6.5 receptions.

Pick: Terry McLaurin Over 6.5 Receptions (+ 120) 

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (-1, 46)

Tuley: We’ve seen a change of favorites here as the Panthers were 1-point favorites on both last week’s advance line and when the game was reposted on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas. At that time, the advantage teaser (capturing the key numbers of 3 and 7) was with the Vikings, but now it’s flipped to Carolina, and I feel better about that even if Christian McCaffrey isn’t ready to return. I still have the Panthers as the better overall team and love getting a touchdown

(or more if this line continues to move) at home. There’s not as many “advantage teasers” as we’ve seen in recent weeks that we could tease through the key numbers of 3 and 7, but I’d recommend using the Panthers with whatever you like best from this list: Jaguars up to + 9 vs. the Dolphins in London, Chiefs down to -0.5 at Washington, Chargers up to + 8.5 at the Ravens and Raiders up to + 9.5 at Denver.

Pick: Panthers in six-point teasers

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-3, 51.5)

Tuley: While the Ravens could be 5-0 if the Las Vegas Raiders’ Daniel Carlson hadn’t made a 55-yard field goal in the season opener, we all know that they easily could have also lost to the Chiefs, Lions (an especially miraculous comeback and win on Justin Tucker’s record-setting 66-yard field goal) and last Monday night vs. the Colts.

The Chargers are the more complete team at this time, and while their most lackluster performance was in Week 1 when traveling all the way to the East Coast in a 20-16 win at Washington, they showed they can take their show on the road when they went to Kansas City in Week 3 and upset the Chiefs 30-24.

I see a similar result here. Bettors should grab the + 3 if possible just in case Los Angeles comes up short by a field goal. The better play might be to just take the Chargers in six-point teasers and take that spread up to + 9, or + 8.5 if using a book that has lowered the game spread to 2.5. 

Pick: Chargers + 3 and in teasers

Brown: The Chargers are now in the driver's seat as favorites to win the AFC West, with Justin Herbert sitting seventh in MVP odds. Los Angeles’ quarterback has looked every bit the part to start 2021 and has gone over his passing touchdown prop in each of the past three games.  The Chargers’ aggressive offensive identity has already paid off against one of the best defenses in the NFL and shouldn’t be expected to slow down against a Ravens defense ranked 15th in our opponent-adjusted grades.

Another reason to like Herbert to throw for multiple touchdowns on Sunday is the Chargers personnel. Austin Ekeler is by far the best running back for the Chargers, and also measures up as the best pass-catching running back in the NFL. His involvement in the passing game limits their rushing percentage, as 14 of the Chargers’ 18 offensive touchdowns have come through the air. The Chargers are throwing in order to score. This matchup has the second-highest total on the Sunday slate. If it gets close to hitting that number it will be because Herbert has easily eclipsed this passing touchdown prop at a heavy plus price. 

Pick: Justin Herbert Over 2.5 Passing TDs (+ 170)

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5, 46.5) at Detroit Lions 

Burke: The poor Lions. The downtrodden, cursed Lions. This doesn't seem to be that bad of a football team, but Justin Tucker hit a 66-yarder and Greg Joseph hit a 54-yarder for a Vikings team that isn’t exactly known for clutch field goals, so the Lions are 0-5 instead of 2-3.

Dan Campbell may not be the best X’s and O’s coach, but he seems like a solid motivator and leader of men and those attributes will be sorely needed after last week’s heartbreak against Minnesota.

The Lions have competed admirably on defense despite several key injuries in the secondary and the loss of pass=rusher Romeo Okwara. Now a big offensive injury has hit the Lions with the loss of center Frank Ragnow for the season. At least this week’s practice report looks better on the back end with limited practices for Amani Oruwariye and Trey Flowers as they hope to go up against Joe Burrow.

Four of Cincinnati’s five games have been decided by a field goal and this spread sits at 3.5. That hook seems pretty tempting on the Lions, especially with the expectation of a low-scoring game with the total coming down throughout the week. The issue is that the Lions have effectively scored 17 points or fewer in every game this season. They scored 16 points in the final two minutes of garbage time against the 49ers in Week 1 to get to 33. Otherwise, they’ve scored 17, 17, 14 and 17 by week.

Is 17 points enough to cover here? Do the Lions need to get into the 20s? Can they get into the 20s against a Bengals defense that has been stout this season with just 5.3 yards per play allowed and only 1.71 points per drive allowed?

