Free NFL Bets Week 6
I started off the Week 5 Free Bets article saying we needed to bounce back from an 0-2 week, and we did just that. We swept the card for the third time in four weeks, improving the season record to 7-3 (70.0%). I’ll admit, I was a little nervous when Baker Mayfield threw an interception in the fourth quarter, but the Browns hung on, and even though Dak Prescott was gruesomely injured, Andy Dalton stepped in and cashed us our moneyline parlay as time ran out in the fourth quarter.
Twitter prop bets also bounced back on Sunday after a brutal 0-2 Thursday night slate. Be sure to follow along on Thursdays and Sundays; props released from my account are 11-7 (61.1%). Before we get to the picks, let’s not forget the notable trends:
- Don’t blindly bet on teams who play fast, assuming more plays equals more points. The top-10 fastest-paced offenses (seconds per play) are 12-33-1 straight up this year.
- Sportsbooks have cashed in huge in primetime. Favorites are just 6-11 (35.3%) against the spread, compared to 31-28-1 (52.5%) in non-primetime matchups. Additionally, primetime overs are just 8-9 (47.1%), compared to 36-24 (60.0%) in non-primetime games.
- Teams playing on a short week (played on Monday Night Football the prior week) going up against teams on regular rest are 1-5-1 (16.7%) against the spread.
Another tough week is upon us, with uncertainty all over the place thanks to COVID-19. But, there’s one line I like a whole lot, plus I’ve included our first teaser of the 2020 season:
Steelers (-3) vs. Browns
One of my two plays last week was Cleveland as an underdog, and here I am just a week later betting against them. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Browns, I think they’re actually good, and I think they’re moving in the right direction. But, I also think this is a perfect “sell high” opportunity. They aren’t “beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh” good just yet.
The first factor that drew me to this game was Baker Mayfield’s ribs. They weren’t 100% after he injured them against the Colts, and they still aren’t 100% with two days left until game day; Mayfield has only been a limited participant in practice this week. Injuries of any kind to your quarterback are never good, but they’re especially detrimental when:
- They’re to a part of his body that is vital to the throwing motion, and
- He’s going up against one of the best defenses in football
The Steelers defense is really good. They’re ranked first in quarterback pressure, reaching the quarterback on an astounding 40% of dropbacks. Again, not good if your quarterback is one awkward hit away from the injury tent, like Cleveland’s is. Pittsburgh is also third in total defense, fourth in yards per play allowed, and sixth in points allowed, so this will be the first true test for this new and improved Cleveland offense since they battled Baltimore in Week 1.
Cleveland’s strength is running the ball; they’re first in the league in rush yards per game. But the Steelers excel at stopping the run and hold their opponents to just 64 yards per game (second in the NFL). Pittsburgh should be able to, at minimum, slow down the Browns rushing attack, leaving a lot of responsibility on a mistake-prone, banged-up quarterback.
Ravens (-1.5) / Buccaneers (+7.5) Six-Point Teaser
It took six weeks, but we’ve finally got our first teaser on the weekly card. For those unfamiliar, a teaser is when you parlay two or more lines with adjusted point spreads in exchange for reduced potential winnings. For two-team teasers, you’ll receive six points tacked onto each bet.
In this case, the Ravens are -7.5 and the Buccaneers are +1.5, so when we tease them together and take the six points each, we get Baltimore -1.5 and Tampa Bay +7.5. Both bets have to hit for this wager to cash. Because we received those six points, we won’t get the same plus-odds you’d normally expect in a parlay-style bet.
Starting with the Ravens, they’re a very strong team. And the Eagles are not. Philadelphia has two glaring weaknesses: their linebackers and their offensive line. Coincidentally, Baltimore’s two strengths are their running game and the front-seven of their defense, so they should be able to exploit the Eagles’ deficiencies with regularity.
The Ravens are second in the NFL in rushing, while the Eagles rank just 17th in stopping the run. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens rank third in DVOA and sixth in defensive pressures, which is a bad recipe for a banged-up Eagles offensive line with very few receivers to speak of. Carson Wentz, while he’s been better lately, leads the league in interceptions, and the Ravens rank second in turnovers forced.
Favorites in non-conference games, like the Ravens, are 12-10-1 (54.5%) against the spread so far this season as well. I placed this bet on Wednesday morning at -130, so I recommend moving quickly before the odds drop to around -150, and before the lines move and you miss out on key numbers.
The other half of this teaser is the Bucs, and while I’m not sure they’re better than the Packers, I know they’re not 7.5 points worse. For starters, they’ve basically negated the Packers rest advantage. Green Bay had a bye last week, but Tampa Bay played on Thursday night, so they’ll be well-rested as well. I also think this was a really bad time for the Packers to have a bye; they were absolutely rolling after being doubted all offseason, and now their momentum is all but evaporated.
Tampa Bay has played a tougher schedule than Green Bay has, and I’m confident in how good the Bucs defense is. They’re second in the NFL in yards allowed and best in the league in yards allowed on the ground. That should force Green Bay to be far more one-dimensional than they’ve been so far this year, as this will be the best defense they’ve faced by a wide margin.
The Buccaneers expect Chris Godwin back, and while the Packers expect Davante Adams to return as well, I think Godwin returning is more significant. Why? Had the Buccaneers been without Godwin, Jaire Alexander would be shadowing Mike Evans, and Tom Brady would be forced to rely on average weapons. With Godwin, he has an elite target at his disposal, even if Alexander shuts Evans down.
Even though Tom Brady isn’t the same Tom Brady, there are just too many trends to ignore here. Brady is 23-12 (65.7%) against the spread as an underdog, 9-1 (90.0%) against the spread as a home underdog, 43-21 (67.2%) against the spread off a loss, 14-1 (93.3%) against the spread as an underdog off a loss, and 117-73 (61.6%) against the spread in non-divisional games.
All the above apply here.