NFL Week 6 Best Bets & Predictions
Last week in the NFL was brutal, and I won’t hide from it. It’s part of the business sometimes, and it’s why proper bankroll management is crucial to long-term success. All we can do is process the mistakes and move on to the next week of games. Week 6 presents plenty of opportunities, and you can find my favorite spread picks, a two-team teaser, and a couple of half-unit total plays in this article. You can follow me on Twitter @wayne_sports for any last-minute plays I’m making on Sunday morning. Let’s get to work.
NFL YTD: 39-36 (52%)
Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants
If you’ve been following my writing since the offseason, you’ll know that I love this Ravens team. This week, they are met with a fantastic situational spot against the Giants as they come off an emotional high in the London game last week. Teams coming off a London game with no bye week tend to have issues with fatigue and disorganization on defense, as we saw with the Vikings and Saints last week.
The Giants’ defense has overperformed this season as they have allowed just 18.6 points per game, the ninth-fewest in the NFL, but rank 25th in DVOA and 18th in EPA. They’ve also faced the seventh-easiest schedule by DVOA. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has brought his aggressive scheme with him to New York as the Giants blitz at the highest rate in the NFL.
That’s a problem against Lamar Jackson, who has the best passer rating in the NFL against the blitz. Seven of his twelve touchdowns this year have come against the blitz, and he’s completing 66% of his passes when blitzed. Of course, Martindale was the Ravens defensive coordinator previously, so Jackson and the offense have plenty of experience practicing against that defense.
On the Giants’ side, their offense has continually overperformed this year in respect to their available talent. That’s a credit to Brian Daboll, one of the better offensive coaches in the NFL, but it’s only sustainable for so long with their lack of reliable pass-catchers. Even Saquon Barkley is dealing with a shoulder injury that he picked up in the London game. Baltimore’s defense is rounding into form as it’s getting healthier, and they should have the upper hand this week.
On our Lineups YouTube video, I also put a unit on the Ravens team total over, but I’m just sticking with the spread here. I have confidence in the Ravens’ offense finding success, but if they get up by multiple scores early, perhaps they stop pushing the pace and hold onto the lead. A Ravens first half -3.5 play isn’t the worst idea either, but I’d be more sold on that at -2.5. Instead, let’s keep it simple and roll with the Ravens -5.5 for the full game.
Best Bet: Ravens -5.5 (play to -6.5)
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have been one of the most fun teams in the NFL this year as they continue to outperform expectations and now sit at 5-0 ATS. At first glance, this should be the week that all comes screeching to a halt, but the 49ers are dealing with a mountain of injuries on both sides of the ball. Let’s take a look at the players who have already been ruled out for this game:
- RB Elijah Mitchell (MCL)
- QB Trey Lance (ankle)
- OT Trent Williams (ankle)
- OT Colton McKivitz (MCL)
- CB Jimmie Ward (hand)
- CB Emmanuel Moseley (ACL)
- CB Jason Verrett (ACL)
- DT Arik Armstead (foot)
- DT Javon Kinlaw (knee)
In addition, star defensive end Nick Bosa only logged his first practice of the week on Friday as he’s dealing with a groin issue. Niners’ defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has done an excellent job this season as San Francisco has the best defense in the league by DVOA and EPA, but they’ve also faced the second-easiest schedule by DVOA this year. The Falcons’ offense should be able to put up some points given all of the injuries.
Atlanta’s offensive line has surprisingly been one of the best in the NFL this year. Falcons running backs have gained 3+ yards before contact at a league-high 31% rate per TruMedia despite running into a stacked box at an 82% rate, the fifth-highest in the NFL. While Drake London and Kyle Pitts are dealing with injury knocks, they are both expected to play in this game, making the Atlanta offense much more dynamic.
Weekly Drake London highlight: pic.twitter.com/3kpRRfl4Pu
— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) October 9, 2022
The Falcons’ defense hasn’t been good at all – they rank 27th in DVOA and 28th in EPA – but they also have faced the fourth-most difficult strength of schedule by DVOA. San Francisco’s offense hasn’t been the same upfront – they rank just 23rd in adjusted line yards and 21st in rushing DVOA – and it’s due to the attrition they’ve faced on the offensive line. With Trent Williams out for another week, I don’t expect the Niners’ run game to be completely overpowering.
Situationally, this is a tough spot for the 49ers as it’s their second-straight road game. It also precedes a brutal stretch of games – home vs. Chiefs, at Rams, and home vs. Chargers – that they will be hoping to be much healthier for. With those factors in mind, I love the Falcons catching six points at home this week.
Best Bet: Falcons +6 (play to +4.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
The Jaguars have become one of the most popular public teams in the NFL with their up-and-coming underdog energy, but they fell completely flat last week against the Texans. They outgained Houston by almost 200 yards, but their red-zone struggles continued, and they only generated nine points against an underwhelming defense. Things don’t get much easier this week against the Indianapolis defense that’s rounding into form.
