Every spread this week is fewer than six points, so if you use recent history and have a good feel on certain teams, there are plenty of opportunities to cash in. Teams that have been strong bets against the spread (ATS): Patriots (6-1), Cowboys (5-0-1), Vikings (5-1), Chargers (5-2), Broncos (5-2) and Falcons (5-2). Conversely, the Bears (1-6), 49ers (1-6), Panthers (1-5), Bengals (2-4) and Jets (2-4-1) have been stay-away teams.
The four most intriguing matchups are Eagles-Cowboys, Packers-Falcons, Patriots-Bills and Chargers-Broncos. The latter two are already revenge games. New England lost to Rex Ryan and Buffalo in Week 4, but the Patriots are my most confident pick of the year.
Underdogs went 7-8 ATS last week, and are 58-44-4 on the season. With so many close lines this week, there’s a good chance favorites will win the week.
JETS (2-5) AT BROWNS (0-7), 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 2 ; Radio: ESPN (98.7)
Jets by 3; O/U: 43.5
It’s been quite the week in Cleveland. The NBA champion Cavs got their rings on the same night the Indians opened the World Series. Two improbable stories. Now, can the Browns cap it off with their first win and end the 0-16 talk? Yes. This is their best chance for a win, and as bad as the Browns are, they tend to put up a fight at home. They’re 3-4 against the spread, and in Week 2 led the Ravens 20-0 at home. While the Jets have their own quarterback issues, it’s nothing compared to the Browns, who have used six — yes, six! — this season. It looks as if veteran Josh McCown will get the start, and he gives Cleveland its best chance to win. Isaiah Crowell (5.2 yards per carry) leads a Browns run game that could give the Jets’ defense fits. The Browns average 120.6 rushing yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. This is only Cleveland’s third home game, and the Browns are in the same situation as the Jets were last week: first game home after four of the previous five on the road. That is a big boost for a team that desperately needs a win. They won’t raise a banner for this one in Cleveland, but to some, it might be just as improbable: Browns 20, Jets 16
The pick: Browns
Redskins (4-3) vs. BENGALS (3-4), 9:30 a.m.
At Wembley Stadium
TV: Ch. 5
Bengals by 3; O/U: 47.5
This is the toughest game of the week to pick, and not just because it’s in London and you never know how a team is going to adjust. The Redskins had their four-game win streak snapped last week, while the Bengals snapped a two-game skid. All three of Cincinnati’s wins have come against teams with losing records. Their four losses? All to first-place teams: Steelers, Broncos, Patriots and Cowboys. This is a toss-up, and when that’s the case, you should always take the points.
The pick: Redskins
1 p.m. Games
LOCK OF THE WEEK
PATRIOTS (6-1) AT BILLS (4-3)
Patriots by 5.5; O/U: 46.5
If there’s only one bet you make this season, this is the game. Tom Brady absolutely owns the Bills, posting a 25-3 career record with 62 touchdowns against them. The Patriots have won four in a row at Buffalo and 11 of 12. What makes this even a bigger slam dunk is that Rex Ryan and the Bills shut out the Patriots in Foxborough in Week 4, a defeat we’re guessing didn’t sit well with Bill Belichick. The Pats, of course, didn’t have Brady for that game. He’s 3-0 with eight TDs and no interceptions since returning from his suspension, and should continue his dominance. Brady and Belichick won’t take the foot off the gas pedal. Not against Rex. Don’t be surprised if the Pats put up a 50-spot as Rob Gronkowski and LeGarrette Blount — and as usual, Brady — have big games.
The pick: Patriots
SEAHAWKS (4-1-1) AT SAINTS (2-4)
TV: Ch. 5
Seahawks by 3; O/U: 48
Seattle playing on the road at 1 p.m. after Sunday night’s marathon in Arizona should give you some pause, but the safe bet is that Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense will bounce back from a dismal performance. Drew Brees and the Saints won’t run up and down their home field against Seattle’s stingy defense, which allows a league-low 14 points per game. Look for Jimmy Graham to have a big day against his former team.
The pick: Seahawks
CARDINALS (3-3-1) AT PANTHERS (1-5)
Panthers by 3; O/U: 47.5
The last time these teams met, they were playing for the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50. Now, they already have a combined eight losses — twice as many as they totaled all of last regular season. Carolina is home and off a bye, while Arizona played five quarters last Sunday night and is now playing an early game. That gives the Panthers a huge edge. Carolina’s secondary has been burned all season, so Arizona should have success downfield. Still, the sting of a 1-5 start and the fatigue factor make Carolina the play here.
The pick: Panthers
RAIDERS (5-2) AT BUCS (3-3)
Pick ’em; O/U: 49
Oakland might want to ask the NFL if it can play all of its games on the road. The Raiders are 1-2 at home but 4-0 away from The Black Hole. All four of those wins have been 1 p.m. starts. So much for the “long flight/early start” theory that West Coast teams can’t win those games. Kudos to Raiders coach Jack Del Rio for keeping his team in Florida to prepare for Tampa Bay after beating Jacksonville. Derek Carr and Jameis Winston should put up big numbers, so if you like to bet overs, don’t pass on this one. The Bucs are 0-2 at home, but they’ll be pumped in their first game back there since Week 4. Still, the Raiders have scored at least 28 points in three of their four road wins. Their offense, plus the wise decision to stay in Florida, gives them the edge.
