NFL Week 6 Lookahead Lines Report
Week 5's Lookahead Line Report brought closing line value on the Rams, Patriots, Bills and Ravens. The last three moved in my favor around a key number, which makes the move even more valuable. This isn't complicated, but it's invaluable.
Friends don't let friends bet NFL sides on game day. I understand the appeal of getting action down on a game that's about to kick off, but please, for the love of all things sacred, don't do it. I know the majority of the casual bettors out there don't have time to comb through every news blurb and injury report the moment it comes out. It's difficult for most bettors to feel informed early in the week, or even more, right when next week's line is posted on Sunday evening for the following week's games.
In my opinion, the only way to consistently put yourself in a position to gain positive expected value (+EV) while betting on NFL sides is to beat the closing line. Sportsbooks gradually increase the limits they let bettors get down as the week progresses, which is an indication the book feels they've priced the game correctly. Unless you're waiting later in the week because you're betting five-to-six figures on a side, your +EV increases if you can get down on a number before it's sharpened by the whales.
Each week of the season, I provide a first glance at the upcoming NFL slate through the lens of lookahead lines. This brief lookahead window provides a sneak peek at how teams are valued by bookmakers prior to the start of the week. It's also an opportunity to act before the games are posted and sharpened on Sunday evening after the previous week's games are complete. These lines are a true indicator of how bookmakers value each team, without the influence of the recency bias that comes after watching eight hours of football earlier in the day. Depending on the bookmaker, and bettor for that matter, you may or may not be able to get the type of action down that you'd like, depending on your unit sizing. The key is understanding where the value is on the board in any given week, and that is easier to do once you know what the opening number was.
When I take a position on a lookahead line, I believe the current number will beat the closing line. At times, it ends up being the best of the number, which is ideal. Basically, I'm parlaying my handicap. In essence, if I'm right in my Week 5 evaluation of the team and market, I'm going to have an advantage in predicting where the line movement will come first in Week 6.
For reference, I'll be using the initial odds released by Westgate back in May to show you how the game opened. You can use the game tiles below to find the best number, and the spread listed is based on the home team:
|GAME||CURRENT LINE (10/7)||PRESEASON LOOKAHEAD LINE (5/18)|
|Buccaneers @ Eagles||+6.5||+7.5|
|Dolphins @ Jaguars (London)||+3||+1.5|
|Chiefs @ Football Team||+6.5||+6.5|
|Rams @ Giants||+6.5||+3.5|
|Texans @ Colts||-9.5||-11.5|
|Bengals @ Lions||+3.5||+1|
|Packers @ Bears||+4.5||+2.5|
|Chargers @ Ravens||-3||-5.5|
|Vikings @ Panthers||-1||pk|
|Cardinals @ Browns||-3||-4.5|
|Raiders @ Broncos||-2.5||-3.5|
|Cowboys @ Patriots||+1.5||-1|
|Seahawks @ Steelers||+2.5||-2.5|
|Bills @ Titans||+3.5||+2.5|
Week 6 Lookahead Lines Takeaways
I'm always on the hunt for scheduling and travel advantages. For the most part, these things are already baked into the number, but I believe there are instances each week that aren't accurately accounted for in the market. Nine of the 14 Week 6 games involve home underdogs.
Buccaneers @ Eagles (+6.5)
The game here is always about the number more so than the matchup. The Bucs are 10-point home favorites in Week 5 against a far inferior Dolphins team, while the Eagles are 4-point road dogs in Carolina. Even against a beat-up Tampa Bay secondary, Miami will likely struggle in this one and have little to no shot at upsetting the Bucs or even keeping it close. The Eagles' offense feasted on the Chiefs last week, but their defense was exposed for the second consecutive week after getting off to a solid start in Weeks 1 and 2 against the Falcons and 49ers. A Week 5 loss to the Panthers, even if they cover, won't be enough to stop this from going to Buccaneers -7. If you lean the Bucs here as I do, take the 6.5.
Chiefs @ Football Team (+6.5)
Take the same premise from the Bucs and Dolphins, rinse and repeat. The public loves to bet the Chiefs more than Patrick Mahomes loves throwing underhand shovel passes. The Chiefs are likely to be steamed up to seven sooner than later.
Rams @ Giants (+6.5)
Oh boy. Here we go again. Week 6 appears to be giving us a trio of elite teams on the road against the underbelly of the NFC East. A Rams win on Thursday night followed by the Cowboys kicking New York's teeth through the back of their proverbial skull on Sunday, and this line gets to +7 come Monday morning. On the other side, if you're into blindly betting home dogs getting nearly a touchdown, Week 6 is your crescendo.
Texans @ Colts (-9.5)
This was 11.5 in May, which tells us all that we need to know about the Colts. They're so bad that this line moved two points towards arguably the worst team in football a week after they lost 40-0. The good news for the Colts is that this will be their first home game in four weeks. On the other side, there's a chance Tyrod Taylor returns for Houston here, making them at least slightly more competitive against the league's lesser teams. Watch this space.
Chargers @ Ravens (-3)
This is a west-to-east early start for the Chargers, but they've already won in this spot in Week 1 against Washington. I find it fascinating the Chargers face the Browns and Ravens, two of the league's best rushing teams, on back-to-back weeks. I'll be watching the Chargers closely in Week 5's matchup against Cleveland because I'm curious to see if Brandon Staley changes his approach defensively to stop the run. On the season, Los Angeles ranks anywhere from 25th-28th in the key rushing defensive metrics like DVOA, success rate and EPA/rush allowed. According to Sports Info Solutions, the Chargers have lined up pre-snap with a light box—six or fewer defenders at or around the line of scrimmage—on 72% of their defensive plays this season. That's one of the highest rates in the league. If they show a willingness to adjust against the Browns, they likely do so against the Ravens as well.
Cardinals @ Browns (-3)
This is a tough matchup for the Cardinals, who are coming off of back-to-back divisional games. Arizona's defense has been a surprise to date, ranking inside the top 10 in DVOA, EPA per play, yards per drive allowed and Points per drive allowed through four weeks. Their pass defense has far exceeded my expectations coming into the season. Stopping the run? That's another story. The Cardinals rank 29th in rushing success rate allowed and have given up the highest rate of explosive (15+ yards) runs so far this season. Behind one of the league's top offensive lines, the Browns' offense ranks second in explosive run rate on the season and Kevin Stefanski is more than happy to hand the ball off 45 times and call it a day. The Cardinals are set as 5.5-point favorites in Week 5 while the Browns are in a coin-flip spot against the Chargers. There's a clear scenario where this moves closer to zero, and I'll be in on the Browns at anything less than three.
Bills @ Titans (+3.5)
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