Patriots (PK) and first half under 24 One thing about Super Bowls is they don't tend to start with a bang.
NFL Week 6 picks
Packers at Dolphins – under 49.5
Ever since Aaron Rodgers told Green Bay fans to “R-E-L-A-X,” the Packers offense has come alive and Rodgers has played like the NFL MVP, completing 75.5 percent of his passes and throwing for seven touchdowns while hanging a combined 80 points on the Bears and Vikings. Neither of those teams, however, can be mentioned in the same breath as Miami on the defensive side of the ball. The Dolphins are allowing a league-low 5.7 yards per pass attempt and rank eighth in defensive DVOA. Combined with a formidable pass rush led by Cameron Wake, they should be able to at least slow Rodgers. The other (and more productive) way to do that is by keeping him off the field all together, which will surely be the offensive game plan for the Dolphins, who will be helped to that end by the return of Knowshon Moreno. Moreno and Miami’s fifth-ranked ground game has the ability to keep the chains and clock moving against the Packers’ dead-last ranked rushing defense. And when the Dolphins do try to throw the ball, Green Bay’s pass defense (6.0 yards per pass attempt, No. 5 in the league) and pass rush (12 sacks in five games) is well equipped to cause disruption and limit big plays.
Patriots (-1) at Bills
The common NFL refrain is that a team is never as bad as its worst loss or as good as its best win. In the case of the Patriots, those polar-opposite performances came within the span of six days vs. the Chiefs and Bengals. The key difference between the outcomes was New England’s ability to protect Tom Brady. The offensive line looked like it was playing blindfolded against Kansas City before pulling a one-eighty and solidifying behind a new rotation in the Cincy game. If the line can keep Brady upright against Buffalo’s sensational front four, the Patriots will be able to put up points with their part throwback, part new-look double tight end attack. With Tim Wright becoming increasingly featured in game plans as he gains more understanding of the playbook and Rob Gronkowski officially starting to be unleashed a bit (evidenced by the seam routes that were mostly absent before the Bengals game), the New England offense is rounding into form. Defensively, as long as Buffalo’s two-headed rushing attack of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller can be held in check, Darrelle Revis and the ball-hawking Pats secondary will have a distinct advantage vs. Kyle Orton, who despite a strong showing in his debut last week, still threw a interception that was returned for a touchdown by the Lions.
Seahawks (-8) vs. Cowboys
At first glance, this line look at least a point too high. The Cowboys have passed test after test since their Week 1 disaster vs. the 49ers, erasing a 21-point deficit in St. Louis, annihilating the Saints and outlasting a tough Texans team last week. There is no doubt Dallas is for real. So why is Seattle the side to ride? Simply put, the Seahawks have made a habit of embarrassing high-caliber teams that come into CenturyLink Field. As good as their home-field advantage has been over the last few years, it’s that much better against the cream of the crop. Whether it’s a matter of hubris or pride (likely both), Seattle’s most dominant performances since the end of 2012 have come against the Niners (wins of 29 and 26 points), Saints (27) and Packers (20). They also led Denver, 17-3, in Week 3 before settling for a 26-20 overtime win and cover. All told, that’s 5-0 ATS with an average margin of victory of 21.6 points in games against the brass of the NFL. Dallas has been humming during its four-game winning streak, but a major part of its success has been Demarco Murray, who will have to contend with a ferocious Seattle run defense that has stuffed the likes of Eddie Lacy (2.8 yards per carry), Ryan Matthews (2.8) and Alfred Morris (2.2) this season. The Cowboys enter this matchup with a superior record, but look for the Hawks to leave no room for debate as to the superior team.
Giants at Eagles – under 51
Contrarian plays on high totals can be a risky move, but the nature of public bettors and their tendencies toward the over can actually create value on the opposite side for numbers in the high 40s and 50s, which obviously point to a shootout. In this Sunday night matchup, there a few things that indicate a lower-scoring game could be on the horizon. First, neither offense is as good as a look at their box scores would suggest, with the Giants averaging just 5.1 yards per play (27th overall) and the Eagles 5.3 (19th). The Giants have scored at least 30 points in three straight weeks, but they benefited from three turnovers vs. the Texans before steamrolling the Redskins and Falcons and their putrid defenses. In their two games against top units, the Giants were held to 14 points apiece vs. the Lions and Cardinals. The Eagles’ bottom line in terms of overall points, meanwhile, has been boosted by a defense and special teams that have combined for seven touchdowns in five games. Philly’s offense has struggled in general, with Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy off to rocky starts, but especially in the red zone, converting just 37.5 percent of their opportunities into touchdowns, fourth-worst in the NFL. The Giants’ red-zone defense, conversely, has been particularly stout, with a 46.7-percent touchdown rate (sixth-best in the league). Finally, the recent history of this rivalry at Lincoln Financial Field has trended toward the under, with totals of 22, 36, 45 and 44 over the last four years.
Last week: 1-2-1
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