NFL Week 6 line moves: Finding value when perceptions change
Attrition is real. Another week of NFL action sees more quarterbacks atop injury reports, which naturally swings a few point spreads for Week 6.
Here's our weekly look at how perception has changed around a handful of matchups, why that might be, and whether there are any opportunities to exploit.
Our first injury-related big move comes ahead of a matchup that was lined at Rams -3.5 in the summer. That number wasn't going to survive to last week's lookahead lines, but a scary head injury to Daniel Jones only served to push it into double digits.
The Giants hung in with the Rams in Los Angeles last season, but it's not just Jones who's banged up. Saquon Barkley is also likely to miss time, and it won't be surprising if Kenny Golladay does the same. This game is a pass for me unless New York gets a better injury outlook.
This line has jumped the proverbial pick'em fence from the Panthers as short favorites to the Vikings as one-point favorites on the road. Though that premise is often scary, the early-week sharp betting market just can't quit the Vikings, who were also bet up last week against the Lions. Things didn't work out, but I couldn't disagree with the move then, and I can't disagree with it this week.
The new car smell is starting to wear off on Sam Darnold, as he's giving out whiffs of his old team. Apparently, facing a squad other than the Jets, Saints, or Texans isn't great for your stock price. I like Minnesota here.
No injuries to blame for this line movement as the Ravens drop to -3 from the summer line of -5.5 and last week's lookahead of -3.5. Simply put, the Chargers have captured the imagination of the NFL world, and Lamar Jackson's 400-plus yards passing Monday night aren't having the effect one would expect.
With this line flashing at -2.5 (-120), there will likely be some value on Baltimore closer to game time. Fading Justin Herbert and Brandon Staley is an unappealing idea, but a cross-country flight after three big-time performances against the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns leaves the Chargers ripe for an excusable letdown.
This line is on the move in a big way. The Browns were -4.5 in the offseason, but the Cardinals are irrationally beloved at this point. Despite being outgained by Trey Lance and the 49ers, Arizona covered last week, and that's all that matters to surface-level bettors. So the line comes down past +3. But the market is starting to realize this might be a really good spot for the Browns, and bettors have to pay -120 or more for Cleveland -2.5 or Arizona +3. I hopped on the Browns -2.5 at a flatter price, but it will be interesting to see whether sportsbooks commit to one side or another.
This line is significant in its lack of movement. It's probably a bad sign for an organization when it removes its $10-million-per-season head coach and the line moves a half-point. Going from -3 to -3.5 is bigger than just a half-point, but the idea that the Raiders might be worth betting with Jon Gruden gone tells us all we need to know about his overall worth.
The back-and-forth nature of the Patriots' 2021 season continues with the rare home dog/road favorite/home dog trifecta of the last three weeks. The Cowboys are right there with the Cardinals when it comes to public perception, and there's no reason for bettors to stop backing Dallas - other than an over-adjustment from a game that was lined at PK in the summer.
Russell Wilson's injury obviously stretches a game that was lined under a field goal, but is moving up over -4.5 too much or too little?
For what it's worth, I currently have the Steelers as an average NFL team. With Wilson in, I had the Seahawks as one-point favorites. If Seattle is to be a rightful underdog, it has to be viewed as a 40/100 with Geno Smith.
Bettors who expect Seattle to be better than 40/100 should consider the Seahawks the play for them. Those who expect it to be worse should fire away on the Steelers.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.