Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (1-4) at New York Jets (2-3)

The Jets have a pair of wins by double digits, beating the Lions 48-17 week 1 and the Broncos 34-16 last week. However, they were not as good as the final score suggested in either game. Against the Lions, they won the first down rate battle by just +5.94% and didn’t have a touchdown drive of more than 6 plays all game, benefitting from short fields off turnovers (5 takeaways), big plays on offense (2 touchdowns of 40+ yards), and return touchdowns (2 return touchdowns). Last week, they lost the first down rate battle by -2.82%, but had another 3 touchdowns of 35+ yards that led to the victory.

Big plays and turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so the Jets are not going to always be able to rely on those. In their 3 losses, they are -1 in turnovers and don’t have a single play longer than 44 yards. On the season, their offense has really struggled to move the ball, moving the chains at a 31.31% rate, 28th in the NFL. They are also dead last in red zone touchdown percentage, scoring primarily from outside of the 20 on big plays. Their defense is solid, ranking 9th at 34.20%, but their offensive struggles have them 24th overall in first down rate differential at -2.89%.

The Colts aren’t much better, especially with all of the players they are missing due to injury (top receiver TY Hilton, starting tight end Jack Doyle, starting defensive lineman Denico Autry, starting safety Clayton Geathers and his backup Matthias Farley), but the Jets aren’t healthy either with their top-2 cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine out and top running back Isaiah Crowell expected to be a gametime call, so the Colts have a good chance to come in and pull off the upset.

The Colts are also in a better spot, with another easy game against the Bills on deck. The Jets, on the other hand, have to turn around and face a tough Minnesota team, a game they will almost definitely be underdogs in. Underdogs are 81-48 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. There’s not quite enough here to bet the Colts as just 2-point underdogs when they are this banged up, but the money line is worth a small bet because the Colts are no worse than 50/50 to win this game.

Indianapolis Colts 23 New York Jets 20 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +2

Confidence: Low

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (2-3) at Houston Texans (2-3)

The Bills have the worst offense in the league, but they’ve managed to pull off a couple wins in the past few weeks. That’s partially because their defense has been improved since the first couple weeks of the season, but they also didn’t win the first down rate battle in either of their wins and rank dead last on the season in first down rate differential at -11.10%, so it’s hard to get too excited about their defense.

Both wins also came against teams that were in terrible spots. The Vikings were coming off of a tie with the Packers and had another game against the Rams in 4 days on Thursday Night Football, while the Titans were coming off of an overtime upset win over the Eagles and had another tough game against the Ravens on deck. Despite the two wins, the Bills are still a tough team to bet.

Fortunately, they are facing another opponent in a bad spot this week, as the Texans have a big divisional clash in Jacksonville following this relatively easy home game against the Bills. Big favorites understandably tend to disappoint with a much bigger game on deck, going 37-55 ATS as favorites of 10+ before being underdogs of 3+ since 2002. I also have this line calculated at Houston -8, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the visitors too. There’s not enough here for me to put money on the Bills, but this is the most I’ve liked the Bills in a game all year and they could easily give the Texans a game if the Texans don’t come out with their best effort.

Houston Texans 20 Buffalo Bills 13

Pick against the spread: Buffalo +10

Confidence: Low

Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (3-1) at Miami Dolphins (3-2)

The Dolphins have really fallen back to earth after a surprising 3-0 start. After winning those first 3 games by a combined 23 points against a relatively easy group of teams, the Dolphins have lost their last 2 by a combined 41 points on the road against a pair of tough teams in the Patriots and Bengals. They’ve suffered a few injuries, with cornerback Bobby McCain and defensive end Cameron Wake missing last week’s game and likely out again this week, and on paper they are one of the least talented teams in the league right now without those two key defenders. The Dolphins return home this week, but they have another tough opponent on deck, with the Chicago Bears coming to town.

