Back in 2011, I took up the role as bookie at an illegal poker game. Never huge bets, but consistent action and with mostly people who were really good. But there were always two guys who always rubbed me the wrong way. I really disliked them. I took the action because they were terrible gamblers. Eventually, they became terrible gamblers who didn’t like paying their tabs. Eventually they became terrible gamblers who didn’t like paying their tabs and stopped taking phone calls. Eventually, they became terrible gamblers who didn’t like paying their tabs and stopped taking my calls while also gambling on nights I wasn’t there with money they owed me.
After the 2011 season, I quit taking bets, because I wasn’t the type of guy who was gonna show up with a baseball bat and lean on someone to get my money. I think about those idiots on weeks like last week, when I got absolutely destroyed in my picks. Let’s get to Week 6!
New York Giants (+17) at New England Patriots
Full stop, I don’t have any confidence in the Giants scoring more than 10 points in this game, seven of which will most likely be in garbage time. Some New York fans are hoping this will be a big national coming out party for Daniel Jones. If he is able to slay the eternal dragon that is the Patriots, then Manhattan will rename Park Avenue as “Danny Dimes Way.”
Now, I definitely don’t think the Giants are beating the Patriots. But, I do have a pretty good feel for how Thursday games go, and teams don’t tend to get enough separation. It’s been beaten into the ground at this point that teams don’t have enough time to recover from Sunday games to be ready for Thursday. There is truth to it, though. I wouldn’t bother betting the Patriots to win straight up (-1200) unless you were going into a massive parlay to make it worth your while. They are going to win, but that’s not the point. I like the Giants with the points specifically because this is Thursday night football, and despite all the variance, teams tend to play each other tight.
Carolina Panthers (-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you had told me at the beginning of the season how excited I’d be for this game, I’d have called you a liar, and then probably shot you on sight, because I’m not mentally prepared for the concept of time travel, and in turn time-traveling gamblers.
This game is going to be fun, though! The Buccaneers have been putting up numbers through the air at an impressive pace so far. They have been as prolific through the air as they have been gawd awful at stopping the pass on defense. Over the past four games, the Bucs’ defense has given up 370 yards and two touchdowns per game. On average. As in, each game that is the baseline for what a quarterback does. On the other side, Christian McCaffrey is on pace for over 450 touches on offense this season. That is psychotic to think about. He is going to get nearly 30 touches per game at this rate.
This would be a good game to tether down McCaffrey touching the ball and really see if Kyle Allen can let loose in this offense. DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel have fared much better with Allen over Cam Newton, and let’s get it in while we can, because eventually Newton will come back and go back to aggressively throwing footballs at receivers’ feet.
Also worth noting is that this game is being played in London, and is being given the more traditionally 8:30 AM start time (CST), which is thrilling for all of you guys, who get to watch NFL football while you eat breakfast. I, on the other hand, will be in Hawaii, where this game will be going off at 3:30 in the morning. I’ll still be watching, because I’m a damn lunatic. The line is Panthers giving two, but I’m actually a fan of getting creative. Bovada allows you to go into alternate lines, which extend some spreads out further. They are laying 5 to 1 odds if you are willing to bet that the third quarter is the highest scoring quarter. You can parlay that with the over at 48 points, and then bet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win straight up (+110). Basically I’m saying the Bucs are going to win a high scoring game.
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Cleveland Browns
Any team can Browns all over themselves. But it’s never quite as authentic as when the Cleveland Browns go and Browns all over themselves. On Monday night, they were exposed horribly by a 49ers team that beat them so badly, it actually hurt San Francisco in the public eye. The Browns were so lethargically bad throughout that people are wondering if the 49ers actually beat a decent team, or another garbage team, meaning that the Niners hadn’t played anybody yet this season.
It’s pretty impressive when a national television bed crapping hurts both teams, but here we are.
On the other end, the Seahawks have had a long week to recover after a big victory over the Rams on Thursday night. They aren’t specifically dealing with any major injuries, and should have their full arsenal on offense. Chris Carson might have a huge game, judging by how efficiently and seemingly effortlessly the 49ers ran the ball down the Browns throats on Monday. Also, every other aspect of this team is aggressively bad, so the Seahawks could be in a position to put up a 40 spot.
I’m selling the Browns hard until they can prove that they can actually string together 60 minutes of competent football more than once a month. I’ll take the Seahawks giving points on the road.
