Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press
The oddsmakers often set traps for handicappers when setting the line on an every-week basis. However, if the wise bettor recognizes that a trap has been set, he or she can actually benefit from it. Instead of falling into the trap, the player has been given a gift.
Let’s take a look at the Green Bay-Minnesota game in Week 6, with the former coming off a thrilling, come-from-behind road victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The Packers have been considered one of the top NFC contenders since the start of the season, and they proved it when they defeated the Cowboys 35-31.
The Vikings found a way to outlast an injured Chicago Bears team that had just named rookie Mitchell Trubisky as the starting quarterback. While Trubisky has a strong arm, quick release and notable athleticism compared to predecessor Mike Glennon, he had virtually no NFL experience after a limited college career at North Carolina.
Minnesota won the game by a 20-17 margin. Starting quarterback Sam Bradford struggled with knee issues throughout the first half, and the Vikings didn’t have the semblance of a productive offense until head coach Mike Zimmer replaced Bradford with Case Keenum. It took a late interception by free safety Harrison Smith to set up the game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
The Packers had an epic comeback against the Cowboys, while the Vikings barely pulled one out against the lowly Bears.
As the Packers go to Minnesota Sunday, they find themselves three-point favorites over the Vikings. This seems like a mistake of epic proportions. Aaron Rodgers has the Green Bay offense operating at a high level, with rookie Aaron Jones running the ball effectively and Packers receivers Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb all making solid contributions.
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The Vikings are trying to get by with Jerick McKinnon handling the RB chores since explosive rookie Dalvin Cook (knee) is done for the year. Stefon Diggs (groin), Adam Thielen and tight end Kyle Rudolph are adequate but not on a par with the Packers receivers.
Even though the game will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Packers seem like they should have this game sealed. However, they are just three-point favorites, according to OddsShark.
The line should be at least six points. So is Vegas setting a trap or providing a gift to its players? We are operating under the think-long, think-wrong theory for this game.
The Packers are the the more talented and hotter team and should find a way to handle their division rivals. They will assert themselves in the fourth quarter.
Week 6 point spreads and predictions (Odds courtesy of OddsShark.)
Philadelphia at Carolina, Car. -3.5, 45, Philadelphia/Over
Cleveland at Houston, Hou. -10, 46.5, Houston/Over
Green Bay at Minnesota, GB-3, 46.5, Green Bay/Under
Detroit at New Orleans, NO -6, 49.5, Detroit/Over
Miami at Atlanta, Atlanta -11.5, 47, Atlanta/Under
Chicago at Baltimore, Balt. -6.5, 39.5, Baltimore/Under
New England at New York Jets, NE -9.5, 47.5, NYJ*/Under
San Francisco at Washington, Washington -10, 46.5, Washington/Over
Tampa Bay at Arizona, TB -1.5, 45, Tampa Bay/Over
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville, Jack. -2.5, 42, Jacksonville/Over
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland, NL, Los Angeles Chargers
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City, KC -5, 45.5, Pittsburgh*/Over
New York Giants at Denver, 11.5/38.5, Denver/Under
Indianapolis at Tennessee, NL, Tennessee
*-Will cover point spread but lost game
David Goldman/Associated Press
Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons
The Dolphins awoke from a two-game slumber to defeat the Tennessee Titans at home in Week 5, while the Falcons are returning from their bye week with a bad taste in their mouths.
The defending NFC champions are 11.5-point home favorites in this game, and that’s a fairly huge point spread, especially at this point in the season.
However, the Dolphins have little going for them on the offensive side of the ball, and that’s not likely to change this week. The Dolphins rank 32nd on offense and are also dead last in passing yards per game.
Quarterback Jay Cutler has not given the team the lift that may have been expected when he was signed to fill in for the injured Ryan Tannehill this summer.
Jay Ajayi (261 yards, 3.4 yards per carry) was a dangerous runner last year for the Dolphins and has not suddenly lost his skill. However, opposing defenses are daring Cutler to throw the ball as they load up to slow down Ajayi.
Expect the Falcons to follow the same pattern, and they should be able to pick off Cutler’s errant throws at least twice in this game.
The Falcons will get back on the winning track and record the win by at least two touchdowns.
New England Patriots @Patriots
“We know what it’s like to play the Jets in NY & we’ll have to be at our best.” Watch Belichick’s presser: https://t.co/kOntdU0oy7 https://t.co/B46SCIoI5v
New England Patriots at New York Jets
The Patriots may not have figured everything out from a defensive perspective, but they got back on the right track in Week 5 when they held on to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a 19-14 margin.
They hope to take another step in the right direction when they go to MetLife Stadium to meet the New York Jets Sunday.
The defending Super Bowl champions were expected to roll through the regular season and dominate the AFC East in the process. The Jets were expected to be among the worst teams in the NFL, and some thought they might go winless this season.
Both teams head into this meeting tied for the AFC East lead with 3-2 records.
While the Pats have been disappointing and the Jets have played over their heads, we do not expect the current levels to last much longer. However, the Patriots are 9.5-point favorites and the total in this game is 47.5 points.
The Jets’ strength is their ability to play defense, while their primary weakness is on the offensive end.
Look for Todd Bowles’ underdogs to play their most inspired game of the season. They may not win, but they should keep it close.
The play that really inspires us here is the under. The Jets don’t have the talent with Josh McCown at quarterback and an underwhelming crew of skill-position players to score more than 14 points, while the New York defense won’t let Tom Brady go wild.
This appears to be a game where 35 points or fewer are scored, and it should make under players quite happy.