Before their week 5 bye, the Bears had a breakout performance in a 48-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers aren’t exactly the toughest of opponents, but the Bears have been impressive beyond just that one game. They are 3-1, rank 2nd in first down rate differential at +7.59%, 3rd in point differential at +46, and could easily be 4-0 if they didn’t blow a big second half lead in Green Bay in an eventual 1-point loss. Mitch Trubisky remains a question mark under center, despite shredding an awful Tampa Bay secondary for 6 touchdowns, but outside of the quarterback position this is arguably the most talented team in the league. Even with Trubisky a question mark, this is arguably a top-5 team right now, thanks to the most talented defense in the league.

We’re getting good line value with the Bears as just 3.5 point road favorites, as I have this line calculated at -6.5, but the Bears are also in a conflicting spot this week, which makes them a less confident bet. While they are coming off of a bye, and road favorites of 3.5+ are 16-4 ATS since 2010 after a bye, they also have to turn around and face the Patriots in a week, a game in which they will likely be home underdogs. Road favorites are just 25-52 ATS before being home underdogs since 2010, so this could easily be a trap game for the Bears, even off of a bye. They’re the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but I’d need this line to go down to 3 to put any money on Chicago.

Update: Ryan Tannehill was surprisingly ruled out Sunday morning, after re-aggravating a throwing shoulder injury during Friday’s practice. That’s obviously a blow to the Dolphins, who now have to turn to backup Brock Osweiler, but the line has compensated appropriately, moving from 3.5 to 7, so this remains a low confidence pick.

Chicago Bears 23 Miami Dolphins 10

Pick against the spread: Chicago -7

Confidence: Low

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) at New England Patriots (3-2)

After last week’s win over a tough Jacksonville team that improved their record to 5-0, the Chiefs were anointed by many as the clear favorite in the AFC, but now they have to turn around and face another tough test in New England. The Patriots lost in Jacksonville earlier in the season, but they’re much improved since then. They’ve gotten top pass rusher Trey Flowers and valuable safety Patrick Chung back from injury on defense, wide receiver Julian Edelman has returned on offense, fellow wide receiver Josh Gordon has gotten more integrated into this offense, after being acquired via trade week 3, and first round rookie Sony Michel has broken out as the lead running back.

This game is also in New England, where the Patriots are virtually unbeatable, with just 22 losses in 150 games started at home by Tom Brady. It’s even tougher to win in New England for young quarterbacks like Pat Mahomes, who is in just his 7th career start. Remarkably a quarterback under the age of 25 has never beaten Tom Brady in Gillette in the regular season. Even more remarkable is Brady’s record in his career against teams with a better record than his. The league average winning percentage is 38.3% against teams with better records, but Brady is 35-12 straight up (74.5%) and 37-10 ATS. It’s going to be much tougher for the Chiefs to beat the Patriots this week than it was for the Jaguars to beat them in Jacksonville week 2.

The Chiefs’ offense is obviously dominant, but their defense remains a major concern. The common narrative seems to be that their defense is fixed because they held Jacksonville to 14 points last week, but they still allowed 29 first downs. They did force 5 takeaways, but other than takeaways they’ve had real trouble getting off the field this year, allowing a league high 142 first downs (13 more than the next closest team). Tom Brady and company are unlikely to turn the ball over much, so the Chiefs figure to have a really tough time getting them off the field, especially now that they’re missing top pass rusher Justin Houston.

This game will be a shootout, but the Patriots defense is underrated at full health and ultimately I trust them to get some stops against a young quarterback on the road in a hostile environment more than I trust the Chiefs to slow down this New England offense with Eric Berry and Justin Houston on the sidelines. I have this line calculated at New England -6, so we’re getting good line value with them at -3 and they’re in a great spot because they always get up for these big games against tough opponents. This is my Pick of the Week if you can get -3, even if you have to pay extra juice, but it’s worth a big bet even at -3.5 too if you’re getting less than normal juice.

