They say the trend is your friend. Well, we're having trouble finding friends, as we scour the NFL week six betting lines.
Many teams give you a glimpse of stardom one week and flop the next. A look Between the Lines reveals inconsistency.
The Eagles manhandled the Giants last night 34-13, finally covering the number for the first time since week one.
Last Sunday, Tennessee burped in Buffalo, losing 13-12 after having knocked off the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles and the Jacksonville Jags.
Carolina, which had covered against the Cincinnati Bengals, blew a 14-point lead and beat the Giants on the last play. But the line was 7, which they didn't hit.
Baltimore had scored 26 points and throttled Pittsburgh in week four. One Sunday later, they tally 9 and lose in Cleveland. The Washington Redskins, who had recently dumped Green Bay, should have had their flight tickets refunded to New Orleans on Monday night. Were they even there? 43-19 says no, they weren’t.
Finding momentum is hard in the NFL as we look at some intriguing matchups this week. Cincinnati gives 2.5 to Pittsburgh, which just scored more than 40 points against Atlanta. The Los Angeles Chargers give 1 to the Cleveland Browns in a battle of vastly-improved teams. Which Denver and Los Angeles Rams teams show up this week? The Denver team that almost beat Kansas City or the one scorched last week by the Jets? The Rams team that was blowing everybody out or the one that nearly got beat by Seattle?
That's why they call it gambling.
Storylines this week
With teams still establishing trends, you may have to make some moves this week without the usual confidence. Nonetheless, a marquis barnburner awaits on Sunday night. Kansas City, 5-0, visits the rehabilitating New England Patriots, who give a tantalizing 3.5 points.
Other considerations: Baltimore plays its third straight road game. New England plays its third straight home game. Biggest line move of the week was Houston giving Buffalo 8.5 and then 10. Do you trust the Jekyll and Hyde Bills, who have beaten two very good teams via Minnesota and Tennessee? The Texans won two straight games in overtime. That's a big number to cover if Buffalo shows up.
And the books are getting wise. We've detailed the upgraded NFL scoring, attributed to rules allowing receivers to get open more easily and roughing-the-passer calls that have diminished pass rushes. Four over-unders opened in the 50s this week, including Los Angeles Rams-Denver (52), Cincinatti-Pittsburgh (53), Atlanta-Tampa Bay (57) and New England-Kansas City (a whopping 59.5).
There are road trips and monumental road trips. Two West Coast teams - Seattle and Oakland - traveled all the way to England for this Sunday showdown. Technically, it's a home game for Oakland. Bear that in mind later for Seattle, which will have a favorable home schedule.
Wanna know how tough it is to predict an outcome versus the spread? After five weeks, 21 of the league's 32 teams have won either twice or three times against the betting line, which means that most of the league is a crapshoot. The exceptions on both sides: Kansas City is technically 5-0 but if you'd bet them midweek vs. Denver it would have been a loss. Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit are 4-1. On the flip side, the worst team is Denver, listed at 0-4-1 although an early pick vs. the Chiefs would have been a win.
Picks this week
Excerpted from the Beat the Degenerates hour, which I host along with Scott Cronick, Director of Entertainment Publications for the Press of Atlantic City/Atlantic City Weekly. Listen to next week’s show 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND, 92.5-FM, WONDRadio.com and the Tune In app.
Bontempo: Patriots minus 3.5 on the hunch theory that Kansas City is due to hit the wall.
Cronick: Already in the bank. He took the Eagles last night against the Giants and walked home.
David Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City's Eagles beat writer: Houston minus 10 vs. Buffalo. And he loved it.
Listener Pick: Mark from Egg Harbor Township loves the Chargers -1 against the Cleveland Browns. There is also a lot of sentiment for Seattle -2.5 against Oakland.
We love the interjection of the listeners, who are not only 3-1 against the spread (better than us) but are calling in during subsequent weeks to give us their thoughts. One nugget they gave us: teams that cover on Thursday nights generally don't do so the next time out. Teams that fail to cover are successful the next week. That means the Patriots are in trouble and the Colts will cover against the Jets, according to them.
Keep the input coming in. We love the discussion, and multiple angles.
Updated Lines this week, with over-under totals in parentheses
Seattle -2.5 AT Oakland, in London (48.5)
Washington -2 Carolina (44.5)
Minnesota -10.5 Arizona (43)
Chicago -3.5 Miami (42)
Houston -10 Buffalo (41)
NY Jets -2.5 Indianapolis (45)
Los Angeles Chargers -1 AT Cleveland (45)
Cincinnati -2.5 Pittsburgh (53)
Atlanta -3.5 Tampa Bay (57)
Los Angeles Rams -6.5 Denver (52)
Baltimore -2.5 Tennessee (41)
Jacksonville -3 Dallas (40.5)
New England -3.5 Kansas City 59.5
Green Bay -9.5 San Francisco (46.5)
Week 5 in review
The Eagles let people down in a 23-21 loss to the Vikings as a 3-point favorite. Of course they gave up seven points on a strip-sack TD, another touchdown after a horrid roughing-the-passer call and they fumbled inside the Minnesota five. The only consolation was Eagles announcer Merrill Reese saying they were playing pre-season football and that they were awful. He was too kind. I lost that pick.
Cronick triumphed with Kansas City covering handily against Jacksonville. Our listener prevailed, picking Pittsburgh against Atlanta as a 3-point fave and they locked that up.
Weinberg notched a comeback win for Cincinnati, which scored two fourth-quarter defensive touchdowns to catch Miami, 27-17.
Our guest degenerate last week, Fairway Jay from Las Vegas, fashioned a 1-1 split. He officially lost picking Washington plus 6.5 at New Orleans, but made a nice call picking Cleveland plus 3 against Baltimore and the Browns triumphed outright.
And while the Browns may have a bad week now and then, they are officially no longer bad. They might even be pretty good.
The entire NFC East lost last week. The Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Redskins give signs that a losing record could win this division.
Isaiah Crowell delivered the league's longest run from scrimmage this year, 77 yards in a run against the Broncos. It started the Jets to a nice win. But now he has an ankle injury and did not practice Thursday. Will he even play Sunday?
Graham Gano kicked a 63-yard field goal to give Carolina a last-second triumph over the Giants.
Mason Crosby, one of the league's best kickers ever, missed five, count -em, five kicks against the Detroit Lions as the Packers lost 31-23. Did we say inconsistency?
Good luck picking this week.