Week 6 might as well have had a “Beware of ‘Dogs” sign over it. Some head-scratching numbers: Nine underdogs won outright and 11 of 14 covered against the spread (ATS). That brings their record to 55-33-2 ATS for the season.
Although last week featured five games with spreads more than a touchdown, there isn’t a single one this week. Most are right around the 3-to-5 range, meaning there’s a strong chance the spread won’t come into play.
My most confident picks ATS this week: Bills, Panthers, Falcons and Jaguars. A couple of tricky games to avoid: Cardinals-Rams in London and Broncos-Chargers.
JETS (3-3) AT DOLPHINS (3-2), 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 5; Radio: ESPN (98.7)
Dolphins by 3; O/U: 37.5
Jets-Dolphins is one of three divisional rematches this week. So if you’re in an office pool where you pick every game, resist the urge to go against your gut just because you got the first matchup wrong. The Jets played the Patriots well last week and are on a 4-0 ATS run. They dominated the Dolphins in Week 3, a 20-6 win that would’ve been a shutout if not for a final-play TD. There’s no reason to think the Jets can’t win again, let alone keep it a field-goal game. Miami shocked Atlanta, but it was just one half of football. The Jets know what they need to do against Jay Cutler, and the confidence from beating them four short weeks ago is an advantage. Take the points.
The pick: Jets
SEAHAWKS (3-2) AT GIANTS (1-5), 4:25 p.m.
TV: Ch. 2; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Seahawks by 4; O/U 40
The Giants’ Sunday night stunner was out of the Big Blue, but you shouldn’t overreact. They’re still missing their best playmakers. Until they string together a few wins, it’s hard to think this team is going anywhere but toward the front of the line at next year’s NFL Draft. Now, they get a Seahawks team fresh off their bye. Eli Manning is 2-5 in his career against Seattle. He will struggle to find open receivers against Earl Thomas and a ball-hawking Hawks secondary. Seattle is 3-for-3 in its last three visits to MetLife Stadium, including a 23-0 win over the Giants in Week 15 of the 2013 season. They followed that up a few weeks later with a 43-8 win over Eli’s brother and the Broncos in the Super Bowl. This line opened over a touchdown but has dropped because of the Giants’ win. Enjoy the discount, and also cash in with an under play.
The pick: Seahawks
1 P.M. GAMES
SAINTS (3-2) AT PACKERS (4-2)
Saints by 4; O/U: 47.5
If Aaron Rodgers were playing, the Packers would probably be a 5-to-6-point favorite. That’s a 10-plus point swing, which shows you just how valuable he is to Green Bay. Enter Brett Hundley, the third-year QB out of UCLA who had thrown just 11 NFL passes before last week. Laying anything over a field goal is a lot at Lambeau,, but New Orleans is on a three-game win streak (106-51 points margin). Drew Brees and a suddenly resurgent defense do enough for the cover.
The pick: Saints
RAVENS (3-3) AT VIKINGS (4-2)
Vikings by 6; O/U: 39
If you like purple and defense, then this is your matchup. Minnesota allows the fifth-fewest points per game at 17.2. The guys up front and in the secondary could give the Ravens fits, the same way a similar defense in the Jaguars did to them in a 44-7 pasting in London. Minnesota (3-1 at home) controls this game from the start and improves its chances of winning the division after KO’ing Aaron Rodgers.
The pick: Vikings
LOCK OF THE WEEK
BUCS (2-3) AT BILLS (3-2)
Bills by 3.5; O/U: OFF (QB)
Rebuilding Bills? A win this week, coupled with a favorable schedule the rest of the way, and they’ll be talking playoffs in Buffalo. Players have bought into first-year coach Sean McDermott’s defensive system. The Bills allow an NFL-low 14.8 points per game, and have eight interceptions and five forced fumbles. Buffalo, which hasn’t played at home since its dominant win over Denver in Week 3, is also fresh off a bye. That extra week to game plan definitely favors the Bills’ defense. Jameis Winston injured his shoulder last week. Whether the Bucs start him or Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills’ defense will have the advantage. On offense, LeSean McCoy should have success against a Tampa Bay defense that let Adrian Peterson run wild last week. Buffalo (4-1 ATS) continues its strong start with another win.
The pick: Bills
PANTHERS (4-2) AT BEARS (2-4)
Panthers by 3; O/U: 40.5
Carolina is 3-0 on the road, including wins at New England and Detroit. While the Bears are always a tough out at home, expect Cam Newton and a Panthers team that’s had 10 days to sit with a Thursday night home loss to bounce back and control this one from start to finish.
The pick: Panthers
CARDINALS (3-3) AT RAMS (4-2), in London
Rams by 3; O/U: 46
Picking NFL games is tough enough without having to figure out how teams will adjust to London. Interestingly, this will be Adrian Peterson’s second trip after playing there with the Saints in Week 4. This game could go either way. Going to go with a hunch here and say a young Rams team — second-youngest average age of 25.09 when the season started — will be more excited for this prime-time (yes, no need to set your alarm for 9:30 a.m.) London matchup than a Cardinals team that had the oldest roster at 27.28. Look for Rams coach Sean McVay, who at 31 is younger than Carson Palmer (37), Larry Fitzgerald (34) and Peterson (32), to design an imaginative game plan as Jared Goff and Todd Gurley put on a show in a high-scoring game.
