NFL Power Rankings Week 6
Apparently, betting on the NFL is as easy as just taking the points.
Underdogs have been absolutely killing it early in the season. Last week the dogs went 10-5 against the spread, and so far this season, puppies are an outstanding 46-31 ATS. That’s a 60 percent success rate through five weeks of the year.
One of the things that stood out about last week was the number of teams that lost outright but covered the number. It is a common misconception that NFL teams often lose but cover the spread. Over the last 25 years, the teams that win the game outright cover the spread about 81 percent of the time. That means that only one out of every five times will a team lose but beat the number.
In Week 5, five teams – Cleveland, Atlanta, Arizona, Cincinnati and Las Vegas – lost but covered the spread. A sixth team, Chicago, lost and took a ‘push’ on a seven-point line.
Traditionally, home underdogs are considered valuable commodities. But road underdogs have been the real moneymakers this season, going 28-18 ATS this season for a 61 percent success rate. Home dogs are cashing a respectable 58 percent of the time (18-13), but just taking the points with the road team has been the best approach in the NFL.
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Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Buffalo Bills (4-1) – The Bills bombed the Chiefs 38-20 last October in Arrowhead. However, this will be the fifth meeting between Buffalo and Kansas City since the start of the 2020 season, and the Chiefs have won three of four both SU and ATS. I have to say I’m surprised that the Bills, who didn’t play well at Baltimore or at Miami recently, are favored on the road in this one.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) – We all agree that the Chris Jones roughing call was a joke and a potential game-changer. I also loved the fact that the Kansas City fans didn’t let it go, booing and chanting against the refs for 15-20 minutes after the call. It had an impact. Eight of the final nine penalties in the game were called against Las Vegas.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (5-0) – The Eagles have lost three straight games to the Cowboys. And I have to think they will want a little revenge after two humiliating games against them last year, losing 51-26 and 41-21 against The Boys. The Cowboys have outscored Philly 129-64 in the last three meetings, and only one of the last six showdowns have been decided by fewer than 14 points.
4. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) – Justin Tucker is now 17-for-17 on field goals in the final minute of regulation. The Ravens are also now 19-2 straight up in their last 21 primetime games under John Harbaugh. The Ravens are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games against teams with a winning record and 34-13 ATS on the road against teams that are over .500.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) – They just stopped playing. The Bucs got up 21-0 and looked like they were out to make a statement last week in a matchup to determine first place. Their next three drives were three-and-outs that gained all of 15 total yards. These guys deserved to lose that game.
6. Minnesota Vikings (4-1) – This team has the look of a group that will win 12 or 13 regular season games, rope people into thinking that they are real contenders in the NFC, and then get upset at home in their opening round playoff game. The Vikings are 0-4 ATS after a win and 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.
7. San Francisco 49ers (3-2) – The 49ers are now 7-0 SU and ATS in their last seven early kickoffs played in the Eastern Time Zone. For the fourth year in a row, they are staying east, spending the week in between games against Carolina and Atlanta in West Virginia. We will see if they can run that streak to 4-0 ATS after their bonding week up in coal country.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (3-2) – Brandon Staley has been reading his own press clippings about how aggressive and brilliant his fourth down maneuvers were last year. That was a ridiculous call to go for it late against Cleveland, and Staley got bailed out when the Browns missed a game-winning field goal. Keenan Allen’s (since deleted) tweet summed it up: “WTF are we doing?”
9. Miami Dolphins (3-2) – One play. Teddy Bridgewater got one play before the NFL’s complete and total overreaction to Tua-Gate cost the Dolphins yet again. We won’t know until Thursday if Bridgewater will be available this week. I am expecting him to be. More importantly, though, Miami needs to fix a defense that is No. 25 in yards allowed and No. 29 in points allowed.
10. Green Bay Packers (3-2) – The Packers are now just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games, and this team is not passing the eye test at all. Their offense lacks any explosiveness, and the defense is not making any impact plays. The Packers have generated the fourth-fewest turnovers in the NFL so far this season.
11. Dallas Cowboys (4-1) – Micah Parsons is a demigod. And I am interested to see what type of havoc he can wreak against Philadelphia’s unique offense. The Cowboys are 22-7 ATS in their last 29 divisional games, and they are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 road games.
12. Los Angeles Rams (2-3) – The Rams have been outscored by 36 points through their five games. That is worse than Arizona (18 points) and Seattle (27 points), two other 2-3 teams in the NFC West. I may still have these guys ranked too high.
13. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) – Tough loss for the Bengals last week, but that is a third straight ATS win for Cincinnati. This week is their fourth road game in five weeks, with close losses at Dallas and Baltimore sandwiched around a win at the Jets. The Bengals have been outscored 78-40 in the first half of their five games this year, and they will need a faster start in New Orleans this week.
14. Tennessee Titans (3-2) – Mike Vrabel’s group continues to defy all reason and logic when it comes to their performance both SU and ATS. Penalties, injuries, terrible secondary play, and the league’s No. 30 total offense have all plagued this group. Yet here they are, back in the driver’s seat of the AFC South.
