Sports | October 15, 2021 6:33 am

Expert NFL Picks for Week 6 Including Packers-Bears, Chargers-Ravens and Cardinals-Browns

Kevin Rogers of VegasInsider, Borgata sportsbook director Tom Gable and VSiN sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum offer their insights

Aaron Rodgers gets ready to snap the ball
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets ready to snap the ball against the Bears.
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty

This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the football season.

For this edition of Best Bets, Kevin Rogers, a veteran handicapper for VegasInsider.com, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, and sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN share their opinions on five Week 6 games, including a divisional matchup between the Packers and Bears and the Cowboys heading to New England with a chance to put the Patriots’ playoff hopes on life support.

You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.

Green Bay Packers (-5, O/U 44) at Chicago Bears


A compelling matchup because … the top teams in the NFC North, the Packers and the Bears both head into this game riding winning streaks. The lowest-scoring team in the NFC with only 84 points on the season, the Bears have turned to a running offense behind mobile rookie quarterback Justin Fields. The Packers are leading the division, but have been a bit shaky and cannot be all that confident in kicker Mason Crosby, who missed three field goals and an extra point last week.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Packers (4-1 SU, 4-1 against the spread) have rebounded to win four straight after getting blitzed by the Saints in Week 1. Green Bay just edged Cincinnati 25-22, covering as 2-point road favorites. Meanwhile, the plucky Bears (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) have won two straight games behind rookie QB Justin Fields, most recently winning 20-9 outright as 5.5-point road dogs. This line opened with the Packers listed as a 4-point road favorite. The public is rushing to the window to lay the points and back Aaron Rodgers, which has moved the line. Divisional dogs are 55% ATS over the past two seasons. I’ll buy low on the Bears at home with an inflated contrarian line.

Gable’s Guess: The Bears employed a run-first game plan against the Raiders last week and rushed the ball 37 times for over 140 yards. Fields hyperextended his knee, but it looks like he will be playing this week. He threw his first regular-season touchdown last week, but I think the most impressive takeaway for Chicago was the defensive effort. They have 18 sacks on the season, which leads the league. They held the Raiders to under 300 yards in Week 5, the first time this season anyone has done that. So the defense for Chicago is looking good. The Packers were missing a lot of players (including three of their five starting offensive linemen) last week and they were still able to get the job done. I think Green Bay’s defense will be the key to how far this team will be able to go this year. Their job for this week is to stop the run. Chicago’s done a good job of controlling the clock lately and I think their defense could be troublesome for Green Bay’s depleted offensive line. I want the under in this spot.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Green Bay has rebounded from that ugly opening week loss to New Orleans. Two of the Pack’s four victories have come on the road, including their close-shave triumph at Cincinnati in overtime last week. The Bears are starting to put it together under their rookie quarterback, who led Chicago to back-to-back wins over Detroit and Las Vegas. Chicago is 0-4 in their last four meetings with Green Bay, but the Bears are listed as a home underdog for the first time this season and worth a look to end that skid. Best Bet: Chicago +5.

Our Pick: Green Bay and Chicago both beat Cincy by a field goal. Given that, we’ll take the Bears and those five points.

Los Angeles Chargers (+3, O/U 51.5) at Baltimore Ravens


A compelling matchup because … two MVP candidates, Lamar Jackson for Baltimore and Justin Herbert for Los Angeles, both enter this game coming off high-scoring affairs in Week 5. The Ravens have already played two overtime games and could be headed for a third one against a Chargers team that has yet to lose on the road this season. Baltimore has given up 117 points this season, while LA has given up 116.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Chargers (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS) have won three straight and just edged the Browns 47-42 last week, covering as 2.5-point home favorites. Similarly, the Ravens (4-1 SU, 2-3 ATS) have won four straight, including a big 31-25 come-from-behind win over the Colts last week. This line opened with the Ravens listed as a 3.5-point home favorite. Respected money pounced on the Chargers getting the hook, dropping most books down from 3.5 to 3. Road dogs are 30-19 ATS (61%) this season. Short road dogs +6 or less are 22-8 ATS (73%). Los Angeles also enjoys a rest advantage, as the Ravens are on a short week having played Monday night. Justin Herbert is 6-3 ATS (67%) as a dog in his young career. I’ll take the Chargers and the points.

