2021 NFL Expert Predictions, Odds And Spreads: Picks For The Week 6 Schedule, Including Chargers At Ravens And Cardinals At Browns

<2021 NFL Expert Predictions, Odds And Spreads: Picks For The Week 6 Schedule, Including Chargers At Ravens And Cardinals At Browns>

Things are starting to look sharper each week on NFL odds. Last week was a bad week for the sportsbooks as favorites went 9-7 against the spread. We’re starting to see less movement on point spreads each week as bettors and oddsmakers narrow in who are the best teams and some of the worst.

The Arizona Cardinals are the league’s final unbeaten at 5-0. Then you have the one-loss teams. Five of those franchises — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens — reached the 2020 playoffs with all but the Rams and Ravens playing for a conference championship last year.  The Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers round out the pack as the ‘up-and-comers,’ even though both are just a few years removed from double-digit win seasons and playoff wins.

Plenty can change between now and the playoffs. Just look at the current standings as an antithesis to the previous top tier, and you’ll see that four 2020 division winners are below .500 after five games. Two will claw back to 3-3 when Kansas City meets Washington and Pittsburgh faces Seattle on Sunday night.  The Chargers and Ravens battle in Baltimore in a matchup between first-place teams that could come with a massive tiebreaker for January in the upper echelon. The Cardinals also put their perfect season on the line in Cleveland against a Browns team that is much better than its 3-2 record might indicate. Below are the lines for every matchup.

But before we dive in, here’s a look at last week’s betting trends and results:

  • Favorites put together a second-consecutive winning week against the spread, going 9-7 against underdogs. Four of the seven underdogs to cover won outright, increasing the season total to 32 outright underdog victories through five weeks.
  • The Bears were the heaviest long shot (+5.5) to win outright. Chicago was able to lock down Vegas’ high-powered offense in a 20-9 road win. The Lions (+10) and Texans (+7.5) closed with two of the three largest spreads last week and both covered.
  • Point totals favored the over last week as 10 of 16 totals hit the over. Eight teams scored 30 or more points, while four of those managed to top the 40-point threshold.
  • Tampa Bay (-11) closed as the heaviest betting favorite and was able to back it up in a 45-17 thrashing of Miami. The Bucs’ 28-point win was the largest margin of victory for the week.
  • Last week’s bad beats belong to the Bengals and Lions.
    • Cincinnati was a two-point underdog against the Packers but had two separate chances to win. Evan McPherson’s go-ahead field goal attempt in the final minute of regulation struck the upright. He got another look in overtime and misfired from 49 yards out before Mason Crosby gave Green Bay the win.
    • Poor Detroit. The Lions trailed by 10 with 3:22 to play before scoring 11 unanswered points to take a 17-16 lead over Minnesota. Covering was inevitable at that point, but it finally seemed like the franchise would get its first win of the season. That is until Minnesota marched 46 yards in 33 seconds and kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Expert Pick records

Mark Kaboly55-2568.8
Michael-Shawn Dugar43-2167.2
Tashan Reed53-2766.3
Chris Burke42-2265.6
Ted Nguyen42-2265.6
Nick Kosmider51-2963.8
Katherine Terrell51-2963.8
Jay Morrison36-2856.3

Note: Expert picks are 

straight up, not against the spread. If you’re looking for ATS picks, we’ll have Sheil Kapadia’s picks, Vic Tafur’s picks, Ethan Douglas’s projection model, and more throughout the week.

img src="https://cdn.theathletic.com/app/uploads/2021/09/30155308/Betting_Inline_CTA_3-200.png" alt=""">

All times Eastern. Click here for live odds. Odds updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday. 

Teams on bye this week: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:20 p.m. Thursday


At this point, it seems like every person on the planet should be buying into the TB12 method. There’s no other way to explain how Tom Brady does what he’s capable of on a football field at 44 years old. Forty-four! In the latest edition of “Brady defies Father Time,” he threw for 411 yards and five touchdowns in the Bucs’ 45-17 beatdown of the Dolphins. Tampa Bay took over sole possession of first place in the NFC South and opened as 6.5-point favorites against Philadelphia this week.

