Is parity actually hitting the NFL? I know that people like to think that the NFL has parity, and the shorter season does allow for some fluky results. But the facts in recent years don’t really support that. The Patriots have been good forever. The Browns have won 2 of their last 33 games, after being bad for the previous decade. The Bills haven’t been to the playoffs in the lifetimes of people who are seniors in high school now. The Packers and Seahawks have been among the NFC powers for pretty much the last decade. Pittsburgh has been good for awhile
But with Rodgers’ injury, and New England suddenly being unable to stop anyone, you can make a pretty good argument that this year is wide open. Everybody is within one win of a playoff spot entering week 7 in the AFC, except for the Browns. The same is true in the NFC except for the Giants and 49ers.
And while we believe that the Patriots will figure it out and that the Seahawks will turn it on in the second half, the confidence of those beliefs is not as rock-stout as past seasons. The top 4 by simple rating system (point difference + schedule) right now are KC, Philly, New Orleans, and Jacksonville. Cincinnati, as you’ll see below, is somehow first in net passing yard per play differential despite starting the season with 9 points in two games. I’d take the field over any three teams you wanted to take to win the Super Bowl right now.
Last Week: 8-6 ATS
Season: 45-30-1 ATS
Kansas City (-3) at Oakland
Yes, Oakland has their backs against the wall, and yes, Kansas City looks vulnerable against the run. I’m not, however, ready to assume that Oakland is the team to do it. This offense has not been right. Kansas City has looked the much better team and has not lost on the road since before they played Oakland last year. Chiefs -3.
SUNDAY AT 1 PM
Tennessee (-6) at Cleveland
The Titans have allowed 13 passing touchdowns. The last time they were a favorite of at least 6 points on the road was last year at Chicago, where they won but did not cover. Before that, you have to go back to 2011, when they were upset by the woeful Colts the year Peyton Manning was out. The last time the franchise covered a line that big on the road was Thanksgiving 2008. No one believes in the Browns, for good reason, but I don’t trust the Titans and think this is a win/no cover. Browns +6.
Jacksonville (-3) at Indianapolis
Leonard Fournette is banged up, and we wait to see whether he will play. The Colts just found out that Andrew Luck got a cortisone injection, which means he is several weeks away from even potentially coming back. It looks more and more like this is Jacoby Brissett’s team for the rest of the year. I love the Jaguars defense but do not trust the passing game, and the Colts should have covered last week. Colts +3.
Cincinnati (-5.5) at Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh ran the ball down Kansas City’s throat last week, while the Bengals were on the bye. But I love the Bengals getting the points this week. The horrific start to the year threw some people off, but since they lost the first two games while scoring 9 points, the Bengals have covered the last three games. They are providing value.
And it might surprise you to learn which team has the better passing efficiency differential, by a large margin. Cincinnati is 1st in net yards per pass on D, and 11th on offense, and first overall. Pittsburgh’s passing game has not been right all year, and the Bengals D won’t get run over. With a week of prep, I like Joe Mixon to have a breakout game and the Bengals +5.5.
Baltimore (+5.5) at Minnesota
Big game for fans of purple here. Also, big game if you like to see Case Keenum outduel Joe Flacco. The play is probably the under with Stefon Diggs also likely out, but Vikings -5.5.
New York Jets (+3) at Miami
The Miami Dolphins are somehow 3-2 while pretty much having no offense for like 80% of the games they’ve played in. They, along with Baltimore, are 3-2 while averaging less than 5 net yards per pass. The last time they played at home, Jay Cutler spent the game getting booed (and they won!). Miami has won 3 games while averaging 12 points a game.
The last team to start with a winning record after 5 games while scoring this few was Denver in 2006 (they started 4-1 and held teams to 37 total points), and that team finished 5-6 to just missed the playoffs. Before that, you have to go back to 1998 Pittsburgh.
So anyway, I guess I like the underdog here because the underdog seemingly always wins in this series. Jets +3.
Tampa Bay (OFF) at Buffalo
The line is currently off the board, but will be somewhere near a field goal in favor of Buffalo depending on whether Jameis Winston is playing or not.
If Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start, he gets to return to his glory days, where he made the highest number of starts while never appearing in a playoff game.
Carolina (-3) at Chicago
Mitchell Trubisky completed 8 passes in last week’s win at Baltimore, so we are one more victory while completing a handful of passes from him being declared a “winner.” It’s meant to be. Bears +3.
New Orleans (-4.5) at Green Bay
The Brett Hundley era begins here. I don’t know if the fanbases from 30 other franchises can work up any sympathy for Packers fans here.
Arizona (+3) vs LA Rams in London
Arizona and Los Angeles have some of the longest travel schedules possible, so it makes perfect sense that the shortest road trip for each should be uprooted and sent to London. The good news is all the LA fans can go to the Chargers game instead. Rams -3.
SUNDAY AT 4:05/4:25 PM
Dallas (-6) at San Francisco
San Francisco has lost 5 straight games by 3 or less. That’s why I’m taking the Cowboys -6. Logic, and C.J. Beathard in his first start.
Seattle (-5.5) at NY Giants
The Giants finally got rid of that distraction Odell Beckham and got a victory. Can they win two in a row? Probably not, but I don’t yet trust Seattle’s offense on the road, since it’s not November. Giants +5.5.
Denver (+1) at LA Chargers
I’m taking the Chargers on the road and playing against them when they play in a soccer stadium packed out by opposing fans. Carson is going to look like the Dutch are in town on Sunday. Broncos +1.
Atlanta (+3.5) at New England
I decided to lay points with New England last week, after going against them most other weeks. Dummy. This team just isn’t right yet, and the defense is still a concern.
Meanwhile, Atlanta lost to both Buffalo and Miami at home on either side of a bye week. They blew a 17-0 lead to Jay Cutler. Pretty hard to do. Neither side inspires confidence, but I think Atlanta is closer. Falcons +3.5.
Washington (+4.5) at Philadelphia
The home team is 14-18 SU in this series going back to 2002, and 12-19-1 ATS. That includes Philadelphia winning on the road in Week 1. The Eagles are coming off the elation of being the top team in the NFC after six weeks. Washington is coming off a bye week. Washington +4.5.