NFL Odds: Week 6 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
by Alan Matthews - 10/14/2016
Can you imagine if the Denver Broncos had somehow scored after recovering that late onside kick Thursday night in San Diego and sent the game into overtime? I have zero doubt in my mind if that happened that Bolts coach Mike McCoy would be out of a job today. The Chargers tried yet again to blow a big fourth-quarter lead but held on to improve to 2-4.
And it's the 1-4 teams that I will address today -- I'm mainly looking at defending NFC champion Carolina. The NFL expanded its playoff format to 12 teams 26 years ago. Since then, no team that was three games under .500 after Week 5 or later has ever reached the Super Bowl. But 17 made the playoffs and seven won their division, so hope is not lost for the Panthers, Chargers, Jets or Dolphins. The Bears and 49ers are also 1-4, but they aren't going to the playoffs. The Jaguars and Saints would be 1-4 with losses Sunday.
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Last year, two 1-4 teams made the playoffs: Houston won the AFC South with a 9-7 record, and Kansas City actually started 1-5 before winning its final 10 regular-season games to take the AFC's top wild-card spot. The last time a team at least three games under after Week 5 didn't make the playoffs was 2013. Two teams at least three games under .500 after Week 5 have reached a conference championship game: the 1996 Jaguars and 2002 Titans. Carolina is familiar with this type of rally as it was 4-8-1 in 2014 but won the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record.
The Panthers opened as 3-point favorites in New Orleans for this Sunday but it's now 2.5 with the Saints, who come off the bye week, taking a solid lean. That surprises me a bit considering Carolina will get back quarterback Cam Newton from his one-game absence due to a concussion and running back Jonathan Stewart, who has missed three with a hamstring injury. Newton has murdered the Saints in the past three against them, completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns with one interception He also has rushed 29 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns. I know the Panthers are on a short week, but I would certainly give those points now that it's under a field goal. The total of 53 on this game is the highest of the week.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 6.
Chiefs at Raiders (+1, 47): This might be the most perplexing line move I have seen this season as the Raiders opened as 2-point favorites. What have the Chiefs done to deserve a 3-point swing here? True, they are off the bye. And, true, former Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles practiced in full this week for the first time since tearing his ACL around this time last year. And, true, QB Alex Smith has a 5-1 record against the Raiders, completing 61 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions in those games. And, true, Chiefs coach Andy Reid has a 15-2 record in his career coming out of the bye week. Wait, what was my point again? It's interesting that Reid is so good out of the bye but has so much trouble with late in-game clock management at times. The Raiders might be without top running back Latavius Murray a second straight week, but I'd still take them as home dogs.
49ers at Bills (-9, 44): This line has risen two points at some sportsbooks and now Buffalo is the biggest favorite on the board and also a likely popular Survivor Pool pick this week. Of course the big story here is Colin Kaepernick making his first start in almost a year under center for the 49ers. Coach Chip Kelly obviously realizes this season is lost already and he might as well give Kap a shot to see if he fits in the offense. While I disagree with Kaepernick's National Anthem protests, I give him credit for renegotiating his contract with the team this week. Essentially, Kaepernick waived any guaranteed money next year if he was injured, and he can become a free agent after the year. That same injury clause is why the Redskins never played Robert Griffin III last year. You have to respect guys who bet on themselves like Kaepernick is doing here. Buffalo might be without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus due to a hamstring injury. You may not be aware that Buffalo linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is second in the NFL with seven sacks. If he has three on Sunday, he would tie for the most through six games since 2001; Elvis Dumervil had 10 with Denver in 2009. The more this line grows, the less I like the Bills.
Eagles at Redskins (+2.5, 44.5): I don't really get this line, either, as the Redskins opened as 1.5-point favorites at some books. Washington almost surely will be without Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed for this NFC East matchup as Reed is dealing with a concussion. That's scary for him because Reed has had multiple concussions, so you might not see him for a while. Despite missing two games with a concussion last year, Reed set a Redskins record for single-season receiving yards (952) by a tight end. He got a big extension in May. Reed leads all Washington receivers with 33 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns this year. Redskins top cornerback Josh Norman will play through a badly sprained right wrist but will wear a cast so that could affect his chances of picking off a pass. The Eagles got bad news this week when Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson's appeal of his 10-game PED suspension was denied by an arbitrator. He can return Week 16. Rookie fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai (buy a consonant dude!), who has yet to be active for a game, will take over Johnson's starting spot Philly also could be missing top cornerback Leodis McKelvin for this one due to a hamstring injury.
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