Rivalries are some of the most entertaining aspects of sports. Whether it be divisional rivals or quarterback rivalries, perennial competition between evenly matched opponents creates plenty of storylines. This week, I will focus on two games that present evident rivalries and have points spreads that present possible value before making my Week 6 NFL picks against the spread. Make sure you keep up with all of the betting team’s Week 6 plays throughout the week.
Green Bay Packers (pk) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Over/Under 55
History in the making
Two of the best quarterbacks to play the game. Both Super Bowl Champions. Future first-ballot Hall of Famers. Throw these two legends on the field together, and you know there will be fireworks and excitement. Are you hyped for this game yet?
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady needs no introduction. He’s played in nine Super Bowls and has won six of them. He has moved on from his northeastern throne and continues to prove doubters wrong, including myself, who has always referred to him as a system quarterback (Dolphins fan here). If his receivers in Tampa Bay can figure out how to hold onto the ball and stop leading the NFL in dropped passes and offensive penalties, they can become a top-five scoring offense this year.
“Discount Double-Check” Aaron Rodgers may not be in the same stratosphere as Brady regarding championships, but he sure is when to comes to intelligence, work ethic, and desire. At 36 years old, two-time NFL MVP Rodgers is currently on pace for 52 touchdowns this season, which would rank second all-time only behind Peyton Manning. Interesting fact: Manning set that record in 2013 when he was 37 years old.
This Week 6 NFL game should feature plenty of scoring and has seen the points spread move from a Buccaneers -3 early line, to Packers -3 before settling at a pick’em during the week. These two teams are equally talented, and the movement of this line indicates just that.
Discipline and balance
Ideally, both of these teams prefer a balanced offense on both the ground and in the air. It allows opposing defenses to remain honest and allows these veteran quarterbacks to expose holes in the secondary when passing situations arise. The Packers do a much better job across the board in this aspect. They are a top-10 unit rushing the ball, whereas the Buccaneers sit in the bottom 10 in this category.
The Packers are one of the most disciplined and least penalized (4.75 per game) offenses in the NFL, while the Buccaneers lead the league in penalties (8.4 per game) and penalty yards. The Packers are also the only team in the NFL to not turn the ball over once this season, whereas the Buccaneers sit in the top 10 in turnovers (1.4 per game).
Green Bay is more efficient across the board offensively than Tampa Bay. They score on 64% of their drives, average 6.8 yards per play, and score 38 points per game – all league-leading numbers. The Buccaneers score 42% of the time, average 5.6 yards per play, and score 27.8 points per game – all stats that rank either in the middle or bottom half of the league.
Defense wins championships
If a team could turn the Packers into a one-dimensional offense, it’s the Buccaneers. They boast the NFL’s best run-defense at 2.7 yards per carry and 58.4 rushing yards per game, which will go head-to-head with the Green Bay’s fifth-best rushing attack. The Packers average 5.1 yards per carry and 150.8 yards per game; something has to give.
The Buccaneers are fourth in sacks in the NFL and are averaging 11 quarterback pressures per game. Aaron Rodgers has only been sacked a total of three times this season, so we have another strength versus strength matchup here as well.
All of these incredible defensive numbers for the Buccaneers came when they still had the heart of their defense, defensive lineman Vita Vea. He was lost for the season during last week’s game and will no longer contribute the game-changing impact plays he is known for.
The Packers are great at getting to the quarterback (three sacks per game) but lack in every other defensive aspect. They are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 72% of their passes and over eight yards per pass attempt. They are also subpar at defending the run, allowing 4.8 yards per carry on the year.
This game may be one where the winner will be determined by whoever has the ball last.
Jessica’s Pick: Packers ML @ -120 for 4 units. As mentioned before, this Week 6 NFL game opened with the points spread setting the Buccaneers as the favorite. The line then moved to the Packers and has settled at an even pick’em.
The Packers have the superior offense yet the inferior defense in this matchup. This is the first real difficult matchup for both teams this year, and only the third time ever these two quarterbacks have faced each other as starters.
I’m expecting the Packers’ more balanced offense to wear out the Buccaneers defense, especially after losing Vea for the season. The Buccaneers have too many injuries to key players, and it should ultimately be a deciding factor in this game.
