The NFL’s six remaining unbeaten teams all survived Week 5 although two of the six needed fourth quarter rallies before winning in overtime – and both were home teams.
Atlanta and Cincinnati trailed late but eventually got past Washington and Cincinnati respectively.
Denver, Green Bay and New England each won their games to remain unblemished although the Broncos got a much tougher than expected contest winning at Oakland.
The other unbeaten team, Carolina, had its Bye week.
Detroit remains the lone winless team and the Lions looked absolutely horrible in losing at home to the Cardinals. The loss followed a controversial ending to their Monday night loss in Seattle when the officials made a wrong ruling on how to treat a football batted out of the endzone as the Lions were in position to win the game.
Aside from three games that have ended in pushes, the point spread has mattered in just 10 games this season (only 9 if you played last Sunday’s Denver at Oakland game at 6, the line at which it closed at several Las Vegas Books). That percentage of roughly 12 percent of games with a point spread decision is considerably lower than the historical norm of between 17 and 18 percent.
Technically, the pointspread does matter when a game ends in a point spread push but that situation is excluded from the definition since your bet is refunded, not lost.
In the 73 games through Sunday that did not end in point spread pushes, underdogs have covered 35 times, winning 26 of the games outright.
To date underdogs have won 26 of 76 games straight up, slightly more than one game in three, which is pretty much in line with historical norms.
What these results suggest is not that the game’s dynamics are changing but rather there has been a shift in how the lines are being set and bet. More often than in the past, at least over more than slightly one quarter of this season (a small sample size no doubt), if you are able to pick the straight up winner of the game, you will also cash your ticket.
It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues deeper into the season or if we witness, in the words of the analytic professionals, a ‘regression to the mean” such that the point spread will come into play more often – perhaps in excess of 20 percent of the games going forward, such that at the end of the season the results will be more in line with the historical norm cited above.
The guess is that the latter will indeed be the case as the linesmakers will inflate lines on favorites by a point or two – possibly more in certain spots – such that we will see more favorites win on the field but lose at the betting windows. This should likely be the case with the teams favored greatly by the public. It may not occur this week or the next but those results are all but certain to come.
Dallas, Oakland, St Louis and Tampa Bay have Byes this week while Carolina, Miami, Minnesota and the New York Jets return from theirs.
Here’s a preview of the 14 games that make up the week 6 schedule.
Pro Football – Thursday
Atlanta Falcons -3 at New Orleans Saints (O/U 51): Over the past decade the Underdog is 13-7 ATS in this series and although they were swept by the Falcons last season, New Orleans is 13-7 SU during this period. With the Falcons showing some vulnerabilities despite being unbeaten and with the Saints finally ending their 6 game home losing streak with their win over Dallas two weeks ago, combined with the short time to prepare, the spot sets up well for the hosts. NEW ORLEANS.
Pro Football – Sunday
Denver Broncos -5 at Cleveland Browns (42): This should be a conservatively played game with the Browns stepping up in class to face QB Peyton Manning who is getting by more on his savvy than his arm. UNDER.
Cincinnati Bengals -1 at Buffalo Bills (44.5): A case can be made that much as Cincy faced a test to their validity as a legitimate contender last week and passed that test, the Bills face their test this week against the unbeaten Bengals. BUFFALO.
Kansas City Chiefs +3.5 at Minnesota Vikings (44.5): In attempting to overcome that defeat the Chiefs face an enthusiastic Vikings team returning from their Bye week. The preference is for the hosts but laying that extra half point can be hazardous, making the Total a better option. UNDER.
Houston Texans -1 at Jacksonville Jaguars (42.5): This is a good situational spot for the improving Jaguars as they face a team with questionable confidence and continued issues with poor quarterback play from both their starter and backup. JACKSONVILLE.
Chicago Bears +3 at Detroit Lions (43.5): The Bears have the better running game and the better of the beleaguered quarterbacks and are playing much better football on both offense and defense than the listless Lions. CHICAGO.
Washington Redskins +5.5 at NY Jets (41): The Jets return from the Bye whereas Washington is off of an overtime loss in Atlanta. Both teams have been able to run the football and both play excellent run defense. Both teams average at least 30 rushing attempts per game, among the top 7 in the league. They have also combined to play 7 OVERS and just 2 UNDERS for totals. UNDER.
Arizona Cardinals -4 at Pittsburgh Steelers (45.5): Pittsburgh’s offense figures to show modest improvement with Michael Vick at QB as he fills in for injured Ben Roethlisberger with his outstanding supporting cast at RB and WR. This could be the most entertaining game of the day with points a plenty. Barring injuries, we should see this Total steadily rise. OVER.
Miami Dolphins +2.5 at Tennessee Titans (44.5): The Titans are a young, developing team still learning how to win. They were unable to maintain a 10 point lead last week in a 14-13 loss on this field to Buffalo. There’s still time for Miami to turn its season around but it likely has to start here against a beatable foe. MIAMI.
Carolina Panthers +6.5 at Seattle Seahawks (41.5): Seattle still looks lethargic on offense. Now Carolina is off of a Bye and they bring a well performing defense to this contest. Seattle’s defense remains its strength and we could see both defenses outperform both offenses here. UNDER.
San Diego Chargers (+10) at Green Bay Packers (51): San Diego has offensive line issues and a defense that had allowed at least 24 points to each opponent prior to Monday. After an uncharacteristically sloppy effort look for Rodgers and the Pack to bounce back in a big way and remain unbeaten both SU and against the spread. GREEN BAY.
Baltimore Ravens -3 at San Francisco 49ers (43.5): 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick played his best game in more than a season with his effort in Sunday night’s loss to the Giants. The defense still has major issues, especially with depth. This handicaps as one of the higher scoring games of the week with a fairly priced total. OVER.
New England Patriots -7.5 at Indianapolis Colts (55): The Pats have won their last 2 games by 24 and 34 points, including a 51-17 wipeout of Jacksonville a week before the Colts struggled to a fortunate 16-13 win over those same Jags. Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck should return but he’s not been sharp. And with the Colts being the instigators of “deflategate” can we expect the Pats to pull back the throttle if they get a comfortable lead? NEW ENGLAND.
Pro Football – Monday
NY Giants +3.5 at Philadelphia Eagles (50): The Eagles played a solid game of ball control and posted their highest rushing total to date (186 yards). Giants’ QB Eli Manning had another solid outing against the 49ers, passing for 441 yards on 51 attempts with 1 pick but no sacks. Five of their last 6 meetings at this site have gone OVER with 4 of the games producing at least 57 points. OVER.
NFL Last Week: 5-6-2
NFL Season: 32-41-3
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]