The Colts have the second-ranked run defense in the NFL by DVOA, and they rank 11th in overall defensive EPA and DVOA. Indianapolis blitzes at the seventh-lowest rate in the league, and they can play a similar game plan to Houston’s last week. The Texans only blitzed Trevor Lawrence once last week per TruMedia, and it was brilliant as Lawrence is taking more pressure (30% to 26%) and sacks (six to zero) against teams that don’t blitz.
— Sideline the Agenda (@SidelineAgenda) October 9, 2022
When opponents blitz, it gives Lawrence the opportunity to quickly find an open receiver, and by forcing him to hold onto the ball, it causes him to take pressure behind an offensive line that is much worse than their pressure metrics would indicate. The Colts will take note of this, as Lawrence completed all seven of his passes against the blitz the last time these teams played.
The Colts’ offense has been ugly to start the season – they rank dead last in DVOA and 31st in EPA – but things are trending up somewhat. When they got shut out by the Jaguars earlier in the year, they didn’t have the services of Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce. Both receivers will be active this week, and Jonathan Taylor is expected to return.
Frank Reich has had a different starting quarterback in Indianapolis every year, and his offenses have started slow every year before improving as the season goes on. I expect the same to be true this year, and Jacksonville’s 23nd-ranked pass coverage unit will provide an excellent opportunity to gain some positive momentum.
I still like the under in this game, as the total has gone under in ten straight Colts games by an average of 9.9 points per game. However, I’m making the Colts -2 my best bet and putting just a half unit on the under. The home team has won 16 of the last 17 games in this series, and the Colts have the benefit of a few extra days of rest off their Thursday Night Football game.
Best Bet: Colts -2 (play to -3) and under 42 points (half unit)
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
While the whole word will have their eyes glued to the Bills vs. Chiefs game, this afternoon game between the Cardinals and Seahawks should be a fascinating watch. The Seahawks have been one of the best surprises of the early season as they rank first in offensive DVOA and have produced some of the highest-scoring games of the year. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have hung around in almost every game despite their clear deficiencies.
Geno Smith has led an incredibly dynamic offense, and he ranks second among all quarterbacks in EPA+CPOE composite. He’s also PFF’s highest-graded quarterback this season. At a certain point, we have to accept his excellent play as reality, and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron deserves a ton of credit for maximizing Smith’s play. With two elite wideouts in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, this offense ranks first in passing DVOA.
I would love to know Geno Smith did this off-season pic.twitter.com/X5RQfYHjXU
— Blaiden Kirk (@blaiden) October 9, 2022
Smith has been specifically great against zone blitzes, where he has completed 20 of 23 passes with a +0.34 EPA/att rate, which ranks fifth in the NFL. The Cardinals have blitzed at a 40% rate, the third-highest in the NFL, and play zone behind their blitz at the sixth-highest rate to attempt to mask their secondary that ranks second-worst in pass DVOA.
On the other side, this game should provide immense relief for a Cardinals offense that has slogged through the third-toughest schedule of opposing defenses this season. Kyler Murray hasn’t quite been himself this year, but this should be his best game of the year, particularly with the return of Rondale Moore to the lineup. Marquise Brown has been great this season with 38 catches for 417 yards, and he should have a monster game.
Everywhere you look, the offenses have the upper hand. The Cardinals are allowing the most explosive pass plays, and the Seahawks rank first in the league in explosive pass play rate. The Seahawks have allowed a touchdown on 35% of opponents’ drives, the highest rate in the NFL. I believe we’re going to see this game creep into the 60s, and I don’t believe the total is set high enough. Let’s play the over and get the popcorn ready on Sunday afternoon.
Best Bet: Over 50.5 points (play to 51.5)
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
This game has been circled on everyone’s calendar since the epic playoff battle between these teams last year, but nobody has been more anxious for this than the Bills. The rivalry between Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes has become this generation’s Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, and we’ll be watching these quarterbacks square off for years to come.
The Bills are the best team in the NFL this year, and they are well deserving of being favorites on the road this week. Josh Allen is in peak form at the moment, and he completed five of eleven passes of 20+ yards last week for 241 yards and three scores. The Chiefs’ secondary got beat on two deep bombs from Derek Carr last week, and they rank just 19th in passing defense DVOA.
In particular, the Chiefs rank dead last in the NFL in DVOA allowed to WR1s this year. They have been torched by Davante Adams, Mike Evans, and Mike Williams in recent weeks, so you can expect a big game from Stefon Diggs. While the Chiefs are ill-equipped to handle the Bills’ best weapon, Buffalo leads the NFL in DVOA against tight ends, and they recently held Mark Andrews to two catches for 15 yards. They can limit Travis Kelce in this game.
Buffalo spent the offseason fine-tuning their defensive line specifically to counteract the Chiefs’ much-improved offensive line. However, the Kansas City O-line has taken a step back this year as they rank just 20th in pressure rate allowed. The Bills have the second-best pass-rush unit in the NFL per PFF with Von Miller, Gregory Rousseau, and Boogie Basham leading the way.