15. New England Patriots (3-2) – Run the ball and play good defense. It just never goes out of style. The Patriots are 29-10 ATS in their last 39 games against teams with a losing record but just 1-5 ATS in their last six road games. The Patriots hammered the Browns 45-7 at home last November, and they are 3-0 ATS in this series since 2016.
16. New Orleans Saints (2-3) – Two more giveaways (to just one takeaway) and the Saints have extended their league-worst turnover margin to minus-8 on the year. Dennis Allen taking over the head coaching job has obviously had a negative impact on the defense. The Saints are allowing an average of 25.6 points per game this season and are yet to hold an opponent below 20 points.
17. Cleveland Browns (2-3) – You can’t be a run-the-ball-and-play-good-defense team and make as many mistakes as the Browns do. Cleveland had two missed field goals and a red zone interception last week in a two-point loss. The Browns are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games and simply cannot lose back-to-back at the Dawg Pound if they have any hope of being a playoff team.
18. Las Vegas Raiders (1-4) – I didn’t agree with Josh McDaniels’ decision to go for the lead with 4:27 to play on Monday. I never mind teams playing for the win with a two-point conversion in the final seconds. But that’s not what Vegas was doing. Even if they took the lead, all they were doing was putting the Chiefs into four-down mode for their final drives. Oh, and they should spend their bye week preparing to play without Devante Adams.
19. Arizona Cardinals (2-3) – The Cardinals are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games against the Seahawks, and they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games in Seattle. The road team is 12-3 ATS in the last 15 meetings between these two teams.
20. Atlanta Falcons (2-3) – The Falcons are still the league’s only undefeated team against the spread. Atlanta’s games have been decided by just a total of 20 points this year. They lost 31-13 at San Francisco last year. But that game was just 10-10 a minute before halftime.
21. New York Giants (4-1) – I give the Giants all the credit in the world for their resilience in London. I’m still not buying into this group, though. They have just a +10-point differential and passing attack that gains yards purely by accident. An easy schedule should help them get to 10 wins for just the second time in the past decade, but this is not a good team.
22. Seattle Seahawks (2-3) – Geno Smith is kind of the perfect example about my long-held belief about developing quarterbacks in the NFL. Guys shouldn’t start until their third season in the league. The underdog is 12-2 ATS in the last 14 games against Arizona.
23. New York Jets (3-2) – I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that last week’s 8.1 yards per point against Miami is completely unsustainable. Ditto for their 5-for-6 red zone efficiency last week. They only outgained the Dolphins by 27 yards last week but somehow managed to win by 23 points. The Jets have outscored opponents 58-20 in the fourth quarter this season.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) – Wait, so the Jaguars AREN’T the trendy sleeper team in the AFC anymore? I’m going to keep banging the drum because I want it firmly on the record: Trevor Lawrence is trash. His end zone interception early in the second half is about as awful of a decision/pass that you will ever see from a quarterback.
25. Detroit Lions (1-4) – Coming into this year, the Detroit offensive line was supposed to be the strength of the team. So far this year, in third- and fourth-and-short situations, the Lions are converting just 53 percent of the time, No. 28 in the NFL.
26. Indianapolis Colts (2-2-1) – This is a quick revenge turnaround for the Colts, who lost 24-0 at Jacksonville on Sept. 18. The Colts have gone ‘under’ in 10 straight games, and I am stunned that this week’s total is over 41 points.
27. Denver Broncos (2-3) – I feel like enough ink has been spilled, nationally, about the struggles of the Broncos, Nate Hackett and Rusty Wilson. Despite that, the majority of the early betting in this week’s MNF matchup with the Chargers is coming in on Denver. That hasn’t’ helped to keep the line down, though, and I won’t be surprised if the spread on this game reaches 6.0 by kickoff.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) – With games against Tampa Bay, at Miami, at Philadelphia, New Orleans and Cincinnati on tap, things are likely to get worse before they get better in the Steel City.
29. Washington Commanders (1-4) – I’m never going to defend Carson Wentz, who is a clown. However, how does offensive coordinator Scott Turner have a job? The failson of Norv, Turner has been an OC for four offenses. Three of them have finished in the Top 10 in passing attempts. All three of those years his teams finished in the bottom five in net yards per attempt. How awful is your offense if you are No. 2 in pass attempts but only No. 20 in passing yards, No. 31 in passing touchdowns and No. 31 in NYA?
30. Chicago Bears (2-3) – This Bears team is resilient. I will give them that. Matt Eberflus, so far, has looked like a good hire for this franchise. He has everyone rowing in the right direction, and this team plays hard every single week. They are woefully overmatched each week, but they are still playing physical football.
31. Carolina Panthers (1-4) – I don’t think there is any doubt that the Panthers will be a better team this week without both Matt Rhule and Baker Mayfield, both of whom are losers. I am expecting P.J. Walker to give this offense a boost. The Panthers have averaged just 16.1 points per game over their last 10 while going 1-9 ATS.
32. Houston Texans (1-3-1) – Hilarious. That is really the only word to describe Houston’s nine-game winning streak over Jacksonville. The Texans are non-competitive against everyone else in the league. But they own the Jaguars. Perfect.
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