The Covid-19 situation changed the schedule for several teams last week, most notably pushing the Broncos and Patriots–which was originally scheduled for Week 5–back to this Sunday, and the Bills and Chiefs back into an early Monday Night Football spot. The good news for the league is that the Tennessee Titans, aka the bad boys of Covid, were finally able to take the field this Tuesday Night and get their season back on schedule with a dominating 42-16 win over the formerly undefeated Bills.
So far the league has four undefeated teams left, with the Seahawks and Packers the last teams standing without a loss in the NFC and the Steelers and aforementioned Titans left in the AFC. From a player personnel standpoint we’re already seeing some teams give up on the season as the Jets released Le’Veon Bell late Tuesday night, less than two years after signing him to a four year, 52.5 million dollar deal, 35 million of which is guaranteed.
Atlanta hasn’t gone about trying to trade any of its stars (yet) but did fire their head coach and GM last week. Michael Thomas of the Saints missed yet another game last week, but it was for disciplinary reasons after he got involved in a fight with a teammate and had a confrontation with coaches. Thomas will now have a week to rest his ankle and gain back the trust of his teammates. Other injury news to watch for Week 6 includes the status of Jimmy Garropolo (ankle) who was pulled after a couple of quarters last week where he completed just 7 passes on 17 attempts for 77 yards and 2 INTs. Julio Jones (hamstring) will also be an important name (again) as he’s now missed two games in a row and the Falcons haven’t completed a single TD pass without him in the lineup.
Underdogs went 6-8 straight up last week but we did have a couple huge upsets with Miami (+7.5) beating the 49ers and the Raiders (-12.5) beating the Chiefs. Those likely shook up several survivor pools, although other big favorites like the Ravens and Rams prevailed easily. From a totals perspective, the over trend finally slowed down a bit as we saw overs hit at just a 7-7 record on the week, the first time this year that they weren’t on the positive side of that equation.
Week 6 preview (lines and totals)
- Texans @ Titans TBD
- Bengals @ Colts -7.5 O/U 46.5
- Falcons @ Vikings -3.5 O/U 54.5
- Broncos @ Patriots -7.5
- Washington @ Giants -3.5 O/U 42.5
- Ravens -7.5 @ Eagles O/U 46.5
- Browns @ Steelers -3.5 O/U 50.5
- Bears @ Panthers -2.5 O/U 44.5
- Lions -3.5 @ Jaguars O/U 54.5
- Jets @ Dolphins -8.5 O/U 47.5
- Packers -1.5 @ Buccaneers O/U 51.5
- Rams -3 @ 49ers O/U 49.5
- Chiefs @ Bills TBD
- Cardinals -2.5 @ Cowboys O/U 53.5
Atlanta just fired their head coach and general manager. It was likely a year too late for the Falcons who are now left in utter limbo with an aging QB and defense who has allowed the second most points against and passing yards against per game thus far. Atlanta’s offense has also run dry with injury issues to Julio Jones hurting them, the Falcons have scored a mere 16-points in each of their last two games. The Vikings sit fifth in points allowed but have been getting healthier on defense lately and should have all of their starters back in the secondary for this game. Minnesota’s offense has scored 26 or more points in four games thus far and more than 30 in three of five. They should romp here, and their defense may help keep this total lower than expected.
The Giants Daniel Jones hasn’t thrown or run for a TD pass now in four straight games, something which seems near impossible given the higher scoring nature of the league so far in 2020. Washington really hasn’t been much better though. After starting Kyle Allen at quarterback last week they were forced to bring in third-stringer Alex Smith when he went down with an injury. Smith is an amazing comeback story but it’s hard to see Washington opening up the playbook for him after what he’s gone through injury-wise. Expect Washington to be as simple as possible on offense and this game to offer little scoring.
Who would have thought that by Week 6 we’d be sitting here talking about the Miami Dolphins as the heaviest favorite on the slate. Miami has reeled off convincing wins now in two of its last three games and did play Seattle tough at home two weeks ago. The Jets looked limited without Sam Darnold last week scoring just 10-points against Arizona. Darnold’s status will likely have a big effect on where this line goes off at kickoff. Despite the Jets being last in points scored per game, this spread does feel big for a divisional matchup. Miami did beat the Jets at home last year by 8-points but you have to wonder if this is the spot QB Ryan Fiztpatrick turns back into a pumpkin.
The Buccaneers are coming in off a long rest but catch the Packers coming in off a bye. It’s a tough spot for the Buccaneers who have looked great in spurts but really lacklustre in others. Tampa Bay’s defense has been a huge bright spot though and rank 8th in points allowed per game and 2nd in overall defensive DVOA, via Football Outsiders. Green Bay’s bye came at a very good time for them too as Davante Adams had been out with a hamstring issue but looks almost certain to return here. Two of the best units on offense and defense go at it here but the Packers have the definite edge with the extra rest and Adams coming back.
