NFL Betting Predictions: Week 6 Opening Line Report and Picks
This will supposedly be the last week that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell as he plans to report to the team during the Week 7 bye. There's still talk, though, that the Steelers are listening to trade offers for Bell, who is a pending unrestricted free agent. Pittsburgh likely wants at least a second-round pick for Bell because it should get a third-rounder in 2020 as compensation for him singing elsewhere in free agency.
Some guys in the locker room have called out Bell's selfishness and perhaps it might be addition by subtraction should he be traded. Plus, young James Conner gave a glimpse of what he can do Sunday in a blowout win over the Falcons that probably saved Pittsburgh's season. Conner, who starred at Pitt, rushed for 110 yards and two scores and had four catches for 75 yards. In doing so, he joined a guy named Jim Brown (1963) as the only players with multiple games with at least 100 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards and two rushing touchdowns in their team's first five games of a season. Bell has never had multiple 100+ rush yard, 2+ rush TD games in the same season.
Conner forced 12 missed tackles on Sunday, a number Bell has accomplished just once in his career. Conner now has as many 20-plus yard runs (three) as Bell had all of last season when his long was 27.
"I think James was tired of hearing about Le'Veon [Bell] so much, so he put on a heckuva performance," QB Ben Roethlisberger said after the win.
Pittsburgh visits AFC North-leading Cincinnati this Sunday, with the Bengals as opening 2.5-point favorites . Cincinnati might have been looking ahead to this one for a while Sunday as it was down 17-0 in the third at home to Miami before waking up and winning 27-17. The Bengals, who had two defensive touchdowns, hadn't been shut out in an opening half and rallied to win since 2004. It was only the fourth time in franchise history that they scored 24 points in the fourth quarter and won. AJ Green had six catches for 112 yards, moving ahead of Chad Johnson for the club record with his 32nd career 100-yard game.
Here are some Week 6 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Eagles-Giants), my in-depth Sunday matchup (most likely Bears-Dolphins) or the Monday night game (49ers-Packers) as I will be previewing them here individually.
Chargers at Browns (+1, 46): The Browns now have won twice as many games as they did the previous two seasons combined. They upset the Baltimore Ravens in overtime Sunday, 12-9. That's already Cleveland's third overtime game of the year, tying the 2002 Bills, 1995 Colts and 1987 Green Bay Packers for the most such games in a team's first five of a season since the regular-season overtime rule was instituted in 1974. This is the first year ever that there's been at least one OT game in each of the first five weeks. Baker Mayfield threw for a career-high 342 yards against one of the NFL's top defenses. The Ravens had been 15-5 against rookie quarterbacks all-time under John Harbaugh. The Chargers were basically the road team Sunday at home against the Raiders as there was way more Raiders fans in the stands at the StubHub Center. The Chargers have won seven of their last eight at their temporary home following Sunday's 26-10 victory. At 3-2, the Bolts are off to their best start since 2014. Cleveland's lone win from 2016-17 was against the Chargers. The pick: Browns.
Bucs at Falcons (-3.5, 57.5): Two atrocious defenses here, and I'm honestly not sure why either coordinator is still employed. Atlanta has allowed 121 points in a three-game losing streak. Perhaps Dan Quinn is being too loyal to Marquand Manuel, the team's defensive coordinator. When Quinn became the head coach of the Falcons in 2015, Manuel came with him from Seattle and was promoted to defensive backs coach. He was promoted to DC in February 2017. To be fair, perhaps no defense has dealt with more major injuries. The Falcons had dreams of being the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium, but at 1-4 that's likely not happening. Since 1990, just nine teams have made the playoffs after starting the season 1-4. The last was the Houston Texans of 2015, who finished 9-7 after such a start. The Bucs are off their bye week. Coach Dirk Koetter said following a 48-10 Week 4 loss in Chicago that everyone deserved to be fired, including himself. His DC is Mike Smith, the former Falcons head coach. Koetter will return Jameis Winston to his starting QB role as the Ryan Fitzmagic has run out. The pick: Falcons & "over."
Cardinals at Vikings (-10.5, 43): Minnesota is the biggest favorite on the board, but remember the Vikings were -17 a couple of week ago at home vs. Buffalo and got trounced. The decision to jettison Case Keenum for Kirk Cousins is looking better and better each week. Cousins threw for 301 yards and a TD with a completion percentage of 81.1 in Sunday's 23-21 win in Philadelphia. Cousins is the first player in NFL history to complete at least 30 passes in four consecutive games. Adam Thielen has become a monster as he had seven catches for 116 yards and a score. He's only the third player in league history with at least 100 receiving yards in each of his team's first five games to start a season. The record is seven by Charley Hennigan of the 1961 Oilers. The Cardinals ensured there would be no winless teams this year by getting their first W, a 28-18 victory in San Francisco. Josh Rosen was just 10-for-25 passing but did have a 75-yard scoring strike to fellow rookie Christian Kirk. David Johnson rushed for two scores. The Arizona defense forced five turnovers. The pick: Cardinals.
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