The Eagles are underdogs for the sixth week in a row, and a lot of that has to do with consistency. More specifically, a lack of it in Philadelphia. One quarter, the franchise plays like it is rebuilding, and then it manages to look like a division contender a few hours later. The Eagles fell behind 15-6 last week at Carolina before storming back for a 21-18 win. Philadelphia produced 273 yards and turned the ball over twice but held the Panthers to 267 with three turnovers. It was the Eagles’ best defensive performance to date. Then again, stopping Sam Darnold and Chuba Hubbard is much different than containing a Bucs offense that averages 33 points per game.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Buccaneers
Nick Kosmider Buccaneers
Jay Morrison Buccaneers
Mark Kaboly Buccaneers
Michael-Shawn Dugar Buccaneers
Chris Burke Buccaneers
Ben Standig Buccaneers
Katherine Terrell Buccaneers
Ted Nguyen Buccaneers

Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars in London – 9:30 a.m. Sunday


It’s only been five games, yet Miami appears dangerously close to the point of no return. The Dolphins dropped to 1-4 with a 45-17 loss to the Bucs. Miami’s offense continues to sputter, and fatigue finally sets in for a defense that’s had to work even harder than it did a year ago. That group was on the field for 37 minutes last week and gave up 558 yards of offense. And still, the Dolphins opened as three-point favorites against Jacksonville. They’d only been favored once in their first five games.

The Jaguars may not win a game on this continent in 2021. However, they’ll undoubtedly have a chance to snap their 20-game losing streak in London this week. Jacksonville is 1-4 against the spread but might be a less broken team than the Dolphins right now. The Jags piled on 454 yards in a 37-19 loss to Tennessee.  Expect them to execute better against a Dolphins’ defense that allows 133.6 rushing yards per game and gives up conversions on 57.1 percent of third downs, specifically James Robinson, who is coming off a 149-yard performance against the Titans.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Dolphins
Nick Kosmider Dolphins
Jay Morrison Dolphins
Mark Kaboly Dolphins
Michael-Shawn Dugar Dolphins
Chris Burke Dolphins
Ben Standig Jaguars
Katherine Terrell Dolphins
Ted Nguyen Jaguars

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears – 1 p.m. Sunday


Remember when the Packers were 0-1? Neither do we, although Cincinnati provided Green Bay with a good scare last week. Mason Crosby missed two field goals in the final 2:14 of regulation and another in overtime before he finally connected on a 49-yarder with 1:55 to go in the extra period to give the Packers a 25-22 win. It wasn’t pretty, but Green Bay is now 4-1 and sits atop the NFC North. The Packers are also 4-1 against the spread and opened as 4.5-point favorites against the Bears.

Chicago has won just four of its past 23 games against Green Bay. Perhaps Justin Fields can change the Bears’ fortune ahead of a huge divisional matchup. Fields briefly exited the Bears’ 20-9 win over Las Vegas with an injury but returned and finished with 111 passing yards and a touchdown. Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert carried the ground game in David Montgomery’s absence with 139 yards, while Chicago’s defense held the Raiders to 259 total yards. Last week was the Bears’ first win as an underdog this year. If it can replicate that success in Green Bay, Chicago will share the division lead.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Packers
Nick Kosmider Bears
Jay Morrison Packers
Mark Kaboly Packers
Michael-Shawn Dugar Packers
Chris Burke Packers
Ben Standig Packers
Katherine Terrell Packers
Ted Nguyen Packers

Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions – 1 p.m. Sunday


It’s time for a game of “Who had the more crushing loss last week?” First up was the Bengals, who had two separate chances to pick up a huge home win over the Packers. Evan McPherson’s right foot had other plans. The rookie kicker missed a go-ahead field goal with 26 seconds left in regulation and later misfired from 49 with 4:19 to go in overtime. Cincinnati dropped out of first place in the AFC North, but it has to be feeling good about its record and competitiveness. The Bengals are 3-2, and their two losses are by a combined six points. Cincinnati opened as three-point favorites this week.

