Underdogs were all the rage last week, going 11-3 ATS and posting eight outright winners. That is a victory for parity – and for the sportsbooks – and we’ll see this week if that is a trend that is going to continue or if the bettors are going to get yo-yoed this week, with the favorites evening things out on Sunday.
Here are Doc’s Sports Week 6 NFL power rankings:
1. Atlanta Falcons (6-0) – Atlanta’s perfect start is a testament to how important schemes, coaching and attitude is in the NFL. The Falcons have had teams of equal talent over the past three years. But their shift to Dirk Koetter’s offense and Mike Nolan’s defense has made this a more aggressive, attack-minded team, rather than the passive, methodical groups we’ve seen the last several seasons.
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2. New York Giants (4-2) – I don’t know how many times people have to see it before they realize that you don’t mess with the Giants as an underdog. They are back to the role of favorite this week in what is, to me, the most intriguing matchup on the board. It will be interesting to see how the Giants back seven can contain Robert Griffin III. The Giants had owned the Skins until last season, when Washington pulled out the 2-0 sweep.
3. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) – It’s time to start talking about the fact that the Niners have been manhandled by the only two teams with a winning record that they have played this year (Minnesota, Giants). And their wins have all come against bottom-tier teams. San Francisco is 15-4-3 ATS after a loss to the number and 32-15-4 ATS after a loss of two touchdowns or more. The 49ers are also 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games against Seattle and the host is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
4. New England Patriots (3-3) – It is disgusting that the Patriots aren’t going to beat their 12.5 season win total this year. They now have three losses by a total of five points despite the fact that they probably have their best team of the last four or five years. The belief this week is that the Patriots will take out their frustrations by whooping up on a weak Jets team. But the Patriots have only beaten the Jets by 11 or more points three times in the last 11 meetings, and the public is going to be all over the Pats in this one.
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-1) – Losing Ray Lewis for the year is a total game changer for the Ravens. But his injury situation is not the only disturbing sign for this team. Haloti Ngata has a sprained right knee, starting corner LaDarius Webb is out for the year, and Ed Reed has been playing on one leg already all season and looks like he could go down at any moment. Baltimore is already suffering an identity crisis on offense. If they lose either Ngata or Reed on defense – and both are already banged up – this team will go in a serious tailspin.
6. Houston Texans (5-1) – The red flags are definitely waving in Houston. Losing Brian Cushing is a major blow, and now that DeMeco Ryan trade isn’t looking like it was such a good idea. Houston has played one B- game this year, and that was at Denver. Other than that I have seen nothing but C or C+ efforts out of this team. This team is not nearly as good as its record suggests, and I think they are due for a regression at the window after a 12-4-2 ATS run. They have double-revenge for two tough losses to the Ravens last year. But that revenge angle didn’t work out so well for San Fran last week, did it?
7. Chicago Bears (4-1) – The Bears have revenge in this week’s game against Detroit. Chicago was overrun in the Motor City last year in Detroit’s first “Monday Night Football” game in a decade. The Bears nearly snuck in the back door at the end of that game, and it is actually the only time in Chicago’s last six MNF appearances that they haven’t found the cash. The Bears are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 conference games and 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) – The Steelers will likely be without Troy Polamalu again this weekend. Center Maurkice Pouncey is also likely to miss Sunday night’s game, further damaging a flimsy offensive line. Pittsburgh has blown three fourth-quarter leads, including ones to lowly Oakland and Tennessee. The Steelers have now lost four straight on the road and they are 0-7 ATS in their last seven away from home. However, they have dominated Cincinnati like no other. Pittsburgh is 18-7-1 ATS in the last 26 meetings and a spectacular 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 trips to Cincinnati.
9. Minnesota Vikings (4-2) – As I have pointed out, this team is not built to be bet on as a favorite. But this weekend they find themselves laying a boatload of points to visiting Arizona. The Vikings pummeled the Cardinals last October, jumping out to a 28-0 first quarter lead en route to a 34-10 home win as a 3.5-point favorite. In fact, this is the fifth year in a row that these two teams have squared off. Minnesota is 3-1 straight up in those games but just 2-2 ATS. The underdog is 3-1 in those four games and is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings going back to 2003.
