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, Paul Bovi, a sports betting expert from VegasInsider.com who’s been handicapping games for three decades, and Thomas Gable the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, share their opinions on five games on the NFL’s slate of Week 6 matchups, including a critical NFC West showdown between the first-place San Francisco 49ers and third-place Los Angeles Rams.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.
0-5 Redskins (-185, -3.5, O/U 41) at 0-5 Dolphins
In a game that some have dubbed “The Tua Bowl,” two of the worst teams in the NFL will play each other with an inside shot at going 0-16 and drafting Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama on the line. With both teams potentially playing to lose, this could be a painful game to watch (but not to bet on).
Bovi’s take: “The Dolphins revealed a pulse in their loss to the Chargers two weeks ago in succumbing by a mere 20 points, much improved from their average of 39 over the first three games. They averaged four yards per carry in the 30-10 loss while quarterback Josh Rosen was able to find wide receiver Devante Parker for an easy TD in the first half, Miami’s second visit to the end zone this year. Two missed field goals by placekicker Jason Sanders did not help their cause. The ‘Skins will be manned by interim coach Bill Callahan after the firing of Jay Gruden, who exits after compiling a 35-49 record with Washington overall, including 0-5 in 2019. The Redskin offense has managed only 399 yards in its last two games, a pair of losses that saw them outscored by a combined margin of 57-10. With the Redskins in a state of flux and laying points on the road, we’ll side with the Dolphins plus the points at home. “
Gable’s take: “The Dolphins are at home, but they’re actually a 3.5-point underdog right now. If you’re a 3.5 underdog to the Redskins at home, that shows what kind of season you’re having. It’s a tough game to handicap. I think the Redskins are a slightly better team overall, but I don’t really know what to say about this. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of interest from the betting public. I think you’re just going to see this game maybe get included in some parlays. But as far as betting this game straight up, the public just doesn’t trust either team whatsoever. So anything could really happen in this. For the Dolphins, there’s no secret, they are attempting to tank. The Redskins are not. They’re just this bad. And it’s an interesting game to handicap and to look at it, but I just don’t expect to see much straight-up action on this game.”
Our Pick: Bet on both teams struggling and take the under.
3-2 Eagles (+150, +3, O/U 44) at 3-2 Vikings
Last week, the Vikings shook off some inner turmoil and got a road win against an undermanned New York Giants team. The Eagles also beat a NY team, the Jets, and didn’t look great doing it. But, two weeks ago they looked very good during an impressive win over Green Bay on the road on TNF.
Bovi’s take: “The Vikings had been rather anemic this year when it came to their passing attack, but that all changed Sunday when quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 22-of-27 passes for 306 yards with two touchdowns vs. no interceptions. That said, the opposition was the defensively challenged New York Giants, who are amongst the worst stop units in the league and were without a trio of starting linebackers. This week, Minnesota gets the Eagles at home and, while Philadelphia hadn’t held any team below 20 points until Sunday’s 31-6 win over the Jets, they figure to pressure Kirk Cousins as they have racked up 13 sacks through five games. Carson Wentz has not posted impressive yardage numbers this year — especially in the last two weeks — but he does have 10 touchdowns passes vs only two interceptions. Injuries to the receiving corps have hurt, especially to wide receiver Desean Jackson who hauled in eight passes for 154 yards in Week 1 before going down with an abdominal strain. We’ll look for Zach Ertz to pick up the slack here as the Vikings have struggled to defend tight ends. Philly gets the better of it. Call it 27-23.”
Gable’s take: “The Eagles’ secondary has not played well at all and is certainly something the Vikings could exploit. They’ve been running the ball quite a bit and Dalvin Cook’s having a great year. But, the Eagles’ run defense has been solid. The Eagles’ win last week certainly re-energized their fan base. Now they’re back to 3-2 on the season. They’re a popular bet. I’m expecting to see a lot of the Eagles’ money, especially with them being the dog this week here. But the Vikings, looked great against the Giants. Both the Eagles and the Vikings played weaker opponents last week. This game is going to be close. I could see this possibly even going under the total of 43.5. I could see this being a low-scoring game. Whether the DeSean Jackson is back in the lineup or not will certainly be a big factor in this one.”
Our Pick: Look for Jackson to return and take the Eagles with the points.
3-2 Texans (+177, +5, O/U 55.5) at 4-1 Chiefs
Coming off a disappointing loss to the Panthers, the Texans blew doors last week and scored more than 50 points against the Falcons during a game that saw Deshaun Watson throw five touchdowns. The Chiefs’ Week 5 was almost the exact opposite as Kansas City had their lowest-scoring output of the Patrick Mahomes’ era during a loss to the Colts on SNF.
Bovi’s take: “Against the Colts, Chiefs were gashed on the ground for the fourth straight week, this time by running back Marlon Mack (29 carries for 132 yards) as Indianapolis came away with a 19-13 win. Over the last four games, lead backs for the opposition have rushed 97 times for 540 yards vs. the Chiefs, an average of 5.6 yards per carry. Texan quarterback Deshaun Watson struggled in games vs the Jaguars and Panthers in totaling only 319 yards combined through the air, while amassing 1,045 yards vs. the Falcons Chargers and Saints while completing 75 percent of his passes. He gets another soft defense here which should also bode well for running backs Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde. With the Chiefs favored by five, and Mahomes health in question (ankle), I have to feel the Texans can stay within the number.”