If the answer is no, then the under is the play. If your answer is yes, then taking the Lions + 3.5 makes more sense. The Lions have scored on 32.7 percent of their drives while only managing 5.1 yards per play. The Bengals have scored on 33.3 percent of their drives.

Both offenses have been poor on third down. The Lions are actually second in third-down defense this season. Will that be enough to limit this game to punts and field goals? I think it should be.

Shop around for a better number here, as some books remain as high as 47.5 on the total.

Pick: Under 46.5

Los Angeles Rams (-10.5, 47.5) at New York Giants

Tuley: We know the Rams are already turning into a very public team, bolstered by their Sunday night win over the Bears, marquee Sunday afternoon win against the Buccaneers and the Thursday night win over the Seahawks.

It looked like bettors were willing to back them no matter the price – and that people were cutting in line to beat against the beaten-up Giants as this line went as high as Rams -11 earlier in the week. The line has dropped into single digits with the news that Daniel Jones is making good progress through concussion protocol and might start after all.

I’ll take New York, regardless. Granted, the Giants are 1-4 and the prospects for the future aren’t that great with Saquon Barkley sidelined and possibly Jones, too, but remember they upset the Saints and have had a couple of other close calls. Even if Jones is unable to go, I believe Mike Glennon and other backups (hot fantasy waiver-wire pickups RB Devontae Booker and WR Kadarius Toney) can keep this game surprisingly close with a full week of practice.

Pick: Giants + 9.5 or better

Brown: Tyler Higbee’s usage in the Rams’ offense has been random to start the season, but he has exceeded his reception prop in three of five games. Higbee looks like a full-time pass-catching option, but has consistently turned into an afterthought when the targets are being distributed.

Higbee also isn’t seeing designed pass attempts in his direction, as only 55 percent of his targets have been on a first-read throw by Matthew Stafford. He is more likely to see targets based on the first read being covered, but the Giants’ 23rd-ranked coverage unit might not have much luck blanketing Los Angeles’ wide receivers.

Game script doesn’t seem to be the main reason for his disappearing act, but the Rams being 9.5-point road favorites won’t do him any favors on Sunday. In a matchup where Los Angeles could easily be running up the score by the second half, fading their fourth-best pass-catcher sets up as a positive expected value bet based on PFF’s player prop tool. If the Rams are up early, expect a heavy dose of rush attempts and Higbee staying in for max block protection in the rare event that Los Angeles passes in the second half. 

Pick: Tyler Higbee Under 3.5 Receptions (-116)

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns (-2.5, 50.5)

Burke: The Browns appear to be a chameleon this season, looking to adapt to whatever situation they are in. Against the Chiefs and Chargers, Cleveland was very aggressive about going for it on fourth down and passing up field goals. In games against Houston, Chicago and Minnesota, the team was a little more passive, looking for ball control to salt away victories.

The Browns have gone for it on fourth down 11 times this season, with seven of them against KC and Los Angeles. I would expect an aggressive mindset this week against a Cardinals team that can definitely put up points. Cleveland is also dealing with some injuries in the secondary, as Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Troy Hill all left hurt at some point against the Chargers and Greg Newsome II is still dealing with a calf injury. Jadeveon Clowney didn’t play, while Myles Garrett is also dealing with a nagging injury. On the other side, the Cardinals will be without Chandler Jones on their defense.

The Browns are at the forefront of analytics, so they’ve been aggressive in games where punts and field goals don’t really make sense. Against the co-favorite for NFL MVP, that might be the case here. The Cardinals have racked up 6.3 yards per play and just got held under 31 points and 400 yards for the first time this season. Murray did get some treatment on his right arm during the game, but we haven’t heard much since.

The Cardinals have allowed 5.4 yards per carry this season, and turnovers have helped this defense look better than it actually is. As long as Cleveland takes care of the football, the Browns should get their points. Arizona should put some points on the board as well, as Murray has led a top-five red zone offense and has a lot of speed on the outside.

I do have a lean to the Browns here that depends on the statuses of the injured players, though I do think this is the right place to take Cleveland with an Arizona team that has only put together a couple of really impressive performances (Tennessee, LA Rams). The line seems pretty telling, so I’m looking at the Browns here, but also feel like the over is a strong play.

