San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-2)

The Bills have bounced back in a big way from an 0-2 start. After losing at home to the Jets on Thursday Night week 2, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman, which appeared to be a desperation move at the time. With upcoming games against the Cardinals and Patriots, an 0-4 start and a Rex Ryan firing seemed likely. Instead, the Bills ripped off 3 straight wins, beating the Cardinals and the Patriots and then the Rams last week. Now they host the lowly 49ers with a good shot to improve to 4-2.

The question is whether or not they deserve to be favored by 9 points here. The 49ers have one of the worst rosters in the league, especially without middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman and cornerback Jimmie Ward, but the Bills rank just 23rd in first down percentage and probably shouldn’t be favored by this many points against anyone, especially with stud defensive lineman Marcell Dareus missing his 6th straight game thanks to a combination of suspension and injury. I can’t be confident in the 49ers, but they’re the pick here.

Buffalo Bills 20 San Francisco 49ers 13

Pick against the spread: San Francisco +9

Confidence: Low

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Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) at Washington Redskins (3-2)

This line was even last week, but has since shifted a full three points, with the Eagles now favored by a field goal in Washington, despite the fact that Philadelphia lost in Detroit and Washington won in Baltimore. Ordinarily, I like to fade significant line movements, but Philadelphia has been on my underrated list pretty much all year and I think it’s fair that they’re field goal favorites here against a Redskins team that is significantly inferior, especially without talented tight end Jordan Reed. The Eagles enter this game 2nd in first down percentage differential, while the Redskins are at 26th. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins has a 14:13 touchdown to interception ratio without Jordan Reed over the past two seasons, as opposed to 32:12 when he’s in the lineup. That might not all be him, but a lot of it is. I can’t be confident in the Eagles at a 3, but they should be the right side.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Washington Redskins 20

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -3

Confidence: None

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Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at New York Giants (2-3)

This line has shifted a half point since the early line last week, as the Giants are now 3.5 point favorites. That might not seem like a huge line movement, but, considering 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, it’s a very significant half point. Ordinarily, I like to fade significant week-to-week line movements, but in this case the movement makes sense, as the Ravens are expected to be without edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, wide receiver Steve Smith, middle linebacker CJ Mosley, right guard Marshal Yanda, and left tackle Ronnie Stanley. That’s a huge chunk of their team they’re missing.

Smith, Mosley, and Yanda are missing their first games of the season, while Dumervil is out again after re-injuring his foot, which originally cost him the first 3 games of the season. Yanda is an especially big loss, as he’s one of the best guards in the league. Without him and Stanley (who will miss his 3rd straight game) on the line, this offense figures to continue to struggle. All that being said, I’m still taking the Ravens because the Giants have a London game on deck and teams understandably are 7-19 ATS before a London game all-time and because 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. I have no confidence in Baltimore, but they’re the pick at 3.5. At 3, I might change my pick. That’s how close this is.

New York Giants 20 Baltimore Ravens 17

Pick against the spread: Baltimore +3.5

Confidence: None

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Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (2-3) at Houston Texans (3-2)

The early line had the Texans as 3.5 point home favorites here over the Colts, but the line has been at 3 this week. That’s only a half point, but considering 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal and 1 in 4 games are decided by less than a field goal, it’s a significant half point. Right now, this line suggests these two teams are not even, which has not been true thus far this season. The Texans enter this game 22nd in first down percentage, while the Colts enter in 29th, thanks to a defense that ranks dead last in first down percentage allowed.

Something will have to give, as the Texans come in dead last in first down percentage on offense. The Texans have scored just 6 offensive touchdowns in 5 games this season, despite off-season additions of wide receiver Will Fuller and running back Lamar Miller. That’s because their offensive line has been a mess, thanks to injuries and off-season departures, while free agent acquisition quarterback Brock Osweiler has been even worse than last year’s quarterback Brian Hoyer thus far this season, at a price of 18 million annually. The defense has been strong, but is not the same without the injured JJ Watt, so I’m not confident in Houston, but, all things considered, Houston is the better team. Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but the Colts have one of the worst rosters around him in the league.

Houston Texans 24 Indianapolis Colts 20

Pick against the spread: Houston -3

Confidence: Low

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Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (1-4) at New Orleans Saints (1-3)

The Panthers have had a rough start to their season to say the least. A year after losing just one regular season game en route to a Super Bowl appearance, the Panthers have started 1-4 and have a big uphill climb to even make the playoffs. In order to win 10 games, the Panthers now have to win 9 of their final 11 games. That being said, I wouldn’t rule that out. The Panthers still have one of the most talented rosters in the league, but have suffered bad luck early in the year. Three of their losses came against tough opponents in the Broncos (who they could have beaten if not for a missed field goal), Vikings, and Falcons, while their 4th loss came in a game in which they were without concussed quarterback Cam Newton and still had a shot to win despite a -4 turnover margin. Newton is back this week (as is running back Jonathan Stewart) and turnover margins are very inconsistent on a week to week basis. Teams that have a -4 turnover margin on average have a turnover margin of +0.1 the following week.