Gable’s Guess: I think you really have to admire the difference between Anthony Lynn and Brandon Staley coaching the Chargers. He decided to go for it on fourth down three times in the second half on Sunday, including once at his own 24-yard-line in the third quarter when they were down by 14. They converted every time. When you have Herbert at quarterback playing at the level he is, you should be taking those risks. One thing the Chargers haven’t done well is to stop the run. The Browns ran for 230 yards against them in Week 5. Now they face another strong rushing attack in Baltimore. Baltimore has allowed the most big-play touchdowns this year in the NFL, giving up four scores of 40 or more yards. Everything seems to be going right for the Ravens, but things could change on a dime. I’m going to take the points here with the Chargers.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Los Angeles heads east after its wild win over Cleveland. The Chargers’ offense is rolling behind its second-year quarterback and the team has road wins at Washington and Kansas City. The Ravens are fresh off a huge comeback victory over the Colts and Baltimore has already won two home games that should have been losses. The Chargers are 2-0 SU/ATS as a road underdog this season, while going 8-1 SU/ATS in their last nine games since 2020. Best Bet: L.A. Chargers +3.

Our Pick: LA has scored more points and given up fewer than Baltimore. Take the points with the Chargers.

Arizona Cardinals (+3, O/U 49.5) at Cleveland Browns


A compelling matchup because … The NFL’s only unbeaten team heading into Week 6, the Cardinals will need to win their fourth road game of the season in order to make it to Week 7 without a loss. It won’t be easy, as the Browns have yet to lose at home this season and will play three straight in Cleveland starting this week. At +62, the Cardinals have the second best point differential in the league, trailing only the Buffalo Bills (+108).

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Cardinals (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) just edged the 49ers 17-10 last week, covering as 6-point home favorites. On the flip side, the Browns (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) just lost to the Chargers 47-42, failing to cover as 2.5-point road dogs. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for Cleveland. This line opened with the Browns listed as a 3-point home favorite. With most teams receiving a 3-point bump for home-field advantage, oddsmakers are pretty much saying this game would be a pick’em on a neutral field. Early money pounced on Arizona as a dog, dropping the Cardinals from +3 to +2.5. With Chandler Jones out, some Cleveland buyback has pushed the line back up to Browns -3. Short road dogs +3 or less are 11-3 ATS (79%) this season. Kyler Murray is 14-7 ATS (67%) as a dog. Give me the only undefeated team in the NFL plus the points.

Gable’s Guess: The Browns lost a shootout with the Chargers on Sunday, but Baker Mayfield rebounded with a solid game. He passed for 305 yards with two TDs, and if he can keep that level of play going, the Browns will be able to contend this year. The Cardinals gutted out a win against San Francisco last week. That was not easy. Their defense led the way despite not having two of their starting cornerbacks. Murray seemed to be laboring on the sideline with some sort of shoulder or upper body issue there for a little bit, but he’ll play. The Browns haven’t lost back-to-back games under head coach Kevin Stefanski yet. I don’t think this will be the first time. The Cardinals are dealing with too many injuries and I think they’re vulnerable. I’m going to lay the points with the Browns.

Rogers’ Recommendation: The last undefeated team in the NFL heads to Cleveland in the underdog role. It’s hard to deny the success that Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury has in the road underdog role the last three seasons, as he has gone 9-3-2 ATS in that scenario. Arizona has won at Tennessee and Los Angeles so far in blowout fashion, while Cleveland is coming off a tough loss to the Chargers. Mayfield has not played well for the Browns, while Murray is playing like an MVP for Arizona. Best Bet: Arizona +3.

Our Pick: Even on the road, we’ll take the league’s only undefeated team getting points vs. the Browns.

Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, O/U 51) at New England Patriots


A compelling matchup because … the two most valuable franchises in the NFL meet in what could be a coronation party for one and a boot-to-the-throat for the other. Already leading big in the NFC East thanks to the struggles of the rest of the division, the Cowboys have a chance to take a stranglehold of their division. Already trailing the Bills by a mile in the AFC East, the Patriots are winless at home this season in three tries. It’s early, but a fourth failure will damage their playoff hopes, badly.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Cowboys (4-1 SU, 5-0 ATS) have won four straight games after losing the season opener to the Bucs. Dallas just waxed the Giants 44-20, easily covering as 7-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the Patriots (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) just snapped a two-game losing skid with a 25-22 win over the Texans, although New England failed to cover as 8-point road favorites. This line opened with Dallas listed as roughly a 2-point road favorite. The public is hammering Dallas, the only team to cover every number this season. The line rose all the way to Cowboys -4.5 and then a flood of sharp Patriots buyback has dropped it back down to 3.5. I like this contrarian spot with New England and betting against an overvalued 5-0 ATS team. Give me Belichick plus the points.