Then it was the Lions’ turn. Detroit trailed 16-6 with 3:17 to play before kicking a field goal, forcing a fumble and scoring the go-ahead touchdowns within three minutes. Unfortunately, wagers don’t cash out with 37 seconds remaining or else Lions’ moneyline bettors would’ve turned a nice profit. Kirk Cousins marched the Vikings 46 yards in 34 seconds before a game-winning field goal dropped Detroit to 0-5. The Lions are much better against the spread, covering in three of five games.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Bengals
Nick Kosmider Bengals
Jay Morrison Bengals
Mark Kaboly Bengals
Michael-Shawn Dugar Bengals
Chris Burke Lions
Ben Standig Lions
Katherine Terrell Bengals
Ted Nguyen Bengals

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts – 1 p.m. Sunday


Monday night will likely sting worse than any of the Colts’ previous losses this season. Indianapolis led Baltimore by 19 late in the third quarter before Lamar Jackson led the Ravens to touchdowns on their final four drives, including the game-winning possession in overtime. The Colts had two chances to put Baltimore away, but Rodrigo Blankenship had one field goal blocked and missed another as time expired in regulation. One positive to take from the loss was Carson Wentz, who finally looked healthy as he threw for 402 yards and two scores. Ahead of Monday’s loss, the Colts opened as 10.5-point favorites this week.

Houston dropped its fourth straight game in a 25-22 home loss to the Patriots. But there are a lot of positives to take from that game. The Texans showed some impressive resilience after being blown out by 40 a week earlier. More importantly, last week was the first glimpse of Davis Mills’ long-term potential. After Houston scored two total touchdowns in his first 10 quarters of play, Mills threw for three scores and finished with 312 passing yards. Picking the upset here might not be practical, but the line is a different story. The Texans are 3-2 against the spread.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Colts
Nick Kosmider Colts
Jay Morrison Colts
Mark Kaboly Texans
Michael-Shawn Dugar Colts
Chris Burke Colts
Ben Standig Colts
Katherine Terrell Colts
Ted Nguyen Colts

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants – 1 p.m. Sunday


In any other division, a 4-1 record would be good enough for first place. The NFC West is not like other divisions, and the Rams have to settle for second place temporarily. They did earn their first division win by beating Seattle 26-17 last week. Matthew Stafford had his third game of 300 or more passing yards, and Robert Woods broke out with 12 catches for 150 yards. The Rams might not pass Arizona in the standings, but they should be able to keep pace. Los Angeles’ next three opponents have a combined record of 2-13, beginning with the Giants. The Rams opened as 10.5-point favorites and are 2-2 against the spread when favored.

The Giants dropped to 1-4 with a 44-20 loss to the Cowboys. The losing is one thing, but the injuries continue to pile up for New York. Already without Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and two starting offensive linemen, the Giants lost Daniel Jones (concussion), Saquon Barkley (ankle) and Kenny Golladay (knee) during last week. One bright spot was the emergence of Kadarius Toney. The Giants’ 2021 first-round pick singlehandedly willed them down the field for much of the afternoon, hauling in 10 receptions for 189 yards. His day ended early, too, after Toney threw a punch late in the fourth quarter. Jones and Toney are active this week.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Rams
Nick Kosmider Rams
Jay Morrison Rams
Mark Kaboly Rams
Michael-Shawn Dugar Rams
Chris Burke Rams
Ben Standig Rams
Katherine Terrell Rams
Ted Nguyen Rams

Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team – 1 p.m. Sunday


The Chiefs are arguably the biggest surprise of 2021 so far, and not for a good reason. They’re 2-3 and rank last in the AFC West with many issues that need immediate attention. Kansas City has the worst scoring defense in football, giving up 32.6 points per game. If you thought a Patrick Mahomes-led offense could mask those issues, think again. The Chiefs have a significant turnover problem, giving up the ball 11 times in four weeks, including a pair of four-turnover games. Kansas City also got banged up in its 38-20 loss to Buffalo. Tyreek Hill suffered a minor knee injury while Joe Thuney fractured a hand, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire is expected to miss time with a sprained MCL. Still, the Chiefs opened as seven-point favorites against Washington. Kansas City is just 1-4 against the spread.

Washington is not much better defensively. The Football Team allows the second-most points behind Kansas City, giving up 31 per game. WFT dropped to 2-3 on the year with a 33-22 loss to New Orleans. The 369 yards Washington gave up were the fewest allowed this season, which is all you need to know about the defense. Expect points, points and maybe some more points when these two meet Sunday. An opening point total of 54.5 is a very viable play this weekend.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Chiefs
Nick Kosmider Chiefs
Jay Morrison Chiefs
Mark Kaboly Chiefs
Michael-Shawn Dugar Chiefs
Chris Burke Chiefs
Ben Standig Chiefs
Katherine Terrell Chiefs
Ted Nguyen Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers – 1 p.m. Sunday


We’re going to learn a lot about the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings this week. Both need a win, Carolina in particular, as it tries to avoid a third straight loss. The Panthers are 3-2 after falling to the Eagles, 21-18. Carolina led 15-6 late in the third quarter before giving up touchdowns on two of the Eagles’ final three possessions. Chuba Hubbard did top 100 yards on the ground, but a season-low 267 yards and three turnovers for the offense are cause for concern. Those concerns grow as Christian McCaffrey heads to injured reserve for three weeks.

