Week 6 of the NFL opened with Broncos-Chargers going comfortably "under" the final line of 46 points. The rest of this week's slate features three games where the "over/under" line has undergone notable changes. Colts-Texans has risen to 48.5 from a 46 opening line; Ravens-Giants has risen 1.5 points to 45; and Jaguars-Bears has been bet down a full point to 46.
While the public has spoken on those three matchups, we're looking elsewhere for our Week 6 over/under plays. Below is a three-pack of picks with wagering strategies, including a best bet on 49ers-Bills.
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San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills (44.5)
The big storyline here is obviously Colin Kaepernick taking over at quarterback for the 49ers. A change was needed in San Francisco, but it's hard to envision things being much better with Kap behind center. He was one of the worst QB's in the league before getting benched last season and somehow was unable to beat out Blaine Gabbert for the starting job this preseason. Physically, he looks nothing like the Kap that won an NFC championship three years ago. And he also draws a difficult assignment with a cross-country trip to face an improving Bills defense and points could be at a premium for the 49ers.
Meanwhile, the Bills are one of the league's best running teams and this week they catch the league's second-worst run defense. San Francisco has been gouged for 146.8 yards per game on the ground this season. That bodes well for a resurgent LeSean McCoy, who in the previous two weeks has had his best games as a Bill. It increasingly looks like Rex Ryan made a good move by replacing his offensive coordinator.
If Buffalo methodically moves the ball on the ground and eats up clock, as the numbers suggest, this figures as a low-scoring game.
Pick: Under, 3 Units
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins (48)
The Steelers might have the most explosive offense in football, and the Dolphins haven't really stopped anyone to this point. That would seemingly portend a high-scoring affair, but there are reasons to think otherwise. For starters, Miami's offense is anemic. Ryan Tannehill is barely an average quarterback at this point. Of course, getting sacked 11 times the past two weeks alone makes thing awfully difficult. It seems hard to envision the Dolphins approaching 20 points.
As for the Steelers, they've posted 43 and 31 points, respectively, the last two weeks, adding to their goal of averaging 30 points a game for the season. But could there be a slight letdown this week? A road trip for a non-divisional game with a showdown against the Patriots looming could provide exactly that. It wouldn't be a big surprise if the Steelers started slowly in this one. It's also worth noting the under is 7-2 in the Steelers last nine games overall and 5-1 in their last six road games.
Pick: Under, 3 Units
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions (43.5)
Both of these teams have struggled to put points on the board this season. That's no surprise with the Rams, but it has been with the Lions. QB Matt Stafford has led a middling passing attack, and the 23rd-ranked ground game (89.8 YPG) has been largely non-existent in Detroit. However, the Lions did earn an emotional, hard-fought 24-23 win over the Eagles last week with Stafford throwing for three touchdowns. That's sometimes the kind of effort that can jumpstart a season.
The Rams defense has failed to live up to the immense hype to this point. Los Angeles ranks 28th against the run (122.2 YPG) and 19th in total defense (364.6 YPG). This week they could be without three starting defensive lineman (Pro Bowl DE Robert Quinn, DE William Hayes, DT Michael Brockers) and starting corner Trumaine Johnson has already been ruled out. That's a lot of firepower potentially out of the lineup.
Offensively, Case Keenum is still well below average but at least he's gotten better since the horrendous start. This week he faces a Lions defense that ranks 23rd against the pass (263.4 YPG) and 24th in total defense (378.2 YPG). Perhaps the Rams offense can do enough to help push this one over the number. Also note the "over" is 4-1 in the last five games at Ford Field.
Pick: Over, 5 Units
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