This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which football experts and handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season.
In this Week 6 edition of NFL Best Bets, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Mike Golic Jr. of DraftKings share their opinions on five games that will kick off over the NFL’s sixth weekend, including the Ravens heading across the pond to take on the Titans on Sunday morning.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.
Ravens (-4, O/U 42) at Titans
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Ravens listed as a 4.5-point road favorite. The public is split down the middle with 50% of bets on both sides. Despite this, we’ve seen the Ravens fall from -4.5 to -4. In a vacuum, a line shouldn’t move at all if the tickets are split. So, reading between the lines, this signals sharp action grabbing the points with the home-dog Titans. Tennessee is only receiving 50% of bets but 65% of the money, a sharp bet split. Mike Vrabel is 3-1 against the spread as a dog this season and 26-16 ATS (62%) in his career. Lamar Jackson is just 20-30 ATS (40%) as a favorite of 3-points or more. Give me Titans and the points.
Gable’s Guess: The Ravens headed to London early for this matchup on Monday. After watching what happened in London to the Bills and how they looked, I really like this travel decision for Baltimore. The Bills seemed to be jet-lagged and were very listless in the first half. The Titans flew out Thursday after practice. Time will tell whether spending more time there will help the Ravens with their dropped passes, That cost them the game to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Lamar Jackson did everything he could to get them in position to win that game, but they came up short. DeAndre Hopkins had a game against the Colts for the Titans in their loss, catching eight passes for 140 yards. But I’m counting on Baltimore having a bounce-back game and will lay the points.
Golic’s Gamble: Neither team majors in effective offense at this point. While so much of the Ravens’ struggles last week can be attributed to drops and the Steelers’ stellar defense, it’s really the Titans I worry about. Add in the London-ness of it all and you’ve got the recipe for an early morning slog on Sunday. Siding with the under.
IH Best Bet: Have faith the Ravens won’t lay two stinkers in a row and laying the points.
49ers (-7.5, O/U 37) at Browns
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the 49ers listed as a 3-point road favorite. Pros and Joes are both pounding the 49ers with 90% of bets and 94% of money laying the points. This heavy support, along with the questionable status of Browns QB Deshaun Watson, has driven the 49ers all the way up to -7.5. At this point, it’s hard to lay the 7.5 after the line has moved so much. Instead, I’ll target the 49ers in a teaser spot (-7.5 to -1.5), which passes through the key numbers of 3 and 7. Weather could also be an issue as the forecast calls for 15 MPH winds. Referee John Hussey is 56% to the under. I’ll pair the teased 49ers at -1.5 with the under 43.5 (teased up from the current total of 37.5).
Gable’s Guess: The Niners completely steamrolled the Cowboys in Week 5 and emerged as the highest power-rated team in the NFL. They haven’t shown any weakness on either side of the ball and this team is rightfully favored to win it all at this point. People keep thinking Brock Purdy is somehow going to start playing poorly, but that isn’t going to happen. At this point, we need to forget that narrative. He fits in well with this offense and has made it go. The second story is what exactly is going on with Deshaun Watson? Even after a bye week, he still isn’t practicing. It could be ugly against the San Francisco defense if Watson can’t go. The Browns do have one of the best defenses in the league and maybe they can slow down San Francisco’s offense, but I’m going to lay the points with San Francisco.
Golic’s Gamble: The 49ers are the best, most complete team in the NFL right now. The Browns aren’t even sure if Deshaun Watson will be healthy enough to start — coming off a bye week. Enjoy the one-on-one matchup between Myles Garrett and Trent Williams. Cleveland’s defense will keep it interesting early. I don’t anticipate another Cowboys-style blowout, but the Niners are going to win comfortably. I will lay the points.
IH Best Bet: It’s a lot of points, but San Fran is really rolling right now. Will lay them.
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Seahawks (+3, O/U 44.5) at Bengals
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bengals listed as a 3-point home favorite. The public is back on the Cincy bandwagon with 63% of bets laying the short spread at home. However, despite receiving two-thirds of bets, the line has remained frozen at Bengals -3. In fact, the line is juiced up toward the Seahawks (+3 at -115), signaling liability and a possible dip down to 2.5. Pete Carroll is 48-31 ATS (61%) as a dog. Geno Smith is 9-5 ATS (64%) as a dog with the Seahawks. Short road dogs +3 or less are 10-3 ATS this season and 109-82 ATS (57%) since 2019. Adrian Hill, the lead ref, is 55% ATS to the road team. I’ll grab Seattle with the points.