As for Minnesota, the Vikings need to be more consistent. For three weeks, the offense averaged 425 yards while its defense struggled to get stops. The defense figured it out without much explanation and has held its last two opponents under 350 yards. But now the offense has scored 26 points in two weeks. By just looking at the final statistics, it’d be hard to tell which games the Vikings won or lost this year.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Panthers
Nick Kosmider Panthers
Jay Morrison Vikings
Mark Kaboly Vikings
Michael-Shawn Dugar Panthers
Chris Burke Panthers
Ben Standig Panthers
Katherine Terrell Panthers
Ted Nguyen Vikings

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens– 1 p.m. Sunday


On Monday night, the Ravens moved to 4-1 with a 31-25 overtime win over the Colts. Lamar Jackson threw for a career-high 442 yards as Baltimore rallied from 19 points down, scoring touchdowns on its final four drives to maintain control of the AFC North. With Cleveland and Cincinnati only one game back, the pressure is on to keep performing. The Ravens opened as 3.5-point favorites against the Chargers for a battle of division leaders. Baltimore is 1-3 as the favorite against the spread.

Congratulations to any bettor who took Justin Herbert’s +2200 preseason MVP odds. The second-year quarterback is down to +650, with the Chargers in first place in the AFC West. Los Angeles erased a 14-point deficit and came back two additional times to beat the Browns 47-42. Herbert shredded Cleveland for 398 passing yards and five total touchdowns. This year, the Chargers have the third-most passing yards and will look to take advantage against a Baltimore defense that ranks bottom-10 against the pass. Los Angeles is 2-0 against the spread as an underdog, winning both games outright.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Chargers
Nick Kosmider Chargers
Jay Morrison Ravens
Mark Kaboly Chargers
Michael-Shawn Dugar Chargers
Chris Burke Ravens
Ben Standig Chargers
Katherine Terrell Chargers
Ted Nguyen Chargers

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Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns – 4:05 p.m. Sunday


Cleveland did just about everything right offensively last week. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt took advantage of a bad run defense for 222 yards, Baker Mayfield threw for another 301 yards, 42 points were scored, and there wasn’t a single turnover. And the Browns still lost. It was just an unfortunate situation for Cleveland where the Chargers could match the Browns offensively and took advantage of their final possession. So Cleveland drops to 3-2, but don’t let that record fool you. The two losses are by 10 total points. Cleveland remains one of the more formidable teams in the AFC, and it’ll look to prove it against the unbeaten Cardinals. Oddsmakers like the Browns at home as they opened as three-point favorites.

Arizona is the league’s last undefeated team, and this Sunday will be its third game as an underdog. It won outright the first two times. Last week was the first instance this year that the Cardinals looked vulnerable. Their 304 yards were a season-worst by more than 100 yards as the run game was non-existent. However, a shorthanded Arizona defense stepped up to hold San Francisco to 10 points. Holding off the Rams at the top of the NFC West won’t be easy, but that was the type of win that should give the Cardinals confidence they can do so.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Browns
Nick Kosmider Browns
Jay Morrison Browns
Mark Kaboly Browns
Michael-Shawn Dugar Cardinals
Chris Burke Browns
Ben Standig Browns
Katherine Terrell Browns
Ted Nguyen Browns

