Joshua Bessex / AP
Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 | 2 a.m.
For the first time in more than 30 years, the Buffalo Bills sit alone at the top of betting boards in Las Vegas by odds to win the Super Bowl.
Circa Sports lists the Bills at +450 (risking $1 to win $4.50) to win Super Bowl 56 going into Week 6, narrowly edging the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 5-to-1. Buffalo left no doubt that it was deserving of its status as football’s best team with a 38-20 destruction as 2.5-point underdogs at the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.
The last time the Bills were last favored to win the Lombardi Trophy was in January 1991 when they went into Super Bowl 25 as a 7-point favorite but lost to the Giants 20-19. That started a run of four straight years when Buffalo won the AFC but fell in the Super Bowl, where they were an underdog in the other three games.
The Bills wouldn’t be an underdog to any team on a neutral field right now, quite the turnaround for a franchise that hadn’t won a playoff game in 25 years until last season. They’re in another primetime spot this week, giving 5.5 points on the road to the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Read below to find a pick on that game as well as the rest of the Week 6 schedule. Picks are separated into three confidence categories and listed in rough order of confidence. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side. The overall record for the year stands at 42-37-1 picking every game against the spread.
Denver Broncos -3.5 vs. Las Vegas Raiders NFL teams traditionally respond with spirited efforts in their first game under an interim coach, but this feels different given the amount of gameday workload Jon Gruden took on from a football perspective. His playcalling and offensive gameplanning had been among the Raiders’ biggest advantages over the last few years, and some adjustment should be expected with Greg Olson filling the role — at least enough to add a half-point to this spread.
Kansas City Chiefs -7 at Washington Football Team Concerns around the Chiefs, especially their defense, are valid but overblown. They’ve played the toughest schedule in the league so far, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, but have a below-average slate the rest of the way, making now the time to buy on a bounce-back.
Philadelphia Eagles +7 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Eagles are too well-balanced — ranking 11th in both offense and DVOA — and too well-coached to be getting this many points at home against anyone, even the defending Super Bowl champions. The market has moved in the Eagles’ direction almost every week, and probably will again, so take the 7 while it’s available.
Baltimore Ravens -3 vs. Los Angeles Chargers The Ravens are getting some heat for a series of close wins, but the Chargers have been even more fortunate with three of their four victories coming by less than a touchdown. Chargers coach Brandon Staley’s aggressive, mathematically correct decision-making has played a large role in the success, but that won’t be as large of an edge against Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who’s approached games similarly for several seasons.
Buffalo Bills -5.5 at Tennessee Titans The Bills have covered the last four weeks by an average of 22 points per game, meaning the market is nowhere close to accurately pricing them. The Titans’ perception is also inflated in other way, as they’re not as good as their 3-2 record indicates considering they’re at -0.9 net yards per play against a weak schedule.
New York Giants +10 vs. Los Angeles Rams It looks like Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is trending toward playing and should also be surrounded by the return of receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, in which case this number is far too high. Behind Jones, the Giants’ passing offense has actually been efficient and therefore underrated by the market.
Houston Texans +9.5 at Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis’ pass defense is in disarray, ranking 30th in DVOA, and should be a significant step down from the New England unit that Houston rookie quarterback Davis Mills tore up for 312 yards and three touchdowns. His ascent won’t be sustainable long-term, but it could be this week with the Colts also coming off a short week following a Monday Night Football meltdown to the Ravens.
Pittsburgh Steelers -4.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks This line shifted seven points with the switch from the injured Russell Wilson to Geno Smith, and it’s up to bettors to decide whether that’s enough of an adjustment. It’s an inexact science, but Wilson has been rated too low by the market over the years and might be again here.
Arizona Cardinals +3 at Cleveland Browns This is a bargain price on the surface, but the health of the Cardinals’ roster should make bettors wary. The Browns might have an even lengthier injury report, but the Cardinals’ list looks more impactful with key players like center Rodney Hudson and edge rusher Chandler Jones expected to miss this game.
Chicago Bears +5 vs. Green Bay Packers The Bears have far and away the best defense the Packers have seen since Week 1, when the Saints dispatched them 38-3 as 4-point underdogs. Chicago should be able to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which might just be enough to make up for an obvious disadvantage at the skill positions.
New England Patriots +3.5 vs. Dallas Cowboys I don’t like laying 3.5 points on the road against a decent team with any visiting squad that’s not among the NFL’s very best. Dallas is trending toward reaching that upper category, but not quite there yet as its defense is undeniably improved but not fully repaired.
Carolina Panthers +1 vs. Minnesota Vikings There’s no big edge to be found here unless the number keeps rising, but the opening price of Carolina -1.5 was a better price. The Panthers have the second-ranked defense in the league by EPA (expected points added), a unit that should give a Vikings’ offense that’s regressed the last two weeks trouble.
Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5 vs. Miami Dolphins in London The Dolphins have been the least efficient team in the league by net yards per play, losing an average 1.6 more yards than they gain — more than double the Jaguars’ also troubling -0.6 average. But backing the Jaguars means counting on the circus and cluelessness of Urban Meyer to cease. There’s no right answer here.
Cincinnati Bengals -3.5 at Detroit Lions It’s a minor miracle that the Lions haven’t given up more than 24 points in three weeks despite the sky-high yardage and success rates they’re surrendering to opponents. At some point, their lack of high-end talent and additional injuries on defense are going to catch up to them.