The pick: Rams
JAGUARS (3-3) AT COLTS (2-4)
Jaguars by 3; O/U: 44
Jacksonville has been consistently inconsistent: Win, loss, win, loss, win, loss. Expect the pattern to continue this week. The Jaguars’ offensive and defensive lines will wear out an Indianapolis team that has been outscored, 123-41, in the second half this season.
The pick: Jaguars
TITANS (3-3) AT BROWNS (0-6)
Titans by 5.5; O/U: 45.5
As bad as the Browns have looked, this is the kind of game they could hang around in. A motivated DeShone Kizer returns from his benching and should find success against a Titans defense that allows the second-most points per game at 27.3.
The pick: Browns
4 P.M. GAMES
BENGALS (2-3) AT STEELERS (4-2)
Steelers by 5; O/U: 40.5
The first four teams off a bye went 1-3 ATS last week, but the week off could play a role here. Cincinnati is rested while Pittsburgh had to grind out a win in Kansas City. The Steelers have won four in a row and seven of eight in the series, but they haven’t shown an ability to blow out teams. The Bengals have bounced back after an 0-3 start, and their defense — second-fewest yards (262.8) and second-fewest points (16.6) per game — will keep them in this one.
The pick: Bengals
BRONCOS (3-2) AT CHARGERS (2-4)
Pick ’em; O/U: 40.5
Five of L.A.’s contests have been decided by 3, 2, 2, 5 and 1 points. The field-goal game was a Week 1 loss at Denver. The Broncos should bounce back after a no-show on national TV, but the Chargers could have some mojo after winning two in a row. Willing to take a shot this will be the week they get their first win in their new home.
The pick: Chargers
COWBOYS (2-3) AT 49ERS (0-6)
Cowboys by 6; O/U: 47
San Francisco may be winless, but it’s 4-2 ATS and never gives up. With Ezekiel Elliott playing, though, you have to lean Dallas. The Cowboys are fresh off a bye and have had two weeks to relive that last-second loss to Green Bay. Expect Eliliott, Dak Prescott and Dallas to start fast and finish with 30-plus points.
The pick: Cowboys
FALCONS (3-2) AT PATRIOTS (4-2)
Patriots by 3; O/U: 56.5
TV: Ch. 4
Some games warrant a circle in red marker on the calendar. Then there are ones like this that are so big, you wouldn’t blame a team for printing out the scheduled matchup and plastering it all over the team facility. This Super Bowl rematch is all about two numbers: 28 and 3. As in the 28-3 lead the Falcons blew and Patriots overcame for the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. As in the 28-3 that New England put on its scoreboard during the Opening Night ceremony this season. Neither the Falcons nor Patriots have looked super this season. Yes, they both have winning records, but things haven’t been as easy. The Pats, 13-3 ATS last season, are 1-4-1 this year, including an 0-3 mark at home. The Falcons, 10-6 ATS last season, are 2-3 ATS, and are coming off back-to-back home losses as big favorites against the Bills and Dolphins. Now they get the AFC East’s best. Matt Ryan and the passing game will have success against a Pats defense that is allowing NFL highs in yards (440.7) and passing yards (324.8) per game. Look for backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to play a big role in the passing game. Also expect the Falcons, using last year’s meltdown as motivation, to jump out to an early lead (not 28-3, though) and hold on for a shootout win.
The pick: Falcons
REDSKINS (3-2) AT EAGLES (5-1)
Eagles by 5; O/U: 49
The first-place Eagles have to be feeling pretty good about themselves. Will the 10-plus day layoff after the big Thursday night win in Carolina hurt them, though? Washington showed it’s ready for prime-time with a near upset at Kansas City on Monday night in Week 4. Philly won at Washington in Week 1, so there is also the revenge angle for the Redskins. This will be a close NFC East battle, and while the Eagles should have enough to win, the safer play ATS is taking the points.
The pick: Redskins
Staff Picks and Standings
(Best bets in bold)
37-52-2 overall, 2-4 best bets
Last week: 4-10
Seahawks Jets Saints Vikings
Bills Panthers Rams Jaguars Browns
Bengals Chargers Cowboys Falcons Redskins
37-52-2 overall, 3-3 best bets
Last week: 4-10
Giants Dolphins Packers Vikings
Bills Panthers Rams Colts Titans
Steelers Broncos 49ers Falcons Eagles
39-50-2 overall, 2-4 best bets
Last week: 5-9
Giants Jets Saints Ravens
Bills Panthers Cardinals Jaguars Titans
Bengals Broncos Cowboys Falcons Eagles
32-43-1 overall, 3-2 best bets
Last week: 5-9
Seahawks Dolphins Packers Vikings
Bucs Panthers Rams Jaguars Titans
Steelers Broncos Cowboys Falcons Eagles