10. Denver Broncos (3-3) – If these guys ever put two halves together, watch out. Denver made it through the most difficult part of its schedule at 3-3. And if they can stop dropping the ball – literally – this team has the inside track to winning the pathetic AFC West.
11. Green Bay Packers (3-3) – Apparently the general public is back on the Packers bandwagon. Over 90 percent of the early public betting is coming in on Green Bay for its trip to St. Louis this weekend. Green Bay will be able to cause severe mismatches against the St. Louis secondary, and I will be stunned if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t throw at Janoris Jenkins at least 10 times.
12. Seattle Seahawks (4-2) – I give the Seahawks credit. Their defense is among the best in the game, and their home field advantage is serious. But the reality is that these guys should be 2-4 right now. Seattle is 18-37-2 ATS on the road and just 7-18-1 ATS when they play on grass. The seven points that Seattle is catching this week seems inviting. But only three of the last 10 meetings with the 49ers have been decided by seven points or less.
13. Arizona Cardinals (4-2) – I said last week that Arizona needs to cut and run from Kevin Kolb. Their hand will likely be forced this week as it has been reported that Kolb has a chest injury. I think it will be enough to keep him out this week and the Cards will go back to John Skelton, who is coming back from his own injury. I think that Skelton is a better fit for the offense, but he didn’t look sharp in overtime last week. (Forget the fact that the game never should’ve went to OT.) This is going to be a very interesting week for this team.
14. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3) – This week might be a put up-or-shut up game for the Bungles. The talent on the team is obvious to the naked eye. But Cincinnati has not played well in a month and is starting to look like paper tigers. The home team is just 6-14-1 ATS in the Steelers series and the Bengals are 0-7-1 ATS in their last eight divisional games. Cincinnati is just 3-10-2 ATS in its last 15 games overall, and I’m starting to feel like my original assessment of this group – losers – was right and that I was wrong to start drinking the Kool-Aid a couple weeks ago.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) – It’s going to be a fun two weeks in the Philadelphia media. The Eagles cut the cord with defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, erstwhile offensive line coach/scapegoat. What is somewhat stunning about that is the defense (along with Shady McCoy) had been one of the few positive things about this extraordinarily overrated team through the first six weeks.
16. St. Louis Rams (2-3) – The Rams have played “under” in four straight games with an average of just 28.0 points per game – total, combined – in those four outings. This week they match up with a Green Bay team that has played “over” in three straight games with an average of 59.0 total points per game. It will be interesting to see which team is able to dictate the tempo this Sunday.
17. Washington Redskins (3-3) – If you can find some NFL Rookie of the Year odds I would go ahead and throw $100 down on Robert Griffin III. Washington’s red zone defense was stout against Minnesota, allowing touchdowns on just two of seven trips inside the 20. However, that isn’t going to hold up against accomplished veteran quarterbacks. And I think that the Redskins and their No. 27 ranked defense are going to continue to be a solid over play. Washington is 5-1 against the total with an average of 58.5 combined points per game.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) – This team is better than its record suggests. They really outplayed the Giants and Cowboys on the road this year and have played three solid games at home. I still don’t trust Josh Freeman, though, and he still just looks lost in the pocket at times. But the Bucs offense will be as explosive as it was last week if they let Freeman continue to take shots down the field. The team is definitely going to miss Aqib Talib this weekend against New Orleans. The corner is suspended until Nov. 5.
19. Dallas Cowboys (2-3) – If anyone was shocked at how Tony Romo and Jason Garrett mismanaged their final timeout on the last drive, and how their blatant stupidity cost this team a win, they obviously haven’t watched the Cowboys over the last 10 years. Dallas can best be described thusly: LOSERS. And that stink doesn’t wash out. Seventeen of their last 29 games have been decided by a touchdown or less and 14 of 29 have been decided by four points or less. So be careful about taking and laying the points with these clowns.
20. New Orleans Saints (1-4) – I know that everyone is expecting the Saints to come roaring out of their bye week and go on some incredible run to get back into the playoff mix. Not me. The defense is still horrendous and they cannot beat teams if they can’t get stops. However, the under has come through in seven straight games with Tampa Bay and the under is 13-5 in New Orleans’ last 18 divisional games.
