The system is the solution.
A structural innovation separates the NFL’s top organization from the rest of the pack as NFL Week 6 gets underway.
Gamblers laud the San Francisco 49ers for going 5-0 on the moneyline and spread, as quarterback Brock Purdy remains the deal of deals. His salary is under $1 million, a mere blip on the NFL radar screen.
Compare that with more than $160 million earmarked for the Week 6 bench because of injuries, including $46 million assigned to Purdy’s Cleveland Browns counterpart, Deshaun Watson.
The stability of Purdy and the fragmented nature of the Browns just provided the largest line-movement shock wave this season.
The Niners went from -5 to -10 against Cleveland between Wednesday night and Friday morning, a colossal leap.
The $1 million player is in. The $46 million man is sitting out.
Injured superstars are an NFL theme bettors try to wrap their heads around throughout the league.
The NFL walking wounded include Aaron Rodgers of the New York Jets, Kyler Murray from the Arizona Cardinals, Watson, and Daniel Jones from the New York Giants.
Here’s Bontempo’s NFL Week 6 betting beat, noting how some teams have spent money wisely and others wasted it. We will also look at key games, potential bets, and significant factors.
Wilson, Broncos Just Miss Getting First NFL Week 6 Cover
Another big-money recipient, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, dropped to 4-13 as a starter with Denver falling to the Kansas City Chiefs, 19-8, on Thursday night at +10.5.
The Chiefs have won 16 straight games against the Broncos. The Denver drought stretches 2,950 days, all the way back to 2015.
Kansas City has five consecutive moneyline wins and Wilson’s signing, now morphed into a 1-5 start this year, means a lost season is looming in Denver. The Broncos don’t even have a cover in 2023.
Their one moneyline victory was a push.
For all that, they pay Wilson more than $40 million per season.
While bettors notched a good Week 6 start on the Under and the Kansas City moneyline, gamblers face the dilemma of handicapping a new version of “dead money,” which has nothing to do with the salary cap.
NFL Quarterbacks Assessment
Start with Purdy, who has been Mr. Dependable after being Mr. Irrelevant in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Niners surround him with a solid offensive line, a quick-release offensive scheme, and the ultimate wild card in Christian McCaffrey. Purdy can dump, handoff, or look downfield, often with time.
McCaffrey totes a major load and has been a cash register for bettors taking him as a first, anytime, and multiple scorer. Purdy conducts the offense but doesn’t have to carry it.
“Purdy is the perfect system quarterback,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations at DraftKings, told Gaming Today. “You wouldn’t necessarily picture him going to another team and doing well. But he fits that team.”
Boy, does he ever.
Since Purdy and McCaffrey became a unit last season, the Niners are 15-0 during the regular season.
That gets lost sometimes because 10 wins came last year and five have occurred in 2023. Two more triumphs and this team will compile the equivalent of a perfect season.
The Niner machine, with Purdy at the helm, is the envy of the league.
Many other teams continue throwing money at their lineup with no results.
Bettors are handicapping deeper than they’d ever imagined, evaluating second and third-string QBs like Dorian Thompson-Robinson and P.J. Walker in Cleveland, or Tyrod Taylor in New York.
Deshaun Watson Won’t Shoulder This Load
After Watson was ruled out Thursday in favor of Walker, the San Francisco vs. Cleveland line shot up like Tesla stock. It soared from San Francisco -5.5 to -7 on Thursday morning, -8.5 in the afternoon, and -10 by Thursday night. That’s practically double the original line, with Cleveland at home.
This was another blow for Watson. He was a last-minute scratch in Week 4 with a shoulder injury and the Browns scuffled in a 28-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. They then had a Week 5 bye, but he still isn’t right.
Here’s the rub for Browns fans and bettors: Why did Cleveland sign Watson to a multi-year contract reportedly worth $46 million? Off-the-field problems aside, he suffered a significant non-contact injury as far back as 2017. He’s always been fragile.
Signing him made no sense two years ago and even less now.