New England Patriots 38 Kansas City Chiefs 30

Pick against the spread: New England -3

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-2)

After pulling an upset at home against the defending champion Eagles week 4, the Titans turned around and lost in upset fashion in Buffalo last week. That seems surprising at first glance, but both games were close and easily could have gone the other way. On top of that the Titans were in a much better spot against Philadelphia than they were against Buffalo and understandably played a better game as a result. While they were completely focused at home for the Eagles with an easy game on deck, their game in Buffalo was a trap game, sandwiched between that tough overtime win and another big home game, this game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Even after last week’s overtime loss in Cleveland, the Ravens come in with a solid record at 3-2. They’re a little overrated though. Their offense is improved over last season, but largely by default and, while their defense continues to dominate statistically, their stats have been buoyed by an easy schedule, as they’ve faced 7 backup quarterbacks over the past 2 seasons are just 4-9 in their other 13 games. None of this is to say they are a bad team. With an improved offense, the Ravens have wins over a pair of decent teams in the Broncos and Steelers this season, but they also have road losses in Cincinnati and Cleveland and are not as good as this line suggests, as they are favored by 2.5 points in Tennessee.

I have these two teams about equal. Both teams have underwhelming offenses, but strong defenses. That would suggest this line should be 3 points in favor of the Titans, so we’re getting good line value with the host. The Titans probably won’t be a popular bet this week because of their loss last week, which is probably a big part of why this line is where it is, but, again, that was a terrible spot and they could have easily won, especially if they didn’t lose Taylor Lewan to a foot injury early in the game (he was listed not on the injury report this week). With wins over the Jaguars and Eagles already on their resume, I don’t think that loss should hurt them that much. This would be a bigger bet if this line creeps back up to 3, but even as 2.5 point underdogs the Titans are worth a bet.

Tennessee Titans 20 Baltimore Ravens 17 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +2.5

Confidence: Medium

Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (3-1) at Washington Redskins (2-2)

The Redskins were blown out last week in New Orleans, but the Saints are a great team and they were in a great spot at home going into their bye, so I don’t hold that against the Redskins too much. The Redskins also have a convincing win over the Packers and a dominant performance against the Cardinals on their resume and have enough talent to compete for a playoff spot in the NFC, as long as they continue to avoid major injuries to key players, which was not the case last season.

Despite that, the Redskins are actually one point underdogs at home in this game against the Panthers. The Redskins have some injuries in the receiving corps and the Panthers get some reinforcements this week with Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis coming back from injury and suspension respectively, so I wouldn’t recommend making a big bet on this game, but both Olsen and Davis are up there in age and haven’t played in a while, so it’s unclear how much they will actually help and, even with the Panthers getting reinforcements and the Redskins a little banged up, I still have these two teams basically even in my rankings, meaning the Redskins should be favored by at least a field goal here at home. They’re worth a bet this week.

Washington Redskins 23 Carolina Panthers 20 Upset Pick +100

Pick against the spread: Washington +1

Confidence: Medium

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-4) at Green Bay Packers (3-2)

The Packers lost last week in Detroit, but they still won the first down rate battle by +4.82% and had 30 first downs to 18 for the Lions. They lost because of 4 missed field goals and 3 lost fumbles, but still managed to keep it an 8-point game, so they could have easily won if they didn’t make so many mistakes. This week, they return home, where they have been much better in recent years, going 36-17 ATS at home in games started and finished by Aaron Rodgers since 2011.

The Packers also have a much easier opponent this week, as the 49ers are one of the worst teams in the league without Jimmy Garoppolo, and the Packers are in a great spot going into a bye. Favorites of 6 or more tend to take care of business going into a bye, going 38-16 ATS since 2014, including 28-11 ATS at home. The Packers are favored by 9.5 here, but, considering how bad the 49ers are, I think that line is short and we are getting good line value with the hosts, who could easily be favored by 12-13 points in this one. The Packers should win this one with ease and cover in the process.

Green Bay Packers 31 San Francisco 49ers 16

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -9.5

Confidence: High