Philadelphia Eagles (+3) at Minnesota Vikings
A team getting three points on the road is a dead giveaway that Vegas thinks these are completely evenly matched teams. As always with the Vikings, the decision to bet on them or against them falls to one stat: opponent’s rushing defense. As I’ve breathlessly said since the beginning of time, Kirk Cousins is completely dependent on his running game if he wants to win. He’s also completely dependent on never being behind in a game, which is muerte for him.
Very unfortunately for Cousins, the Eagles have the best run defense in the NFL. They are only giving up 61 yards per game on the road. The running backs they have played this year include Le’Veon Bell, Aaron Jones, and Kerryon Johnson, so they have been tested a bit. If the Eagles shut down Dalvin Cook early, the Vikings will fall apart.
Obviously I’m taking Philly with the points, in spite of the fact that I have little to no faith in the Eagles passing game.
Cincinnati Bengals (+11) at Baltimore Ravens
WHY IS THIS LINE SO LOW??? The Ravens are the better team by a country mile. If this line was 17 points, I’d have looked at it for a minute, then nodded and agreed that it was probably accurate. This is giving the Bengals the benefit of two extra field goals. Cincinnati is 31st in the NFL against the run, and they are up against arguably the best running attack in the NFL. We are looking at the distinct possibility of multiple hundred yard runners for Baltimore.
Don’t over think it. Take the Ravens at home, and if you can get some kind of under/over on rushing yards, just take the over on that, too.
New Orleans Saints (+1) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Look, I love Gardner Minshew as much, if not more, than every Natty Light swilling, Big Mac eating American out there, but this line is absurd. The Saints are probably the best team in the NFC. The Jags just happen to be the most fun story. The only way this line makes sense is if Jalen Ramsey dropped his trade demands, and then cloned himself three times, creating the ultimate Mecha-Ramsey secondary.
This is probably the last game the Saints are going to have to pay without Drew Brees, and Teddy Bridgewater is going to want to let loose a little bit and keep himself fresh in everyone’s memories. He is already coming off a four touchdown week last week.
The Jaguars are coming off a loss to the Panthers. I’m not sure what the home field advantage is, as Jacksonville is an armpit of a city with a bunch of TGI Friday’s slapped in there. I’d honestly jump at this line as fast as possible before it moves too much, but I do think the Saints win comfortably, so I’ll obviously take them plus the point or straight up, whichever is giving better odds.
Washington (-3.5) at Miami Dolphins
Here is a partial list of the things I’d rather be doing than watch this game:
*Get a root canal with no anesthetic
*Have one of those low rider cars that bounce up and down land directly on my balls.
*Go through puberty again
*slip n slide through battery acid
*Fist fight Mike Tyson
*Get stuck in a porta john then have it tip over
*Attend a Britney Spears concert
*Get shot out of a cannon directly at a brick wall
*Catch VD from riding a mechanical bull bottomless
If you want to bet on this game, have fun. I’m gonna go about pretending it doesn’t exist because neither of these teams really deserves to.
Houston Texans (+4.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
Last week felt like the first time since opening night that the Texans offense had been really unleashed into the world. My concern is that they can’t keep it up two weeks in a row. The Chiefs, on the other hand, haven’t been able to bludgeon their opponents in back to back games, but have more history of turning it on.
The public seems to think that this game is going to be high scoring. I’m going to zag on this where others are zigging, This game isn’t going to be high scoring, and I think the game ends by a touchdown or less. I literally figured out who i’m going to choose in the most scientific way possible: I flipped a coin. Take the Texans getting the points.
San Francisco 49ers (+3) at Los Angeles Rams
The 49ers are real, apparently. Or are they? After the game on Monday, they beat up the Browns so badly that the conversation swung from “The 49ers are real!” to “Are the 49ers real?” They actually beat up Cleveland so badly that people downgraded how good they thought the Browns are, and in turn dragged down the 49ers, who were beating them up in the first place.
The Rams lost a close game last Thursday night to a very good Seattle team. The issue is, the Rams defense has looked bad to the point of being pathetic at various points over the past few weeks. They really haven’t done anything to fix the defense in the ensuing 11 days. San Francisco has so much random running back depth that they can just run wave after wave of anonymous running back at the Rams and wear them down. Jimmy Garappolo is just good enough to make the Rams pay. I’ve been hesitant to jump on the 49ers bandwagon all season, but i’ll give it to them this week. I’ll take the 49ers getting the points.