Los Angeles Rams (-3) at San Fransisco 49ers, Over/Under 51.5
Back to the trenches
The San Fransisco 49ers are in a horrid spot right now. Not only does it seem like the “Super Bowl Hangover” has hit them, but they also are dealing with a litany of injuries to key players all at the same time.
San Fransisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looks inaccurate and inefficient, and it doesn’t help that his offensive line continues to let him get sacked at an average of 3.6 times per game. They allowed five sacks alone during last week’s game against the Miami Dolphins – a team not known for getting to the quarterback often.
Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald is the best player in the NFL at his position. He had four sacks (the Rams had eight sacks total) and three quarterback hits alone last week against the Washington Football Team, and now he gets to go against a 49ers team that gave up five last week.
He and the rest of the Rams defensive line should be able to feast in this game and keep Garoppolo under constant pressure, which may lead to errant throws and turnovers. The Rams secondary should capitalize on that pressure and have another stellar performance after last week’s domination of the Washington Football Team.
Los Angeles’ run defense isn’t a strength on the team, so the Rams will need to make sure to focus on stopping the 49ers powerful run game and get out to an early lead. The 49ers will then be forced into pass-mode like they were early last week and allow the Rams defensive line to attack the quarterback.
On the flip side
The Rams offense revamped this offseason and came back similarly to their efficient 2018 offense that led them to the Super Bowl. They are third in total yards, fifth in yards per play at 6.2, and have the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season.
Los Angeles fields a top-10 offensive line in both pass protection and run blocking. They have only allowed seven sacks, good for fifth-fewest this year, and only turn the ball over 9.3% of the time, which is the 10th best in the NFL.
The Rams also rarely commit penalties – they have the second-fewest this season. This is an extremely efficient offense that doesn’t shoot itself in the foot with foolish penalties or untimely turnovers.
The 49ers are a top-five defense when fully healthy, but they are currently missing key pieces that include Richard Sherman, Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, and Nick Bosa. These players make such a dramatic difference on the defensive side of the ball that Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick just finished dismantling their secondary for 350 yards, three touchdowns, and a near-perfect 154.5 quarterback rating.
Without these key players, San Francisco fields a mid-tier defense at best. If the Rams can implement their game plan and prevent drive-killing penalties and turnovers, they should be able to put this game out of reach by the fourth quarter.
Another critical factor in this matchup is the fact that this is an NFC West divisional game. Both teams will be motivated, especially the Rams, who were swept by the 49ers last season. Los Angeles gets the benefit of a divisional away game without fans present in the stands.
These games between the Rams and 49ers have been high scoring since Rams head coach Sean McVay and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan were both hired over three years ago, with the winning team scoring at least 30 points in five out of the six games.
The Rams will need to shut down the 49ers run game from the beginning of the game, something they have done reasonably successfully over the past three years. If they can turn the 49ers into a one-dimensional offense, they will find it much easier to keep Garoppolo under constant pressure.
Jessica’s Pick: Rams -3 for 3 units. The Rams boast an overall better team than the 49ers in this matchup, especially with the long list of key players missing from the roster. Los Angeles should control the trenches on both sides of the ball and make things miserable for San Francisco. If the Rams can get out to an early lead, this Week 6 game could go downhill very quickly for the 49ers, and this spread of just three points in favor of the Rams could quickly be made to look like one of the worst valued numbers in the NFL this season.
NFL Week 6 against the spread analysis from other betting analysts
James Aquirre’s Best Bet: Houston +3.5 | -105 for 3.15U
Houston Money Line | +180 for 1U
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-3.5) I was snake bitten by the Tennessee Titans this past Tuesday, but I am going back to the well betting against them this weekend. To start, I expect both of these offenses to find success in their respective matchups.
The Houston Texans throw the ball 59% of the time on early downs (first and second) in neutral game scripts (score within eight points) thus far in 2020. They average a 58% success rate (fourth-best), which will bode well against the Titans, who surrender a 57% success rate on early-down throws.
Likewise, the Titans will have success running the ball on early downs, as they do so 56% of the time to the tune of a 57% success rate (second in the league). Houston surrenders a 52% success rate in early-down runs, so we should expect Derrick Henry to have a productive day on the ground.