The pick: Raiders
CHIEFS (4-2) AT COLTS (3-4)
Chiefs by 2.5; O/U: 50.5
In Week 5, the Chiefs were on a bye. The Colts? They chose to bypass the bye after their game in London and save it for later in the season. Kansas City is 2-0 since, and held the high-scoring Raiders and Saints to a combined 31 points. The Chiefs should be able to contain Andrew Luck, too. They’ll keep him off the field with a steady running attack. Spencer Ware will have success against a Colts defense that allows 118.6 rushing yards per game (eighth-most in the NFL).
The pick: Chiefs
LIONS (4-3) AT TEXANS (4-3)
Texans by 2.5; O/U: 45.5
The Lions have won all four of their games via the fourth-quarter comeback. This feels as if it will be another close game that won’t be decided until late, and Matthew Stafford gets the edge over Brock Osweiler in crunch time. Detroit is 1-2 on the road and Houston is 4-0 at home, but the Texans don’t scare anyone. Take the points and ride the Lions’ mojo from their three-game win streak.
The pick: Lions
4 p.m. Games
PACKERS (4-2) AT FALCONS (4-3)
TV: Ch. 5
Falcons by 3; O/U: 52.5
We know what you’re thinking: The Falcons are going to fall into the same tailspin as last season, when they finished 8-8 after starting 5-0 and 6-1. Don’t fly away just yet. The Falcons are going to bounce back this week after losing two in a row, one by two points at Seattle and the other on an overtime field goal at home last week after blowing a 17-point lead to San Diego. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones should have a field day against the Packers’ banged-up secondary. The Falcons average an NFL-best 32.7 points and 433.6 yards per game. Aaron Rodgers & Co. are having an off season on offense, averaging a very un-Packerslike 23.3 points. They have no running game, and Atlanta will make Green Bay one-dimensional. Also important to note: The Packers haven’t played a road game since Week 2. The Falcons show their doubters they’re a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl with an all-around impressive win.
The pick: Falcons
CHARGERS (3-4) AT BRONCOS (5-2)
Broncos by 4.5; O/U: 44
From 1-4 and the unluckiest team in football to the playoffs? Yep. You heard it here first: The Chargers are making the postseason. They have a favorable schedule in the second half, and even if they lose this week, they still can win nine or 10 games thanks to an offense that averages 29.4 points per game. Joey Bosa has been a force on defense, too, and his pass rush is a key to San Diego’s success. The Chargers and Broncos just met in Week 6 on Thursday night, a game the Chargers dominated at home. There’s no reason to think they can’t win again, or at worst, earn a cover.
The pick: Chargers
EAGLES (4-2) AT COWBOYS (5-1), 8:30 p.m.
TV: Ch. 4
Cowboys by 4; O/U: 43
It’s the battle of rookie quarterbacks with the top spot in the NFC East at stake. While Carson Wentz has come back to earth after a 3-0 start, Dak Prescott has been so phenomenal that if Jerry Jones called for an opinion on whether Tony Romo should get his starting job back, the answer would be: “You’re kidding, right?” If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Last year’s craze in the NFC was the “Dab.” This year, it’s the Dak. Dallas is going to show it’s a legit Super Bowl contender with a statement win in prime time. Look for Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher at 117.2 yards per game, to have another big game behind Dallas’ dominant offensive line. Wentz, 0-2 in his last road starts, is in for a long night.
The pick: Cowboys
VIKINGS (5-1) AT BEARS (1-6), 8:30 p.m.
Vikings by 5; O/U: 41
The Vikings’ defense vs. the Bears’ offense could produce a scary result on Halloween night. Well played, schedule makers, well played. This is the NFL’s version of Monday Fright Football, with Jay Cutler returning against an angry Minnesota team that just suffered its first loss. Less than a touchdown spread? Now that’s a treat.
The pick: Vikings
Staff picks and standings (best bets in bold)
JOE MANNIELLO: 50-53-4 overall, 5-2 best bets (Last week: 8-7)
Browns, Redskins, Patriots, Seahawks, Panthers, Chiefs, Raiders, Lions, Falcons, Chargers, Cowboys, Vikings
BOB GLAUBER: 50-53-4 overall, 3-4 best bets (Last week: 11-4)
Browns, Bengals, Patriots, Seahawks, Cardinals, Chiefs, Raiders, Lions, Falcons, Broncos, Cowboys, Vikings
TOM ROCK: 54-49-4 overall, 2-5 best bets (Last week: 7-8)
Jets, Bengals, Patriots, Seahawks, Panthers, Chiefs, Raiders, Lions, Packers, Broncos, Cowboys, Vikings
KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN: 47-56-4 overall, 3-4 best bets (Last week: 11-4)
Jets, Bengals, Patriots, Seahawks, Cardinals, Chiefs, Bucs, Lions, Packers, Broncos, Cowboys, Vikings