NFL Week 6 Picks
By Zach Zaffos (Twitter: @zachzaffos)
Season To Date Against the Spread (ATS):
Best Bets: 5-0 (100%)
Units: 15.5-3 (84%)
All Bets: 10-3 (77%)
Week 5 Recap:
2 units (Best Bet): NEW YORK JETS (PK) OVER Denver
The best bet lives on! Last week, we harped on two factors:
1) The possibility that New York’s unusual schedule to start the season caused the market to underrate the team, and
2) The letdown spot for Denver, which was traveling east after a Monday night division-rivalry game.
The result was even better than we could’ve hoped for, as the Jets, aided by a series of big plays, crushed the Broncos.
1.5 units: DETROIT (+1.5) OVER Green Bay
Our second-favorite pick of the week, Detroit, did not disappoint either. The Lions, who led 24-0, turned in a masterful performance in a game it needed to keep its season afloat. Conversely, the Packers’ run of good fortune came to end. It appears the 2018 Green Bay team may not be the playoff contender the marketplace believed it to be.
1 unit: Oakland (+5) OVER LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
While we (luckily) squeaked one out with Oakland in Week 4, we weren’t quite as privileged in Week 5. Though we conceded in last week’s article that our biggest concern with Oakland was a fatigue factor coming off an overtime win, we may have underestimated the impact of this element. The Raiders simply did not show up, and let a solid Chargers team run circles around it.
While Oakland unfortunately broke our unbeaten streak, we will certainly take a 2-1 week. Moving into Week 6, we are primarily evaluating two factors in determining our winners: 1) undervalued or overvalued teams and 2) situational edges. Let’s get to the picks (HOME teams in all caps).
TENNESSEE (+3) OVER Baltimore (1.5 units)
Surprise, surprise – we are back on a home ’dog. While much of the public will be quick to throw Tennessee into the dumpster after its last-second loss in Buffalo, we’ll take it as an opportunity to back a rock-solid football team – with some extra points in our back pocket. In fact, the look-ahead line before Week 5 was Baltimore -1. That’s a two-point line move – when both teams lost road games by three points or less last week.
However, I get it. Many of you are concerned with Tennessee’s performance last week. The Bills are an awful football team, and there should be no excuse to lose to them. BUT – there are some convincing reasons to believe the game was an aberration for the Titans:
• Prime Letdown Spot: Not only was Tennessee coming off a comeback victory over the defending Super Bowl champions, but the game also went to overtime. It was not surprising to see the Titans come out physically fatigued and emotionally flat when traveling to lowly Buffalo the following week.
• Bills Off Embarrassing Loss: In Week 4, it was Buffalo going into Green Bay in a prime letdown spot after shocking the Minnesota Vikings – and destroying everyone’s Survivor Pool in the process. However, after an embarrassing loss to Green Bay, the Bills were in a great position to rebound against Tennessee in Week 5.
• Buffalo – A Historically Good Home Team: No, this is not a particularly strong Bills team, but anyone can win on any given Sunday in the NFL. Buffalo, a team often overlooked, has historically performed very effectively in the home underdog role.
Based on the situational spot for Tennessee last week, I believe the two-point market move is a clear overreaction against the Titans. Furthermore, after the humiliating loss to the Bills a week ago, Mike Vrabel’s team actually is in a great bounce-back spot this week. Keep in mind: This is a team that is 3-2, despite having played three of its five games on the road, and the majority of its season without a healthy Mariota. Many of the Titans’ wins have been quite impressive, and I give a lot of credit to the new coaching regime. In fact, I’d already consider Mike Vrabel a top-10 NFL coach.
Moreover, I’d like to discuss the element of home-field advantage, because although everyone realizes its presence, many do not accurately account for the magnitude of its impact. Generally, a team gets an automatic three points for being the home team. Thus, given the line here is Baltimore -3, Vegas is inherently saying Baltimore is 6 points better than Tennessee on a neutral field. This also means that Vegas believes Baltimore should be a 9-point favorite if this game were to be played at M&T Bank Stadium.
Side Note: Tennessee is 13-5 at home since 2016, and Baltimore is 7-11 on the road in that same span. These are two teams who haven’t drastically changed in recent years, either.
Can you understand why we see some value, now?
The Titans seem to keep every game close, and I don’t picture anything different happening here. Give me an underdog Tennessee team whom I believe will win the game outright.
OTHER BET I’LL DABBLE WITH
Indianapolis (+3) OVER NEW YORK JETS (1 unit)
This one feels eerily similar to our Week 2 handicap of Dolphins-Jets, where we highlighted the Jets’ unrepeatable big plays in the week prior. Once again, the look-ahead line was significantly altered, with the Jets moving from 1-point favorites to 3-point favorites after last week’s victory. Furthermore, while New York played tremendously well in Week 5, we certainly can’t anticipate it to blow open a game with a 76- and 77-yard touchdowns again.
On the other side, we have the Colts. Similar to Tennessee last week, Indy was placed in one of the most difficult positions an NFL team can face: A Thursday Night road game against the New England Patriots. Oh, and to make matters worse, Indy’s previous game went to overtime, which only exacerbated its fatigue factor.
Suffice to say, Indianapolis has the clear situational advantage. However, the on-field dynamic here is promising for the Colts as well. While the Jets boast a top-notch defense, Andrew Luck is in the rare stratosphere of quarterbacks who are matchup-proof. In fact, Luck quietly has put up over 350 yards in each of his last two games, and appears to be trending upward.
Based on the above considerations, we like an underrated 1-4 Colts team, plus the three points, facing a Jets team which has benefited from some unrepeatable long touchdowns in each of its two wins.
There we have it – another week is in the books. Best of luck to us all, and let’s keep our run going!