Regardless of the line move in San Francisco-Cleveland, there are always bets gamblers can make.
49ers vs. Browns Scoring Props
- McCaffrey: +285 to score first, -170 anytime
- George Kittle: +850, +190
- San Francisco defense: +2000, +450
- Touchdown every quarter: Yes +350, No -525
Rodgers a Bad Break for Jets
Yes, he’s the four-time MVP and even Jets fans are not complaining too much about his Week 1, season-ending injury. They wanted an electricity jolt to land their first Super Bowl appearance since 1969.
But $37.5 million guaranteed for a 39-year-old who can’t run anymore and looked brittle in his final days at Green Bay?
The Jets, 2-3 on the moneyline and 3-2 ATS, are +7 against the 5-0 Philadelphia Eagles. A healthy Rodgers, from several years back, would have made this game nearly a pick-em. Now the Jets get a touchdown.
To its credit, New York always plays tough.
Eagles vs. Jets Possible Bets
- Breece Hall 54.5 rushing yards: Over -125, Under -105
- A.J. Brown receiving yards: Over -125, Under -105
Eagles vs. Jets Touchdown Scorers
- Jalen Hurts: +450 first, -140 anytime
- D’Andre Swift: +650, +140
- Brown: +750, +140
- Hall: +900, +170
- Dallas Goedert: +1100, +205 (It was Goedert ringing the bell last week, tallying first as Philadelphia toppled the Los Angeles Rams, 23-14)
Kyler Murray Still Hasn’t Played
Chalk up $46 million reported salary to someone who gets hurt every year and hasn’t played a down this season. Yes, Joshua Dobbs has played well and the Cardinals beat the Cowboys in Week 3, but there are better ways to spend the Murray money. Say, for interior linemen who protect quarterbacks.
The Cardinals are +7 against the Los Angeles Rams in a division game.
Bettors will assess whether the Cardinals have petered out and what impact Cooper Kupp’s return has for Los Angeles.
Cardinals vs. Rams Possible Bets
- Kupp 86.5 yards: Over -105, Under -125
- Puka Nacua 65 yards: Both sides -115
- Kupp and Nacua to combine for 185 yards: +200
- Kupp to score: First +550, Anytime -125
Daniel Not “Jonesing” to Play for Giants in NFL Week 6
Danny Dimes makes a reported $43 million this season and maybe sitting Sunday night against Buffalo with a sore neck. That’s understandable. Jones was sacked 10 times in New York’s Week 4 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and he hurt his neck in Week 5.
One can’t blame Jones for not wanting to return. But one could blame the Giants for paying him this money without the resources to protect him.
Big Blue obtains a whopping + 14.5 in primetime against the Buffalo Bills, who lost their last game. Buffalo also has 85% of the DraftKings handle and tickets. The public expects an onslaught in the biggest spread of the season.
New York was the NFL’s best team against the spread last year. It is the worst team in 2023. The Giants are still looking for their first cover.
Gamblers who want to back the Giants may still have to tease the alternate spread up.
Here are three stats Giants bettors put into the mix.
One, the Giants are the only NFL team not to snap the ball with a lead this year.
Two, they haven’t scored first in the last 13 games. Bettors who have picked up on that have cashed a boatload of tickets. Yes, that’s due to change, but over the long haul, this pattern has been a big winner.
Three, their offense hasn’t scored a first-half touchdown this year.
Giants vs. Bills Possible Bets
- Gabriel Davis 43.5 yards: Both sides -115
- Stefon Diggs 82.5 yards: Both sides -114
- New York Giants 1.5 touchdowns: Over -110, Under -130 (You never know in garbage time)
- A touchdown in every quarter: Yes +170, No -225 (The third quarter is often the hump in these types of bets)
- Turnovers 2.5: Over -110, Under -220 (If the Giants are playing from way behind, the Over has a chance)
How the Public is Betting NFL Week 6
- Miami: 90% handle, 88% tickets
- San Francisco: 90% handle, 88% tickets
- LA Rams: 88% handle, 74% tickets
- Buffalo: 83% handle, 76% tickets
Games Close to 50-50 Support
- Cincinnati Bengals -3 vs. Seattle Seahawks
- Atlanta Falcons -2.5 vs. Washington Commanders
- Baltimore Ravens -4 vs. Tennessee Titans in England
Betting Nuggets for Close Games
The Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks offer abundant intrigue.
