Call it a sixth sense in Week 6, but there are a lot of questionable spreads.
The Bengals getting nearly 10 points at New England?
The Titans and Bills laying seven and nine points, respectively? Even though they’re hosting the Browns and 49ers, it feels odd to see them favored by more than a touchdown, doesn’t it?
And why are the Falcons getting almost a touchdown at Seattle?
Sometimes, it’s better not to question Vegas. But some of it feels like a big overreaction on their part to last week’s games.
Underdogs went 7-5-1 last week, raising their season record to 43-31-2. A few of them have a good chance to win outright.
RAVENS (3-2) AT GIANTS (2-3), 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 2; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Giants by 3; O/U: 44.5
When the Giants and Ravens watched game tape of each other this week, it probably felt as if they were looking at themselves on offense. While Eli Manning and his receivers have been in a funk during a three-game losing streak, so too has the Ravens’ offense, which looked so lackluster at home last week that coach John Harbaugh fired his offensive coordinator. That kind of move sometimes can spark a team (just ask the Bills), but the Giants’ desperation plus being at home gives them the edge in this one. Expect a close, back-and-forth game that may have a couple of lead changes in the fourth quarter. When does a Baltimore game not feature a close finish? This is essentially a toss-up game — home team laying a field goal — but you have to think Manning will get it going with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard as Big Blue tries to keep pace with the NFC East race.
The pick: Giants
JETS (1-4) AT CARDINALS (2-3), 8:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN, Ch. 9; Radio: ESPN (98.7)
Cardinals by 8; O/U: 46.5
Todd Bowles returns to Arizona, where he was the defensive coordinator for two seasons before taking the Jets’ job. Back then, he didn’t have to make the tough calls on offense. It’s still hard to fathom Bowles electing to punt on fourth-and-2 from the Jets’ 46 with more than 7 minutes left and the Jets trailing by 11 last week at Pittsburgh. Such a mind-boggling move means its time to Google the famous Herm Edwards speech: YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. HELLO?! YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. YOU DON’T PLAY TO JUST PLAY IT. If the Jets want to avoid a 1-5 start, they need to “go for it” every chance they get. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall know what’s at stake here, and the Jets’ desperation will kick in. Carson Palmer is expected to play, but he’s looked shaky and the Jets’ defensive line could get after him. Gut feeling says the Jets not only cover this spread but win outright. Jets 24, Cardinals 21 on a late Nick Folk field goal.
The pick: Jets
1 p.m. GAMES
EAGLES (3-1) AT REDSKINS (3-2)
Eagles by 2.5; O/U: 44.5
Eagles-Redskins is always exciting, and this one should be, too. Carson Wentz lost for the first time as a pro, and that may be a good thing. The Eagles’ offensive play-calling is one of the smartest in the game, and they’ll have success against a Redskins defense that’s allowing nearly 400 yards per game. Washington has won three in a row, but at times still has looked like the 0-2 team. Wentz and Philly’s defense bounce back on the road.
The pick: Eagles
PANTHERS (1-4) AT SAINTS (1-3)
Panthers by 2.5; O/U: 53
The only thing missing from Carolina’s Super Bowl hangover is guest appearances by Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper. Cam Newton returned to practice, and as long as their star is ready to go, you have to think the Panthers will go all out to avoid a 1-5 start. The Saints are off a bye, but they’re 0-2 at home this season while allowing 35 and 45 points. Newton and Carolina return to their super form.
The pick: Panthers
BENGALS (2-3) AT PATRIOTS (4-1)
Patriots by 9; O/U: 47
After Tom Brady threw his own “Welcome Back” party last week in Cleveland, the Patriots are “on to Cincinnati.” The Bengals fell behind 28-0 at Dallas last week, and are in danger of falling too far behind the Steelers in the AFC North race. This line feels like a total overreaction from last week’s results. The Bengals have too much talent to be getting this many points, even at New England for Brady’s home debut. A desperate Cincy team keeps it close.
The pick: Bengals
BROWNS (0-5) AT TITANS (2-3)
Titans by 7; O/U: 43.5
The Browns have beaten the Titans in each of the last two seasons, and this is the most winnable game on their schedule as they try to stop the 0-16 talk. Tennessee is 0-2 at home. This is another total overreaction from last week’s big road win. No way should the Titans be favored by this much against anyone. Cleveland has given their all every week for coach Hue Jackson, and that effort should result in an easy cover.
The pick: Browns
JAGUARS (1-3) AT BEARS (1-4)
Bears by 2.5; O/U: 45.5
Things are finally looking up for the Jaguars. After an 0-3 start, they got a big win in London, and now are refreshed after the bye week and have a very winnable game in Chicago. This should be close, but bank on the Jags’ young playmakers to do just that: make plays.