Gable’s take: “On Sunday night, the Chiefs’ deficiencies were exposed for the league to see. They’re not a great running team. They certainly don’t have one of the best defenses in the league either. This could end up being a shootout. The total is very, very high. I think right now that’s the highest on the board. You have two fantastic quarterbacks and two offenses that really look to pass the ball. I think the over money should certainly be coming in. I think the Chiefs will adjust enough to win this. And I think they also cover.”
Our Pick: Hope for touchdowns aplenty and roll with the over.
4-0 49ers (+145, +4, O/U 51) at 3-2 Rams
Playing their first game in their division, the 49ers get a Rams team that is coming off two straight losses, the second of which came on a last-second missed field goal. With the Seahawks at 4-1 in the NFC West, this is a huge game for both teams as it may have big implications for seeding in the division come playoff time.
Bovi’s take: “The Rams defense has to raise eyebrows considering the last two quarterbacks they faced in Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston have posted passer ratings of 151.8 and 120.5 on eight TDs vs. one INT while totaling 653 yards to go along with a 69 percent completion percentage. A perfect rating comes in at 158.3. The Rams’ run defense has also been generous, last game giving up 118 yards on 27 carries to Seahawks feature back Chris Carson. The Niners clearly have the superior defense here while the Rams possess the more potent offense, making for a game of strength vs. strength. San Francisco has only allowed one team to get to 20 points, that being the Steelers who did so with only 259 yards while benefiting from four Niners turnovers. San Fran features a top-notch running game especially with No. 1 back Tevin Coleman returning in grand fashion from injury on Monday night as he tallied 97 yards on 16 carries. Both Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert took up the slack during his absence while posting impressive numbers. Give the nod to the Niners, who will do enough to slow the Rams down while getting a 27-24 win.
Gable’s take: “This is a huge game for the Rams. If they lose, they’re staring up at a 5-1 team and a 5-0 team, so this is almost a must-win for them. Division games, obviously, are always going to be tougher. We opened this line at three points favoring the Rams and moved up to four. The Rams have their backs up against the wall here and, in order to make a play for the division, they’re going to need to win this game. The 49ers, I think the jury’s still out on them. They did look great against the Browns, but they’ve played some weaker opponents and this game is going to be very telling for them. If they come out and play like they did against the Browns, then I think everybody will know that the 49ers are for real. I’m not convinced that they’re for real yet, but we’ll see what happens.”
Our Pick: Hope the Niners keep it rolling and take them with the points.
2-1-1 Lions (+185, +4, O/U 47) at 4-1 Packers
In a primetime NFC North matchup, the Lions travel to Green Bay to take on a Packers team that cleaned up on the Cowboys last week. Detroit will be well-rested for this one as they were on their bye last week following a tough loss to Kansas City in a game they likely should have won.
Bovi’s take: “The Lions come off a bye and a disappointing loss to the Chiefs who scored with under a half-minute remaining to get a 34-30 win. It was the second time in four games the Lions have given up a late score that prevented them from chalking one up in the win column, the first being in Week 1 when they blew a huge fourth-quarter lead to Arizona, a game which ultimately ended in a tie. Their two wins are fortunate, one being a three-point victory over the Eagles, who lost two fumbles and dropped several passes. In their other victory, a 13-10 win over the Chargers, only a late end zone interception preserved the victory. The Chargers missed a pair of field goals. The Lions were outgained substantially in both of those wins. The Packers and Aaron Rodgers were far from spectacular in their 34-24 win over the Cowboys as the quarterback totaled only 238 yards on 34 attempts, but he was missing standout wide receiver Davante Adams who was nursing a toe injury. Adams’ status could go a long way in deciding this game. Green Bay has been poor at stopping the run this year with Sunday being no exception despite their win as the Cowboys ran 21 times for 122 yards. Lions RB Kerryon Johnson was struggling entering the Chief game and was averaging only 2.6 yards per carry, but nearly doubled that number against a porous Chiefs run defense. He should enjoy success in this spot. We’ll look for the Lions to keep this one close though a lot hinges on whether Adams is in the lineup. If he is in the lineup, figure on a higher scoring affair with the Packers getting a four- to seven-point win.
Gable’s take: “The question remains: how good is the relationship between Rogers and the coaching staff and is he still buying into the game plan for the Packers? He hasn’t been fantastic, but he’s been good enough and they’ve had a good start to the season. The Lions, on the other hand, they’ve played some tough teams already and they stayed in it against the Chiefs. Obviously, they beat the Eagles already. They’re a team that, I think, could potentially sneak into the playoffs this year, but they’re going to have to win games exactly like this. If they win this, they’re in pretty good shape in the division.vI would certainly expect the public to be on the Packers in this game. Especially after how they looked against the Cowboys. But again, the Lions, they’re an interesting team. I could see them certainly keeping this close.”
Our Pick: Hope Rodgers gets Adams back and lay the points with the Pack.
Last Week’s Picks: 4-1, Season: 15-10
Editor’s note: Lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, weather reports and other factors. Make sure to double-check odds before betting.