Week 6 early conviction play
It’s hard to write “conviction” and Detroit Lions in the same paragraph but it’s 2020 and anything goes. Detroit is coming off a bye this week and is basically playing to keep Matt Patricia’s job at this point. Maybe that’s not great motivation, but for me they are still a clear bet here. Jacksonville likely lost DJ Chark for at least a game last week and have now lost big in both games with him either out or limited (last week). Jacksonville’s defense is decimated too and there’s no guarantee Myles Jack, Josh Allen or CJ Henderson return here (their three best defensive players).
Detroit’s been an interesting Against the Spread team with Patricia as coach going 2-0 ATS off a bye and 7-3 ATS as the away team, in 2018 and 2020 combined, with a healthy Matthew Stafford at QB. Patricia has also tended to do much better against AFC opponents (perhaps because he used to coach there with the Patriots) and the Lions are 5-3 ATS in non-conference games under his tenure. You’d love to see this line drop to -3 or even -2.5 but even at this bigger number, taking the Lions to cover grades out as one of the best plays for me this week.
Week 6 NFL game props (best bets)
- Week 5 results: 3-0
- Houston Texans (to lead) Halftime/Fulltime (-119) O
- Colts/Browns over 3.5 FGs (+135) O
- Rams over 26.5 Team Total (-120) O
The last two weeks the Bears have only managed to score 11 and 20-points respectively, but it’s worth noting that those two games included matchups against the top-defenses in the league in terms of DVOA statistics. In contrast, Carolina’s defense ranks fifth-last in that same stat (via Football Outsiders) and has allowed 21-points or more now in three of their five games.
Carolina has played gritty so far in 2020 but they lost their best cornerback last week in Donte Jackson and if he’s out here, it should leave Bears WR Allen Robinson open for a monster game. Nick Foles has been under siege the last two weeks, taking 3-sacks and numerous hits last week vs. Tampa, but Carolina only has five sacks on the year and has the third-worst adjusted sack rate in the league. Look for Chicago to go over this number here.
The total here might draw in some over betters, who see two of the worst defenses from a points allowed basis going up against each other here, but I like the Vikings more as a pure domination play. Minnesota has been getting healthier on defense and would have been huge favorites here if they had just converted 4th and inches late last week. Instead, the line remains smaller and we’re also getting a great number to pick the Vikes as halftime and fulltime outright winners.
Atlanta still may not have Julio Jones back for this game and they have yet to throw for a single TD the last two weeks without him being 100%. Minnesota is the team improving here (despite their heartbreaking loss last week) while Atlanta can’t even keep games competitive against bottom-tier teams like Carolina right now–a team that had a win total three games lower than their own at the start of the year. I like the odds here on Minnesota to dominate here from the start.
The Colts are quickly becoming a great team to target for this bet. We targeted them here last week in their game vs. the Browns didn’t even have a sweat as the teams combined for six field goals. Indy currently leads the league in FGs made per game with 3.0 even, while Cincy isn’t far behind sitting with a 2.6 per game average in fifth place. The only worry here is if the Colts jump out to a huge lead (they’re -7.5 favorites as of writing) and force Cincy to go for TDs all second-half. Indy’s offense doesn’t look capable of that right now though as they rank fifth-last in red zone efficiency–one spot ahead of the Bengals. I love this bet at plus-money and will continue to target the Colts for it every week if the prices stay good.
Week 6 NFL players props (best bets)
- Week 5 results 2-1
- Evan Engram over 4.5 rec -140 X
- Josh Jacobs over 18.5 rush attempts -110 O
- Ben Roethlisberger over 1.5 Passing TDs -175 O
This one is pretty simple. The Bears lost their only other real pass-catching back in Tarik Cohen and have given David Montgomery over 80% of the offensive snaps the last two weeks where he’s seen 14-targets in that same span. Carolina has allowed an 86% completion rate on passes thrown to RBs and the most receptions to the position overall. The total here looks too low.
Brieda hasn’t taken more than 10-touches in a game all year but has still managed to hit the over on this number in three of his last four starts. He’s coming off his biggest volume game of the year where he played 31% of the snaps and
gets the Jets this week, whose opponents are averaging 30.8 rush attempts against them this year. A similar type of volume game against another weak opponent will give him a great shot at going over here.
Roethlisberger crushed this one for us last week and has now thrown for multiple TD passes in all four of his games in 2020. The Browns have allowed multiple passing TDs against every week but one–last week, when they faced the washed Philip Rivers. Cleveland has allowed four TDs to TEs already this year so don’t be shocked if Eric Ebron gets involved here. With the emergence of Chase Claypool and Ben playing well and looking healthy, going back to this play for one more week looks fine to me.