21. Detroit Lions (2-3) – The Lions are apparently at their most dangerous when they are down two touchdowns. The most efficient part of Detroit’s offense has been deep clearing routes giving way to underneath stuff to the running backs and slot receivers. They are No. 19 in yards per pass attempt and No. 21 in yards per completion, which are both down from last year. The Lions are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games, 1-7 ATS on the road, and 1-9 ATS against a team with a winning record. The win, in all three situations, was last week’s fluke comeback against the Eagles.
22. San Diego Chargers (3-3) – Losers. The Chargers are losers. And they are still one of the most overrated teams in football in the eyes of the general public. It is going to be a long two weeks for this crew.
23. Carolina Panthers (1-4) – Wait, so Cam Newton ISN’T redefining the quarterback position? I’m confused. Teams off a bye went 4-0 ATS last week. But Carolina is another team that I’m not sure found the light switch during the off week. Their offensive personnel suggests that they should be a ground-and-pound, rush-first team. But they don’t have the defense to play that way.
24. Miami Dolphins (3-3) – I admitted last week that this team is much better than I expected. I am not interested to see what they can put together during their bye week, which actually is coming at a bad time. This team has some real nice momentum right now.
25. New York Jets (3-3) – I don’t even want to acknowledge this team. The Jets are terrible. And the worst part about their awfulness is that they still think they are good! The Jets and their fans are the equivalent of the right-wing crazies that will still try to defend their belief that George W. Bush was a great president. They can try to make whatever convoluted, nonsensical arguments they want, but the facts are that both are/were a train wreck. The Jets are just 6-13-1 ATS in the last 20 meetings with New England, and the visitor is just 2-5 ATS.
26. Buffalo Bills (3-3) – One win and the Bills are now back to being the favorite this week against the Titans. How can anyone lay points with this team? I can’t wait until Mike Vick is their quarterback next year.
27. Indianapolis Colts (2-3) – I’m not going to try to project what Andrew Luck will be in his career. But I know that right now he is not very good. The kid just throws the ball without looking. He really is making some awful throws right at coverage. I am not exaggerating when I say that he should have nine interceptions – again, not exaggerating; watch the tape – in his last two games. I am cooling on the Colts as I cool on Luck.
28. Cleveland Browns (1-5) – Trent Richardson’s bruised ribs is another blow to a team that was, perhaps, just starting to build some momentum. I know that sounds ridiculous given that the Browns have won just one of their last 12 games. But Cleveland has yet to play a team that isn’t currently at or above .500. They are 3-2-1 ATS in those games and probably should’ve beaten the number in their losses to Buffalo and the Giants. I don’t believe they are as bad as their statistics suggest. But I’ve been wrong before.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) – So, did they find a quarterback during the bye week? No? Ok then. Moving on.
30. Tennessee Titans (2-4) – Teams off the Thursday night game are just 3-6-1 ATS so far this year. And one of those covers came last week when St. Louis snuck in the back door against Miami in a loss. Colin McCarthy is a major difference-maker for that defense. That kid can play. And this is a dangerous team to bet against with perpetually-underrated Matt Hasselbeck under center. They still aren’t very good, especially defensively, but this team has enough moxie to make things interesting each week.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) – Romeo Crennel dude. Romeo Crennel. This might be his finest work yet. And by “finest” I mean laughably incompetent. But this whole season is on the Chiefs management for thinking for one second that Crennel was capable of leading this team. The Chiefs have been outscored by a total of 249 points in their last 24 games dating back to the end of the 2010-11 season.
32. Oakland Raiders (1-4) – Still losers. And if you bet on this team as a favorite you deserve all the bad things that happen to you. Oakland is 4-17 ATS as a favorite dating back to 2005-06 and they are 8-24 ATS when laying points since their Super Bowl loss in January of 2003. The Raiders are 17-38-1 ATS in their last 56 games against a team below .500.
Robert Ferringo is a professional NFL handicapper has banked nearly $10,000 in football profit over the last 11 months he has had football picks. He nailed his 7-Unit Monday Night Football Game of the Year last week and will have another top play on MNF again this week. He will keep it going this week and is looking forward to building on his stellar football handicapping resume again this fall. You can check him out here.