Pick: Over 49.5

Youmans: The bad news for Browns bettors is the injury report. Seventeen players were listed on Wednesday’s report, and the nine players who did not practice included running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Garrett and two starting offensive linemen. If there’s good news, coach Kevin Stefanski said no player has been ruled out for Sunday. I bet the Browns -2.5 early in the week mostly because this is a strength-versus-weakness matchup. Cleveland has the league’s No. 1 rushing offense (187.6 yards per game), and Arizona’s run defense is among the league’s worst. Also, the Browns’ athletic defensive front is equipped to contain Murray, who ran into trouble last week against a similar 49ers defense. Here’s hoping the injury news takes a turn for the better in Cleveland.

Pick: Browns -3

Hill: A forecast of winds over 20 MPH will help a Cleveland team at home that is not only more accustomed to those suboptimal conditions, but the one that features the heavy ground attack as opposed to the visiting Cardinals, who rely on the passing game. Arizona is near the bottom of the league defending the run, and is not as good as its 5-0 record. They trailed the Jaguars 19-10 in the second half a few weeks back, needed a short missed field goal from the Vikings on the final play and were outgained last week vs the. 49ers. 

The Browns at 3-2 need the game more, as they already trail the Ravens in the AFC North. Murray is among the early-season MVP favorites, but was seen wincing and rubbing his shoulder on the sideline against the 49ers, and was not nearly as effective last week after an early touchdown pass. If he is reluctant to run because of pain in that sore shoulder then a big element of his game is neutralized. 

Pick: Browns -3

Reynolds: The Cardinals are off to their first 5-0 start as a franchise since 1974 and remain the last unbeaten team in the NFL (4-1 ATS) after a win and cover as six-point favorites over the 49ers last Sunday, 17-10.

Meanwhile, the Browns became the first team in NFL history to lose when scoring 40-plus points, notching 500 or more yards and having zero turnovers in a 47-42 defeat as 2.5-point underdogs. In fact, teams that scored 40 or more points and did not turn the ball over were 401-0 in that scenario until Cleveland’s loss on Sunday. 

Cleveland leads the NFL in rushing offense (187.6 YPH) and Arizona ranks 28th (139 YPG) at defending it. The Browns should be smarting from the questionable officiating that went against them on the final drive, while Cleveland is also getting healthier as the week progresses. 

Arizona was by-and-large shut down in the second half by the 49ers and only scored on a short field when Kyle Shanahan went for a fourth-and-4 on the 48 less than midway through the fourth quarter. 

Heavy winds are also projected in Cleveland for Sunday afternoon, which will favor the Browns and their potent rushing attack. 

Pick: Browns -3

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3.5, 44.5)

Seidenberg: I have to admit, I’m a little concerned about the Raiders coming into this game. Dealing with the distractions of losing their head coach, having to answer questions about everything and making the transition to a new regime. Going into Denver is never an easy task, but doing so on a week where you are not at your best is going to be even harder. 

Denver boasts an incredible defense. Their numbers are a bit skewed having played three bad teams in their first three games, but this team can still limit you offensively. A full week of practice for Teddy Bridgewater should help Denver as well. For the Raiders, Greg Olson takes over for Gruden as the offensive playcaller. He’s no stranger to this role and Derek Carr is no stranger to hearing Olson in his helmet. Olson was the OC and playcaller during Carr’s rookie season. In that year, however, the Raiders ranked dead last in the NFL in point differential, offensive yards, rushing and were 31st in points and in net yards per pass attempt. 

I think this is going to be a tight game, with Rich Bisaccia coaching his first game as head coach, there may be things that go overlooked (clock management, challenges, key fourth-down decisions, etc.) I think Las Vegas’ offense will struggle against the Broncos and it’s going to take some time to get rolling. This is not a great number, but the Raiders could be on the verge of a major collapse. On the road at Mile High, I think it's a bad spot for Vegas. Denver gets right in a low-scoring game. 

Pick: Broncos -3.5, Under 44.5 

Tuley: The advance line last week for this game was Broncos -2.5. After both teams lost last Sunday, it re-opened at Broncos -3 and was bet to 3.5 by Monday night when it was announced that Gruden had resigned. The Raiders certainly looked distracted in their 20-9 loss to the Bears and it looks like bettors are willing to fade them again, but I actually expect them to rebound and perform better now that they can focus on what’s happening between the lines. Besides, let’s not forget that this Denver team started 3-0 thanks to a very soft schedule, so I don’t see them as more than a FG better than the Raiders anyway.