The pick: Jaguars
STEELERS (4-1) AT DOLPHINS (1-4)
Steelers by 7.5; O/U: 48
The Steelers’ four wins are by an average of 19-plus points, and they should have no trouble against a Miami team that just allowed 30 points at home to the Titans. After back-to-back big wins at home, the Steelers could experience a letdown, but it’s more likely they’ll win by double digits.
The pick: Steelers
49ERS (1-4) AT BILLS (3-2)
Bills by 9; O/U: 44
After an 0-2 start, the only person who would’ve believed the Bills could be favored by more than a touchdown would’ve been Rex Ryan, of course. But that’s what happens when a team wins three in a row (including a shutout at New England) and now hosts a 49ers team on a four-game skid. Colin Kaepernick gets the start, but this is a bad spot as he tries to get accustomed to a new offense against a Ryan-coached defense. Throw in the long flight for a 1 p.m. start and it adds up to Buffalo improving to 3-0 vs. the NFC West.
The pick: Bills
RAMS (3-2) AT LIONS (2-3)
Lions by 3; O/U: 44
These are two of the toughest teams to figure out. Each week is a clean slate, so just take a practical approach: The Lions are home, have the better quarterback and the Rams average an NFL-worst 284.2 yards and 16.4 points per game.
The pick: Lions
4 p.m. GAMES
FALCONS (4-1) AT SEAHAWKS (3-1)
Seahawks by 6; O/U: 45.5
At this point, the Falcons might as well have a picture of Rodney Dangerfield’s face on their helmets. This teams gets no respect. After winning at Denver last week and running up the score the week before at home against Carolina, Atlanta once again finds itself as an underdog. That’s not a surprise because the game is in Seattle, but nearly a touchdown? Seems kind of high. Which, of course, should always be a warning sign. Seattle is off a bye and always is a strong bet at home, but Matt Ryan has so many weapons on the NFL’s No. 1-ranked offense that it’s hard not to take the points here. Another reason the Falcons are a live underdog: Second-year coach Dan Quinn’s previous job was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator. He can give his current ‘D’ a lot of pointers on how to stop Russell Wilson.
The pick: Falcons
COWBOYS (4-1) AT PACKERS (3-1)
Packers by 3.5; O/U: 47.5
Playing at Lambeau Field will be the biggest test for Dallas rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. But the quarterback/running back duo showed last week in a dominant win over the Bengals that they’re the real deal. Despite a 3-1 start, Green Bay has a suspect defense, and Dallas should be able to move the ball behind its dominant offensive line. If the Cowboys head into their bye at 5-1, expect the “who should start when Tony Romo is ready?” questions to really intensify.
The pick: Cowboys
LOCK OF THE WEEK
CHIEFS (2-2) AT RAIDERS (4-1)
Chiefs by 1; O/U: 46.5
This is a great spot for the Chiefs, who have won five of their last six against the Raiders. Kansas City is off a bye, and will have had two weeks to stew over an embarrassing 29-point loss at Pittsburgh in prime time. When a good team loses the way the Chiefs did, they tend to bounce back the next game. Key stat: Andy Reid is 15-2 the week after the bye as a coach. Expect the Chiefs to regroup against a Raiders team that is not as good as their record. Oakland’s four wins are by a combined 12 points, including a pair of one-pointers.
The pick: Chiefs
COLTS (2-3) AT TEXANS (3-2)
Texans by 3; O/U: 48
This is Houston’s chance to show it’s ready for prime time. Indy has owned its AFC South foe, going 23-5 overall against them. If that is to change, Brock Osweiler needs to start living up to his huge offseason contract. Lucky for him, the Colts’ defense has been just as invisible, allowing the most points per game at 29.6. Houston has won and covered all three of its home games. DeAndre Hopkins could be in store for a monster game.
The pick: Texans
Staff picks and standings (best bets in bold)
JOE MANNIELLO (Record: 35-40-2 overall, 3-2 best bets; Last week: 7-6-1): Giants, Jets, Eagles, Panthers, Bengals, Steelers, Lions, Browns, Bills, Jaguars, Falcons, Cowboys, Chiefs, Texans
BOB GLAUBER (Record: 33-42-2 overall, 3-2 best bets; Last week: 5-8-1): Giants, Cardinals, Eagles, Saints, Patriots, Steelers Lions, Titans, Bills, Bears, Seahawks, Packers, Chiefs, Texans
TOM ROCK (Record: 38-37-2 overall, 2-3 best bets; Last week: 7-6-1): Giants, Cardinals, Eagles, Saints, Patriots, Steelers, Rams, Browns, 49ers, Jaguars, Falcons, Cowboys, Raiders, Texans
KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN (Record: 31-44-2 overall, 2-3 best bets; Last week: 7-6-1): Giants, Jets, Redskins, Saints, Patriots, Steelers Lions, Titans, 49ers, Bears, Seahawks, Packers, Raiders, Texans