The Panthers are underrated coming into this game, as mere 3 point road favorites against a Saints team that is probably a bottom-10 team, especially without left tackle Terron Armstead, cornerback Delvin Breaux, and first round pick defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who are all injured. The Panthers aren’t quite as talented as they were last year, especially without cornerback Josh Norman, but them going 9-2 the rest of the way isn’t crazy. It’ll be tough, but just looking at their schedule, there’s only two games the rest of the way where they figure to be underdogs (@ Oakland and @ Seattle) if they stay healthy. They’re a talented team and could start a run to the playoffs with a big victory against an inferior Saints team in New Orleans. There’s not quite enough for me to put money on the Panthers, but that changes if the line falls under 3.

Carolina Panthers 31 New Orleans Saints 24

Pick against the spread: Carolina -3

Confidence: Low

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Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) at Detroit Lions (2-3)

This line at 3 suggests these two teams are equal. I disagree with that. Despite, having a worse record than the Rams, the Lions are the significantly superior team in this matchup. Despite having three wins, the Rams rank dead last in first down percentage differential and have had a worse first down percentage than their opponents in all 5 games thus far. Their 3 wins have come by a combined 15 points, while their 2 losses have come by a combined 39 points. Their -24 point differential is 8th worst in the NFL and they’re legitimately a few plays away from being 1-4 or even 0-5. They have 36 fewer first downs than their opponents and have one of the worst rosters in the entire NFL.

The Rams could get defensive linemen Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn, and William Hayes all back from injury this week, after all three missed last week’s home loss to the Bills. Those three are a huge part of their defense and are game-time decisions at worst after returning to a limited practice on Friday and being listed as questionable. However, even with those three back, this is not a good team, especially with top cornerback Trumaine Johnson missing this game with injury. The Lions, meanwhile, rank 19th in first down percentage differential and get one of their best players back from injury this week, as defensive end Ezekiel Ansah returns for the first time since getting injured week 2.

Outside linebacker DeAndre Levy remains out and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata joins him, but Ansah is arguably their best defensive player and a huge re-addition to a defense that ranks 27th in first down percentage allowed. Their offense has been much better, ranking 5th in first down percentage. The Lions are a much better and much more complete team than the Rams here and should be favored by at least 6. On top of that, the Rams have a London game on deck and teams are understandably 7-19 ATS all-time before playing in London. This is a big wager on the Lions at 3 and still worth a bet even at 3.5.

Detroit Lions 24 Los Angeles Rams 16

Pick against the spread: Detroit -3

Confidence: High

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Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at Green Bay Packers (3-1)

The Cowboys pulled an impressive home upset victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last week, winning 28-14. Ordinarily, teams struggle after a home upset victory, as teams are 53-77 ATS in that spot since 2012. One of the reasons for that is home upset wins tend to move future lines significantly and that’s the case in this game, as the Cowboys went from 6.5 point underdogs on the early line last week to now 4.5 point underdogs. Typically, I like to bet against significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play. However, I don’t think this line is unreasonable at 4.5 at all, as the Cowboys have been one of the best teams in the league thus far this season and showed it with a statement win over a capable Cincinnati team last week.

The Cowboys are 4-1, legitimately a few plays away from being 5-0 (their only loss came by 1 week 1), and rank 9th in first down percentage differential. Green Bay, who ranks 6th in that metric, is the toughest team the Cowboys have faced thus far, but close to 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer, so I like their chances of keeping it close and covering this 4.5 point spread. Worst case scenario, if the Cowboys are down 10 or 11 late, I like their chances of pulling off a backdoor cover.

The Packers are also in a tough spot, as they have to turn around and play again in 4 days on Thursday Night Football. Favorites are 50-75 ATS since 2008 before a Thursday night game. The Packers used to have a big advantage in Lambeau Field, going 36-23 ATS at home from 2008-2014, but they are just 4-5-1 ATS at home in the last 2 seasons. Meanwhile, the Cowboys typically travel well, thanks to a national fanbase. Since 2010, they’ve outscored opponents by 0.87 points per game at home and been outscored by 0.72 points per game on the road, meaning their homefield advantage hasn’t even been worth a point over that time period. They’re also 20-12 ATS as road underdogs over that time period. I’d put money on the Cowboys at 4.5, but I’d hold off at 4. The Cowboys are the pick though.

Green Bay Packers 27 Dallas Cowboys 24

Pick against the spread: Dallas +4.5

Confidence: Medium

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