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Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I begin my third season writing this column. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?
As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.
The favorites went 11-4 straight up and 9-6 against the spread this past week, indicating that Vegas has finally reached a comfortable point in setting the lines. With each new data point, we take a step closer to knowing these teams better and getting a fuller picture. While there were a few underdogs of note to cover and win outright (Chicago, Buffalo, Philadelphia), these were the exceptions. Let’s see what awaits us in Week 6.
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
(Thursday Night) TAMPA BAY (-7) at PHILADELPHIA (Over/Under 52)
Five games in and Tom Brady is casually tossing touchdowns to anyone who is willing to be at the other end of his defense-splitting passes. Antonio Brown looked like he had found the fountain of youth with his jet-setting catch and run touchdown, and that makes an already scary Bucs offense even more daunting. There are still weaknesses for Tampa Bay defensively, but the Eagles are not the offense to exploit it.
While Philadelphia’s brass will certainly be encouraged by the result of the game against the Panthers, the more sober-minded analysts among them will be alarmed by the offensive inefficiency. Jalen Hurts looked lost at times and the offensive approach remains safe and slightly gimmicky. What the Eagles do have is a fearsome front seven on defense; that may be an edge they can exploit here. The Bucs are certainly liable to a let-down game after last week, but it is tough to back the Eagles to deliver that.
Pick: Tampa Bay
(London) MIAMI (-3.5) at JACKSONVILLE (Over/Under 45.5)
The return of Tua Tagovailoa could be coming at the perfect time for a dazed and confused Dolphins team that is lacking any momentum. Then again, at 1-4 this could be a spot where the young quarterback presses too much and ends up hurting his team. No matter how you slice it, these next few games are critical for Tagovailoa’s future in Miami – and for the team’s development. Vegas has them as 3.5-point favorites in London, a somewhat puzzling line considering their recent run.
The number could have more to do with the lackluster Jaguars who, along with the Lions, have yet to record their first win of the season. Trevor Lawrence has not quite hit the heights many expected – yet – and while the team can hang for a while, inevitably they slip up late and give up points in bunches. The Jaguars have a sizeable following in London, so this could feel like home-field advantage. Will it matter? Perhaps not, but the +3.5 is enough to take a punt.
HOUSTON at INDIANAPOLIS (-10) (Over/Under 43)
Davis Mills put on quite the show on Sunday, shocking the Patriots for long spells with his solid play before his team eventually succumbed to a narrow defeat. The Texans may not have much star-caliber talent, but they certainly play hard under David Culley. They will have to pull out a few tricks this week to knock off the Colts, however.
Indianapolis is the very definition of a desperate squad after the heart-breaking defeat on Monday night condemned them to a 1-4 start. They went toe to toe with the Ravens and arguably should have put the game to bed earlier, but alas it wasn’t to be. Even with the mountain they have to climb, however, they are still two games back on the division-leading Titans in the standings. This week is a ‘get well’ game on paper, so expect a fired-up Colts team to lay the wood.
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