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos – 4:25 p.m. Sunday


Denver has fallen off a bit since its 3-0 start, dropping back-to-back games. The Broncos fell 27-19 last week at Pittsburgh after falling behind 24-6. Denver had no answer for the Steelers’ run game, giving up a season-worst 147 yards on the ground. Teddy Bridgewater led a pair of second-half scoring drives to pull the Broncos within a possession, but an interception in the closing seconds sealed the loss. Oddsmakers like Denver to bounce back against Las Vegas with the Broncos opening as 3-point favorites. Like Denver, Vegas has also lost two straight after opening 3-0. In recent weeks, the Raiders’ offense has come to a standstill, averaging 236 yards and 11.5 points over the past two games after putting up 30 points and 471 yards per game during the 3-0 start. Las Vegas has won as an outright underdog twice this year but is 0-3 against the spread since.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Broncos
Nick Kosmider Broncos
Jay Morrison Raiders
Mark Kaboly Broncos
Michael-Shawn Dugar Broncos
Chris Burke Broncos
Ben Standig Broncos
Katherine Terrell Broncos
Ted Nguyen Broncos

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots – 4:25 p.m. Sunday


Dallas continues to surge, extending its winning streak to four following its season-opening loss. Last week, the Cowboys moved to 4-1 overall with their second win against the NFC East, beating the Giants 44-20. Dak Prescott topped 300 yards passing for the second time this year and added three touchdowns while Ezekiel Elliott ran for 110 yards and his fifth rushing touchdown in four games. Dallas is 5-0 against the spread and will look to stay perfect this week. The Cowboys opened as 3.5-point road favorites in New England.

The Patriots snapped a two-game losing skid, overcoming a 13-point hole to beat the Texans 25-22. New England’s 352 yards are a season-best, while it also gave up a season-low 67 rushing yards to Houston. There’s still plenty of growing to do for a relatively inexperienced offense. Last Sunday was the Patriots’ third straight game with multiple turnovers. They’ll have to clean that up to try and keep pace with Dallas.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Cowboys
Nick Kosmider Cowboys
Jay Morrison Patriots
Mark Kaboly Cowboys
Michael-Shawn Dugar Cowboys
Chris Burke Cowboys
Ben Standig Cowboys
Katherine Terrell Cowboys
Ted Nguyen Patriots

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:20 p.m. Sunday


Both Seattle and Pittsburgh won their respective divisions in 2020, each going 12-4 before bowing out in the wild card round. While both play in tough divisions, it’s still somewhat surprising to see these two under .500 after five games. Last week, the Seahawks dropped to 2-3 after a 26-17 loss to the Rams. Seattle was outscored 23-10 in the second half, a continuing theme in its losses. If that wasn’t bad enough, Russell Wilson is out with an injury to his throwing hand and no timetable for a return. Pittsburgh got back in the win column against Denver, a team struggling to move the ball as much as the Steelers had been. Ben Roethlisberger snapped a three-game streak with an interception while Najee Harris had the first 100-yard day of his career on the ground. Pittsburgh opened as 3.5-point favorites.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Steelers
Nick Kosmider Steelers
Jay Morrison Steelers
Mark Kaboly Steelers
Michael-Shawn Dugar Seahawks
Chris Burke Steelers
Ben Standig Steelers
Katherine Terrell Steelers
Ted Nguyen Steelers

Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans – 8:15 p.m. Monday


Of the three 4-1 teams in the AFC, Buffalo has by far been the most impressive. After dropping their opener, the Bills have never looked back, averaging 420.3 yards and 39 points per game. Last week, the Bills crushed Kansas City 38-20. Josh Allen gained 374 scrimmage yards and scored four total touchdowns while the defense forced four turnovers. Allen is currently the betting favorite for MVP and has the league’s top-scoring defense too. Buffalo opened as 4.5-point road favorites at Tennessee this week. The Bills are 4-1 against the spread.

The Titans have their work cut out for them this week. Sure, they rebounded from a loss to the Jets. But it was an uninspiring performance against Jacksonville. Tennessee was outgained by the Jaguars and gave up seven yards per play. That’s not a formula for success against Buffalo. Neither is running Derrick Henry 30 times.

WriterStraight Up Pick
Tashan Reed Bills
Nick Kosmider Bills
Jay Morrison Bills
Mark Kaboly Titans
Michael-Shawn Dugar Bills
Chris Burke Bills
Ben Standig Bills
Katherine Terrell Bills
Ted Nguyen Bills

(Photo of Justin Herbert: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images; The Athletic may receive an affiliate commission if you open an account with BetMGM through links contained in the above article.)

Source : https://theathletic.com/2882695/2021/10/17/2021-nfl-expert-predictions-odds-and-spreads-picks-for-the-week-6-schedule-including-chargers-at-ravens-and-cardinals-at-browns/

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