Cincinnati may have come into its own with a 34-20 road triumph over the Arizona Cardinals. Joe Burrow finally looked like himself and tossed three touchdowns to his touchdown trigger man, Ja’Marr Chase. One was for 63 yards.
It was Chase in Week 1 who said Burrow should sit for four or five weeks with his calf injury. Burrow did not, but Chase proved prophetic as Burrow finally recaptured form in Week 5.
On the flip side, the Seattle defense looked terrific in shutting down the Giants, 24-3, in Week 4. The ‘Hawks notched 11 sacks and a game-changing Pick 6.
Seattle also has exceptional weapons in receiver D.K. Metcalf and running back Kenneth Walker.
Bettors have considerations in translating this.
- Chase 85.5 receiving yards: Over -120, Under -110
- Metcalf 63.5 receiving yards: Both sides, -115
- Seattle 2.5 touchdowns: Over +120, Under -160 (This is intriguing. It’s not asking too much for three touchdowns the way Seattle has been playing. The price on the Over has some value. The Under is not a good price)
- Burrow over 300 passing yards, Chase to get 150 receiving yards, and Joe Mixon to rush for 75 yards: +1000 parlay (May look like a reach, but bettors can take out the one leg they think won’t hit and parlay the other two)
- Bengals to win from behind: Yes -180, No -240
- Seahawks to win from behind: Yes +250, No -320
Ravens vs. Titans
Marquee names with Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry. Jet lag comes into play in these games. Bettors may find this to be a slippery slope. Both teams come off road losses and find themselves on the road again.
Commanders vs. Falcons
Desmond Ridder is a winner and the Falcons have strong personnel in Bijan Robinson and Drake London. They play well at home. But they don’t blow teams out.
Taking the Over on Younghoe Koo points for Atlanta has been a consistent cash for bettors.
NFL Week 6 Betting Leaps of Faith (DraftKings)
Largest Sentiment for the Over
- Seattle-Cincinnati, 88% handle Over 45
Largest Support for the Under
- Las Vegas Raiders-New England Patriots, 93% handle Under 41
Bettors Who Want To Think Outside the Box (FanDuel)
- Breece Hall and Andre Swift combine for 175 yards, +260
- Cooper Kupp and A.J. Brown combine for 200 yards, +250
Here’s a look at the favorites in various prop categories. The entire list of teams and games is available on the FanDuel site.
Highest Scoring Game on Sunday.
- Cardinals-Rams, +600
- Miami Dolphins-Carolina Panthers, +650
- Indianapolis Colts-Jacksonville Jaguars and Seahawks-Bengals, +900
Lowest Game Totals
- Niners-Browns, +450
- Eagles-Jets and Ravens-Titans, +850
Highest Scoring Team
- Dolphins, +500
- Bills, +650
- Rams, +850
Lowest Scoring Team
- Browns, +350
- Giants, +750
- Jets, +1100
BetMGM NFL Highlights: Win Totals
Notable Win Total Increases (Last Week to Now)
- 49ers, 12.5 to 13.5
- Chiefs, 11.5 to 12.5
- Lions, 10.5 to 11.5
- Jaguars, 8.5 to 9.5
- Raiders, 6.5 to 7.5
Notable Win Total Decreases (Last Week to Now)
- Bills, 11.5 to 10.5
- Ravens, 10.5 to 9.5
- Titans, 8.5 to 7.5
- Commanders, 7.5 to 6.5
- Patriots, 7.5 to 5.5
- Broncos, 6.5 to 4.5
It’s interesting that both the Patriots and Broncos took a two-win plunge after losing last week.
That signals significantly reduced expectations.