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
It really needs to be pointed out that the Falcons are an absolute garbage team who don’t deserve anyone’s time or energy. They are a football vortex of awful. They suck the fun out of the game like a black hole, in which no form of competent football escapes.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have been playing teams close all season and even got their first win last week. Once they got their first one, a few more were bound to come down. Kyler Murray is starting to play with confidence in spite of the fact that he has to run for his life every game because his offensive line is nothing more than a bunch of nine-year-olds on each other’s shoulders, wearing trench coats.
I really genuinely hate the Falcons coaching staff with the fury of 1000 suns. I’m going to pick against them, and I know they are going to burn me. But I also know that if I bet on them, they are going to lose by 20. So screw it. I’ll take the Cardinals with the points at home.
Dallas Cowboys (-7.5) at New York Jets
Ugghhhhh. The Cowboys have absolutely ruined me the past couple weeks. The Jets have been one of the most pleasant teams to bet against in the NFL this year. The Jets have Sam Darnold back. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still garbage, but at least they have their starting quarterback.
The Cowboys tripped all over themselves to prove they weren’t actually good the moment they were forced to play decent football teams. If the Cowboys offensive line isn’t healthy, then Dak Prescott looks like Blake Bortles with the pocket presence of Mitch Trubisky. Neither of those things are compliments. Tyron Smith did not practice on Wednesday and Zack Martin only got light work in.
I’m allowed to stay away from games, and i’m definitely staying away, even though a smaaaall part of me really, really wants to take the Jets.
Screw it, take the Jets.
Tennessee Titans (+2) at Denver Broncos
Not wasting any of your time talking about these two teams. They are both a less interesting version of the Falcons. Take the Titans getting points on the road.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+7) at Dogtown Chargers
It really says something about what Vegas thinks of the Chargers that they are at home, against a team on the verge of starting a third string quarterback out of Samford university. That team is 1-4. They have absolutely zero running game. Their top receiver has been a disappointment this season. They had to give up a first round pick next year which will probably fall in the top 10 just so they could shore up their cornerback situation. The Steelers have all of that going against them. AND THE CHARGERS STILL CAN’T GET MORE THAN A TOUCHDOWN AT HOME!!
Melvin Gordon should pretty well be back to one hundred percent ready to play this week and that spells good things for the Chargers, who can run Austin Ekeler in a more natural position for him, which is a sort of Darren Sproles style swiss army knife role for the offense. Philip Rivers has weapons, and Hunter Henry is getting close to being ready to play again. So why have the Chargers been so disappointing this season?
There are a few easy answers. First, no team suffered worse from preseason and early season injuries than the Chargers secondary. Then, once the season started, they lost two key offensive linemen in Mike Pouncey and Russell Okung. On top of that, top pass rusher Melvin Ingram has been slowed by a hamstring injury. Every year, one team is snakebitten by injuries, and it sure looks like that team is the Chargers this year.
Second, maybe Philip Rivers is just showing his age. The 2004 draft is going to go down as one of the best of all time in terms of top 10 quarterbacks. Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both collected Super Bowl rings and had great careers, but at this point, neither is a lock to ever play another NFL game. Rivers seemed to be defying the laws of aging. Things might be starting to crumble for Rivers, though: He is throwing touchdown passes at the lowest percentage of his career. His yards per attempt, air yards per attempt, and QBR are the lowest they have been in years. It might be time to start selling Philip Rivers stock.
I still think the Chargers win, but I like the Steelers getting a touchdown.
Detroit Lions (+4) at Green Bay Packers
This is a damn fine Monday Night Football game. Damn fine. In spite of their comically bad coaching, i’m starting to believe in the Lions. They have great line play and their cornerbacks are among the best unit in all of football. The Packers have an emphatic win against the Cowboys under their belts last week, in which they look like a team that doesn’t need to survive strictly on Aaron Rodgers’ arm.
There is actually momentum for the Lions in terms of betting, because this line started with the Lions getting six points, and so many people hit that line, that it’s now been lowered a full two points. My guess is that late money comes in on the Packers and this line settles at five points.
Honestly, I hate to say it, but I think i’m going to bet the Lions with the points on national television.
You can follow Brandon on Twitter @theBman
Brandon is also the founder of Fancy Boys Club