Where I see an edge with Houston is how these teams have fared from a yards per play (YPP) perspective heading into this game. The Texans have a +0.8 YPP differential to start the year, which means they are four points better than an average team on a neutral field.
However, that mark is buoyed in large part to their thrashing of the Jacksonville Jaguars this past Sunday. Before that game, the Texans had a YPP differential of zero. That doesn’t seem impressive initially, but considering they played the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Minnesota Vikings, they could’ve been worse.
On the other hand, Tennessee has not looked good from a YPP perspective, despite their undefeated record. Their YPP differential sits at -0.7, which means they are 3.5 points worse than an average team on a neutral field. Before the Buffalo Bills game, Tennessee had a point differential of (+6). These metrics may not correct themselves this year, but winning games like this is not sustainable over time.
While I don’t think the Texans should be a (-7.5) point favorite on the road in the NFL Week 6 spreads, I don’t think Tennessee deserved to be “laying the hook” here. In a game that will be close, I’m choosing to back the better QB in this instance. I had Deshaun Watson as my QB3 in the league prior to the season starting. While he has gotten off to a slow start, I still hold him in high regard.
While the Titans offensive line has done an excellent job of protecting Ryan Tannehill (ninth in Football Outsiders adjusted sack rate), the Texans defensive line has ranked fifth in adjusted sack rate thus far. They should be able to harass Tannehill on occasion when he inevitably has to drop back and pass.
On the other side of the ball, Houston has ranked 30th in adjusted sack rate, while the Titans defensive line currently ranks 32nd. I don’t grade them as the worst pass rush in the league, but they have performed as such thus far.
I expect plenty of offense in a back and forth game. I’ll bet on the better QB finding a way to get it done in the fourth quarter. I don’t know why we’re getting the hook in this instance, but I’ll take it.
George Templeton’s Best Bet: 4-team 6-point teaser – Ravens -2, Colts -2, Giants +3.5, Patriots -4 | +235 for 1U
George Templeton’s Best Bet: Dolphins -9.5 | -110 for 2U
Not scared by a potential letdown spot for Miami here because the Jets are simply that bad and just released Le’Veon Bell, one of the few talented skill position players they had. The Jets are a complete mess, and it shows every single week. Meanwhile, things are looking up for Miami after the last three games, which have resulted in two wins, and a competitive loss to Seattle.
George Templeton’s NFL Week 6 Spreads Best Bet: Panthers -3 | +105 for 1U Panthers -1.5 | -105 for 2U
Three consecutive wins for Carolina without Christian McCaffrey, and they aren’t a bigger favorite than this against the luckiest 4-1 team in NFL history, the Bears. Teddy Bridgewater is playing well, but the revelation is Mike Davis, who is proving a threat both in the running and the passing game just as McCaffrey is. Also, Davis will be the reason the Panthers make it four in a row.
George Templeton’s Best Bet: Giants 1st half, -1.5 | -110 for 3U
Washington’s lost every first half, and not even the miraculous return of Alex Smith changed that last week. Giants just missed getting their first win at Dallas, and they put it right this week against Washington.
Drew Haynes’ Best Bet: Lions -3 | -110 for 3U
If you’ve read any of my content this year, you know I am high on this Lions team in 2020. Yes, they are just 1-3 thus far, but they have dropped three games to very good teams and are finally getting healthy following their bye week last week.
Specifically, they really missed Kenny Golladay early in the season, but now that he is back, I expect this passing game with Matthew Stafford at the helm to feast on this Jaguars secondary that has allowed 300+ yards to mediocre passing teams in the Colts, Bengals, and Texans. This defense has more talent than they’ve displayed thus far this year, and I expect them to make enough plays to allow the Lions to pull away Sunday.
Drew Haynes’ Best Bet: Arizona Cardinals -1.5 | -110 for 2U
Does Vegas really expect people to back this Dallas team that is 0-5 against the spread and just lost their star Quarterback in what is basically a pick ‘em versus an excellent Cardinals team? Yes, Andy Dalton is a competent backup, and these Cardinals have some issues of their own.
However, this Cardinals offense is dynamic, and I expect them to roll versus a Cowboys defense that has been torched all season. Without Dak Prescott, this Cowboys’ offense now lacks the fire to keep up in these high-scoring affairs that we have been accustomed to seeing from these Cowboys. Back the Cardinals on Monday night.