Pick: Raiders + 3.5

Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, 50.5) at New England Patriots

Burke: The Patriots defense is in for a wake-up call this week. Through five games, New England has only allowed 5.1 YPP, but has faced Tua Tagovailoa, Zach Wilson, Jameis Winston, Tom Brady (in the rain) and Davis Mills. By opponent, the Patriots have faced offenses that rank 31st, 30th, 24th, sixth and 29th in yards per play.

The Cowboys bring a top-three offense to Foxboro this week, as Dallas has had at least 24 first downs in every game; New England has had 24 first downs in one of its five games. The Cowboys are second in the NFL with 5.3 yards per carry. This will be the first offense the Patriots have faced that is higher than the league average of 4.2 YPC. Oh, and the Cowboys are also fifth in adjusted net yards per pass attempt.

Even with a weak schedule to this point, the Patriots have only outgained the opposition by 11 total yards, with the same number of plays on both offense and defense. New England has nine turnovers in five games and the Cowboys have forced 12. There is nothing that really adds up in a positive way for the Patriots in this matchup.

Dallas’s defense certainly has problems, but New England has no explosiveness to its offense with a lack of skill players and a rookie quarterback that has performed well, but has been given a vanilla game plan. Using Warren Sharp’s Explosive Play Rate, the Cowboys are No. 1 in the league and the Patriots are 26th.

Maybe we’re buying a little high on Dallas here, but it is deserved. This just might be the best team in the NFC and the Patriots look like a below-average team again this season.

Pick: Cowboys -3.5

Youmans: Bill Belichick is 0-3 at home, but the Patriots coach is not in this predicament because of his rookie quarterback. Mac Jones has looked poised in his five starts and outplayed Tom Brady in the 19-17 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 4. Belichick’s defense has been a bit disappointing, and New England’s new-look offensive line and running attack are not performing to preseason expectations. Meanwhile, everyone is praising the Cowboys, who are 5-0 ATS and riding high off three straight home wins. Prescott is leading a high-powered Dallas offense that will be difficult for the Patriots to control. In the past, this was the type of spot to back Belichick and count on him to scheme his way to a win. Is that outdated thinking? Maybe. Are the Patriots simply not that good? Perhaps. 

This line was inflated to 4.5 and has come back down to a reasonable number, but it still seems like the right time to make a play on New England. Belichick has an obvious coaching edge against Mike McCarthy.

Pick: Patriots + 3.5

Reynolds: While the Cardinals are the only unbeaten team this season, the Cowboys are the only team that has covered every game (5-0 ATS). Nevertheless, they may have gotten a little fat and happy at Jerry World with three straight home wins over Philadelphia, Carolina and the NY Giants, teams with a combined 6-9 record heading into Week 6. 

On the other hand, the Patriots have not been fat and happy at home; they are 0-3 in Foxboro this year, the first time since 1993 that has happened. New England had to come back from a 22-9 deficit to pull out a victory at lowly Houston, but did hold the Texans to just a TD in the second half. In addition, the Patriots had four starters on the OL out due to COVID-19 and all are expected back here. 

Dallas ranks second in the league in both total and scoring offense, but New England was able to hold Tom Brady and Tampa Bay’s No. 3 overall offense to just 19 points and 381 yards on 74 plays (5.1 YPP). 

You are starting to have to pay a premium laying Dallas now, even with the line dropping from 4.5 to 3.5.

Pick: Patriots + 3.5 

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5, 42)

Tuley: This was Seahawks -2.5 on the advance line last week, but then flipped all the way to Steelers -3 after Russell Wilson was injured in the Seahawks’ loss to the Rams on Thursday night. I know the Steelers looked better in their 27-19 win over the Broncos, but I don’t understand why this line then went to -4 and has continued to rise. Nevertheless, I’ll take however many points they’re willing to give us. I know it sounds crazy, but Geno Smith looked like Wilson in rallying the Seahawks twice against the Rams. Tyler Lockett fell down (or was he pushed?) on his route and Smith was intercepted to keep from another potential scoring drive, so I’m comfortable with Smith filling in for Wilson.

Pick: Seahawks + 5

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