Von Miller with his first sack as a Buffalo Bill pic.twitter.com/DmPUqTFNpV
— Built in Buffalo (@BuiltInBuffalo_) September 9, 2022
The Chiefs’ offense has had moments this season where it’s looked vulnerable, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they have gotten worse and the Bills have gotten better since the playoff game last year. Kansas City might have the home-field advantage, but Buffalo is fully prepared for this game. I expect them to win and prove themselves as the best team in the NFL this week.
Best Bet: Bills -2.5 (play to -3)
Six-Point Teaser of the Week
New Orleans Saints +8.5 + New England Patriots +8.5
The Bengals are one of the most popular public sides in Week 6, and I’m not buying in. On paper, the Cincinnati offense has a ton of talent, but they rank just 25th in offensive DVOA despite facing the tenth-easiest schedule of opposing defenses by DVOA. They also rank 31st in early down EPA and 31st in yards per play. I simply have no faith in Zac Taylor to maximize the talent on this roster.
The Saints’ defense has improved by the week, particularly in terms of pressure, and they have been at a 27% pressure rate or better in each of the last three weeks after sitting at 11% in their first two games. They are also playing two-high safeties at a 43% rate, which we know creates problems for the Cincinnati offense. Andy Dalton has been very efficient, as well, as the sixth-ranked quarterback in EPA per dropback.
Our other leg for this teaser is on a Patriots team that has continued to outproduce my preseason expectations. The preseason concerns over the offensive line were far overblown as they rank third in adjusted line yards and third in pressure allowed. Bailey Zappe has been a very efficient steward for the offense, and the defense has been excellent as they rank ninth in overall DVOA despite facing the toughest schedule of opposing offenses.
Meanwhile, the Browns’ defense, which arguably has much more talent, has struggled immensely. Cleveland ranks 31st in early down EPA allowed and 30th in overall DVOA. The offense has been efficient, ranking fourth in DVOA and third in EPA. However, if there’s anyone who knows how to attack Jacoby Brissett’s weaknesses, it’s Bill Belichick. Cleveland ranks 28th in pass rate, and their run-heavy offense isn’t built to pull away from opponents.
If you see a +3 on either of these games, feel free to put an additional unit on that line, but I don’t love playing a +2.5 spread. If you’re feeling frisky, an underdog Moneyline parlay between these two could be fun. However, the only official play I’m making here is on the teaser. I believe there’s a strong chance both of these teams win on Sunday, and we’re getting awesome value at +8.5 as we’re getting through the key numbers.
Half Unit Totals Sprinkles
Panthers vs. Rams Under 41: The total in this game is already set so low, but I have a hard time seeing where the points are coming from this week. The Rams’ offense has all sorts of problems right now, ranking 30th in EPA and 32nd in yards per play. They’ve also been incredibly predictable with the highest pass rate in the NFL, and they haven’t been able to run the ball as they rank 31st in yards per carry. An injury to Cooper Kupp will further limit their offensive production. Carolina has some defensive injuries of their own, but they rank 17th in defensive DVOA despite facing the 12th-most difficult schedule of offenses.
~~Week 5 statistics thread starts here~~
The worst passing offense on early downs is the…Rams? pic.twitter.com/5jsqHFzitM
— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 11, 2022
Meanwhile, the Panthers are starting P.J. Walker this week, and their offense that ranks 31st in DVOA and 32nd in EPA might be even worse with him under center. While the Rams have had struggles, they still rank second in the NFL in run defense EPA. A one-dimensional Walker offense is going to be brutal. The only reason this is a half-unit play and not a full unit is Walker’s 6.3% interception rate is awful and could result in short fields or even a defensive touchdown for the Rams. Still, I have a hard time seeing this game get past the mid-30s in points.
Buccaneers vs. Steelers Over 46: While the Steelers lost 38-3 last week, their offense actually moved the ball fairly well. They had 364 yards of total offense and got to the red-zone four times, but they stalled out each time with two missed field goals and two turnovers on downs. In Week 5, Kenny Pickett led the Steelers to the fifth-ranked offense in EPA per dropback, and he excelled against the blitz as he went 7-9 with 7.1 yards per attempt and a 55% success rate. The Bucs blitz at the fifth-highest rate on early downs, so Pickett should find some success.
So nice to see a #Steelers WR use his size and highpoint the football, making a play in the air through contact. George Pickens has vice grips for hands, especially in these situations. Nice pitch and catch from Kenny Pickett to Pickens here. pic.twitter.com/ahnbKFyQBL
— Josh Carney (@ByJoshCarney) October 12, 2022
On the other side, the Buccaneers have basically abandoned the run game as they rank 27th in adjusted line yards and 29th in rushing DVOA. Meanwhile, Tom Brady leads the NFL in passing success rate and TD-INT ratio over the last two weeks as his receiving corps has gotten healthier. Pittsburgh will be without Cameron Sutton, Akhello Witherspoon, and Levi Wallace – their top three cornerbacks – along with star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick this week, so Brady should have success through the air.