Written By Billy Attridge
With a quarter of the season in the books for most clubs (Com’on Tennessee), we can start forming opinions on what teams truly are and their potential, or lack thereof moving forward. Only two deep-dives NFL Week 5 as the board is thin due to COVID and a key injury to Lamar Jackson. We’ll tackle Jason Garrett’s ‘revenge game’ in Dallas, and assess the total in Pittsburgh to see if the move is justified. Even if you don’t have cold, hard cash on these games, it’s always important to be in tune with the market and find out why prices move, or could in the future. As always, I set the table for next week with FanDuel sports book’s NFL Week 6 look-ahead lines.
New York Giants +10 (-115) @ Dallas Cowboys:
The look-ahead line from last week had Dallas installed as an 11.5-point favorite over New York. After the conclusion of Week 4, Fanduel sports book re-opened the game Dallas -10 and immediately that key number was gobbled. We haven’t seen much movement since, but I would expect this to continue dropping as limits increase. The Cowboys are dealing with a myriad of injuries, notably to the offensive line. Center Joe Looney appears to be headed towards IR, right tackle La’el Collins is out for the season, and backup Cam Irving still isn’t ready to suit up. Thursday afternoon an even bigger bomb dropped, as all-world left tackle Tyron Smith started gathering medical opinions on his neck injury after a setback. Terrance Steele looks to have earned the start at right tackle this week, although poor play saw him benched against the Browns for Brandon Knight.
In comes the 0-4 New York Giants and surprisingly defense has been their calling card. The big fellas upfront have performed better than anticipated; the Giants defensive line is 12th in adjusted line yards and 11th in adjusted sack rate while being stingy against the rush (4th in defensive rush success rate). Linebacker Blake Martinez has been flying around, grading out 2nd in the league in run defense with 5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Corner James Bradberry has shined as well, leading the NFL with 7 pass break-ups and grading out 3rd in coverage. I wouldn’t be doing this game justice if I didn’t discuss the obvious connections between the two teams past being divisional rivals. Jason Garrett returns to his old stomping grounds this week to exact revenge on the team that fired him; it appears ‘The Clapper’ is sharing any and all information with the Giants defensive minds to form a game-plan equipped to slow down the explosive Cowboys offense. Another, and maybe lesser known connection, is Giants offensive line coach Marc Columbo, who was formerly the O-line coach for Dallas from 2015-2019. While the narrative break down of a game is fun, it’s extremely difficult to quantify, and bettors must remember that price is the most important factor before placing a bet. Nonetheless, expect this number to come down.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Pittsburgh Steelers Under 22.5 (-110):
The largest total move so far this week is the battle of Pennsylvania, as the UNDER was smashed down from the opening price of 47.5 at FanDuel to the current number of 44. The defensive lines for both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are the catalyst for this move. Philadelphia is #1 in sacks with 17 and an adjusted sack rate of 10.1%, while right behind them is Pittsburgh at 15 getting to the quarterback 11% of the time. Both units are extremely stingy in the trenches as well; Pittsburgh is #1 in adjusted line yards while Philadelphia slides in at 6th. Looking at the offenses, neither team operates at a breakneck speed, especially in the 1st half, where the Steelers and Eagles are 17th and 21st respectively in pace. If one wanted to play devil’s advocate, they could look at offensive strength of schedule. Pittsburgh has played the 3rd easiest schedule of offenses, while Philadelphia has played the 11th easiest. Another concern one might have for looking UNDER would be the explosive pass defense for Pittsburgh, which is currently 3rd worst in the NFL. However, with all of Philadelphia’s injuries along the offensive line and receiver, can they take advantage of this? I have my doubts. And without off-season change to personnel or the coaching staff defensively, the Steelers secondary could be falling victim to an irrelevant sample size. After acquiring Minkah Fitpatrick Week 3 last season, Pittsburgh was 3rd best in defending explosive passes. With the full game total getting steamed under, it’s best to look at the 1st half now, which I expect continues to drop below 22.5. Keep an eye on the full game total, however. I fully expect resistance (money coming in on the OVER) at 43, as the handicap is far different when analyzing the total from the opening number of 47.5 through several key numbers to 43.
NFL Week 6 Look-Ahead Lines
Kansas City -3.5 at Buffalo (TNF)
Carolina -2.5 vs. Chicago
Detroit -2.5 at Jacksonville
Minnesota -3.5 vs. Houston
New York Giants -2.5 vs. Washington
Pittsburgh -4.5 vs. Cleveland
Baltimore -7.5 at Philadelphia
Indianapolis -7.5 vs. Cincinnati
Los Angeles Chargers -8 vs. New York Jets
Denver -1.5 vs. Miami
Tampa Bay -2.5 vs. Green Bay
San Francisco -3 vs. Los Angeles Rams (SNF)
Dallas -3.5 vs. Arizona (MNF)
BYES: New England, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Seattle