Gable’s Guess: I think this will be a good game. The Bengals were able to pick up a comfortable win on the road at Arizona in Week 5. It was definitely much needed after the start that this team has gotten off to with Joe Burrow not being completely healthy. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see this team rounding the form into the form we thought they would be in before the season started. Burrow finally was able to use his legs and the offense really seemed to click well. The Seahawks are coming off their bye and hopefully they worked on their passing defense, which is giving up 280 yards per game, which is third worst in the league. Seattle should be able to move the ball on offense, especially on the ground. Cincinnati hasn’t been great defensively against the rush. I like the Bengals at less than a field goal, but I’m going to take the over.
Golic’s Gamble: I get it was against the Cardinals, who do not have a good defense despite having cemented themselves as “feisty” this season, but Joe Burrow looked like Joe Burrow last week in the pocket. Most importantly, he was running around and scrambling. Outside of the Giants game, this Seahawks team has struggled to get any pressure on the quarterback this season. I think the Bengals inch closer to “back” this week against a quality opponent. Laying the points.
IH Best Bet: Would maybe take Seattle straight up instead of with points, but will go with the over.
Colts (+4, O/U 44) at Jaguars
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Jaguars listed as a 5.5-point home favorite. Currently, 60% of bets are laying the points with Jacksonville at home. However, despite receiving the majority of bets, the Jags have fallen from -5.5 to -4. This indicates sharp reverse line movement on the Colts, with pros grabbing the points with the road dog. Indianapolis is receiving 40% of bets but 67% of money, a notable sharp contrarian bet split. Divisional dogs are 14-10 ATS (58%) this season and 176-134 ATS (57%) since 2020. I’ll bank on Gardner Minshew to keep it close in a revenge game against his old team. Give me the Colts and the points.
Gable’s Guess: Gardner Minshew will start for the Colts in place of Anthony Richardson. Not many people were expecting much out of the Colts this year and they’re still in the thick of things in their division. I’ve been really impressed with the coaching job Shane Steichen has done thus far with this team. Running back Jonathan Taylor played his first football of the season on Sunday, but It was Zack Moss who had a career-high 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Jags are back from London after grabbing victories over Atlanta and Buffalo. With the Jags picking up those wins, I see them as a popular public play, especially with Richardson out. In a divisional game with both teams entering at 3-2, I’m trusting the Colts to keep this at a field goal or better. I’m gonna take the points.
Golic’s Gamble: The Jags return stateside for a Minshew revenge game while Anthony Richardson is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Jonathan Taylor has had another week back at practice while Zach Moss is coming off his best game of the season against the Titans. Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley really started to get this thing going last week so I think the Jags win even with a little London hangover, but the Colts keep it close. Give me Indy with the points.
IH Best Bet: The Jags have just owned the Colts lately. Betting that won’t change and laying the points.
Lions (-3, O/U 42) at Buccaneers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Lions listed as a 3-point road favorite. Currently, 79% of bets and 84% of the money is laying the points with Detroit, signaling a Pro-and-Joe bet split in favor of the Lions. The Lions -3 is juiced up to -115, signaling a possible rise up to -3.5. Road favorites are 17-13 ATS (57%) this season and 22-10 (69%) straight up. Dan Campbell is 4-1 ATS this season and 27-12 ATS (69%) as coach of the Lions. I trust Jared Goff over Baker Mayfield and Dan Campbell over Todd Bowles. I’ll back the Lions to win on the moneyline at -170.
Gable’s Guess: Detroit\ managed to put up 42 points on a weak Carolina team that was dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball last week. The Buccaneers are coming off their bye in a surprising position. They’ve played only one good team, the Eagles. but they’ve exceeded expectations thus far. The schedule for them is going to get tougher starting with this game. Tampa’s defense has kept them in games. The offense has been great in the red zone and they’ve given Baker Mayfield a chance to win games. He’s come through more than we thought. They’ll need to continue that type of performance here. Detroit’s offense has been very innovative this year and really fun to watch. I expect the Lions to roll. I’ll lay the points with Detroit.
Golic’s Gamble: The Bucs had a timely bye week as they were a bit banged up coming off their win against the Saints (hopefully good for Mike Evans’s hamstring). But the Lions are firing on all cylinders and looking like one of the best teams in the NFL. They should get Amon-Ra St. Brown back and keep the party going this week. Going to lay the points with Detroit.
IH Best Bet: Not sure why, but this seems to have trap game written all over it. Given that, going with the over.
Last Week: 3-2; This Season: 13-11-1
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Double-check the odds before betting.