Gable’s Guess: The Cowboys have been one of the best stories of the season so far. Dak Prescott has been phenomenal. But for me, it’s been their defense that stood out. Last year, they were just plain bad. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has them playing at a high level. They have 10 interceptions this year — six by Trevon Diggs alone — and they only had 10 interceptions all of last season. The defense is almost six points per game better than last year. The Patriots won on Sunday, but did not even come close to covering the spread. It should have been a perfect spot for the Patriots going up against a rookie quarterback, yet they were playing from behind all game. It doesn’t bode well for them here against an offense that is playing the way the Cowboys are. Mac Jones has been decent at quarterback in his rookie season, but the Patriots just aren’t producing any explosive plays. I’m going to keep riding the Cowboys until they give me a reason not to and lay the points.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Dallas is surprisingly the only perfect ATS team this season at 5-0. The Cowboys are a slight favorite against the Patriots, who rallied past the Texans last week to win on the road. Dallas is a chalky look here, but the Cowboys’ offense has been strong this entire season and it will be hard to see Jones and the Pats keep up here, even as a home underdog. Best Bet: Dallas -3.5

Our Pick: In a similar spot against Tampa, the Patriots covered. We’re betting on the same with the Pats and the points.

Seattle Seahawks (+5, O/U 52.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers


A compelling matchup because … with Russell Wilson set to miss extended time thanks to a hand injury, the Seahawks will be rolling with Geno Smith at quarterback for the foreseeable future. Were that not the case, Seattle would likely be favored in this one. As is, the ‘Hawks will head east to take on a Pittsburgh team that may have saved its season last week with a win over the Broncos. Pittsburgh is the only team below .500 in the AFC North.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Seahawks (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) are 1-3 over their last four games and just fell to the Rams 26-17, failing to cover as 2.5-point home dogs. Meanwhile, the Steelers (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) just snapped a three-game losing skid with a 27-19 win over the Broncos, winning outright as 1.5-point home dogs. The look-ahead number with a healthy Wilson was Seahawks -2.5 on the road. However, with Wilson out and Smith starting in his place, this number re-opened at Steelers -3.5 at home. Pros have rushed to the window to lay the points, fading Geno and steaming Pittsburgh from -3.5 to -5. Pittsburgh has value as a non-conference favorite with a line move in their favor. Historically, non-conference matchups have benefited favorites, as the lack of familiarity provides an edge to the “better” team. I’ll lay the points with the Steelers and bet against Smith.

Gable’s Guess:  The big issue here is Seattle being without Wilson. Even with him, the offense is only 13th this year in scoring. They’re averaging 24 points per game, but they’ve gone through long droughts without scoring. It is a significant downgrade from Wilson to Smith at quarterback. When you’re looking at those two, the difference of what they’re worth to the line is six points. There are also lingering injury questions throughout the running back depth chart for Seattle. Pittsburgh finally looked okay offensively on Sunday. Their offensive line played well, which enabled them to have their highest point total and their highest total yards for a game this year. They also had more rushing and passing attempts. It was a nice, complete game for them as a whole, which is what they needed. But now they’ll be without Juju Smith-Schuster due to a shoulder injury. This is a big spot for the Steelers to try to get to .500 on the season. I think this is too short with Wilson out and I’m going to lay the points with the Steelers.

Rogers’ Recommendation: The Seahawks are without their star quarterback, so it’s up to Smith to save Seattle from totally sinking at 2-3 in a matchup with the 2-3 Steelers on Sunday night at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh ended a three-game slide by holding off Denver last Sunday, but the Steelers are 0-2 SU/ATS as a home favorite this season. Seattle is sitting in its biggest underdog spot this season, as the Seahawks are a road underdog for the second time, having already won at San Francisco. Best Bet: Seattle +5.

Our Pick: Smith last started a game in 2017, a loss. Tempted by the under, but we’ll lay the points with Pittsburgh.

Last Week: 3-1-1; Season: 12-12-1

Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, weather reports and other factors. Make sure to double-check odds before betting.