With the benefit of hindsight, last week’s NFL slate might be looked upon as the real focal point of the season. The defending NFC champs are now firmly behind in their division. Teams with backup quarterbacks – The Colts, Saints and Panthers – picked up critical wins and will certainly be contending for playoff spots. The Ravens regained control of the AFC North, despite not looking very good in the process.
Those results have the potential to really shape the rest of the season. So now what are we looking for in Week 6? Avoiding the letdown. Several teams that picked up momentum last week have winnable opportunities to build upon that progress.
Baltimore -11 vs. Cincinnati
Anyone that watched Baltimore’s win over Pittsburgh has to be saying to themselves, “This team shouldn’t be laying double-digits to anyone.” Baltimore’s competition in the AFC North – Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland – has combined for just three wins on the year.
I can’t recommend that anyone go rushing to the window to bet on the Bengals, but this is definitely a “Cincinnati or pass” spot. The Ravens’ defense allowed Devlin Hodges, a third-string rookie from Samford, to generate two second half scoring drives to put the game into overtime. Baltimore’s offense generated 3.8 yards per play against the Steelers, and Lamar Jackson committed three turnovers. Cincinnati has won eight of the last 11 meetings in this series. Baltimore is just 1-6-1 against the spread in their last eight home games. The Ravens could certainly go out and win this game by double-digits, but with the way they have played over the past couple weeks, this spread doesn’t appear to be justified.
Seattle -1.5 at Cleveland and LA Rams -3.5 vs. San Francisco 49ers
These two games get lumped in together because they feature the same unique situation: The participants of the previous week’s Thursday night game (Seattle and LA) are playing the participants of the previous week’s Monday night game (Cleveland and San Francisco). So we’ve got two contests in Week 6 with a significant rest and travel disparity.
The 49ers looked fantastic on Monday Night against the Browns, but it’s tough to ignore the preparation advantage that Sean McVay and the Rams will have in this spot. This is a huge contest for Los Angeles. A loss here would likely drop the Rams 2.5 games out of the division with tiebreaking losses to the two teams ahead of them. I would expect to see the Rams’ best effort on Sunday afternoon. The teams that San Francisco has beaten so far this season are now a combined 5-15.
When the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook released their look-ahead lines last week, Cleveland was a -2 home favorite over Seattle. Following the Browns’ Monday Night Football debacle in San Francisco, Seattle is now favored. Can Pete Carroll’s squad avoid the letdown? The Seahawks just played back-to-back games against the NFC West, and now have to travel across the country to play a non-conference game against a sub-.500 team. This game could present some intriguing in-game betting opportunities. If Seattle is sluggish early, I wouldn’t mind having a Cleveland ticket in my pocket. But if Cleveland lays an egg early, things could get pretty ugly for Baker Mayfield and Freddie Kitchens. The Dawg Pound is already less-than-pleased with last week’s Monday Night Football game, and the home crowd hasn’t seen a win yet this season. If the Browns dig an early hole, FirstEnergy Stadium is going to get hostile in a hurry.
Green Bay -4 vs. Detroit
Unless you are a Packers or Lions fan, this one might surprise you: The Detroit Lions have won (and covered) the last four meetings in this series. The Lions are coming into Lambeau off a bye week, while Green Bay is coming off an impressive road win at Dallas. This point spread zone has been a black hole for home favorites this season. According to The Gold Sheet, there have been 21 games this season where the home team has been favored between 3.5-6.5 points. Those home favorites have gone 5-16 against the spread. Detroit is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games as a road underdog.