By Joel Wirth
I was worried that there wouldn’t be many line differences to talk about with byes coming, but we’ve got eight this week. So more chances to get that record to where we want it!
Standard disclaimer – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article. Guess the Line (“GTL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set. Chosen games are those with a multiple point variance between the Vegas and Analytic Lines.
Before we talk about Week 6, we’ll do a quick recap of Week 5. Last week, ELO hung around .500. I, unfortunately, did not.
LA Rams at Seattle
ELO and I both thought the Seahawks should be favored as the home team on a short week. Russell Wilson’s busted finger made sure that wouldn’t happen, but Seattle wasn’t inspiring confidence before that happened either. Note to Seattle defensive coaching staff: When the opposing team runs the same play repeatedly, and you still can’t stop it, you have a problem. The name of that problem is Jamal Adams Can’t Cover!
New Orleans at Washington
I was the only one who thought Washington should be favored. I was wrong. A.) I’m done thinking the WFT defense will come around. B.) I should have paid attention to my own advice that New Orleans is an every-other-week team.
Philadelphia at Carolina
ELO and I both liked Carolina against the Vegas number. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the specter of Adam Gase era Sam Darnold made an encore appearance Sunday.
Tennessee at Jacksonville
My one win last week. ELO and I both liked the road favorites, and they came through. So betting against Jacksonville feels safe until the lines adjust to the fact that the players hate their coach.
New England at Houston
I was right about one thing; I cannot possibly be correct when picking Pats games. From now on, I’m George Costanza with them. Whatever I think, take the opposite.
Green Bay at Cincinnati
The Upset of the Week pick will go down as one of the craziest pushes of all time. The Packers and Bengals took the “Let’s get rid of kickers” argument from fantasy football to real football. For those of you wondering, I did not, in fact, need to be electro-shocked during or after the game, but I appreciate your concern.
Last week: My picks, 1- 4-1; Analytics, 3-2-1
Season: My picks, 8-18-1; Analytics, 14-12-1
Game of the Week AND (Vegas Line) Upset of the Week
Minnesota at Carolina – Analytic Line: CAR (-1.5), Vegas Line: CAR (+1), PL: CAR (-3)
Hold on, hold on. So Minnesota, a historically bad team on the road, almost blew a home game to Detroit last week, and has a head coach and quarterback who want to fight each other, is laying points against a team with a winning record? How far is it to the nearest legal sportsbook, and how much is gas right now? I need to calculate some EV.
Verdict: Normally, when I see a Vegas line that favors the team I think should be a dog, I ask myself what incorrect approach I’m taking to that game. Not here. Side note: There will be a celebrity boxing match between Mike Zimmer and Kirk Cousins at some point, right? Somebody’s got to have enough money to make this happen. Please,… I ask for so little.
Miami at Jacksonville in London – Analytic Line: JAX (+5.5), Vegas Line: JAX (+3.5), PL: JAX (+2.5)
See above. Vegas still isn’t respecting how much Jacksonville hates their coach.
Verdict: It looks like the Jacoby Brissett Experience will mercifully come to an end. Tua’s going to look like Johnny Unitas in comparison.
LA Rams at NY Giants – Analytic Line: NYG (+6), Vegas Line: NYG (+10.5), PL: NYG (+7)
Long time (i.e., three to four week) readers of this column should remember that west coast teams have done abnormally well in early window eastern time zone games this year. So, I’m going to disagree with ELO and say that trend continues this week.
Verdict: The Giants are just beat up. I don’t generally like laying double-digits, but Mike Glennon could give Brissett a run for his money in a Bad QB-Off.
Houston at Indianapolis – Analytic Line: Indy (-12.5), Vegas Line: Indy (-9.5), PL: Indy (-5.5)
I thought this line would be shorter with Indy playing on a short week, coming off a brutal loss on Monday night. Two one-win teams who, inconceivably, still have a chance to win their awful division. Elimination game in Week 6?
Verdict: It’s always tough gauging how a team will react to a loss like the Colts had Monday. Do they feel sorry for themselves and shrink up, or do they want to get back out on the field and bite someone’s kneecaps (don’t @ me, Dan Campbell)? Houston looked respectable against the Pats last week, but that was at home, and required a lot of smoke and mirrors trickeration. The Colts will take their frustrations out on the Texans.
Green Bay at Chicago – Analytic Line: CHI (+3), Vegas Line: CHI (+4.5), PL: CHI (+3.5)
Dammit, ELO, quit making me make picks on my favorite team! Can I say Push? No?
Verdict: I’m not fooled by the Bears winning in Vegas last week. That team had some things going on in the background. The Packers need to bank all the wins they can before their schedule gauntlet starts in a couple of weeks. They should take care of business here.
Arizona at Cleveland – Analytic Line: CLE (-1), Vegas Line: CLE (-2.5), PL: CLE (-1.5)
I’m torn on this game. Arizona is unbeaten but keeps playing with fire and not getting burned. On the other hand, Cleveland has to be the most inconsistent team in the league, game to game, half to half. How do you have a game with 21 points scored total one week, then 41 in a quarter the next?
Verdict: This is a thread the needle game. I think Cleveland wins, but I’m in no way comfortable laying a FG, so I’ll side with ELO on the Cards.
Dallas at New England – Analytic Line: NE (+1), Vegas Line: NE (+4.5), PL: NE (+3.5)
I know, I know, I said I would Costanza the Pats from now on, but…
Verdict: I look at this game and think there’s no way Mac Jones can hang with Dak and the Pokes offense. I know the defense frustrated Brady, but they just made Davis freaking Mills look competent (almost). I’m sticking with my gut on this one. (Remembers it’s Mike McCarthy vs. Bill Belichick…) Stop trying to confuse me, brain; I’m sticking with Dallas!
Seattle at Pittsburgh – Analytic Line: PIT (-2.5), Vegas Line: PIT (-4.5), PL: PIT (-3)
Speaking of west coast teams going east, Seattle’s traditionally been good in these spots, but they’ve usually been good in general because they have Russell Wilson as their QB.
Verdict: I’m not betting Geno Smith on the road.